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Archive for the ‘ME’ Category

Today we are going to start the news with two posts from Iraq the Model (I recently found out there were two posts), Gregg Jackson’s articles about things we should know about Romney and some news from Stop the ACLU.

Omar is studying for his American degree (he is already well educated in Iraq), and he finally had a moment to write to us to let us know that both Mohammed and he are well. Oh my! I just went to get the permalink, and there is another post! (For those who are new to the term, ITM=Iraq the Model.)

Here is an excerpt from the second post:

One more important finding makes my suspicion stronger. Could it be a coincidence that the percentage that Libyan nationals make up of total foreign terrorists has spiked during 2007? According to recently captured documents that US military captured in Sinjar, a town west of Mosul, one fifth of foreign fighters who came to Iraq between in the year leading to August 2007 were Libyan nationals. Or could it be another coincidence that Libya covertly sponsored a satellite TV channel in Iraq that was going to launch in late 2006, the same time the Libyan “surge” started? This is a new and surprising figure that suggests that there’s an organized effort to recruit and send fighters from Libya to Iraq; an effort not easy to undertake in a repressive police state unless someone above the law is involved. [Continue reading.]

Gregg sends me e-mails often, and I lost one of those letters which I needed to make an arguement. So I asked him for a copy, and this is what he sent me: Family leaders call Romney ‘disaster’, and A Stern Warning to the “Conservative Elites” about Mitt Romney. These are powerful writings, and I would take heed to the advice.

Aha, but there is more. This one is from a different source. Massachusetts Healthcare Plan Costs Skyrocket, by Monisha Bansal. Ask yourself, “Do I want to become a slave?” That is just what happens when we give away our freedoms. The Trouble With Mitt Romney’s Pro-Life Conversion, by Deal W. Hudson. It is amazing how someone can support BOTH the adoption of frozen embryonic eggs AND the destruction of them for research. This one is surprising, “American Right To Life Rebukes Ann Coulter. Wow. They must be very strict, but who can blame them? The Truth must be made known to those who are too blind to see. Finally, Why I Don’t Trust Mitt Romney.

This last link answers many of the questions people may have about Mitt Romney. Full disclosure: that is, if you don’t trust him like I don’t.

This next article is about an amazing young man who started sending care packages to our Troops since the beginning of this war. His heart must be filled with gold, because his offerings to the Troops has blossumed! Please read the following:

Troops in the Spotlight – May 25th and 26th 2008
K-Mart Plaza Hyannis, MA
.

It is hard to believe that Troops in the Spotlight is just 4 months away!!! Plans are now under way but we can use your help. We are hoping that you can help get the word out – we are looking for businesses, schools, churches, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, community organization, and families to plan to do donation drives and/or fundraisers during the months of April and May; and then present their donations during Troops in the Spotlight. If you can help with this please let us know.

We are also looking for Airman, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard personnel who would be willing to participate during Troops in the Spotlight. Last year we raised almost $20,000. in cash donations and over 80,000. worth of supplies were donated. This year the goal is to double those amounts!!!

We will have flyers, posters available within the next week or so and would be happy to send you some. We are also updating our drop off sites, and of course we are always looking for new drop off locations.

We are looking for representatives for each town that would help to get their towns involved. We will also be offering a raffle during this years event and are in need of raffle items.

We would love to hear any suggestions that you may have. We want to make this year’s event a huge sucess!!! So far, we have sent out over 2500 care packages to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and continue to support several orphanages, schools and medical clinics in both countries. I made several visits to Bethesda Naval Hospital, and Brooks Army Medical Center. This year I hope to become more involved with our injured troops here at home, supporting not only our injured troops but also their families. Of course, I would like to send out another 1000 care packages by the end of the year!!! The goal for next year’s Christmas Care Packages is 200!!! This year we sent out 120.

Please mark your calendars now and plan to join us during Troops in the Spotlight. We really need a show of support during the event.

More information will be available next week on the web site www.capecod4thetroops.com.

Thank you again for all your support, Cape Cod Cares for the Troops has been so sucessful because of the support I have received from everyone.

Sincerely,

Dylan DeSilva
Cape Cod Cares for the Troops

PS Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who may be interested in helping to support our troops

Now for some news from Stop the ACLU. This first article is about who would be the best candidate on judges and standing up to the ACLU? Please feel free to pass these articles on to your friends.

Which Candidate Can We Trust on Appointing Constitutionalist Judges?

…For most people that think fighting the ACLU and judicial tyranny are high priorities, an important question is: who can we trust to appoint constitutionalist judges that don’t write laws from the bench?

Lets not forget that McCain led the gang of 14. Mark Levin reminds everyone:

McCain also led the Gang of 14, which prevented the Republican leadership in the Senate from mounting a rule change that would have ended the systematic use (actual and threatened) of the filibuster to prevent majority approval of judicial nominees.

This next one needs no explaination: “Gitmo Terrorist Lawyers Endorse Obama.” Imagine that.

Well, it’s already tomorrow, so I’m going to stop right here. See the next post for ACT! for America, American Congress for Truth, and many more. I’m almost caught up. Gosh, ya take one day to go to the doctor, and the e-mail overfloweth! lol. Have a great day everyone.

Today (since it is morning already) is going to be an open trackback day so I can continue catching up with everything. Have fun!

These are the posts I’ve linked to because, well, they’re just that good! lol Oh, I will be using Linkfest to find these posts.

Pet’s Garden Blog: Wednesday Hero~SSgt. Justin R. Whiting, The Virtuous Republic: Undocumented Immigrants, Real Crimes Afternoon Edition, Wolf Pangloss: The Oil Parable Open Trackbacks, Right Voices Hardy Har Har: Planned Parenthood Complains That $25/Mo Is Too High For The Pill..Obama Agrees, Leaning Straight Up Bush Derangement in Brattleboro cause blowback as city officials face harassment and scorn.

These are some posts that I found otherwise:

http://www.darrellepp.com: AMERICA ALONE, by Mark Steyn Public Enemy #1, More on the Styen thing, and Canadian Government Says Goodbye To Free Speech, Forces Private Citizen To Obey Sharia.

We really need to be careful about how these politicians mess with our free speech. I agree with Darrell. I should kiss the ground I walk on each day as I arise from the slumber Thou hast provided. Now. These are from Iraq the Model:

Iraq the Model: Hello my friends and Al-Qaeda’s in Iraq New Sponsor: Libya.

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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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Military and foreign news plus OTB

Today I am going to provide you with a list of news articles I have already posted. Just in case you do not read here regularly, I have decided to include them along with my Open Trackback Monday. Enjoy!

    Sadr City hospital renovations near completion.
    This is an individual article about the good work that the Iraqis and our men are doing together.

