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Archive for the ‘CentCom’ Category

Have you ever given any thought to a ‘three-dimensional’ website? Look at it this way, we no longer live in a world where the net is a ‘flat earth’ development. To give you a peek inside this fact, Douglas Farah has written a very informative and chilling article.

At the Counterterrorism Blog, you will find just about any type of news that we are NOT hearing about on the news. Especially the type of news which we should all be looking for to keep our country safe. I suppose that could be because of the elections, but you would think our survival would be an election year topic. Oh well.

Jihadists Move to Encryption on Internet Sights.

…Today’s Washington Post carries an extensive look at the radicalization of two Islamists from the state of Georgia who were filming potential targets in Washington, D.C.

Much of the process took place on line, as did the radicalization of an Egyptian businessman who sponsored the trip of combatants to Iraq based on the Internet statements and broadcasts by Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. [Continue reading.]

So, they think catching illegal aliens is too hard of a task? Check out this story from Jayson Javitz over at Wizbang!

Dragnet.

…’They think they’re pretty much home free once they get up here,’ said Bill Botts, of the Border Patrol’s Gulport, Mississippi, station. But Operation Uniforce, as the two-week crackdown started Jan. 13 is called, ‘is pretty much a shocker for the [alien] smuggling organizations.’

More than 300 illegal immigrants and alien smugglers had been arrested as of Tuesday, just over a week into the operation. [Continue reading.]

Now I will share with you some articles and their links and who they are written by in groupings. That is because there are too many of them! lol

First I would like to start with Michael Yon. This first post of his is Moment of Truth in Iraq, a book that Michael has written, and it is very good. I’ve read the first chapter of Danger Close (it is online), and you might like to read it also. He is one of the citizen journalists who tells it as it is, not the way we would like to hear it. I like that. It shows me respect, because he trusts that I can make up my own mind.

CORRECTION: It has been brought to my attention that Michael’s book is Titled “Danger Close.” Jon is correct. The link to the first chapter is right here and you may purchase it only at Michael’s site here. Thank you Jon for catching that for me. *blush*

His next post is News Flash: Dragon Skin. This one is about body armor. Next is “Commanders Update #9, Commander’s Update #9 JAN 08, By LTC. James Crider. Then there is “General Lee Comes Home, Part 2, Stryker Dubbed ‘General Lee’ Rejuvenated, By Ann Roosevelt, for Defense Daily. After that one is this one where he was profiled by the NY Times, “News Flash: Frontline Blogger With a Soldier’s Eyes. They actually did a good job. Then finally, there is a collection of Michael’s writings: Archives: Table of Contents.

This one is not technically a blogger (Former Ambassador to the USA, John Bolton), but he has written a very chilling warning to President Bush, Condi, and the new president of the USA in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion and commentary section. The title of this article is “North Korea’s True Colors.” Read it! Another article which they printed is “The Legacy, Bush of Arabia. This U.S. president is the most consequential the Middle East has ever seen. by FOUAD AJAMI.” It is a refreshing look at both President Bush (whom I have lost much hope of having anything positive get done) and the Iraqi people. It is a good read.

For the following articles from CentCom, I will put them in list form. There are many good articles!

Here are six links to YouTube videos from Blackfive: This video is 1:16 minutes long. The title is “Sgt. Giles.” This one is “Arab Jabour: An Introduction,” and it is 2:45 minutes. This next one is titled “Arab Jabour: Terrain Denial.” The next three are “Surge Plus One: Doura,” “Robin Williams in Kuwait” and “Crazy I-Ranians threaten US warships with Jihad.” Now I have links you may be interested in reading.

ANA deliver infant saving mother, child, by Public Affairs COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE- 82, Bagram Media Center.
ANA provides assistance to Kunar villagers, by Luis P. Valdespino Jr., Combined Security Transition Command.
Medical engagement a success in Abu Farris, by U.S. Army Christopher McKenna, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Soldiers distribute wheelchairs, by U.S. Army Grant Okubo, MND-N PAO.
Tip leads MND-North Soldiers to bomb factory, MND-N PAO.
Kirkuk academy graduates 1,325 police, by U.S. Army Margaret Nelson, 115th MPAD.
Iraqi Soldiers graduate leaders’ course, by SPC Emily Wilsoncroft, MND-C PAO.
Paratroopers battle elements, keep valley safe, by Sgt. Brandon Aird, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.
Afghan, Coalition troops hold clinic in Farah, CJTF-82 PAO.
Army exchanges medical skill with Djiboutians, by MC1 Mary Popejoy, CJTF-HOA.
Afghan students prepare for future through education, by Spc. Gregory Argentieri, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.
Ghazni PRT brings care, clothes to Nawa District, by Spc Nathan Hutchinson, 22nd MPAD.

Next I have for you some articles from ACT! for America is a great site to go to find patriotic people keeping an eye on legislation and other news that we can appreciate. They now have chapters that are posted on their website. You can also receive e-mails from them, if you wish.

This next news article is an interview between National Review Online and M. Zuhdi Jasser. This is the third part of the article. The title of this portion of the interview is “We Need a Hero, Looking toward 2008 and beyond.” Mr. Jasser has also had a press release, “FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award given to Zuhdi Jasser.” One more article here. It is written by Electa Draper at the Denver Post. The name of the article is “Moderate Muslim view outshouted by Islamists.” Oh, those so understanding and tolerant libs. You may read about him and keep up with him at AIFD. This acronym stands for American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

American Congress for Truth is a very fine site. It is run by conversatives who just happen to be black. This is an amazing site, and you really should add it to your sidebar. For example, they are on top of this internet problem which I started this post off with.

Terrorism Probe Points to Reach Of Web Networks.

In April 2005, police swarmed the U.S. Capitol to confront an erratic Australian man, carrying two suitcases, who they feared was a suicide bomber. After blowing up one of the bags, officers realized he was harmless.

The police never noticed the two nervous young men on a nearby sidewalk filming the Capitol during the standoff. But they might have been the real threat, according to newly released documents.

The men, ultraconservative Muslims from Georgia, were making surveillance videos that could help extremists plan “some kind of terrorist attack,” as one man later acknowledged, according to court documents disclosed last week. One of their videos was sent to a notorious al-Qaeda publicist in London, authorities said. [Continue reading.]

Does that give anyone pause? It does me.

Okay, that should be enough information to hold you through the weekend. Don’t worry. If it doesn’t, I will still be posting at my site. I am having an Open Tracktrack Alliance and an Open Trackback at Linkfest. Share with others your work. Before you trackback, please add me to your post. After you this, I will add your name and title to the main page. This way, everyone will be able to see your work and may come over to view it. Have a good weekend everyone!

Update: I just have to add this one last(?) post. It is very funny and is also a member of Open Trackback Alliance. Since I do not like to post a trackback on someone’s post who has not listed that post for today’s OTA, I have written this little piece about it. Oh, what is it? Study: Few Keyboards Actually Destroyed By Coffee. Enjoy!

Members of the Samantha Burns’ OTA:

S. The Crazy Rantings of Samantha Burns: OTA Weekend, F. Stix Blog: 8 Things youneed to know about Obama and Rezko, F. Pirate’s Cove (M, F): TB Friday Featuring The Surrender Monkey: Kucinich Supporters Should Vote Ron Paul, F. The World According to Carl: Open Trackback Friday — January 25, 2008, F. Woman Honor Thyself: Sderot and the UN Party Balloons, S. Church and State, Su. The Amboy Times, Su. Stageleft, Su. walls of the city, Wknd. Blue Star Chronicles: Wear Red on Friday Reading List, Wknd. Leaning Straight Up: Friday Video Break: Smoke on the water… as you have never seen it before, Wknd. The Uncooperative Blogger, Wknd. Stuck On Stupid, Wknd. The Bullwinkle Blog, Wknd. 123beta (F, Wknd): Open Trackback Weekend, S. Point Five: Study: Few Keyboards Actually Destroyed By Coffee, S. 7 Deadly Sins, S. Steeljaw Scribe, S. Selective Amnesia, S. Case Notes from the Artsy Asylum, S. LyfLines, Su. InMuscatine, Su. Onemanbandwidth, Su. The Blazer Blog, Su. Miceland, Su. Where are my socks?, Su. Peakah’s Provocations, Su. Otimaster, Su. Grandinite, Su. Free Constitution, Su. Conservative Culture (Su, T), Su. – a metamorphoself, Su. The Dissentators (Su, M).

Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest and other sites:

Adam’s Blog: John McCain: Putting Mexico First?, Blue Star Chronicles: Why the Story of Dellon Tyler Ward Matters, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: New director for National Hurricane Center, third world county: “Mugger” Pledges: Will Give Money Back, Nuke Gingrich: WFFOT Aaaaaaaaay, Dumb Ox Daily News: Ron Paul’s Good and Bad News Letter, Outside the Beltway: John Edwards’ South Carolina Surge, Big Dog’s Weblog: Will MSM Give Hillary the Same Treatment As Bush?, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: Hurricane Proof House, Wolf Pangloss: Friday: I Feel Your Pain Open Posts, Leaning Straight Up: Making the Case For McCain; Just In Case, Shadowscope: Grand Jury Indicts Cesar Laurean, With many thanks to: Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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12. Blue Star Chronicles: British Diva Katherine Jenkins Entertains British Troops The Past Two Christmases.
11. Woman Honor Thyself: Super BowL: Gooooooo Giants! (A woman after my own heart!)
10. Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: Global Warming causes FEWER hurricanes.
9. A Blog For All: Fences Make Good Neighbors: Hamas Doesn’t Want Them.
8. Blue Star Chronicles: Retired Green Beret Gets Court Martial After Shooting Intruder.
7. Blue Star Chronicles: Phelps Family Hate Cult to Picket Heath Ledger’s Funeral.
6. Blue Star Chronicles: Tom Cruise on Scientology and Ah …. ah …. Wow …. You Know…Man…Wheh!
5. The World According To Carl Hillary LOVES A Man In Uniform?
4. Mark My Words: Irrational atheists and their groupies.
3. Stix Blog: 8 Things youneed to know about Obama and Rezko.
2. Pirate’s Cove: Global Warming Today: Less Hurricanes To Hit U.S.?
1. Planck’s Constant: Bernie`s Bic Vacation.

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Source: CJTF-HOA and CentCom.

by MC1 Mary Popejoy
CJTF-HOA
.

DJIBOUTI, Horn of Africa (Jan. 09, 2008) — Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel took time out of their busy schedules to donate school supplies and clothing to Horsed Private School of English, Jan. 7. The 35 boxes of supplies were sent by Living Waters Foursquare Church in Mooresville, N.C., to Army Staff Sgt. Rex Hipp, 1132nd Engineering Detachment well drilling team. Hipp is a member of the church’s congregation who is currently wrapping up a one-year deployment in Djibouti.

The boxes were filled with backpacks, books, pencils, paper, shoes and clothes. “The 75 church members raised $1,500 so they could buy school supplies and clothing that would benefit the children of Djibouti,” Hipp said. Having his church make such a thoughtful gesture allows the 1132nd well drillers to make one last impact before they return to Mooresville this month.

“For the past year, when we’ve drilled and repaired wells we’ve given out flip flops and school supplies to villages near some of our well sites as another way to help the Djibouti people,” Hipp said. “Now that we’re wrapping up our deployment, it was nice to coordinate with the CJTF-HOA Chaplain’s office and the school director to donate items that will improve the students’ quality of life in a big way,” Hipp said.

Marine Sgt. Derico Cooper, CJ-6 Tactical Networking, was on hand to deliver the supplies and see firsthand just how grateful the school staff was for the gifts. “Their standard of living and educational facilities are far different than what we have in the states, so anything we can do to help them out is greatly appreciated,” Cooper said.

Hassan Mahamed, a teacher at Horsed Private School of English, said he appreciates donations from American friends. “We appreciate everything the U.S. military does for us, because a lot of the families cannot afford to buy these items, which prevents students from having the proper items for school,” Mahamed said. “It’s nice to know that their friends stateside wanted to do something nice for our students here.”

Wayne George, chief religious programs specialist, CJTF-HOA Religious Ministries Department, said donations like these represent the true spirit of America and what it truly means to do something nice for people they’ll never meet. “I have observed thousands of charitable items donated by caring Americans who expect nothing in return,” George said. “They have done it in silence without expectations of recognition because it’s not about the cost, but the smiles it will bring to the faces of the children half a world away.”

Army Staff Sgt. Lisa Dumire, 1133rd Engineering Detachment well drilling team operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, receives a box from Hassan Mahamed, Horsed Private School of English teacher, while unloading boxes of school supplies that were donated by Living Waters Foursquare Church in Mooresville, N.C. The congregation of Living Waters sent the boxes to Army Staff Sgt. Rex Hipp, 1132nd Engineering Detachment well drilling team, who is a member of their congregation.
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Source: CJTF-HOA (and CentCom).

by U.S. Navy David-Michael Ross
CJTF-HOA.

DJIBOUTI, Horn of Africa (Jan. 11, 2008) — The surgeon cell from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa met with the Djibouti Ministry of Habitat, Urbanism and Environment, Jan. 8 to tour the base and surrounding area to see first-hand environmental concerns and address sanitation issues. According to CTJF-HOA’s outgoing force protection officer, Lt. Cmdr. Karen Corson, there are concerns about the waste management measures in place outside of the perimeter of Camp Lemonier, however long-term goals and a commitment to an action plan will eradicate any potential future environmental issues.

“This is an educational exchange of information about the environment, where we get to show them what we in the military do here on base in order to protect the Djiboutian environment while we’re here,” Corson said. “We have an opportunity to take a look at their resources and together examine ways for them to fully utilize them when it comes to their landfills and waste management.”

Ministry representative, Dr. Ammar Abdo Ahmed said that as a result of CJTF-HOA personnel playing an integral role in local humanitarian efforts, he believes this collaborative meeting will also yield many positive results when it comes to working on solutions in the area of sanitation. “This is good that we are working as a team on a medical level, by looking at all of the factors and creating a long term action plan to take care of this problem,” Ahmed said.

CTJF-HOA incoming force protection officer, Navy Lt. Nick Martin, said traditional U.S. waste management solutions do not always translate to all regions in the world. “In the states we have many resources to set up a landfill, for example, you would have incinerators and heavy machinery to roll over the trash and you just don’t have those sorts of things available here,” Martin said. He stressed the importance of continued training and finding improved methods for handling waste.

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa works to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in east Africa and Yemen through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, and civic action programs. This includes medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction and water development projects.

Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, Force Protection officers Lt. Nick Martin, left, Lt. Cmdr. Karen Corson and Ministry of Habitat, Urbanism and Environment, Secretary General, Aboubaker Douale Waiss visit the La Douda Waste Facility Jan. 8..

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This is a very touching article, and it is sad at the same time. Thank God for our guys.

Coalition, Afghan Soldiers save baby girl.
by Media Center Bagram
Bagram Media Center.
January 9, 2008
.

Coalition medics stabilize a 1-year-old girl who was badly burned when she fell into a fire used to heat her family’s home in the Lashkar Gah District, Helmand Province. Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces worked together to save the girl’s life and arranged her transport to another military outpost with more substantial medical capabilities. She was escorted to the new military outpost by her uncle. Photo by Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – ANSF and CF saved the life of a 1-year-old girl after she was badly burned falling into a fire used to heat her family’s home in Lashkar Gah District in Helmand Province. Coalition medics immediately began lifesaving efforts after her family brought her to a combined military outpost. Doctors assessed the girl’s condition and determined she was burned over 20 percent of her body, including burns to her face, arms, scalp and hands. Medics arranged for a helicopter to take the child, escorted by her uncle, to another military outpost with more medical capabilities in the nearby Washir District of Helmand Province. Doctors prepared, cleaned and dressed the baby’s burns. “While there are clinics and medical facilities in Helmand District, sometimes it is difficult for villagers in outlying areas to access that care,” explained a Coalition forces medic. “ANSF and Coalition forces were able to work together to save this little girl’s life. Even though insurgents have made life difficult for villagers in this region, ANSF are committed to providing for the well being and security of the Afghan people.”

I pray this young child lives throught this ordeal. I know the medics who worked on her certainly do, too.

Coalition troops aid Afghan students in Bagram.
by Media Center Bagram
Jan. 8, 2008

Bagram Media Center.

A Coalition servicemember chats with a young student at the Jan Qadam School, near Bagram Village, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 6, while Haji Enr Yatullah, the school’s principal and a village elder, look on. Servicemembers brought donated winter clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies to the school to show their support for villagers.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — It was a banner day Jan. 6 for children attending the Jan Qadam School near Bagram village. Coalition troops assigned to Bagram Airfield stopped by the school, which is near the airfield, to visit with children, teachers and village elders, as well as deliver several boxes of school supplies and toys. The eight-room schoolhouse caters to more than 1,000 students daily, in three shifts. The students range in age from 5 to 15 years old. Fifteen servicemembers entered the village carrying boxes of supplies for the children.

Once they arrived at the school, village elders distributed the items to the children, boys in one classroom and girls in another. The children laughed and smiled as they received their gifts, which included notebooks, pencils, crayons and toys. Some students received new shoes and personal hygiene items.

Haji Enr Yatullah, the school’s principal and a village elder, said being good neighbors is important for the well-being of the village. “You not only help me, but you help all the villages around here,” Yatullah said. … In addition to delivering school supplies and other goods, CF met with village elders to see what other types of assistance they could provide. [Continue reading.]

Many Americans send supplies for the children, such as pencils, pens, paper, crayons, backpacks, and even clothes. If you are interested in sending something to the children, there are many organizations which you can go through. Soldiers’ Angels is a good source to find what you are for.

Corps of Engineers completes al Mahaweel clinic.
by John Connor
Jan. 9, 2008
Gulf Region Division, US Army Corps of Engineers
.

The Al Mahaweel Primary Healthcare Clinic in Babil Province was recently completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division South district.

BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq — Work is complete on a primary healthcare center at al Mahaweel in Babil Province. The facility was constructed for about $1 million under two construction contracts and five non-construction contacts, according to Robin Parks, health sector program manager for the Gulf Region South District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. GRS does construction and reconstruction work in the nine southern provinces of Iraq. The money for the clinic was provided under the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. The non-construction contracts provided medical equipment, plus installation and training, as well as electrical generators, furniture and office equipment, Parks said. [Continue reading.]

Our guys and gals are doing so many good works that go unnoticed by the dinosaur media day in and day out, it makes me wonder if they truly want us to win. Just thinking, ya know?

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The US Central Command has changed their layout, so I can now give you the link. Before, you would have had to move your mouse from side to side along the bottom of the screen to read the articles. Now it looks fantastic! (That reminds me, I have to change my link!) Here we go:

Afghan Commandos graduate Armorer Training Program.
by Media Center Bagram
Jan. 7, 2008
Bagram Media Center
.

An Afghan National Army Commando weapons specialist, attending the inaugural Commando Armorer Training Program, demonstrates the proper procedures to clean, inspect and reassemble an M-240B machine gun. After graduating the eight-week course, armorers are responsible for the complete inventory and maintenance of all special equipment assigned to their Commando Kandak.

POL-E-CHARKI, Afghanistan — Eight ANA weapons specialists graduated from the first-ever Commando Armorer Training Program this month. They were taught how to use the unique specialties of a Commando sqaud. It was an eight-week course, and they learned how to use special weapons, become armorers, learn how to inspect, repair and reassemble all weapons systems used by the Commando Kandaks (battalions). [Continue reading.]

Very educational, indeed!

Iranian boats approach U.S. Navy ships.
by U.S. Fifth Fleet Public Affairs
January 8, 2008
US Naval Forces Central Command
.

A small Iranian boat approaches a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf. (From Defense Department Video).

BAHRAIN (NNS) — Following a routine transit through the Strait of Hormuz Jan. 6, three U.S. Navy ships operating in international waters in the Persian Gulf were approached by five Iranian small boats that demonstrated irresponsible confrontational behavior near the U.S. ships. [Continue reading.]

If you want to hear more bs on why we didn’t blow them to smitherines, go ahead and read it. Yes, I am still pissed. Those are our men and women on those ships. Can anyone say, “USS Cole”?

The Strait of Hormuz is international water, at least where we were. We should not have had to give them several warnings. That is counted as cowardice. They should get one warning and if that is not adhered to, they should have been blown up. PERIOD. Who would challenge us for protecting our people? DO YOU REALLY FREAKIN’ CARE THAT MUCH ABOUT OPINIONS? Well, I CARE ABOUT OUR LIVES. So stuff it.

Marines train Iraqi Soldiers for battlefield success.
by USMC Billy Hall
Jan. 08, 2008
MNF-I
.

In this file photo, Iraqi Soldiers with 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Division practice clearing a building at Camp Al Asad, Aug. 18. Marines from 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division were working with the Iraqi Soldiers to teach them close quarters combat. The U.S. Marine Corps remains committed to training the Iraqi Soldiers to one day stand on their own. Photo by Cpl. Shane Keller, Joint Combat Camera Center.

QAIM, Iraq — Iraqi Soldiers are learning to fight and win on the battlefield with a little help from the U.S. Marines. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, are not only are engaged in a constant training cycle with Marines at Combat Outpost North; they are excelling at it. In the brisk winter breeze, Military Transition Team members partnered with Marines from Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, integrated key Iraqi Soldiers into their execution of several reactionary drills.

The Iraqi Soldiers observed and then participated in immediate-action and break-contact drills with the Marines so they could, in turn, teach their junior Soldiers the same tactics and procedures. [Continue reading.]

Things appear to be coming along pretty smoothly when the Marines show up. 😉

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Source: CentCom.

by Norris Jones
Jan. 7 2008
.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Extensive renovations will soon be complete at one of Sadr City’s major hospitals in east Baghdad. Al Baladi Maternity and Children’s Hospital initially opened in 1982 and during the following two decades little was spent on routine maintenance, said Iraqi Project Engineer Mohammad Attar, who oversees the hospital’s upgrade for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “During Saddam’s time, patients there had to tolerate 100-degree-plus interior temperatures because the air conditioning system was broke,” he explained.

The $12 million, three-year renovation included the installation of four new chillers, four cooling towers and four new boilers. “Those improvements helped the elderly and infants, who have little tolerance for heat and cold. The hospital is now able to maintain a comfortable interior temperature in both summer and winter,” Attar noted. Other improvements include an oxygen plant, central vacuum system, nurse call system, intercom paging system, data communications network, new toilets and showers, new exhaust system to remove unhealthy air, new generator for emergency power, medical waste incinerator, and new water purification system.

The medical staff of eight doctors and thirty nurses is treating five times the number of sick people they saw prior to the renovation. They’re seeing 150 to 200 patients daily, 80 percent of which are children. Their obstetric department is delivering 30 to 40 newborns every day. “One of their main goals is reducing the infant mortality rate and the new equipment is making a difference,” Attar said. The two-story hospital has a bed capacity for 200 patients.

More than 100 Iraqis have been part of the construction crew. They installed a new roof, put in new plumbing and electrical, rebuilt the physicians’ family-size apartments, added a new cafeteria area and kitchen, new lighting, new plastering, redid all the floors and ceilings, new surgical theater suite and x-ray equipment.

“It’s truly rewarding to know we’ve helped some of the poorest people in Baghdad,” Attar said. “They were tolerating absolutely horrible conditions. The toilets were overflowing, the air was stagnant, the medical equipment was outdated and much of it didn’t work. Despite ongoing insurgency threats, the contractor kept making steady progress. Today, Sadr City families have a modern facility and access to equipment that was simply not available three years ago. We’re all proud to have been a part of the effort.”

An Iraqi woman cares for her child at a newly renovated hospital in Sadr City, Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo).

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Source: CentCom.

30 November 2007
Staff Sgt. Mary Flynn
Army News Service
.

WASHINGTON – Like many Soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, Soldiers from the Oregon National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry brought their personal cameras to Iraq during their deployment in 2004. They snapped photos of each other firing weapons, shot video of explosives they detonated and logged plenty of footage of their own commentaries intermixed with Soldier humor.

But they never expected that their day-to-day antics would one day represent deployed National Guard Soldiers everywhere, preserved in a feature-length documentary film called “This is War: Memories of Iraq.”

The National Combat History Archive and Lucky Forward Films used the unscripted testimonies of nine Soldiers of varying ranks and experiences to narrate the events. Photos and video they shot with their own personal cameras illustrate their experiences.

“We wanted to make a very non-political film that took someone who’s never been to Iraq … to show what it means to go into combat,” said the film’s director, Gary Mortensen. “We told it in a non-specific way so that it could represent Soldiers everywhere – we wanted to tell a tale that anyone who has been over there can identify with.”

Mr. Mortensen added that the unique thing about the film is that these Soldiers had their own personal recording devices on hand, giving an intimate view of what they saw on a daily basis. The Soldiers had no idea any of it would be turned into a film, so the result is a very honest and raw portrait of their experiences.

“It’s very powerful,” said Sgt. 1st Class Phillip “Vince” Jacques, one of the Soldiers featured in the film. “It really represents the professionalism of these guys and shows exactly what troops are going through over there. They’re the ones fighting the war. You might as well hear their story.”

Present at various screenings of the film, Sgt. 1st Class Jacques noticed that the audience’s reaction was often one of awe. “Whether they support the war or not, they come away with a whole different view of what Soldiers are doing over there,” he said.

National audiences are also beginning to take notice. “This is War” won the Audience Choice Award and Best Documentary at the Idaho International Film Festival, and received the Jury Award: Best Documentary at the Florida International Media Market. It also took home awards for best documentary and best director at the Sweet Onion Film Festival in Walla Walla, Wash.

Unfortunately, the film isn’t available in local video stores yet; Mr. Mortensen explained that they are working on the film’s distribution and broadcast rights. It can be purchased by calling (503) 597-7030 or by checking out the Web site at http://www.luckyforwardfilms.com.

According to the site, all sales of the film help support the Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, the National Combat History Archive, the Iraq/Afghanistan Oregon Memorial Fund and the Wounded Warriors Project, a non-profit organization that helps injured servicemembers by providing programs and services to meet their unique needs.

Photo – The National Combat History Archive and Lucky Forward Films used the unscripted testimonies of nine Oregon National Guard Soldiers of varying ranks and experiences to narrate the events of the film “This is War: Memories of Iraq.” Photos and video the Soldiers shot with their own personal cameras illustrate their experiences. (Contributed Photo).

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Source: .

19 DEC 2007
By Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco, USAF
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HERO, Afghanistan – Airmen in a medical mentoring team here have been working hard to ensure the successful opening of an Afghan National Army hospital for the past several months. The team’s original mission was to mentor their Afghan counterparts and teach them medical skills to treat Afghan military and police members, said Air Force Col. Mike Skidmore, the team’s senior mentor officer and administrator.

All that changed when the team arrived several months ago, he said. The hospital was 500 days behind schedule, and instead of finding equipment and eager ANA medical personnel, the team found an empty, incomplete facility. “We had to move from a mentoring mission to a new mindset of equipping the hospital, opening it and then mentoring,” said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Thomas Seay, the senior medical mentor and chief radiologist.

Most of the state-of-the-art equipment, to include a digital X-ray and digital ultrasound machines, were purchased by the United States, with some items – such as wheelchairs — donated by a nonprofit organization based in Canada, he said. The hospital is one of the most advanced of its kind in the southern region of Afghanistan.

“Phase one of the construction consisted of a $5.6 million, 50-bed main hospital,” Skidmore said. “It will serve the entire ANA 205th Corps, including four combat brigades, their associated garrison clinics and more than 27,000 ANA soldiers, Afghan National Police and their families. There are two isolation rooms, one trauma room, two operating rooms, and an intensive care ward that can accommodate up to six patients.” One of the most impressive elements of the project is the water processing plant, he added. It uses a multi-stage process to clean and sterilize water to the standard necessary for hospital conditions and also is being used as a model for future water plants throughout the country. Contractors also recently broke ground on phase two, a $2.6 million hospital expansion that will house an additional 50 patients, Skidmore said.

With the hospital ribbon-cutting held Dec. 15, the mentoring team now is looking forward to starting the job it came to do. The team is made up of a total of 18 airmen: three doctors, three nurses, three administrators, a radiologist, a pharmacist, a medic, two lab technicians, a pharmacy technician, a radiology technician, a biomedical equipment technician and a logistician. Team members will work with their Afghan counterparts to create a baseline of skills, Seay said. There also will be a lot of focus on sterilization and sustainment of equipment and resources, he added.

Together, the team hopes its efforts can help the Afghan National Army to rebuild the country and be effective at maintaining peace and security. “This is arguably the best ANA hospital in the entire country, given the building, the equipment and the water treatment plant, but the most impressive part of this hospital is its staff,” Skidmore said. “They are incredibly excited and enthusiastic to learn new clinical and managerial techniques in health care.”

Photo – Air Force Tech. Sgt. Edward Weaver, a medic deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., instructs Afghan National Army medical personnel on spinal immobilization techniques at the newly opened Kandahar ANA regional hospital in Afghanistan. The medical mentoring team arrived to find the construction 500 days behind schedule and immediately took on the task of supplying the hospital and getting it opened before continuing the mission of mentoring Afghan National Army medical personnel. Photo by Col. (Dr.) Thomas Seay, USAF.

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MND-Baghdad Transfers Authority

Source: CentCom.

20 Dec. 2007
By Sgt. Jason Thompson
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
.

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Control of Multinational Division Baghdad changed hands during a ceremony here yesterday [December 19, 2007]. The 1st Cavalry Division will redeploy to Fort Hood, Texas, while 4th Infantry Division takes over operations in the Iraqi capital. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, presided over the ceremony. He said the battle in Iraq has changed significantly during the last year, and that the success could be directly linked to the 1st Cavalry Division’s efforts in and around Baghdad.

“Significant events are often a result of the right people being in the right place at the right time,” Odierno said. “In the case of Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, the right people were the magnificent men and women of Multinational Division Baghdad and their dedicated Iraqi security force partners.”

Odierno said the soldiers of the “First Team” should be proud of what they accomplished during their tenure in Baghdad. He said the soldiers had a direct, positive impact on the Iraqi people’s day-to-day lives, which is apparent by the increased activity in all the Baghdad markets, traffic on the streets, numerous soccer games played in all the local neighborhoods, and the smiles on the children’s faces.

“The biggest success was the complete, full partnership they formed with their counterparts in the Iraqi army, national police, station police, patrol police and local leaders,” Odierno continued. “Because of their shared concern, genuine care and daily engagement, they earned the trust and confidence of Baghdad’s people. In turn, it sparked a grassroots movement among the millions of residents and empowered them to feel in control of their own destiny.”

The 1st Cavalry Division commander then addressed the audience of Iraqi and coalition leaders, looking back on a year’s worth of successes and sacrifices by his MND-B forces. “Although the cost has been high, and the toll on the lives of our soldiers has been great, our cause was just and noble, and we have prevailed,” Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., said. “We have fought together, side by side, and have won every time. Our soldiers know it, and the enemy knows it. There is not a place in Baghdad where the enemy feels free or a place to call his home,” he said.

Fil then thanked the Iraqi army soldiers and said his team’s success came with a partnership between the Iraqi and coalition forces. “We have done this in partnership. Whatever progress we have made, whatever success we have secured, is a testimony to that partnership and the result of our combined strengths,” he said.

With the colors of his division cased and ready to accompany him home, Fil said his thoughts were focused on the efforts of his soldiers and on the continued success of the 4th Infantry Division. “As always, at the end of a challenging tour, we leave with mixed emotions. It is quite reassuring to know that we are handing the battle over to such a capable division, and that’s the ‘Steadfast and Loyal’ 4th Infantry Division, led by the supreme command team of Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond and Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia,” Fil said, referencing the division’s motto, “Steadfast and Loyal.”

“I’m leaving totally confident that you’ll be able to quickly build and expand upon the efforts and that the Ironhorse soldiers are ready for the tests that lie ahead,” he said.

With the 4th Infantry Division Ironhorse Band accompanying the ceremony, Fil passed on the mantle of Multinational Division Baghdad to Hammond, who uncased his colors and assumed command of the MND-B mission as the division colors changed position in the honor guard procession. “As we, the 4th Infantry Division, return to Baghdad for our third deployment, we truly feel we have two homes. One in Fort Hood, Texas, and our other is clearly here in Baghdad. We look forward to once again serving with our Iraqi brothers.

With obvious pride in the troops of his new command, Hammond closed by thanking the 1st Cavalry Division troops for their great efforts in providing a smooth transition with 4th Infantry Division and took a moment to recognize all the forces that make up Multinational Division Baghdad.

“To Major General Fil and the 1st Cavalry Division, magnificent job. Your ‘Steadfast and Loyal’ efforts have improved security across Baghdad, but more important, I see hope for the future. We must build on this and continue progress. We still face determined enemies who threaten peace and security. There is still much work ahead. Our job, alongside our Iraqi counterparts, is to provide stable security and set conditions for improving life in Baghdad. This we will do as a team,” Hammond said. “It is my honor to represent the men and women of Multinational Division Baghdad.”

Photo – Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond (left), incoming Multinational Division Baghdad commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia, incoming MND-B command sergeant major, uncase the “Ironhorse” colors during the MND-B transfer-of-authority ceremony Dec. 19, 2007, at Camp Liberty, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Luis Orengo, USA.

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I know most people don’t like to read about personal stuff, but that’s okay. I’m going to write about it anyway. There are other topics I’m writing about as well: Military, Politics and Religious. Choose your medicine.

Have you ever entered a buccoo amount of code only to find that server just took you offline? Well, that’s what I’ve been doing tonight. I couldn’t believe it! How did anger the ‘ISP god’? (There is no ISP god, but something is going on there. lol) I was able to fix it and save my work. That is fantastic!

If you’ll notice, I’ve changed the font size and look for my posts and my links on the sidebar. I like my links smaller than the text so as not to distract the reader. I don’t know. I’m just weird like that. To be fair, I like it better like that. 😉

I have now kept my promise to write once a day. Do I have anything else to say? You bet! I have some Military News that you may interested in reading. What I do is copy it off the CentCom website or feed or email so that it can be read without having to scroll over and back and over again. Their news is larger than the screen. I don’t like that. Otherwise, I would write a summary and send you there. We good on that? Okay, here goes:

New air traffic control tower to expand TQ’s capabilities.

05 December 2007
By Sgt. Wayne Edmiston
2nd Marine Logistics Group
.

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq – The AN/TSQ-120B is a temporary air traffic control tower used by Marines in expeditionary operations until a more sturdy structure can be built. Although designed for just 90 days of continual use, the one at Al Taqaddum Air Base has seen more than its share of sorties since it was raised during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. [Continue reading this post on my site.]

USAF engineers improve Marine quality of life in Iraq.

05 December 2007
by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – Airmen are improving the lives and operating conditions of Marines by constructing more than $9.8 million in aircraft shelters, taxiways and temporary shelters at Al Asad Air Base. Deployed in an “in-lieu-of” tasking in support of the 20th Army Engineer Brigade, 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE Squadron Airmen are completing numerous projects — from the design concept to completion — in a joint service environment. [Continue reading.]

CF Treat 450 Afghans During Medical Outreach.

30 November 2007
By Senior Airman James Bolinger, USAF
Combined Joint Task Force 82 Public Affairs
.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – The towns of Eskandareh and Pacha Khak hide deep within the mountains of the Kohe Safid district in Afghanitan’s Parwan province. Eskandareh is near the head of Tagab Valley, and Pacha Khak has been a stronghold for many armies throughout Afghanistan’s history. [Continue reading.]

I also have some information on the candidates’ positions on Iran:

Candidates views per Iran.
As we all know, Iran is seeking to attain nuclear power. Some may argue that this power may be domestic only, while others suspect that it was desired for nefarious purposes. One of those purposes being nuclear weapons. Therefore the Israel Project asked each candidate for their position on this issue (Iran). [Continue reading.]

This should keep you busy enough for me to really dig into something so I can write about my personal views on it. If you didn’t know, I have given up blogging first thing when I wake up. Yes. It’s true. Why?

Because it became my god. Plain and simple. Did I worship blogging? Did I sing songs to or about it? No. Did I neglect my time reading the Word of God? YES. I confess my sin right here and now. I do not desire that anything should come in between my Saviour and I. There is NOTHING here on earth that ever could fulfill my heart and my life such He.

How do I know I was neglecting my time? I forgot verses and chapters and even the books I used to know in order to give answers to anyone who would ask me a question about God, Jesus, Church, etc. When that happened and I saw a lesson it this week, the Word convicted my heart. That only happens when I need it to happen. Sometimes I wish I would listen sooner, but better late than never.

So I shall be having Bible study with God and myself when I wake, and what a beautiful thing that is! If anyone would care to join in, just write me an email. I’m sure we could work something out, maybe through IM? Don’t worry though, God is in control. 😉

Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest and others:

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Source: CentCom.

05 December 2007
By Sgt. Wayne Edmiston
2nd Marine Logistics Group
.

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq – The AN/TSQ-120B is a temporary air traffic control tower used by Marines in expeditionary operations until a more sturdy structure can be built. Although designed for just 90 days of continual use, the one at Al Taqaddum Air Base has seen more than its share of sorties since it was raised during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After years of planning by previous deployed units, combat engineers with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 were recently assigned to construct a new, state of the art tower. Working around delays caused by constant changes in the weather and aircraft flybys, the Marines poured the 30-by-30 foot concrete foundation and erected the prefabricated frame that will offer more capabilities to controllers.

The current expeditionary tower only allows controllers a 180-degree view of the airfield, but, once completed, the new one will provide an all-encompassing, 360-degree view, according to Master Sgt. Alexander M. Gutierrez, the Air Traffic Control Operations Chief for Marine Air Control Squadron 2.

“It lets (the controllers) work a whole lot better because they can see every aircraft they are working with,” said Gutierrez, a Kansas City, Kan., native. “It relieves a lot of pressure that comes with a challenging job.”

With more than 300 flights daily and 10,300 monthly, Al Taqaddum rivals most medium-sized commercial airports in the United States. The air traffic controllers here are responsible for ensuring the safety of all the inbound and outbound traffic, all of which is supporting the efforts of Multi National Force-West in Al Anbar Province.

The Marines working on the tower plan to have it completed within two to three weeks, according to the project’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Gunnery Sgt. Jason R. Gillepsie. “It takes considerable effort and a lot of skill to get something like this accomplished,” the Walla Walla, Wash., native said. And since it has taken this long to get a new tower started, the engineers said they are putting their skills to work and ensuring it is built to last above all else.

“This is going to be a structure that is going to be here for a while and a lot of people are going to see it and even work in it,” Lance Cpl. Michael A. Kemp, a combat engineer and Crawfordsville, Ind., native said. “It’s the gratification of getting to help your fellow Marines that I enjoy.”

Photo – AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (Dec. 1, 2007) – Marines inspect the metal frame of a new air traffic control tower. Combat engineers with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 are currently constructing an air traffic control tower to create a better working environment for its air traffic controllers. Photo by: Sgt. Wayne Edmiston.

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Source: CentCom.

05 December 2007
by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – Airmen are improving the lives and operating conditions of Marines by constructing more than $9.8 million in aircraft shelters, taxiways and temporary shelters at Al Asad Air Base. Deployed in an “in-lieu-of” tasking in support of the 20th Army Engineer Brigade, 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE Squadron Airmen are completing numerous projects — from the design concept to completion — in a joint service environment.

“We’re here working on a Marine base, taking on an Army job while using Navy parts,” said Master Sgt. Richard Kapp, the 557th ERHS cantonments superintendent and acting first sergeant, deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “It’s an odd process.”

REDHORSE is an elite Air Force engineer squadron, whose main function is to take a strip of uninhabited land and turn it into a fully functioning base with running water, shelters and power. The REDHORSE team currently has 14 assigned projects. Six construction tasks are underway, and six more are scheduled to start soon totaling $9.8 million. One project recently completed was a $65,000 convoy briefing facility, which included three temporary shelters.

“Having this facility complete now allows Soldiers and Marines going out on convoys to have a place to brief before heading out on dangerous missions without having their mind distracted by the extreme cold or heat,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rob Townsend, the 557th ERHS superintendent deployed from Malmstrom AFB, Mont.

REDHORSE Airmen also are building other temporary-shelters throughout the base. “One of our sites will house more than $1.5 million in Meals Ready to Eat that normally would have been thrown away due to the high heat in the summer,” said Capt. Andy LaFrazia, the 557th ERHS spoke commander for Al Asad AB, deployed from McChord AFB, Wash.

The engineers have faced several challenges as a result of the nontraditional nature of the deployment. “Getting materials we need for a project is a problem on everyone’s mind. It’s a brand new system,” Captain LaFrazia said. “We are getting used to it and are pushing forward, keeping our mind on the mission.”

The Airmen are driven to improve the quality of life of their fellow military members. “Everyone here wants to make a difference,” Sergeant Townsend said. “We all have the same focus of getting the job done and done safely.” “We are building a better way of life for all the servicemembers who live and work in Al Asad,” said Senior Airman James Cox, a 557th ERHS electrician deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C.

Photo – Tech. Sgt. Chris Collins cuts a 2-by-6 piece of wood to use as a frame for a bench Nov. 24 at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. REDHORSE Airmen are currently working approximately $9.8 million in projects here. Sergeant Collins, a 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE utilities technician, is deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards).

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Source: CentCom.

30 November 2007
By Senior Airman James Bolinger, USAF
Combined Joint Task Force 82 Public Affairs
.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – The towns of Eskandareh and Pacha Khak hide deep within the mountains of the Kohe Safid district in Afghanitan’s Parwan province. Eskandareh is near the head of Tagab Valley, and Pacha Khak has been a stronghold for many armies throughout Afghanistan’s history.

Members of 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, accompanied by Afghan National Police and the Kohe Safi Police Mentor Team, brought doctors and veterinarians to these two remote villages Nov. 27 for a village medical outreach.

Medical outreach missions are a way for the Afghan government and coalition forces to build a rapport with citizens on their own turf, said Army Col. Robert Nobak, of 413th Civil Affairs Battalion. “When possible, we like to work with Afghan providers and, when necessary, make referrals to Afghan medical facilities,” he said. “However, if there are cases where Afghan facilities are not readily available, we can make referrals to (Bagram Air Base).”

This was the first time such a mission has been held at either of these villages, and more than 450 men, women and children were seen. “The age range was from 2 to 95, so the spectrum was fairly broad,” Nobak said. “The most common complaint was joint pain, for which we have a variety of anti-inflammatory medicines.”

Maj. Jeremy McGuire, leader of the Kohe Safi Police Mentor Team, organized the mission. “I proposed the idea for a medical outreach to Parwan’s subgovernor and the local (Afghan police) chief,” he said. “They picked the villages, which are a political hot bed.” Pacha Khak was a Mujahedeen stronghold during the communist regime and was sympathetic to the Taliban when coalition forces took control of Afghanistan. Eskanderah villagers fought against the Taliban; in fact, an Afghan National Army general hails from the area, McGuire said.

The mission met “my expectations as far as the timeline, security and set-up,” said Navy Lt. Tammy Felker, a physician assistant with 413th Civil Affairs Battalion who attended to women and girls in the village. “It did not meet my expectations in that I would have liked to have seen more women of childbearing age. When we don’t see women of childbearing age in the clinic, then the village tends to be more traditional and suppress their women. The amount of women of childbearing age we see signifies the level of freedom the women have.” Still, Felker said, she felt the mission was still a success. “This is the first time we visited these villages. It takes time to develop a rapport with people,” she said. “The first part is establishing trust. I feel we established trust with this visit, so, next time we will see more women and children.

Helping people with their ailments wasn’t the only aspect of this mission. A veterinarian and an entomologist were also along for the ride. “I provide public-health assistance and education to the villagers, hopefully to implement long-lasting fixes for problems like insect-borne and food- and water-borne diseases, improving the overall health and well-being of locals, though I tend to assist the other medical or vet assets to accomplish their missions,” said Navy Lt. Jason Forster, a medical entomologist.

As the Humvees headed back to Bagram Air Base, chatter over the radios was all about the success of the mission. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would call this (mission) a 9,” McGuire said. “We would have liked to get more Afghan doctors, but the ANP did an outstanding job with security.”

Photo – Sgt. 1st Class Jason Sealey, Kohe Safi Police Mentor Team, holds a calf still while Lt. Col. Richard Probst, 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, gives it a shot during a medical outreach visit, Nov. 27, 2007, in Afghanistan’s Parwan province. Coalition doctors and veterinarians saw more than 450 people and 330 animals during the two-day visit. Photo by Senior Airman James Bolinger, USAF.

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These articles have been brought to my attention, and I would like to share them with you. The first one deals with Iranian weapons found in Iraq 12/13/07; the second is a joint statement about the car bombing on 12/12/07; the third is another joint statement concerning the transfer of security responsibilities in Basra province-12/16/2007; and lastly, this article is about the terrorists we killed at Helmand-12/18/07.

All of these are press releases from CentCom, and they can be reached at:

    NEWS RELEASE
    HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
    7115 South Boundary Boulevard
    MacDill AFB, Fla. 33621-5101

Now for the articles (emphasis added is mine).

Iranian Rockets Found, Turned Over To Coalition Forces.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – A cache of Iranian-manufactured rockets was turned over to Coalition Forces based at FOB Delta Dec. 4, 2007. Iraqi Civil Defense Corps personnel delivered 14 107mm Iranian rockets and fuses to Kazakhstani Soldiers, said 1st Lt. Almaz Mukashev, the Kazakhstani liaison officer. The rockets were manufactured in 2006.

ICDC personnel have turned over munitions to Coalition Forces before, but this was the first time Iranian weapons were turned over from the force to Coalition Forces, said Col. Peter Baker, the 214th Fires Brigade commander. The ICDC specializes in explosive ordnance disposal. Its head is Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abdul Rasul. “This is another indication of the cooperation of Iraqi officials who in all earnestness want to have a better society,” Baker said. “They know these rockets are here illegally and that they are here to maim and kill Iraqi and Coalition Security Forces and innocent civilians.”

Baker said this is a sign that Iraqis are taking ownership of their area to bring about better security. “Iraqis have to be part of the security and reconstruction effort,” Baker said. “The more stable and secure the area is, the more projects we will be able to undertake and the more capacity building we will be able to accomplish, whether it is in health, education or fuel, all of which are benefiting the Iraqis.”

The Kazakhstani unit gave the munitions to Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three Battalion for analysis. The Kazakhstani battalion provides EOD support to FOB Delta.

This is awesome. Unfortunately, this happens everyday over there, but the dinosaur press fails to report it. Is it not news when there is a tidal wave of change in a country, be it bad or good?

Joint Statement by Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and General David H. Petraeus on the Car Bomb Attacks in Maysan Province.

We join the people of Iraq in strongly condemning yesterday’s barbaric attack targeting the citizens of al Amarah in the Maysan Province. The United States extends its deepest condolences, support and prayers to the people of Maysan Province. The Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team [PRT] and Multi-National Division South East [MND-SE] are working closely with Iraqi authorities to ensure they have sufficient medical supplies and humanitarian assistance for the citizens of al Amarah. We stand ready to provide additional support as needed.

Such senseless acts of violence against innocent citizens only serve to strengthen our resolve to stand against their perpetrators. We will work closely with the government of Iraq and with Iraqi Security Forces [ISF] to help bring those responsible to justice.

This was a horrible attack by cowards who hide behind women and cannot show their faces. To me, this is not bravery. Mohammed raises cowards? This is what I am to surmise, because that’s all I see from these animals. If you don’t like it, SPEAK UP AGAINST IT. Take back your religion. Only you can do that.

By CHARGÉ D’Affaires Patricia A. Butenis and General David H. Petraeus on the Transfer of Security Responsibility for Basra Province.

The United States and Multi-National Force-Iraq welcome the transfer of security in Basra Province to Iraqi responsibility as a positive step on the path to Iraq’s self-reliance.

Basra is the ninth province to be transferred to Iraqi security responsibility as the Government of Iraq and its security forces continue to develop and assume greater responsibility for governing and providing security for the citizens of Iraq. The first province transferred to Government of Iraqi security control was Muthanna in July 2006, followed by Dhi Qar, An Najaf, Maysan, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk and most recently in October 2007, Karbala.

The transfer of provincial security responsibility is particularly significant because it includes the city of Basra, the second largest city in Iraq. Basra played an important role in early Islamic history and was founded in the first century of Hijra. The country’s main port is located in Basra province and has been an integral part in the reconstruction and advancement of logistical efforts for the rest of the country.

Iraqi Security Forces in Basra have been successfully operating independently, maintaining their own security for the past four months. Working with local government and military officials, they have demonstrated their readiness to assume responsibility for the provincial security. Today this responsibility is theirs.

The transition of responsibility for security in Basra Province represents the most recent step toward a future of improved security, self-reliance and increasing prosperity that will benefit all Iraqi citizens. In order to attain sustainable security, the provincial and military leadership in Basra still have work to do and we will assist as requested. The United States and Multi-National Force-Iraq congratulate the Government of Iraq on this important milestone.

I am not as optimistic about this withdrawal as some may appear to be. Actually, I think they are doing more praying than anything else. al Qaida and Iranian National Guard (ING) are moving more of their troops into this vacuum. This is a time for action on our behalf to help the Iraqis in this area. They have been bombed in the past few days by al Qaida. One bomb, wait two minutes for civillians to come, another bomb. PLEASE TAKE THE CUFFS OFF OUR MEN!

Several Militants Killed During Afghan, Coalition Forces Operations in Helmand.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Several militants were killed during a precision-guided munitions strike Monday in Helmand Province targeting a Taliban command and control network. Coalition forces conducted a precision-guided munitions strike in the Kajaki District of Helmand Province targeting a Taliban commander believed to be facilitating the movement of foreign fighters and suicide bombers throughout the area.

During the course of operations, CF targeted several militants outside a compound and employed precision-guided munitions, which killed the militants, including one militant reported to be a Taliban commander. In a follow-on operation, Afghan and CF conducted a search of compounds in the Kajaki District of Helmand Province for individuals reported to be associated with the militants targeted during the strike. While conducting the operation, Afghan and CF, using small-arms, killed several armed militants who posed a credible threat to the combined force. During a subsequent engagement on the compound, the combined force was fired upon by a group of militants barricaded in a building. The combined force employed grenades, killing the militants barricaded inside.

There were no immediate indications of injuries or deaths to civilians not taking part in hostilities. Continuing their search of the compounds, the combined force recovered several weapons and explosives, which were destroyed in-place to prevent further use by extremist forces. “Afghan and Coalition forces are having significant success in degrading the Taliban’s ability to conduct militant operations,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

May I make an observation here? If you are close enough to the a**holes firing at us, you are involved in their activity. Have they forgotten that the driver of the get-away car is just as guilty as the bank robber who murders the guard? When are we going to start seriously fighting this war?

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So the Democrats say they want to see more visible effort on Iraqi government and her people before they will pay our men and women for the work we sent them there to do? Well, check this out:

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – The number of Iraqi-led reconciliation efforts swelled over the past two weeks across Multi-National Division – Center as local Iraqi leaders seek to capitalize on an improved security situation by developing the institutions that will enable long-term stability.

With Coalition Forces and Iraqi Concerned Local Citizens working increasingly in tandem with the Iraqi Police and Army to solidify security relationships, a window has opened for local leadership to push forward business development and infrastructure repair and forge political relationships across sects and neighborhoods.

On Nov. 26, Khalif Haloos of the Sadr al Yusifiyah Nahia Governance Council hosted more than 500 sheiks from Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish tribes. Also in attendance were Coalition Forces from the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who were the invited guests of the Iraqis who organized the meeting. Security for this meeting, the largest of several important reconciliation gatherings in MND-C in recent days, was provided by the Iraqi Security Forces.

“This meeting was an example of Sunnis and Shias working together,” said Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div (AASLT). “The ISF took the lead in providing security for the meeting, and we had representation from all the key players in that area. That dynamic, coming from the local level, could be an example for the national government.”

The sheiks discussed reconciliation issues, from the return of displaced families, to a pact that would allow Iraqis of all sects to travel freely through the sheiks’ territory without fear of sectarian reprisal. They also discussed restraining Iranian influence, suppressing the remaining insurgents in their territory, and ways to integrate their activities with Iraq’s central government.

