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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.

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Bill Roggio is an excellent writer who decided he was not going to write about those things which he did not have first hand experience, so he suited up and became an embed both in Iraq and Afghanistan. (He’s had experience from before, but he just felt compelled to do this.) His latest article (I think he is home now) is wonderful news written this morning or very late last night.

    Qari Faiz Mohammad killed in a raid in Helmand province

    Afghan and ISAF have been conducting major offensives up and down the Helmand River Valley in the northern portion of the province over the past several months. Major ground and air strikes have been ongoing in the Musa Qala, Kajaki, Nari Saraj, and Sangin districts in Helmand province, as well as in the Ghorak district in Kandahar and in southwestern Uruzgan. Coalition forces have been attempted to clear the Taliban stronghold and reopen the vital Kajaki Dam. The Taliban openly control the Musa Qala district. Upwards of 150 Taliban fighters have been killed in strikes in the region during the past week. (Please continue reading at Bill’s The Fourth Rail.

    Such wonderful news! I hope you have not forgotten that we are still in Afghanistan. I hope you have not forgotten why. If you do remember, then you should know that when we removed them from power they would need a place a to go. THAT is why they are in Iraq. To join in the fight for our very existence.

    Why do I say, “…our very existence”? The Taliban and al Qaida are interchangeable names they call one another. This is to give some of the terrorists cover. Do not be fooled. Now that that’s cleared up, let us turn our heads towards reason, shall we?

    If they need somewhere to go, they will find a place to go. Right? What will they do once they get there? Will they continue the war they have waged upon us? YOU BETCHA.

    No matter when, where, who, what and no one gives a flying hoot about why, the fight will continue. They want every Christian, Jew, Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, non-proper Muslim, and everyone else who does not subscribe to their way of interpreting the Koran DEAD. Are we clear on this now? Good. Have a nice day.
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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 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!
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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:

    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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    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 to put away their howitzers for rifles, police batons, and claims cards. All around Iraq, artillery batteries and battalions are serving as provisional rifle, military police, and civil military units. In Hadithah, it’s no different.

    At the Hadithah Civil Military Operation Center, Marines assigned to 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, an artillery battalion based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. assist the local populace with their civil matters. [Continue reading.]

    This is a good article. We need to know more about the counter-terrorism that is taking place. One place to learn a lot is a site by the name of CounterTerrorismBlog. Visit it often. Have a blessed day.

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