    Military News: Afghan, Iran, Iraq.
    This has three articles in it: Afghan Commandos graduate Armorer Training Program, Iranian boats approach U.S. Navy ships, and Marines train Iraqi Soldiers for battlefield success. There’s a little commentary written by me about this so-called ‘incident’. I’ve got your ‘incident’!

    Terror in Musa-Qala, Afghanistan.
    This is an article written by an Afghanistani friend of mine, and it should get your dander up, too.

    More Military News: Baby girl, students, clinic.
    This post has three articles in it, also. They are: Coalition, Afghan Soldiers save baby girl, Coalition troops aid Afghan students in Bagram, and Corps of Engineers completes al Mahaweel clinic.

Many of these articles discuss the good works that are taking place right under the looooooooong noses of the dinosaur media. Go figure, eh? Too bad there isn’t blood and gore connected with good works…

For this Open Trackback Monday, this is what you need to do. First, add my Permalink to your article. It doesn’t matter if you only take the permalink and use the name of my site to add it, just so long as you add it. Then give me a trackback, and I will do the same. That way, your post will get more exposure.

Another way to do this is to use Linkfest. It is very easy to join, and you be able reach many more people than you now. That is, if you care. 😉

Have a great day!

Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest:

Other links:
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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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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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Did God part the Red Sea?

While God performed many miracles during the time Moses was trying to free the Hebrew people, was there any evidence left behind to prove that the parting of the sea actually did happen? I’ll give you some sites, and you make your own conclusions.

First of all, there has been an archaeological find in the Red Sea which uncovered the presence of a very, very old chariot! One site is Wyatt Archaeological Research discusses the actual crossing, while part 4 discusses the actual discovery of an ancient chariot wheel. There are 5 parts altogether in this particular site.

Another site is World Net Daily. There is a word of caution from the wife of the archaeologist who first found an artifact:

“[At first] I thought everything was a chariot wheel!” Mrs. Wyatt exclaimed, noting how difficult it is for the untrained eye to distinguish an artifact from a piece of coral. “I’m just trying to be cautious about over-identifying too much. … It is God’s truth, and we can’t hype it up. We can’t add to it.”

However, she notes a big problem for explorers and scientists is that the Egyptian government no longer allows items to be removed from the protected region. Thus, someone claiming to find an artifact will have a hard – if not impossible – time verifying its authenticity, a classic catch-22.

This is very good advice. It is always wise to be cautious. It is also suspicious why the Egyptian government does not want the TRUTH to be known, if it is the truth. (I believe it to be true, artifacts or not.)

Here is another site for you to research: The Hebrew Red Sea Crossing (Exodus). It is quite long, and it includes Egyptian inscriptions that could be relevent to this event.

Maybe there is a group of scientists who are interested in this area not for Biblical purposes but for scientif accuracy? I searched the web over and I thought I thought found truth seekers, but phfffft I was wrong. No, seriously, there are some scientists who are interested, I’m sure. They just haven’t about it. I did leave a comment for one of them, so hopefully he will return my questions with answers.

I did, however, find a site that could bring some…uhmm…contraversy? (lol) The name of the site is Archaeology and the Exodus:

Biblical Archaeology is often divided into two camps: The “minimalists” tend to downplay the historical accuracy of the Bible, while the “maximalists,” who are in the majority and are by and large not religious, tend to suggest that archaeological evidence supports the basic historicity of the Bible text.

Oh my! Well, it is a Jewish site, and our brothers and sisters do love some color in their lives. (If there is nothing to discuss and agree or disagree, this is a day that has been wasted! lol) Ya know, I do believe many Christians are of the same cloth. 😉

So why do I insist on all this evidence? I do not. I just believe it is rather interesting that people would prefer to believe that life can from nothing, babies are not babies until they can breathe on their own (does that mean they are not babies if they on an incubator?), and all other types of nonsense. Yes, you may believe that I believe in nonsense, but that gives me the right to tell you that it takes more faith to believe what you believe! By the way, where is your scientific PROOF that man evolved from a slimy creature in the sea? Why aren’t there more of us? Why do we compliment each other? I thought this supposed to be random? Hmm.

No matter. I find it interesting, and that’s what matters. After all, it is MY site. lol. Have a great day everyone, and to my Christian friends, God bless you. To my Jewish friends, G-d bless you. 😉

Update: I forgot this:

Join the Christians Against Leftist Heresy blogroll sponsored by Faultline USA.

Have a blessed day

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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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News: Africa, Lebanon

There are three articles in particular that should be of import. They concern a war in the Horn of Africa (Somalia), Hizbullah trying to disrupt the elections in Lebanon so Syria can come back, and the prayers of a maniac in Iran telling the people that USA should stop meddling in Lebanon’s affairs.

EXCUSE ME?! We have Hizbullah slaughtering the Lebanese people on a daily basis, we don’t do anything about that because we are trying to allow them room to work things out and hopefully get up the courage they showed during the Cedar Revolution to kick out the Hizbullah creeps. To no avail, apparently, but to accuse us of meddling? You’ve got some nerve! God does NOT like being lied to or about, especially when He can see for Himself!

My article is Hizbullah troubles elections, Iran tells USA to stop meddlin, and these two articles discuss this: Geagea: Hizbullah obstructing election to bring Syria back and Tehran prayer leader tells US to leave Lebanon alone. They can be found at the Daily Star in Lebanon.

Going to Africa, Ethiopia has left the area which they were controlling in Somalia to keep the peace, and who do you think came trouncing right back in to make sure there would be none? That is correct. The islamists. They have taken control of a town in south-west Somalia. And these misguided people in the USA want us to just cut and run? NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT.

Here is that article: Islamists move in after Ethiopians leave Somali town.

Tonight was Saturday, but I can see that it is Sunday now. Whichever day you would like it to be, it is an open trackback day. Just add me to your post, trackback to me, and send me a ping. Have a great weekend, and stay home if you’re going to drink. 😉

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It is amazing to me how often ‘normal’ people are fooled by these punks. Okay, let’s do a little game called, ‘Connecting the dots.’