On Nov. 27 [2007] at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, leaders of the Iraqi Army and Police met with elected officials and Coalition commanders to discuss security cooperation and coordination in Babil province.

Col. Michael Garret, commander of the outgoing 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, used the occasion to say goodbye to the Iraqi leaders with whom he had worked for more than a year. Working to build on those relationships now is Col. Thomas James, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Although it’s early in James’ deployment, his brigade has seen many examples of local leaders taking steps to improve their community through Sunni and Shia cooperation, specifically from the Sunni sheik and the police chief in Musayyib. Both will tell you that they are Iraqis first, not Sunni or Shia, and only want what’s good for their country and citizens, James said.

Another meeting was held Dec. 1 on the other side of MND-C at Forward Operating Base Hammer, east of Baghdad. Iraqi civic and tribal leaders in attendance offered frank assessments of their needs and asked U.S. and Iraqi officials for continued support with stabilization efforts.

Col. Wayne Grigsby, commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said after the meeting, “I’ve spent 35 months of my life in Iraq, and this is the best I’ve ever seen it.” He noted, however, that there remain opportunities to synchronize U.S. and Iraqi efforts.

Part of that direction involves parlaying improved security and cooperation among the different parties to build a stepped-up reconstruction program. Similar to the reconciliation conferences that took place, the reconstruction effort is manifesting itself across MND-C as community development projects.

On Nov. 28, the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. opened a new medical clinic in Narwhan after the project was approved by Iraq’s Ministry of Health. As a signal of its commitment to the initiative, the ministry hired three doctors to work at the facility, two of whom are female.

The following day, the 1-10th FA conducted a school bag and bottled-water drop in Sabah Nisan. School children there received 180 school bags and 3,500 cases of water, distributed by the Concerned Local Citizens.

On Nov. 26, the Al-Wehda Nahia council celebrated with Iraqi and Coalition Forces the completion of a well system in al Sadiq. The system includes water pumps, storage tanks, a generator and quarters for a caretaker. The project was a joint effort by local Iraqis and Coalition Forces.

Finally, on Nov. 28, Iraqis celebrated the graduation of a class of small businessmen from an entrepreneur training program in the Mada’in Qada. The program helps develop business skills and planning among local business owners and then provides them with micro-grants to revitalize their businesses. As part of the program, U.S. military and civilian officials assess the proposals of the Iraqi graduates and award grants of up to $10,000 to eligible candidates.

Now I want you to go to your phones and dial toll free at 1-866-340-9281, and tell the Democrats to PAY OUR MEN AND WOMEN! They wanted evidence? Here it is. To continue to ignore this fact, is to ignore any and all facts they with which they disagree politically. This is outrageous, and it should not be allowed to stand. Write about it, talk about it on the radio programs, do whatever you can. Our men and women did not ask to be deployed by the same people who are now refusing to pay them so that they can make political points back home. They really, REALLY, need to stop. Thank you.

Source: CentCom News Release.

Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest: The Florida Masochist: Marilou Ranario, The Florida Masochist: Weekly Dolphins prediction, Wolf Pangloss: Interplanetary: Open Trackbacks thru Tuesday, Stop the ACLU: Friday Free For All, Faultline USA, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, The World According to Carl, Shadowscope, Global American Discourse, Stuck On Stupid, The Pink Flamingo, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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  • 21. The Amboy Times: Father killed daughter for not wearing hijab.
  • 20. The Uncooperative Blogger: The Uncooperative Radio Show! Dec. 11, 12, 13 and 14.
  • 19. The Florida Masochist: The natives are restless.
  • 18. The Florida Masochist: The return of Mike Keenan.
  • 17. Faultline USA: Ilegal Aliens and Election Fraud.
  • 16. The Florida Masochist: The Knucklehead of the Day award.
  • 15. Planck’s Constant: Christmas Hotties.
  • 14. the so called me: Carnival of Family Life #3.
  • 13. Right Truth: Home for the Troops (original video for Right Truth).
  • 12. Republican National Convention Blog: Pearl Harbor Remembered.

    Crap. I have to wait until I reboot the computer…AGAIN. Arghh.

  • 11. Right Truth: Terror Symposium.
  • 10. The Florida Masochist: A mess of his own making.
  • 9. The Amboy Times: Presidential Candidates on Border Security.
  • 8. The Florida Masochist: The Knuckleheads of the Day award.
  • 7. Planck’s Constant: An Infidel Asks Muslims a Question.
  • 6. The Florida Masochist: Certainly not.
  • 5. Woman Honor Thyself: Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas TroopS!
  • 4. Planck’s Constant: A Light Unto All the Nations.
  • 3. The Virtuous Republic: Have You Heard about the Climate Change Performance Index Released at Bali?
  • 2. Big Dogs Weblog: Dems Knew About Waterboarding in 2002.
  • 1. Faultline USA: Moderate or Slippery Sliding Southern Baptists?
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    Chaotic Confidence

    As I sit here watching two football games on the boob-tube and listening to one on the radio, I am also reading and posting articles that should have been posted a while back. I am so glad all this information is stored in a computer instead of my room, because oh boy! what a mess that would be!

    I have read about Air Force sharpshooters, Iraqi Police recruitments, and Paratroopers from Five Nations gathered for the ‘Bright Star’ jump. All of these articles are exciting and give me hope for the future of America.

    I have just updated the articles available to you. They are Army Mechanics Go Distance to Keep Wheels Rolling, Air Force firefighters teach Iraqis blaze fighting basics, Obstacle clearing teams keep Anbar roadways safe and Flag-raising Marks Culmination of Airman’s Dream. They are well worth reading, and they are below this post on the same site. Enjoy!

    Now if only we could get our polititians to act like Americans…

    So where is the chaos? Where is the confidence? I am in chaos, and God and our military is my confidence. (Mostly God, but I wanted to include our military. These fellas are doing great deeds.)

    This is my Sunday Open Trackback post. Please, no porn. I’m pretty okay with any other discussion, but I will not tolerate the degradation of women. Or men, for that matter. Have a great weekend everyone.

    Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest: The Virtuous Republic, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, Stuck On Stupid, Big Dog’s Weblog, Chuck Adkins, Conservative Cat, The World According to Carl, Global American Discourse, Dumb Ox Daily News, Right Voices, Woman Honor Thyself, Perri Nelson’s Website, Big Dog’s Weblog, AZAMATTEROFACT, 123beta, Adam’s Blog, and The World According to Carl, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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  • 3. The Florida Masochist: The Knucklehead of the Day award.
  • 2. Planck’s Constant: 10 Palestinians Killed for Every Israeli is intolerable.
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    Source: CentCom.

    30 November 2007
    By Cpl. Thomas J. Griffith
    2nd Marine Logistics Group
    .

    AL ASAD, Iraq — Lance Cpl. Allen R. Rossi said the closer service members get to a possible land mine or improvised explosive device, the less worried they become. “You won’t feel a thing if it goes off that close,” explained the Camden, Ohio, native.

    That’s why the members of the Obstacle Clearing Detachment walk a few meters ahead of everyone else. ‘Never step where we haven’t swept’ is their motto and they live by it, sweeping the dusty, trash-laden roads to ensure quick and safe passage for the convoys behind them.

    The Marines of OCD, Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) embed with convoys to clear the roadways of debris, minefields or anything else that could impede the movement of vehicles and troops. “They’re basically putting themselves in harm’s way so that the convoy can move safely and isn’t slowed,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael A. Leisure, the chief of Combat Engineer Platoon and a Parkersburg, W. Va., native.

    The team also searches for improvised explosive devices and weapons caches, and when it finds them, calls in an explosive ordnance disposal team for disposal. “The main goal is to find anything before it goes off,” said Sgt. Levi A. Gundy, a detachment team leader and Keokuk, Iowa, native. “It’s hard to explain how to get comfortable with it.”

    By trade, these Marines are combat engineers, a job that normally entails building structures, breaching entryways and providing security. Assignment to the clearing detachment is an additional duty that poses its own potential dangers, but Marines like Cpl. Jamison A. Elsmore, a detachment team member, said they prefer the unique challenge the OCD missions provide. “It’s one of the most important jobs out here,” explained the Plymouth, Minn., native. “Wherever anyone’s going, they’re going to need to arrive safely. We’re one of the few guys who can offer that to them.”

    The hardest part of the job, according to Elsmore, is the difficulty of spotting many of the dangers they are looking for. Often times, trash lines the streets and the roads are covered with a fine sand the Marines refer to as moon dust. The small size of many of the objects they’re searching for also causes a problem. Improvised explosive devices vary in size and shape and littered roadways are ideal for concealment.

    Leisure said the OCD Marines are “true professionals” and although many of the Marines are on their first deployment, they handle the tasks assigned to them without hesitation. “They’re very efficient and by the time they come (back to Iraq), they’ll be maturing corporals teaching their Marines the same things,” he said. “We like to have fun, but as soon as we cross that (entry control point), it’s game on.”

    Photo – AL ASAD, Iraq – Lance Cpl. Allen R. Rossi sweeps a metal detector in search of wires, improvised explosive devices, ordnance or anything that would impede the movement of the Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 15. Rossi and the other members of the Obstacle Clearing Detachment are responsible for clearing anything that would slow down a convoy. Rossi is a combat engineer and OCD team member with Combat Engineer Platoon, Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). Rossi is a Camden, Ohio, native. Photo by Cpl. Thomas J. Griffith.

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    Source: CentCom.

    28 November 2007
    By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson
    407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
    .

    ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN) — Seven local Iraqi firefighters shared a momentous occasion as they graduated from the Ali Base basic firefighter skills course. The 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services flight firefighters put on a six-day training course to train Iraqi firemen of varying experience levels, from a province in nearby An Nasiriyah.

    “Our Air Force firefighters are directly supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom by helping them improve the fire services in southern Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. DeRon Branch, course leader with the 407th ECES. The regional program is run in cooperation with liaisons from the Iraqi fire service.

    The 80-hour Air Force curriculum was condensed into about five, four-hour blocks covering basic firefighting skills, search and rescue, live fire training, auto extrication and medical training to include CPR. Before the start of the course, students went through a vigorous Iraqi and American selection and screening process.

    The first visit to the fire house included introductions and academic classroom work. But in the weeks following, the men got to put those lessons into practice. “My most memorable experience would be the eagerness each student possessed to become firefighters,” Sergeant Branch said. “They were all very hard working.”

    “The training the men have received, we are very grateful for,” said an Iraqi firefighter. “We will use our training experiences every day by training others. Now we just need the right equipment to help us, so we can better respond and save lives.” The sixth and final day of training, the Iraqi firefighters went through a confidence course allowing them to apply the techniques they learned.

    “Our mission is to save lives. And after all their training, they looked like they were ready to save lives too,” said Staff Sgt. Dan Erickson Jr., a fire protection crew chief with the 407th ECES. The firemen were each given a certificate of training during a special graduation ceremony.

    Photo – A local Iraqi firefighter operates a hose while Staff Sgt. Joshua Wilson gives advice to effectively knock out a fire during training. The 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters conduct a live-fire training exercise for the Iraqi firefighters teaching basic skills of advancing a hand line, procedures on approaching hazardous environments and performing search and rescue. Sergeant Wilson is deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder).

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    Source: CentCom.

    27 November 2007
    Spc. Micah E. Clare
    4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan – A young Soldier rubbed sleep from his eyes as he stumbled into the giant machinery garage at 10 p.m., his vision flooded with harsh yellow light. He’d been working on various trucks and machines since 4 a.m., but he still had to work on one more.

    Late nights are nothing new to deployed mechanics like Pfc. Carson Beaver, from the Headquarters Support Company, 864th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Lewis, Wash., whose main mission is providing “last stop” maintenance support for the continuing fight against the insurgency in Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

    That night, Pfc. Beaver and his team had to fix yet another damaged Humvee returning from a late night patrol. After running some tests, they determined that the vehicle’s dirt-encrusted front differential needed to be replaced. “This vehicle is a four-wheel drive, and right now, it’s not driving with all four wheels,” Pfc. Beaver explained, adding that the repair would take at least four to five hours, but the vehicle would be ready to roll the next morning.

    “We find ourselves fixing everything from gators (small utility vehicles) to five-tons (heavy transport vehicles),” Pfc. Beaver said, lying on his back while unscrewing bolts, with several tons of metal inches above his head. “This is a very important job though, keeping units coming through here on their feet. When they come to us needing something fixed, they know we’re reliable and they’ll be able to continue on their mission.”

    “Missions would cease without proper vehicle maintenance because everyone relies so heavily on them out here,” explained Lt. Alex Faber, an HSC motor officer. “We’re a last-stop repair shop for units traveling into southern Paktika. Whether we’re just providing them with some parts or staying up all night to repair a broken vehicle, we’ll support anyone who comes through here.”

    Because of the incredibly rough terrain and lack of paved roads these vehicles drive on on a daily basis, they take an unimaginable beating. Sometimes the team faces problems they don’t have any idea how to fix at first, which requires a brainstorm for newer Soldiers, even after their extensive schooling, Lt. Faber said.

    “I tell every one of my new guys, unless you’ve fixed something out here, it’s like you’re doing it for the first time,” he said. “Sometimes it comes right down to pulling out the manual and taking it step by step, by the numbers. Our worst job was restoring a vehicle that had been submerged in water for an extended period of time. It took us over 30 straight hours to completely replace the front end with one from another broken vehicle.”

    When the team finally completes a repair, the only way to find out whether it works or not is to start it back up and take it for a test drive. “You spend all this time fixing something, and you hope it works,” said Pfc. Beaver as they finished replacing the Humvee’s differential around 2 a.m. “If not, you get right back to work. That’s the real job.”

    “We work 12 hours days mostly,” said Sgt. Emmanuel Lamsangam. “But we’ve learned sometimes that when we’re completely exhausted and not getting anywhere, we have to pack it up and start fresh in the morning. If it’s a mission priority though, we get it done. It just takes a lot of coffee.”

    During those 12 hours, bloodied knuckles, grease stains, oil spills and many other unpleasant things are commonplace, said Spc. Rodolfo Sombra, another HSC mechanic. “These coveralls don’t always help,” he said while grinning and wiping fluid spillage off his face. “It makes a shower and a good night’s sleep pretty nice after a long day like this one.”

    Even though the mechanic teams spend a lot of time working, they still make sure to get some off time every once in a while, said Pfc. Beaver. “You still have to have fun sometimes to keep you going,” he explained. “We play a lot of video games, mostly racing games. It’s funny when we custom create our racing cars with ease, replacing parts in seconds that would have taken us hours in the shop to do. I wish it was always that easy.”

    On the few easy days they have, without the usual five to six vehicles to fix, they really clean up their work area. The large garage can become quite a wreck in the hustle to crank vehicles back to life and send them on their way, said Pfc. Beaver.

    “Clean up will be tomorrow for sure,” said Lt. Faber, looking around at the garage, strewn with tools and oil spills. His team had finally been able to get the Humvee on its way. His Soldiers were definitely going to be given a few extra hours of sleep that morning.

    “It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding to push yourself,” said Pfc. Beaver as he slipped out of his messy coveralls. “I love this job, it’s the best thing I could be doing in the Army.”

    To mechanics like him, being a Soldier doesn’t always mean being out on patrols, missions or firefights. “Having the state of mind to do whatever it takes to do your job and keep the mission going, that’s what being a Soldier is all about,” said Pfc. Beaver.

    Photo – Mechanics from Headquarters Support Company, 864th Engineer Battalion raise a Humvee that needs repair up on jacks while determining how to fix it at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, Nov. 7. Photo by Spc. Micah E. Clare.

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    Source: CentCom.

    This one is dedicated to The Paratrooper of Love, so it may ease the wounds of the arse-kickin’ he suffered yesterday at the Army/Navy game. 😉

    14 November 2007
    BY Third Army Public Affairs
    .

    CAIRO, Egypt — U.S. and coalition forces conducted a “Friendship Jump” at Koum Asheem drop zone in Cairo Sunday as part of Exercise ‘Bright Star’.

    The joint-combined exercise continues through Nov. 19. It includes a computer-aided command post exercise, airborne operations, naval operations, and special forces training exercises conducted by the components of U.S. Central Command. This year’s exercise demonstrates the shift in modern warfare by focusing on technology as a battlefield enabler, USCENTCOM officials said.

    The airborne operation began at 6:30 a.m. Sunday with about 200 paratroopers participating from the United States, Egypt, Kuwait, Germany, and Yemen. There was an airborne wing exchange at the conclusion of the jump. Nearly 7,100 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors from Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yemen are participating in this year’s Bright Star exercise.

    About 200 members of the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division headquarters are part of this week’s command post exercise in Egypt. The division, with supporting elements from New Hampshire, New Jersey and Minnesota, will team with members of the Egyptian Army’s 9th Armor Division command and staff to replicate a multinational senior headquarters during the battle simulation.

    Bright Star is designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships for U.S. and coalition forces while increasing awareness and appreciation of each participant’s culture, customs and professional military skills, according to the U.S Central Command.

    Bright Star is the oldest and largest exercise in the USCENTCOM area of operations. It is a biennial joint/coalition exercise designed to increase regional involvement in pursuit of improved security and defense capabilities.

    Photo – Paratroopers from five nations descend onto Koum Asheem drop zone in Egypt as part of Exercise Bright Star. Photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Buckley.

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    New face of recruitment

    Source: CentCom.

    19 November 2007
    By Cpl. Billy Hall
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    AL QA’IM, Iraq — Droves of Iraqi men lined the streets of Ubaydi. The awakening call of roosters could be heard over the murmur of a crowd nearing 400. A conglomerate of Marines, soldiers, sailors, interpreters and Iraqi Police readied nearby at the local police station to kickoff a two-day Iraqi Police recruiting drive with the hopes of identifying 75 qualified recruits.

    The district Police Transition Team, who advise, train and mentor local police, work hand in hand with the Betio Bastards of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, and the Iraqi Police to quell the need for additional local forces in the region.

    “We are looking at hiring more policemen to [cover] the eastern part of Al Qa’im, in order to establish a police station north of the Euphrates River,” said Capt. Gerardo D. Gaje Jr., the district Police Transition Team leader.

    In addition to providing sufficient security for the event, the elements of the recruiting team conducted a thorough screening of each applicant that included literacy testing, medical evaluations, administrative processing, security questionnaires and a physical fitness test. “For a lot of the (recruiting team), it was their first experience with recruiting,” said Gaje. “If they did recruit, it wasn’t to this extent.”

    The Police Transition Team separated the massive crowd into groups and began to systematically arrive at the literacy testing station. Interpreters circled the classroom-like setting to help the staff administer the test designed to gauge reading and writing abilities.

    When the applicant successfully passed the test, they moved on to be processed with the Biometrics Automated Toolset system, which is the database used in Iraq that identifies individuals through personal information, fingerprints, photographs from various angles and iris scans. A security questionnaire was also required to ensure they have no ties to criminal activity.

    The magnitude of the turnout and the unpredictable environment proved to be a tasking challenge for coalition forces. “A couple of times the power went out, so we had to reconnect our computers,” said Cpl. John Michael Markle, an intelligence analyst with Task Force 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines, who assisted with the BAT system. “Really, the hardest part was the language barrier. We had only one interpreter between three BAT stations.”

    Applicants still eligible after the initial stations were then ushered on to a comprehensive medical evaluation. Navy corpsmen took vital signs, height and weight measurements and tested range of motion to determine if they were fit for duty.

    “A majority of them that were in the best physical condition were the farmers and fishermen,” said Hospitalman Anthony Eromosece, a Navy corpsman with 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines, and Bronx, N.Y., native. “You can tell they’re hard working men with their bodies intact. I think a lot of (the applicants) should make it.”

    The final stage of the screening, overseen by Marines and soldiers, included a physical fitness test that involved pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups and a 100-meter dash. Men, of ages ranging from 18 to their late 40s, took on a competitive mindset to prove their physical prowess. Failure to perform to a specific standard rendered an applicant ineligible for duty.

    “There was frustration amongst some of the people that couldn’t pass a test, but that’s expected,” Gaje said. “It’s just the fact that everyone wants a job, and right now, being a policeman is one of the better paying jobs.”

    At the conclusion of the recruiting drive, 75 qualified recruits were identified and will attend the Habbaniyah Police Training Center for an 8 to 9-week course before reporting for duty.

    At a time when Iraqi Police face considerable challenges, the willingness of the local populace to take on the rigors of the job proves their determination to make a better tomorrow for Iraq.

    Photo – AL QA’IM, Iraq – Seaman Anthony Eromosece, a Navy corpsman with Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, and Bronx, N.Y., native, checks the height of a potential recruit during an Iraqi Police recruiting drive conducted by the district Police Transition Team and.Task Force 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines. Navy corpsmen took vital signs, height and weight measurements and tested range of motion in order to determine if applicants were fit for duty in the Iraqi Police. Photo by: Cpl. Billy Hall.

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    Source: CentCom.

    19 November 2007
    By Staff Sgt. Markus M. Maier
    U.S. Central Air Forces Combat Correspondent Team
    .

    KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, IRAQ — When servicemembers go outside the wire here, they occasionally have an extra set of eyes watching over them. Concealed, the members of the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron’s Close Precision Engagement Team observe, provide intelligence and, if necessary, neutralize threats.

    The CPET consists of Air Force security forces counter-snipers whose expert marksmanship and ability to stay invisible allows them to sneak up to an enemy undetected and neutralize them if needed.

    “A large part of our job here is reconnaissance for the Army and sometimes agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment here,” said Staff Sgt. Curtis Huffman, the CPET NCO in charge. “When they have a mission outside of the wire we’ll set up near that location about an hour or more before they get out there. Concealed and out of sight, we are able to observe the area and give them real time intel before they even arrive.”

    Through direct communication with the mission commander, the sharpshooters let the team know how many people are in the area, their exact location, if there are any weapons or if the people seem to be hiding anything. That way, the team knows exactly what to expect before arriving at the location. “Close Precision Engagement provides us with the ability to see into the future,” said Special Agent Christopher Church, the OSI Det. 2410 commander. “They provide us with a situational awareness that we would not have without them. Having them watch over us during missions makes an enormous difference.”

    The sharpshooters’ skills also help save lives during counter improvised explosive device and counter indirect fire operations. “We respond to routes that get hit by IEDs a lot, or an area that is known for launching IDFs,” said Sergeant Huffman, who is deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. “We’ll set up somewhere concealed along that route or that area where we can watch people setting stuff up so we can get them before they can hurt our guys. We could be there from 24 to 72 hours.”

    CPE team members also respond to their own comrades. If security forces members on patrol or on a post perceives suspicious activities in the area, they can call on the team to come out and, using their trained eyes, optics and night vision capability, determine if there is an actual threat.

    Each sniper team consists of two people, the spotter and the shooter. The spotter’s responsibility is to determine things like the distance to the target, wind direction and then provide the shooter with corrections, which are adjustments on the rifle.

    “Spotters do all the mathematical equations for range estimation, windage, everything from start to end,” said Airman 1st Class Matt Leeper, a CPET member also deployed from Eielson AFB. “The spotter definitely has the more difficult job. Your spotter has to be quick and accurate when giving the corrections. There is no time for the shooter to think twice. Your spotter is always right.”

    There are approximately 350 trained sharpshooters in the Air Force. Security forces members must show exceptional marksmanship abilities and attend three weeks of training at Camp Robinson, Ark., to become a counter-sniper. “The school is physically and mentally very challenging,” Airman Leeper said. “You are learning from the first day you get there.”

    There, students are introduced to the M-24 sniper rifle, the military version of a Remington 700. “The trigger squeeze on this weapon is a lot lighter than the M-4 and it also has a lot more kick,” Airman Leeper remarked. “Your shoulder gets roughed up at school where we fire more than 100 rounds a day.”

    Despite being a small part of their job at Kirkuk RAB, the shooting is often the most important aspect. “Only about five percent of our job is taking that shot and the other 95 percent is intelligence gathering,” he said. “But when you are in a situation where you have to neutralize a threat, you can’t really think about anything except you have positive identification on that target, they have a weapon or you know they are placing an IED. You put that target in your cross hairs, you imagine it’s just a blank target at your school house and you pull the trigger. You don’t have time to think about anything else.”

    The counter-snipers accomplish many missions, but find the most rewarding to be watching over soldiers or OSI agents, they said. “This is the reason why I joined,” Airman Leeper said. “When we are out there giving them info and providing cover I feel like I’m doing my job. I don’t feel like I deserve a medal, nothing like that. This is what my job is, and what I joined to do. I joined to come to Iraq and I went through sniper school to be an asset to the Air Force.”

    Photo – Airman 1st Class Matt Leeper slowly squeezes the trigger of his M-24 sniper rifle, the military version of a Remington 700 Nov. 14 near Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq. Airman Leeper is a memeber of the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Close Precision Engagement team. The CPET train as anti-sniper teams to target terrorist and insurgent snipers attacking U.S. and coalition forces in the area. Airman Leeper is deployed from the 354th Security Forces Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt Angelique Perez).

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    Source: CentCom.

    09 November 2007
    Multi-National Division – North PAO
    4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division PAO
    .

    BAQOUBA, Iraq – The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash., is in the process of expanding its area of responsibility to include all of Diyala province, Iraq.

    The brigade is taking over the area of operations currently held by 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, which has begun redeploying back to its home station at Fort Hood, Texas. 4-2 will continue to own much of its current battle space, which includes northern Baghdad province and western Diyala province.

    “Because the security situation here (northern Baghdad province) and in Diyala province has improved, we are effectively able to expand our area of influence from Baghdad up through Diyala,” explained Col. Jon Lehr, 4-2 commander.

    The Stryker brigade’s new area of operations includes the strategically important city of Baqouba. Al-Qaida in Iraq considers the city of approximately 300,000 as the capitol of the Islamic State of Iraq.

    This summer, 4-2 SBCT units supported successful operations to clear AQI from Baqouba, and U.S. officials now estimate that AQI has been degraded by 80 percent in the area.

    “Baqouba has so much importance to the enemy, and it is critical that we hold onto Baqouba,” said Command Sgt Maj. John Troxell, 4-2 SBCT’s top noncommissioned officer, during a recon of the city Nov. 5 and 6. “We want to continue to empower Iraqi Security Forces and Concerned Local Citizens so that the threat of AQI and other insurgent groups coming back into this area are very minimal.”

    Concerned Local Citizen is the term given by Coalition Forces for local nationals who are providing security in their own areas, including guarding neighborhoods and buildings and manning checkpoints. The U.S.-supported volunteers number more than 67,000 nationwide, according to military officials, and they play a crucial role in providing peace and security throughout 4-2’s expanded area of operations.

    “You can’t over stress the importance of CLCs,” Lehr said. The intent is to find groups of people willing to prevent insurgent extremists from attacking local citizens, with the aim of eventually transitioning these men to legitimate institutions within the Iraqi government, turning them into Iraqi Security Forces, both police and Iraqi army. There may be certain individuals that go beyond being able to do that because there is just too much blood on their hands, but I am willing to work with any group that comes forward with true reconciliation on their mind – someone that says I am not resisting the efforts of coalition forces and the government of Iraq to make Iraq a stable, sovereign nation.”

    Lehr outlined some of the new challenges that come with expanding into a new area, including increased geographic responsibility, working with Iraqi Security Forces and additional infrastructure rebuilding needs.

    “When you think of operating on a piece of ground the size of Maryland, that really paints a good word picture of just the physical difficulties of expanding,” Lehr said.

    “Unlike our current AO where we have very little influence over Iraqi Security Forces … we will have an entire Iraqi Army Division that we will have the ability to shape and influence, and that’s a good challenge,” Lehr continued, adding, “The third challenge is the condition of the infrastructure, meaning essential services throughout Diyala province.”

    Before Baqouba and the surrounding area was cleared of insurgents this past summer, essential services were relatively austere compared to the neighboring Baghdad province in which 4-2 currently operates.

    The brigade is gaining several new enablers to help with those challenges, including the State Department’s Diyala Provincial Reconstruction Team, the 4-2’s Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team and essential services teams.

    The brigade is also in the process of fielding new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to replace its up-armored HMMWVs. The MRAP has a V-shaped hull designed to better protect passengers against improvised explosive devices and ballistic threats.

    Lehr stressed that the overall strategy of conducting successful counter-insurgency operations will not change with the expanded battle space.

    “Being a counterinsurgent is akin to being a police officer and how a police officer conducts community policing,” Lehr said. “This type of fight requires different skills sets beyond tactical and technical. It requires interpersonal and conceptual skill sets, to understand that along with the lethal operations, diplomacy is what we do down to the lowest level. I think our units across the board have done exceptionally well at this.”

    The expanded area of operations marks the first time that 4-2 SBCT will be together as a whole unit since before its deployment in April. Two of the brigade’s battalions, 1-38th Infantry Regiment and 2-23rd Infantry Regiment, have been attached to other units, first in Baghdad and now in Diyala.

    “When you organize, equip and train as a brigade combat team and then get in combat and get pulled apart, it hurts,” Troxell said, “but when you get it back together, it feels great. I know our Soldiers are great fighters, and as a team we will be successful.”

    Photo – Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the top noncommissioned officer of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash., speaks to Soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment Nov. 5 in Baqouba, Iraq . The brigade is in the process of expanding into Diyala province. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett.

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    CentCom Round-up and other news

    There are some articles which seem to miss the newspapers and dead news for which I deem important, therefore I will be sharing them with you. Our Military is doing one heck of a job, and they deserve any and all recognition we can offer them. Please write some at your own site. You don’t have to be in the Military to write about it. Just ask the NY Times! /sarcasm

    RCT-2 takes to the skies to cover AO.

    In a 30,000 square mile patch of desert, roughly the size of South Carolina, it isn’t easy to have eyes and ears everywhere. Regimental Combat Team 2, the unit in control of the northwestern piece of Iraq’s Al Anbar Province, has taken an elevated approach to the problem, and regularly fields an Aero Scout group to the far corners, cliffs and caves of the western Euphrates River valley. [Continue reading.]

    This next article from CentCom is pretty riveting. Four men against over thirty trucks with heavy weapons, they are successful. It is an amazing story. I can only imagine it is one of many just like his.

    Unfortunately, I’m afraid I am falling asleep. Therefore I shall add some news articles when I wake up. The link to this previous article is Pilots’ valor honored for thwarting ambush. It is fascinating, and I wish there were more like these out there.

    Update: The Army/Navy game is on, so the other news will posted on my next article. Now it’s back to the Army-3; Navy-38 game. GO NAVY!

    Update 2: The final score is in, 3-38, but it is not reflective of the great game the Army played. They had some very unfortunate things happen. Two fumbles, one at the ten yard line which we scored a touchdown, and the other was on the one yard line. You held our defense pretty well and our offense. I think you just gave up in the fourth quarter when the score was 3-24. (This was also the score at halftime.) It was a great game, and everyone should be proud the teams. Godspeed.

    Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest and Samantha Burns’ Open Trackback Alliance: Stix Blog, Dumb Ox Daily News, The World According to Carl, Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, AZAMATTEROFACT, 123beta, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, Leaning Straight Up, The Bullwinkle Blog, The Amboy Times, Big Dog’s Weblog, Adeline and Hazel, Nuke’s, third world county, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, CommonSenseAmerica, Right Voices, The Yankee Sailor, and Church and State, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe and Samantha Burns.

    I also trackbacked to: Blackfive.

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    Source: CentCom.

    07 November 2007
    By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert
    1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
    .

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Set up in five trucks with heavy machine guns, enemy forces sat in wait for a helicopter to fly over their location west of Baghdad on the last day of May. It appeared their plan was to strike a blow to Multi-National Division-Baghdad by taking down a U.S. Army helicopter.

    The enemy forces were trained and prepared with personnel to drive the trucks, man the guns and keep a lookout for any of the U.S. helicopters that patrol the skies of Baghdad in search of roadside bomb emplacers or insurgent mortar teams.

    The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade’s Apache crews had become a thorn in the insurgency’s side by regularly disrupting terrorist attacks on Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians.

    As they waited, four Apache pilots from 1st “Attack” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, were getting an intelligence briefing before heading out on their mission. The intelligence indicated that there were up to 30 gun trucks in a specific area, and the pilots’ mission was to check it out.

    With both determination and caution, 1st Lt. Brian Haas, chief warrant officers 4 Steven Kilgore and Elliott Ham and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cole Moughon took to the skies to check the validity of the report. All four said they thought from the onset that some sort of engagement was imminent. They expected to find at least several trucks with gun mounts that could easily be modified to attack air and ground assets.

    The two Apache crews, each with a pilot in command and a copilot-gunner, came up on a truck and sedan that stopped suddenly; the occupants quickly exited the vehicles and low crawled toward a ditch. The crews didn’t know if this meant the people were being cautious, preparing for a possible engagement by taking cover, or if they knew that an engagement was imminent.

    “That instantly heightened our awareness; something is going on out here,” said Kilgore, a Portage, Ind., native. “These people aren’t just scared of us. They may be a little bit, to an extent, but there’s something going on out here. We started keeping an eye open.” It didn’t take long for their suspicions to be confirmed.

    “I remember … thinking this is weird; something’s up,” said Moughon, from Gray, Ga. “We (in the lead aircraft) heard (Kilgore) make the call over the radio: “Hey, I’m taking fire at my rear.” We heard (Haas) say there was a big gun. I looked over to my right, and I was about to say: “Oh, I got it.” I just got out “oh.” I could see the flash from the muzzle. I saw a stitch of dirt in the road coming up towards us.” It was even worse than the intelligence report had predicted; the trucks had more than just weapon mounts.

    “We were looking for trucks with mounts – not trucks with heavy machine guns looking to kill us,” Moughon said. “At that point, it was pretty scary, because I knew – back in February, we lost an aircraft to heavy machine gun fire – we knew what the deal was right away. We knew that we were in something pretty dangerous.”

    Kilgore spotted a gun truck about one-and-a-half kilometers away shooting at the helicopters, but there was a much more ominous threat. “We started taking fire from my right side about 1,500 meters away,” Kilgore said. “What I didn’t know is there was another gun about 300 meters away in the same line that started shooting at the same time. That rattled the aircraft. It didn’t hit … but rattled the aircraft.”

    A seasoned Apache pilot with multiple deployments under his belt, Kilgore initially thought his aircraft had been hit. “We were so close to the gun that when the aircraft started to rattle, I thought I was taking hits,” Kilgore said. “I actually saw muzzle flashes from it. It was about 250 to 300 meters out my right door.” Within a couple of minutes, the Apache crews had gone from searching for the gun trucks to becoming the targets of a planned ambush by the enemy forces. “I was definitely at a position of a disadvantage, and I needed to gain an advantage,” Kilgore said. “That meant … moving out away from that (gun truck) to get out of his ability to track me. I was able to put a salvo of (rockets) on that gun truck and clear that gun truck. We came back later and destroyed the gun truck.”

    Both aircrews broke contact safely, and then came back in to engage the trucks and insurgents.
    The trail aircraft had disabled one of the trucks, and Moughon and Ham in the lead aircraft took out another one on the second pass. “They broke off that truck, and we followed them out and then came back in. (Ham) called and said he had trucks fleeing to the north,” said Haas, from Ashley, N.D. “They came around and engaged there. We came in behind them and just kind of suppressed again as they were breaking. They shot another missile. I think we made two more passes.”

    With nearly half of the gun trucks already disabled, the aircrews were not about to let some of them get away to launch an ambush on another aircraft. “I saw three trucks with machine guns in the back in kind of like a straight trail formation hauling … down the road,” Moughon said. “As soon as I got the sight on them, I launched the missile. I saw the guy swing his gun around and just a bright flash of the gun firing. The (driver) braked. The missile hit right in front of the truck and didn’t do anything. We broke, I think (the trail aircraft) suppressed, then we came back around and fired another missile.

    “(It was) the same thing; the guy knew what he was doing. He slammed on the brakes, but this time it killed the driver. That caused him to careen into his buddy and pushed him off the road. We further engaged with the (30mm) gun and got several guys that were running away. We just started (destroying the weapon systems) from there.” The seemingly determined enemy forces had blinked and tried, without success, to flee.

    “Once they knew that we weren’t going to run away from them, that’s when we got the advantage and just got real aggressive,” Haas said. “I think that helped us, because we got noise and rockets flying off the helicopter, and they saw that and they knew they were in for it.”

    A couple of days later, with plenty of time to reflect on the engagement, the pilots realized there were some things they could have done differently. “In this situation, you’re going to make mistakes,” Moughon said. “It’s not like (training) back at Fort Hood where we’ve got time. Everything was heat of the moment. You had to get rounds out. It was all a matter of who made fewer mistakes – whether or not you were going to be going home. Obviously, we made fewer mistakes than the enemy.”

    While that may have been true about their actions during the 15 intense minutes that the engagement lasted, the Apache crews were simply more prepared, thanks to a whole team of Soldiers from the 1st ACB who provided support back at home base, Kilgore said. He explained that the information on the gun trucks from the brigade’s intelligence report, the operational briefing from the brigade operations staff and the aircraft maintenance and armament personnel all contributed to the mission’s success.

    “All of that led to us being successful in this engagement,” Kilgore said. “Yes, we were the executors – the four of us – but, there is a big picture here that goes into everything we do. It’s really the Army aviation team that led to this win, this success. I think we can all take pride in that. We, 1ACB Army aviation, defeated the enemy. We did it pretty much by ourselves as aviation. We didn’t have ground forces with us. We didn’t use artillery. “We can see th[e] teamwork that went into it – across the board teamwork – we can see that tenacity that is being exhibited every day by these guys. I think it’s something we can all take pride in. This was a big win for the whole team.”

    For their quick and heroic actions in the chaotic scene on May 31, the pilots were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses – the top aviation-specific military award. The awards were presented Oct. 28 by Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, Multi-National Corps-Iraq commanding general.

    “I’ve been an aviator my whole career, and I’ve always wanted to be an aviator, since I was a little kid,” Kilgore said. “The Distinguished Flying Cross … is a special award. For me to be included in that group that has received the Distinguished Flying Cross – it feels a little humbling. There have been a lot of great aviators who have received the Distinguished Flying Cross and great aviators who haven’t received the Distinguished Flying Cross. How do I match up to that? I don’t know; maybe it’s a one fight thing, and it was something special enough that someone took notice and thought that we deserved the Distinguished Flying Cross for it.”

    For Moughon, it still hasn’t sunk in that he earned the prestigious medal. “When I got to the unit, my commander (for Company B, 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion) had gotten a DFC for acts in OIF II. I got to looking at it, because I wanted to know what it was,” Moughon said. “Then, I realized who all had got it before him. When somebody mentioned that we might get it, I thought: ‘I am not in their company.’ I’m just two years out of flight school. I was just trying to stay alive. Receiving the award was a very humbling experience and almost embarrassing. There are guys out here that do just as much every day – sacrifice every day to go out there and find the enemy and kill them. They don’t get recognized for it.”

    While the pilots couldn’t pin down what made their actions heroic, perhaps how they approached the engagement itself is telling as to why they received Distinguished Flying Crosses. In the initial moments of the engagement, with bullets and tracers flying past their aircraft like something out of “Star Wars” – as Moughon said – and with the Apaches outnumbered nearly three to one by gun trucks on the ground, the pilots never even considered high-tailing it to safety.

    “I can’t say that I thought: ‘We should get out of here.'” Haas said. “I don’t know why, but it never crossed my mind. Maybe that’s just the way we are. I didn’t come here to say: ‘Yep, there’s bad guys out there. I’m not going out there.’ I came over here to – I’m not going to be naïve and say to make a difference – but I came over here to do my job and do it to the best of my ability. There’s a lot of the guys that I’ve flown with before, and they’re the same way. The hard part is finding (the enemy). We fly around Baghdad where there are millions of people and they all look the same; unless somebody is shooting at you, you don’t know. When they shoot at you first, that makes it easy.”

    “The initial contact was scary, and you thought about – yeah, this was a big deal,” Moughon added. “At that point, it was like they say in the westerns: ‘If you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound.’ We were in it, so we had no choice. If we had just flown away, they probably would have been there to take somebody else down. We’re a gunship; that’s what we do. We don’t get low and suppress and run. We stay and fight. Our job is to go out, find the enemy and kill them. That’s what we do.”

    Photo – Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, (left) presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to Onawa, Iowa, native Chief Warrant Officer Elliott Ham, (second from right), as Portage, Ind., native Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steven Kilgore, (right), waits in a ceremony Oct. 28 at Camp Taji, Iraq. Four Apache pilots from 1st “Attack” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, earned Distinguished Flying Crosses for their actions against five gun trucks with heavy machine guns on May 31. The Distinguished Flying Cross is the U.S. military’s highest aviation-specific award. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs.

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    Source: US Central Command.

    05 November 2007
    American Forces Press Service
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan – Khost Provincial Governor Arsala Jamal and all 12 of his district sub-governors hosted the first Khost Provincial Leadership Conference here Nov. 3, 2007. Also in attendance were Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S Central Command, key leaders of the Afghan national security forces, and leaders from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

    Khost province is recognized by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and coalition commanders as the “provincial model of success.” Khost has accomplished more in the past 10 months than in the previous five years, and that is due to the trust and collaborative efforts of all people living in Khost — Afghans and coalition forces alike, officials said.

    Jamal is leading and training his sub-governors and military leaders at the provincial and district levels to work directly with the people of Khost and in concert with the coalition units who train and live with their Afghan counterparts in all district centers in Khost. This arrangement has made it possible to remove the shackles of the Taliban and criminals and allow development, education, and security to flourish once again in Khost, officials said.

    Army Lt. Col. Scott Custer, who commands the International Security Assistance Force unit in Khost, said Jamal wanted to meet with all the key players to help shape and develop the future of Khost. “This is a monumental day for Khost. The purpose of today’s meeting is to build upon the strong relations among the central government of Khost province,” Custer said. “Providing a forum for the sub-governors to discuss security matters with Governor Jamal and to create the provincial development and security plan for Khost over the next 12 to 24 months ensures continued growth throughout the province.

    “Additionally, it provides the sub-governors the opportunity to share their methods of success with their peers and request any additional resources they may need from the governor to reach their goals. The responsibility is on their shoulders to take Khost into the next two years; the leaders and the people of Khost have ownership of their future.”

    Fallon praised Khost provincial and Afghan security forces leaders for their collaborative efforts and commitment toward building a safer province. He encouraged all Afghans to follow this example. “I’ve come here to see Khost for the first time,” said Fallon, who visits Afghanistan frequently. “I see the security situation as very good. I am very happy with the (development) progress that I see. I am very, very pleased to be in the company of the governor.”

    When asked why Khost was important to him, Fallon replied, “Khost … is a great example of good leadership with the governor (and) the sub-governors working closely with the ISAF units to provide security and stability for the people of this area, this province.”

    The CENTCOM commander added that Khost is the model that all other provinces should aspire to. “I want to encourage the governor and other leaders in the region to continue with the good work because I believe that this is a wonderful example to the whole country of Afghanistan,” Fallon said.

    Several government and security force leaders said the admiral’s visit shows the strategic importance of Khost to the overall security of Afghanistan.

    (From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)

    Photo – Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, talks with local media after meeting Khost Provincial Governor Jamal sub-governors at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2007. Photo by Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison, USA.

    I could not locate this news release. I do believe it is a huge mistake to allow the Taliban to have anything to do with the government or the people of Afghanistan. They are afraid and they have every right to be. The Taliban is murdering them. I have sources from Afghanistani people who live there and here for this information. I offer you this site (without the comment).

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    Source: US Central Command.

    07 November 2007
    By Cpl. Billy Hall
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    AL QA’IM, Iraq — Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

    Prepared to unearth any remnants of those who intend to plant fear and insecurity in western Iraq, the Betio Bastards stand ready. With the final elements of the battalion arriving to their area of operation, the Marines and sailors of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, are primed and in place to maintain stability and bring prosperity to the region.

    The infantry companies are set in motion and have started providing security and orienting themselves with the local populace. The numerous support elements of Headquarters and Support Company have also hit the ground running, providing intelligence, logistical support, communications and transportation, to name a few of their many missions.

    Months of intense training have paid off in dividends, allowing the battalion to kick off their deployment without missing a beat. Lt. Col. Peter B. Baumgarten, the battalion commander, met with the mayor, leaders of the Iraqi Police and Army, and numerous sheiks, to publicly assume command of the area of operation from Lt. Col. Jason Q. Bohm, the battalion commander of Task Force 1st Bn., 4th Marines.

    “I, like Colonel Bohm, look to fill the shoes of my predecessors in a way that will be very positive to the people of Al Qa’im,” Baumgarten said. “I look forward to meeting each one of you and working together in the future months to be successful.” The atmosphere was optimistic and productive as key leaders discussed several pressing issues and plans for the future, such as reopening the point of entry at the Syrian border in the town of Husaybah.

    The sheiks spoke of unity amongst the many tribes within the region and setting a path of success for the rest of Iraq to follow. At the conclusion of the meeting, the local leaders and sheiks treated the Marines to a traditional Iraqi meal. In customary fashion, there were no utensils; everyone ate with their hands from large platters of rice, vegetables and goat. The meeting and luncheon helped to lay the groundwork for the battalion’s transition into their third deployment to Iraq in three years.

    During the initial days of operation, the battalion’s progress has been substantial. Cooperation and coordination with the local leaders and forces are proving to be the crucial elements contributing to maintaining the security and bringing prosperity to Iraq. The Betio Bastards will continue working steadily to uproot any instability that remains.

    Photo – Lt. Col. Jason Q. Bohm (right), battalion commander of Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, and Lt. Col. Peter B. Baumgarten (center), battalion commander of Task Force 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines, speak with a sheik after the meeting where Bohm publicly relinquished command of his area of operations to Baumgarten. The mayor, leaders of the Iraqi police and army, and numerous sheiks attended the meeting to discuss several pressing issues and plans for the future.

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    Source: US Central Command.

    05 November 2007
    BY Cpl. Nathan Hoskins
    1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
    .

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq – When most kids get a new electronic toy, they play with it until it no longer interests them. But a small portion of those kids, when they get bored with the toy, simply grab some screw drivers and take it apart to see what makes it tick.

    It’s quite possible that the majority of those kids that take apart their toys end up as aircraft maintainers in the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Aircraft maintainers from Company B, 615th Aviation Support “Cold Steel” Battalion, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., recently hit their 200th phase – a major maintenance mile stone.

    There are two different types of phases that most helicopters go through, a preventive maintenance inspection 1 and preventive maintenance inspection 2, said Fajardo.

    The difference between them is that in PMI 1 the Soldiers take the aircraft apart and visually inspect it, sometimes replacing a part here and there. For a PMI 2 they take everything apart knowing they’ll be replacing certain parts and any others that might need it along the way, Fajardo said.

    The Avengers have five platoons that assist with phases. Each platoon plays an integral role in completing a particular phase.

    First, there’s the Headquarters Platoon which handles the paperwork and scheduling for every phase bird. Next is the Forward Support Platoon which disassembles, inspects, and reassembles the aircraft. The Shops Platoon provides support to engines, hydraulics, rotor heads, and different structural pieces. Then there’s the Avionics Platoon which does inspections and repairs on aircraft radios, aviation survivability equipment and more.

    Last, but not least, is the Armament Platoon which removes, inspects, repairs and reinstalls all of the Apache weapon and sighting systems, and works on all of the electrical and avionics systems.

    It’s easy to see that the phase process is no child’s play – it’s a lot of hard work done by dedicated teams throughout Co. B.

    For this maintenance phase team, formed of too many Soldiers to list here, it is not only their 200th phase, but their last phase before they head home, he said.

    The Avengers have been working around the clock since they took over the mission from the 4th Infantry Division November 2006. Most of them didn’t even know they had done so many phases, said Spokane, Wash., native Capt. Christian Ruddell, a platoon leader for the Avengers.
    “When we had been here a while I asked someone … how many they’d thought we’d done, and they said 35 when we had really done 120,” said Ruddell.

    Aguadilla, Puerto Rico native, Sgt. Anthony Bermudez, a line shop leader for the Avengers, said the Soldiers don’t keep track, they just want to keep the aircraft moving through. “It didn’t even seem like 200. When you’re out there working on the aircraft, you’re not thinking ‘this is the tenth aircraft I’ve done,’ you just do it, get it over with and bring in the next one,” said Bermudez, whose team works on all things electronic.

    For the 200th phase, the Co. B maintainers completed a PMI 1 on a Black Hawk.

    Although they aren’t flying in Apaches killing the bad guys or flying the Chinooks and Black Hawks moving Soldiers safely through the air, they are still an integral part of the mission in Iraq, said Midwest City, Okla., native Sgt. Patrick McTheny, a technical inspector for Co. B. “Our job is to keep aircrafts flying. We reduce the footprint on the ground; we reduce IED exposure; we’re saving lives by keeping them in the air,” said McTheny.

    And they’re doing it at break-neck speeds, he said. “Our turn around time is really good. The standard is 21 days (to complete) a PMI 2, but I’d say we’re averaging them in 15 to 18 days. That’s because of the experience we have on our phase team and good leadership,” said McTheny.

    When standing back and looking at their deployment thus far, there is more to be said about hitting the 200th phase than just the large number, said San Antonio native Spc. Jared Rivera, an airframe structural repairer. “It’s not that the 200 isn’t important, but it’s also how far we’ve come in our jobs,” he said.

    With all these phases and numerous other jobs that come up along the way, some of the novice
    Avengers have matured into experts in their craft, said Milford, Ohio, native 1st Sgt. Timothy Johnson, the senior noncommissioned officer for the Avengers. “When we first deployed in October of 2006, we were undermanned and had a lot of troopers who were going on their first deployment; quite a few were straight out of (Advanced Individual Training) and had never performed a phase inspection before,” said Johnson.

    “Thanks to the experienced NCOs and officers of our company, the phase teams pushed through the rough times in the beginning of the deployment and became the quality aircraft mechanics and maintenance technicians they are today,” he said.

    “Rough times” is one way to put it, another way to break it down is to say that Co. B did seven years of work in one year, said Ruddell. “Experience-wise, you’d have to be in the states for six or seven years to get this much experience. We’ve condensed six or seven year’s worth of work down into a one-year time frame,” he said.

    “I remember my first (sheet metal) job took me about six days. Now that same project would last me two hours, three hours maybe,” said San Antonio native Spc. George Ponce, an airframe structural repairer for Co. B. While the phase maintenance keeps the Soldiers busy, they are simultaneously working on other maintenance projects. Like all machines, things tend to wear out, break down, and – sometimes – get shot at, said Ponce.

    While working on a phase, if an aircraft comes in that has battle damage it gets special attention to get it fixed and back out on mission, he said.

    Contracted civilian maintainers augment the Soldiers during the phases and other maintenance missions. “We assist the Army; that’s our main function here is to assist the Army,” said Lucky Luciano, a civilian contractor from L3 Vertex Aerospace.

    They’ll take up tasks just like the Soldiers in a relationship where it’s a give and take, Luciano said. “If we don’t know about something, we’ll ask them. If they don’t know something, then they’ll ask us. It’s 50-50,” he said.

    Another L3 contractor, Charles Frye, knows the teamwork between the two groups created the right environment for 200 phases to be completed. “To produce that many phases with minimal deficiencies is a testament to the will and the character of the (Co. B and L3) phase teams,” said Frye.

    “I’d compare our unit to the (National Football League’s New England) Patriots right now … because they’ve got more power players than they know what to do with. And that’s what we’re like right now; we look like a Super Bowl football team,” said Ashland, Pa., native Staff Sgt. Ron Bolinsky, an Apache technical inspector with the Avengers. [I protest! The NE Pats suck! lol]

    Gone are the days of taking apart toys for these Soldiers and civilians. Now are the days of contributing to an important job in Iraq that directly affects the daily aerial missions. They take their job seriously and the 200 phases are a result. So, leave the child be who wants to take that toy apart … they may have a higher calling some day.