  • There was a war in Lebanon when the Izl-amists were trying to slaughter the Christians which were 50% of the at that time, and the Christians fought back. This started in 1975.
  • Israel stepped in to try to help.
  • We went in also to try to help stop the civil war.
  • On October 23, 1983 at 6:22 a.m., a large delivery truck drove to the Beirut International Airport where the Marine Barracks was located. The terrorist attack killed 220 Marines and 21 other U.S. service members who were stationed there to help keep the peace in a nation torn by war. [Source: Arlington National Cemetery.]
  • We left.
  • Syria moved in.
  • Christians fled instead of being slaughtered.
  • We have tried for decades to get Syria out of Lebanon.
  • Iran, through Hizbullah, blew up the Khobar Towers on June 25, 1996. Nineteen Americans were murdered and hundreds were injured. These were located in Saudi Arabia in 1996, and nothing was done about it. [Source(s): GlobalSecurity.org and OpinionJournal.com.]
  • The assassination of PM Rafik Hariri.
  • The rise of the Cedar Revolution.
  • Supposedly, Syria finally left Lebanon in April 22, 2005, after the Cedar Revolution. (What else was happening at that time? The ‘staying power’ of the USA during the Iraq War, perhaps? Hmm.) [Source: Spirit of America.]
  • Samir Kassir, a founding member of Lebanon’s Democratic Left movement, was assassinated by car bomb in Beirut. Along with this assassination in Lebanon and the UN refuses to release its findings of who ordered the first hit, Syria, Hizbulla, and Iran are all involved. [Source: Spirit of America.]
  • Which brings us to today’s articles.
  • I have not included many of the atrocities which have occurred in between these years for lack of space. Now Hizbullah is trying to interfere with the elections in Lebanon, and Iran is preaching in its Friday prayers that the USA should stop ‘meddling’ in the Lebanon elections. HUH? And these candidates for president want to talk to these people?

    If you sincerely believe that talking to these people will bring about peace in that region, may I recommend you switch therapists? Seriously.

    Sources: The Daily Star: Geagea: Hizbullah obstructing election to bring Syria back and Tehran prayer leader tells US to leave Lebanon alone.

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    As I was reading the Press Releases from US CentCom, I came upon this article. I read it cautiously, yet eagerly. Yes, that is hard to do. lol. Let’s just say I am cautiously optimistic.

    This article was written by someone at the Multi-National Division – North Public Affairs Office, and they did very well. IMHO. Here is what the article entailed:

    COB SPEICHER, Iraq – Task Force Iron Multi-National Division – North, The University of Tikrit Law School and the University of Baltimore Law School began an official affiliation via a video teleconference held at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq, Nov. 27. The program will culminate in six Iraqi students attending the Master of Laws program in Baltimore, Md.

    The program’s overriding goal is to “develop international relations, expand the international studies program at UBLS, and to further develop the graduates of the UTLS,” according to the official statement issued by the Provincial Reconstruction Team hosting the signing.

    The schools formalized the association by simultaneously signing Memorandums of Understanding during the conference. The documents state that schools will “engage in the exchange of faculty, students and academic programs for mutual benefit.”

    Additionally, the document notes that the schools will “collaborate with one another to establish, support and continue … the development of the Rule of Law and Civil Society.”

    The U.S. Departments of Justice and Defense will fund “six qualified individuals … who are representative of Iraqi society,” according to the MOU. These students will then return to Iraq to help in reconstruction with regards to the rule of law.

    “Iraq has been exposed to continuous wars, embargo, violations to human rights and occupation, and we hope from this agreement to improve all these conditions,” said Amir Ayaash, Dean of Tikrit University School of Law. “I hope this agreement will be the first step toward building and rebuilding an inclusive and full system in order to improve rightful relationship between Iraqi and American people. Universities play (a) fundamental role in all (of) this; thanks to (the) American people and Government to take this great step.”

    He added that when America built its country two centuries ago, it was based on true and sound laws, respecting human rights and that within these two centuries, “America become a super power because of its sound and rightful laws.”

    I find it encouraging that some Iraqis are going to learn our juris prudence. I just hope that the school they chose to perform this international relationship is not one of those Bush-bashing schools. I would hate for them to be betrayed once more.

    I chose this article to be my open trackback post for today, because it is uplifting, interesting, and it is also news that you will NOT hear from the NY Times, WaPo, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, or any of the other slew of useful idiots. Have a wonderful day.

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  • 10. Right Truth: Something stinks about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran.
  • 9. The Florida Masochist: From the Silly News Desk.
  • 8. The Florida Masochist: Speeding things up- Barely.
  • 7. The Amboy Times: Putin Wins, Chavez loses.
  • 6. The Florida Masochist: The Knuckleheads of the Day award.
  • 5. Wolf Pangloss: The Gnostic Golden Compass.
  • 4. 123beta: While I Was Away.
  • 3. Right Voices: Harry Reid: Incompetence.
  • 2. Wolf Pangloss: Baby Selling and Slavery.
  • 1. Planck’s Constant: Why Palestinian Children Die.
    The Florida Masochist: Great job coach.
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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.

    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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    RCT-2 takes to the skies to cover AO

    11 November 2007
    By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser
    2nd Marine Division

    AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — 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.

    Aero Scout is made up of Marines from different military occupational specialties ranging from infantry to administration. The team uses helicopters to quickly search areas of interest and scout out possible targets. “We fly around to areas that may be difficult for ground units to get to, and scout out any nefarious activity,” explained Cpl. Kyle D. Christian, the team’s radio operator. “We make the enemy feel like there is nowhere to hide, and we play a large role in reconnaissance also.” The group flies to large areas of open desert where they suspect illegal activity may be taking place, and take a closer look.

    “We are a reconnaissance asset,” said Maj. Robert B. Brodie, the Aero Scout mission commander. “Recon slash interdiction and disruption, that’s what we do. It comes down to economy of force. We enable the regimental commander to have a force that can do recon and show a presence across his entire area of operation.”

    According to the aeroscouts, in addition to their scouting mission, they also help out nomadic civilians on their frequent aerial exploits. “We do cache searches, vehicle searches and sweeps, but we also provide a humanitarian aspect to our mission,” said Sgt. Jason R. Carmody, the team’s platoon sergeant. “We hand out speedballs, backpacks filled with water, chow, toothpaste and other hygiene gear, and handbills with phone numbers they can call and photos of the most dangerous insurgents in their area.”

    Brodie, a Beaufort, S.C., native, explained the nomadic Bedouins the aeroscouts frequently come into contact with do not have the luxuries or communication assets local villagers may have access to. “They don’t get television or radio, so we help them out by providing them with information about what is going on in their country and who the bad guys are. We better enable the overall mission by opening more lines of communication and information sharing,” Brodie said.

    The Marines on the Aero Scout team said they enjoy what they do, and love the chance to get out and make a difference. “I get to go out and at the end of the day feel like I did something that mattered. It doesn’t make a difference if we rolled up a bad guy, found any weapons, or just collected some good intel, in the end it all fits together to help eliminate the threat to the Iraqi people,” said Christian, a Hallettsville, Texas, native. “There are no more stupid insurgents, they died a long time ago, so we are trying to fight very smart individuals who know what they are doing, and every piece helps fit the puzzle together so we can catch him.”