    Photo – Soldiers from Company B “Avengers,” 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, pose near the UH-60 Black Hawk that they worked for their 200th major scheduled maintenance task – called a phase. A phase is when Soldiers take apart nearly the entire aircraft and inspect, repair or replace the parts, said San Diego, native Sgt. Justin Fajardo a squad leader for Co. B and the 200th phase team leader. Standing in front of the Black Hawk is a small part of the phase team. From left to right: Phoenix, Ariz., native Spc. James Eldridge, a hydraulics repairer; San Antonio native Spc. Jared Rivera, an airframe structural repairer; San Antonio native Spc. George Ponce, an airframe structural repairer; Fajardo; Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, native Sgt. Anthony Bermudez, a line shop team leader; Lakeland, Fla., native Sgt. Robert Evans, a Black Hawk mechanic; and Midwest City, Okla., native Sgt. Patrick McTheny, a technical inspector. Photo by Cpl. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs.

    All emphasis is mine. 😉

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    Source: US CentCom.

    07 November 2007
    By Capt. Michael Meridith, USAF
    455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – A nine-person team deployed from 49th Material Maintenance Group at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., recently completed the largest deployable aircraft shelter in the Air Force.

    The team began construction on the 225-by-70-foot aircraft hangar Oct. 22 and completed it Nov. 5. The hangar, which is intended to simultaneously house three of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search-and-rescue helicopters, dwarfs the Air Force’s 150-by-70-foot “standard model” hangar.

    “Normally, these shelters are designed to hold one aircraft. This is basically two and half shelters grafted together, and is the largest one like it in the Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Samuel Tran, of Salem, Mo., who leads the team.

    Tran’s team, which deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in August, is the only one of its kind in the region. As such, it stays in high demand. Because of their busy operations tempo, Tran said accomplishments like the hangar are “just part of the job.”

    Prior to its arrival here, the team had already tackled several large projects, including erecting three 6,000-square-foot shelters and one 4,000-square-foot shelter and dismantling one 4,000- and one 8,000-square-foot shelter.

    “It’s very exciting, especially being part of a unique team that goes out and does stuff like this,” said team member Staff Sgt. Adam Boubede, of New Orleans. “We go out and get the job done as fast as we can, then move on and do it again. Everywhere we go, it’s something new, whether it’s repairing, reconstitution or building the biggest (deployable aircraft hangar) in Air Force history.”

    The four-month deployment is a first for several of the team members, but many are satisfied to put home-station training to use in support of expeditionary missions. “It’s a good feeling,” said Senior Airman Brad Hellberg, of Lancaster, Pa. “Without us, they wouldn’t have the shelter. Back at home we train for this, then we come out here and do the work.”

    Tran said the team members have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback for their work, but added that their motivation is something that comes from within the team itself.

    “We look at each job as a challenge and see if we can beat our own record. Our motivation is internal; it’s not something that comes from the outside. We don’t compromise safety for speed; it has to be a marriage between the two,” Tran said.

    Photo – Airmen deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., work to build the largest deployable aircraft shelter in the Air Force. U.S. Air Force photo.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    24 October 2007
    By Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett
    4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
    .

    KHAN BANI SA’AD, Iraq – Working off a tip from a Concerned Local Citizen, Coalition Forces discovered a massive weapons cache Oct. 23 during the raid of a home in Sa’ada village, Iraq.

    The cache marks the largest discovery of explosively formed penetrators ever found in Iraq at one location. The cache included 124 fully-assembled EFPs, 159 copper disks of four different sizes used in making EFPS (including 12-inch disks – one of the largest ever discovered in Iraq), 600-plus pounds of C4 and other explosive materials, 100 mortar rounds of various caliber, 31 107mm rockets, two mortar tubes and 20 claymore-type mines.

    Soldiers of Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, Wash., detained the cache owner in the raid.

    “My first concern was for my Soldiers,” said Capt. Jason Rosenstrauch, B Troop commander. “I was worried that the room was unstable because it smelled like explosives and nitric acid.

    “A find like this helps keep my Soldiers morale up because they know they’ve made a difference,” Rosenstrauch continued. “It makes them feel good that they are saving Soldiers lives through their work.”

    Sa’ada Village is located approximately five miles south of Khan Bani Sa’ad, a city in Diyala Province with a population of approximately 100,000 – half Sunni and half Shia. Six weeks ago, Iraqi Security Forces planned and executed Operation Justice League, clearing many al-Qaida in Iraq and anti-Coalition militia members out of Khan Bani Sa’ad. Before Justice League, CF, ISF and Iraqi civilians were regularly attacked by enemy insurgents, and local citizens were afraid to work with CF for fear of reprisals.

    Rosenstrauch said the citizens of Khan Bani Sa’ad are now working closely with Coalition Forces to keep insurgents out of the city.

    “We have a lot of peace in the city center now,” Rosenstrauch said. “We have had a ton of CLCs reporting on enemy activity. The people are turning on the insurgents and telling us where they are.”

    Photo – Soldiers carry mortar rounds found in a hidden room in a home in Sa’ada Village, Iraq, Oct. 23. A tip from a concerned local citizen lead Soldiers to a massive weapons cache in the home. (U.S. Air Force phot/Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

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    Source: US CentCom.

    31 October 2007
    by Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy
    3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
    .

    CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – The nondescript building at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex Civil Military Operations Center appears unassuming, but the Government Information Center represents a beacon of hope for some Iraqis. While the GIC provides several services, one of the most invaluable for local residents is the paying of legal claims.

    With the Commandos of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), on their way back home, this is just one of many missions the Rakkasans of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division have taken over.

    “(Local Iraqis) come in with all kinds of complaints,” said Huda, the GIC administrator, who also translates between the Iraqis and the U.S. Soldiers processing the claims. Huda and Faik, the Iraqi attorney who works at the GIC, do most of the claim work.

    “(People) come in with requests to be paid for damages, and I help (file) new claims,” Huda said. Faik determines whether or not a claim is legitimate. He and Huda prepare the paperwork and collect the evidence required to prove that the claim is valid. The 3rd BCT legal office personnel determine whether or not the United States is actually responsible for damages and whether or not the claimant will be paid.

    “Sometimes it is not for the United States to pay; it is the fault of an explosion by terrorists,” Huda explained, adding over the 2.5 years she has worked at the GIC there have been months when less than half the claims are found to be legitimate. When Faik deems the claims valid, the packets are forwarded to the 3rd BCT legal office for a final review and payment.

    “By the time it gets to me, it’s already been determined that the claim is legal,” said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Williams, from Tampa, Fla., senior 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., paralegal and foreign claims pay agent. He actually makes the payments to the claimants.

    “My job is both good and bad,” Williams said. “Obviously, I pay money when the damages were caused by the United States. But at the same time, when a claim is denied, I have to explain that the United States is not going to pay.”

    The CMOC is a blessing for some Iraqis, Huda said. She said now the Iraqis feel that they have a means to get assistance. “It’s very great for them and they are grateful for it.” She added, “I like to help; it is good for me because I help the (Iraqi) people and the U.S. Army.”

    Photo- Faik, an Iraqi attorney who processes claims at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex Civil Military Operations Center Government Information Center, discusses a new claim with Capt. Jonathan Gross, from New York City, claims adjudicator with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    29 October 2007
    BY Cpl. Nathan Hoskins
    1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
    .

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq – For the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division’s medical evacuation unit, the horrors of war are all too real. But, those missions of transporting hurt and dying patients are over for a few troopers.

    About a dozen Soldiers from Company C, 2nd “Lobo” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, loaded up onto non-MEDEVAC UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for a change, and began their journey home, Oct. 25. They are the first group of Soldiers from the 1st ACB to redeploy.

    “It feels good to be going home after 15 months,” said Rochester, N.Y., native, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bryan Sills, a MEDEVAC pilot for the Co. C “Witch Doctors.”

    Like most units in Iraq, when the final orders came down, Co. C. was extended to 15 months. This made the deployment more difficult, said Orchard Park, N.Y., native, Sgt. 1st Class Jon Spiller, a flight medic for Co. C and the brigade’s senior medical noncommissioned officer. “This was my third deployment and it was probably the roughest one I’ve been through; mainly because of the extension,” Spiller said.

    Even after they knew the extension was going to affect them, it didn’t really hit the Witch Doctors until the 12-month mark, Spiller said. “Once we heard about it, we all prepared for it, but when you hit that 12-month mark and you know you should be going home, you kind of feel a little different about it,” he said.

    The extension aside, Spiller felt the Witch Doctors did some good while they flew over Iraq. “I really think we made a difference over here. We helped out the best we could. I’ll be happy when everybody gets home,” Spiller said.

    Day in and day out for 15 months the troops from Co. C saw the horrors of war, but they made it a point to be a part of the change taking place in Iraq – even if that meant making amends with those who seek to kill Coalition Forces, said Spiller.

    One patient in particular was an insurgent who had a gun shot wound to the leg, said Spiller. “We seemed to kind of connect. We couldn’t really talk because we were in a helicopter and plus he didn’t speak English,” he said “I just kind of did some hand gestures and helped him out.” Spiller, as a sign of kindness, tried to give the wounded enemy fighter a bracelet he was wearing at the time, but the man only gestured as if he didn’t deserve such a gift, said Spiller.

    “I know a lot of our medics are doing things like that, where they want to make sure these people understand we’re here to help them whether they like us or not,” he said.

    But those times are now memories with which to tell stories to their friends and families – for the most part. Spiller can’t wait to see his wife and three kids, he said. After three long deployments, another shorter deployment and basic noncommissioned officer school, he estimates that he has been gone from home almost five years straight, said Spiller.

    Although he just got done saving lives in Iraq, Spiller heralds his wife, Kris, as a hero for keeping it together through all of his deployments. “She’s tried to keep her sanity. She’s definitely kept the household together with me gone. I’m just looking forward to being back at home with my kids and make our family whole again,” he said. Spiller plans to spend lots of time with his wife; his son Tyler, 15; and his two daughters, Victorya, 13, and McKellen, 8, when he gets home. That doesn’t mean his mind isn’t on good ‘ole American sustenance.

    He is already thinking about the steak he’ll eat if he arrives in the evening or that quaint little coffee shop if he arrives in the morning, he said. “If it’s dinner, steaks; if it’s around breakfast time, we have a couple little places we like to go. I’ll have a nice coffee cappuccino, sit down, enjoy the view and be glad to be home,” said Spiller.

    For some of the Witch Doctors, arriving home means time with the family, for others it’s that and the start of a new life altogether. Bay City, Mich., native, Sgt. Robert Witbrodt, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for Co. C, will be joining the civilian ranks soon after his arrival home, he said. With three tours in Iraq complete, Witbrodt will be heading to school to study engineering, he said.

    Still, he is proud of what he and his unit accomplished while in Iraq, said Witbrodt. “I like the mission here. Saving lives is pretty (darn) great. Sometimes it’s hard on you, but it’s rewarding,” he said. Other than school, Witbrodt is fairly laid back about what he’ll do once stateside. “I don’t really have any big plans other than just spending time with my wife and maybe a little snowboarding, but that’s about it,” he said.

    Although each Soldier’s plans are varied, all that really matters to them is that they’re headed home. The rest of Co. C will soon follow their fellow Witch Doctors, but will first hand over their mission to another MEDEVAC unit taking their place.

    Photo – With 15 months of medical evacuation missions behind them, Soldiers from Company C, 2nd “Lobo” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, load up their gear onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter before they start their trip from Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, back to the United States Oct. 25. Photo by Cpl. Nathan Hoskins.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    31 October 2007
    By Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Caldwell
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
    .

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Under the cover of darkness, soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), air-assaulted about three miles south of their forward operating bases in the Pech River Valley earlier this month as part of Operation Rock Avalanche.

    Operation Rock Avalanche was a multiple-company mission that ran Oct. 19-25 in the Chapa Dara, Korengal, Shuryak and Pech river valleys. Participating were “Able,” “Battle” and “Chosen” companies from 2nd Battalion; Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry (Airborne); and multiple companies from the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps. The companies were positioned into different areas of Kunar province at different times, hoping to flush insurgents out of one area into another, where U.S. and Afghan forces would be waiting for them.

    Working from a vantage point 7,500 feet up, overlooking the Shuryak and Pech valleys, Able Company’s four-day mission was to locate and destroy insurgent command-and-control and logistical elements operating in that area, Army Capt. Louis Frketic, the company’s commander, said.

    After setting up a perimeter and establishing a command post on the top of Phase Line Ridgeway, 2nd Platoon was dispatched to the nearby village of Aybot. Previous intelligence had suggested that Taliban leaders might be holed up in that area. “We were looking for two named (high-value targets). One of them is the commander of the entire Shuryak forces, and the other guy is an IED specialist,” Frketic said. “We searched their compounds, and they were not in there or in the area.”

    Frketic and his paratroopers were not dissuaded. A low-level voice-intercept team from Company B, 173rd Special Troops Battalion (Airborne), was tasked to Able Company for the mission. The team had begun listening to Taliban radio traffic as soon as they hit the ground and already were getting “a bead” on insurgents operating in the surrounding valleys. The team was an invaluable asset, one that Frketic said he uses every chance he gets to collect intelligence on the enemy. “A lot of times we will start getting locations, and then we will pick up names,” he said. “It is usually specific to that cell what kind of things they are talking about. Sometimes they will start talking about people, fighters, locations, ammo, or weapons systems that they have.”

    Even the smallest details, including specific words used, can yield valuable information, Frketic said. “A couple days ago, right before the mission started, we heard a cell talking about their fighters and their leaders in the terms of soldiers and officers. Other times, we’ll hear them talk about fighters and commanders. The one talking about officers and soldiers, that is a professional organization. Little details like that are very critical in my mind,” he explained.

    With so much Afghan National Army and U.S. military activity on the surrounding mountains and in the surrounding valleys, the Taliban were never sure of Able Company’s position and never mounted an attack on the company. The voice intercept team used the time to continue to collect intelligence on enemy in the area. The formerly suspected enemy locations were now known.

    Around noon Oct. 24, Frketic put that information to use and launched soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company D, into action. The platoon is a heavy-weapons platoon attached to Able Company for the deployment and commonly referred to as the Dragon Platoon. They had air-assaulted onto the ridgeline with their MK19 grenade launchers and M2 machine guns. A mortar team with an 81 mm tube from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-503rd, also was put into action.

    Their fire destroyed one command-and-control node operating in the Shuryak Valley. But destroying the enemy position was probably the easiest part of the mission for the MK19 gun team, said Spc. David Hooker, from Palestine, Ark., and a Dragon Platoon member. “I’ve never air-assaulted in with a MK19 before,” Hooker said. “But since we just set in and manned a blocking position, it was OK.”

    “The weight is the biggest challenge, getting it in and out,” he said. An MK19 without a tripod weighs 75 pounds, and ammo cans weigh between 40 and 60 pounds each, depending on the number of rounds in them. Many cans were brought for this mission.

    The mortar team, one of the busiest in the battalion, also spent most of the day putting rounds on target. The team averages firing more than 1,000 rounds per month. “As far as firing goes, this is hands-down the most intense deployment that I have been on,” said Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Thomas, of Nashville, Tenn.

    While Howitzers are available for fire missions throughout Kunar province, the mortar teams are able to react the quickest when indirect fire is needed, Thomas said. “We have eyes on a lot of the targets, and our response is a little bit quicker,” he said. “The channels to clear the 155 go all the way through battalion and then back through their fires. Ours are cleared right here. If we are in direct contact, I can engage freely.” [It’s about damn time!]

    The number of rounds fired combined with the danger of their job has earned the team the respect of Thomas and the unit’s leadership. “These guys are awesome,” he said. “Everybody has been put in for valor awards.”

    The mortar team and the pit in which they work are favorite targets of the Taliban, making it a dangerous job. “There is no overhead cover, and they stand out there and fire throughout the entire engagement and also in support after,” Thomas said. “It’s pretty remarkable what they do.”

    Early on the morning of Oct. 25, members of Able Company began what would end up as a 10-hour trek down treacherous, slippery and steep terrain back to their base — no small feat for even the most fit paratrooper, yet a regular occurrence for soldiers in Kunar province.

    “We go on ruck marches into the mountains every other day or every third day,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Mading, from Bonita Springs, Fla., and a member of Headquarters Platoon. “The first couple are tough. Then, of course, the more you are doing it, the more you get built up.” “The guys that come here right out of basic or other units usually get broke down pretty quick or get into it pretty quick depending on what their physical fitness level was before,” he said.

    All of the gear these paratroopers carry is heavy: helmet, protective vests, rucksacks, weapons, ammunition, and water. It makes packing before the mission extremely important, leaving little room for extra cold-weather gear or even extra food. During the trip down the mountain, the Able Company soldiers had hoped to “drop in” on some insurgents the low-level voice intercept team had confirmed were hiding out in villages in that area. But none were spotted, and no contact was made.

    Frketic stressed that wasn’t a problem. “Those villages are only a three- to four-hour walk from our base,” he said. “They’ll be getting visits from us again soon.”

    Wow. Our guys are fantastic! I wonder if the people of those villages truly approve of the Taliban or if they are afraid of them? Keep up the great work guys. You have much support back home. Thank you for your service, and come home victorious and soon.

    Photo – Army Sgt. Chad Mohr (left) watches rounds land on target as Army Spc. David Hooker fires the MK19 machine gun at a known insurgent position Oct. 24, 2007, during Operation Rock Avalanche. The “Dragon Platoon” soldiers of Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), were occupying a ridgeline between the Pech and Shuryak river valleys in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. U.S. Army photo.

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    This is a must read. It is an amazing article of our men and the Iraqi men working side-by-side so the Iraqis can achieve the knowledge to run their own country and our men can come home. This is also an open trackback weekend. I’m not expecting too many, because I haven’t received too many except from some loyal friends. I do, however, would appreciate it if you would at least read it. For them.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    30 October 2007
    By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti
    1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
    .

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq – “Left, left, left, right,” the 30-man platoon of Iraqi Police in training shouted in Arabic while marching to their next class. The Military Police Platoon from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment developed a 10-day preparatory class to implement the basics for Iraqi Police recruits prior to attending the Baghdad Police Academy which initiates them as official police officers.

    “This course is designed to give … IPs a basic understanding on what their job will consist of,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brinson, the MP Platoon’s top sergeant for HHC, 1st Squadron, 7th Cav. Regt.

    The trainees, waiting to attend the academy, come from various stations in the surrounding area to learn basic policeman skills, he added. It’s an orientation, ensuring all baby IPs go into the academy on the same level of general knowledge.

    “The training covers basics on ethics, principles, Iraqi law, first aid, basic rifle marksmanship, responding to a crime scene and search techniques in various scenarios. The recruits follow a structured daily schedule emphasizing teamwork and discipline,” said Brinson, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla, native.

    The 10 days are spent introducing the material in the classroom and then actively applying them. The last two days consist of practical exercises that incorporate the entirety of the course.

    “Everything learned has to be applied during the hands on scenarios. The situations gradually get harder to test their understanding,” explained Brinson. “Everything is a perishable skill; they have to practice it in order to retain it. They understand the task; they are definitely learning what they need to know to be successful.”

    “The trainees get better every day. The course helps them become good IPs and work with the coalition forces to do our job,” said Iraqi Police 1st Lt. Hesham Saman Ali Sauba Boor, a course instructor.

    Each IP station is responsible for sending an academy graduated officer to teach the new IP recruits various topics. Military personnel rotate through as instructors from the MP Platoon and are also assisted by the Iraqi Army liaison officers.

    “Having the IP officers teach them accomplishes a lot; it mainly helps the Iraqi Police force become self-sufficient,” Brinson said. “It’s another step in the progress to make security forces stronger.”

    As he watched the IP recruits successfully complete a bounding exercise, Brinson noted, “I see the trainees take more pride in themselves, and this course is helping them to become a cohesive unit to accomplish the mission.”

    Staer Gabar Abedallah, a trainee, shared that he chose to become an Iraqi Police officer to serve his country, secure his community and stop the terrorists.

    “The training is a great opportunity to concentrate on training and help the Iraqi people move forward in self governance,” said Stonington, Ill. native, Sgt. David Ashbridge, a military police team leader for HHC, 1st Squadron, 7th Cav. Regt.

    Photo – Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brinson, the platoon sergeant for the Military Police Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, instructs an Iraqi Police trainee in a 10-day preparatory course how to properly bound when under direct fire at Camp Taji, Iraq Oct. 27. Photo by Spc. Shejal Pulivarti.

    This is a great article of accomplishment. I never believed in a huge central government, and I’m glad the Iraqis are finding it is within their own power to make their lives better. Ya know, after WWII, we DID write Japan’s constitution for them and look at them now! We should have written this one

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    While this is an article by CentCom, I would like to share it with you. There is much information out there, if we are willing to find it, to fight back those who have no moral standing in this war. No, I am not saying that if you are against this war then you are immoral. What I am saying is that the kooks who believe we did this to ourselves, we deserved it, we should share classified documents so our enemies can know what and where and how we are finding them are traitors, and they need to be stopped. The way to fight back is easy…inform yourself.

    That is why I am using this artlcle for Open Trackback Friday at Linkfest. (Join us!) Please remember that if I send you a ping, please send me one. I’m down to 3 people who ever send me a trackback, and I KNOW I send more pings than that! I will soon be making a list of everyone who is naughty and everyone who is nice…lol. Yes, it’s that time of the year sneaking up on us rather quickly! Anyway, if I don’t receive a trackback, I shall stop trackbacking to you. It is, after all, it is time-consuming. It is also only fair…

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    5. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Four.
    6. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Five.
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    20. Blue Star Chronicles: Evil New Israeli Defence Force Secret Weapon – Stripper Soldiers!.
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    Source: US CentCom.

    25 October 2007
    By 1st Lt. David Herndon
    Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs
    .

    NAGAD, Djibouti — A culmination of smiles and laughter filled the air as Airmen and Marines provided live entertainment, toys and water to the residents of Nagad village, Oct. 23 [2007].

    Nagad was the site of a Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa [CJTF-HOA] civil affairs engagement, teaming Airmen of the United States Central Air Forces’ Expeditionary Band and Marines of the 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion. The event marked the second time in October the two services joined together to provide humanitarian assistance to Djiboutian villages.

    “I think it’s great that we can bring some of our culture to our friends here in Djibouti and share goodwill with our neighbors,” said Marine Capt. Christopher Crim, 3rd LAAD Batter B commanding officer. “Regardless of service, we are all on the same team, the American team, and we look to once again spread our goodwill to our friends who are so kind and gracious to host our efforts.”

    The CENTAF Band’s mobile expeditionary performance group ‘Live Round,’ currently based out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, performed a blend of current and classic rock ‘n’ roll musical selections to entertain the crowd of nearly 200 villagers, primarily consisting of school-aged children.

    “We all speak different languages, but music seems to be something that unifies us all,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Grasso, CENTAF Band superintendent. “It is important that we reach kids at this age so we can let them know what America is all about and what we hope to accomplish in the region, which is to deter extremism.”

    For the Marines, who are deployed to CJTF-HOA from Camp Pendleton, Calif., this type of engagement is an additional mission to their primary duty of providing security to Camp Lemonier.

    “Tactically, civil affairs engagements are important to us because they accomplish the important goal of ensuring the local population views our presence as a benefit to them,” said Lt. Col. A.F. Potter, 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion commanding officer. “Civil affairs engagements are not only about economics and security; they are also about friendship-building, mutual trust, and genuine commitment. Targeting these things will create security and foster stability.”

    The band spent nearly two hours performing for villagers before 3rd LAAD Marines began passing gifts and water to village elders and children, an experience enjoyed by all.

    “Everyone knows that the Americans are very open here in Djibouti,” said Idriss Akmed Khayre, Nagad Village chief. “[CJTF-HOA] military members do so much good for us and we appreciate it. I look forward to working with [CJTF-HOA] again in the future.”

    According to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul Eschliman, Live Round’s chief vocalist, the event served as a creative way for Airmen and Marines to work together to prevent conflict and extremism by fostering positive relationships in the local area. “This type of event will pay long-term dividends that most wouldn’t believe,” said Eschliman. “Making friends now will help our relationships grow exponentially in the distant future.”

    Civil Affairs engagements, similar to the Nagad concert, serve as opportunities for CJTF-HOA personnel to reduce the specter of conflict, war and extremism in the Horn of Africa. “We know that simply throwing money at a problem will not yield the desired results,” said Potter. “We must be truly genuine in our efforts to make friends and civil affairs is our ounce of prevention.”

    CJTF-HOA is a unit of United States Central Command. The organization conducts operations and training to assist partner nations to combat terrorism in order to establish a secure environment and enable regional stability. More than 1,500 people from each branch of the U.S. military, civilian employees, coalition forces and partner nations make up the CJTF-HOA organization. The area of responsibility for CJTF-HOA includes the countries of Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen.

    Photo – Air Force Tech Sgt. Michael Mason, a vocalist with the U.S. Central command Air Force’s expeditionary band, Live Round, sings ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ for villagers in Nagad, Djibouti, Oct. 23. The band is touring Djibouti to perform a series of morale and community outreach concerts. Photo by 1st Lt. David Herndon.

    Great job, guys. I’m very proud of you.

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    Deployed soldiers participate in mass re-enlistment ceremony.

    18 October 2007
    By Sgt. Marcus Butler
    4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne)
    25th Infantry Division
    .

    BAGHDAD, Oct. 18, 2007 — One hundred forty-one paratroopers decided to stay Army in a mass re-enlistment ceremony held on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, Oct. 14. The paratroopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, made the decision to continue their service in the Army after being deployed for over a year.

    Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of Multi-National Division–Center, made a special trip to FOB Kalsu to lead the oath of enlistment for these paratroopers.

    “To re-enlist this many paratroopers after being deployed for a year is truly amazing,” said Master Sgt. Douglas Goodwin, senior career counselor for the 4th BCT (Abn.), 25th Inf. Div. “It says a lot about the leadership and the patriotism of these paratroopers.”

    After the ceremony, Lynch thanked each paratrooper and posed for pictures. To this date, the Spartan Brigade has re-enlisted nearly 1,300 soldiers; approximately 70 percent of them have decided to stay with the brigade for another tour.

    “Soldiers are special people and to see these paratroopers making a commitment to continue serving their country when the operational tempo is so high proves they trust in their leadership,” Goodwin said. “It also shows how much they believe in what they are doing and stand proud as United States paratroopers ready to defend our country against the ever-growing threat of terrorism.”

    Photo – One hundred forty-one paratroopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, re-enlisted Oct. 14 on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, in a ceremony conducted by Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of Multi-National Division–Center. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler.

    Source: US CentCom.

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    C-17 Crews Make Record Airdrop

    Two C-17 air crews completed a record airdrop, simultaneously dropping supply loads in Afghanistan.

    17 October 2007
    By Staff Sgt. Trevor Tiernan
    U.S. Central Command Air Force Combat Correspondent Team
    .

    BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Oct. 17, 2007 — Two U.S. Air Force C-17 crews recently completed a mission for the history books with one of the largest single airdrops in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began.

    “What sets this mission apart from previous ones is this is the first time we’ve used two aircraft to drop simultaneously on the same drop zone in the AOR (area of responsibility),” said Tech. Sgt. Marvin Mosley, a loadmaster on the Oct. 11, 2007, mission.

    It also was the first time in combat that cargo has been air-dropped in a formation scenario. The two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron dropped more than 60 bundles of cargo, weighing more than 85,000 pounds, over the Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan.

    U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Robinson, Air Mobility Division chief, Combined Air and Space Operations Center, said the drop contained supplies needed to operate through the winter, said. Poor road conditions leading to the forward operating base and force protection concerns drove the decision to make an airdrop, Robinson said. “Airdrop[s] could deliver all the supplies in two to three minutes using the C-17s and minimize [coalition forces’] exposure on the ground and in the air,” said Robinson.

    The crews flew from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, to pick up the cargo at Bagram Airfield before heading to the drop zone. Air Force Capt. Ryan Orfe, one of the pilots on the mission, said the airdrop not only got the needed supplies to the troops well ahead of harsh winter weather, but also helped keep convoy drivers out of harm’s way.

    “Hopefully we’re doing good and taking convoys off the road,” said Orfe. “That seems to be where a lot of the attacks on our troops come from. The more we can keep [the convoys] off the road, while at the same time keeping ourselves safe flying at higher altitudes … it’s a win-win for everybody.”

    Photo- A second Air Force C-17 Globemaster drops Combat Delivery System bundles just a few hundred feet above another set floating down to coalition soldiers waiting below, Oct. 11, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Micah E. Clare.

    Source: US CentCom.

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    This is an article about a Hero who gave his life for his three other friends. There is a book written by the Lone Survivor about this very incident. ($14.99) God bless them all.

    Update: Below please find other links from Milbloggers.

    Source: US CentCom News feed.

    22 October 2007
    By John J. Kruzel
    American Forces Press Service
    .

    WASHINGTON (NNS) — President Bush today posthumously presented the Medal of Honor earned by Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who sacrificed his life in an attempt to save fellow SEALs during a fierce battle with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

    The Medal of Honor, accepted by Murphy’s parents, Maureen and Dan Murphy, during a White House ceremony, is the highest military decoration. Murphy’s is the first Medal of Honor awarded for service in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

    “Today we add Lieutenant Michael Murphy’s name to the list of recipients who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Bush said. “By presenting Michael Murphy’s family with the Medal of Honor that he earned, a grateful nation remembers the courage of this proud Navy SEAL.”

    On June 28, 2005, as Murphy led a four-man SEAL team in search of key terrorist commander, the unit came under attack by some 50 Taliban fighters. The lieutenant is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates, according to a summary of action published by the Navy.

    Despite intense combat around him, Murphy — already wounded in the firefight — moved into the open where he could gain a better transmission signal and request backup from headquarters. At one point, Murphy was shot in the back, causing him to drop the transmitter. The lieutenant picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy as they closed in.

    By the time the two-hour gunfight had concluded, Murphy and two others SEALs had been killed. An estimated 35 Taliban died in the fighting.

    As a somber postscript to Murphy’s bravery, the helicopter that he requested crashed after being struck by a rocket- propelled grenade, killing everyone on board. In total, 19 Americans died in what Bush referred to as “the deadliest for Navy Special Warfare forces since World War II.”

    The president characterized Murphy as a born Navy SEAL.

    “SEALs get their name from operating by sea, air and land, and even as a toddler, Michael could find his way through any obstacle,” Bush said. “When he was just 18 months old, he darted across a neighbor’s yard and dove into the swimming pool. By the time his frantic parents reached him, Michael had swum to the other side with a big smile on his face.”

    In addition to his physical strength, Bush said Murphy’s strong moral character also was apparent at an early age.

    “One day in school, he got into a scuffle sticking up for a student with a disability. It’s the only time his parents ever got a phone call from the principal, and they couldn’t have been prouder,” Bush said. “Michael’s passion for helping others led him to become a caring brother, a tutor, a life guard and eventually a member of the United States armed forces.”

    The president welcomed Murphy’s parents and brother, John, who hail from Patchogue, N.Y., to the White House’s East Room, noting that Murphy’s decision to join the U.S. military was not easily accepted by his family. “As a Purple Heart recipient during Vietnam, Michael’s father understood the sacrifices that accompany a life of service. He also understood that his son was prepared to make these sacrifices,” Bush added.

    Murphy is remembered by fellow SEALs as a wisecracking friend who went by “Mikey” or “Murph,” a patriot who wore a New York City firehouse patch on his uniform in honor of the heroes of 9/11, Bush said.

    “And they remember an officer who respected their opinions and led them with an understated yet unmistakable sense of command. Together Michael and his fellow SEALs deployed multiple times around the world in the war against the extremists and radicals,” Bush said. “And while their missions were often carried out in secrecy, their love of country and devotion to each other was always clear.”

    Murphy is one of three servicemembers to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for gallantry in action during the war on terror. The president has presented medals to the families of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, who died in Iraq.

    Photo – President George W. Bush presents the Medal of Honor to Daniel and Maureen Murphy, the parents of Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, during a ceremony at the White House. Lt. Murphy was killed during a reconnaissance mission near Asadabad, Afghanistan, while exposing himself to enemy fire in order to call in support after his four-man team came under attack by enemy forces June 28, 2005. Murphy is the first service member to receive the honor for actions during Operation Enduring Freedom and the first Navy recipient of the medal since Vietnam. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brien Aho.

    Froggy Ruminations – SEAL Memorial at the Punchbowl. MUST READ
    Froggy Ruminations – The One
    Pundit Review – Blackfive podcast about the battle.
    Blackfive (Froggy) – Axelson and Dietz to Receive Navy Crosses.
    Blackfive (Froggy) – Mike Murphy Beach.
    Blackfive – “HERO” – SEAL Lieutenant Mike Murphy Considered for MOH.
    Blackfive – Danny Dietz – Navy SEAL Hero’s Memorial Opposed.
    Blackfive – Marcus Luttrell is “The One” – Sole Surviving Navy SEAL.
    Blackfive – US Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial.
    Blackfive – Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy to receive the MOH.
    Blackfive (DeeBow) – Someone that everyone, even the NYT should know..
    .

    Add this post to Fark Add this post to Technorati Add this post to Del.icio.us <a href=”http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://rosemarysthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/10/bush-presents-medal-of-honor-to-parents.html&title=Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Parents of Navy SEAL&bodytext=This is an article about a Hero who gave his life for his three other friends. There is a book written by the Lone Survivor about this very incident. ($14.99) God bless them all.

    Update: Below please find other links from Milbloggers.”>Digg!

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    Source: US CentCom.

    3 Oct 07
    by MC2 Regina L. Brown
    Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Public Affairs
    .

    TADJOURA, Djibouti — After spending eight years in the United States Marine Corps as an adjutant and logistics officer, Capt. Erin Nalepa, a Dearborn, Mich. native, decided she wanted to do something different with her life, so she joined the reserves and started on a nursing degree. She never imagined that an opportunity to get hands-on experience in the medical field would be available to her while on deployment at Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in Djibouti.

    Army Lt. Col. Alana Conley offered her the opportunity to help the 350th Civil Affairs Command functional specialty team with a Medical Civic Action Program that was conducted in the villages of Dalay-Af, Alaili Dadda and Obock, located in Djibouti from Sept.15-27, and Nalepa immediately jumped at the chance.

    Nalepa already had experience helping others through the time she spent volunteering with the American Red Cross. Some of her volunteer experiences include visiting patients at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., teaching classes to students at the United States Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, N.C. on the process of Red Cross Emergency Messages and teaching first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation at Orange County ARC in Anaheim, Calif.

    Being a staff secretary to CJTF-HOA Chief of Staff, Navy Capt. William Sizemore, Nalepa doesn’t get out of the office much, but Nalepa was able to break from her job and dedicate four days to help with the MEDCAP.

    “I hear about all the things that go on here at CJTF-HOA, but I haven’t been able to see anything until now,” said Nalepa. “This is just amazing to see all the logistics and all the planning that happens when we come together out here. Seeing what we’re actually doing for these people is pretty great.”

    Nalepa was given the job of fitting patients for adaptive eyewear during the MEDCAP. The strength of the glasses is changed using syringes which adjust the amount of liquid in each lens. The syringes used to make the changes can then be removed. Even though the job required no medical expertise, Nalepa was still able to gain experience helping others.

    Throughout her life, Nalepa has admired the bedside manner of not only her family doctors, but her mother as well. Nalepa’s mother, Janet, is an X-ray and mammography technician at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn.

    “I think of the way the doctors made me feel better and comforted me when I was sick and I want to be able to do that for others,” said Nalepa.

    The MEDCAP gave her the perfect opportunity to get hands on experience with helping people and to do her part to support the mission of CJTF-HOA, which is to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in east Africa and Yemen through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, and civic action programs to include medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction, and water development projects.

    “This MEDCAP has really given me a much better perspective of what we do at CJTF-HOA, as well as giving me a chance to do work in the medical field,” said Nalepa. “After participating, I feel even stronger about becoming a nurse.”

    Nalepa is currently completing pre-requisites and will apply to a nursing program as soon as she returns from deployment in mid-October.

    Photo – Marine Corps Capt. Erin Nalepa fits a patient for a pair of adaptive eyewear prescription glasses during a Medical Civic Action Program held in the village of Alaili Dadda in Djibouti. Service members deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa offered medical care to remote villages throughout Djibouti from Sep. 15-27 during the MEDCAP. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Regina L. Brown.

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    Workers Rebuild Communications Center

    Source: US CentCom.

    3 Oct 07
    By Sgt. Jerry Saslav
    65th PAOC
    .

    BAGHDAD — Communication in Baghdad can be an exercise in frustration, a hit-or-miss proposition due to both geography and technology issues. That will change as reconstruction of a major communication facility continues.

    The war resulted in the destruction of Al Mamoon telecommunications. The Al Mamoon was the technology hub where telephone and cell phone calls, as well as other forms of telecommunications, were routed. The new facility will restore that function as Iraqis and the Coalition continue to work reconstruction projects, which are vital for the normalization of the country.

    The Al Mamoon is being rebuilt by Alfa Consult for the Ministry of Communications. The new complex will include a glass-faced 41-meter-high building, housing new telecommunications switching equipment. This will enable residents to place phone calls in and around Baghdad and throughout Iraq, allow for faster Internet access, as well as house new satellite and cell phone equipment.

    The construction plans also include a 200-seat auditorium, conference rooms and a cafeteria able to serve 150 people. There will be a new Post Office that provides access to FedEx and DHL, as well as a four-story parking garage. The grounds will be landscaped and rows of trees will line the walkways.

    “This building is considered the heart of Iraq,” said Mohammad Abdula, the project manager.

    The old Al Mamoon, according to Abdula, was a landmark. “It was a very famous building to Baghdad people in time of Saddam. Ask any person in Iraq ‘Do you know Al Mamoon building?’ and they will say ‘yes’,” said Abdula.

    The rebuilding has not been easy. While the project employs 175 workers, it took 10 months to clear the site of debris. Curfews delayed the project for several months. Some building materials have to be trucked in from Dubai. The contractors wanted to run two shifts to speed up the complex’s construction, but security concerns did not allow it. The Ministry of Communications has made this a high priority project and crews have been working hard, still the project is one to two months behind schedule.

    Still, Abdula remains excited about the project and the centers potential. “It will connect Iraq with the world,” he said.

    Photo – Construction continues on the new Al Mamoon telecommunications center in Baghdad. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jerry Saslav.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    24 Sept 07
    By Air Force Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
    CJTF-HOA Public Affairs
    .

    NAGAD, Djibouti – Marines assigned to 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion and Heavy Marine Helicopter 464 out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, participated in a community relations project by painting a schoolhouse in Nagad Sept. 20. Reaching out to villages is a supplemental mission for the 3rd LAAD, the security force of Camp Lemonier.

    “Our purpose here is to build relationships in the area as well as maintain and enhance security of the base,” said Marine Capt. Christopher F. Crim, 3rd LAAD Battery B commanding officer. “Marines have a long history of working with locals to accomplish the mission. We will help the local villages help themselves, provide security for the base and assist the Djiboutian police and military to maintain stability in the local area.”

    Daoud Zeid Hassan, Arta School Region supervisor, stopped by the schoolhouse while the Marines were there. Hassan supervises seven primary schools and one secondary school.

    “There is a strong friendship with the Marines,” said Hassan. “They help us a great deal with the schools. We feel they help where we can’t finish.”

    The Marines visit the schools frequently to see what assistance they can provide, whether it’s painting walls or building additions.

    “It’s great to be able to conduct goodwill missions, like painting the Nagad School, and to build friendships with the villagers and leaders in the local area,” Crim said.

    The Marines of 3rd LAAD replaced the 6th Provisional Security Company Sept. 16 and are working to see what assistance the villages require.

    “We are currently in the process of identifying the needs of the villages near Camp Lemonier,” said Crim. “Then we will make an assessment in coordination with other agencies on the camp to develop a plan of action.”

    The efforts of the Marines are also appreciated by those who benefit most directly.

    “Americans are very good,” said Daoud Omar Gousieh, a Nagad native. “They have been here for seven years, and they always give.”

    The mission of more than 250 Marines assigned to 3rd LAAD is to provide perimeter and external security for Camp Lemonier in support of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa mission to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interest in order to prevail against extremism.

    Photo – Marine Gunnery Sgt. Rongalett D. Green and Marine Cpl. Vincent C. Girardi help a Nagad child paint the schoolhouse for 150 children. Green is the administrative chief and coordinator for the Horn of Africa Marine Corps Coordination Element. Green is deployed from Quantico, Va., and her father lives in Sacramento, Calif. Girardi is a guard for the 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    24 Sept 07
    By Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison
    22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
    .

    GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan — With the help of American and coalition forces, the Afghan national security forces are gradually earning the respect and acceptance of the Afghan people.

    Embedded tactical trainers spend their days training and coaching Afghan national army and police how to conduct themselves during and outside operations.

    “Our biggest job is showing ANSF what ‘right’ looks like,” said Army National Guard Maj. Chris P. Guziec, ANP ETT district commander. “We take what they think is right and mold it into something that is workable. This helps them better understand the steps to take and the reason for the changes.”

    Guziec said this type of training requires flexibility for both groups, along with consideration for Afghanistan’s cultural and religious foundation.

    “We are the ANP’s mentors; making sure they are being professional at their jobs and not exploiting their power,” explained Army National Guard Cpt. Jason E. Knueven, ANP ETT district team chief. With the mentoring, Knueven said he notices positive changes in the Afghan security forces in each of the missions he oversees.

    The most recent mission involved the ANA and ANP securing several villages and searching houses based on intelligence gathered by coalition forces and ANSF.

    “They were being professional at their job,” Knueven said. “They weren’t going in and stirring up the houses. The people took it really well because the ANSF was doing it the right way.”

    American soldiers working with ANSF in operations and exercises also see improvement in their Afghan colleagues’ performance. “The local populace needs to be able to build that trust with its own military and police,” said Army 1st Lt. Brian M. Kitching, 2nd Platoon Leader, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “ANA and ANP working to catch the bad guys will do that. It’s a slow process and a gradual process, but I definitely see an improvement in the way they plan and execute missions and control their forces.”

    But Kitching said the ANSF has to do more than catch bad guys to earn the trust and respect of the Afghan people. Afghan civilians need to know they can rely on their military and police to protect them, he said.

    “The good people want the bad people out, too, but they have to trust the people searching their homes,” Kitching said.

    Photo- An Afghan national army soldier checks an area of recently disturbed soil searching for possible hidden weapons or explosives during Operation Jam Morad, Sept. 12, in Ghazni Province. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    23 Sept 07
    By Cpl. Zachary Dyer
    2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)
    .

    AL ASAD, Iraq — History is a big part of the Marine Corps, every Marine is taught to honor the legacy of the first Leathernecks in 1775. Tradition has permeated so far into the Marines that it is not just the history of the Corps that Devil Dogs honor, but the feats of individual units as well.

    Marines in one of the oldest heavy helicopter squadrons in the Marine Corps, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, are upholding a tradition of excellence that has extended almost 25 years with 70,000 Class A mishap-free flight hours.

    “Its very rare,” said Lt. Col. Brian Cavanaugh, the Ugly Angels’ commanding officer. “Hardly any squadrons get this high, so we’ve been fortunate to reach this milestone. It’s a good mark, and we want to keep it going. Especially in combat, because it’s not like flying at home in the states, it’s desert (operations) with a high operational tempo. To be able to continue to do things safely is a testament to the high caliber of the Marines.”

    The squadron’s mishap-free streak, which started March 28, 1983, is an accomplishment that has taken years of hard work, according to Maj. Richard Matyskiela, the HMH-362 operations officer.

    Part of that hard work was completed in combat. Since they arrived in Iraq the squadron has flown just over 2,800 hours, according to Matyskiela, a Silverdale, Pa., native.

    “That’s four to five times what we fly back in (Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii),” said Matyskiela. “Every aircraft out here is at about 60 hours per month. And along with that, our maintainers are doing a few years worth of maintenance out here. In six months out here they are probably getting a good two years worth of maintenance under their belt. Out maintainers are doing a phenomenal job out here.”

    The “Ugly Angels” of HMH-362 have a deep history that dates back 55 years. They have the proud distinction of being the first Marine aircraft unit to deploy in support of the Vietnam War, and they also currently have the oldest CH-53D “Sea Stallion” in the Marine Corps, according to Cavanaugh.

    “This squadron has a rich history,” said Cavanaugh, a Baltimore native. “We celebrated our 55th anniversary this year back in April. So this is one of the older squadrons in the Marine Corps. This squadron was in Vietnam, it was in the first Gulf War, it’s been to Haiti. So there is a lot of tradition, a lot of heritage, within the unit. This is just another benchmark to show that this squadron is a very, very good squadron. One of the best in the Marine Corps.”

    The Marines of HMH-362 operate the same way they have done for the last 55 years, by the book. It is the dedication of the junior Marines that has allowed the Ugly Angels to continue the streak as long as they have, according to Capt. Nick Turner, an HMH-362 pilot and the flightline officer in charge.

    “The pilots and the officers don’t do it around here,” said Turner, an Elliot, Iowa native. “I mean, sure we give a little guidance, but it’s the sergeants and below. They are the pulse of the squadron. Our frontline is out there on the flightline making sure that the aircraft are mission ready. And they do it with a smile on their face, without a complaint, every day. It’s impressive.”

    Turner, who is the pilot credited with flying the mission that helped the squadron reach the latest milestone, attributes the Marines’ pride in their squadron and in maintaining the reputation they have built over the years to their success.

    “They have an enormous sense of pride, not only in this aircraft but in this squadron,” explained Turner. “They know the great history of this squadron, I mean it goes all the way back to 1962 in Vietnam. My dad was an original Ugly Angel back in 1965 in Vietnam. They have an enormous amount of pride, not only in the aircraft and the history, but in preserving it.”

    From the moment a Marine arrives at the squadron, they are taught the history of the Ugly Angels, and they become part of the Ugly Angels family, according to Lance Cpl. Jorge Toledo, a crew chief with HMH-362

    “It definitely motivates us, especially when we watch old videos of the squadron that date back as far as Vietnam,” said Toledo. “As the years went along, we’ve always remained Ugly Angels. It’s just the way we do things. It’s 100 percent all the time, no less. Whenever you feel down you think about what the people did that were here before you, and it motivates you to keep on going, to work that much harder to get things done.”

    So the Ugly Angels are celebrating their latest achievement, and looking forward to adding more to their long list of accomplishments.

    “People come and go, but the way the Ugly Angels do things remains the same,” said Turner. “This patch has stayed the same the whole time. Regardless of who’s been here, nothing’s changed.”

    Photo – Capt. Nick Turner, a pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, skillfully pilots a CH-53D “Sea Stallion” through a turn during a mission, Sept. 15. The Marines of HMH-362, the “Ugly Angels,” have racked up over 70,000 Class A mishap-free flight hours. Photo by Cpl. Zachary Dyer.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    22 Sept 07
    By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    HADITHA DAM, Iraq — Mention of the U. S. Navy usually conjures images of huge battleships cruising across the oceans, but the Navy is also responsible for much smaller boats and waterways. The Navy has fought on rivers and lakes at home and overseas since its establishment during 1775.

    During the War for Independence, sailors fought on tiny boats against the huge warships of the Royal Navy on colonial waterways. The War of 1812 found sailors on the Mississippi River aiding Gen. Andrew Jackson during a major British assault on New Orleans. With the beginning of combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the 1960s, the Navy joined forces with the U.S. Army to form the first Riverine squadron, known at the time as the Mobile Riverine Force.

    The Navy officially stood up the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, responsible for fielding a new Riverine force in Iraq, Jan. 13, 2006, in Little Creek, Va. Sailors in the new command began training during June 2006 in preparation for their upcoming deployment. Less than a year later, during March 2007, Riverine Squadron 1, Riverine Group 1, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, deployed to Iraq’s waterways in support of Regimental Combat Team 2, in Al Anbar Province.

    Now, for the first time since the Vietnam War, a Navy Riverine unit is wrapping up their tour of duty, turning over their area of operations, and preparing to come home.

    When we controlled the rivers during Vietnam, it was a huge hit to the enemy and a major U.S. success. [My bolding.] It’s the same here,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer John V. Flanagan, a damage control chief with the squadron. “Manning boats and guns is the Navy’s job. We just scaled down the boat, the gun, and the size of the operations. It feels good to be the first ones back in this position. Those are big shoes to fill, but I think we did pretty well.”

    Flanagan, as well as the other sailors in the unit, commonly referred to as riverines, is pleased with the success the squadron has had in Iraq.

    “My measure of success is this, in seven months we’ve only been shot at twice and we never hide. We are doing things right and the enemy stays away. They know if they mess with this unit they will be leveled. It’s the most significant Brown Water Navy contribution to the war so far. They came in, ramped up training and deployed in less than a year. We haven’t lost anyone and we’ve completed every mission. That’s success plain and simple,” said Flanagan, who is serving on his third deployment.

    The months leading up to the riverines’ deployment were filled with various schools, exercises and training sessions. Every riverine in the squadron attended the Marine Corps School of Infantry East, in North Carolina. Boat captains and crewmen attended Special Missions Training Command, to learn more about the watercraft. Gunners went through the Marine machine-gunners course, and selected sailors even attended the Defense Language Institute for an Iraqi immersion course. Riverines assigned to Maritime Interdiction Operations Teams, a ground combat element, went through a specialized combat course provided by Blackwater, a private civilian security firm. In addition, most of the riverines also completed a combat lifesaver course.

    “The training was great,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Bennett, a boat captain with Detachment 3, Riverine Squadron 1. “Before we deployed, we met some of the riverines who served during Vietnam, and they emphasized the importance of what we are doing and got us excited about coming. Then, when we got here, the Marine Dam Security Unit trained us and prepped us for the takeover of (Haditha Dam). We’ve been set up for success since day one, and when we got her,e we just wanted to work and help out. We wanted to leave our footprint and get experience.”

    The riverines are responsible for the security of the Haditha Dam, but in addition, they work with other units within the regiment on various combined arms operations.

    “We’ve worked with Marine Anglico guys, They were awesome. We provided support for the Navy Seals sometimes. We worked a lot with the regiment’s Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, doing blocking positions and sweeps, and provide security for various units,” said Bennett, a 35-year-old Seguin, Texas, native. “A lot of times, we transported people and gear, because the waterways are safer than roads to travel on. Once, we even worked with the Air Force on an operation. We don’t care, we just want to help out.”

    Many of the riverines say their new role in the war has given them a better perspective for the type of life a Marine or soldier might have, and most of them are happy to share that warrior heritage.

    “We definitely have more appreciation for Marines, soldiers, and groundpounders in general,” laughed Bennett.

    “We are proud of the fact that the only difference between us and the guys on the ground is the water under our boat. We share hardships, we know what that type of lifestyle entails, and we’re proud to have a claim in that,” agreed Flanagan. “There’s no rivalry or bickering, because we’ve been trained by everyone, Marine, Army, Navy, even civilians, its one team, one fight.”

    Photo – Navy riverines with Detachment 1, Riverine Squadron 1, Riverine Group 1, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command man their machineguns during a patrol on the Euphrates River. The squadron was stood up, trained, and deployed in less than a year, and is the first Navy riverine unit to be deployed since the Vietnam War. Photo by Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser.

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    While I did not write this article, Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser did, I believe it one that should be shared. Our men have done well since their inception of the Navy (and all other branches), and it is about time we all stood up and said so. Let’s support our men and women. Pass this story along.

    This is why I have chosen this post for today’s Linkfest. Please join us at the Linkfest and remember, no porn!

    Posts I’ve trackbacked to (go read them!): The World According to Carl: Historic Photos Of Tallahassee — Andrew N. Edel, The World According to Carl, Outside the Beltway, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Nuke’s, Right Voices, Conservative Thoughts, Blue Star Chronicles, Stop the ACLU, The Amboy Times, AZAMATTEROFACT, Dumb Ox Daily News, Stix Blog, Right Truth, Pirate’s Cove, Perri Nelson’s Website, The Bullwinkle Blog, 123beta, and Adam’s Blog, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    People who’ve trackbacked to this post:
    1. Stix Blog: Why Fred Thompson should be elected.
    2. The Florida Masochist: Weekly dolphins prediction.
    3. Right Truth: Sunday Reading List 10/21/07.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    21 Sept 07
    By Spc. Robert H. Baumgartner
    82nd Sustainment Brigade
    .

    CAMP ADDER, Iraq — Whether pioneering coalition air drops or providing critical support to major offensives like Operation Marne Torch, the 82nd Sustainment Brigade paratroopers’ logistical contribution to the security of Iraq has been considerable.

    Arguably one of the most far-reaching and longest-lasting contributions has been the brigade’s commitment to “growing the future” by implementing realistic, reactive training programs through the creation of the Black Scorpion Combat Logistics Patrol Academy.

    The program is designed to keep soldiers’ existing skills sharp, teach them new skills based on the most current information available and train them to handle situations they may encounter on the road.

    Since January 2007, more than 1,000 soldiers have completed the training, which includes casualty extraction and treatment, improvised explosive device detection and escalation of force procedures.

    Army Capt. Robert Walls, 82nd operations officer in charge, said the goal is to give combat escort teams the ability to evolve as the insurgency evolves.

    “The insurgency is adapting to our tactics at a rate that is inconsistent with our deployments,” Walls said. “The enemy has had four years to study us. We only have one rotation to get a step ahead of him.”

    This lag in tactical knowledge creates a deficit that can increase soldier’s susceptibility. The academy program creates a bridge to give soldiers the edge they need to be successful in a rapidly changing asymmetric environment.

    “A lot of what we teach can be practiced in the unit motor pool, the squad leader or convoy commander can run them through the scenarios,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Patterson, commandant of the academy. “But we allow a more in-depth range of possible scenarios. We can provide all the resources needed to conduct the training and make it a little more realistic.”

    One scenario designed to improve real-time decision-making requires students to drive vehicles down a road at convoy speed to be confronted by an instructor driving a white pickup truck.

    Soldiers are then expected to exercise escalation of force procedures, flexible to each unique situation. Sometimes the instructors comply with the soldier’s overtures. Sometimes they do not.

    “We try to drive home the point that their efforts to stop a vehicle may not be as effective as they think they are,” Patterson said. “Each of the students gets a chance to sit with us in the pickup truck while their buddies go through the EOF procedures so they can get an idea of what it looks like. It gives them a better understanding of how to effectively communicate their intentions when time is so limited.”

    Photo – Army Spc. Octavio Garza pulls security while his fellow soldiers treat a mock casualty at the 82nd Sustainment Brigade’s Black Scorpion Combat Logistics Patrol Academy on Camp Adder, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Robert H. Baumgartner.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    by Maj. Adriane Craig
    376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) — Kyrgyz controllers from Manas Air Base got the chance to see air traffic operations on a whole new level with an orientation trip to the United States Sept. 3 to 17. Seven Kyrgyz air navigation controllers spent nearly two weeks touring the training and advanced operations sites that comprise the United States flight network.

    U.S. Central Air Forces sponsored the trip as part of the on-going education and exchange program between Kyrgyz air navigation and the 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron at Manas Air Base. The two organizations work closely because the base is collocated with Manas International Airport.

    The controllers visited civilian air traffic control centers belonging to the Federal Aviation Administration and the military air traffic control tower at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. They also traveled south to visit the military air traffic controller school house at Keesler AFB, Miss.

    Air operations in another country was a real eye-opener for some of the participants as the Kyrgyz controllers got to see firsthand the high-tech equipment used in daily operations and training.

    For Aibek Akmatov, a senior air traffic controller with the KAN, the training facility was one of the biggest surprises.

    “You can talk with the computer,” said Mr. Akmatov after seeing the simulator used at the military ATC school.

    The group spent three days at the schoolhouse, where hundreds of military controllers are trained each year. The schoolhouse provides realistic training to better prepare controllers for the challenges they’ll face on duty.

    The size of the airports that the groups visited also impressed the Kyrgyz controllers, along with the amount of air traffic they handle.

    “Seventy percent of the global air traffic flows through the United States,” said Maj. Michael Smith, the 376th EOSS commander, who accompanied the controllers on the trip west.

    The Kyrgyz controllers were exposed to large-scale operations, which enhanced their understanding of the big picture of safe air traffic control.

    “Now I have a clear view of how our American colleagues work. The command air traffic control centers in Washington, D.C., work with 20 sectors across the country and provide a good flow of air traffic,” Mr. Akmatov said.

    Photo – David Maddox explains the layout of the airfield to Igor Kulik, Taalaibek Alisherov, and Lev Semenovykh Sept. 6 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Mr. Maddox is the Federal Aviation Administration shift manager responsible for tower operations at Andrews AFB. The Kyrgyz air traffic controllers visited Andrews AFB and several other facilities in Virginia and Mississippi as part of a two-week orientation sponsored by U.S. Central Air Forces. The trip is part of an ongoing education and exchange program between Kyrgyz air navigation and the 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. The two organizations work closely together because the base is collocated with Manas International Airport. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexy Saltekoff.

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    Sister services, brothers in arms

    Source: US CentCom.

    by Sgt. Matthew Clifton
    22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE CHAPMAN, Afghanistan – You only have to say two words to invoke that feeling of rivalry that is oft-present between two of the largest armed services in the United States.

    “Army-Navy.” GO NAVY! 🙂

    Upon hearing those words, one’s mind is immediately drawn towards collegiate athletics and although there may be some slight truth in the rivalry each Soldier or Sailor has towards the opposite service, one unit (comprised not of Soldiers and Sailors, but Servicemembers,) has demonstrated how the rivalry, when it comes down to it, is just good-hearted fun.

    The truth is, whatever feuds the Army and Navy may have, they are certainly taken with a giant grain of salt.

    No one unit better proves this point than the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team. Made up of uniformed personnel from both services, the Khowst PRT plays a key role in the development of the Khowst province by funding and contracting projects like the building of schools, roads and hospitals.

    This mission is a huge task and one that would not be possible without the complete and total teamwork of all its members, Army and Navy.

    “This is the first time I’ve ever been in a joint environment,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey Caffey, master at arms, Khowst PRT. “I’ve never experienced the ‘Army thing’ before and at first it was a total culture-shock.”

    The “culture-shock” was best remembered through his pre-deployment training at Fort Bragg, N.C.

    “I think the biggest thing for the Navy guys was the ruck-marches we went on,” said Staff Sgt. Michael A. Sheets, civil affairs noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Khowst PRT. “I think it was difficult for the [Navy] guys, not because they couldn’t handle it, but because they were so used to being on a ship.”

    “It was fun teaching the guys about marching formations, what way to point their weapon and things like that,” Sheets continued. “They were completely cooperative the whole time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any one group of guys more eager and willing to learn.”

    Caffey, a New Braunfels, Texas native, laughed at the recollection of the ruck-marches, mentioning that, although he “walked” a lot during his Navy basic training, he had never before donned full “battle-rattle” and walked for miles in a formation.

    “It was definitely different,” Caffey added. “Some of our guys had a tough time, but I think some of the Army guys also had to get used to having a Navy commander.”

    None of the Soldiers in the unit had ever worked on a ship and both Caffey and Sheets agreed the Navy “slang” used by the commander was something the Soldiers had to get used to.

    “There is an enormous amount of service-specific slang the commander uses in his speeches,” Sheets said jokingly. “He always says something about ‘fair winds.’”

    Caffey was quick to add “fair winds” means everything is going fine, like “smooth sailing.”

    “The Army just says ‘hooah’ for everything,” Sheets, an Ohio native, retorted.

    All-in-all, the unit spent three months training at Fort Bragg and after being in the Army for more than four years, this was Sheet’s first experience with the Navy.

    “The tact shown by these guys during training can not be matched,” Sheets said. “Our commander is one of the smartest guys I know.”

    Sheets referred to the way their commander, understanding he needed experienced leaders, made Sheets and other combat veterans “team leaders” during their training time.

    Before they realized it, their training had stopped and they were in Afghanistan doing exactly what they had trained for. By that time, there was no longer the distinction between the Army and the Navy. They were just “the team.”

    Daily life for Caffey and Sheets is seen by both as being vastly productive. Working at the district center in Tani, a small district in Khowst, they literally live among the people of Afghanistan, helping to rebuild the area through funding and reconstruction projects.

    “We work with the local government officials and police officers to ensure the continued stability of the district,” Caffey said. “They are an all-around good group and I feel proud that they are doing what’s best for their citizens.”

    Straddling the half-way mark of their deployment, the lines of “Army and Navy” have gone from blurred to nonexistent.

    “I don’t even see a difference anymore, its just one big team,” Caffey said.

    Neither Caffey nor Sheets had ever worked in a joint environment before and that they, along with their entire unit, bonded so instantly and permanently says something about how trivial and “elementary” any type of rivalry really is.

    “I’m completely shocked at how everyone left their egos at the door and came together to be the best possible unit,” Sheets said. “We have a good government to work with in this province and because we work so well as a team, I feel good about the future of our district.”

    Photo – Staff Sgt. Kirtis Hoursch, a squad leader with the 158th Infantry Battalion, Arizona Army National Guard, attached to the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team, inspects a Soldier and a Sailor prior to heading out on a mission, at Forward Operating Base Chapman, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Matthew Clifton.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    19 Sept 2007
    by Master Sgt. Ruby Zarzyczny
    380th Air Expeditionary Wing
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) — The commander of U.S. Central Command visited Airmen from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Sept. 17 at their forward deployed location in Southwest Asia.

    Adm. William J. Fallon was greeted by Brig. Gen. Lawrence Wells, 380th AEW commander; Col. Bruce VanSkiver, the 380th AEW vice commander; Chief Master Sgt. Angelo Wilson, the 380th AEW command chief, and host nation and U.S. Embassy officials.

    Admiral Fallon and his staff attended a unit mission brief given by the wing commander. During the briefing, General Wells explained how the 380th AEW missions contribute to contingency operations throughout the area of operation and the war on terrorism.

    “Admiral Fallon took special interest in how we provide unblinking (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) support to the combatant commanders. He highlighted the fact that our wing has been instrumental in the positive outcome of recent combat operations and praised our Airmen for their dedicated service,” General Wells said.

    After the briefing, Admiral Fallon toured a hangar where he was briefed by Airmen and civilian technicians on the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, Global Hawk and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft missions.

    “Our goal was to introduce Admiral Fallon to as many young Airmen as possible,” General Wells said. “We knew he would be impressed once the Airmen started talking about their mission. And our Airmen were fabulous; they all made me very proud hearing them explain in great detail how they were a key part of the war effort.”

    Retired senior master sergeant James Cheeley helped brief the admiral on the capabilities of the U-2 aircraft. Mr. Cheeley is the 99th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Lockheed site manager. The retiree is also a 20-year Lockheed veteran with more than 32 years combined experience working with the U-2, and is considered a U-2 subject matter expert.

    “I explained how it was built and delivered to the Air Force in April 1989,” he said. “They were surprised because they thought all U-2s were 50 years old.”

    The 380th AEW also hosted a luncheon for Admiral Fallon and his staff, to which several Airmen and their commanders were invited. Admiral Fallon visited with each Airman and acknowledged their contributions to the mission by presenting them with a CENTCOM commander’s coin.

    “Receiving a coin from the admiral was a great honor,” said Staff Sgt. Luvelle Pemberton, a command post specialist with the 380th AEW. “I love doing my job but I know that without the ‘One Team, One Fight’ concept, we could not be victorious in our fight. I try to give 100 percent every time I walk through my office door.”

    Sergeant Pemberton also served on the honor guard detail present during the admiral’s arrival.

    “Just seeing his aircraft with the words United States of America written on it made me proud to be serving my country,” the NCO said. “To be honest, I was a little nervous to meet him. He sat right next to me and started asking me about my stay here. My lasting impression of him is that he holds a position in which he has to make tough decisions and stand his ground on what he feels is right for our armed forces and nation. But, take away all the stars and you will see a Sailor, as we are Airmen, proud to serve our country.”

    Near the end of the luncheon, Admiral Fallon grabbed his chair and sat with every Airman selected to meet him. He asked where they were from and what they liked most about supporting the CENTCOM’s mission.

    “It was amazing talking about strategic initiatives from the actual general officer that controls the face of our future in the current AOR from a strategic perspective as well as from an angle supporting national and political objectives for the United States of America,” said Maj. Anthony Mullinax, the 380th Expeditionary Logistic Readiness Squadron operations officer. “It’s not often you get an audience and are able to provide a perspective to leadership at that level.”

    “Admiral Fallon was quick to praise the families and friends back home for their support of our deployed Airmen,” General Wells said. ” It was good to know that he appreciated our time spent deployed and that he recognized the importance of the encouragement we get from our loved ones.”

    Photo – Adm. William J. Fallon talks to Airman 1st Class Alfred Roldan (left) and Senior Airman Aaron Austin during a luncheon Sept. 17 at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. Admiral Fallon is the U.S. Central Command commander. Airman Roldan is with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and Airman Austin is with the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ruby Zarzyczny.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    20 Sept 07
    by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
    .

    ASSAMO, Djibouti – National Guardsmen assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa were visited by the senior enlisted leader for the National Guard Bureau for three days.

    Army Command Sgt. Maj. David R. Hudson, NGB senior enlisted leader, traveled to Djibouti Sept. 12-15 to learn about the HOA mission, visit well drilling sites and check on the morale of the Guardsmen.

    “As a person who testifies before Congress, I wanted to come and see how they were doing and if they were in need of any supplies or equipment,” said Hudson.

    While the sergeant major has visited several camps in theatre, this was his first time to Africa.

    “It was a neat opportunity to come and see what kind of impact Guardsmen are making,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know about Djibouti, where it is or what we are doing here.”

    Hudson met with the 1132nd Well Drilling Detachment of the North Carolina Army National Guard Sept. 15, and traveled to Assamo to view three of the five wells the servicemembers completed.

    “Well drilling is an important contribution here because it helps prevent illness,” said Army Staff Sgt. William R. Brown, 1132nd Well Drilling Detachment lead driller and acting first sergeant.

    The difference between the hand-dug wells the Djiboutians use and the wells the Guardsmen install is that the well drillers encase them, which makes them sanitary and keeps bacteria from getting into the water.

    The well drillers test the water each time they return to the site using a hydrologist water test kit. While there is no regulation or other requirement for this process, the Guardsmen go an extra step further to make sure the process is still intact.

    “We do it as a courtesy, because we care about what we’ve done,” said Brown. “We want to make sure we have left a positive impression on the people.”

    The NGB senior enlisted leader felt the trip was educational, and he enjoyed meeting members of the HOA mission.

    “I personally learned a lot,” said Hudson. “I didn’t know about the well drillers and what they bring to the HOA mission. The men and women of the National Guard are hard workers. The well drilling unit is doing a wonderful job.”

    The command sergeant major also appreciated the assistance of the CJTF-HOA commander and command chief.

    “Rear Adm. James M. Hart and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John R. Harris were great hosts during my time in HOA,” he said. “They have their own duties, and they put them aside to help me in making sure I could see as much as I could in a short amount of time.”

    Army Sgt. Phillip W. Lawing, 1132nd Well Drilling Detachment lead well driller and mechanic, enjoyed the senior enlisted leader’s visit.

    “Someone from that position who takes an earnest interest in what we are doing is nice,” said Lawing. “Knowing someone came from Washington, D.C., means they’re aware that we’re here and that’s pretty special.”

    At any given time, there can be 70,000 to 90,000 Guardsmen deployed to 44 countries around the world. About 200 are in the Horn of Africa.

    The well drillers are part of the CJTF-HOA mission, serving with more than 1,800 coalition and U.S. servicemembers who are part of the operational effort to prevent conflict, promote regional stability, and protect coalition interest in order to prevail against extremism.

    Photo – Sgt. William R. Brown, left, uses a hydrologist water test kit as Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny D. Hunter records the various levels from a well drilled for local Djiboutians. The Guardsmen are not required by any rules or regulations to measure the pH levels, hardness, salinity, and other traits of well water, but do so as a courtesy check to ensure that the well is intact and because they care about what they’ve done. Brown and Hunter are members of the 1132nd Well Drilling Detachment deployed from Mooresville, N.C., Army National Guard. Brown is lead driller and acting first sergeant and Hunter, is team leader commander. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    18 Sept 07
    by Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr.
    Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan Public Affairs
    .

    KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghans lead best when in the lead and in the Basic Warrior Training Course at the Kabul Military Training Center, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of Afghan drill sergeants.

    The mentors call this progress. They describe their jobs as being only temporary – the goal is for the Afghans to take charge in all facets of their army with coalition forces acting in a supporting role or as an enabler.

    The Afghan national army leaders have “improved a lot on tactics and leadership,” said Army Master Sgt. Roberto Garcia, a senior mentor at KMTC. “They still have a long way to go … but they are hard workers and they work a lot of hours.”

    Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan mentors assigned to BWT in the past have seen their jobs go from dominant in the training and development of ANA soldiers to more of a supporting and advisory role to ANA non-commissioned officers and officers at KMTC. The new soldiers training at KMTC are experiencing this transition first-hand.

    “NCOs are ready to take on the responsibility,” said Garcia, a drill sergeant assigned to the 218th Army National Guard Regiment’s Brigade Combat Team at KMTC. “It’s sometimes hard for us to (step back), but we have to remember that we have to be patient. We just have to realize that our military has been around and developing for over 200 years. We can’t expect (for theirs to develop) in five years.”

    The senior mentor to the ANA Advanced Combat Training brigade commander, Army Lt. Col. Daniel A. West, echoed Garcia’s perspective.

    “We can’t implement our system here,” said West, also a member of the 218th BCT. “They don’t have the same equipment or personnel in place.”

    However, the ANA has implemented a training system in which their NCOs are increasingly at the helm. Soldiers are assigned to train new recruits at BWT, the NCOs are being trained to be drill sergeants and NCOs are training BWT graduates for further responsibilities and assignments within the army.

    A new class of recruits begins BWT about every two weeks at KMTC, and NCOs are taking the lead at teaching course materials.

    “It was mostly officers, mixed with some NCOs (teaching the classes). That’s what I saw when I got here,” Garcia said. Now it’s mostly the NCOs teaching, with officers occasionally helping out.

    During a recent live-fire training exercise of ANA soldiers at KMTC, ANA NCO instructors oversaw soldiers in their initial firing of 82 mm mortars and Russian-made SPG-9s, which fire 73 mm grenades.

    The exercise was the “smoothest since I’ve been here,” said Army Master Sgt. Anthony J. Harris, a senior NCO mentor for combat arms assigned to the 218th BCT. “They are pretty self-sufficient.”

    The soldiers themselves are responding to the new ANA leadership.

    “They’re always excited,” said Spc. Seth R. Hungiville, a weapons specialist with the 218th BCT. “There (are) a lot of similarities in how the soldiers are very fascinated with the weapons systems just like we are when we get to fire a new weapons system.”

    Photo – An Afghan national army drill sergeant demonstrates weapon functions of an AK-47 to ANA soldiers during Basic Warrior Training at Kabul Military Training Center. Coalition soldiers assigned to the 218th Brigade Combat Team at KMTC mentor Afghan national army Basic Warrior Training drill sergeants. Photo by Staff Sgt. Luis P Valdespino Jr.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    18 Sept 2007
    By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp
    1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    FALAHAT, Iraq – Soldiers from “Dagger” Troop D, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division joined with members of the brigade’s Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team and Company A, 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion to assist local tribal sheiks and villagers with several construction projects, Sept. 16.

    Working side by side, villagers and Soldiers moved construction supplies to include wheel barrows, shovels and wood among other building materials from a truck provided by Dagger Troop that transported the materials to a site where a store is being built. Additionally, the troops delivered a brand new generator to be used once the store is completed.

    Dagger Troop coordinated the effort that will donate the store to a local family that has no source of income due to the sole breadwinner being disabled. Building supplies delivered to the site will also be used to build a house for a Falahat family, currently living in a mud hut, and to repair a second house in the village that was damaged during an insurgent attack nearly five months ago.

    “We’re glad to see that security has improved enough to where we can begin reconstruction here and it’s especially important to do this during Ramadan because it ties in well with the Islamic principle of Zakarat which means charity,” said Capt. Martin Wohlgemuth, Dagger Troop commander and a native of Anchorage, Alaska. “All of the families we’re helping are poor so it makes this just that much more special.”

    “It’s helping us to build better collaboration and improve our relations with the locals here,” said 1st Lt. Mike Blake, a platoon leader in Dagger Troop and a native of Baltimore. “We’ve gotten to know the people extremely well and they trust us. During events like this, the whole community comes together to help each other and they treat us just like we’re part of their community.”

    A few days prior to this particular event, Soldiers from Dagger Troop had already transported 4,000 bricks and 26 tons of mortar to the building site.

    A local Iraqi contractor is providing the labor and overseeing the building projects.

    The Ironhorse EPRT paid for the building supplies with quick reaction funds from the U.S. State Department which are funds the department sets aside for non-profit organizations, businesses and for special construction projects such as those in Falahat.

    “It’s all about facilitating Iraqi efforts to promote accelerated social and economic development,” said Maj. David Parker, an EPRT transition officer and a native of Savannah, Ga., explaining the purpose of the funds.

    “This is a great opportunity to help them rebuild their own country and see them take pride in ownership,” said Maj. Jesse Larson, Ironhorse EPRT civil affairs officer, who hails from Kansas City, Kan. “Eventually as the security situation continues improving, the Iraqi government will step up and be taking over these types of projects.”

    After all the supplies had been delivered to the site, the Iraqi contractor began working with laborers, who he hired to work on the project, to create a foundation for the store. They dug trenches in which to emplace bricks for the walls of the structure and set several of the bricks in place.

    According to Wohlgemuth, it should only take about five to seven days for the contractor to complete the store with the construction and repairs on the two houses to be completed over a period of several weeks.

    Recent successful reconciliation efforts in the area have helped to accelerate projects in the village and Soldiers said they have been amazed by the village’s transformation.

    “There’s been a very dramatic change, it’s been four months since we’ve had a major attack, and we used to be attacked nearly everyday,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lien, an acting platoon sergeant in Dagger Troop who hails from Whitewater, Wis. “We’ve worked closely with local tribal sheiks and the (Iraqi security volunteers) to kick out insurgents and the difference has been like night and day.”

    “It’s pretty fantastic to see that the people here are showing their support for reconciliation efforts in the area, and this has been an incredible success when you compare it with how things were before,” said Pfc. Warren Griffen, a Dagger troop forward observer and a native of Rochester, N.Y.

    So far, the combined efforts of Dagger troops working with the Iraqi security volunteers have led to the finding of many improvised explosive devices, weapons caches and the detaining of several Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters greatly improving the security situation, said Blake.

    Future projects for the village, said Wohlgemuth include the refurbishing of schools, the fixing of water lines and the pursuit of more projects, similar to the construction effort, that will put the villagers back to work.

    Photo – Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lien, left, an acting platoon sergeant, and Staff Sgt. Kevin Sartor, center, a forward observer, both from Dagger Troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regt., offload building supplies with the help of a local Iraqi man in Falahat, Iraq, Sept. 16, as part of a humanitarian effort to rebuild the socio-economic infrastructure of the village. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp.

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    Source: US CentCom.

    19 Sept 07
    By Sgt. Anthony Guas
    2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)
    .

    AL QAIM, Iraq — Just like a guide dog helps a blind person or a ground guide assists a heavy equipment operator, air traffic controllers are on the ground to help pilots. Wherever there are Marine Corps aircraft[s] flying, there are air traffic controllers ensuring that the pilots know when they can take off or land, how to approach the airfield, or what is in the airspace.

    For Al Qaim, those are the controllers of Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team for Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Detachment C.

    “The mission of any air traffic controller, whether it be back in the states or here, is the expeditious flow of traffic into or out of our airspace,” said Staff Sgt. Jimmy Houser Jr., MMT leader for MACS-1, Detachment C. “Here it’s all helicopters, we don’t have a runway for any fixed wing aircraft.”

    The controllers are responsible from the surface of Al Qaim to 3,000 feet, 5 nautical miles from the center of the airfield. They are split into six-hour shifts in which they land and depart as many as 20 helicopters a day.

    “We de-conflict any type of flight into or out, (unarmed aerial vehicles), weather balloons all that stuff,” said Houser.

    Since the size of Al Qaim does not accommodate fixed wing aircraft, the controllers spend their time dealing with just helicopters. The limited number of aircraft operating in and out of Al Qaim makes the operational tempo for the controllers a little slower than usual.

    “The traffic here is slow, we do just over 40 operations a day,” said Houser. “Most of the Marines are from (Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.) and I’m from (MCAS Yuma, Ariz.), which are two of the busiest airports in the Navy and Marine Corps so we are used to 40 operations in an hour and we do that in a 24-hour period here.”

    The slower operational tempo allows Marines like Cpl. Blaze Crawford, who previously worked in radar, an opportunity to wet his feet working in the tower.

    “It’s new, when I first started I didn’t know the aircrafts flight and where they were going to come in, I had no clue what was going on because I never see them in radar,” explained Crawford. “When I’m in the radar room I’m in a box, I don’t see them, they are a dot. It’s exciting to actually see what I’m doing.”

    Although the operational tempo may be slower, the Marines are determined to give their best effort by increasing the quality of air traffic control that they provide.

    “We’re doing great so far,” said Sgt. Nicholas Foster, air traffic controller, MACS-1. “I’m glad that it’s such a small group of guys. It could be bad because there could be one or two that don’t know the job, but we kind of lucked out in that we are all kind of seasoned. Nobody has to baby-sit anybody, everyone knows their job, they know what they have to do, they know the Marine Corps.”

    While battling the normal difficulties of a deployment, the ATC Marines also have an added number of obstacles that they must hurdle on a daily basis.

    “What makes the job difficult here is limited visibility and limited equipment,” explained Houser. “Basically the austere environment and the wear and tear of the gear.”

    Despite the lack of accommodations to do their job, the Marines are adjusting to their environment and compensate for the shortfalls by increasing their proficiency in other areas.

    “The Marines study the airspace as much as they can,” explained Houser. “There are a couple of different things that you can learn around here.”

    Whether it is reading manuals or memorizing the rules for the airfield, the controllers are always working hard to ensure that they are a positive source of information for the aircraft pilots.

    “There is a manual that teaches you everything about the airfield, a course rules brief that tells all the pilots how to get into and out of the airspace, what we expect them to do,” said Houser. “As long as we continue to train to everything in the airspace, train on the radio, train on the equipment to pass information whether it be mIRC (Internet Relate Chat), (e-mail), that’s how we compensate for some of the shortfalls.”

    Another service that the controllers provide is navigational aid when there is inclement weather or limited visibility. To ensure that the navigational aid is always ready the MMT has a technician on call 24 hours a day.

    “We provide tactical aid navigation for aircraft to find the airfield in case of inclement weather or some type of outage or shortage,” Houser explained. “(The tactical aid mechanic) provides service to that (system) 24 hours a day.”

    Although they are a small air traffic control team and their mission is smaller than usual, the Marines know that they are having positive influence on the mission in Al Qaim.

    “I think its great that we’re out here, normally if there is any type of a Marine aircraft flying there’s always a Marine air traffic controller that’s talking to them,” explained Houser. “We do play a vital role when it comes to the (medical evacuations), getting them out as quick as possible. That’s probably the best feeling that we have, knowing that there’s troops in contact, we need to get a gunship out or there’s somebody injured and we need to get them medevaced into or out of the airspace.”

    Photo – Sgt. Nicholas Foster, air traffic controller for Marine Air Control Squadron-1, looks on the mIRC (Internet Relate Chat) for information on incoming flights to Al Qaim, Aug. 31, 2007. Foster is part of the Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team that manages the airspace in Al Qaim. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas.

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    U.S. Army welders designed and built the first up-armored truck for the
    Iraqi police to use at checkpoints.

    11 October 2007
    By Pfc. Bradley J. Clark
    4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2007 — Members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here are often faced with unusual and difficult tasks, most recently creating an up-armored truck for the Iraqi police.

    Welders from the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, currently assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment said that designing and building the up-armored pickup truck was a novel, and difficult, experience in part because it had never been done before.

    “Especially the doors,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Jewell Loving, “because we had to make our own hinges and fabricate a lot of stuff for them, but we had all the supplies that we needed. The project took us two-and-a-half weeks from start to finish.”

    The purpose of the pickup truck is to provide security for the IPs manning checkpoints.

    One of the things the welders worried about was the added weight as a result of up-armoring the pickup truck. “Even though the vehicle isn’t intended to chase after insurgents when it was taken on a test drive it had pick up, it wasn’t top heavy and it handled well, very well,” said Loving. Because the welders did such a good job accomplishing the task put before them, they have been tasked to up-armor four more pickup trucks.

    “The next ones will be less time-consuming because we already have the design and we are in the process of receiving more equipment for them,” said U.S. Army Pfc. David Durham.

    Accomplishing a mission as difficult as inventing something that cannot only help save lives, but also help secure a nation, made these soldiers feel great.

    “I get a sense of pride by having the ability to do this for the IP,” said Durham. “We were able to work with the equipment and materials that we had. On top of all of that, I gained much more job experience due to this project.”

    Photo – U.S. Army Pfc. David Durham completes the final part of welding on the first ever up-armored pickup truck for the Iraqi police on Forward Operating Base Marez, Iraq. Durham is a metal worker with Bravo Company, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Bradley Clark.

    Source: CentCom News feed.

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    Source: CentCom.

    Ah, the great people behind the scenes. Back home, I hate doctors. They are so full of themselves. Not out here…

    Please allow me this one moment to say I AM NOT IN THE MILITARY. I know there is a big to-do about phony soldiers, and I do not want to give the impression that I am. I just love and appreciate our troops so much. That’s all folks.

    1 Oct 07
    by Capt. Christopher Moore
    386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) — Army Sgt. Scott Boomershire injured his ankle kicking down doors in Iraq. However, it’s up to Airmen here, stationed hundreds of miles from the infantryman’s unit in Baghdad, to help Sergeant Boomershire get the medical care he needs to put him back in the fight.

    Members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group’s Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility team are charged with preparing injured servicemembers for transport to medical facilities around the world.

    “If we receive someone who looks like they can be treated in the area, we’ll make sure they are cleared for travel and send them to a regional medical facility for treatment and return to duty,” said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Quinn-Wilber, a CASF nurse deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. “If medical conditions are too severe, we’ll prepare the individual for flight aboard one of our C-130 (Hercules aircraft) and they’ll be flown to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, for advanced care.”

    The CASF receives patients via C-130 from bases throughout the region or via ambulance from nearby military bases. Once patients arrive, the CASF staff makes sure their vitals are within normal limits, changes dressings if necessary, and prepares the servicemembers for their next journey.

    “Most patients we receive are actually pretty close to being ready to go,” said Senior Airman Elle Liza Marie Franz, a CASF medical technician also deployed from Travis AFB. “We keep the patients for about 12 hours — usually just long enough for transportation to be arranged.”

    The CASF processes more than 300 patients a month, with ailments ranging from hernias and broken bones, to gunshot wounds and improvised explosive device-related injuries.

    It’s those patients arriving after being hit with IEDs that draw the most attention at the CASF. The CASF has implemented a “Battle Injury Program” where American flags are presented to those with combat injuries.

    “It’s the least we can do,” said Maj. Cheryl Spray, the officer in charge of the CASF’s medical control center and also deployed from Travis AFB. “It’s a way to show that we appreciate the sacrifices that they make for us and it’s a small reminder of what we’re fighting for.”

    Photo – Senior Airman Elle Liza Marie Franz conducts a vital check on Army patient Sgt. Scott Boomershire at the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility Sept. 24 in Southwest Asia. The CASF is a 24-hour medical holding and staging facility, which averages about 300 patients per month. Airman Franz is a 386th Expeditionary Medical Group medical technician. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder.

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    Source: CentCom.

    Many people are unaware of the major work we have been doing in the Horn of Africa known as the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). This is a part of WWIV that fascinates me. Our men and women are doing such a good job and many good works, and it all goes mostly unnoticed.

    I might add this is while America and the HOA is fighting the ships and pirates from al Qaida by capturing there ships which have been kidnapping people, enslaving and murdering them, and stealing whatever they please. Now on to the article from CentCom.

    2 Oct 07
    By Maj. Wesley P. Miller IV
    Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Affairs
    .

    SANA’A, Yemen — Dozens of children rushed through the doors of Socotra’s newly built Usama Bin Zaid Primary School, eager to see their new learning environment.

    The project dedication ceremony held for the people of Socotra, Sept. 23, was the result of a combined effort of the U.S. military, U.S. State Department, United States Agency for International Development, the Government of Yemen and the Hadibo local council.

    U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Stephen A. Seche, Rear Adm. James Hart, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa commander, as well as numerous other U.S. and Yemen government leaders attended the ceremony.

    “There’s a significance and [a] value in education – a degree of excellence – one which the youth of Socotra are deserving. It has been stated that every person has a right to an integral education, an education which responds to all of the needs of the human person. We hope that these refurbishments will make this process a little easier,” said Hart.

    The project dedication is an event Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa holds when they complete a civil-military project. The dedication symbolizes turning over the completed project to the local community. The U.S. military delegation traveled to the island to dedicate the Usama Bin Zaid primary school to more than 2,000 residents.

    The Dayshes school, built by a local contractor Faiz Abdullah Salem and funded by the U.S. government, will become a learning center for more than 250 children, ages 6-14. Before erecting the school, there were limited structures to house the children and many had to attend class in grass huts.

    With a U.S. and Yemen flag flying atop the school, Seche and Hart officially dedicated the school to the village of Dayshes. The $40,000 invested by the U.S. government in building and outfitting the Usama Bin Zaid school are part of a total U.S. government assistance program in Socotra, Yemen totaling more than $1,900,000 in projects for 2007.

    Hart said that refurbishing the Usama Bin Zaid school began with CJTF-HOA’s assigned Civil Affairs team joining forces with local elders and contractors to repair the school.

    Other projects completed or ongoing on Socotra include: the Omar Bin Kattab school, a health clinic for women and children in the Qalansiyah district and nearly 20 water storage tanks completed or nearing completion throughout the island. Civil Affairs Teams are working to fund 374 more water storage tanks to help provide potable water throughout Socotra.

    Through building schools, water storage tanks, health centers and conducting numerous other Civil-Military Operations, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is building capacity throughout the Horn of Africa to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism.

    “It is my hope that all the people of Yemen continue to feel the benefits from the strong and growing U.S. – Yemen friendship. Geographically, Socotra may be far from Sana’a and the Embassy, but cooperative projects like this school will continue to draw us closer together,” said Seche.

    One thing that was not mention but is clearly evident to me is the fact that along with this clean water, we are also educating these people on health issues from dirty water. Yes, great job, guys!

    Photo – U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James Hart, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa commander (center), presents a dedication plaque to Faiz Abdullah Salem at the Usama Bin Zaid Primary School in Socotra, Yemen, Sept. 23, 2007. Salem is a local contractor who helped in the construction of the newly erected school by teaming with United States Agency for International Development and CJTF-HOA personnel. U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Stephanie Addison.

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    New Ramps Increase Bagram Capacity

    Source: CentCom.

    2 Oct 07
    By Capt. Michael Meridith
    455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — Two new flightline ramps have opened at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, bringing new capabilities to coalition air operations, NATO and U.S. Air Force officials said.

    “These ramps represent a vision of continuous improvements in our warfighting capability,” said Royal Netherlands Maj. Gen. Freek Meulman, the International Security Assistance Force’s deputy commander for air. “They will serve as launch pads and resting sites for the long-term commitment of our coalition in the fight to achieve safety and security in Afghanistan.”

    The $9.3 million joint venture between the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency and the Yuksel Construction Co. provides significantly more parking space for helicopters and the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s F-15E Strike Eagles and A-10 Thunderbolts, said Kevin Cullen, the project manager.

    “These ramps represent quite a bit of capability for Bagram,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Dan Debree, the vice commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. “I fly in the F-15E and this is something we desperately needed. Although ramp space here has increased by 70 percent in two years, it doesn’t matter because a quick look will show you that every bit of it is used up.”

    Meulman said the ramp is one of a continuing series of projects designed to increase Bagram Air Base’s ability to support coalition efforts throughout Afghanistan.

    “We will continue to work together in building what I call an overwhelming capability in our common mission toward security and stability throughout Afghanistan,” Meulman said. “This new ramp will provide a long-lasting base for our dedicated airmen, who are committed to executing their challenging job here in Afghanistan.”

    Such projects also help fuel the local economy, said Cullen, noting that 80 Afghan workers were hired for the project, which was finished on time, on specification and within budget.

    Photo – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jamie Cabral helps land an International Security Assistance Force helicopter on one of two new ramps that were opened to aircraft at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2007. Cabral is a transient alert quality assurance evaluator for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Michael Meridith.

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    I posted these yesterday, which means I am late to the gate. I still have about 10-15 more articles to post. I would, however, like you take a look at these in the time being:

    Troops in Afghanistan Hold 9/11 Memorial Ceremony.
    Combat engineers put skills to test.
    Americans mentor Afghans training Afghans.

    It takes me a while because I read each article I receive from CentCom. A friend of mine, Red Hunter, gave me another cool site to check out for some more good war coverage.

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    Now we come to the Tuesday OpenTrackback. Please be kind to those with those whom you disagree. If it is necessary, I can take care of it. I want everyone to feel welcome here. I do ask that you do not post any porn, seeing as I’m a Christian and this is my site. I appreciate all the support I have received, and I would like to thank those of you for your support. You know who you are. 😉

    Trackback for this post: http://rosemarysthoughts.com/2007/10/02/popourri-of-military-good-news-for-a-change/trackback/

    These are the posts I have trackbacked to: Webloggin, Faultline USA, Right Voices, Outside the Beltway, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Perri Nelson’s Website, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Right Truth, The Populist, Pirate’s Cove, Webloggin, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, Conservative Cat, The Yankee Sailor, and Wake Up America, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are the kind people who have trackbacked to this post:

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    Source: CentCom.

    This article is especially special to me, since the guy I’ve been talking to is over there to do the same thing. These guys do a great job, and they also go through many hardships. Personally, I pray for everyone over there not to have survivors guilt.

    11 Sept 07
    by Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
    U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan (AFPN) — Afghan instructors are training Afghan national police officers in a series of security forces classes here, while two American Airmen provide watchful mentorship. The Afghan national police sustainment training is a giant step forward for the future of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan military, said Staff Sgt. Daniel Smith, Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team’s police technical adviser.

    Sergeant Smith and Senior Airman Zackary Osborne, both deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., are mentors for the instructors.

    “From this point on, the Afghans will have a more active role in the development of their police and security forces,” he said. “In the past, coalition and government forces supplied the training to the Afghans, but now, as the instructors receive qualification, we can step back and let them train themselves.”

    The month-long classes cover a wide variety of security-related topics, such as arresting procedures and riot control, and are required by all first-year officers. Once the course is completed, the police officers are no longer considered “rookies” and are given a pay raise.

    Already, Sergeant Smith said, he can see a difference within the classroom. “The students’ attention is held when the Afghans are instructing,” he said. “They go through the material a lot faster, since nobody has to pause and wait for an interpreter to translate everything. And we can see how they are catching onto things a lot faster. At this point, all that we (Americans) do is stand back, observe and give suggestions every now and then. They are running the show.”

    The instructors were trained by a U.S. government-contracted security firm at the Regional Training Center in Jalalabad, a city east of Laghman Province where forward operating base Mehtar Lam is located. In a few months, construction will be complete on a provincial training center near the FOB, so more instructors can become trained and qualified locally.

    “We will be able to hold our classes there at the PTC, rather than inside a tent on the FOB,” said Sergeant Smith. “There all their training needs can take place.” These classes are only part of the Laghman PRT’s mission, which serves to provide international aid to the area via security backed by national and coalition forces, reconstruction projects and humanitarian aid delivery. They are also responsible for disarming and demobilizing militia forces and terrorist activity throughout the region with the help of the locals.

    “I’m extremely proud of what my Airmen are doing here with the Afghan military and the Afghan police,” said Lt. Col. Robert Ricci, the PRT commander deployed from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. “They have allowed the local authorities to expand their capabilities for security, and because of that, Laghman Province is a lot safer and that allows all of us to work harder to get this province, this country, on its feet.”

    Photo – Staff Sgt. Zachary Osborne listens as Afghan National Police instructor Maj. Muhammad Omar teaches a class on patrol procedures to Afghan National Auxiliary Police trainees Sept. 3 at forward operating base Mehtar Lam in Afghanistan’s Laghman province. Sergeant Osborne is an Air Force security forces member deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. He is assigned to the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team police technical advisory team and works as a mentor to the Afghan instructors. The course is now being taught entirely by ANP instructors. The PTAT’s role has now shifted to monitoring the course’s progress and mentoring the ANP instructors. U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

    May God be with all of them, and may no one need comforting…

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    Combat engineers put skills to test

    Source: CentCom.

    These men and women are the people that don’t really get many kudos, except maybe from the troops. They are the ones who are behind the scenes making sure that all the repairs necessaey are done and done well.

    10 Sept 07
    By Sgt. Anthony Guas
    2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)
    .

    AL ASAD — Whether it is building or renovating, combat engineers are always working hard to ensure that service members have what they need to make work or life a little better. Recently, the Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 took on a mission that has an affect on service members throughout Iraq.

    The engineers of MWSS-271 have started the Rapid Runway Repair project, which is designed to fix problem areas on Al Asad’s runways. “The problem is that there are holes in the runway from where the concrete expands and contracts from the heat and it starts breaking up,” explained Sgt. David Poole, a combat engineer for MWSS-271. “When you have holes in the flightline, the planes have trouble landing or taxiing.” The repair on Aug. 11 was the second of many upcoming repairs that will be conducted by the 271 engineers. The repairs are completed in small sections, so that they do not interfere with normal operations.

    “We go in and cut out the portion that is starting to come up where there are holes and we jackhammer all the stuff out and put in pavement, which is runway repair material,” said Poole. “It gives it a solid surface and stops it from cracking.”

    The engineers have primarily been focused on minor projects around the base, before starting on the runway repair. “We have been building SWA huts, gyms for units, a detention facility for (the Provost Marshal’s Office), just small construction projects,” said Poole. “It’s a big change, definitely different. It’s part of our job and I feel like I’m really doing my job out here doing (runway repair) because I know it means something.”

    Although the MWSS-271 engineers have primarily been tasked with small projects, their performance during the first runway repair was the catalyst for more work. “They finally decided to give us a shot at it to see how we could do it, and we ended up doing it ahead of schedule,” Poole explained. “We had two nights allotted to us on the flight line, where they shut it down for us, and it didn’t even take one full night. So now they see that we can and we are going to be repairing a lot more.”

    Just like any other group of Marines in the Corps, the engineers attribute teamwork to their success. “Everyone gets along well and knows their job” said Poole. “It’s all planned out before we get out there, so everybody knows exactly what they will be doing and when they’ll be doing it.”

    If planes cannot land or taxi, then supplies cannot get where they need to be in a timely matter. The engineers understand and relish the fact that repairing the runway is essential to the overall mission here. “(Rapid runway repair) is one of the only projects that’s an asset to the (whole) base,” said Cpl. Jessica Torelli, a combat engineer for MWSS-272. “We usually work fast and efficiently. When things need to be done, we work together pretty well.”

    The first two projects went well and the engineers plan on continuing their success, according to Poole. “We have a couple more missions signed up and all the Marines are excited.” said Poole. “This is important to the overall mission in Iraq, it’s not like building a desk for somebody. We are doing something that is going to be noticed and needed for the mission.”

    Photo – Cpl. David Strathman, a drafting and survey technician for Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 and Lance Cpl. Zach Brown, a combat engineer for MWSS-271 jackhammer a piece of runway that is being replaced, August 11. The combat engineers are repairing areas of the flightline that have holes as part of the Rapid Runway Repair project. Photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas.

    God bless them, each and every one. It takes all of them to complete the missions, and they are important, too.

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    Source: CentCom.

    This is an article that has me all choked up again. The well-spoken Soldiers who are but young men, the spirit, the purpose, sureality of it all. Please read this, even though I am late posting it.

    11-Sept-07
    By Sgt. Jim Wilt, USA
    Special to American Forces Press Service
    .

    BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – At 5:16 p.m., the only sounds that could be heard here were the distant drone of helicopter rotors and the flap of flags in the wind.

    In the United States, it was 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, six years to the minute after a plane hijacked by terrorists struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

    For one minute, servicemembers attending a memorial ceremony here were silent.

    For one minute, these servicemembers honored those who perished that fateful day.

    For one minute, these servicemembers honored those who fought back on a plane.

    For one minute, these servicemembers were reminded why they are here.

    “The world that was behind me when I went into school that morning was gone forever, and the new one waiting for me that afternoon was wildly different,” said Army Sgt. Gregory J. Barbaccia during a speech at a ceremony commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    Barbaccia was a 17-year-old high school student in lower Manhattan when the attacks happened. Barbaccia, who is now 23 and serving here, was one of several speakers at the memorial. His speech revealed his memories of Sept. 11, 2001. “Downtown that day looked like exactly what it was, a war zone,” Barbaccia said. He painted a vivid picture of what that war zone looked like with his words.

    “A layer of ash covered the streets and a cacophony of alarms refused to cease. I remember the 60-block walk home where my friends and I walked north up the middle of 6th Avenue, which was completely void of all traffic, except for sporadic rescue vehicles from neighboring counties with unfamiliar demarcations rushing downtown, their sirens piercing the eerie silence. Crowds of people gathered outside any establishment with a television, standing like statues in anesthetized silence,” he said.

    “From virtually all points in Manhattan, one could look to the south and see a huge plume of smoke hovering over the rubble where two towers once stood, two majestic American symbols, symbols representing both commerce in the free world and democracy,” Barbaccia added.

    For Barbaccia and his friends, the impact of what happened didn’t hit him until the evening of the 11th. “When the death toll was repeated that evening in the media, my friends began grasping the horror that their parents might not be coming home,” he said. “As for me, in that strange and surreal moment, the die was cast,” Barbaccia said. “A seed in my mind was deeply planted and roots already taking hold.”

    Following the attacks, Barbaccia said, he and his friends spent their time handing out supplies to rescue workers near “Ground Zero.” “In my enthusiasm and focus to do what I could, there was no discerning morning from afternoon or day from night,” he said. “Just knowing that I was there to serve, I was there to show my gratitude, I was there to say, ‘Yes, I believe.’ “We kept handing supplies to the unending convoy heading into the abyss, and the people kept cheering,” Barbaccia said.

    The terrorist attacks left their mark on Barbaccia as they left their marks on many others. “I’ll never forget the acrid smell, the fearful and numbed look on people’s faces, the sounds and the sour taste in my mouth,” he said. Those memories led him to join the Army. “I knew it was my duty to wear this uniform,” he said. “America needed help, and life in (America) has been very good to me, and I wanted to give back.”

    “Due to the way my father raised me and the strong service ethic instilled in me from my high school, I always felt it was my duty to serve, only I was unsure in what capacity,” said Barbaccia, who also has had two tours in Iraq. “The violence of the Sept. 11 attacks helped me decide to join the military.”

    Six years after the attacks, Barbaccia said he believes fighting terrorism in Afghanistan is the right thing to do. “The Taliban had tyrannical rule over this country and robbed its citizens of inherent rights and freedom,” he said.

    During the ceremony, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, the Combined Joint Task Force 82 deputy commanding general for operations said Barbaccia “represents the highest quality” of servicemember. Votel also voiced his own feelings on the events. “I can recall how angry I was that someone could perpetrate an attack on our country,” he said.

    Army Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, the International Security Assistance Force deputy director for security, said he was struck by Barbaccia’s speech. The attacks were “our generation’s Pearl Harbor,” Champoux said. “Events that day changed us as a person and as a nation,” he said.

    Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Hayes, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing safety superintendent, was at Ground Zero the day of the attacks. Hayes, who is part of the New York Air National Guard, was a fire fighter aiding in the rescue efforts. “My main focus was to rescue as many people as possible,” he said. “We worked and worked until we couldn’t work anymore.” “My wife didn’t know if I was dead or alive,” he said. Today was an emotional day for many people. Hayes said he had a lump in throat all day.

    In his closing remarks, Barbaccia echoed the thoughts of many servicemembers. “That morning terrorists gave their lives to cause those attacks,” he said. “So here we stand, six years later, prepared to give ours to prevent further ones.”

    Photo – Army Sgt. Gregory J. Barbaccia, who was in New York during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, gives a speech at the Combined Joint Task Force 82 Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2007. Barbaccia, 23, was in school in lower Manhattan during the attacks. Photo by Sgt. Jim Wilt.

    What nation are we to be blessed with such men as this?

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    Sept 07
    By Spc. Ben Hutto
    3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Amid various media reports of water shortages in Baghdad, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy) continues to help the residents of the Mada’in Qada find short- and long-term solutions to insurgent-created water distribution problems. Soldiers from the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy), performed an assessment of the Al Bawi pump station, outside Salman Pak, Sept. 4, 2007.

    Holland, Ohio, native Lt. Col. Todd R. Ratliff, 42, Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander, inspected the building, the pumps and the generators at the facility. “This was an assessment to verify information we were getting from the Qada Council,” he explained.

    The Mada’in Qada Council is working to rebuild the pump station damaged in an attack by Sunni insurgents, March 17, 2007. The insurgents targeted the station in an attempt to deny irrigation and drinking water to the Shia population in the towns of Nahrwan, Wahida and Jisr Diyala.

    Maj. James Carlisle, 42, from Palm Beach, Fla., chief of Civil Military Operations, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said he is pleased with the progress of the station. “The Iraqi government continues to install more pumps and increase water capacity,” he said. “The progress we see exceeds Coalition forces’ expectations.”

    At the station, workers are trying to overcome power issues that prevent the station from running effectively, explained one of the site workers through an interpreter. The station has five generators. Only two of them are currently working. “The power grid is not reliable,” said Ratliff. “They need a new electrical system out there. You could see wires hanging everywhere.”

    Ratliff sees some signs of progress. “They are doing okay with what they have,” he said. “What we will do now is go back and review what we have and see what we can do to help.”

    Photo – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Todd R. Ratliff, 42, commander Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy), 3rd Infantry Division, talks with workers at the Al Bawi pump station, outside Salman Pak, Sept 4, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ben Hutto.

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    28 Aug 07
    by Staff Sgt. Paula Taylor
    4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    TAL ‘AFAR, Iraq – Soldiers of D Troop, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have a unique mission that requires several trips outside the security of Forward Operating Base Sykes.

    The Soldiers, who belong to D Troop’s “Outsider” Platoon, have conducted more than 350 re-supply missions since their operations began in November, said Spc. Joseph Moore, motor transportation operator.

    Most recently, the Outsiders completed their 100th mission within the past two months, delivering food and water to local villages that were devastated by vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices that killed hundreds of local citizens.

    The explosions, which began the evening of Aug. 14, set in motion a chain of events that would test the fortitude of the Outsiders and keep them on the road and in harm’s way for several days. “We got word that the villages needed emergency supplies around 11 o’ clock Tuesday night,” said Pfc. Mathew Fisher, motor transport operator. “Within an hour, we were loaded up and ready to go.” The next day, the Outsiders drove 10 pallets of water and eight pallets of food and met with the reconnaissance element near the villages of Al Jezeera and Khahtaniya.

    “We linked up with B Troop who showed us where we needed to go and drop our supplies,” said Moore, an Albion, Penn., native. “Fisher and Sgt. [Jason] Bedore unloaded the food and water—they were walking around and delivering to people’s doorsteps because there were children and elderly people who couldn’t carry it. They were just helping everyone out as much as possible because the destruction was pretty massive. One of the [blast] holes was about the size of a bus.”

    After delivering the emergency supplies to the villages, the platoon returned to Forward Operating Base Sykes, where they had just enough time to eat dinner before loading their trucks for their next supply mission that required a trip to Combat Outpost Nimur the following morning, Aug. 16.

    “They went out there to deliver a forward repair system, a field feeding kit, Class I rations such as food and water, and Class III fuel supplies,” explained their Troop commander, Capt. Kenneth McGraw. “The forward repair system is a maintenance system for repairing vehicles. It has tools and a lift for hoisting engines; it’s a mobile garage. Within the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment’s area of operations, wherever there are Soldiers, it’s our job to provide them with necessary supplies, in addition to delivering emergency supplies to locals in times of crisis.”