    The group usually takes a fire team of Iraqi soldiers with them on the helicopters to not only help with communication, but also show the civilians how far the Iraqi Security Forces have come in their training and dedication. “This lets the civilians know we are working together to take the weight of safety and security off their shoulders, so they don’t have to worry about getting attacked, the good guys are watching,” Christian said.

    “Simply put,” explained Brodie, “We are positively affecting the people of our AO by providing a secure environment in which we can cultivate nationalism.”

    The Aero Scout team has been working together for about four months, and has completed nearly 20 successful missions in support of RCT-2. “This is a regular group of guys, not specially trained, but because of their eagerness and will to make a difference, they were able to come together and make a successful unit and successful missions,” Brodie said.

    Photo – Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason S. Gamble, a corpsman with Regimental Combat Team 2’s Aero Scout team, provides security while the rest of the team searches a group of Bedouin tents. Aero Scout, technically a large squad of the provisional rifle platoon, is a mix of military occupational specialties ranging from infantry to administration. The team uses helicopters to quickly search areas of interest, and scout out possible targets. Photo by Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser. Digg! Digg!

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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.

    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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    So. They want us out of there, right? Then explain this:

    Thanks and Praise: I[, Michael Yon,] photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome.

    I find this quite amazing and encouraging. Do you think we’ll ever see this on the evening news? Yes. Sadly, me neither. It does not fit the mold of the sectarian civil war. That is why it is so important that we have people such as Michael Yon on the ground bringing us the truth. [He is over there with only the support we provide for him. If you like hearing the truth and would like to support to support him, you may do so here. Thank you.]

    I would like to share with you a couple of paragraphs he also wrote in this post.

    A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Infantry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

    The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. “Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” [This one made me tear up with pride.] Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.) [Continue reading.]

    Actually, the whole article has me beaming. Imagine a city, a state, a country who has finally found freedom after so many years, decades of oppressions.

    Our men and women are the best in the world, but they do not like that label. They are so humble. THAT is why I will stand up for them when they are attacked by idiots who know not of what they speak and when they are arrested unjustly. You bet your sweet touchy. God bless you for our freedom, and thank you for all your sacrifices. When you come home, I pray it is a joyous occasion. Godspeed.

    This will be Thursday’s Open Trackback. It must be shared. If you are from the press, READ HIS WARNING for this post. There are ways to find you, and he shall not be ripped off again.

    If you backtrack from here, all I ask is that you place a link in your article leading back to this article. Oh yes, no porn, also. Other than that, have at it, and have a great day.

    Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.

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    Posts I’ve trackbacked to: Perri Nelson’s Website, Dumb Ox Daily News, Nuke’s, Right Truth, Pirate’s Cove, The Amboy Times, Leaning Straight Up, High Desert Wanderer, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    Trackbacks to this post (most recent tb listed first): (Be right back, 12-14. Need to boot-up again. grrr.)

  • 15. Blue Star Chronicles: Joe Lieberman is Right.
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  • 10. third world county: Chapping my gizzard.
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    Blue Star Chronicles: The Lyrical Terrorist.
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  • 2. Wolf Pangloss: The Picture of Antioch College: A Tragedy of Manners.
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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.

    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…

    Posts I have trackbacked to: Nuke’s, CommonSenseAmerica, The Random Yak, third world county, Right Truth, The World According to Carl, The Populist, Grizzly Groundswell, Wake Up America, Webloggin, Phastidio.net, Big Dog’s Weblog, Outside the Beltway, Stop the ACLU, Perri Nelson’s Website, The Virtuous Republic, 123beta, Adam’s Blog, , The Populist, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, The Bullwinkle Blog, Pursuing Holiness, Adeline and Hazel, OTA Weekend, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Wolf Pangloss, Church and State, Woman Honor Thyself, and Conservative Cat, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    Kind people who have trackbacked to this post:
    1. Stix Blog: Dear friends and family.
    2. Blue Star Chronicles: The Lunatics Gather in San Francisco ….. Again.
    3. Blue Star Chronicles: Evil New Israeli Defence Force Secret Weapon – Str.
    4. Shadowscope: Weekend Open-Trackback Post.
    5. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Four.
    6. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Five.
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    8. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Eight.
    9. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day award Nine.
    10. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Three.
    11. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Two.
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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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    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.

    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.

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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.

    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: Military Press Release.

    BAGHDAD – An officer accused of aiding the enemy will stand trial Oct. 15-20.

    In a pre-trial session held at Camp Liberty, Iraq, Oct. 7, Lt. Col. William H. Steele plead guilty to three of the seven charges facing him. The charges Lt. Col. Steele plead guilty to carry a maximum penalty of six years confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and dismissal from the service.

    Those charges include:

    CHARGE IV: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92

    Specification 1: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele did, between on or about 18 February 2007 and 21 February 2007, violate a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 7-4, Army Regulation 380-5, dated 29 September 2000, by wrongfully storing classified information in his living space.

    Specification 2: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele did, between on or about 1 September 2006 and 21 February 2007, violate a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 4-32, Army Regulation 380-5, dated 29 September 2000, by improperly marking classified information.

    Specification 4: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele did, between on or about 18 February 2007 and 21 February 2007, violate a lawful general order, to wit: paragraph 2e, Multi-National Corps-Iraq General Order Number 1, dated 16 December 2006, by wrongfully and knowingly possessing pornographic videos.

    Lt. Col. Steele still faces four remaining charges. The charges below do not represent a finding of guilt and Lt. Col. Steele is presumed not guilty.

    CHARGE I: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 104

    Specification: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele, did, between on or about 1 October 2005 and 31 October 2006, aid the enemy by providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees.

    CHARGE II: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 134

    Specification: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele, did, between on or about 31 October 2006 and 22 February 2007, having unauthorized possession of classified information, violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 793(e), by knowingly and willfully retaining the same and failing to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States.

    CHARGE III: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 133

    Specification: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele, did, between on or about 1 December 2005 and 11 December 2006, knowingly and wrongfully provide special privileges to and maintain an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter, wherein such acts constituted conduct unbecoming an officer in the armed forces.

    CHARGE IV: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92

    Specification 3: In that Lt. Col. William H. Steele, having knowledge of a lawful order issued by the 89th Military Police Brigade Deputy Commander, did, on or about 22 February 2007, fail to obey the order.

    The trial has been previously postponed twice. August and September trial dates were delayed to allow additional trial preparation. Lt. Col. Steele is expected to remain in confinement at the Theater Field Confinement Facility at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, until trial.

    Charges against Lt. Col. Steele were referred to a general court-martial June 10. The remaining charges carry a maximum possible punishment of life imprisonment.

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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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    This is an e-mail I received before the fiasco:

    Hunter warns Columbia University
    Cancel Invitation to Iranian President

    September 24, 2007 Manchester, NH…
    At 11:30 a.m. this morning Congressman Duncan Hunter is holding a Town hall Meeting at the New England College, 98 Bridge Street, Henniker, New Hampshire in the Simon center. Hunter will issue a statement directed to Columbia University and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visit.

    In a recent press conference Hunter said “To host the leader of Iran when he supports terrorists that are moving deadly roadside bombs across the Iraqi border to be used against American troops is a slap in the face for the entire 165,000 men and women in Iraq and to those that have served before them.”

    “If President Lee Bollinger follows through with this hosting of the leader of Iran, I will move in Congress to cut off every single type of Federal Funding to Columbia University. If the left-wing leaders of academia will not support our troops, they, in the very least, should not support our adversaries.”

    “This event, following the slanderous action of MoveOn.org, depicting General Petraeus as “General Betray Us,” in the New York Times represents the emergence of the extreme left-wing in American politics.”

    This is what is happening now. There are many people who have opinions about this, but the only opinions that will matter, factually, are those in the Middle East. Did this president of a university insult many more Iranians than Ahmadinejad has done? Did anyone consider the culture of the Middle East and how they would react to an insulting introduction making it possible for this Hitlarian to claim victimhood? I can answer that. Insulted.

    This is precisely why so many of us who follow the affairs of the world, not just our next door neighbor, are so adament about not allowing this facist into our country to ‘speak freely’ so that they may be better understood.

    We already understand him. He and his minions want to kill all of us. Do you not understand this? I suppose not. What they may not be aware of is that Ahmadinejad offered them to join Islam in Farsi, which is traditional to do before they murder you. See, they offer you to join their cause so that you will be ‘saved’. But who will save you? God or the devil?

    Who believes in death and who believes in life? Who came to give life, and who is the source of the many wars all over this world? It was Jesus Christ who preached life. Not muhammed. Jesus warned that many would come after Him. Are we so blind that we cannot see? So deaf that we cannot hear peple saying, “I want to kill you!” and they mean it? I shall pray for America to repent of her sins and for God to our land. I hope you will join me.

    I am going to be bold by selecting this post as my open trackback today. May God help us all.

    Hat Tip: The Washington Post has supplied a transcript, LGF: Malkin’s Mahmoudapalooza, Michelle Malkin: Mahmoudapalooza: The madman comes calling, This ain’t hell, but you can see it from here: Protest at National Press Club Tele-Luncheon and YouTube: Protest at National Press Club.

    Trackback for this post: http://rosemarysthoughts.com/2007/09/24/a-day-in-the-life-of-columbia-university-students/trackback/

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    Although it was told to us today that he would not be allowed to go to ground zero, he is defying all warnings and going anyway. Why shouldn’t he? WE HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING to convince him that we are the kind of people that will stand up to him and kick his arse for coming near sacred land.

    Why does he want to go there? For the photo op. You can bet al Jazeera will be, and it will be all over the news in the Middle East. What will the Middle East think? That we are COWARDS. And I can’t say as I blame them. After all, he was told no, he did it anyway, and he will have OUR SECRET SERVICE to protect HIM!

    You just do not know how much I wish I were there so I could ask him about those political prisoners in Evin Prison Room 209, the murder of innocent women, the lack of payment for work performed, why they are not allowed to unionize, etc. I hate this worthless piece of skin and bones so much, you just do not know.

    I’m not the whipped chic you find around here. I’m from New York. I know when there is an enemy in our midst. I just never thought our government would play the role of this cretons protector or go along with his plans. They should arrest this damn terrorist!

    He will never get to see ground zero, go home and brag about how brave his 19 men were, and live to tell about it. I’m counting on the the brave Americans that I used to know to do to him what his own people are in prison for as I write. Speak their heads off! Loudly and longly. Ya know, you don’t need a permit if it is spontaneous…

    I am going to use this post so that all of you who believe he is not going there will be alerted and can call your government officials toll free at 1-866-340-9281. PLEASE.

    Update: Columbia University’s claim that they had cancelled Ahmadinejad’s invitation to speak is a big fat LIE. You, sir, are a LIAR! That would be President Bradley A. Blakeman of Columbia University. Yes, you are scum. You invite our enemies into clutches, but you deny our ROTC to step foot on OUR property? You really should reconsider the roll in this world, seeing as if Iran takes over (which is their plan), you will be one of the first to be hanged. HANGED. Ask the teachers in Tehran. Oh, wait a minute. You cannot. THEY’RE DEAD. So much for free speech…

    Anyone who gives money to Columbia University is supporting terrorists, and they are also using our tax dollars to do it. His convey, which is almost as large as President Bush’, comes out of yours and my pockets. Nice, eh? NO TO TERRISTS! NO TO THEIR LEADER, Ahmadinejad! Thank you for your time.

    Hat/tip: A commenter over at Causes of Interest (the first one), Iraq’s Inconvenient Truth, Freedom’s Watch. Please read and watch what they have available.

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    Here is the trackback for Rosemary’s Thoughts.com: http://rosemarysthoughts.com/2007/09/20/ahmadinejad-to-visit-ground-zero/trackback/

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    95%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?LOL. There is no way this test of 14 questions can be accurate. Just because I found something I like, and I can find more news online does not make me an addict! Just because I’ll blog about anything (such as this!) does not make me addict. Just because I have over 5 blogs, they did not allow me to explain that I’m trying to move each site over to this one so I could blog quicker and about everything right here. No, this is not nor is it an accurate test of my character. I refuse to be an addict, plain and simple! Come on, guys, I already gave up the booze. What more do you want?! 😉

    Update: On a more serious note, here is an article that everyone should read about President Bush’ visit to the al Anbar province: The Gettysburg of This War, by Frederick W. Kagan.

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    I do believe this is just the right post to give everyone a chuckle, so I am going to use it for my trackback today. After all, could we all use a chuckle every now and then, right? 😉

    These are the post which I have trackbacked to: Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, Webloggin, Leaning Straight Up, The Bullwinkle Blog, Conservative Thoughts, Diary of the Mad Pigeon, Walls of the City, Pirate’s Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, Planck’s Constant, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker, Dumb Ox Daily News, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are the kind people whom have trackbacked to this post:

  • Potbelly Stove: The morality of some ‘Hollywood’ types.
  • Right Truth: The new anti-semitism – same as the old semitism.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Knucklehead of the Day award.
  • The Florida Masochist: Double Talk.
  • Faultline USA: Mexican Trucks Start Rolling Across America Tomorrow.
  • DeMediacratic Nation: Durban II; It Ain’t Dick!
  • DeMediacratic Nation at Townhall: Durban II; It Ain’t Dick!
  • Blue Star Chronicles: The ACLU Tries to Weigh Down the US Military with Paperwork.
  • Blue Star Chronicles: D.C. Mayor Argues Against the Second Amendment.
  • Blue Star Chronicles: Germans Arrest Three Terror SuspectsIn Plot Against.
  • Mark My Words: Plenty of shame to go around.
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    Peace in the Middle East!