    The platoon continued their emergency deliveries on Aug. 17 where they delivered an additional 16 pallets each of water and food to the Iraqi police stations in the villages, Fisher said. “The [vehicle borne improvised explosive device sites] were pretty sad to see,” explained Spc. Randy Johnson. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. The destruction—the houses were just leveled. There were women and a whole bunch of people crying. The terrorists were cowards for attacking innocent civilians like that; they had no means of defending themselves. They destroyed innocent lives for no reason.”

    Although Johnson admits these types of catastrophes are hard to witness, he appreciates the opportunity to help the people when they need it the most. “It’s good to see smiles and watch the little kids running around with the food and water. Hopefully they forgot, at least for a couple seconds, what happened,” the Lindenwold, N.J., native explained. “I enjoy my job—driving to different [combat outposts] where our troops are and supporting them. Even the humanitarian missions are rewarding, just knowing we’re helping people out.”

    McGraw shares the platoon’s enthusiasm for helping people and lauds his Soldiers’ tenacity. “I’m so proud of them.” McGraw said. “They work really hard and never complain. It’s been nice to be able to watch them grow and learn every day.”

    Photo – Sgt. Marshall Wright, D Troop, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, helps members of his unit and the Iraqi Army distribute water in Al Jezeera, Iraq, Aug. 15, during a humanitarian mission. The mission, which was formulated after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated in the village on Aug. 14, was to deliver 10 pallets of water and eight pallets of food rations to the local people affected by the blast. Photo by Sgt. Paula Taylor.

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    29 Aug 07
    By Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich, II
    Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
    .

    HABBANIYAH, Iraq – When a group of American military advisors deployed to Iraq and took over a small combat outpost on the outskirts of town recently, they knew the task ahead might get tough, but each day would be rewarding. The Marines and sailors that make up Military Transition Team 13, working alongside the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are increasing the security of the area and the quality of life for local residents as well.

    They operate out of a dusty, war-faced outpost named the OK Corral. They usually work long hours, patrolling streets with Iraqi soldiers or standing post overlooking the Euphrates River. They cook each meal themselves, because there is no chow hall to feed the 14 Marines, two corpsmen and company of Iraqi soldiers. They have learned to adapt, dealt with sweltering heat and braved the roadways of a foreign land.

    Many of the men of MTT 13 have been to Iraq before, making them ideal candidates for an advisory team. The soldiers that make up 1st Battalion are veteran war fighters as well; hardened by battles past, experienced in combat operations. Perhaps that is why the people in this area trust the Iraqi soldiers.

    Habbaniyah acts as a corridor in a crucial area, known as Jazerria, located between the once terrorist safe heaven cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. Nowadays, people go about their lives freely while searching for jobs, attending schools, plowing fields and shopping in crowded markets without fear of being shot in the crossfire of combat.

    “The IAs have won the trust of the people,” said Cpl. Jason Syvrud an infantryman attached to MTT 13. “People see that they’re here, the area is safe, they are happy that their families aren’t at risk anymore. The IA is here to help the whole country and get this back on its feet. The people are loving to see the change. The country as a whole is trying to rebuild.”

    Syvrud is only 22, but is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. He has been in cities where it was difficult to trust the citizens. But now he has seen a significant change in the war and in the people. He feels pride in his advisory role, knowing each day is bringing comfort to strangers he once felt uncomfortable around.

    “I’ve seen in the three times I’ve been here this country has done a complete 180. It’s gone from everyone not knowing what to do and being scared to do anything, to them starting to come out and finding out what a democratic society would be like,” he said. “Now, they are really trying to get involved. They are building their schools up, they’re building up the mosques, their homes. They’re trying to find jobs. It looks more and more like a typical American rural area. The majority of the people seem happy. They’re doing what they have to do to survive and building a life out of this.”

    Safety is what brings out the smiles and trust of the townspeople Syvrud said. The locals are involved with the Iraqi Army now. They help locate possible terrorists. They have begun to rebuild their community by fixing up schools, roads and mosques. The province is still early in reconstruction efforts, but the transition seems to be working as planned.

    Getting the soldiers to understand the benefits of civil engagements, such as the civil medical engagements, is a priority for MTT 13 team chief, Lt. Col. Thomas Hobbs. Transition teams have assisted in several CMEs, which provide medical care to people who would normally have to travel to Ramadi to see a doctor. With more than 16 years of experience in the Marine Corps, Hobbs said focusing on civil affairs can not only counter the insurgent’s propaganda, but win the hearts and minds of law-abiding citizens.

    “This battalion tends to be very focused on conventional operations. What I mean by that is in a counter-insurgency environment they are enamored with cache sweeps, security patrolling,” Hobbs said. “They should be focusing on civil affairs information operations and focusing on the population as a whole. The security level right now allows for that, so I’m trying to teach them to think in that manner.”

    Hobbs praised the Iraqi company commanders for understanding the impact civil affairs has on the war efforts. “They have been very willing to get out and meet the population and doing civil affairs projects on their own, even without money. We’ve been really successful in getting the companies to move and they’re actually initiating a lot of things I want to change or make better,” he said.

    Hobbs said the predominately Shiite Army has been received with open arms by the Anbari locals, who are mainly Sunni. A huge reason for this may lie in the idea of getting his team of advisors to stress the importance of making the population comfortable to Iraqi leaders. It is his philosophy that if the people are happy and satisfied with their life, then the terrorists will no longer have the ability to move freely within the community. He said the company and platoon leaders have begun to buy into the civil affairs mindset. As a result, the city has not seen any escalation in force in more than two months.

    The soldiers of 1-3-1 can fight, that has been proven during the past year and a half of combat operations. Hobbs said the battalion is known throughout the Iraqi Army for its ability to engage and defeat the enemy, and that is what the terrorists should realize. The mission now is to concentrate on keeping this rural area safe and prospering. The smiles on children are evidence enough that the plan is working.

    “I feel proud when I look around and see the kids and people smiling,” Syvrud said. “They’re happy when the Army and Marines come walking around, they aren’t afraid of us anymore. They’re happy with themselves, they’re happy with the environment around them and they’re striving to get better. They’re not just satisfied with things, they want it better, just like any American does.”

    Photo – Lt. Col. Thomas Hoobs, team chief for Military Transition Team 13, talks to members of the Iraqi Security Forces during an inspection of a local bridge. Keeping roadways safe and drivable not only helps navigation of anti-terrorist traffic, but is part of a wider ranging civil affairs mission of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

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    28 Aug 07
    By Sgt. Andy Hurt
    13th MEU
    .

    NEAR KARMAK, Iraq – The strength of any democracy is the equal representation of various cultural interests; thus, the power of a military force can be measured by diversity as well. American culture takes pride in boasting equal opportunity in public service roles. Iraqi culture mirrors this attitude, and the warriors of the Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division – currently conducting a force integration with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines – are a simple, flawless example of strength in diversity.

    Speaking from an office at Combat Outpost Golden in Al Anbar Province here, Iraqi Col. Ali Jassimi, 1/2/1 commanding officer, explained the cultural representation within his unit. “My staff is Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish. We have officers from many different areas of Iraq; Mosul, Baghdad, Ramadi – and we’re all here working together,” he said. “There are many people around the world who would think this would be a problem. We are a perfect example that it is not.”

    Jassimi, a native of Southern Iraq, said there is a preconceived notion in some global media circles that various sectarian issues create problems within the new Iraqi Army. To combat this, he said, he avoids prejudice by ignoring religious preference altogether. “When I get a new officer, I do not ask him if he is Shiite or Sunni. I don’t care.” The recent history of the diverse organization’s success in Falluja (a primarily Sunni area), conducting security and stability operations is a testament to the camaraderie of junior enlisted troops (Juundis) who come from all walks of life, said Jassimi.

    “We’ve had great success in Falluja, and it’s because of the Juundis– they’re all brothers.” The colonel went on to explain that junior enlisted troops in his battalion ignored sectarian issues during operations. “If anyone needed help, we helped them. We visited mosques, and no matter if it was Shiite or Sunni, we prayed with them.”

    Captain Mustafa Al Jaaf, a Kurdish staff member of 1/2/1, echoed his commander’s sentiments. “We are from all over Iraq, and it makes a stronger force. You can see now Falluja is a much safer place.”

    Originally from Ramadi, Capt. Basim Ashumari said his anger over foreign fighters – Al Qaeda subordinates historically from Egypt, Jordan and Syria – caused him to join the new Iraqi Army and fight for his countrymen, no matter what religion they were. “In Ramadi, I saw men from another country come and kill civilians, so I decided to join the new Iraqi Army. No matter what religion they are, these officers here are on a mission to keep the Iraqis safe. We are one team with one goal.”

    Marine Lieutenant Col. Woody Hesser, Military Transition Team commander, said within the MTT, the ethos of “one team, one fight” is clearly evident during joint operations. Hesser and his team have shadowed 1/2/1 since January, and he says with each patrol a shared interest in Iraqi security is obvious. “We’re here fighting a war, and when we go on patrol, it’s one fight. There have never been any sectarian issues,” said Hesser. “Really, it’s almost like another Marine unit taking over, but it’s not about ‘Marines’ and ‘Iraqis,’ it’s about good guys versus bad guys.”

    As Marines have always kept close the ethos of “brothers in arms,” the Iraqi Army shares the exact ideal. During a nightly dinner with 1/2/1 staff, uniforms and language are the only visible difference between 3/1 Marines and Iraqi Army forces here. The staff laughs, jokes and singles out members with good-natured scrutiny. At the end of the night, they shake hands and go on with business. Officers constantly duck in to the commander’s office to have forms signed and plans authorized. The parallels between US and Iraqi forces are striking.

    For the Iraqi Army, however, it is not a mimicking act – it is an old way of life. “I’m from the north and I’m a Sunni,” began Maj. Istabraq Ashawani. “That man over there,” he gestured, “is a Shiite. That man over there is Kurdish … everyone in this battalion is a family. We eat together, sleep together and pray together. Anything you hear on the news about us being ‘different’ is not true,” he exclaimed. “Ask any Juundi or officer … we’re all the same.”

    Photo – Colonel Ali Jassimi, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army division, speaks proudly of the ethnic and cultural diversity within his unit. Despite claims by liberal media that the IA is one-sided, Jassimi said, his battalion is a perfect example of strength in diversity. Photo by: Sgt. Andy Hurt.

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    This is one article I just could not pass up. It is absolutely NEWSWORTHY, and you will never read about it in the news. For this reason, I am going to have two posts to Linkfest today. Thank you for induging me, and please read it. (http://www.linkfests.us/cgi-bin/.track.cgi/2873)

    These are the post I’ve backtracked to: Webloggin, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Planck’s Constant, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, Pursuing Holiness, Conservative Thoughts, Nuke’s News & Views, Leaning Straight Up, Cao’s Blog, Conservative Cat, Woman Honor Thyself and third world county, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are the sites and their posts that have trackbacked to this post:

  • The Amboy Times: CAIR: Media Cowers in Face of Islamist Threat.
  • The Florida Masochist: Knucklehead of the day award.
  • Faultline USA: America at a Crossroads –The Missing European Anti-Americans.
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    27 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    380th Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA – SOUTHWEST ASIA — Global Hawk and U-2 aircraft provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and in order to be efficient and effective the technological sensors on these aircraft cannot be subjected to heat for extended periods of time.

    Due to the compact size of the Global Hawk and the freezing temperatures at its normal operating altitudes, the aircraft does not have a robust environmental control unit to keep the numerous electronic systems cool in very warm temperatures. “That is why the hangar the aircraft are kept in has air conditioning and we perform almost all of our launches and recoveries at night when it is ‘slightly’ cooler,” said 2nd Lt. David Bates, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, referring to the Global Hawk.

    The tolerance for hot temperatures for the main operating computer on the Global Hawk is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This was a major factor recently when one of the aircraft was returning to base with an in-flight discrepancy, according to Bates. “We were unable to launch the spare aircraft due to difficulties with the communications hub on the aircraft and subsequent faults,” said the lieutenant.

    After the first shutdown on the Global Hawk, the team was in the process of devising a system that would allow them to be able to launch the aircraft in mid-day heat. Then an opportunity presented itself. After troubleshooting the aircraft for hours in the midday heat, 380th airmen were concerned about the aircraft compartment temperatures. The call was made to press with the launch and the aircraft was able to taxi onto the runway and begin to take off. “Only seconds later the aircraft autonomously stopped the takeoff roll due to an over temperature indication,” Bates said. He said that if the aircraft’s onboard fuel, used to cool the sensor systems, got too hot during operation, the system was designed to halt operations in an effort to save its expensive components. “It was just very unfortunate timing that it stopped right after it started to take off because as soon as it gained some altitude it would have cooled quickly,” he said.

    Shortly after the event, the team members found themselves in a “nightmarish” repeat of what happened days earlier. Another one of their aircraft was returning to the base and they had to turn another aircraft to get the mission complete in the middle of the day. “This time we were already working on the aircraft to troubleshoot some issues; we only have three jets and were flying every day, so maintenance had to use whatever time they could and so it had been already outside for some time,” said Bates. Due to the winds that day, they also had to tow the aircraft to the opposite end of the runway, about a 45-minute and two-mile tow on the ramp that, at the time, was about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. “The time required to tow plus the time it would take to prepare and launch the jet would almost certainly send the temperatures of our compartments through the roof,” Bates said.

    Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Brogan, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, suggested getting a water truck from the fire department and hosing down the aircraft wings where the fuel that cools the components is stored. “The fire department’s responsiveness was impressive and they were quite eager to assist,” said Bates. Capt. Fernando Colon, 380th EAMXS, took another initiative and got a pressure washer so they could cool the aircraft wings while towing. Once on the spot, they were quick to pre-flight and get the aircraft in the air; from engine start to takeoff was about 18 minutes. “Operators indicated that the internal component temperatures were cooler than some of the launches we do at night. The aircraft launched and completed a successful mission,” Bates said.

    For the U-2 aircraft, the purpose is to develop the most efficient aircraft and sensor cooling process possible and minimize the amount of time aircraft and sensors are exposed to heat as well. The maintainers’ greatest challenge is keeping the aircraft and sensors cool until the aircraft gets airborne. “In order to do this, we have orchestrated a “NASCAR” pit crew style launch,” said Capt. Randal Hoewt, 380th EAMXS. The team has 10 people involved with the launch process; each person has a choreographed job that must be done in conjunction with the other members to ensure the launch goes smoothly.

    “Another challenge we face is keeping the aerospace ground equipment from overheating,” said the captain. “After experimenting with different configurations of equipment we found the optimal set-up that ensures max cooling air and prevents the equipment from overheating.” One solution to this problem that squadron airmen suggested was to include work with the AGE flight maintainers to inspect the AGE equipment and replace all worn hoses, gaskets and seals. According to Hoewt, they also determined optimum AGE positioning for aircraft launch by marking all positions, creating an AGE template around the aircraft so there would be the same set-up for every launch.

    They eliminated the cooling cart, power cart and air cart repositioning by developing an AGE driver drop box. They eliminated unnecessary cooling hoses by positioning the equipment safely as close to aircraft as possible, resulting in maximum airflow volume with minimal cold air dissipation. While the maintainers are minimizing the amount of time the aircraft and sensors are exposed to the heat, they ensure sensor nose covers are installed at all times and cooling air is applied a minimum of three hours prior to flight and left on aircraft until the last possible second. “We minimize the time the aircraft and sensors are exposed to the heat on recovery as well,” said Hoewt. “We will tow the aircraft back into the hangar as soon as we can.”

    Squadron maintainers also have created a seven-minute launch sequence mentality across maintenance and operations, according to the captain. By working with the operators, they were able to reduce the pre-launch time from approximately 25 minutes down to seven. This has paid huge dividends in sensor reliability and also reduced aircrew discomfort. Cruising at extremely high altitudes, Global Hawks and U-2s survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy to give military decision-makers the most current information about enemy location, resources and personnel.

    Photo – Master Sgt. Kevin Wirth hoses down the wing of a Global Hawk in an effort to cool it off. The Global Hawk and U-2 aircraft at this deployed location in Southwest Asia provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and in order to be efficient and effective, the technological sensors on these aircraft cannot be subjected to heat for extended periods of time. Wirth is with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo.

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    26 Aug 07
    by Multi-National Division-North
    Public Affairs Office
    .

    BAGHDAD – Operation Lightning Hammer concluded Wednesday after a 12-day, large-scale operation to disrupt al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements in the Diyala River Valley, a complex area of villages and palm groves in Iraq’s Diyala province.

    The operation, which involved approximately 16,000 Iraqi and Coalition forces clearing approximately 50 villages, was a key element in Multi-National Corps-Iraq’s overall operation, Phantom Strike; and resulted in 26 al-Qaeda members killed, 37 suspected terrorists detained and the discovery of 10 weapons caches. “The strength and determination of the fighting men and women from the Iraqi and Coalition forces showed great results during Lightning Hammer,” said U.S. Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of Coalition forces in Diyala province. “We have continued to diminish their supplies and disable al-Qaeda’s abilities to disrupt the population.”

    Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, initiated the operation with a late-night air assault into targeted locations on Aug. 13, and conducted an additional three air-assaults during the course of the operation. Residents of most villages welcomed the security forces, providing tips and intelligence about recent activities in their towns, and were interested in joining the Iraqi Security Forces. Following clearing operations, the Iraqi Army provided medical assistance and humanitarian aid to the local citizens, many of whom said their villages were recently influenced by al-Qaeda.

    More importantly, more than 80 tribal leaders and representatives, some of whom had not spoken in over a year, met Aug. 19 to discuss their grievances and swore on the Quran to unite in their fight against terrorists and become one tribe of Diyala. “As I conducted my battlefield circulation and talked with many of the citizens, they repeatedly thanked our Soldiers, but more importantly, their security forces, for liberating their towns from the terrorists – specifically al-Qaeda,” Sutherland said. “Because their villages have been cleared, the local and central governments will now be able to provide those essential services al-Qaeda destroyed, and the people feel a sense of security they have not known for some time.”

    Throughout the operation, the Task Force Lightning Soldiers also discovered 22 improvised explosive devices, 11 of which were discovered based on tips from a police chief in the river valley, and reduced three house-borne IEDs and six vehicle-borne IEDs, all of which could have been used to harm a large portion of the population or security forces. Additionally, an al-Qaeda command post was discovered in the village of Shadia, and an al-Qaeda medical clinic was located in Qaryat Sunayjiyah.

    The command post, which was surrounded by fighting positions, contained bed space for 20 individuals, supply requests, records of munitions, a list of families supporting the element, a list of al-Qaeda members detained by Coalition forces and other terrorist propaganda. “Although we didn’t find many of the terrorists, the operation proved to be a great success because we disrupted al-Qaeda, causing them to run,” Sutherland continued. “Their fear of facing our forces proves that the terrorists know there is no safe haven for them in Diyala.

    “And though this specific operation is over, our fight is not over,” he continued. “We will continue to aggressively target al-Qaeda, and ultimately, they will be brought to justice.” The results of Lightning Hammer cleared the Diyala River Valley of al-Qaeda and allowed Iraqi and Coalition forces to maintain a permanent presence in Mukeisha, a village in the heart of the river valley area.

    Photo – Spc. Samuel Melendez, Bravo Trop, 5th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, patrols a mrash outside of Qubah, a small village in the Diyala province. The patrol was part of Operation Lightning Hammer, a maneuver to flush insurgents from the area. Photo by Sgt. Patrick Lair, 115th MPAD.

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    25 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
    U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs
    .

    HERO CAMP, Afghanistan – Airmen and soldiers are blending medical supply logistics with a dose of Afghan National Army partnership in a dusty warehouse at ANA’s Hero Camp near Kandahar Airfield.

    It’s a prescription for successful mentoring as the Afghans prepare for a new hospital opening here, said Capt. Jay Snodgrass, a medical logistics officer and ANA mentor deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The American servicemembers are helping install medical equipment into a new $6.5 million, 50-bed hospital at Hero Camp. “We’re simply here to help them improve the processes they already have in place, to share with them the lessons we’ve learned about hospital administration and logistics,” Snodgrass said.

    The airmen and soldiers helping transfer equipment are medical logistics, administrators and equipment technician members for their respective services assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, which is headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan. While in Kandahar, the servicemembers work side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts, who are responsible for supplying and equipping the Hero Camp hospital, as well as other ANA clinics and brigade support throughout the region.

    Mentoring doesn’t always come easy, said Tech. Sgt. Curtis Miller, a medical logistics technician from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. While Miller’s focus is to teach Afghans how to maintain hospital equipment, he and other embedded transition team members use every available opportunity to give advice where needed. “There is a learning curve,” Miller said. “A lot of the things we take for granted in the United States, such as changing gloves for each patient, are things Afghans typically don’t consider in a hospital. We try to spend time educating them on the benefits of sanitation and ways to prevent infection.”

    Miller said when he first began as a mentor, he was a little unsure how a young, American noncommissioned officer would come across to an Afghan military man who has served longer than the sergeant has been alive. It was unnerving to say the least. “There is an Afghan colonel we work with who was put in prison during the Russian occupation two decades ago,” Miller said. “He was given execution orders and was two days away from being put to death when the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan — two days away from being killed. Now, he has those orders on display in his office. You see this and you think, man, these guys have been through a lot.”

    Nevertheless, the Afghan officials are eager to learn and work with their American mentors.

    “My mentor, Captain Snodgrass, and I are very close,” said Afghan Maj. Abdul Ghafar, the 205th Hero Corps warehouse commander. “The Americans work fairly with each other and with us. We interact as equals.”

    The relationship between the Americans and Afghans is a result of respect and tolerance from both sides, Snodgrass said. “Major Ghabar has 27 years military experience,” he said. “He knows a lot about leading troops and warfare. What he doesn’t have full knowledge of is how to manage a warehouse of this magnitude, to take care of the logistics of supplying a hospital and an entire region with 30,000 troops. So, that’s why I’m here, to help him become familiar with the various processes.” Snodgrass pointed out that the Americans are not there to impose their way of life on the Afghan people. Instead, they are learning from each other.

    “We’ve had a lot of conversations about our different cultures,” he said. “They wanted to know about some of the Christian holidays I celebrate. It’s not a big deal to them that I practice a different religion than they do.”

    At the same time, Snodgrass and his team of Americans try to accommodate the Islamic traditions of the Afghans into their work. “We try to work around their prayer schedule,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to keep working through the prayer times, but then we step away and give them their space to lay out their prayer rugs and do what they need to do. We try to be aware of their holidays, too. For example, I won’t eat or drink in front of them during Ramadan, when they fast. When it comes down to it, it’s just about respecting each other.”

    Snodgrass said he is confident about Ghabar’s leadership, and that the hospital and its warehouse will do well in the future as the Afghans gain experience in stocking and equipping such a vital mission. “What we are doing here is just part of an overall mission to help Afghans stand up a viable, safe, world-class healthcare system,” he said. “The day they can take on these operations themselves without our assistance will be a very good day for all of us.”

    Photo – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Doug Suddueth (bottom left) and Army Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rivas move a load of medical equipment to a truck Aug. 18 in Afghanistan. Suddueth is deployed from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Rivas is deployed from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

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    25 Aug 07
    By Spc. Henry Selzer
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALAGUSH, Afghanistan – Just like the people of the U.S., the people of Afghanistan are very proud of their independence, which means Aug. 19 is a date marked by celebration.

    When the people of Nuristan province were invited to celebrate the U.S. independence on the Fourth of July with Soldiers here, the idea of holding an Afghan Independence Day celebration for the citizens of Nuristan was brought up. “It seems that the bigger more eventful celebrations are in the larger cities,” said Navy Cmdr. Samuel Paparo, 43, of Philadelphia, commander of the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team. “Holding a celebration out here for the people who can’t make it to the big celebration is our way of celebrating with them and to help connect them to their government.”

    Afghans living in Nuristan were invited to the celebration where they were given a chance to interact with the Soldiers of the FOB and enjoy a variety of the local food, which was prepared by Army cooks. Not only did holding the Afghan Independence Day celebration give Soldiers a chance to interact with the people of Nuristan, it showed Afghans that Soldiers care about them and are here to support them.

    “To[o] often when we see each other it is about business, but today is all about you and your independence,” said Army Lt. Col. Steve Maranian, 40, of Natick, Mass., and commander of 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, during the Afghan Independence Day celebration.

    The celebration highlighted a common history the people of Afghanistan share with the United States. “We use the 4th of July to celebrate our independence from the British, and we wanted to take today to get together and help you celebrate your independence from the British,” said Paparo.

    Today the U.K. along with the U.S., Afghan National Security Forces and many other multinational partners all work together toward the common goal of making sure the Afghan people can freely celebrate many more Independence days. “We are very glad that you accepted our invitation to celebrate your independence and share a meal together and hopefully we can do it again soon,” said Maranian.

    Photo – An interpreter with the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team helps a town elder with his food during the Afghan Independence Day celebration on forward operating base Kalagush Aug. 19. Photo by Spc. Henry Selzer.

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    23 Aug 07
    By Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team PAO
    .

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The first U.S. casualty from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan was Army Sgt. Jay Blessing, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Nov. 14, 2003. Blessing was in a convoy that was attacked just seven miles from camp in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

    United States and Afghan national security forces of the camp Blessing [who were?] failed to [be] reach that day started calling their camp, Camp Blessing to remember and honor the fallen Ranger. “He gave his life helping the Afghan people,” Collin Johnson, who served with Blessing, said at the time, “This will remind every Soldier that comes here of his sacrifice.”

    Four years later, Soldiers from 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based at the camp that bears his name now carry on Blessing’s hopes for a free Afghanistan. The once small outpost has expanded dramatically to become the base of operations for Task Force Bayonet.

    One constant, despite the changes, is that military personnel still drive the same road to Camp Blessing that was used four years ago. Keeping the road safe is even harder now than when Blessing’s convoy traveled it. Al-Qaida has influenced Taliban and other extremists in Afghanistan to use IED attacks against forces supporting the legitimate government of Afghanistan in more frequent numbers.

    Blessing was the only service member killed by an IED in 2003. In 2004, 12 members died from IED attacks. Eight months into 2007[,] IEDs have killed 45 military personnel, according to www.icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks these statistics closely.

    The numbers would be even higher if it wasn’t for a special group of people travelling the roads ahead of convoys to help reduce the threat and number of IEDs. The Route Clearance Package for Task Force Rock is from Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The RCP patrols the roads seven days a week searching for IEDs.

    The RCP is Task Force Rock’s first line of defense against IED attacks. The RCP clears roads to all of Task Force Rock’s forward operating bases and fire bases. On Aug. 15, the RCP cleared the road into Chowkay Valley, which has been a site of fighting for several years. Task Force Rock recently lost Army 1st Lt. Benjamin Hall, a platoon leader in Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), during a fire fight in the valley July 31[, 2007].

    “There is one spot where three separate attacks were carried out,” said Army 1st Lt. William Cromie, a[n] RCP Platoon leader in Alpha Company, who is from New Jersey. The spot Cromie spoke of is a bend in the road a few miles into the valley. Destined Co., 2-503rd, Afghan Security Guard and an element from Cromie’s platoon have been attacked by Taliban extremists at the bend.

    A few weeks prior to the patrol, the RCP found an IED a few hundred feet in front of the ambush point. Cromie’s platoon has found two IED’s since arriving in [the] country three months ago. “I love what I do,” said Cromie. “It’s a very unforgiving job, but the job is extremely rewarding when we find something.”

    Photo – Army 1st Lt. William Cromie, Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, watches his Soldiers, Aug. 15, from an overwatch position as they clear an ambush point previously used by Taliban extremists in Chowkay Valley, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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    23 Aug 07
    by Master Sgt. Dwayne Gordon
    407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
    .

    ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – Approximately 80 Iraqis from the city of An Nasiriyah interacted for the first time with Airmen and Soldiers at the Ziggurat historical monument Aug. 21 at Ali Base.

    It has been more than 10 years since any Iraqi native has been allowed to visit the Ziggurat of Ur, which is the most dominant landmark on Ali Base, because during the reign of Suddam Hussein the installation was used by the Iraqi army.

    The Ziggurat was constructed more than 4,000 years ago by worshipers of the moon god Nanna living near the ancient city of Ur. Rising more than 70 feet above the ground, it is one of the best preserved structures of its type in the world. The life of the Ziggurat is closely tied with the city of Ur itself. Passages in the Bible’s Book of Genesis describe Ur as the starting point of the migration westward to Palestine for the family of Abraham around 1,900 B.C. Ali Base is said to exist alongside the ancient city of Ur.

    After processing through base security, two bus loads of Iraqi families arrived at the Ziggurat greeted by more than 100 Airmen and Soldiers. The families were then led to the top of the Ziggurat where, Sheik Mohammad, the spiritual leader of the group, gathered the families together and while holding the Iraqi flag, they began to sing an Iraqi song. After the song, Sheik Mohammad spoke to the American servicemembers about how long it has been since any Iraqi was able to visit the site and how they respect anyone who respects them and their historical sites.

    “Events like this help the Iraqi people have a positive outlook on Americans,” said Airman 1st Class Robin Lumm, a 407th Expeditionary Communications Squadron small-computer technician who helped coordinated the event. She is deployed here from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and a member of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group First Four organization who took on the task of planning and coordinating the visit by the Iraqi families.

    With orphaned children from Ur making up most of the visiting group, the First Four organization decided to donate items for the children. Items such as stuffed animals, toys, soccer balls, school supplies and candy were collected, and after down from the Ziggurat the children were led to a tent filled with the donations. Each child was able to come away with a few items.

    “Events like this improve relations between us and the Iraqi people,” said Staff Sgt. Tracey Cowan, a 407th AEG information manager deployed here from Moody AFB, Ga.

    Afterward, an impromptu game of soccer was started with teams mixed with American servicemembers and Iraqi children.

    “The initial idea came from an Iraqi contractor who works on the installation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gary Hillman, the 407 Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron first sergeant. “He contacted security forces to see if a visit would be possible. He said he receives a lot of questions from the kids in the city about the American troops and thought it would be great if they could see and interact with them.”

    To cool off from the heat, the visit ended with a water fight as Iraqi children doused their American hosts, and then it quickly turned into a battle — a different kind of battle than the one being fought throughout the country, as this was a friendly battle between new friends.

    Photo – Airmen, Soldiers and local Iraqi citizens play soccer during an Aug. 21 visit by 80 Iraqi citizens to the historical Ziggurat located on Ali Air Base, Iraq. The Ali AB First Four Council sponsored the visit. This is the first time in more than 10 years that Iraqi civilians have been allowed to step on the grounds of the historical site, which was built in the ancient city of Ur and includes the house of the biblical prophet Abraham. U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca.

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    23 Aug 07
    By Army 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz
    Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan – Afghans and Multi-national forces are currently working hand-in-hand on a variety of expansion construction projects here.

    Soldiers from the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy); 1st Construction Company, 100th Republic of Korea Engineering Group; and Polish 1st Engineer Brigade, are working together to construct metal building systems (K-Spans), roads, ditches, culverts and sewage lagoons here. TF Pacemaker Headquarters Support Company Soldiers, led by Army Capt. Eric Parthemore, from West Liberty, Ohio, are not only engaged in supporting the battalion, but also manage the missions of the multi-national forces.

    The Polish engineers provide both additional capacity and leadership to multiple horizontal construction projects. Polish soldiers, led by Polish Army 1st Lt. Radoslaw Teleżyński, are working to improve the roads here by ensuring that proper drainage and sewage structures are constructed before the rainy season begins. The Polish army has been deployed in places such as Lebanon, Syria, and Africa to support many humanitarian missions since the war on terror began in 2001.

    “I didn’t know what to expect or what missions we would have, but working with American Soldiers has been a great experience. They have been very helpful,” said Teleżyński. I have been able to learn different training techniques from the American Soldiers and compare them to our techniques. I changed our technique to what works best to accomplish the mission successfully.”

    Polish Pfc. Rafaz Soboń added, “This is my first time deployed and it has been a new and interesting experience. We learned about different cultures in class, but it is better to learn from first-hand experience.”

    The 1st Construction Company from the Republic of Korea focuses on K-Span construction. According to Parthemore, the Korean engineers are especially meticulous and bring a vertical construction capability to the HSC that it does not have. The company is commanded by Korean Capt. Bo Geol Choi from Seoul, Korea. Once completed, the K-Spans will enhance maintenance operations and provide more space for supply support activity here. Even though K-Spans are not common in Korea, the soldiers were previously trained by civil engineers in their country, said to Choi.

    “We are very proud to be part of this mission. Our main goal is to bring the proper engineering assets for future Coalition forces,” says Choi. “There have been a few challenges over the language gap as well as different working systems, but over all, the construction progress and the relationship with American Forces are going well.” Korean soldiers, Sgt. Chi-Keun Lee and Cpl. Min-Gi Kim agreed, “It is fun learning about different cultures, even though sometimes we have to use hand signals to communicate with each other.”

    “The addition of Polish and Korean engineers along with Afghan contractors, gives our task force a tremendous capability that we do not normally have,” said Parthemore. Simply working on a single jobsite with engineers of four nationalities working together toward a common goal is very satisfactory. Also, our common understanding and respect for safe operations keeps us accident free despite the communication difficulties,”

    Photo – Polish Pvt. Piotr Oparski, Polish Engineer Platoon, works on the final touches of a culvert in Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, as a scoop loader hauls the rest of the dirt. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz.

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    22 Aug 07
    Cpl. Rick Nelson
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    BARWANAH, Iraq – Progress continues to be made in Al Anbar Province. A city once threatened by small arms fire, populace intimidation, improvised explosive devices and snipers is experiencing a renaissance.

    This renaissance is due to the continued presence of the Marines assigned to Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2 in and around the town, and the recent build up of Iraqi Security Forces.

    “When we first got here things were running very slow and not many stores were open, but now a lot of new businesses are opening and people seem to be a lot more friendly and helpful with us,” said Sgt. Anthony C. Galloway, a section leader with Weapons Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2.

    Galloway, a veteran of the Battle of Fallujah has seen combat at its most intense but was still a little reserved upon his arrival in country. “You never know what to expect when entering a combat zone,” said Galloway . “I was imagining it was going to be just like my first deployment to Iraq, which was all out war and nothing but combat.” This deployment has been less intense than what Galloway experienced two years ago, but there have been numerous challenges faced by 1/3. It takes time to win over the local populace, but Galloway has noticed a big change since Alpha Company first arrived here and is impressed by the way the local people have taken to his Company.

    “You can tell a lot by the attitude of the local people,” said Galloway. “They give information to us about terrorists or suspected insurgents, when they couldn’t before for fear of their lives. With the stability of the city though, the local people have such freedom now to give the Marines information.”

    Lance Cpl. Bryan P. Stutts, a machine gunner in the Company, has also noticed how the local populace seems to be much more accepting of the Marines. “They seem to be very thankful for the security we provide. A lot of times they will come out to say hello, or give us sodas while we’re on a patrol,” said Stutts. “That’s the one thing that stands out, the people. This is my first deployment, but I didn’t expect the people to be so friendly, they’re awesome.”

    Stutts said although the situation has improved, he still remains aware of the enemy. “Even though I feel safe here, I still keep my guard up and keep the mindset in case the time comes when we do get contact,” said Stutts, a Texas native. “You never know when you may go around a corner and get blown up or take contact.”

    Cpl. Anthony P. Mitchell, an intelligence analyst with the Company, said due to a berm that was built around the city in December as a part of Operation Majid, the IEDs inside the city are rare. “A lot of the caches were found along the edge of the Euphrates,” said Mitchell. “We don’t see them nearly as much due to the increase of the company’s patrols in the area.” Mitchell went on to explain another reason for the success seen today was due to the units who operated in Barwanah prior to 1/3’s arrival.

    “The Marines from second Battalion, third Marines and second Battalion, fourth Marines had a big mission to secure the city. By the time Alpha Company arrived, it already had much, not all, of the qualities and stability we see today,” said Mitchell, a native of Burlington, Colo. “The problem we faced when we arrived here was maintaining that stability and building the Iraqi Police and Army force.”

    Prior to April, the Iraqi police force in Barwanah was minor, both in size and impact. However, with the help of the local community leaders, specifically the mayor and city council chairman, the force’s size has increased significantly. It currently stands at 150. Their presence, as much as the Marines, has been a driving force behind this new found progress.

    “The Iraqi Police in Barwanah are all locals from the area, so they’re able to know who the bad guys are,” said Mitchell. “This makes it a lot easier for us when it comes time to detain the people because the Iraqi Police know exactly who they are and where to find them.”

    The population is now able to enjoy its city and spend more time outdoors. “At night, children will play soccer until the 11 p.m. curfew. I don’t know many American parents who would feel comfortable allowing their eight or nine-year-old child to stay out that late,” said the 21-year-old Mitchell. There has been a strong connection made between the Marines, sailors, Iraq Security Forces, and people of Barwanah. This connection has shut down the insurgency within the city and uplifted progress.

    Photo – Sgt. Anthony C. Galloway, section leader, 1st Squad, 4th Platoon, Alpha Company, 1/3 briefs his Marines while holding security at a bridge in Barwanah. Photo by: Cpl. Rick Nelson.

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    22 Aug 07
    By Tim Kilbride
    Task Force Marne Public Affairs
    .

    BAGHDAD – Rather than clearly drawn lines in a Sunni vs. Shia sectarian battle, the driver of much of Iraq’s current violence is the murkier struggle for “power and influence,” a coalition commander said Aug. 19.

    “This is not black and white here. It’s all shades of grey, and there’s a mixture of extremist elements and terror elements and criminal activity. It’s all of the above,” said Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division Center and Task Force Marne, during a lunch with journalists.

    In conversations with Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. in 2006, when Maj. Gen. Lynch was a deputy commander for Multinational Force Iraq and Gen. Casey the commander, the two agreed that the biggest motivator for violence in Iraq is the question, “Who’s going to be in charge?”

    “We came to the conclusion that the primary concern inside of Iraq was a struggle for power and influence. It’s naive to believe that all sorts of violence inside of Iraq is Sunni vs. Shiia or Shiia vs. Sunni; that’s just not true. And when you find intra-Shiia rivalry, it’s primarily a function of the struggle for power and influence,” Maj. Gen. Lynch said. “We see that a lot across our battlespace.”

    Multinational Division Center’s area of operations includes Najaf, Karbala, Babil and Wasit provinces, with additional areas of Baghdad and Anbar provinces. The provinces form what the military calls a belt around Iraq’s capital.

    “We’re way past the point where we lump extremists as ‘anti-Iraqi forces,'” Maj. Gen. Lynch explained. “What you have to do is have great precision as you talk about the enemy. The best question that’s out there is, ‘Who is the enemy?'”

    There are many layers to the security situation, and it varies by area, the commander said. However, he outlined three general sources of violence: Sunni extremists, Shiia extremists, and Iranian interference in the form of equipment and training.

    Specifically, Maj. Gen. Lynch said, many of the rockets and explosively formed penetrators, a deadly type of improvised explosive device, used in attacks against U.S. forces originated in Iran. The bulk of these Iranian weapons uncovered so far have been found in Shiia hands, he said, but they have also been discovered in Sunni weapons caches.

    Maj. Gen. Lynch said he does not yet know how Sunni militants acquire the weapons, whether on the black market or through direct contacts. He noted, though, that most of the training by Iranian forces goes to Shiia extremists, some of it taking place inside Iraq. “We have in our battlespace some number of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Maj. Gen. Lynch acknowledged. “They’re here. We watch for them. We will target them.”

    However, Maj. Gen. Lynch said, no Iranian forces have been captured or killed in his area of responsibility.

    The effects of the training have been evident in recent weeks as the lethality of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces increases. The number of EFP attacks is up, and “the enemy is indeed now more aggressive than we’ve seen him to be,” Maj. Gen. Lynch said.

    Forty-six percent of attacks in his area of responsibility are being conducted by Shiia extremists, Maj. Gen. Lynch said, but with drivers of violence spread across the sectarian divide, he explained, U.S. forces have no choice but to treat each enemy in the same fashion. “What you want to do is take away the enemy’s leaders, take away the enemy’s munitions, and you want to take his ability to train,” the general said. “So you attack all three of those things simultaneously.”

    To that end, Maj. Gen. Lynch said, his Soldiers have conducted a series of month-long operations to target various centers of violence around his area. The latest, Operation Marne Husky, launched Aug. 15th and targets the Tigris River Valley southeast of Baghdad, in the area between Salman Pak and Suwayrah.

    The first two operations, Marne Torch and Marne Avalanche, aimed to clear and hold areas south of Baghdad. But with success in those efforts, extremists fled to new areas, Maj. Gen. Lynch said.

    “Did we defeat the enemies in those sanctuaries?” he asked. “No, that’s too strong a term. But we surely disrupted his ability to do what he wants to do,” he said.

    Faced with a finite number of U.S. and Iraqi troops available for holding ground, Maj. Gen. Lynch said, he arranged for his combat aviation forces to launch Marne Husky as a “disrupt” operation, intended simply to keep the enemy unsettled and incapable of regrouping. “The phrase is ‘tactical momentum,'” Maj. Gen. Lynch said. “We believe that we have the enemy on the run. We believe that we’re in a pursuit phase of this operation.”

    While not capturing new ground, disrupt operations help prevent attacks on civilians and Soldiers alike by keeping the enemy on the defensive and denying him the opportunity to reclaim territory, Maj. Gen. Lynch explained. “The enemy’s got this amazing capability of filling the void,” Maj. Gen. Lynch said. “If we go to an area and we conduct an operation and we leave, in about 48 hours he now controls that area again. So you just can’t let him rest.”

    Strategically, Wasit province, where the bulk of Marne Husky is being conducted, is key to curtailing Iranian influence on the security situation, Maj. Gen. Lynch said. “Wasit province is of particular concern because of the Iranian-Iraqi border,” he explained.

    The province shares a 200 kilometer stretch of border with Iran, leaving the way open for weapons smuggling, Maj. Gen. Lynch said.

    And with combat operations taking place in the western half of the province, equally important work is being done to shore up security in the eastern half, along the border, Maj. Gen. Lynch said.

    Maj. Gen. Lynch’s deputy commander, Army Brig. Gen. Ed Cardon, explained that in addition to training being given to Iraq’s border guards by U.S. forces, a series of forts extend along the border with Iran.

    At the one legitimate point of entry from Iran into Wasit, Brig. Gen. Cardon said, the border crossing is overseen by the Iraqi government. At that point, every inbound truck is unloaded and searched for weapons, he said.

    As a further precaution and to account for smuggling routes, a series of six checkpoints are scattered on westbound routes in areas behind the border crossing, Brig. Gen. Cardon said. These will be manned by an incoming unit of 2,000 troops from the Republic of Georgia, he said.

    “If we control these areas, it will be hard to move weapons in trucks through Wasit,” Brig. Gen. Cardon said. However, he added, “We’re under no illusions … that the flow of weapons is going to stop from Iran.”

    In a development that could potentially bolster the program, Brig. Gen. Cardon said, Shiia tribes in the border area have approached his commanders, volunteering to assist in curtailing smuggling. U.S. forces will present the government of Iraq with the Shiia offer, he said.

    Similar arrangements have greatly enhanced security elsewhere in the Task Force Marne area of operations, Maj. Gen. Lynch said, pointing to the success of the Sunni and Shiia “concerned citizens” groups in securing their villages. “We want the security of Iraq to be accomplished by the people of Iraq,” he said.

    “The solution is a sustained security presence by the Iraqi security forces,” but the concerned citizens groups act as a crucial transition in areas with inadequate Iraqi security force protection, he said.

    But in a region where tribes form the bonds of society at the local level, and family loyalties compete with any sense of national identity, critics including the Iraqi government have wondered whether encouraging a new breed of neighborhood militias is in Iraq’s long-term interests.

    “This is the challenge that you have: as you increase the authority of the tribes, how does that impact the authority of the provincial government?” Brig. Gen. Cardon stated.

    The hope, he said, is that both the tribes and the Iraqi government build themselves up at the same time.

    Photo – Maj. E. E. Smith gives a thumbs-up to Iraqi National Police Col. l. Ahmed Hatem Hamid Taher after observing no violence in the streets of Al Furat, Aug. 9, during the 7th Imam holy day. Maj. Smith is a team chief assigned to the National Police Transition Team. Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Brian L. Boone.

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    21 Aug 07
    by Staff Sgt. Les Waters
    376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) – Members of the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group recently saw their efforts come to fruition during a hand-over ceremony of humanitarian medical equipment from the United States to three hospitals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of Operation Provide Hope.

    The largest single U.S.-assistance project for Kyrgyzstan since its independence, Operation Provide Hope is a humanitarian medical program coordinated by the State Department and supported by the Department of Defense and private donors.

    This summer, the 376th EMDG worked closely with the State Department to inventory, inspect, install and train on millions of dollars of medical equipment to improve medical capability in three local hospitals. Bishkek City Hospital No. 4 (Center for Scientific Research), Bishkek City Hospital No. 1 and the National Center of Oncology were selected by the State Department to receive the equipment.

    “It was a great pleasure to work with the U.S. Department of State and support the Operation Provide Hope hospital upgrade mission to the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Col. David Hocking, 376th EMDG commander.

    The hope is that the upgraded equipment will translate into enhanced medical care for patients.

    “It was like you are taking a good thing and making it better,” said Maj. Stephanie Gardner, 376th EMDG nurse anesthetist. “The care that is given in the hospitals is excellent, and the hope is that the equipment will make things easier to provide even better care. I feel like I helped them to ease the workload so they can concentrate on continuing to give excellent care.”

    The ceremony was held at the National Center of Oncology, one of the locations Major Gardner helped install equipment and train people. “I had a hand in training the medical staff and setting up … I guess I felt like a proud parent because the equipment was all set up and the hospital looked really nice,” said Major Gardner. Part of the training the base medical staff provided included reviewing and highlighting equipment-operating manuals for translation, as well as assisting at all the locations that received equipment. It is training that is ongoing.

    “We will continue to provide assistance and on-going training as much as the mission permits,” said Maj. Melissa Rokey, 376th EMDG administrator and project officer for this operation. “This ongoing assistance will hopefully further develop the relationship between our staff and the local hospital staff. This relationship is extremely important in many ways, to include our continual awareness of their ability to help support us in case of any contingency. It is our hope that we can continue giving something back to the community and their medical staff.”

    Colonel Hocking said that the assistance translates on a larger scale the relationship between the two countries. “The critical support provided by our team ensured the overall success of this operation and demonstrated to the Kyrgyz people we’re a deeply compassionate nation as well,” Colonel Hocking said.

    It was a team effort beyond the medical group. None of this would have been possible without the C-17 Globemaster IIIs bringing in the pallets and then maintainers and logistics Airman unloading it onto other vehicles. Security forces also arranged base entry for vehicles to take the equipment downtown.

    “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the efforts … from unpacking boxes, to installing the equipment, to training, our team performed flawlessly and still never missed a beat in our primary mission at Manas AB,” said Colonel Hocking. Humanitarian assistance through Operation Provide Hope totals approximately $42.3 million over the past three years. The project was coordinated with the government of Kyrgyzstan, including the executive administration of the prime minister and the Ministry of Health.

    Photo – Maj. Stephanie Gardner provides training to Chinara Djanaera, an operating nurse from the National Center of Oncology, following the hand-over ceremony of humanitarian medial equipment from the 376th Expeditonary Medical Group to three hospitals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Col. David Hocking, 376th EMDG commander, and two other nurses observe the training. The National Center of Oncology was one of three hospitals to receive the medical equipment. Major Gardner is a nurse anesthetist with the 376th EMDG. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Les Waters.

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    21 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Kenya Shiloh
    Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Affairs
    .

    DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti – Members of the 350th Civil Affairs Command Special Functions Team donated eight pallets of excess medical supplies valued at $800,000 to the Pelltia Hospital in Djibouti, July 25.

    Items such as pajamas, oxygen masks, sheets, gauze bandages, knee braces, surgical instruments and humidifiers were flown in from warehouses in Qatar and Bahrain to be delivered to the hospital. From there, the supplies will be dispersed to hospitals and clinics throughout the region.

    “The pallets are excess medical property and if we don’t accept it, it’s literally just buried in the sand and it all goes to waste,” said Army Lt. Col. Alana Conley, 350th medical team chief. “Basically every clinic and hospital in Djibouti and throughout the Horn of Africa can use medical supplies. Items that are usually expendable to us, they’re reusing. The supplies will be used to improve patient care overall.”

    Dr. Christian Oman Glele, acting chief of staff was on-hand to accept the property once it was offloaded from the trucks with the help of people in the local community. “Thank you a lot for the medical supplies,” said Glele. “Offloading the material is a big job, but now patients have access to good equipment which is very beneficial for the hospital.”

    Other civil affairs teams throughout the Horn of Africa also received medical supplies to distribute to hospitals and clinics in their respective countries. “Everywhere we’ve been, every hospital and clinic we’ve looked at, didn’t have enough supplies,” said Air Force Maj. Pauline Lucas, 350th public health officer. “Some hospitals even rewash bandages. We know that with this property, we could do more for them. We went to look at their supply warehouse and it was bare. When we looked at it, we were like wow, we have all these excess items; we can fulfill their need.”

    In the future, the 350th Civil Affairs Command Special Functions Team plans to send first aid shelter kits to field hospitals in Garrissa and Bal Bala, Kenya, as well as clinics throughout Tanzania and Djibouti. Dr. Madian Said, the Pelltia Hospital’s chief of staff who also runs medical caravans throughout the country, will use some of the first aid shelter kits to help fight cholera outbreaks in the region.

    Photo – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Swain, and Air Force Maj. Pauline Lucas, 350th Civil Affairs Command Special Functions Team, offload medical supplies at the Pelltia Hospital in Djibouti with the help of local residents. More than eight pallets of supplies and equipment valued at $800,000 were donated to the hospital, July 25. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenya Shiloh.

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    20 Aug 07
    By Gunnery Sgt. Eric Johnson
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    HADITHAH, Iraq – The morning of July 4th started out like any other day inside the Hadithah Police Station. The Iraqi Police conducted morning police call, uniforms were set straight, and reports were prepared. The Marines of the Hadithah Police Transition Team (PiTT) gave guidance to their Iraqi counter-parts, making corrections wherever necessary. As the heat began filling the building, the anticipation for the day’s events grew.

    Within the building’s multi-purpose room, the morning formation lined up. However, the formation wasn’t made up of Iraqi police officers standing at attention, ready for drill practice. In fact, no one was standing at attention. July 4th was the first Youth Soccer Day held at the Hadithah Police Station.

    Over 200 local children gathered at the police station for a chance to play soccer with their police officers. The police and children were equally excited for the day’s festivities. The first hour was spent posing for pictures. After the initial photo op and introductions, soccer balls were passed out. Through donations from friends and family back in the United States and from some Iraqi Police Officers, over 100 soccer balls were given to the kids. Along with the soccer balls, hundreds of toys, stuffed animals, and backpacks were also donated.

    Lieutenant Col. Mazher Hasan Khazal, the Hadithah Police Chief said, “today is a great day, not only for the Iraqi Police, but for all of Hadithah. We will never forget what our Marine brothers have done to make this possible.” The current Iraqi Police Station is actually a hardened building, which once served as the city’s Youth Center. The Marines and Iraqi Police took over the building in October 2006. For the past several years, there hasn’t been a need for a youth center, most of the city’s children would rarely go outside.

    The need for some type of outlet for the kids during their summer school break, a time when terrorists recruit young children, prompted the PiTT Marines to come up with a youth-oriented soccer program. Members of the PiTT team were sitting around talking about their families one night with the Iraqi leadership. They tried to explain the Boy and Girl Scouts of America to the police chief, and he asked if they could help set something like that up in Hadithah. That’s when the PiTT came up with the idea for a soccer camp. The police chief loved the idea

    Friendliness from the locals toward Marine and Iraqi Forces over the last few years has been minimal. Anyone approaching a Marine or Iraqi patrol was looked at as a possible insurgent, and not allowed to get too close. The city has seen a shift in the security and the attitude of the local people. The success of the Youth Soccer Day provided the rebirth this city has seen. Marines and police alike were covered with hugging hands and grabbing fingers.