    No, it is not my title. It is the title of an Israeli man, Abe, who is friends with a friend of mine, Bos’un. Bos’un sent me this e-mail because Abe does not yet have a blog of his own. I am proud to post his words and thoughts here.

    That elusive thing called peace. Israelis write love-songs and dedicate poetry to peace. Children are introduced to the concept in kindergarten and grow up believing in ultimate peace in the Middle East. Songs that have come out during Israel’s many wars have a verse or part of a verse dedicated to peace.

    What is this peace and how is it viewed? Israelis have a very naive and childlike picture of peace. As one battle hardened veteran tank officer once confided in me, “Peace means that we would go to their houses and they would come to ours.” A “cold peace” such as exists between Israel and Egypt was not imagined by most Israelis. Egypt turns a cold shoulder towards Israel but maintains a condition of “no war,” which is apparently as close as it permits itself to come to “peace.”

    Jordan, the other Arab country to have a peace agreement with Israel also distances itself from Israel socially. While the country has agreements with Israel that include agricultural, industrial and transportation, the people themselves are not exactly brimming with joy at the fact. This can be explained partially by the fact that over 70% of Jordan’s population is Palestinian.

    There is another reason why the two Arab countries that have a peace agreement with Israel seem standoffish towards it: Neither one of those two countries is a democracy. Israel is a democracy, and a very loud one. As Israel’s first Prime-Minister, David Ben-Gurion, said, “It’s difficult to be a Prime-Minister in a country full of Prime-Ministers.” Israelis are very vocal in their criticisms of politicians, authors, actors and many other “performers”. A friendly discussion between Israelis looks, to outsiders, as if a full-fledged battle is about to erupt.

    Not so in Egypt or Jordan. Criticism of the government is downright dangerous in Egypt. In Jordan it isn’t wise unless you are participating in a demonstration that is pro-Palestinian and, of course, anti-Israeli. The governments of both countries are wary of having their people get too close to Israelis and pick up their cavalier attitude towards government. French soldiers, while serving in America’s War of Independence, learned about democracy and about speaking out. They were one of the many seeds that eventually produced the French Revolution.

    The Arab governments of Egypt and Jordan wish to maintain control over their respective populations and, naturally, wish to keep them away from those “independent-minded troublemakers,” the Israelis.

    What do the people think? The regular Egyptian is a very friendly individual. He hates nobody and just wants to support his family (a very, very tough job in Egypt). On my first trip to Cairo after “peace” was established, I walked up to a street-vendor of peanuts and asked him how much the peanuts cost. Noticing that my Arabic was Palestinian dialect, he asked me where I was from. When I told him that I was from Israel, he thanked Allah and the prophets for permitting him to see the day that an Israeli could legally walk the streets of Cairo. He then told me that, for me, a serving of peanuts was free of charge. He was obviously a poor man and the price was, no doubt, considerate of Egyptian third-world incomes. My income, in Israel, was astronomic compared to his, and I argued with him, telling him that I wished to pay. He wouldn’t hear of it, and called to a friend, half a block away, a vendor of cold drinks, to give me a discount on such a hot day. I ended up sitting on the curb eating peanuts and drinking ice-cold “Tamar-Hindi” (a delicious drink derived from the “heart” of the date palm), while carrying on a hearty conversation with half a dozen Egyptians. The whole picture seemed surreal (and still does).

    And how about the Palestinians?

    I’m glad you asked me that question. This calls for a story: Once upon a time in 1968, I was in a car driven by a reserve infantry officer. I was at the time a tank driver and the third occupant of the car was a fellow tanker, a gunner, from my company. We were on our way to our camp at the Mitle Pass. We were passing through Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, when the driver realized we were low on gas. We drove through the town looking for a gas station. We finally asked a local who told us there was one near the market. We drove to the open-air market and, indeed, there was a gas station. Manning the pump, we looked around. We were surrounded by Arabs, all jabbering and trying to get close to us. We had an interesting conversation while filling gas. We were at their mercy, having two Uzis and a pistol between us. The crowd could have disarmed us and torn us to pieces in seconds. Instead, we enjoyed friendly banter and a loud, “Go in Peace,” when we were done.

    Later, I became very friendly with the workers at my sister’s farm. My sister and brother-in-law operate a farm just three km from the Gaza Strip border near Rafah. The workers would come every day and were like family. They demonstrated a willingness to support their families and live in peace. The last thing they wanted was to blow themselves up and take my brother-in-law with them.

    All this, of course, means nothing when the terror organizations come into play. The “silent majority” of the population will not lift a finger against Hamas in Gaza. They are terrified of them and just bow their heads waiting for the storm to pass. In the meantime, Hamas fires rockets at Israel (including my sister’s village) and Israel holds back because of the innocent people in Gaza. Israel retaliates when Israelis get killed. There is a bit of quiet, and the story begins again within days.

    Peace in the Middle East? It can only come about when a common enemy unites the moderates. I remember in 1969 (I think) General Shlomo Goren landed with a helicopter in the middle of our tank park. The battalion was parked in two rows with a large empty area of desert in the middle. The Bell Huey landed in the center sending a whirlwind of sand down our throats. The Chief Chaplain of the IDF General Rabbi Shlomo Goren stepped out and began to speak. He was a great speaker and we were mesmerized. One thing remains stuck in my head from that speech: “The lord doesn’t rely on the Jews. He knows we can’t be relied upon. Rather, he relies on our enemies. He knows that they will not lay down their arms until we have attained everything he intends us to.”

    Maybe, just maybe, the extremists are doing just that; forcing the moderates to co-operate. The less extreme Arab countries are beginning to realize what the monster is capable of, and they see that Israel is a solid force to rally behind. Many problems can be solved under the threatening shadow of Muslim extremism.

    But then again, maybe I’m just a nai¯ve Israeli.

    Abe

    He writes very movingly, and I hope you will all visit Bos’un’s site to let him know. This way, he can encourage his friend to go ahead and set up a blog and let ‘er rip! 🙂

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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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    This is an amazing achievement by the Iraqis, but it is good news so don’t expect it to be covered by the dinosaur media. There is an article written by Robert McFarlane over at the Free Republic. The title of this article is, “A Fatwa Against Violence–Top Sunni and Shia clerics look toward reconciliation.”

    This is a remarkable article about the Iraqi’s coming together against the terrorists. The Sheiks, the Clerics, and other religious figures who met in Cairo on the 24th of August will meet again in Dubai on Friday, August 31, 2007, if I remember correctly from Hugh Hewitt’s radio program. What I heard was fascinating.

    Imagine WWII and there was a country wrought with war. Also imagine that the German people were finally sick and tired of this little pipsqueak, so they had decided to overthrow the government. Would we have helped them? Remember, we had a different media back then. We were all in this together, and there was no mistaking that.

    This is HUGE! These religious people have decided to go to their followers, one of them has 20 million followers alone, and they are going to give the fatwa that states, “… end terrorist violence, and to disband militia activity in order to build a civilized country and work within the framework of law.” Do you realize what this means?

    When a Sheik or a Cleric makes a fatwa, it is considered law. The people must obey. This time, this fatwa, this means they and we are having much progress. For the first time in a long time, the Sunnis realize publically that there is room for them in this new government, and they want to participate. The Shia’s also want the violence ended. It is better to have a united Iraq than a divided one.

    Wait a minute…I thought I heard the media…nope. It was just a bug…

    Don’t forget to read these two articles as well:

    I listened to them and believe me, it is much more powerful when you actually hear him. He has that old cowboy back, and he isn’t playing around. It’s about time.

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    (In case anyone is wondering, I will be starting the Open Trackback tomorrow. That is why you do not see any action yet. Okay? lol)

    Okay, it is now Wednesday, so I can post this news as one of my Linkfest posts. Please follow these simple rules: No porn.

    These are the posts that I have trackbacked to: Diary of the Mad Pigeon, Leaning Straight Up, The Bullwinkle Blog, Faultline USA, Conservative Thoughts, Webloggin, The Virtuous Republic, and The Amboy Times, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are also links I found at Linkfest, but for some reason they did not appear on my pinger. Hangings, Executions and other good stuff, by Right Truth. Pigeontrack: Dark Passage, by Diary of a Mad Pigeon.

    These are the trackbacks from those people who were nice enough to stop by:

  • DeMediacratic Nation: Non-Sense of the Senate Resolution.
  • Faultline USA: America at a Crossroads –The Missing European Anti-America.
  • CommonSenseAmerica: 27 Cases of Illegal Alien Sexual Assault Against Children in 30 days.
  • Planck’s Constant: Let New Orleans sink into the Ocean.
  • Planck’s Constant: Moron Leona Helmsley leaves dog 12 million bucks.
  • Potbelly Stove: And, they criticize Iraq.
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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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    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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    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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    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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    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
    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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    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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    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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    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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    A Letter to the People of Iraq

    There is a letter being sent to the people of Iraq that I found over at Victory Caucus. This is a wonderful site, and I highly recommend you sign up and join us.

    You do not have to be a conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, or whatever label they choose to ascribe upon us. Just as long as you love America and wish for her victory (hence the name, lol)

    This letter is one of encouragement and to let the Iraqi people know that we know how to go around the media when it is necessary. It is necessary. Our press appears to be working for al Jazeer! So we shall carry the message ourselves. Please join us. When I signed the petition, I was only #13. I know we can do better than this! We are better than this. Thank you for all of your support for our troops and the people we are helping to help us.

    Here is the petition: Online petition – A letter to the Citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iraq.

    Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis Add this post to Fark Add this post to Technorati Add this post to Del.icio.us Dig This Story

    This is the post for an open trackback. Please take a moment to sign the petition and take a look at Victory Caucus. Thank you, and have a wonderful day. 🙂

    The Bullwinkle Blog: Moosetracks Open Trackback, third world county: More Envirowacko B.S, Blog @ MoreWhat.com: Open Trackback Linkfest 07/17/2007, Perri Nelson’s Website: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Woman Honor Thyself: NYPD Terror Report Open Trackback Weekend, Adam’s Blog: The Tort Reform Song Weekend Open Trackbacks and The Yankee Sailor: Weekend Open Post. Outside the Beltway, The World According to Carl, Shadowscope, Nuke’s News & Views, Blog @ MoreWhat.com With many thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

  • Stop the ACLU: Friday Free For All.
  • Linkfest participants who tracked back:

  • Blue Star Chronicles: Wear Red on Friday Blog Round-Up.
  • Church and State: My Birthday – Weekend Open Trackback.
  • Potbelly Stove: What’s up with Putin?.
  • Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: Hurricane Dean is heading for Jamaica and growing.
  • Right Truth: Dhimmitude abounds, but there is good news.
  • Right Truth: U.S. Politics (groan).
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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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    Whether Michael Yon uses pictures or words, he gets his message across with words that are not meant to confuse, boast, spin, or go above one’s pay grade. He has written a very good article about what was going on in Iraq before left for ‘somewhere in Indonesia’. The name of it is Three Marks on the Horizon.

    If you would like to read a blogger’s up-close eye view, this is the site I recommend for you. Michael Yon has been to Iraq and Afghanistan with the only assistance coming from you and me. He is not on anyone’s side except American’s. How precise and rare that is these days…

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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 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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    Lebanon had by-election voting yesterday. Partly due to “two assassinated [Pierre Gemayel and Eido] anti-Syrian lawmakers in the latest showdown between the government and its opponents.” The Christian candidate, Michel Aoun, won, but the official count has not been announced as of yet. Read the whole story at Bahrain Tribune. If that link does not work, try this one. Have a blessed day.

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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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    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 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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    Michael Yon is one terrific guy, but gosh, can he move or what? I write one post and it seems as though there are three more of his! Oh, I’m not really complaining. NO! I love his writings most of the time. At least I know I will get a glimpse of what is really happening and truthfulness.

    Well, let’s get down to it. I have been backed up pretty much on everything, and Michael is no exception. Let me confess right now. I’ve taken on too much. I have too many sites, and that is why I started this one. Everything goes here, as you now know. One blog, well, two. I have kept my DoD Daily News-2 blog for military news. I just have to know what is happening, because I certainly am not getting any news from our media.

    And that brings us back to Michael. This is how I found Michael around three years ago. I am certainly grateful that I did. Here are his latest articles:

  • 7 Rules: 1 Oath.
  • American Legacy: Wayne Downing.
  • Bird’s Eye View, The Battle for Baqubah.
  • Video.
  • Bread and a Circus: Part One.
  • These are full of information you will never read in our newspapers. I highly recommend you spend some time really trying to educate yourself about what is happening over here. Do not let anyone bamboozle you. You are smarter than that. You are more deserving than the junk you’ve been receiving as ‘news.’ Have a wonderful day.