    “I thought that at one point the kids were just going to mob me over,” said Cpl. Joseph Dayner, PiTT communications advisor. “I just kept pushing through the crowd passing out toys.”

    The Youth Soccer Day was a testament to the successful counter-insurgency campaign 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines is conducting in the Hadithah Triad. The Iraqi Police have played a large role in the city’s stability. The force is a lot larger, more professional, and the people of Hadithah readily accept them. It is a sign of hope that the situation here has turned the right corner.

    Photo – Gunnery Sgt. Eric Johnson, operations chief of the Hadithah PiTT plays soccer with local Iraqi children in front of the Iraqi Police Station. Photo by: Cpl. Stephen M. Kwietniak.

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    20 Aug 07
    By Sgt. Sara Wood
    American Forces Press Service
    .

    WASHINGTON – U.S. troops serving in Iraq will have a little more protection soon, as two of the military’s newest armored vehicles are on their way to the theater.

    Two Buffalo Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as “MRAPs,” were loaded onto C-5 Galaxy aircraft Thursday night at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., to be shipped to Iraq. This latest shipment is part of the Defense Department’s push to get as many of the new vehicles to troops in combat as quickly as possible.

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been pushing the production and delivery of MRAPs, which boast a V-shaped hull that deflects bomb blasts and protects troops inside better than the military’s current vehicles. The Defense Department awarded two more contracts for the vehicles the week of Aug. 10, which brings the number of vehicles on contract to 6,415. An estimated 3,500 MRAPs are expected to be shipped to Iraq by Dec. 31.

    The MRAPs are shipped to Iraq by the 437th Airlift Wing, out of Charleston. The vehicles are part of the 300 tons of cargo the unit moves on a daily basis. It typically takes two days to airlift the MRAPs to Iraq, said Cynthia Bauer, a public affairs officer with U.S. Transportation Command, which oversees the movement of the vehicles. A small number of MRAPs are taken by sea, which takes between 22 and 30 days, she said.

    As of Aug. 9, Transportation Command had shipped 701 MRAPs and MRAP-like vehicles to the Central Command area, Ms. Bauer said. The command will continue to ship the vehicles as military commanders in theater request them, she said.

    MRAPs come in three categories: Category I vehicles are designed for urban combat operations and can transport six people; Category II vehicles have multi-mission capabilities, including convoy lead, troop transport, ambulance, explosive ordnance disposal and combat engineering, and can transport up to 10 people; Category III vehicles perform mine and IED clearance operations and explosive ordnance disposal and can transport six people, or five with additional equipment. The Buffalos that were shipped Thursday fall under Category III.

    The troops who participated in loading the vehicles yesterday told local media that they feel their job is important, because the MRAPs have been proven to save lives in combat. “It’s absolutely critical. It saves lives every day when they have them,” Air Force Master Sgt. Jared Breyer, with the 437th Airlift Wing, told ABC News.

    Photo – A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle is loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy aircraft Aug. 16 at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Air Mobility Command assists with the movement of MRAP vehicles to U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility as directed by the National Command Authority, the Joint Staff and U.S. Transportation Command. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson.

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    20 Aug 07
    USS Enterprise Public Affairs
    .

    ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE – Enterprise Carrier Strike Group commenced operations in the Persian Gulf Aug. 10, where they are currently deployed to support maritime security operations as well as Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

    20 Aug 07
    USS Enterprise Public Affairs

    Rear Adm. Daniel P. Holloway, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12/Enterprise Strike Group, said the strike group is ready to do what it takes to accomplish the mission. “This is part of what we are out here to do,” said Holloway. “We are a nation at war and we will continue to do our part to stabilize the current situation in Iraq and eliminate terrorist threats.”

    Enterprise CSG’s deployment will help reassure U.S. allies in the region of the Navy’s commitment to set conditions for security and stability for vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. Maritime security operations have a strong track record of providing security and stability in the maritime environment through coordinated operations with coalition partners that complement the security efforts of friends and allies in the region.

    The presence of Enterprise CSG in the region allows the coalition to flex multi-dimensional task force capabilities and demonstrate the ability to respond to threats to maritime security. Enterprise CSG also commenced the first combat missions of their current deployment Aug. 12 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1, stationed aboard USS Enterprise, conducted multiple-strike missions by providing air support to coalition ground forces.

    U.S. naval and air presence in the region is the continuation of a six decade-long U.S. policy to stand by friends and allies among Gulf Cooperation Council nations and protect the free flow of commerce. These relationships support and encourage regional stability and cooperation. U.S. forces will continue to maintain this regional presence to deter destabilizing activities, while safeguarding the region’s vital links to the global economy.

    The squadrons of CVW-1 include the “Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron 211; Knighthawks” of VFA-136; “Sidewinders” of VFA-86; “Thunderbolts” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251; “Dragonslayers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11; “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 137; “Screwtops” of VAW-123; “Maulers” of Sea Control Squadron 32; and the “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40.

    Photo – The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise conducts maritime operations in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 17, 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Brandon Morris.

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    14 Aug 07
    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Christopher T. Smith
    Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet
    .

    NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) – Coalition forces are training Iraqi marines to take over the mission of providing security to Iraqi territorial waters in the North Persian Gulf.

    Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 has been conducting a dual mission aboard Iraq’s Khwar Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) in the Persian Gulf. MSD-24 provides security for the platforms as part of the Coalition’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 158 while simultaneously training Iraqi marines to eventually assume responsibility for the protection of Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure.

    Gunner’s Mate 1st Class (EXW/SW) Timothy Burrell said the Iraqi forces are undergoing advanced training on a variety of possible threats. “They are now countering multiple threats while experiencing casualties such as loss of power and loss of communications. Their exercises [the] last 24 hours [were] rather than just a few,” said Burrell. “They’re really working toward taking ownership of the platforms.”

    Lt. J.G. Danny Soria, ABOT’s officer in charge, agrees that the Iraqis’ training has paid dividends. “The Iraqi marines have responded well to our training program,” said Soria. “Since our arrival, the platoons that have been observed have improved their readiness drastically.” Iraqi marines stand all of the watches aboard ABOT and KAAOT. “Currently, the Iraqi marines are our eyes and ears and the first to react to the threat,” said Soria. “MSD stands a reactionary force.”

    In addition to preparing the Iraqis to better defend the oil platforms, Coalition forces are preparing teams of Iraqi marines to conduct their own Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations.

    Coalition forces joined with the Iraqis to conduct Exercise Rapid Talon, Aug. 6, in the North Persian Gulf. During the exercise, Iraqi marines boarded a tugboat that simulated a commercial vessel transiting the region. “Rapid Talon is a routine exercise that we use to evaluate Iraqi boarding teams,” said Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Iain Doran, CTF 158’s Iraqi training and transition officer. “We put them through different scenarios to test their core skills and rate their proficiency level.”

    The marines, who are trained by the U.S. Coast Guard, are not only conducting exercises, they are also involved in real-world VBSS operations. “Depending on how well the Iraqi platoons perform during Rapid Talon, the platoons conduct boardings with either a Coalition-led team, or if they performed very well, with only their U.S. Coast Guard trainers,” said Royal Navy Warrant Officer 1st Class Darren Paskins, CTF 158’s assistant Iraqi training and transition officer.

    Doran added that the platoons’ contributions to the Coalition are signs of significant progress in their training. “Some platoons have now completed solo tanker sweeps under the supervision of just two or three of their Coast Guard trainers, and the feedback we’ve received from the masters of the vessels is that the Iraqi boarding teams are very effective and professional,” said Doran. “This is quite a big step, and something that’s only been recently introduced.”

    Coalition forces are training the Iraqis to someday take the reigns of all VBSS operations in their littoral waters. “Ultimately, this training will give the Iraqis the ability to police their own territorial waters,” said Paskins. “It’s important that they get as much experience as possible, so we have them conduct as many boardings as we can in order for them to gain the experience and knowledge that are required to carry out the mission.”

    Doran stressed that although Iraqi forces are making significant strides in their training, CTF 158’s mission is still the responsibility of the Coalition. “The whole mission in the [North Persian Gulf] is conducted by the Coalition,” said Doran. “Inherently, we provide security for the oil platforms themselves and the vessels coming to and from the oil platforms. We do this by conducting Maritime Security Operations.”

    MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. Iraq’s oil platforms account for about 90 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

    Photo – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Nickel Samuel assigned to Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 observes Iraqi marines participating in a live-fire exercise. MSD-24 is training Iraqi marines to maintain security in and around the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith.

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    14 Aug 07
    Sgt. Robert Yde
    2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – With the opening of Montpetit Pool here last month, Soldiers from the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have had a daily escape from the summer heat.

    While most Soldiers are making use of the cool water for leisure, another group of Soldiers meet at the pool every Saturday to work through injuries sustained during their current deployment.

    “Normally, in the states, where you have the gym with the pool, you always incorporate pool therapy,” said Sgt. John Hart, a physical therapist with Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion. “It allows you to become more functional, faster without compromising the rehab for certain injuries. If you’re doing weights or standard exercises in the gym, there’s always that fine line where you can be doing the exercises and the next thing you know, the patient has a setback because maybe the resistance is too much,” he said.

    The pool gives Soldiers both a strengthening and an aerobic workout, according to Capt. Matthew Larson, physical therapist, Co. C, 15th Bde. Spt. Bn. “The water provides good resistance for limb movement and it’s a good lower impact, but still vigorous, workout for people with certain injuries.”

    Patients also meet twice a week at the FOB’s gym and three times a week at the troop medical clinic, but Sgt. Hart said the pool sessions are patients’ favorite part of therapy.

    According to Spc. Tyler Burdette, Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, who is currently undergoing physical therapy after tearing a ligament in his knee, pool therapy is his most demanding workout. “It’s the hardest, most strenuous thing we do,” he said. “But it helps because a lot of times, with injuries, you can’t support your own body weight, and that’s the hardest part about working out.”

    Like Spc. Burdette, most Soldiers undergoing pool therapy have lower-body injuries, and most of the exercises are designed to work patients’ ankles and knees. “It’s mainly a lower extremity workout, so we start with just some basic leg stretches and then some non-impact exercises like flutter kicks,” said Capt. Larson. “If you have a knee injury or an ankle injury, you can get a good workout because you’re still moving everything, but you’re not impacting that injury as hard as you would by running in formation.”

    Individual, upper body exercises are integrated into the program for Soldiers like Sgt. Amanda Sweesy, who has been undergoing physical therapy for her rotator cuff since March. “It doesn’t cause me as much pain as the gym, so I don’t mind it at all,” said Sgt. Sweesy, Co. B, 15th BSB.

    Even uninjured Soldiers can benefit from pool therapy, said Sgt. Hart. “You can do it for preventive stuff,” he said. “I have a lot of people who have found out about the pool therapy and they ask me, ‘Is there any exercise I can do in the pool for my PT?'”

    The Army has only recently started assigning physical therapists to brigade combat teams. According to Sgt. Hart, it minimizes the time Soldiers may have to spend recovering away from the unit at combat support hospitals. “It was really demanding on the units because they need the manpower to continue on and do the mission,” he said. Physical therapy this far forward is a really good idea. I think it’s helping the brigade combat teams stay in the fight better.”

    Photo – Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, stretch out before beginning a session of pool therapy Aug. 11. The brigade’s physical therapist, Capt. Matthew Larson, added pool therapy to Soldiers’ rehabilitation program after Montpetit Pool opened at central Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Prosperity in July. Photo by Sgt. Robert Yde.

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    15 Aug 07
    Sgt. David E. Roscoe
    Task Force Pacemaker
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, Afghanistan – U.S. Army engineers in Afghanistan are doing their part to restore security and the country’s economy by building roads, bridges and levees to connect Afghanistan’s people.

    Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and mountainous landscape isolates most of the population from the country’s major cities and industrial area. Lack of funding, harsh seasonal weather and flash floods have made it almost impossible to maintain a lasting road system within the country. Only about 35,000 kilometers of roads connect the country’s economic centers. This explains why one of the main goals for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other engineer units is to build and repair an efficient road system in Afghanistan.

    However, major concerns arise for soldiers constructing roads in a combat environment. Improvised explosive devices, car bombs and ambushes are a constant threat to soldiers working on roads. “Our company has been attacked by one IED and one (car bomb), found three IEDs, and been ambushed three times while conducting road-construction missions in Afghanistan,” Army Capt. Nicholas O. Melin, commander of Company B, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, said. “The motivating thing about all this is that our soldiers are not allowing these obstacles to stop them, and they have maintained their good spirits in the face of danger.”

    Unpredictable rainfall in Afghanistan also has been a major threat for local homes and crops as local rivers flood. This was the case in Sira Qala, a community outside Forward Operating Base Sharana, where an aging levee suffered major flood damage threatening the village’s economy. Army 1st Lt. Robert Green, Equipment Platoon leader with Headquarters and Support Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, was tasked to repair the levee. “I think it was an important construction mission with an immediate impact on the population,” he said. “While it may not be a permanent solution to the problem, it will at least continue to protect the village for another couple seasons.”

    Connecting Afghan civilians to cities with medical facilities also has been a major road construction goal for the battalion, dubbed Task Force Pacemaker for its Afghanistan deployment. In June, the battalion’s Company A completed a 15-kilometer road that connected the village of Khyur Khot to the town of Mest.

    “The Alpha Company road-construction mission was very important because it connected the locals in that area to the town of Mest, which has medical facilities,” Army Capt. Mona A. Tanner, TF Pacemaker plans officer, said. “The road also provided coalition forces with freedom of movement between the two areas. The Alpha Company soldiers were consistent, determined and didn’t let delays weaken their spirits.”

    Army Lt. Col. Mark J. Deschenes, the TF Pacemaker commander, added: “The primary purpose of Task Force Pacemaker’s road-construction mission is to maximize mobility for coalition forces and the Afghan people. The roads that we are constructing support economic growth and an efficient security presence in the country. Locals are able to travel from point A to point B easier than they were able to in the past.

    “They are able to reach medical services and job opportunities with less difficulty,” he added. “The roads also allow for an increased security capability for coalition forces, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, providing a safer environment for everyone.”

    Photo – Army Staff Sgt. Troy L. Bohanon, a member of Company A, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, surveys the Khyur Khot to Mest road. U.S. Army photo.

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    14 Aug 07
    by Senior Airman Clark Staehle
    379th Air Expeditionary Wing
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) – The Airmen with the 379th Logistics Readiness Squadron Cargo Movement Flight here serve as force multipliers by ensuring anything warfighters need gets to the proper place at the proper time. Members of the flight receive and ship supplies in and out of the base to and from anywhere in the world, mainly supporting operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom forces.

    The flight plays a big role in supporting airfield operations by moving mission capable parts. These parts are for when a plane is broken down somewhere and maintainers need that part to fix it. If the part needed to fix the problem isn’t in stock or kept on base, members of the cargo movement flight ships the mission capable part with the highest priority to help get the plane airworthy as soon as possible.

    “We support the war on terrorism by sustaining the mission to all of the (areas of responsibility) and beyond,” said Master Sgt. Eric Smith, the 379th LRS cargo movements section chief. “If a shipment needs to get somewhere to repair a (broken) aircraft, we get it there by the fastest means. If our warriors need supplies to keep them in the fight, we ship it to them.” The cargo movement flight, the largest in the area of responsibility, serves as a hub for other bases throughout the combat theater. The Airmen of the flight ship items that run the gamut from any aircraft part to supplies purchased by the 379th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron.

    “If the military uses it, we’ll ship it, no matter how big or how small,” said Sergeant Smith, the Los Angeles native who is deployed here from Fort Dix, N.J. “(We provide) unlimited capability. We find the means of shipping cargo — if it’s through commercial or military means — and get it there. We do have our challenges so we find the best and quickest way to get it to where it needs to go to sustain the ongoing mission.”

    The flight moves parts in one of two ways. The first way involves commercial shipping companies, like the companies any one might use to send a birthday present to a relative. The second way involves the military aircraft. If customs issues preclude commercial shipping, the flight works hand in hand with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron to arrange airlift.

    Photo – Senior Airman Nick Mendoza uses a forklift to unload a container of cargo from a pickup truck Aug. 8 in Southwest Asia. Airman Mendoza is assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Cargo Movement Flight. Airmen of the flight ship anything the military uses anywhere in the world. Photo Airman 1st Class Ashley Tyler.

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    15 Aug 07
    by Multi-National Division – Baghdad Public Affairs Office
    .

    Baghdad – Local citizens fed tips to Soldiers from the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which led to the finding of four weapons caches and the detaining of two suspects in multiple operations north of Baghdad, Aug. 8 and 9.

    Troops from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 1st BCT, acting on a tip from a neighborhood watch volunteer, uncovered an improvised explosive devices cache near the town of Sab Al Bor, Aug 8. The cache included five complete IEDs and 12 incomplete IEDs. The cache also included 20 munitions of varying sizes, 100 pounds of homemade explosive, one can of nitric acid, some command wire as well as the tools necessary to manufacture IEDs.

    The same day acting on a tip from a volunteer, Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, also of 1st BCT, found a 100 millimeter projectile, 10 80mm mortars, six IED timers, two rocket-propelled grenades and an accompanying booster. In two separate incidents also involving information garnered from volunteer sources, Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, working with their Iraqi counterparts from the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), unearthed two caches and detained two suspects.

    In the first, while draining a canal, engineers from 2-8 Cavalry’s Sapper Company found three 60mm mortar rounds, two 82mm mortar rounds, one 120mm mortar round and one 122mm projectile Aug. 9 near Kem. In the second find, during a cordon and search, 2-8 Cavalry troops and Iraqi troops found 1 sniper rifle with two scopes, one AK-47 assault rifle with five magazines, a 9mm Glock pistol, a hand grenade and detained two suspects in connection with the cache near Al Dhabtiya, also on Aug. 9. All of the finds were further evidence of Ironhorse Soldiers’ success in working with Iraqi communities and volunteers to root out insurgents and extremists alike, said Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, 1st Brigade Combat Team’s deputy commanding officer.

    “Cooperation by citizens and their volunteer security roles is what will turn the tide in securing Iraq,” said the Austin native. “We have the largest reconciliation and volunteer movement in Multi-National Division-Baghdad. We fully support Iraqis taking an active role in securing their neighborhoods, towns and villages to stop the violence which hinders the government’s delivery of essential services and an environment that enables small business opportunities and growth.”

    Local Iraqis have grown tired of the al-Qaeda stranglehold and they are taking back their communities and their lives, according to Andrysiak. “Their efforts, along with that of the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, may prove to be the turning point,” he added.

    Photo – Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment take defensive fighting positions, while their commander talks with locals inside the fenceduring a cordon and search in Husseniya. Photo by Sgt. Rachel Ahner.

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    14 Aug 07
    By Cpl. Zachary Dyer
    2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)
    .

    AL ASAD, Iraq – The sounds of a helicopter’s rotor blades cutting through the air overhead is fairly common aboard Al Asad. That the crew’s mission is to support the War on Terror is obvious, but what Marines in those helicopters do once they are out of sight is often unknown to the casual observer on the ground.

    For the members of the “Wolfpack” of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, that mission is to transport Marines, supplies and equipment around the Al Anbar Province. “We’re tasked with assault support for (II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward)),” said Lt. Col. Roger McFadden, the Wolfpack commanding officer. “It’s in the shape of passenger, cargo and external operations. We’re also responsible for (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel) missions. The majority of our tasking is to move cargo and personnel between the (Forward Operating Bases).”

    In the three months that the Wolfpack has been in Iraq, the squadron has racked up approximately 1,600 flight hours. The Marines are also working on obtaining another impressive record – 65,000 Class Amishap free hours. “The squadron has never had a mishap in its entire history, since 1984,” explained McFadden, a Cle Elum, Wash., native. “These guys are proud of the fact that they always fly safe aircraft. It’s because of safe maintenance.”

    The CH-53E “Super Stallions” the Wolfpack flies along with other heavy helicopter squadrons are some of the more maintenance heavy aircraft in the Marine Corps, not because they are old but because of their size. For every one hour spent in the air, the maintenance Marines put in 40 on the ground, according to Sgt. Maj. Brian Milton, the HMH-466 squadron sergeant major.

    “If the birds don’t launch, the mission doesn’t go,” said Milton, a Murietta, Calif., native. “The Marines’ ability to fix the aircraft on a moments notice is the most important thing out here. We have a lot of dedicated Marines, and sometimes we have to tell them to go home. They’re hardworking and dedicated to what they do.”

    Despite the long hours of work required to make sure the squadron accomplishes its mission, the Marines of the Wolfpack have adapted to the rigors of deployment. “They’re handling it really well,” said McFadden. “We’re 90 days into it and they are keeping up with the work and keeping aircraft available.”

    Like most units in Iraq, the Marines of HMH-466 have a wide variety of experience. While some Marines are on their third or fourth, others are on their first deployment. The squadron’s strength comes from the help the more experienced Marines provide to the junior Marines. “It’s never two new Marines working out there together,” said Cpl. Billy C. Roth, a crew chief with the Wolfpack, and a Quitman, Texas, native. “It’s one experienced Marine working with a new one. We train while we work. We’re always training and always working hard.”

    That is exactly what the senior leaders of HMH-466 have come to expect of their Marines – that not only are they professionals in their job, but consummate Marines as well, according to Milton. “The big thing we push upon them is this,” explained Milton. “They may not be out in the trenches, but their trench is the flightline, and they are out there supporting the mission.”

    Photo – Sgt. Devin Linneman, a crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, looks out the ‘hell hole’ of a CH-53E “Super Stallion” to ensure nothing happens to the cargo hanging below the aircraft during an external lift mission. Photo by Cpl. Zachary Dyer.

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    13 Aug 07
    By Spc. Jennifer Fulk
    Combined Press Information Center
    .

    KIRKUSH, Iraq – Coalition advisors gathered at the Kirkush Military Training Base, Aug. 8, 2007, to see the progress being made in the region.

    Denmark Army Gen. Werner P. Kahle visited Iraqi Army Gen. Sabah, head of the Regional Support Unit at the base, located approximately 70 miles northeast of Baghdad. “Think of it (the RSU) as a distribution center,” said Navy Capt. Joe Hedges, assistance chief of staff of engineering. “We are building distribution systems to get supplies to soldiers in the front,”

    “If you have an army in the field, you have to be able to support them,” said Karl Kornchuk, the RSU’s senior advisor. This area is vital to the support of the Iraqi army. It provides logistics to several Coalition and Iraqi units. The area also has a noncommissioned officer academy, in addition to the RSU, which is currently led by Coalition forces.

    There are 31 buildings being erected on the compound, which include living quarters, life support buildings, a gym and a classroom. All of the buildings should be complete in four to six weeks, said Paul Hunaker, the project manager. The project also includes 12 new 50,000-gallon fuel tanks, a new ammunition storage point, and sewer system upgrades. Once completed, these projects will increase the standard of living for the Iraqi army and will better enable them to get supplies to their fellow soldiers in the field.

    The other side of this important project is training programs that are under way on the base. “The Regional Maintenance Company is small, but the trends are positive,” explained Kahle. “We’ve had a 75 percent success rate on this high visibility project.” he continued, referring to an eight-week class given to Iraqi soldiers who have had some type of maintenance background. The first class began on July 23 and the second a week later. From each class, the best student will be chosen to attend an advanced course and will eventually be the instructors themselves.

    “The students are very eager and enthusiastic to learn,” said Francous VanGhant, chief of the Fiafi Group that was contracted to run the class. Vehicle maintenance is important so that the supplies that come through the base can actually be sent out to the soldiers who need them most. “We have to be able to get manpower, supplies and facilities to the same point at the same time,” Hedges said. “Without one of the three, the system doesn’t work.”

    However, every effort comes with challenges and the Kirkush Military Training Base is no exception. “It’s like the saying, ‘Building an airplane while you’re flying,’ we’re working on a myriad of problems on the other side,” said Kornchuk. It is also much more expensive to build in the area because contractors are forced to provide their own electricity, water and living. Providing security to convoy in all of these materials is very costly.

    Another issue, albeit a much smaller one, is that asphalt is nearly impossible to obtain because the routes are unsecured, so gravel is mainly used. As in all areas of Iraq, security is a very important issue, and employing the locals is key in the security effort. “People from the surrounding area also assist in the route security effort because they know that the supplies being brought in will eventually help them as well,” said Hedges. “A visible force is the key to securing the area.”

    As the senior advisor for almost a year, Kornchuk is confident in the Iraqi army’s ability to grow and eventually sustain themselves. “I’ve seen their progress, and I can quantify it,” he said.

    Sabah said that he hopes the base will become one of the main sources, and the best sources, of support for the Iraqi army. While there is certain to be some obstacles in the future, Kahle is confident in the Iraqi army. “They can only improve. I am confident that within one year it will be completely operational,” he said. “It all comes down to building close relationships and moving forward together to build a truly free democracy and a wonderful place to live.”

    Photo – Denmark Army Gen. Werner P. Kahle studies a pair of boots that will be worn by an Iraqi Army soldier. Kahle visited Iraqi Army Gen. Sabah, head of the Regional Support Unit in Kirkush. Photo by Spc. Jennifer Fulk.

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    13 Aug 07
    By Multi-National Division – Baghdad
    Public Affairs Office
    .

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers rescued a 2-year-old Iraqi boy from a dry well in which he fell Aug. 9.

    Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division responded to the pleas for assistance from the father of a boy who had fallen into a dry well near the family’s residence.

    The company commander, Capt. David Powell of Newport Beach, Calif., was about to begin a scheduled security patrol when the boy’s father approached the gate of his Coalition outpost on foot. Using an interpreter, Powell quickly assessed the situation and sent the patrol to assist with the recovery of the child.

    The father directed the soldiers to the location of the well and Powell used his flashlight to find the child at the bottom. “I could see that the baby had fallen some 25 feet and was lying at the bottom of the well,” Powell said. “He appeared to be breathing, but would not answer to our calls.”

    Using a back hoe from the outpost, the patrol began a slow and meticulous process of digging a parallel shaft to the dry well, then tunneling to the well horizontally, being careful not to cause the well to cave in. “The back hoe made quick work of the rescue shaft just to the south of the well. Then the real digging began,” said Powell. Because of the instability of soil, a fear of a cave-in and desire to not risk any of his soldiers, Powell selected himself and Staff Sgt. Raul Torres, a native of San Venito, Texas, to dig the horizontal shaft to the well.

    Using an entrenching tool, a flat-head screwdriver, rebar and other primitive farming tools, Powell and Torres went to work. After several hours of digging, a faint crying was heard from the boy. “He sounded scared, but OK,” said Powell. “I don’t think I have ever heard a more beautiful sound.”

    After five hours of digging the horizontal shaft reached the well. The well was basin shaped at the bottom, making the boy very difficult to locate. After several attempts to reach for the boy, Powell was able to pull the boy to safety.

    Coalition medics on the scene quickly assessed the boy, finding no serious injuries. The child was then returned to his mother and father, who were thankful for the assistance. The patrol then filled in the hole they dug, and returned to their outpost.

    The following day, Powell visited the family’s residence with a medic to ensure the child was not having any medical issues from the fall. The medic determined the child was in perfect health. “In my 18 years in the Army,” Powell said, “this is, by far, the greatest thing I have ever done.”

    Photo – Capt. David Powell from Newport Beach, Calif., holds the 2-year-old Iraqi boy the day after he rescued him. The boy fell into a dry well Aug. 9. U.S. Army photo.

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    10 Aug 07
    by 1st Lt. Shannon Collins
    332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – Approximately 150 base volunteers and 380 Airmen with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group moved patients and equipment as they closed the doors on the old Air Force Theater Hospital and opened the doors to their pre-engineered facility here Aug. 3.

    Starting at 4 a.m., Airmen in each tent tunnel section began moving patients and equipment. Throughout the past two months, a transition team, along with the help of volunteers, set up the upgraded facility. They pre-positioned as much equipment and supplies as they could to make the transition easier for the patients and medical staff.

    Thousands of patients, ranging from American military members to Iraqi freedom fighters and civilians, have been treated at the hospital — the last Air Force military Level 3 trauma tent hospital in the theater. The staff performs more than 2,000 surgical procedures a month.

    “We have an outstanding survivability rate, reaching 98 percent, unheard of in prior conflicts,” said Col. (Dr.) Brian Masterson, 332nd EMDG commander. “The new facility helps to enhance that capability and helps improve the survivability and minimization of the consequences of war. Inside the new facility lies the most sophisticated lifesaving technology you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

    About 250 contractors worked during the day and about 150 at night to upgrade the pre-engineered facility within seven months. The existing building had been about 4,265 square feet and was the original Iraqi Air Force Academy Hospital.

    The tent hospital was originally set up by the U.S. Army when the U.S. military came to Balad in 2003. In September 2004, the Air Force assumed the trauma center mission. In December 2005, the Air Force opened the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility co-located with the newly remodeled, pre-engineered facility.

    The 332nd MDG’s tent hospital was about 63,105 square feet and a labyrinth of more than 30 tents. The new facility is approximately 97,000 square feet. Though there was some sentimental attachment to the tents, the upgrade gives the hospital and its staff of about 379 servicemembers several advantages.

    The new facility has up to 20 intensive care units, 40 beds and eight operating tables. Better environmental controls, better power production and distribution systems,
    conditioned power, indoor plumbing, all medical services in one area, safety and space are just some of the many advantages of the new facility, said Lt. Col. Michael Glass, 332nd EMDG logistics flight commander.

    The previous tent hospital had very little insulation, and the environmental control units could only reduce the temperature by 20 degrees less than the ambient temperature outside, said Colonel Glass. During the summer months, the temperature reaches 120 degrees on a regular basis.

    “When these systems were operating at full capacity, they tripped the breakers, causing temporary but frequent power outages,” he said. “When the power went out, the tents heated up very fast. The new hospital has hundreds of AC units to provide very controlled temperatures, and it should stay around 75 to 80 degrees year round.”

    The new facility has cleaner power systems and power conditioning systems, meaning less wear and tear on the most expensive medical equipment.

    One of the biggest advantages is space. The new facility has double the number of trauma bays and six isolation beds for potential infectious patients, beds they did not have in the tents. The operating rooms and patient rooms are also bigger and better, said the colonel.

    Maj. Vik (Dr.) Bebarta, 332nd EMDG emergency medicine chief and flight commander for the emergency department, and his team of 24 are looking forward to the benefits of the new facility.

    “The controlled climate, limited dust and better lighting will allow us to provide even better care to our injured Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines,” said the major, on his second deployment to the tent hospital.

    “Working in the tents for eight months was a unique experience,” he said. “The intimate ‘soft wall’ setting created a tropism for cohesiveness, communication, passion, urgency, efficiency and patient-focused critical medical care. I hope that ethos carries over to the new setting.”

    During the day of the move, the emergency department Airmen set up a department in each hospital and worked on patients in both facilities until the transition was complete. The emergency department staff evaluates about 750 patients a month, and 625 are admitted. About 65 percent of the patients are traumatic injuries, most of which are combat-related.

    “We act as the entry point for all critically ill patients at the (Air Force Theater Hospital),” the major said. “We assess, resuscitate and stabilize all traumatic and medically ill patients. Our primary mission integrates with all facets of the hospital.”

    Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jim Keeney is the chief of orthopedic surgery and a regular member of the operating room staff. He said the tent environment posed a few challenges.

    “During the summer months, temperatures inside the tents would reach peaks over 100 degrees,” he said. “The operating rooms were in portable units with a ceiling height of approximately seven feet. Bars and light fixtures suspended from the ceiling made frequent contact with surgeon heads. The general size of the rooms made positioning of equipment tight. This was particularly the case during surges in patient-care activity, when we typically had two surgeries being performed within the same room simultaneously.”

    In the new facility, the operating rooms are significantly larger, providing better ability to move equipment and ease the process of performing procedures, the colonel said. Climate control is better regulated throughout the building as well.

    During an average month, the 332nd EMDG teams admit approximately 625 patients, requiring more than 700 trips to the operating room for an average of 3.5 surgical procedures per patient. The success of the AFTH trauma system is reflected in a 98 percent survivorship of U.S. military members evacuated to definitive care. The survival of wounds during past conflicts was less than 80 percent, said the colonel.

    From patient wards to the emergency department to the operating rooms, the pre-engineered facility offers a variety of improvements to make combat patient care even better. Whether staff members work in tents or a pre-engineered facility, they find their deployment highly satisfying, said Colonel Keeney.

    “This is certainly the best professional deployment for Air Force surgeons with an interest in trauma,” he said.

    Though Aug. 3 was a very long day for the volunteers and medical staff, the move was considered a success, said Colonel Keeney.

    “From the perspective of a surgeon, the best thing about the move was the fact that it was coordinated well enough to fully maintain our ability to provide trauma care without a hitch during the transition process,” he said.

    Senior Airman Scott Hatch, a 332nd Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment technician, was part of the transition team that helped upgrade the former Iraqi Air Force Academy Hospital.

    “The new facility is amazing,” said Airman Hatch. “It’s easy to forget sometimes that it’s an expeditionary project. Seeing the new facility near the tent hospital is like a night and day difference. The new facility will make a wonderful gift to the Iraqi people when our mission here is accomplished.”

    Photo – Maj. Julie Zwies and Capt. Kathy Betts inventory equipment at the new Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base, Iraq, Aug. 3. Starting at 4 a.m., about 150 base volunteers and 380 332nd EMDG Airmen moved patients and equipment to the newly upgraded, pre-engineered facility. Major Zwies and Captain Betts are assigned to the 332nd Medical Group lab flight. Photo 1st Lt. Shannon Collins.

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    13 Aug 07
    By Grant Sattler
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division
    .

    AL BASRAH – The Gulf Region Division’s oil sector neared the finish line at the end of July with the final certification of work on the Al Basrah Oil Terminal. The terminal, known as ABOT, is Iraq’s primary avenue for crude oil export.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invested $67.5 million to rehabilitate the export facility 50 km offshore in the Arabian Gulf. Currently, one and a half million barrels of crude oil a day leave Iraq via tankers on-loading at ABOT. That volume is roughly half of the terminal loading capacity of 3 million barrels per day achieved with the upgrade.

    Iraq’s economy is dominated by crude oil export accounting for 97 percent of the government’s revenue. The GRD has been working to improve the country’s ability to get its crude oil to world markets through renovation of key components of the oil infrastructure. The $1.7 billion effort has been funded by the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, but is only a fraction of the $8 billion needed, according to a Coalition Provisional Authority estimate.

    Prior to renovation ABOT illustrated the condition of the entire Iraqi oil infrastructure. Designed and commissioned by Brown and Root in 1974, the 30-year-old technology was in serious disrepair from decades of under funding, lack of preventive maintenance, and war damage from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War.

    U.S. Navy Capt. Thomas Brovarone, GRD Oil & Water Sectors director, said the most important improvement at ABOT is the installation of 24 custody transfer meters and associated flow provers that measure how much crude oil is exported from the terminal.

    Supplied by a 48” undersea pipeline from the southernmost tip of the Al Faw Peninsula, the terminal has four berths capable of handling very large carrier type vessels and offloading 300,000-400,000 barrels per day on each berth. The terminal was identified in July 2003 as a key facility for immediate repairs by the Ministry of Oil and the Corp’s Task Force-Restore Iraqi Oil. Parsons Iraq Joint Venture was awarded a contract for the work in January 2004.

    David Anderson, the Corp’s Quality Assurance Representative on the 1.6 kilometer long terminal said, “Before the Corps came on site, Southern Oil Company was using accounting procedures on the tankers and that has a tendency to be less accurate than turbo meters. The turbo metering system is accurate within one hundredths of a percent.”

    Accurate metering is a requirement for confidence necessary in the world community if Iraq is to seek International Monetary Fund loans for remaining oil infrastructure improvements. The metering was installed in Phase 2 of the project.

    Anderson said, “The Corps came out with [construction contractor] AFI and [Parsons Iraq Joint Venture] on Phase 1 to do a refurbishment of the loading arms and the rigging. The functional part of the arms weren’t in real good shape.” In fact, an April 2003 assessment found the loading arms to be operating at only a quarter of their design rate and leaking excessively.

    As they reworked the loading arms for oil transfer, the Corps, PIJV and AFI also turned toward correcting major safety deficiencies on the terminal. Improvements include fusible loop fire detection, gas detection, emergency shut down systems, nitrogen generation and installation of life rafts, Anderson said.

    “Another problem that was discovered on coming to the terminal was that fire fighting capacity was nonexistent. What this project has done is refurbish all the foam systems and recondition the towers… fire fighting capacity will be 120 percent of what it was previously when new,” Anderson said.

    Workers also repaired four hydraulic transfer bridges, build control rooms meeting international standards for both platforms, and installed new power generation and electrical cabling throughout the terminal.

    Photo – Several workers replace cabling on the Al Basrah Oil Terminal. Photo by Betsy Weiner.

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    10 Aug 07
    By Cpl. Ryan R. Jackson
    2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)
    .

    AL ASAD, Iraq – Throughout the theatre, service members are continually asking for and receiving operational gear they need to accomplish their mission.

    The latest troops on Al Asad to get new mission essential equipment were the four-legged war fighters, more commonly known as military working dogs, of Task Force Military Police, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, who received new kennels during a ribbon cutting ceremony, July 18. The new kennels were approximately a year and a half in the making and cost approximately $400,000. The kennels are a huge step in the right direction to properly house and care for the dogs, according to 1st Lt. William Turner, military working dog officer in charge.

    The facility features include running water and drainage, a rinse tub for washing the dogs, and larger training grounds and break areas. The new training area contains a large obedience course, which is a set of obstacles designed to strengthen a dog and handlers teamwork. The biggest addition to the new facility is the capacity to house 12 dogs. For normal operational purposes each forward operating base normally maintains only a few dogs.

    With the increased housing capacity, Al Asad will eventually become the main hub for military working dogs as other FOBs close down and troops draw back, according to the Multi National Forces-West regional kennel master, Tech. Sgt. Nancy Hinostroza.

    The biggest difference between the old kennels and the new facility is the billeting situation. In the former kennels the dogs slept in cages beneath the handlers beds and there was almost no separation between the two throughout the day. Now each dog has their own large kennel and each handler has their own room.

    “They are the first professional kennels in MNF-W,” said Turner. “The restrictions being in a combat zone has always forced the handlers and dogs to live together, but here we are able to separate them out in a more professional manner.”

    Separating the teams is more hygienic and keeps each end of the team healthier.

    “The new kennels are more sanitary, in our old kennels we didn’t have anywhere to bathe the dogs,” said Hinostroza. “Now, we have an actual break yard where the dogs can stretch out and it’s great for training.”

    The new facility is geared towards expanding on the dogs needs. The training grounds and hygiene equipment lead to better physical health of the furry war fighters, while separating them from their handlers improves their mental health.

    “Now we get some separation, we’re not with our dogs all day,” said Hinostroza. “Sometimes you just need a break from your dog. Now, when we get them they are like ‘Come on, take me out!’ instead of like ‘Good morning, what’s going on?’ they are much happier to see us.”

    Photo – Sgt. Aaron DeSalvo, a military working dog handler, walks his dog Kelsey through the obedience course at the new kennel facility, July 18. The facility has an improved break yard and larger obedience course, which is used to improve the dog and handlers teamwork skills.

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    9 Aug 07
    by Master Sgt. Steve Horton
    332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – When terrorists tried shooting mortar rounds at Balad Air Base in July, they didn’t count on the tireless, unblinking eye of an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle overhead, transmitting their every move to Airmen on the ground here.

    Airmen assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here kept the Predator overhead July 24 watching the men while they confirmed what they were seeing with a joint terminal attack controller on the ground. After confirmation, the order was given for the Predator to launch an air strike and moments later a Hellfire air-to-ground missile struck the terrorists’ car when they fled, killing the three terrorists.

    “The Predator crews go through the same targeting and approval processes as a pilot flying another strike aircraft before shooting a weapon,” said Col. Marilyn Kott, the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander. “They coordinate with ground forces to confirm targets and coordinate on the best course of action for the situation.

    Sometimes the best course of action is launching an air strike, other times it can mean remaining overhead to observe or follow possible insurgents as they move around the countryside. “The crews flying the Predator report possible enemy activity and give the joint terminal attack controller and the ground and air commanders the opportunity to decide what they want to do with that information,” Colonel Kott said. “They can agree that the activity needs to be stopped right away and can target the perpetrators.” Because the Predator has a long loiter time, it is an ideal platform for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, so the 46th ERS mission load has increased.

    June, a busy month for most U.S. and coalition forces conducting and supporting combat operations throughout Iraq, was a record setting month for the 46th ERS. They recorded a record number of combat sorties and flying hours for the Predator during the month. More than 175 combat sorties were generated, producing 3,279 flying hours.

    July was just as busy for Predator operations. The 46th ERS flew the same number of combat sorties as in June, but increased flying hours to more than 3,300.

    “It says a lot about how much the Predator is employed and how busy the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing is now as opposed to some previous periods of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Colonel Kott said. “That’s partially because the wing and the (continental United States) Predator units have increased OIF Predator capability, developing logistics and technologies to make the system more successful in a deployed environment.” And with success comes more requests for the Predator’s service.

    “The air battle staff asks for the Predator constantly because it provides such a fine (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) platform, and it’s always airborne,” the colonel said. “The objective here is to find and follow activity that might be aiding the insurgents.”

    “The sorties and hours are increasing as a result of increased demand,” said Maj. Jon Dagley, the 46th ERS commander. “Currently, the Predator is the most requested asset in theater. As warriors continue to recognize how the Predator works, what it brings to the fight, and what it can do for them, its demand will only continue to skyrocket.”

    Even with the number of sorties and flying hours increasing, the colonel is quick to point out the rigorous thought process that goes into the decision to launch an air strike or not. “The (improvised explosive devices) terrorists are planting, for example, don’t just affect our convoys, they pose a danger to civilians living here too,” Colonel Kott said. “The more surgical we can be at stopping insurgent behavior, the better (it will be) for the civilians trying to get on with their lives.”

    The 46th ERS, consisting of less than a dozen Airmen, is responsible for the takeoff and landing of Balad AB’s fleet of Predators as well as flying operations within a 25-mile radius of the base. Every sortie is manned on the ground by a pilot, who flies the aircraft and controls the weapons system by remote control, and a sensor operator, who controls the camera view and laser targeting system on the aircraft.

    Once the Predator is in the air, the pilot and sensor operator will locate a target point used to zero in the weapons system. The sensor operator works with ground members to ensure the laser, which guides the Predator’s weapons system, is on target. When the weapons system has been zeroed in, the pilot prepares to hand control of the Predator to Airmen stationed halfway around the world at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., or at March Air Reserve Base, Calif.

    “The Predator is coming into its own as a no-kidding weapon versus a reconnaissance-only platform,” Major Dagley said. “The work it is doing with its precision-strike capability on top of top-notch ISR, is forcing many people to stand up and take notice. It is forging new ground almost daily. It is paving the way for future technologies and applications, and, as a result, tactics.”

    By coming into its own as a weapon, to compliment its ISR capability, the number of Predator sorties and flying hours will continue to increase. That’s good news to U.S. and coalition forces, and bad news to the terrorists who think they can continue to threaten the security of Iraq.

    Photo – Capt. Richard Koll, left, and Airman 1st Class Mike Eulo perform function checks after launching an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle Aug. 7 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Captain Koll, the pilot, and Airman Eulo, the sensor operator, will handle the Predator in a radius of approximately 25 miles around the base before handing it off to personnel stationed in the United States to continue its mission. Both are assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. Photo by Master Sgt. Steve Horton.

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    10 Aug 07
    By Spc. Micah E. Clare
    4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office
    .

    BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – School field trips provide critical exposure to new experiences and knowledge about the world, and for nearly 30 Afghan school children this was never more true when they recently visited Poland.

    Sponsored by the Polish Minister of Defense, Afghan students ranging from 10-to 16-years-old were chosen to spend two weeks sightseeing in the eastern European country of Poland, said Jacek Matuszak of the Polish Public Information Office. The trip not only opened up the world around them, but also showed them another way of life other than the one they are familiar. They were chosen as the best, most promising students from eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province by the provincial Minister of Education, Matuszak explained.

    The students were flown to Poland July 26 where they visited communities and cities along the scenic Baltic Sea. “We had the opportunity to take them to either our sea or mountains,” said Matuszak. “But we figured being from Afghanistan they had seen enough mountains.”

    The children were treated on behalf of the Polish government to a variety of child-friendly activities. “They went to museums, zoos, sport events, dances; they did a lot during their stay,” said Matuszak. The kids also interacted with Polish children and played soccer and volleyball together, as well as becoming familiar with billiards and electronic games. During their visit, they were also given the benefit of state-of-the-art medical facilities, Matuszak said. They were all given check-ups and some were given treatments for various illnesses.

    “It was such a fun experience,” said Imran Jabar, a 12-year-old boy from Waza-Khwa Central High School, who has never before left the country. “The sights were amazing, especially the big, beautiful cities. [At a military family social event] I enjoyed the dancing the most, the Polish dance so beautifully, very different from traditional Afghan dances.”

    Yet of all the experiences shown them, perhaps the most valuable was meeting people living in a free country. “What meant the most to us was how friendly the people there were, they were always smiling,” Jabar said. “Living in such freedom is something we dream of here [in Afghanistan]. I can’t wait for our country to someday become just like that.”

    The children’s teachers, who went with them, were very happy to see their student’s horizons widened. “We wish our children to see, first-hand, the progress of other countries,” said Abdul Ghani, Jabar’s teacher. “This trip has opened up their minds to learning more about the world like nothing else could. Several of them have already asked about a continued education in Poland.”

    This is something the government has made possible. In an attempt to renew historic ties with Afghanistan, Afghans coming to Poland are offered a scholarship by the government, explained Polish Maj. Wojciech Kaliszczak, the Public Information officer for the Polish Battle Group stationed in Afghanistan. The two countries have had relations since the 1920s, at that time Polish soldiers came to the rugged Afghan mountains for special training, said Kaliszczak. Later, many Afghans came to Poland for refuge during the Russian occupation 30 years ago.

    “We have always had very good relations with the Afghans and we want nothing more than to offer them opportunities, which will help them rebuild their country, he said.

    This is exactly what the government of Poland had in mind when they arranged this “long range field trip.” “Since we are representatives of the kind of democratic country we are trying to give the Afghans, we want to give them a chance to see what living in such a country is like,” Kaliszczak explained.

    “Who better to show than the generation growing up in a free Afghanistan?” he said. “We gave them what they need the most, a smile and a helping hand.

    Photo – The Afghan students who just returned from their field trip to Poland wave while at the Polish military compound at Bagram Airfield Aug. 9. Photo by Spc. Micah E. Clare.

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    8 Aug 07
    by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) – To show their appreciation for other’s efforts and hard work, Airmen from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing have been volunteering to serve food to the operations personnel at the base’s containerized deployable kitchen.

    Chaplain (Capt.) Kevin Humphrey, 380th AEW chaplain has volunteered to serve food 10 times since he’s been deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “I used to work in food services before coming into the military and understand how difficult a job it is and how thankless, so I like to volunteer to let them know with my words and my actions that I genuinely appreciate what they bring to the fight,” he said.

    The chaplain’s goal is to make the Airmen laugh. He will ask diners if they want “camel spider” or “deep fried dove” for their entree. “It is such a great way to quickly touch base with people and get a real pulse for the morale of the wing. I also enjoy trying to make them laugh and brightening their day.” He said that little things like a smiling face and a bright attitude can have a tremendous impact on someone’s day. Sometimes it seems people get so far removed from the direct mission of the wing; they forget what it is about, the chaplain said.

    “All of us do our jobs to put planes in the air so we can put bombs on target or be the eyes in the sky; however, we forget when we do not venture over to the flightline what the true mission really is and we have a tendency to have a narrow perspective solely focused on what we do and not the mission as a whole,” Chaplain Humphrey said.

    For Staff Sgt. John Geer, 380th AEW chaplain assistant, deployed here from Seymour Johnson, he volunteers because he likes helping people and is concerned about the morale and well-being of the Airmen.

    “This opportunity gave me chance to have fellowship with those I don’t see as often as I would like,” said Sergeant Geer. Prior to being a chaplain’s assistant, he worked on the flightline with the B-52 Stratofortress. “I think it’s important to serve over there because it shows appreciation and improves relations. Sometimes it is hard to get help for yourself with anything that may be going on in your life because you’re concentrating on the mission and using the core value of service before self to stay late, skip meals, and so much more, that when someone can come out to you and lend a helping hand, and an open ear it means a lot,” Sergeant Geer said. The chaplain staff also delivers popsicles on the flightline.

    For Capt. Michelle McKinney, 380th AEW financial management, deployed here from Scott AFB, Ill., volunteering her time keeps her humble. “I think it’s important to understand what some of the other career fields do on a daily basis, especially those that are often taken for granted,” she said. Although Airmen here work long hours every day doing their respective operations and responsibilities, they are also taking the time to serve those who serve — reiterating that Airmen can be wingmen at home and abroad.

    Photo – Brig. Gen. Lawrence Wells, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, dishes up a meal for a diner Aug. 7 at the containerized deployable kitchen. The general and members of his staff served food at the CDK all week to show their appreciation for the hard work and efforts put in on the operational side of base. Photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Cook.

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    8 Aug 07
    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith
    Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
    .

    NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) – Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 5 Oil Platform (OPLAT) Detachment provided security for USS Chinook (PC 9) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams while conducting Interaction Patrols (IPATS) Aug. 5 in the north Persian Gulf.

    NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det.’s mission is to protect VBSS teams while they are maintaining security in the region’s shallow waters. “We assist in Maritime Security Operations (MSO), in particular, in the shallow water region of the area,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Merrill, Inshore Boat Unit (IBU) 51 officer in charge. “Using our patrol craft, we provide a 360-degree ring of security around boarding teams as they board commercial vessels.”

    VBSS and IPATS are elements of MSO that help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the coalition’s efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

    Sailors assigned to IBU 51 and IBU 52 comprise NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. and provide security that larger vessels can’t offer. He added that the Sailors’ mission is significant because it enhances the capabilities of the coalition.

    NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. also assists in the training of Iraqi marines. “We simulate an opposition force for the Iraqi marines who are training to one day take over the defense of the oil platforms,” said Merrill. “We act as a vessel that may be conducting surveillance of the oil platforms or rapidly approaching the platforms. We play the bad guy, so to speak.”

    Merrill explained that the IBU 51 and IBU 52 Sailors serving in NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. were hand picked for the mission. Gunner’s Mate Seaman Justin Headley said he looks forward to working with them on a daily basis.

    “Although we sometimes work long hours, and the heat starts to get to you, I enjoy what I’m doing because I enjoy the people I work with,” said Headley. “When you have a good core group of people working with you, the job is much easier, even when you’re not working in ideal conditions.”

    NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det., based out of San Diego, has been supporting MSO in the north Persian Gulf for more than two months. The squadron’s standard mission is to provide harbor security and protection for high value maritime infrastructure.

    Photo – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Nickel Samuel assigned to Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 observes Iraqi marines participating in a live-fire exercise. MSD-24 is training Iraqi marines to maintain security in and around the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith.

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    7 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    379th Air Expeditionary Wing
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA – The 379th Expeditionary Wing’s aerospace medicine team provides care for the flyers so they can stay in the fight. “We are the maintainers of the ‘wet ware’ that flies the hardware,” said Maj. Walter Matthews, chief of aerospace medicine for the wing.

    Flight surgeons are rated aircrew along with pilots and navigators and are required to fly four hours per month to maintain currency. “In order to evaluate the factors involved in flying here, we fly with our air crews,” said Matthews, who is deployed here from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

    Traditional medicine deals with abnormal physiology in a normal environment, while aerospace medicine deals with mostly normal physiology in an abnormal environment. The flight medics provide occupational medicine for maintainers, ensure the safety of the workplace and oversee their water and food quality. The team also assists the fire chief with the medical aspects of in-flight emergency investigations along with gathering the medical intelligence from the rest of the crew members.

    “The quality of medical care received in both the flight medicine clinic and the main clinic is the same, but flight surgeons see medicine through a distinctly operational lens,” said Matthews. “We are charged with being the bridge between the flying world and the medical world.

    The most critical requirement for the crew to accomplish their mission is to gain the trust of the flying community. To do this, the flight medics spend most of their time in the aircraft on the line. “Air crews can sometimes have a hard time trusting docs, but they usually trust ‘their own.’ This is why flight surgeons are as much aircrew as physicians,” said Matthews.

    Not only do the flyers rely on the support of the physicians, but the doctors rely on the flyers as well. The crew must not only fix what is wrong with a flyer, but also must determine if that condition will cause problems in the jet or degrade the flyer’s ability to effectively fight in the air.

    “A strong bridge must be well-anchored on both sides,” said Matthews.

    Each of the flight medicine Airmen is part of one of the flying squadrons. The medics are part of the squadron medical element for those groups and are given the responsibility to keep the Airmen healthy. “The doctors, independent duty medical technicians and medical technicians all bring different skills to the table to form a cohesive unit that can deal with anything that is presented to them,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Nored, deployed from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.

    Off the line, on a daily basis the flight medicine clinic sees patients for initial illnesses, follow-ups, shots and malaria medication. “We are building a healthier population by being vigilant with our immunizations program,” said Tech. Sgt. Marc Marrerro, deployed from Offutt Air Force, Neb.

    They maintain a presence of all aspects of the mission that affect the flying community by ensuring the health and performance of the flyers, providing primary medical care, conducting evaluations and monitoring performance enhancement.

    Photo – Airman 1st Class Nagelia Harrison, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flight medicine clinic, prepares to draw a blood sample from a patient’s arm. The flight medicine clinic caters specifically to the health of aircrew member. Photo by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke.

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    8 Aug 07
    By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    HUSAYBAH, Iraq – It was a quiet morning patrol; a standard Alpha Company mission. Donkeys, attached to carts, were unmanned while their owners were just waking up to the sound of roosters making their morning calls. The Marines were heading directly to solve a mystery. Who shot up a citizen’s house and why?

    “We had an intelligence-driven patrol where a house was shot up a week ago,” said Cpl. Travis Banks, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2.

    Marines are trained in various ways to combat terrorism, whether it is a full-scale battle, investigative searches or looking for rogue Iraqi policeman or local gangsters. “These people are tired of being threatened by the insurgents,” said Cpl. Brian McNeill, a Springfield, Mo., native and team leader with A Company.

    Husaybah used to be a hotbed for insurgency activity, but after years of fighting Marines, the townspeople now want to live in peace and realize the insurgents were only there to cause destruction. The new battle is winning the “hearts and minds” of the people here and that’s done by showing Marines care about the citizens here and by keeping fear away from their homes.

    “The big fighting is done, but the insurgents are trying to intimidate the people,” said Cpl. Peter Andrisevic, a rifleman with A Company. A handful of bullet holes in someone’s door won’t make the strong-willed citizens cower to insurgents, but the quicker the culprits are found, the quicker the people can go on living in peace.

    “This is a dramatic change from OIF II,” Banks said. “This is a one-hundred and eighty degree turn around from what I saw before.” Operation Iraqi Freedom II had major battles in large cities throughout Iraq, but this intelligence-driven war for the safety of Husaybah uses information from its people to capture insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

    “The people who know the most are the average citizens,” Andrisevic said. Insurgents and AQI [al Qaida in Iraq] know the Iraqi Army and Police, and the Marines are hunting them down through intelligence gathered by citizens looking for justice and peace, so they hide in towns like Husaybah, using guerrilla tactics. “Insurgents are hiding here as a resting area,” Andrisevic said. “They aren’t trying to find us but we’re trying to find them.”

    The enemy can’t hide forever because the people don’t want them in their town. Husaybah thrives off trade and business, and without safety and security, they can’t do either. Working with the newly formed government and coalition forces seems to be the right way in their minds.

    “An IP called in with information about a weapons cache,” McNeill said. The Marine said the IP was a former supporter of the insurgency here but has joined the police force and now fights for the peace and prosperity of his people. The people here want their families to live in peace. Coalition forces want them to have peace.

    “If we don’t stabilize the area and find the insurgents, we’ve wasted the last four years here,” Andrisevic said.

    Photo – Cpl. Peter Andrisevic, a rifleman with Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2 listens to a citizen early morning about shots fired a week ago into his neighbor’s home. Alpha Company Marines had an intelligence-driven patrol investigating who shot at the citizen’s home and why. Photo by Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz.

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    8 Aug 07
    By Army Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd ABCT Public Affairs
    .

    NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Sailing through the clouds Soldiers from the Afghan National Army and Task Force Saber air-assaulted onto landing zone Shetland July 19 during Operation Saray Has.

    The LZ was located in a large meadow near the top of a mountain in here. Local Afghans use the area as a grazing pasture for livestock, while Taliban extremists often use it to stage attacks against TF Saber.

    The spot the Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and the Afghan 3rd Kandak, 201st Corps landed on was roughly 10,000 feet above sea level. The air-assault was part of a reconnaissance mission to determine the point of origin for rockets, which were fired at Forward Operating Base Naray that injured several Soldiers a few weeks prior.

    “We came up here to confirm or deny enemy-use of the hilltop,” said Army 1st Lt. Chris Richelderfer, HHT executive officer. “Seven Soldiers were injured from that attack,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Pedraza, command sergeant major of TF Saber.

    After air-assaulting onto the mountain, a patrol was dispatched to an adjacent mountain to scout out the terrain and possible enemy positions. The rest of the Soldiers secured the area while Army Capt. Nathan Springer, HHT commander, along with the Naray district Sub-Gov. SamShu Rochman spoke with the local populace. “I wanted the local government to have the lead when talking with the locals,” said Springer.

    Rochman spoke with civilians from the villages of Badermashal and Cherigal about security in the area. While Rochman and Springer were speaking with villagers, wood smugglers accidentally walked their donkeys carrying stolen wood into the meadow.

    “The wood on the donkeys had been stolen from the Naray lumber yard two days before our mission,” said Springer. Rochman was adamant about bringing the wood smugglers to justice. The wood smugglers were brought off the mountain, back to Naray to face prosecution.

    Operation Saray Has was more productive than both Springer and Rochman had planned. “It validated the need to conduct future operations in the area to deny [Taliban extremist] that terrain,” said Springer.

    Photo – Army Capt. Nathan Springer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Commander, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, looks up the mountain July 19 while on patrol during Operation Saray Has. During Operation Saray Has, two rocket positions were found that had been previously used to attack Forward Operating Base Naray. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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    6 Aug 07
    By Sgt. Joshua R. Ford
    3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Office
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE PALIWODA, Iraq – When Soldiers deploy, so do their hobbies. Flying toy helicopters and acoustic guitars are just some of the things Soldiers see others fiddling with on their off time.

    When Spc. David Colclasure, multi-systems operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, decided to bring his hobby, it included a $10,000 insurance plan for the amount of equipment that would come to Iraq with him.

    Colclaure, a Marrion, Ill., native, said when he is not trying to solve communication problems on Forward Operating Base Paliwoda he is fusing different beats to songs or creating his own music.

    Sitting behind more than $5,000 worth of mixers and computers is where Colclasure spends his off time. He was a disc jockey in the U.S. and has continued to DJ for the Soldiers in his unit. At every USO show or unit event, a Soldier can see Colclasure mixing away behind his equipment.

    “It started when I was a kid going to dances,” said Colclasure. “I was interested in how it worked so I started learning more about it.” After school he would go home and play music, constantly looking for different beats and rhythms to work with.

    Over the years his system grew bigger until one day his father gave Colclasure his old stereo equipment that Colclasure had been asking for. Once Colclasure had his father’s old equipment, he started performing at parties. Now he is in charge of all sound entertainment for USO and ceremony events for his unit.

    “We have the system that the Army uses, and every time we would do a ceremony it kept messing up,” he said. “So the commander and command sergeant major got with my signal officer and told him to get a new system. My officer came to me and said we will buy whatever you think is best, so we bought some of the same stuff I use.”

    “Right now I have a 22 inch rack, 60 different types of lights, two big band speakers, and two 22 inch subwoofers,” said Colclasure.

    “Sometimes it seems like we are at an actual show because of the way (Colclasure) tunes people in and out,” said Scott Artal, communications specialist, 3rd Combined Troops Battalion.

    Colclasure wants to continue being a DJ because he enjoys entertaining people. “Back home I (DJ) for the kids. I’ll play the chicken dance song and musical chairs, the kids usually like. That’s the fun part,” said Colclasure.

    “Music has always been a motivator for people. That is how you set moods. If you are playing sad music people will remember sad moments. If you are playing love music you are thinking about your first girlfriend or your wife. If you are in a bad mood and you start playing some up beat music people will usually get in a better mood,” said Colclasure.

    Photo – Spc. David Colclasure, multi-systems operator, 3rd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, sits behind his disc jockey equipment during a USO show July 29 at Forward Operating Base Paliwoda, near Balad, Iraq. Photo by Spc. Joshua Ford.

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    6 Aug 07
    By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma
    Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Texas-based “Thunderhorse” Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are pushing projects to improve the quality of life for the residents of northwestern Baghdad.

    During a routine patrol through the streets of the Iraqi capital’s Shula neighborhood Aug. 1, the tan-colored Humvees, manned by Company A’s 2nd “Dirty Deuce” Platoon, made several stops, one at a near-deserted all-boys school and another at an electric substation.

    “We’ll go in there and get a quick assessment and see what we need. If it is something we can handle at the battalion level through surplus funds. We’ll go ahead and start initiating a project,” 1st Lt. Jonathan Gilotti said.

    School’s Out

    On their first stop, the Soldiers set foot into an all-boys primary school. Gilotti, the officer in charge of the information operations campaign, initiated a conversation to find out what the unit could do to help the community. The native of Avon, Conn., said that when he asked about the problems the school needed assistance with, he got a somewhat expected response, similar to all the schools in the area – this is one of seven in their sector.

    “There was very little electricity, water problems, the walls needed slight renovations, more tables and chairs were needed, but nothing too big,” he said. “Things like tables and chairs or a small project like a basic sewage problem we could usually handle that at the battalion level through our surplus funds, which is basically the commander’s emergency relief fund.

    “The battalions are allocated a certain amount of money they can use for civil military operations related projects,” he said. “Basically, any project that we can perform that benefits the community.”

    With notes scribbled on pocket size pad of paper and a couple megabytes of digital images loaded onto his camera, the Dirty Deuce rolled out to their next stop.

    Power to the People

    When the wheels came to a halt once again, the Soldiers found themselves parked in the gated area of the Hurriya Kabil electrical substation, which provides power directly to the neighborhoods in their area of operation: Shula’s Al Katieb, Rhamanyia and Jawadine. With a jolly, big-bellied interpreter by his side, Gilotti discovered a serious obstacle between the people of the area and their electricity. Gilotti said that the substation is located right next to a busy route known for it’s improvised explosive devices. On June 13, one of their lines was damaged by crossfire that cut the plant’s capability in half, forcing people to rely on personal generators.

    When issues arose about two months ago, the unit sent out Soldiers to distribute neighborhood generators. The community responded with resounding contentment with the electrical situation, said Gilotti. He explained that the area is under a different type of influence.

    “JAM (Jaish Al Mahdi militia) does two things against the Americans. One, it will go against us in kinetic operations, EFP (explosively-formed projectile) attacks, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) attacks, small arms fire attacks, and at the same time, they will target us in a negative information campaign,” the armor officer said. “They’ll campaign against us saying ‘The Americans won’t provide services for you. Americans don’t do anything to help the community out.’ So, they will get the locals to turn against us and they won’t give up information about the terrorists that operate in the area that conduct attacks on us.”

    It wasn’t until recently when the “Thunderhorse” Battalion started conducting more humanitarian projects that the locals realized that JAM wasn’t providing the services while the Americans were making attempts.

    “They started working with us, trying to give us as much information as possible so in turn we kept pushing to do more and more projects and start doing more assessments to see what else we could do for the community,” said Gilotti.

    Providing the Visibility

    Gilotti is the liaison between patrol reports and the next level of civil military operations.

    “I’ll turn it over to the civil military operations team for our brigade and they’ll bring out actual specialists who will look at the project, see where the loose ends are that need to be tied together and they will start working with [the] ministry of electricity and [the] government of Iraq to start (to) get the ball rolling,” he said. “I am a simple reporter,” Gilotti said, adding that he will continue reporting and pushing projects to his higher-ups. “Sometimes when you really do want to make a difference, you have to be a pain … you’ve got to keep pushing and pushing … and that’s what makes a difference.”

    Although the unit hasn’t seen the long-term effects because of the frequency of attacks in their area of operation, he said, they have seen the initial reaction of the people by taking an interest in their well-being. “In the time that the battalion is here, what we can do is provide a little bit of comfort to the community,” Gilotti said. “If locals can say, ‘While this unit was here they took an interest in our quality of life and made an effort to make a difference and we appreciate it,’ that is sometimes all we can ask for.”

    Photo – 1st Lt. Jonathan Gilotti, officer in charge of information operations with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, out of Fort Bliss, Texas, gets information from employees of the Hurriya Kabil electrical substation in Baghdad’s Shula neighborhood Aug. 1. The Soldiers of 2-12th Cavalry operate in Baghdad’s northwestern neighborhoods as part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Photo by Spc. Jeff Ledesma.

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    6 Aug 07
    by MC1 Mary Popejoy
    CJTF-HOA Public Affairs
    .

    Aircrft maintainers for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-464 at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, were able to see the fruits of their labor in the air July 29 when three of the four CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters were airborne at the same time.

    “The whole point of the mission was to thank the maintainers for all their hard work because without them, it would not have been possible,” said Marine Maj. Scott Wadle, HMH-464 operations officer. “We usually train as a section, which is only two aircraft, so for us to get three in the air at the same time is a great credit to their work ethic.”

    HMH-464, which includes more than 70 servicemembers, are poised 24/7 to launch two aircraft at one time to support such missions as personnel recovery, movement of passengers, cargo or gear and casualty evacuations. According to Gunnery Sgt. Justin Elmore, HMH-464 maintenance chief, the CH-53E is a very labor-intensive aircraft, accomplishing this feat in Djibouti is amazing since getting parts is a little harder than in the states.

    “It’s a pretty significant event because right now we’re averaging 34.1 maintenance hours per flight hour on an aircraft, so it’s pretty momentous to have three of our assets in the air at the same time,” he said.

    Getting three out of the four assigned aircraft in the air is a significant event in and of itself, but for the maintainers it wasn’t good enough. To get the fourth one mission-ready, the maintainers worked through the night to troubleshoot some discrepancies so they could launch the next day. Their efforts were successful and proved once again they are committed to their mission here.

    “It is [the] proof in the pudding that these guys will do whatever it takes to get the job done,” said Wadle. “They are never content until the aircraft is ready to go.”

    For Elmore, it’s a good feeling to be a part of a crew that is willing to go the extra mile to complete a task that isn’t always easy to fix. It doesn’t matter if they’re working 12 on 12 off shifts, or working 18 to 20 hours per day, the maintainers have so much pride in what they do and seeing aircraft launch is icing on the cake.

    “They are second to none,” he said. “Just working out in this heat on any given day is a high cost to them and they don’t complain about it ever. They are diligent in their efforts, they have great attention to detail and we appreciate everything they do because without them we wouldn’t be able to do our mission here.”

    Photo – Two Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-464 CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters fly over Djibouti July 29 to celebrate the launching of three CH-53E’s. HMH-464 is poised 24/7 to launch two aircraft wherever needed to support the mission of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Regina Brown.

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    3 Aug 07
    by Master Sgt. Steve Horton
    332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq (AFPN) – Airmen roll out of the gates from here in armored Humvees and drive dangerous roads into Tikrit and the surrounding areas five days a week to do their part in helping Iraq transition to a peaceful democracy.

    For the Airmen assigned to the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Det. 6, arming up and putting on more than 50 pounds of body armor and equipment in 115-degree heat is part of their role as members of Iraqi Police Transition Teams.

    As coalition forces and Iraqis fight the insurgency, Iraqi police stations are established in neighborhoods with police transition teams to help get the process started. The 45-person detachment operates at the provincial and district levels of the Iraq police, while Army PTTs operate at the station level in the Salah ad Din province, an area that covers approximately 25,000 square kilometers and has more than one million citizens.

    The mission of each PTT is to coach, mentor and assess the Iraqi police, said Maj. Erik Bruce, the Det. 6 commander. The provincial police level is roughly the equivalent of a state, the district level roughly a county, and the station level deals with each individual Iraqi police station, he said. “The goal of each team is to help the Iraqis establish a functioning independent police force,” Major Bruce said. “This is not something the Air Force has done before, but overall, we’re having a positive impact on the (Iraqi police) and the security environment in Iraq as a whole.”

    The major works with his counterpart at the provincial police headquarters, a former two-star Iraqi general, now the provincial director of police, to help plan security operations, create policies regarding logistics, finance, communications, budget and personnel management for the province. “He’s effective as a leader. His Iraqi army experience gives him good operational background in command and control of forces and conduct of operations targeting insurgents and terrorists,” Major Bruce said. “He knows how to hold people accountable. He knows how to lead people into action and how to run a staff, so I’m fortunate in that regard.”

    When some of the responsibilities of the teams include overseeing the accountability and distribution of 10,000 weapons and 1.4 million rounds of ammunition, as well as the monthly expenditures of the $61 million 2007 budget, it’s important for the PTT members to establish an effective working relationship with Iraqi police leaders they deal with. “The day-to-day interaction is the easy part,” said Capt. Greg Bodenstein, the 732nd ESFS Det. 6, chief of the Tikrit District PTT. “It’s just using people skills to figure out what motivates these people. It’s good to see the development in thinking and how we’ve influenced them,” echoed the captain’s comments.

    “If you go into these situations fired-up and motivated, the Iraqis take that spark and make it a fire,” said Master Sgt. Killjan Anderson, the 732nd ESFS Det. 6, assistant team chief for the provincial PTT. “I get excited about it.

    “You’re able to see the results of what you’re doing when you spark something that helps them get going,” Sergeant Anderson said. “You see the results right away. The rate of change is very fast and very rewarding. You can see how you make things better for people.”

    Through the almost daily engagements with the Iraqi police leadership, the transition teams have to constantly reassess their priorities based on many different factors. “You take away a lot of respect for the Iraqis trying to make a difference,” he said. “It takes incredible courage from these people to work at making things better despite the odds against them.”

    It’s because of that courage that the Airmen of the 732nd ESFS Det. 6 will show their courage and continue to traverse the dangerous roads of Iraq to do their part in helping the Iraqi police grow into a functioning independent police force.

    Photo – Staff Sgt. Aaron Downing secures the area around a Humvee during “battle drills” performed before each mission at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq. Sergeant Downing performs duties on a Police Transition Team here, and the drills are designed to simulate any possible situation the team may encounter while conducting missions outside the wire. The PTT’s goal is to help the Iraqis establish a functioning, independent police force. Sergeant Downing is assigned to the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Det 1. Photo Master Sgt. Steve Horton.

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    3 Aug 07
    By Multi-National Division–North Public Affairs
    .

    TIKRIT, Iraq – Eighteen paramount tribal leaders representing 14 of the major tribes in Diyala province, Iraq, swore on the Quran and signed a peace agreement unifying the tribes in the battle against terrorism during a meeting at the Baqubah Government Center Aug. 2.

    The meeting, led by Ra’ad Hameed Al-Mula Jowad Al-Tamimi, governor of Diyala; Staff Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem, commander of Iraqi security forces (ISF) in Diyala province; and Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala, was attended by sheiks representing three Shiite tribes, 11 Sunni tribes and 60 of Diyala’s 100 sub-tribes.

    “Let’s build this tent and live under it like one family – all the tribes and all the people of Diyala. You have to be one family,” said Ra’ad Hameed Al-Mula Jowad Al-Tamimi, governor of Diyala, who stressed the importance of the sheiks in the country’s efforts towards stability and security.

    “Problems can be solved by the sheiks because they have great influence on their tribes,” Ra’ad continued, stating the tribes are the key to success in Diyala.

    “Those tribes that do not choose to participate in the way ahead for a secure Diyala will be left behind,” said Sutherland as he spoke to the tribes. “Don’t say, ‘I need,’ until you say, ‘I’ve done.’ Do for your families, do for your tribes, and do for Diyala.”

    “The tribal leaders can change the hearts of the people,” said Sheik Mahmood Abdul-Shinba Al-Hassani. “Instead of cheering for the terrorists driving through the streets, the people will cheer for the Iraqi security forces in the streets.”

    “The terrorists are not that many,” said Sheik Adnan Abdul-Mehdi Al-Anbaki. “We have to stand together and we need to kill the terrorists. We know who they are.”

    After discussing tribal differences and why it is important to unite, the sheiks signed a reconciliation agreement and swore over the Quran as a promise to uphold the agreement.

    As stated in the Quran, “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves,” the sheiks agreed to ten conditions.

    Some conditions of the peace treaty include ending tribal conflicts and attacks; cooperating with the ISF; fighting al-Qaida, militia groups and other terrorist organizations; working with the security forces to eradicate corrupt members; returning displaced families to their homes; reporting and removing improvised explosive devices; and respecting all sects, religions and women’s rights. [Emphasis added, mine.]

    “This is the time my government needs me,” said Sheik Mazen Rasheed Al-Mula Jawad Al-Tamimi, paramount sheik for the Tamimi tribe. “Why should I stand by and watch when my people tell me everything – the good and the bad?”

    “We have to consider the fact that local people are helping us. We have to work with them hand-in-hand and go forward,” Ra’ad said. “If anyone is standing in our way as an obstacle, then we will have to take that obstacle away from our path.”

    Photo – Second from right, Sheikh Thayer Ghadban Ibrahim Al-Karkhi, the paramount sheik for the Karkhi tribe, addresses concerns about tribal conflicts and the importance of tribal reconciliation during a meeting at the Baqubah Government Center, Aug. 2, 2007. Fourteen key tribal leaders swore on the Koran and signed a reconciliation treaty to unite against terrorism in Diyala province, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Serena Hayden.

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    1 Aug 07
    By Spc. Armando Monroig
    5th MPAD
    .

    BAQUBAH, Iraq – Sgt. Richard Galli carried a pistol, two magazines and never a radio. While he used guides he didn’t know, and often traveled to places he had never been, his commander expected him to come back alive. That was 1971. Galli was a linguist who worked for a civil affairs unit in Hue, Vietnam.

    Thirty-six years later, Galli, now a lawyer and novelist, is in the Diyala province to find inspiration for his next book. He’s here to see how civil affairs Soldiers get their jobs done in, what is currently, one of the most dangerous places in Iraq.

    “It’s just an enormous difference between the way civil affairs is done here and the way I did it back in Vietnam,” said Galli.

    Galli has written several books, including “Rescuing Jeffery,” based on a tragic life experience with his son who was paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming accident, and “REMFs: Rear Echelon Mother (Expletive),” based on his experience as a civil affairs Soldier during the Vietnam War. He also writes short stories and columns for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island.

    “I’m catching up with old business,” he said. “I’m trying to find out what the new generation of civil affairs Soldiers are like and what kind of problems they have in this war.” Galli said that when he asked to be embedded with a unit, he requested to go where civil affairs units are most active and the job is hardest to accomplish. He got what he asked for: Baqubah.

    After spending a few days with members of the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, from Little Rock, Ark., Galli found a few similarities. “The dominant characteristic of me and the people around me back then wasn’t anger, it was humor,” he said. “We were young guys trying to have a good time, even though we were at war.”

    Galli also learned that civil affairs conducts missions similar to those he participated in more than 30 years ago: medical visits to local hospitals, handing out much needed supplies, such as water and medicine, and improving agriculture. Galli said he knew it was more difficult to conduct civil affairs missions in Baqubah, but didn’t fully realize how difficult until he observed what the 431st CA Bn. goes through to get the job done.

    To deliver rice in Diyala, he said, he would have to have a sizable security force. “Sometimes there’d be two of us (in Vietnam). At the most there would be three of us,” said Galli. He said many back in the U.S. don’t understand what it’s like to be in Iraq and don’t realize how hard it is to conduct any type of mission.

    “If you were to tell somebody that somebody died on a mission in Iraq, they’d be thinking, ‘Oh, well, they went to a village to have a fight with some terrorists, to arrest somebody. But anything can be a mission here – delivering mail, going to talk to somebody.”

    “I look at this and say, ‘Wow, this is so much tougher,” he said. Galli said the material he gathers during this visit to Iraq will be added to his previously-written book about civil affairs in Vietnam or used for writing an entirely new book. “I came with an idea for an outline, kind of a core – I’m not sure about it anymore because I’m not sure that my preconception of what I’d find here matches reality,” he said.

    Photo – Richard Galli, Vietnam War veteran, lawyer and author, poses for a photo at Forward Operating Base Warhorse near Baqubah, Iraq, June 14. Galli was in Diyala province to gather material for a book he is working on. Galli was part of a civil affairs unit during Vietnam. He came to FOB Warhorse to embed with the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, from Little Rock, Ark., and to see how the new generation of CA Soldiers work. Photo by Sgt. Armando Monroig, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

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    1 Aug 07
    by Spc. Mike Alberts
    3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
    .

    KIRKUK, Iraq – Temperatures exceeded 115 degrees during the five-hour mission in Amerli that day. More than 50 Soldiers were on site and tensions were high; Amerli was the scene of a massive suicide truck bombing just four days earlier.

    Soldiers kept alert, but visibly struggled under the weight of dozens of pounds of battle gear. Throughout the sun-scorched day, all but two Soldiers limited their movement as much as possible. All but two could afford that luxury.

    “Bolo” and “Collver” continuously walked up and down the lines of men. “Drink water,” they repeated. “Are you feeling OK?” they asked. They were the two Soldiers charged with ensuring that each man stayed hydrated and returned safely to base. As usual, they were the mission’s only dedicated medical personnel.

    Spc. Vanessa Bolognese and Spc. Aimee Collver, combat medics, Personal Security Detachment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, kept all their male counterparts healthy “outside the wire” that day in Amerli just as they do every day in the Kirkuk Province, Iraq. Neither is doing exactly what she thought she’d be doing in the Army, but neither would trade her job for another.

    “Before I enlisted, I was going to school to become a [registered nurse],” said Bolognese. “I wanted a medical job and my [military occupational specialty] is called health care specialist,” said the 21 year-old from Chino Hills, Calif. “In fact, the first time I heard the term ‘combat medic’ was during [advanced individual training] at Fort Sam Houston. They pretty much told us there, ‘You will be deploying. You will be working in Iraq.'” Bolognese’s colleague and roommate had similar motivations.

    “I’d been working in a nursing home after high school,” said Collver. “When I walked into the recruiter’s office I knew that I wanted a medical job,” explained the 23 year-old from Puyallup, Wash. “The health care specialist job was available, and I was told that I would be working in a hospital setting,” she said. “Of course, I don’t work in a hospital and nothing out here in Iraq is anything like what I thought.”

    What each combat medic is doing in Irag is working as the designated medical asset to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Personal Security Detachment (“PSD”). The PSD’s primary mission is to transport certain members of the brigade’s command group around 3IBCT’s area of operation. The PSD also provides personal security for the command group to and from their various destinations and while on site, according to Staff Sgt. Jeremy Brandon, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, PSD, 3IBCT.

    Brandon is a native of Jacksonville, Fla., and is serving his third combat deployment. He’s charged with supervising both Bolognese and Collver and explained why each Soldier is vital to mission success. “We often conduct operations as an independent element,” explained Brandon. “For that reason, we need to have our own dedicated medical support. Bolognese and Collver are that support. We always have one of them with us wherever we go,” he said. And Brandon couldn’t be happier with their performance.

    “Both Soldiers are everything that one could ask for in a medic,” he continued. “They have done an outstanding job staying on top of their skills. They’ve constantly taken it upon themselves to retrain and stay certified, and have done an excellent job both outside the wire and back here on the [Forward Operating Base] by taking the initiative to give us various medical classes.”

    Brandon’s PSD Soldiers agreed. “We all respect them for their abilities as medics and as Soldiers,” said Sgt. Brian Tabor, squad leader, PSD, 3IBCT. Tabor is a five-year veteran serving his second combat deployment. “We haven’t had any issues because they’re female,” emphasized the Sacramento, Calif., native. “Bottom line: They’ve been a valuable asset to the PSD and it’s been a good thing having them with us.”

    As for Bolognese and Collver, even though neither is working in the comfortable confines of a hospital, each loves her job and wouldn’t choose to do anything else. “Of course, the job is mentally challenging because of the unknown anytime you leave the wire,” said Collver. “But I love being with this group because there’s so much camaraderie. I take a lot of pride in knowing that they’re well taken care of because I’m there for them,” she said.

    “Their well-being depends on me when I’m with them,” echoed Bolognese. “In that sense, it’s wonderful to know that when I look back at my deployment I can say that I did go out there every day and risk my life to take care of other Soldiers,” she said. “That’s a lot more than most people can say.”

    Photo – Army combat medics, Spc. Aimee Collver (right) and Spc. Vanessa Bolognese (center), both with the 25th Infantry Division’ 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Personal Security Detachment, take a moment to interact with the local population and relax during a mission in Amerli, Iraq, July 11. Photo by Army Spc. Mike Alberts.

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    31 Jul 07
    By Pfc. Bradley J. Clark
    4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq – It’s not everyday that Soldiers get recognized for the outstanding work that they do and, even less often, do they get acknowledgment from the head of their branch.

    That was just the case when Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s communications and automation section, or S6 shop, were awarded the Signal Regiment Certificate of Achievement and the Chief of Signal Plaque.

    The Signal Regiment CoA is used to recognize outstanding achievements relative to the Signal Regiment’s mission. The plaque is for those Soldiers whose performance and contributions set them apart from their peers.

    “Both awards are designed to foster ‘esprit de corps’ and to contribute to the Signal Regiment’s cohesiveness,” said Sgt. Maj. Beverly Lewis, senior enlisted member of the 4th BCT S6 shop. “The Soldiers won these because of what they have done since we have deployed.”

    Since their deployment, the signal Soldiers have been responsible for managing hundreds of networks, radio systems and communications systems, from Baghdad to the Syrian border. These systems provide communications to over 5,000 Soldiers, stationed across 58,000 square kilometers.

    “When we got here, we hit the ground running,” said Spc. Elvis Cabrera, information systems operator. “We were able to setup all of the systems in a real short time. Now we are constantly adapting to new standards, while preparing for new units, so they can be as successful as us.”

    The S6 Soldiers are responsible for planning and managing critical communication systems to ensure mission success without communication interference. They provide this support to many units consisting of four combat battalions; two support battalions; an aviation battalion; two Iraqi army divisions; U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy elements; along with Department of Defense contractors and civilian agencies within Multi-National Division-North.

    One troop believes the mission success is due to the team effort and constant training.“We are all a piece to the puzzle,” said Pvt. Sandy Ackerman, signal systems support specialist. “When we’re all doing our part and you put us together, that’s how we’re successful. On top of that, we train weekly to keep up-to-date on Army standards.”

    Lewis can see the results of the training and cohesiveness of the team play out during the deployment.“These Soldiers demonstrate outstanding professional skill, knowledge, and leadership in developing, planning and executing all aspects of information security and tactical communications in support of combat operations in Ninevah province and Multi-National Division-North,” said Lewis.

    The Soldiers worked with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division; the 1st Cavalry Division; the 25th Infantry Division; and several attached border and military transition teams to ensure mission success.

    “My Soldiers always go the extra mile to ensure the communications network is maintained at a high standard, and the commander is poised to command and control the battlefield at all times, utilizing numerous communications assets,” said Lewis. Lewis explained that his Soldiers contributions to the warfighter, combined with tactical and technical expertise, directly lead to the efficient and successful execution of combat operations.

    Lewis went on to say that she has never worked with more dedicated and technically proficient Soldiers in her career. “The Signal Corps should be very proud of the tremendous talents of its Soldiers engaging in combat operations,” said Lewis. “My Soldiers work very hard, around the clock. I know their families miss them, but their families can be proud of how dedicated they are to mission accomplishment and sustained readiness.”

    Photo – Telecommunications operator and maintainer Pfc. Ashley Bumpas (left) and signal systems support specialist, Pvt. Sandy Ackerman, both in the communications and automation section, or S6 shop, of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, check the fiber optic cables that connect all of the signal tactical vehicles together, July 30, at Forward Operating Base Marez, Iraq. Ackerman and Bumpas are just two of the members of the S6 shop to receive awards from the chief of the signal regiment for their work in Iraq. Photo by Pfc. Bradley Clark.

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    Denver Marines find common bond

    1 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly
    13th MEU
    .

    NEAR KARMAH, Iraq — Three Marines from Denver, Colo. find a common ground to build upon as they serve in a twelve-man infantry squad in Iraq. Out of the 11 Marines from 1st squad, 3rd platoon, Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, three are from the greater Denver metropolitan area. Their bond has become stronger after realizing they were all recruited from the same sub-station, Metro East, and two of the three had the same recruiter.

    Although they are all from the same area, they never met each other until joining BLT 3/1. The squad leader, Sgt. Tim C. Tardif, a Highlands Ranch High School graduate, is the firm leader of the group. In terms of the usual squad leader, he is easy going and patient with his Marines. However, the four-time Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran expects a lot from his young Marines no matter where they’re from.

    “When we first get the new Marines from the School of Infantry we have sort of a draft,” said Tardif. “And when I saw that Drewbell and Enriquez were from the Denver area, naturally they were my first round picks.”

    The tie that binds these Marines was evident from the very beginning. The Marines talked about common experiences and places they knew of while growing up in the “Mile-High” city. They all love the Denver Broncos, which is enough to keep the bitterest enemies on friendly terms. “Not only are they good people, but they’re good Marines and well disciplined,” said Tardif, who puts his two fellow Coloradoans in the top three of his squad.

    “The quality of Marines who enlist out of RSS Metro East is very high,” said Staff Sgt. Lawrence W. Watters, canvassing recruiter for RSS Metro East. “We don’t let them settle for the bare minimum. We push them to strive for the best.”

    The second of the three is Lance Cpl. Ian P. Drewbell, an automatic rifleman for 1st squad, who sometimes connects the most obscure actors to Kevin Bacon in between patrols. He joined the Marine Corps to pursue his interest in helicopters, but decided on a different route. “I joined the Marine Corps to become a helicopter crew chief,” said the Eagle Crest High School graduate. “But then I realized that being a grunt is what the Marines are all about– and I still get to fly in helicopters.”

    Drewbell continued by saying that despite a few surprises, his first enlistment is everything he had hoped for. While he hasn’t decided on whether or not to reenlist, he plans on being a helicopter pilot in the future.

    Lastly, Lance Cpl. Taylor L. Enriquez, rifleman and 1st squad radio operator, graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 2003. He’s the character of the trio and has the ability to keep his buddies in stitches during any situation. When it comes to mission accomplishment, however, he is all business.

    “We all come from the same area,” said Enriquez. “And out here we have the same goal, (which is making sure) everyone gets home alive.” Enriquez’s goals are simple–he wants to have a successful tour, go to college and thrive in whatever he does in life. According to Watters, high-quality Marines come from the Denver-area recruiting offices because recruiters challenge potential recruits and instill in them a sense of pride and belonging.

    Photo – Sergeant Tim C. Tardif, squad leader for Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, Kilo Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Squad, conducts a hasty vehicle checkpoint near Karmah during an evening patrol. Tardif is from one of three Marines in his squad from the Denver area. Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly.

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    31 July 07
    By Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd ABCT Public Affairs
    .

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team spent July 22-28 in Dangam district in Kunar province near the Pakistan border. The area is surrounded by lush farms that thrive from a stream flowing through the valley.

    The Soldiers are from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), and they were in the area to help fortify the position of an Afghan National Police station and also to establish and reinforce observations posts with the Afghan National Army on nearby hilltops.

    The OPs help monitor and stop Taliban extremist movement in the area. Red Platoon named the OPs after one Soldier’s mom, another’s daughter, Sandra and Haden respectively and famous TV stars:, Chuck Norris and Mr. T. “We thought of the baddest dudes we knew,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Benoit, a squad leader in Red Platoon. “Naming OPs like we do helps keep morale up.”

    Even though the atmosphere in Red Platoon is a little laid back, the Soldiers take their jobs seriously. From OPs Norris and Mr. T, the platoon observed cross-border activity, called for and adjusted indirect fires, and engaged the enemy with direct fire.

    “Our mission was to establish a joint security station in the Dangam area with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army,” said Army 1st Lt. Jesus Rubio, Red Platoon leader. “We’re also out here to get situational awareness of the area and build friendships with the local leaders.”

    The district center of Dangam is a sign of progress for the local ANP. The center has a store, mosque, police station and a school for girls and boys. It also has computers and internet capabilities.

    Red Platoon has built up the area around the ANP station to better safeguard against attacks from Taliban extremists. The district center fortifications are just a small piece of the mission. The observation posts that Red Platoon maintains also help build cohesion between the Soldiers and the local populace. “We met the new Afghan Border Patrol commander while we were out at Mr. T,” said Benoit. “A local villager walked all the way up the mountain to tell us the whole valley was talking about us. Everyone was very excited we were up here, he told us.”

    Another benefit of establishing OPs throughout the valley is the intelligence that was gathered. “We observed the bad guys moving on the mountain,” said Benoit. “We also got names of smugglers. We definitely laid the grounds for long-term relationships with the locals.”

    Red Platoon is in the initial phase of helping build up the district center. Future joint operations will continue for the next 14 months that Red Platoon will be in Afghanistan.

    Numerous times at OPs and at the district center, the local village elders would invite the Soldiers over to their houses for food and tea. “The Afghans treated us like kings at Mr. Ts,” said Benoit. “It was awesome.”

    Photo – Paratroopers from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), navigate to Observation Post Chuck Norris July 25 in Dangam, Kunar province. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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    31 July 07
    By Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly
    13th MEU
    .

    NEAR KARMAH, Iraq — Explosive Ordnance Disposal, without question, is one of the most stressful occupations in the Marine Corps, and, if at all possible, it makes sense to rid EOD Marines of unnecessary stress and tension.

    Enter the Personnel Security Detachment of 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit EOD, also known as “Task Force AWESOM-O,” headed by Staff Sgt. Jason D. Walker, MEU force protection chief. This unit, made up Command Element and Combat Logistics Battalion -13 Marines, enables EOD to focus on their ever-important task of neutralizing IEDs and reducing weapon caches.

    “Our mission is to come out here and provide security for the EOD team,” said Walker. “That way EOD can concentrate on their duties while knowing they have security watching their back.”

    To build “Task Force AWESOM-O,” sections throughout the MEU were asked to give up qualified Marines who were willing and able to lay their current duties aside. As many Marines were eager to participate, there was competition for the limited number of spots on the team. This, and finding the right people for the job, was a task in itself. Ultimately, the appropriate Marines were identified, put in place and more than two weeks of solid training commenced.

    “We had to come a long way and complete a lot of training in a short span of time,” said Cpl. Anthony J. Principe, an infantry assault man with the 13th MEU and a Placerville, Calif. native. “Very few Marines on the team have an infantry background, but the roles were assumed, just as Marines are trained to do, and the security detachment came together.”

    Walker said he has a great group of Marines and is impressed with how they jumped into their individual roles and took the initiative to come together as a team in a very important function.

    “I would take any of these Marines into battle with me,” said Walker. “I look forward to watching them grow into their responsibilities and do what they’re trained to do– so EOD can do what they do.”

    Although they have only been called upon a handful of times to date, the Marines of “Task Force AWESOM-O” are standing by and ready to assist EOD.

    Photo – The Personnel Security Detachment of EOD, also known as “Task Force AWESOM-O,” headed by Staff Sgt. Jason D. Walker (center), force protection chief for the 13th MEU, and made up of Marines from the 13th MEU command element and Combat Logistics Battalion 13, set up security for EOD as they prepare to neutralize a weapons cache near Karmah, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly.

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    Coalition Reclaims al-Jamea’a

    30 July 07
    By Spc. Alexis Harrison
    2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    BAGHDAD – As Operation Arrowhead Ripper moves along in Diyala, ever so quietly, Operation Rogue Thunder swept through a section of the capital in hopes of ridding the area of anti-Iraqi forces for good.

    The 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army, their Military Transition Team and Soldiers from the U.S. 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, cleared al-Jamea’a of caches, bombs and insurgents while helping to ramp up security efforts to reclaim the area terrorized and bullied by al-Qaeda.

    Terrorists in the area had been ruthlessly controlling every action of the people according to Maj. Chris Norrie, the transition team’s commander. Women were forced to cover their faces, men were arrested for no apparent reason and children weren’t even allowed to play soccer in the streets.

    At one time al-Jamea’a was occupied by white-collar professionals until insurgents began scare tactics that led many of the well-off residents to leave their homes. Many of the mansion-sized homes in the neighborhood are empty, and as Capt. Peter Kilpatrick said, the empty homes are seen as an opportunity for insurgents to move in.

    “Only 30 percent of al-Jamea’a was occupied,” said Capt. Kilpatrick. “The vacancies made it vulnerable.”

    Several caches had been found during previous operations around the Najra Mosque area. During the first day of this operation, streets and shops around the mosque were empty. A few people cautiously came out to see the Humvees, tanks and Iraqi army vehicles stage. This would begin the lengthy process of securing the area.

    Sgt. Kenneth Swartwood said many of the residents are happy to see the Coalition forces move into their neighborhood. More importantly, the combined presence of Iraqis and Americans working together proved to the people just how important the area’s security was.

    “We came in with open arms to the Iraqi army,” said Sgt. Swartwood. “A big reason Adel and Jamea’a are good now is because of the partnership with the IA. They actually worked with them hand-in-hand. The civilians feel a lot better when it’s a partnership. They feel like it’s twice as secure.”

    After many of the new security measures were in place, the commander of the Iraqi Army battalion, Col. Raheem went to the mosque to use its loudspeaker to make an announcement to the people in the neighborhood.

    He let it be known to the people that coalition forces were in the area to make a change for the better. He said security will improve for the people and that they have not only God watching them, but the entire coalition.

    “Almost immediately, people began to come out of their homes,” Col. Raheem said. “These people deserve to live in peace after al-Qaeda had oppressed them for so long.”

    Now that security measures are in place, Capt. Kilpatrick said coalition forces in the area will have 24-hour surveillance over the entire area.

    “We’ve established several static positions,” he said. “However, I don’t think locals would have felt comfortable with putting a coalition outpost next to the mosque without help from the Iraqis.”

    Col. Raheem said many of the locals feel that having a combined presence in the area is good and that it helps gain the trust of the people even faster.

    Photo – The commander of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, Col. Raheem, points out locations of traffic control points and other security measures being placed in Al Jamea’a during Operation Rogue Thunder. The Iraqi army battalion, along with a Military Transition Team and Soldiers from the U.S. 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, swept the area and implemented several new security measures during the operation. Photo by Spc. A. Lexis Harrison.

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    27 July 07
    by Maj. Robert Couse-Baker
    332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) — F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing here destroyed an al-Qaida training camp southwest of Baghdad July 21.

    In a coordinated attack, joint air terminal controllers on the ground cleared seven F-16s to drop 500-pound and 1,000-pound guided bombs on the terror complex near Karbala.

    The precision-guided weapons destroyed the target, degrading al-Qaida’s ability to mount attacks on the Iraqi government, coalition forces and innocent civilians.

    The destruction of the terrorist facility is part of aggressive and comprehensive operations to hunt down, capture or kill terrorists trying to prevent a peaceful and stable Iraq, said Col. Charles Moore, the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group commander. “Our Airmen and other coalition forces are helping Iraq achieve a stable government and ultimately, helping the United States and our allies to defeat terrorism,” he said.

    A large part of the 332nd AEW’s combat effectiveness stems from the Air Force’s culture of excellence. “We train day-to-day to make sure when we are called upon to deliver, we do it with precision and professionalism,” said Capt. Kevin Hicok, a pilot with the 13th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed here from Misawa Air Base, Japan. “Deliberate coordination and careful planning goes into every weapons drop,” Captain Hicok said, “to ensure that we have a positive ID on the target and that everyone is on the same page.”

    The recent increase in air operations is part of the coalition’s increasing pressure on violent extremists, primarily in Baghdad and nearby areas. In a separate air strike north of Baghdad July 22, another F-16 from Balad AB dropped a precision-guided weapon on a terrorist weapons cache in a rural area, destroying it and detonating the explosives stored inside.

    “I could not be prouder of the way our Airmen performed on Saturday,” Colonel Moore said. “The events of this past weekend once again demonstrate the Air Force’s ability to deliver decisive combat airpower any place and at any time.”

    Photo – An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off for a combat mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom July 22 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. The two F-16s are deployed from the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing at the Tulsa International Airport. F-16s from the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing destroyed an al-Qaida training camp southwest of Baghdad July 21. Photo Senior Airman Olufemi A. Owolabi.

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    27 July 07
    By Multi-National Division-North Public Affairs Office
    .

    BAQUBAH, Iraq – Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, met with the governor of Diyala, provincial leadership, key tribal leaders, Diyala’s Iraqi security force leadership and senior coalition officers during a meeting at the Baqubah Government Center, July 26.

    “The prime minister’s visit is vital, not only for the government and security officials, but for the people of Diyala to see that their effort in achieving peace and fighting against terrorist groups does not go unnoticed,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala province.

    The visit, which focused on current operations in the province as well as provincial-level government issues, was Maliki’s first trip to Diyala province since taking office.

    “This is a great day for Diyala province because the prime minister is among us,” said Ra’ad Hameed Al-Mula Jowad Al-Tamimi, governor of Diyala.

    “We are here to thank all the excellent efforts by you (the government and security officials), and we also came to thank the people of Diyala,” Maliki said in his opening remarks. “We can say that the suffering of Diyala people is ending, and we in the central government appreciate all your efforts.”

    During the meeting, Maliki addressed the peoples’ ability to rise above terrorism, assuring those present that the central government will continue to work closely with the provincial government and is committed to the people of Diyala.

    “This province suffered a lot from the outlaws,” Maliki said. “They wanted it to be a huge graveyard, but we wanted something else for Diyala – and we succeeded when the Iraqi army, Iraqi police, tribes and all other people found out what the terrorists are really made of. “We are fighting against the terrorists and we will prevail,” Maliki added, before discussing the importance of tribal reconciliation.

    “Iraq is not only for some people, it’s for everyone,” Maliki said. “We cannot ignore our nation and we have to be united in our efforts to build Iraq.”

    “The tribes have to support the government in its war against the terrorists – they play a big role,” the governor added.

    “Iraq, with all its (rich resources) and people, can eliminate all kind of threats,” Maliki continued. “We will all work together for the prosperity of this country and we will not let anyone interfere with our affairs or with the political process.”

    “The ultimate success of Diyala lies in the hands of the people,” Sutherland said. “Today’s meeting continued to prove that the governments, both central and provincial, care greatly for the peoples’ safety, security and well-being. “The will of the government drives the hope of the people,” Sutherland continued, “and I hope today’s visit, along with recent operations throughout Diyala, continue to restore that hope – a hope that the terrorists tried to destroy, but couldn’t.”

    Photo – Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, left, walks with Staff Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem, commander of Iraqi security forces in Diyala province, after arriving at the Baqubah Government Center for his first visit to the province since taking office, July 26, 2007. Photo by Sgt. Serena Hayden.

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    KABOOM: Countering IED attacks

    27 July 07
    By Spc. Mathew Leary
    4th BCT PAO
    .

    Hearing the explosion just around the corner from his vehicle July 15, Army Sgt. Felix W. Bala knew that some of his fellow Paratroopers had just been hit by an improvised explosive device.

    “We were cruising along about to make a turn when all you could hear was the explosion,” Bala said.

    Commanding his driver to quickly take the next turn so they could help their presumably injured comrades, Bala’s truck executed a sharp left turn and pulled up near the damaged HMMWV. By this point, the other vehicles in his platoon had formed a wide perimeter around the blast area. As their truck rolled to a stop, the Soldiers were relieved as they looked back at the truck in question, Bala said.

    “By that time, the guys in the truck were getting out of the vehicle under their own power,” he said. While this IED attack involved Bala and Paratroopers of 1st Platoon, Troop A, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, it is a reminder that for all U.S. servicemembers serving in Afghanistan, the fight against IEDs is critical.

    “The way to cut down on IEDs is to build the relationship between local citizens, the Afghan National Security Force and the [Islamic Republic of Afghanistan],” said Army 1st Lt. Briton M. Crouch, 1st Plt. leader for Troop A, 4-73rd Cav. For this reason, the Paratroopers of the 4-73rd Cav. are headed back to the town of Hassan in Gelan district, the village where an IED went off under one of the trucks, the day after the attack.

    IED-DAY Minus 1.

    Leaders from the 4-73rd Cav. are determined to pursue all leads relevant to the IED attack on Troop A just the day prior to July 16. The return trip to the village is designed to achieve one simple goal–stop further IED attacks. “We are doing a follow-up in the area to garner more support,” said Army Capt. George E. Bolton Jr., commander of Troop A. “You have to work with the people so they will prevent [IED attacks] from happening.”

    As troopers from the 4-73rd Cav. arrive in town, a handful of local villagers begin to fill the streets to see what is going on. After a few minutes, more and more locals enter and begin approaching and talking to the Soldiers, although often neither party can understand the other due to the language barrier. Although not all the conversations can be translated, fortunately there are interpreters with Troop A to facilitate some communication, the fact any talking is taking place is a good sign, Bolton said.

    “They showed up and that’s the first step,” he said. A group of village elders, who are the authoritative figure for Hassan, gather together with ISAF to hold an impromptu shura, a sort of town meeting in Afghanistan.

    Speaking with Bolton and Army Lt. Col. David J. Woods, commander of the 4-73rd Cav., the locals speak their minds about the conditions in their town. They address the security situation and lack of ANSF forces in the area.

    One of the problems facing the developing ANSF in the past is they have not had the capabilities to visit all of the villages in their area. However, as they grow and mature, they are slowly extending their hold over areas of Afghanistan that have been void of any law enforcement for several months, Woods said.

    “They told me the Taliban comes in at night driving through the village to harass and intimidate the people,” Crouch said.

    IED-DAY Minus 2.

    The Paratroopers are preparing to head back to Hassan to again engage the local populace, but this time with the aid of ANSF and District Commissioner Mubaballah, who is the head of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Gelan.

    “This is where we assist the ANSF in their mission,” Bolton said. Mubaballah and ANSF soldiers independently wanted to visit the town, but with their police and military forces spread out on other missions they lacked the resources to travel there. So they teamed up with ISAF to make the trip.

    “That’s part of our role here, to allow the establishment of their government in their own country,” Woods said. “That’s our job, that’s our purpose.”

    ISAF support ANSF by providing the police force the extra manpower to cover most of the district and provides training to the ANP and ANA, showing them standard military techniques and strategies, Woods said. Really, this is the best way to curb IED attacks that injure not only military forces but Afghan civilians as well. Developing a congenial relationship between the people, IRoA and ISAF are the key, Woods said.

    At this shura, ISAF personnel take a back seat as the district commissioner engages the village elders, again encouraging them to work with ANSF and government officials. “When a police chief or government official comes down to see them, it makes the people feel like they are loved and cared for,” Bolton said. The results are evident as the townspeople speak freely about their need for new roads and schools, as well as the threat of Taliban insurgents who plant IEDs on their roadways.

    “The whole thing is for us to separate the Taliban from the people,” Bolton said. “These people are afraid of the insurgency and unsure of their government,” Woods said. “But that’s why we are here, to help them establish those relationships, and show them that the ANSF and [IRoA] are going to give them that sense of security.”

    “By providing that link between the people and their government, while simultaneously distancing the insurgency from the people is exactly the way to slow down the emplacement of IEDs in these remote towns and villages,” Woods said.

    It is evident some form of bonding is taking place as children run up to Soldiers tugging on their sleeves playfully and the villagers and troopers exchange waves and smiles.

    Perhaps that will prevent more Soldiers from cruising along and suddenly hearing that sound no Soldier wants to hear:

    KABOOM!

    Photo – Communicating through means other than talking, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Parrish, mortar platoon sergeant for Troop A, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, demonstrates the art of “high-fiving” to a group of Afghan kids July 16 while visiting Hassan village in the Gelan District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. Matthew Leary.

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    25 July 07
    by Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke
    447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
    .

    NEW AL-MUTHANA AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) — Firefighters from the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron are spending their spare time training firefighters from the Iraqi air force to make them an autonomous unit at New Al-Muthana Air Base. Airmen spend about one day a week running Iraqis through drills and training procedures.

    During training earlier this month, Master Sgt. Craig Milton, the 447th ECES assistant fire chief, put together a live building fire. During this scenario the firefighters from the U.S and Iraqi air forces had to work together to extinguish the fire and rescue a 200-pound dummy from a burning room. Other training involved a simulated burning aircraft where Iraqis had to shut down jet engines and remove an unconscious pilot.

    Airmen have been training Iraqis regularly for about two months, said Master Sgt. Steven Carver, the 447th ECES deputy fire chief. The most pressing obstacle is the Iraqi’s equipment deficit. Sergeant Carver said they just cannot obtain good equipment easily and could use up-to-date rescue trucks and more breathing tanks.

    However, other areas involve a mindset, and not the pocketbook. Inexperience is a speed bump since none of the Iraqis here were firefighters before April 2003, said Hassan Shimary, the Iraqi air force fire chief. “In the United States, (firefighters) have learned from many mistakes, like rushing into a building without first making observations,” Sergeant Carver said. “People die if you don’t consider the environment, and that’s what we’re trying to teach them.”

    An entire U.S. Air Force squadron is here to provide guidance and to council the members of the Iraqi air force. The 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron works closely with Iraqi airmen from multiple professions daily. But Col. Mark Schmitz, the 370th AEAS commander, said he has no firefighter advisers in his squadron, and he depends on the firefighters from the 447th ECES to volunteer help. “I’m lucky enough to be based next to Sather where there are experienced firefighters,” the colonel said. “The Iraqis have equipment, manning and training shortfalls, but I think their firefighters are improving because of the Sather firefighters help.”

    With the right training, the Iraqis will get the experience they need to be independent in a couple years, Sergeant Milton said. And during that time, the Iraqis said they hope to continue to build working relationships with Americans. “We enjoy the experience to train with Americans,” said Chief Shimary through a translator. “We are glad to have the Americans for friends; they give us confidence in what we’re doing.”

    Photo – Master Sgt. Craig Milton observes firefighters from the Iraqi air force remove Staff Sgt. Vance Vansteel from an Iraqi C-130 flight deck July 9 at New Al-Muthana Air Base, Iraq. Sergeant Vansteel represented an unconscious pilot during a simulated aircraft fire. The exercise trained Iraqis to respond to an aircraft fire by shutting down engines and removing an unconscious pilot. U.S. Airmen set up the scenario and guided them through the process. Sergeants Milton and Vansteel are firefighters with the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. Photo Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke.

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    26 Jul 07
    by MC1 Mary Popejoy
    CJTF-HOA Public Affairs
    .

    The Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-ONE THIRTY THREE Detachment Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonier have been deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa area of operation since Feb. 5 performing well drilling operations, school building projects and other quality of life projects throughout East Africa.

    The Seabees, more than 130 strong, are currently in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya providing each community with much-needed assistance to improve the quality of life in each area. Each project the Seabees have taken on aligns with the task force’s mission of preventing conflict, promoting regional stability and protecting coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism. This mission is accomplished by partnering with nations on humanitarian assistance, civic action programs such as school and medical clinic construction and water development projects.

    “I am very proud of each and every member of my team because they not only have built structures, but have formed friendly bonds that will mentally form lasting impressions with those they’ve helped,” said Navy Lt. Edward Miller, officer in charge of NMCB-133 Det. Djibouti. “Our efforts not only make the host nation populace appreciate our efforts, but the efforts their government is making to better their lives.”

    As part of improving the different locations throughout the Horn of Africa, the Seabees are currently doing projects at the Abiot Emerja and Charichcho Schools in Ethiopia where they are building concrete masonry units, which will be used to house office spaces, classrooms, a library and latrines. The Seabees will also help improve ground drainage, install shelving units and provide electricity to the new and existing structures.

    In Kenya, they’re doing several projects such as replacing a deteriorating boat ramp, renovating and completing Southwest Asia-style huts and installing air handlers. In addition to those tasks, the Seabees are also conducting Water Well drilling operations in cooperation with the Kenyan Ministry of Water.

    Closer to home in Hol Hol, Djibouti, the Seabees have demolished a portion of the existing deteriorated school structure and begun partial reconstruction of the schoolhouse. The statement of work includes replacing all windows, doors, wood style ceiling tiles, installing new ceiling fans and installing a block structure with four Turkish-style pit toilets.

    “Many of the projects throughout the Horn of Africa are completed by local contractors, so when the Seabees take on a task there are less people and it might take longer, but it will be of better quality and have a more positive impact on the community,” said Miller. “We bring our specialty skills and our American building standards, so we’re going to make sure what we build lasts a long time and doesn’t pose any safety concerns.”

    For Builder 2nd Class Gabriel Kelly, it provides a lot of personal satisfaction being able to build structures in a country such as Africa. “It is very rewarding to be able to use the skills I have and provide a better way of life for the people who use the facilities in the future,” he said.

    According to BU1 (Seabee Combat Warfare) Michael Cadoret, project manager for Camp Lemonier, the end result of each project makes it completely worthwhile. “The best part of any project is seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and how happy they are to have a new and improved building for them to use,” he said. “Seeing the effect and impact our projects have on a community make the long hours completely worth it.”

    Leaving the community with a good impression of the U.S. military is an important and critical part of every mission. “We want them to know Americans are good people and we’re here to do good things that will benefit the area in many ways,” said Cadoret. “Each project we do is a stepping stone that brings Africans closer to helping Africa become more stable in the Horn of Africa.”

    So when its time for NMCB-133 to pack up and head back to the states in mid-August, the Seabees can be proud of their individual and team success and the improvements that have made Africa better than when they first arrived on scene.

    “When this deployment wraps up, we’ll feel good about what we’ve accomplished here because we as a team have grown personally and professionally by doing these great projects and improving Africa; one project at a time,” said Miller.

    Photo – Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion ONE THIRTY THREE pour concrete into a concrete pad located inside the expansion area of Camp Lemonier May 15. The concrete pad project is just one of three projects the Seabees are responsible for on Camp Lemonier. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Edward Miller.

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    25 July 07
    By Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Day
    2nd Marine Division (FWD)
    .

    Ramadi, Iraq — The scout-sniper platoon from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, left the ground behind as they took to the skies to hunt for weapon caches and insurgents. As part of the aeroscout mission, the Marines travel by helicopter to areas not normally checked because of their remote locations.

    “The average size group for this type of mission is usually two platoons. We’re doing it with about half,” said 1st Lt. Jordan D. Reese, the executive officer for Weapons Company, 3/7. “We train constantly, so that we are comfortable with each other. The Marines know what type of air power they have behind them. We believe there is no objective we can’t handle.”

    Marines from the scout-sniper platoon conducted aeroscout operations south of Ramadi, in the desolate lands of the Razazah plains July 22.

    The Marines loaded onto the helicopters at 9 a.m. They carried with them a full combat load, and packs of food, blankets and water to pass out to the people they encounter on the mission.

    “The food drops are our way to show that we are on their side,” the Rockford Ill. native said. “In the city this might not be a big deal, but this food could mean life or death to these people. There is nothing out there in the far desert. Maybe it will keep them happy enough to have them stay working with us, and not the terrorists.”

    During the flight, Reese observed different sites looking for anything suspicious. After flying around for about 15 minutes, he spotted a tent with vehicles around it and people walking around. He decided to insert the team to take a closer look.

    The two CH-53 Sea Stallions landed and the two scout-sniper teams moved fast out the door of the helicopter and began to provide security for the landing zone.

    “With a unit this small conducting the operation, it is real easy to maneuver,” Reese said. “We can get in, hit the objective, and get out in about 20 minutes.”

    Once the helicopters lifted the scouts went to work, moving fast, but cautiously toward the tent. Between the two teams, one team held security while the other team searched the people and the structure.

    After a quick, but thorough search the Marines decided there weren’t any suspicious items or information, so they called in the helicopters for extraction.

    “These missions give us a presence in an area which hasn’t had any coalition forces in it for years or even ever,” Reese said.

    “This will keep the bad guys on their toes and that is really what we’re going for. Keep them guessing so we can catch up to them and get them.”

    Though the Marines had finished with the objective, they were not done. While observing a different area, Reese noticed some additional suspicious activities. They went back to work.

    “The Marines showed the ethos of being a professional warrior today,” said Capt. Miguel A. Pena, a forward air controller for the battalion. “They showed the people we’re here to provide help to them.”

    As the Marines sprinted toward their second objective, men came out with their hands up as the Marines approached their vehicles.

    “We are able to reach far into the desert winds and help some people who we had no contact with before,” Pena said. “We are conducting these missions in a nonstandard way. Before they were ground driven, now we bring the air element to the fight.”

    The Marines questioned the men through the interpreter. They asked them about where they were from, why they were there, and if anything suspicious happened recently. The Marines gave the group of men the one of their packs of food for co-operating with them.

    The Marines then set up landing zone security again, while Pena called for the birds to come pick them up.

    “These missions provide us with the opportunity to hit the enemy before they hit us,” Reese said. “We will continue to do it because of all the positive effects it has on the people and on our mission here in Ramadi.”

    Photo – Lance Cpl. Adam A. Ramirez, squad automatic weapon gunner for the scout snipers, runs off the CH-53 Sea Stallion toward the objective. The Marines only have a short time on the ground so they move fast to ensure they can get everything they need done at each site.

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    24 July 07
    by Capt. Teresa Sullivan
    379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) – Airmen of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing dropped 120,000 leaflets over the Helmand Province in Afghanistan July 22 to help prevent civilian casualties while prepping the battlefield for future operations.

    The nine-member crew of the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, all based out of Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, successfully accomplished a short-notice mission to release leaflets over four southwestern Afghanistan drop zones in a dangerous Taliban hot spot, despite challenging winds and dust storms.

    The leaflets were designed to deliver a message to the people of the province to take refuge in their homes and also discourage them from harboring Taliban members. In the meantime, coalition forces continue efforts to eliminate the insurgent’s stronghold while avoiding loss of innocent lives.

    The mission began several days prior to C-130 Hercules’ takeoff when the squadron was alerted and planners began developing their strategy. Their computer-based plan considered route, location, wind forecasts and leaflet size in its calculations. High winds and dust storms throughout the area made planning a challenge.

    Prior to the mission, the aircrew gathered to discuss the game plan.

    “It’s going to be a long night, but you are all prepared,” said Lt. Col. Joe Sexton, the 746th EAS commander to the C-130 crew after the mission brief. “It’s no coincidence that you all are on this (mission). I have full confidence in all of you. You guys are going to go out there and do it right.”

    Ready to put their plan to the test, they set off for the airdrop.

    “We were originally scheduled to do a different mission, but we were alerted to come into work because we were going to be doing a ‘special’ mission,” said Capt. Brett Cochran, a C-130 pilot and native of Pflugerville, Texas. The captain was responsible for flying the aircraft over four drop zones. “This is the first mission of this kind for our squadron during this deployment so far, so it’s important we get things started on a good note.”

    A lot was on the minds of crew members who were new to the combat zone airdrop business. “What-if” discussions included the dust storms, fuel, shifting winds, contingency plans and defensive tactics on the way to Kandahar International Airport to pick up the leaflets.

    The Air Force uses leaflets to deter enemy forces or reduce their will to fight. In this case they were being used to encourage innocent bystanders to stay out of harm’s way. While the leaflet-drop mission may be new to some of the pilots of this expeditionary squadron, it’s a mission that’s tied closely to the 379th AEW’s heritage.

    In the summer of 1944, leaflets were dropped over Germany by the 379th’s ancestor, the 379th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force, intended to shape the adversary’s psyche, and to destroy their ability to wage war.

    Then 379th BG’s leaflets were designed to spread the word on allied progress during World War II. Some provided words of encouragement to the people of enemy-occupied countries while others focused on relentless bombings of Nazi airfields, oil refineries and cities undermining the enemy’s will to resist.

    Knowing the wing’s forefathers carried out similar missions 63 years ago reminded the aircrew that they’re part of a long tradition of airpower.

    “It’s neat that we can continue on with the legacy,” said 1st Lt. Mike Heddinger, a 746th EAS co-pilot from Wichita Falls, Texas. “It’s also great that we’ll be helping the guys on the ground by prepping the battlefield.”

    As the crew departed Kandahar for the Helmand Province, pilots reviewed their play book once more while loadmasters rehearsed the drop in their minds preparing the harnesses, oxygen tanks and boxes of leaflets.

    “What we’re going to do is line these boxes up as advertised and push them out the door at the right time,” said Master Sgt. Larry Lambert, a 746th EAS senior loadmaster from Asbury, N.J.

    The loadmasters in the back of the C-130 were responsible for the drop portion of the mission, communicating closely with the crew in the cockpit.

    “We’ve been around the block a few times, so I can put my faith in the guys up front (of the C-130),” he said. “These leaflets can save innocent lives, so we’re fired up to be a part of this.”

    As the aircraft approached the drop zone Sergeant Lambert established contact with his two loadmaster teammates using designated hand signals, letting them know when they were 20, 10, four, three, two and one minute away.

    The crew was 5,000 feet above the target and everyone was fully prepared in safety gear. Within the hour the mission was complete. The crew went four for four over the Helmand Province, dropping the leaflets on time and on target. Within minutes it would be raining leaflets over the Helmand Province.

    “It was a good day. We accomplished what we were asked to do,” said Captain Cochran. “We completed the mission at hand and it’s a great feeling.”

    This is what it’s all about, said Maj. Pat O’Sullivan, the 746th EAS director of operations, from Sebring, Fla.

    “We love this stuff. Missions like this drop with little to no notice,” he said. “As soon as we received the word, they started moving, planning for and coordinating every possible scenario and variable. They were ready for every situation, guaranteeing a successful mission.”

    Photo – Tech. Sgt. Matt Rossi drops 30,000 leaflets July 22 over a drop zone in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan. The squadron successfully met their objective of dropping 120,000 leaflets over the Helmand Province, prepping the battlefield. Sergeant Rossi is a 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron instructor loadmaster. Photo by Capt. Teresa Sullivan.

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    24 July 07
    By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
    .

    COMBAT OUTPOST CLEARY, Iraq – It has been said that an Army runs on its stomach, and most Soldiers would agree.

    Soldiers from the 15th Infantry Regiment’s 1st Battalion here rely on a five-member team to supply them with the culinary fuel they need to carry out their missions.

    A typical day for the Soldier chefs starts at 4 a.m.

    “Half of cooking is presentation,” said Pfc. Emril Getscher. “We try to make everything we do look good as well as taste good.”

    After breakfast is served and the area is cleaned, the food-service team usually has a few hours before repeating the process for dinner. Their work finally ends around 9 p.m.

    The team receives rations, supplies and supplements every few days from the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion’s Company F. Each meal comes with a menu and instructions.

    Food sanitation is a large part of a cook’s job, and harsh conditions in Iraq – like dust – can make the job even harder, according to Staff Sgt. Russell Slouffman, senior NCO in charge of food service at COP Cleary. The conditions also make transporting and storing food difficult.

    “One of the biggest problems is not getting the food and supplies we ask for… it’s the conditions,” said Staff Sgt. Slouffman. Ice cream, for example, is one of Soldiers’ biggest requests when the temperatures reach 120 degrees.

    “But it would have to be transported on dry ice or in freezers. We just don’t have those capabilities,” he said.

    Of the meals they do receive and prepare at the outpost, Staff Sgt. Slouffman and Pfc. Getscher agree that steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs are Soldiers’ favorites.

    “When we cook hamburgers and hot dogs, everyone feels like they are at home,” Pfc. Getscher said. “We have the grill going, and we bring out chili and chips and it kind of brings us all back to the states.”

    Despite the long days and challenges, the food service specialists say they love their work.

    “And when people say thank you,” Pfc. Getscher said, “it makes it all worth it.”

    “We are the No. 1 morale booster out here. When Soldiers get excited to eat something we cooked, I get excited,” added Staff Sgt. Slouffman. “It’s all about seeing the smiles on their faces when they come to chow.”

    Photo – Pfc. Emril Getscher, a cook for the 15th Infantry Regiment’s 1st Battalion, serves mashed potatoes to Spc. Brendan Murphy, a medic at Combat Outpost Cleary, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Natalie Rostek.

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    24 July 07
    By Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Day
    2nd Marine Division (Forward)
    .

    RAMADI, Iraq — As the evening sun started to set, the Iraqi army geared up. After looking over each other’s equipment thoroughly, they prepared to step off.

    On July 21, the 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, led Marines on a foot patrol through the ghetto of Ramadi to identify local populace needs and how their basic utilities were working

    “This area of Ramadi used to be one of the most dangerous,” said one local citizen. “Every day there were bombs and insurgents fighting the coalition. Now, this area is so quiet that it may even be considered the best in the city.”

    One of the local residents claimed, “I believe that most of this is due to the Iraqi army patrolling this area constantly. Bad guys would walk these streets as if they owned them. Then the Iraqi army started patrolling here, and they haven’t been back since.” With a smile, the patrol and the citizens parted ways.

    The soldiers of the Iraqi army sniper platoon walk through each street carefully, moving from corner to corner, but taking the time to talk to the locals. Everywhere they walked the people came running up expressing their gratitude saying “hello” and “thank you.”

    When asked what the Iraqi army philosophy was when dealing with the people, Iraqi army Sgt. Maj. Abbas Abud Kadin, the senior enlisted man of the Iraqi Scout Sniper Platoon said, “I talked to them with my heart open. I will do anything for these people whether I share a joke, give them candy or just listen to their problems, I do it all with an open heart. I do it because if I help them, they will help me.”

    Walking up to a group of men sitting in the front lawn, Kadin extends his right hand to them and greets them. The rest of the soldiers take a knee and provide security as the group talks.

    The men also said the security in the area has improved drastically in the last two months. Whereas they used to be afraid to sit on their front lawn drinking tea, now they know that no one will bother them. The man said that he can enjoy his time out there with his friends and know that the only interruption they might have will be from friendly Iraqi army soldiers and policemen, stopping by to say “hello.”

    “I try to teach my men to respect the people here, because they could save our lives,” Kadin said. “If we show them respect they will show us respect and help us fight the insurgency.”

    Kadin found a 7.62mm shell casing on the way back to the base. A little curious about why it was in the street he asked some nearby residents.

    They told him the casing had come from a local who had a celebration the day prior.

    “My goal here is to help the good people of Ramadi rid themselves of the insurgency that plagues them. I want all of this country to be safe,” Kadin said. “If it starts here in Ramadi, then so be it. I know that my men and I are doing a very good job. I will terminate as many insurgents as I can, until there are no more to fight, then I will know we are done here. But we will move to the next city to do the same for them.”

    Photo – Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Abbas Abud Kadin, the senior enlisted man of the Iraqi Scout Sniper Platoon, hands out candy to some children during a patrol here. The patrol was trying to find out what the citizens of Ramadi needed to make their neighborhoods a better place to live. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Day.

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    Oh my, a brand new boy-toy! That is what I call anything that has to do with cars, trucks, tanks, etc. But wait until you get a look at these new tanks! Well, I don’t if I can call them tanks. They’re more like gigantic trucks with all the protection of a tank and the versitility of a Humvee. Does that sound cool or what?

    Marines with Regimental Combat Team 6 recently got their hands on the Marine Corps’ newest counter to attacks by terrorist forces in Anbar Province. The Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Rapid Response Vehicle, or JERRV, is the latest melding of technology and combat firepower to find its way onto the battlefield in Iraq. Like any new weapon fielded to Marines, instructors are needed to certify potential operators in its use.

    “There’s a higher sense of security with brand new vehicles. They’re designed to carry the weight of the armor,” said McMillian, a Las Vegas native and 1998 graduate of Meadows High School. “(The JERRVs) are 40,000 pounds but they can go up to 52,000 pounds with extra modifications. Being surrounded by all that armor makes you feel safe.” [Continue reading.]

    I know as soon as I mentioned boy-toys, I probably lost half of my audience, but for those of us who can wait a minute, these new vehicles will save many, many lives. My only question is, why did it take so long?

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    Whether there is a fire fight or an accident, all of our military men need to communicate with someone to let them know help is needed. That is where the Navy’s TACAMO, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, comes to the rescue.

    The communications team sits at their seats with their laptops and headsets waiting for a call. The calls normally entail a questionnaire called a “joint casualty evacuation request”, otherwise known as a “9-line”, which requests that a patient be picked up. The questions the communications crew may ask are what the grid coordinates are on the ground as well as the number of patients, special equipment needed, security at pick up site and patient status. [Continue reading.]

    These men do their job magnificantly, and we should all be very proud of them. I know I am. 🙂

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    In the Horn of Africe, there is much we know very little about, yet there is so much good news coming from this area. This is in part due to the CJTF-HOA teams and the media. The CJTF-HOA actually does the work, and the media does not.

    “Asalaam aleikum,” (may God’s peace be upon you) and “karibu,” (welcome) are common words you will hear on Pemba Island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, in East Africa, which was the site of a primary school dedication by Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa on July 16.

    A dedication is an event the coalition of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa holds when they complete a civil-military project. The dedication symbolizes turning over the completed project to the local community. So far this year, CJTF-HOA has dedicated 22 projects throughout the Horn of Africa. [Continue reading.]

    What a wonderful article this is, truly. Could it be possible that this is the reason why some celebraties find it more rewarding to help the Africans with their education than right here in the United States where they have money coming out of their ears without any progress in the education of our children? Hmm…

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    Brig. Gen. James McConville wanted to visit this airfield himself so he could familiarize himself with what is happening on the ground. Very commendable, IMHO.

    The visit began with an overview of the historical strategic significance of Kandahar and an explanation of the dynamic, multi-national environment that defines KAF and RC (South).

    “Kandahar has a long history,” said Army Maj. Doug Brown, S3, Task Force Anzio. “It has been and remains a strategically significant geographic location because of the trade routes through the country. Kandahar itself dates back to Alexander the Great, who the Afghans still hold in high esteem.” [Continue reading.]

    Afghanistan certainly is a land of many different people. Did you know that in Afghanistan that only the Postunes are referred to as Afghans? I didn’t either, until an Afghanistani friend of mine gave me this information. Is it true? I have no reason to disbelieve him, but I cannot say definitively. Have a nice day.

    Correction: The name of the airfield is KANDAHAR, not Kandar. In my defense, I do believe my tiny fingers were getting weary. 🙂

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    This article is very touching and heartwarming. It is amazing how many different opportunities there really are in our Marine Corp! This is just one such remarkable story. I can only imagine that there are so many more…please take a moment and pay some attention to our younger Marines.

    Sources: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily News-2.

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    This article covers parts of NATO, but specificly the Italian special training for the Iraqi Police (IP).

    BAGHDAD — Italian Army Maj. Gen. Alessandro Pompegnani, Deputy Commander of NATO Training Mission-Iraq spoke about his country’s efforts to help train the Iraqi National Police at a press conference at the Combined Press Information Center Thursday.

    Since 1814 the Arma dei Carabinieri (Force of Carabinieri) has ensured the rights of the Italian people, both at home and abroad. The Carabinieri are Italian military police whose mission is to control the crime and to serve the community through respect for the Law…

    This is a good read, and very interesting part of history I certainly did not know. Well done!

    Sources: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily News. (It’s easier to read. lol)

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    This is a remarkable article. It is nice to finally see the end results of a reconstruction project. It used to be, under Saddam’s rule, that the police stations were also in the Mosques. Not anymore. There is a new day in Wahida, Iraq, and it gives hope to the Iraqi people. Also, the people of Wahida finally can see that the money given for these projects is not being pocketed as before. The government has actually been trying to help the people. This brings birth to hope.

    Source: CentCom amd reposted @ DoD Daily News-2.

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    This operation was successful in that the head of the Security Division went along with them, he spoke to the people to calm their fears, he told them he was there to get rid of the Taliban and to provide security, and he also wanted them to know they should build their own city government from which they should have one representative to speak to him so that he could help them with their needs. Wow. I’d say that’s a big first step, eh?

    Source: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily News-2.

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    This article is one that should be on the front pages of all newspapers, but (un)fortunately it does not fit the ethic of blood and guts. No, this is an article of success!

    There was no network news coverage, no front page spread, but local leaders of Mrezat, a small agricultural village in a northern section of the Adhamiyah District, shed tears of joy as water pumped from the Tigris River and passed attendees of a ceremony to mark the opening of a new pumping station in the community.

    In Mrezat, water is the lifeblood of the people. The agrarian community subsists primarily on palm-date groves, which are grown throughout the year. Without proper irrigation the groves wither and date production ceases.

    Mrezat’s refurbished irrigation pump brings the needed water from the Tigris’ base to the farmers’ crops.

    Though the opening was of critical importance to the residents of Mrezat, the success story will not make any headlines, said Lt. Col. Al Shoffner, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

    Sources: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily News-2. Please continue reading.

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    I love the NAVY! Wow, these guys are really standing tall here, so to speak. They not only have manned their boats, but they are up in the actual fight, albeit not too much of a fight it is, and they are doing a remarkable job. They have gone to school for extra training specifically for this purpose. Check it out. I recommend it. (Hey, they have the Marines back!) 🙂

    Sources: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily-2.

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    I always appreciate the articles written about the children, especially at the orphanages. Why? It helps me to know they are not forgotten (just as our brave men and women are not forgotten). This trip involves a Chaplain who had just a wonderful time while he was there. He was amazed and heartened by what he saw. I wish we could all see–or at least read about–the things that he saw.

    Sources: CentCom and it has been reposted at DoD Daily-2.

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    Eskimos in Kuwait

    This is a look inside to our National Guard team for whom the climate change experience can be a shock. Somebody quick! Call Al Gore! lol. All kidding aside, this is a very good insight as to what others are sacrificing so that we may remain free.

    Source: CentCom, reposted by me @ DoD Daily News-2.

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    Cross-posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

    13 July 07
    By Debi Dawson
    Army News Service
    .

    FORT BELVOIR, Va. – Soldiers are volunteering dramatic personal accounts of lives saved and injuries avoided thanks to the Army’s body armor. Their first-hand accounts of what happens demonstrate confidence in what the Army is doing to protect them.

    Interceptor Body Armor is a modular system that features an outer tactical vest with hard protective plates. Spc. Gregory T. Miller, 101st Airborne Division, told Congress at a hearing last month that this body armor saved his life while he was on patrol in Kirkuk in preparation for Iraqi elections in December 2005. He was hit in the back by a sniper with what was supposed to be an armor-piercing round. Spc. Miller, who wound up with a bruised back, said he didn’t even realize he’d been hit at first.

    It all seemed to happen in slow motion, he said. The water bottle he was holding flew out of his hand; he thought his team leader had hit him on the back – hard. When he realized he’d been hit, he checked himself and then turned to return fire.

    When the round was pulled from his armor back plate, ballistics tests identified it as a 7.62 armor-piercing round. “I trust my gear,” he told the congressional panel. When asked why, he replied matter-of-factly: “It saved my life.”

    Staff Sgt. Jeremie Oliver of Fort Hood, Texas, has been in Iraq since October 2006, wearing his body armor every single day. “It works very well,” he has reported. The husband and father of four children was shot on Father’s Day this year.

    “We were on patrol securing a site … a shot rang out and I got hit in the chest. I was in a Bradley, standing up in the hatch, plotting a grid on my GPS. At first I didn’t know what had really happened, but then I felt the pain. I sat down, realized what happened, and opened my vest. The bullet had not penetrated the vest, so we continued the mission and went after the enemy.”

    Sgt. 1st Class Jody Penrod described his combat experience with IBA: “I took a couple of IEDs and some shrapnel, and I had a fire bomb and it didn’t light on fire. So I was pretty pleased.”

    Because the IBA vest protected his entire chest area, Sgt. 1st Class Penrod didn’t have so much as a scratch from the shrapnel in the blast. He recounted how insurgents had made Napalm-type bombs with soap so that it would stick to Soldiers while on fire. “I got some on my vest, but it just went right out. So I was kind of happy that the vest didn’t go up in flames.”

    Spc. Jason C. Ashline, an infantryman with Fort Drum, N.Y.’s 10th Mountain Division, survived a round from an AK-47 in Afghanistan in 2002 thanks to his body armor. He stated at the recent dedication of MIT’s Institute for Nanotechnologies: “If it weren’t for technology I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

    Spc. Ashline was hit twice in the chest during a 12-hour firefight with al-Qaeda insurgents in 2002. The slugs lodged in his body armor. He was stunned but unhurt, and was pulled to safety by his buddies.

    Documenting personal accounts of positive body armor experiences is difficult because the Army doesn’t keep count of Soldiers not killed or injured. Still, there are more stories like these and Army leaders at all levels recount apocryphal tales by the dozens.

    Capt. David Beard, now stationed at Fort Myer, Va., previously served in Iraq. “I remember a guy in Najaf got shot with an AK right in the chest,” Beard said, “and his IBA plate saved him!”

    Capt. Daniel Leard, also at Fort Myer by way of Iraq, called his body armor “a great protective asset.” He said it routinely stop rounds. “In our own unit we had, on several occasions, Soldiers pulling bullets out of their body armor or helmet. It clearly saved their lives.”

    Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, Program Executive Officer, has repeatedly asserted that the Army is providing Soldiers with the best, most protective body armor – bar none. He particularly resents the fact that Soldiers’ Families have been misled by conflicting media reports that left them concerned that the Army might not be doing all it can to protect its Soldiers.

    “Force protection is the number-one priority of the Army. We value our Soldiers very highly and we do everything we can do to ensure they have the finest in force protection as they go into the battle,” Brig. Gen. Brown said. “I want to assure the American public, the Soldiers and their Families that they have the best equipment when and where they need it.”

    PEO Soldier designs, produces and fields virtually everything the American Soldier wears or carries. The organization’s Soldier-as-a-System approach ensures that equipment works in an integrated manner, thus preparing troops for peak performance.

    Photo – Staff Sgt. Jeremie Oliver of Fort Hood, Texas, shows where he was shot in the chest with while patrolling in Iraq on Father’s Day this year. The bullet did not penetrate the vest. Courtesy photo.

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    Originally posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

    13 July 07
    By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    ANAH, Iraq – The air smelled clean, the roads were paved and spotless, and the laughter of children echoed through the streets. A young girl, in a lilac colored dress, sprayed her driveway down with a garden hose proving the plumbing worked in her town. Men, women and children gave friendly waves to the Marines and Iraqi policemen as they patrolled through the secure streets here.

    “Patrols like these let the people know we are fighting for them, and they see that,” said Lance Cpl. Charles Tobin, a SAW gunner with Bravo Company Proper, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines proper, attached to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2.

    The mixed patrol of Iraqi police and Marines passed through alleyways and side streets where instead of littered ground and walls covered in graffiti, the curbs had neatly swept piles of dirt and the houses freshly painted.

    “The average Anah person seems more affluent than the average Iraqi,” said Cpl. Steven Kreyenhagen, a team leader with Bravo Company. The Iraqi police explain that the townspeople here are mostly college educated, and all of their children attend school. “There are schools established in town, and the teachers speak great English,” Kreyenhagen said.

    The Marines and IPs stopped into the local markets, full of vegetables, dry goods, electronics and clothing, to buy snacks for local children and bread to share with their brother Marines not on patrol. “I like interacting with the people,” Tobin said. “You can be having a horrible day and the kids will crack you up, making your day all better.”

    Children waved at the patrol and saluted the IPs with the open-handed salute traditionally given to Iraqi officers as a sign of respect. “The area has some five and six-year-olds speaking better English than me,” Tobin said.

    A grasp of the English language doesn’t make the people of Anah superior to other towns but understanding the language of its protector’s means they have a worldly view on the coalition’s mission in Iraq.“My squad’s been invited to dinner twice already by friendly homes,” said Sgt. Tacoma Parris, a squadleader and native of New York City. “They’ve gained our trust.”

    Trust aside, the town still hides some insurgents rather willingly, or by force. “Most of the time the locals won’t tell us who planted the IEDs,” Parris said. “They’ll tell the IPs because the IPs are from the neighborhood.” The townspeople know their neighborhood, and they tell their IPs because they want safety.

    “They’d rather tell a buddy or brother they grew up with,” Parris said. “They trust us, but not wholeheartedly.”

    Anah is filled with hardworking, educated citizens, but those who travel outside of the safe town are affected by the less positive situations occurring in other parts of Iraq.

    “I used to take the bus five days a week to work before the war,” said Ghassan Thabet, an electrical engineer living in Anah. “The road is now dangerous to Al Qa’im.”

    Food rations are given to the unemployed people of Iraq by its newly established government. With help from coalition forces and the strength of local police, the roads will become safer and buses will carry hard working people like Thabet.

    Constant, friendly patrols, mixed with IPs and Marines, keep the citizens of Anah safe and help the locals here see there is a transition happening, and that terrorism will eventually subside.

    Photo – An Iraqi policeman enters a gateway into a townsperson’s home along with Marines from Bravo Company, Proper Task Force, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, attached to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, on June 24, 2007. Marines and Iraqi police speak with homeowners providing a friendly face and show the cohesion of Iraqi and coalition forces.

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    Originally posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

    15 July 07
    by John J. Kruzel
    American Forces Press Service
    .

    BAGHDAD – Now at full strength, the U.S. troop surge in Iraq is showing “definitive progress” and the number of forces serving in Iraq’s Multi-National Division-North could be halved by summer 2009, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon said.

    A reduction of U.S. forces under the general’s command could begin as early as January 2008, he told Pentagon reporters via videoconference.

    Mixon, commander of both Multi-National Division-North and the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division, is responsible for six Iraqi provinces in northern Iraq, including the city of Baqubah — site of the ongoing Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

    He said he has given U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, a plan indicating a possible reduction of force in Multi-National Division-North during 2008.

    Mixon said the current debate over troop withdrawal should revolve around reaching a strategic “end state.”

    “It seems to me that we should first decide what we want the end state to be in Iraq, and how is that end state important to the United States of America, to this region and to the world, and then determine how we can reach that end state, and how much time that will take,” he said. “To me, that seems to be the most important thing, because there will be consequences of a rapid withdrawal from Iraq.”

    “It cannot be a strategy based on, ‘Well, we need to leave,’” he added. “That’s not a strategy, that’s a withdrawal.”

    U.S. forces that remain in the region after a reduction could focus on training and assisting their Iraqi counterparts as needed, Mixon said.

    “Over time, in a very methodical and well thought out way,” he said, Multi-National Division-North could be drawn down to “a minimum force that would continue to work with the Iraqi forces in a training and assistance mode, have the capability to react and assist the Iraqis if required, and provide them those capabilities that they don’t have, like attack aviation, Air Force fixed-wing support, and medical support,” he said.

    Speaking about Iraq’s Nineva province, the general said the provincial government and security forces there continue to grow and improve. Mixon said he has observed the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army Division and Iraqi police providing security to provincial residents requiring scant coalition assistance.

    “Based on this assessment, I have recommended that Nineva province go to provincial Iraqi control in August,” he said. Though a handover to the provincial government is a sign of progress, Mixon added that it alone won’t usher in a reduction of U.S. troops, who will continue to partner with Iraqi security forces there, he said.

    As part of the troop surge, which reached full strength in mid-June, Mixon received two brigades based out of Fort Lewis, Wash. The general credits the additional forces with helping to improve security in Diyala province, and cited Operation Arrowhead Ripper that was launched last month.

    “Operation Arrowhead Ripper kicked off on June 19 with the arrival of 3/2 Stryker Brigade and will continue until Baqubah is secure and the government center there is functioning,” he said. “We have had to clear numerous complex obstacles, including 24 houses booby-trapped with explosives … and 100 other types of improvised explosive devices.”

    In the ongoing operation, troops are clearing Baqubah’s city blocks in an “intentionally slow” fashion to reduce the number of casualties. To date, Coalition and Iraqi security forces have killed more than 90 al-Qaeda operatives, discovered 45 weapons and munitions caches and detained about 130 suspected al-Qaeda operatives, Mixon said. During raids in Western Baqubah neighborhoods, troops also have uncovered al-Qaeda safe houses, torture houses, medical clinics and bomb-making factories.

    Local leaders, tribal sheikhs and the Western Baqubah’s citizens are cooperating with combined forces, providing them valuable information about al-Qaeda, Mixon said.

    “These people are coming forward because they have increased confidence in their security forces and they are simply tired of al-Qaeda dominating their lives and terrorizing their neighborhoods, as they have done over the last several months,” he said.

    Mixon specified that al-Qaeda operatives in his area of responsibility primarily are Sunni Iraqis, some of whom received weapons and explosives training as members of the former Iraqi regime or army. The 1920s Revolution, composed “principally former Ba’athists” and others who oppose the new Iraqi government, is one of the multiple groups comprising the greater insurgency, he said.

    Listing signs of progress in Baqubah, Mixon said Iraqi forces are beginning to take responsibility for security, and that a “small influx” of residents are returning to the city which they had previously fled. The city’s municipal employees also are working to repair the water and power infrastructure, the general said.

    “We still have a long way to go in Baqubah and Diyala,” he said, “but with the influence of al-Qaeda diminished, the security situation will now allow Iraqi security forces and government officials to re-establish basic securities for the citizens of Baqubah.”

    Photo – U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Christopher Kluser, machine gunner with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, stays alert while on the up gun in the turret located in a 7-ton truck in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, July 9, 2007. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy M. Stewman.

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    This is one of those stories that touched my heart so warmly. Many people look at our Soldiers and see only brutes or men ready to kill you if you look at them wrongly. This is the furthest from the truth. They do not understand the ROE (Rules of Engagement). Many people have no idea about life in the military, this is the story for you.

    Let me see if I find just one paragraph to entice you. This seems like the right one:

    “It seems like time stopped here 2,000 years ago,” said Polish Pfc. Chris Demko, a gunner on one of the giant Rosomak armored personnel carriers. “We see these kids running around with nothing, not even shoes, and we want to change that.” [The Real Kite Runners flying the Afghan Skies.]

    Bravo for the Polish Soldiers! It just goes to show that loving children and humanity does not stop at our waters edge. 🙂

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    This is one cool article. I know. I’m sick for thinking it is cool to know that our men can kill so many of our ENEMIES, right? YOU’RE READING THE WRONG SITE! Go away! lol.

    I love it! Check out this paragraph:

    “It’s not like the previous wars when they lined up and we would mow them down,” said Mantle. “Fires have a lot of different effects. When we fire the 155s from here, the enemy doesn’t hear the round coming in. It immediately puts the enemy on the defensive and has a tremendous demoralizing effect.” [Big guns play big part in eastern Afghanistan.]

    Give them all the guns they need, then give them about twice that! Let’s kick butt!

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    Have you ever read an article that made you just want to know more but knew you couldn’t? This is one of those for me. Here we have two pilots that are shot down in Iraq surrounded by insurgents, and it took around half an hour for them to be rescued. For half an hour! What did the rescue team find when they did arrive? Not a single injuring! That is the kind of movie I would pay to see, but I am not quite sure I could stand the vocabulary that may have transpired duing this ordeal. lol. Check it out at Downed Pilots Endure 30 Minutes of Intensity Before Rescue. Have a great day.

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    If you are not familiar with the area, then allow to fill you in a little. Do you remember all those floods we read about and saw on TV a few years back? Well, many of those people were trapped, because bridges that were built there did not take into consideration the levels of the flood waters. Even with the bridges, they could not pass to higher grounds.

    Please remember, I am not sure if this is where the floods occurred. I am just using this as a frame of referrence and a theory. Why? I’m so glad you asked!

    Currently, the surface of the road is two meters above the river bed, but during floods the water level rises to nearly four meters high. The new box culvert bridge will accommodate for the flood water levels.

    To fix this issue, the Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 will construct a box culvert bridge approximately 20 meters long and five meters wide. The project will consist of backfilling, compacting, reinforcing and re-grading the portion of the road near the culvert that is damaged. On the entrance and exit sides to the new box culvert bridge, the road will be reinforced for approximately five meters to ensure stability of the entire structure. The Seabees will also re-build the Walela Bridge so local villagers have another avenue to travel as well. [Continue reading.]

    The Civil Affairs (CA), which is an arm of the CJTF-HOA (Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa), has taken this under their wing. Please read this artice to find out how far they have come and how far they have yet to go. Thank you.

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    This is such a touching article from CentCom. Why? The Father is in one place that is not near the son on a very important day.

    Pfc. Jason Steffen, a mechanic with the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, stationed at Forward Operating Base Kalsu had a special guest at his re-enlistment ceremony June 27 – his father.

    Mr. Robert Steffen, Jason’s father, is a mechanic working in the International Zone in Baghdad and was able to get a few days off work to attend his son’s ceremony. [Continue reading.]

    I wish everyone could experience something so special. Congratulations Jason, and God bless the both of you so you may stop worrying.
    Dig This Story

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    This time I have a trio for you. This was supposed to be posted Wednesday, but I have been so busy. I apologize for that. This railroad is something else. If you want to increase commerce and bring a country together, build a railroad!

    “The Iraq railroad system provides efficient reliable transportation and many people rely on the railroad for traveling. It is also critical for trade and commerce from the deep-water marine port and business centers in southern Iraq to the population centers in northern Iraq,” stated Edison. [Continue reading.]

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the only fights you heard were the bartering over the prices? Yes, that day will come. I just hope it is sooner rather than later.

    In this next article is about my kinda gal. She is the first one in her immediate family to serve, and she did not want to be just anybody. No, she wanted to go for the gusto!

    AL ASAD, Iraq – It is estimated that more than 12,000 Native Americans served in the United States military in World War I. There are more than 190,000 Native American military veterans; as the years continue to compile, so do the numbers of Native Americans in the military.
    […]
    Sixkiller began her journey with the Marine Corps when she enrolled in the delayed entry program Sept. 29, 2005.“I wanted to be one of the first in my immediate family to join one of the services,” said Sixkiller. “I picked the Marine Corps because I had to join the best.” [Continue reading.]

    She may not be from my tribe, but she’s representing. Yeah!

    This is an article about the visit that Admiral Fallon took to Iraq to check out the progress of the refineries and the insurgencies.

    BAYJI, Iraq – Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, met with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, 25th Infantry Division commander, and other Iraqi and coalition leaders, June 11, 2007, at the Bayji Oil Refinery to discuss the future of the refinery.Fallon expressed his concern with getting the Bayji Oil Refinery running at its maximum potential, which included proposed methods for the protection of the oil pipelines that run to other cities and neighboring countries. [Continue reading.]

    It may be so that many people are claiming that we went there for oil, but I’d like to see how they were getting around without that crude! BTW, we did not go there for oil, but that’s a given. If there happens to be oil in a place where we have to attack, we are obliged to make sure those fields are protected. Have a great day!
    Dig This Story

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    For some reason, the Horn of Africa has gotten my heart. I can see it has gotten the hearts of many of our military men and women as well. They are doing such a fantastic job over there.

    In this first article, the medical personnel are taking classes so that they can help those people who live in isolated areas. They just don’t want them to die if they could prevent it.

    CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI – In deployed locations, corpsmen and medics can’t be everywhere. It’s important for all service members to become Combat Life Savers so they can be trained in how to save a life in a remote location. The first few minutes of a traumatic injury are crucial to the victim’s survival, which is why it’s important to know at least basic life saving skills.
    […]
    “It is just no longer plausible for the medics and corpsmen to provide all the initial care in the modern battle field,” said Ingemunsun. “They are limited and can not help everyone at one time. The more service members that get the proper training, the more people that can be saved.” [Continue reading.]

    These people are certainly impressive, if not to you, to me. The deserve our Honor. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Armed Services.

    This next article is a sweet one. When I think of Seabees, I do not think of them doing anything on land. I know. They are not fish, but I just don’t. Wait until you read this!

    DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti – Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 spent the better part of June 13 cutting down trees at the Djibouti Hospital to make room for a community relations project that will include gazeboes that will improve the quality of life of the community.

    The Djiboutians originally started removing the trees, but were unable to complete the project because they didn’t have the right tools. The director of the Djibouti Hospital asked Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Charlie Company, 486th Civil Affairs Battalion for assistance. They in turn coordinated with the Seabees to get manpower and tools. [Continue reading.]

    These guys are outstanding in my book, and they should outstanding your book as well!

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    I know many people think the only thing Marines, Army persons, Navy personnel, the National Guard, the Air Force crew and the such are only capable of killing. Trash things and kill people. That’s all there is to it, right? Hold on! Not so fast here. Here are two articles that could at least pierce your hearts, if only you would read them.

    The first article is aboout changing the lives of these destitute people, one mission at a time.

    BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The C-130 is one of many different types of aircraft stationed here, but could easily be called one of the most versatile.The members of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron put that versatility to the test every day. The three primary missions of the C-130s here are airdrop, air-land and aeromedical evacuation.

    “Our airdrop missions can be anything from dropping pamphlets to the locals to humanitarian drops such as water, blankets, food and firewood in the winter, ammunition and troop re-supplies,” said Senior Airman Patrick Keefe, 774th EAS loadmaster. “Air-land missions consist of troop movements or hauling cargo.” [Continue reading.]

    They are being modest. They also provide food to people who are so idolated that they cannot feed themselves. These people are just trying to stay alive after years and years of war.

    The next article is about the necessity of water and the huge impact dams and irrigation will have not only on their crops but also on their economy. Just take one paragraph:

    In a country held back by more than 30 years of war, ineffective water use has made life even more difficult in this already-barren country. Managing water is life or death for farmers like Haji Mazdigar Gul, 56, who explained that without a diversion dam, flooding often causes him to lose his fields, jeopardizing his family’s survival. His village of Koza Bokhana is one of 30 that will benefit from dams, which will redirect water from rivers to the fields of more than 80,000 farmers and families. [Continue reading.]

    This is a very good thing they are doing, and they are not doing it alone. The Afghan people are actually working side-by-side with them. They are all great and while we empower them, we also are helping ourselves here at home. Read and find out why. I am very proud of you guys and gals! 🙂

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    These are two great articles. First, we have the ISF (Iraq Security Forces) working along side the Coalition Forces (CF) to put pressure on any al Qaida still left in the neighborhood.

    BAQOUBA, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) teamed with Task Force Lightning units, Thursday, to clear Baqouba and surrounding areas as Operation Arrowhead Ripper continued.

    “We are shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraqi Security Forces in this fight,” said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general, operations, and commander of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. “Specifically the 5th Iraqi Army Division led by Maj. Gen. Saleem Kariem Ali Alotbei, along with the provincial director of police, Maj. Gen. Ganim, have provided the Iraqi security forces to the fight.

    The weeks ahead are absolutely key in not only holding and retaining the ground that is cleared in partnership with Coalition Forces (CF), but also in building trust and confidence with the citizens of Diyala.” [Continue reading.]

    There is also a picture that comes with both of these articles. Well, all of them today, actually. Wait until you read how many AQ they killed! 🙂

    This next article is very moving. Two soldiers who were only doing their job turned the mind of one man (who could in turn change the minds of others) when they took notice of the needs of his son.

    KIRKUK, Iraq – The nine-year old boy would most certainly lose his leg. Given the prohibitive cost of medical care and his family’s lack of resources, amputation and a life of pain and dependence seemed inevitable. The Iraqi boy’s father was resigned to that conclusion.

    Then two soldiers got involved and hope arrived along with them.

    Sgt. Donald R. Campbell and Capt. Geoffrey Dutton, both Georgia natives, brought coalition and Iraqi resources together to give an Iraqi boy hope after a chance encounter during a routine patrol in Kirkuk, Iraq. [Continue reading.]

    These guys are very special. It makes me so proud to be an American. Thank you for your service, stay safe, and God bless you.

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    News from CentCom:

    Jun 21, 2007
    BY Multinational Corps Iraq Public Affairs
    .

    BAGHDAD – U.S. and Iraqi army forces found an orphanage housing 24 severely malnourished and abused boys in Baghdad’s Fajr neighborhood June 10, military officials reported yesterday.

    The 24 boys, ranging in age from 3 to 15, were found naked in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were tied to their beds and were too weak to stand, officials said. [Continue reading]

    This is a miracle and a travesty. When they found these 24 boys aged 3-15, some of them were chained to their beds, there appeared to be no food because they clearly looked malnourished, yet in the next room (which was locked), there was plenty of food.

    They also found the administrator and others who were supposed to be in charge of this orphanage. Some of the Iraqi Army troops went to get the correct people from town to help these boys, since most of them come not even walk.

    Allow me one question to the anti-Bush, pro-commie crowd: Would you have preferred we left the boys there to die? They are not the only children we have found. Do you remember the hundreds of children we released from Saddam’s prisons? Civil rights my arse. You ought to be ashamed, but you would need an ounce of decency in you for that…

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    News from CentCom:

    21 Jun 07
    By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA — The 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has not only made it possible for a speedier recovery by picking up injured and sick servicemembers, but is providing the care and comfort needed to put their patients at ease.

    Each time a crew from the 379th flies on a mission to care for patients, they are humbled by those injured in theater. [Continue reading.]

    This is a mixture of emotions article, from heart-wretching to proud to grateful. It is heart-wretching for me to hear about even one of our men in pain, let alone murdered. But this is war, and I have to deal with it.

    It makes me so proud when I hear stories about our injured men who, to them, the only problem is when can they have their ‘gear’ back and join their team! Gratitude comes from the knowledge that they are doing this for you and me. Maybe not directly, maybe we’ll never meet face to face, maybe…but wow. They know this as well. I am truly humbled.

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    News from CentCom:

    21 Jun 07
    By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert
    1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
    .

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Unmanned aerial vehicle teams from 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (ACB) have amassed 20,000 flight hours in the skies over Baghdad.

    The crews, assigned or attached to the 615th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB) “Cold Steel,” 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, surpassed the deployment total of the unit that previously had the mission in Multinational Division-Baghdad, according to Capt. Joshua Chase, executive officer for Company E, 615th ASB – the unit that conducts the UAV mission for MND-B. [Continue reading.]

    Boy, I’ll tell ya. If these guys ever stop being competitive, I think it shall be my duty to drop dead! lol. What is the competiton? You’ll just have to read the article to find out! Needless to say, these guys are awesome.

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    News from CentCom:

    21 Jun 07
    by Spc. Carl N. Hudson
    Combined Press Information Center
    .
    BAGHDAD – The Fardh Al-Qanoon spokesman and a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman held a press conference at the Combined Press Information Center Wednesday.

    Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta Al-Moussawi, Fardh Al-Qanoon spokesman, and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, discussed the progress of Fardh Al-Qanoon. [Continue reading.]

    All 30,000 troops are finally in place, and the Iraqi Army (IA) is working well with them. Sometimes the IA would take the lead in the missions, while at other times the MNF-I would take the lead.

    This was a conference to let the people know that no matter what they were hearing in the press, they were indeed working hand in hand. Literally! It’s a good report. Thank you, and have a nice day.

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    An article from CentCom:

    20 Jun 07
    By Spc. Alexis Harrison
    2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
    .

    BAGHDAD – For many of the Soldiers in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the current 15-month tour in Iraq isn’t their first. For the rest of the Soldiers in the “Black Jack” Brigade, having well-seasoned leaders can make all the difference.

    While out on the streets every day, Soldiers from Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, rely on much more than just the individual body armor systems they wear. They depend on each other to make it through daily situations and even the entire deployment. [Continue reading.]

    This is a great article which tells of young man who learns about leadership by the example he sees all around him. This is one thing we could certainly use a lot more of!

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    Another article from CentCom:

    20 June 2007
    Story and photo by Cpl. Rick Nelson
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    HADITHAH — The counter-insurgency coalition forces are conducting in Iraq calls for numerous military units to give up their traditional roles and pick up a different weapon. This is nothing new for artillery units, who, since the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004, have often been called upon