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    First allow me to introduce those who are unaware of AIFD (American Islamic Forum for Democracy) to this organization. It was founded by M. Zuhdi Jasser in March 2003. Why have you not heard of him before? Ask the media. He does not fit the mold. How many conservate black citizens do hear from? To learn more about when this organization was created and why, you will find that information here.

    The next part of this discussion will come to you in articles that were either written by or including Mr. Jasser. They are as follow:

  • Some say schools giving Muslims special treatment. USA Today.
  • Accommodation as an Islamist Political Instrument.
  • NRO Symposium: Suicide Reversal? Polling the Muslim World. National Review Online.
  • Congressman Ellison Carries the Islamists’ Water. Family Security Matters.
  • When Will We Learn? Family Security Matters.
  • CAIR’s Islamism Revealed. Family Security Matters.
  • Why The Pew Study of American Muslims is Dangerously Incomplete. Family Security Matters.
  • He is a very prolific writer, and he is quite genuine. I’ve heard him speak more times than the president (which isn’t saying much!), and he is willing to stand up for what is right and America. Fortunately, the two go together! 🙂

    Do not forget to check out the video he has on his webpage. He has a remarkable website with much news. You may want to add his site onto your sidebar. When you wonder when the Muslims are going to speak up and speak out, you can find out pretty soon right there. The dinosaur media cannot hide everyone forever. This is not Iran…

    Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis
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    Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, third world county, Right Truth, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, The Amboy Times, Cao’s Blog, Leaning Straight Up, Dumb Ox Daily News, Right Voices, and Conservative Thoughts, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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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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    WARNING: Not age appropriate; Video

    This is a video where you must be over 18 years old to view. That is why I am linking to the video instead of having it here.

    There is some writing on this video, however, which I believe would be alright to share. Sometimes these videos go by so fast that I cannot read it all, so I have decided to write it down for you in case you missed it.

    MNF-Iraq

    A sniper that fired on Coalition Forces was killed by an attack helicopter Northeast of Baghdad. July 14, 2007.

    (No sound.)

    After the sniper was killed, Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division were able to proceed beyond the bridge where they later discovered a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device factory in the Qanat Banat al Hasan area.

    The car bomb factory contained 2,000 lbs. of ammonium nitrate, 1,000 lbs. of nitric acid, 10 large shape charges and two trucks already rigged for detonation. Artillery fire was used to destroy the factory.

    WWW.MNF-IRAQ.COM.

    It lasts only 1:46 minutes. Great job, guys.

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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 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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    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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    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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    Michael Yon is one of the best citizen reporters we are blessed to have in these days of war and peace. He does a wonderful job of bringing the news, no matter the state of the news, so that we may be informed of the truth. Why do I say this?

    I say this because Michael is an American, and he never forgets that. He is not ashamed to be an American! Most ‘journalists’ are ‘world’ journalists, which leads them to consider America as just another country. Not the place of their birth, not the place that gave them all the opportunities they have taken advantage of, not the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. No. They hate America, subconsciously perhaps, but they do.

    I can no more trust my enemy to tell me how this dress looks on me than I can trust a reporter who would rather see our enemies be victorious. The arguement may not be comparible, but I assure you that all the women readers of this know exactly what I mean! (For you brave gents, let’s assume you took your prized car to the mechanic of your enemy…get it? lol)

    Okay. I have been so busy that I have fallen behind in my posting of Michael’s articles. That is why I am going to give them to you as a ‘gathering’ (not to be confused with the wonderful group known as, “A Gathering of Eagles“).

    Here we go. This article was posted on Independence Day. Michael states clearly that when you see the fireworks and hear the booms, try to imagine the sounds of jets and helicopters and the occasional screams, and that should give a slight idea of life at this time in Baquba, Iraq. The article he has written for us is “Bless the Beasts and Children.” He has also issued this: “A warning to those with children: some of the photographs in this dispatch may be too graphic for young ones.”

    In this email he let us know that he has updated “Update on Bless the Beasts and Children.” He also notes that there is a growing number of readers whom are becoming more and more furious at the media for not paying any attention to these facts on the ground, such as well documented mass-murders. Yet they are more than happy to publish anything that is ugly, wrong, fabricated by al Qaida, and so on. This is covered in the update.

    There seems to be some difficulty with the archives for people who are new to Michael’s site, so he gave us a list of really good dispatches while he works on fixing the problem.

    The Kids!, Hello, Ameriki, Little Girl, Killing for God, Lost in Translation, Whipping Boy, Camp Bastion, The Floating Village and The Hands of God.

    In Baqubah Update 05-July-2007, Michael spoke with an Iraqi official in Baqubah, Iraq. They spoke about al Qaida’s treatment of those who disagreed with them. He did not comment on the truthfulness of this reporting by the official, because there were too few “specifics.”

    They found mass-grave sites about 3 1/2 miles away, which gives just a clue, however, as to al Qaida responds. There were bodies of decapitated children and possibly their mothers as well as men. Michael actually visited the site, so it is not just what someone told him. ‘That grim discovery was the focus of “Bless the Beasts and Children.”‘

    There were many people who picked up his article, many heavy-weights as well. Rush includes his sources names to give the reporter proper due. If you see any of Michael’s dispatches or hear of them being read without giving credit, please let him know. HIS WORK IS COPYWRITED.

    He doesn’t mind that we share it amongst ourselves and others, but please remember to always name your source! It is good to have the people understand the truth about what is really happening. This can lead to an intelligent discussion (not like they have in the Senate!).

    Whether or not the stories are true about al Qaida’s horrendous behavior, ever since the plan set to take place (and did so in Baqubah on 19 June), ‘the citizens of Baqubah are very happy, markets are opening, and there has been practically zero fighting in the last couple of weeks. For the latest, please read “Second Chances.”‘

    This dispatch was written on June 12, 2007, while Michael was still in Baquba. I heard his radio interview with Hugh Hewitt at 4pm PCT. It was wonderful to hear your voice again, Michael. 🙂

    His dispatch for today is Al Qaeda on the Run.

    Another day, another dispatch. Superman.

    I am going to quote these, because I think they deserve it.

      I made an appearance today (Tuesday) from Baqubah on Good Morning America to talk about events in Baqubah. That video should be available on their site, and includes loud combat video I shot yesterday (Monday.)

      I will be appearing on the Laura Ingraham radio show tomorrow (Wednesday.) We realize the site has become difficult to navigate after growing beyond all expectations, both in content and readership. The site will be overhauled during the coming months, but the work is very expensive so this will happen in stages.

      This site depends 100% on reader support. Every bit helps and is critical. We’ll revamp the site as funding permits to allow for easier searches, and will continue to bring cutting edge stories from the war.

    I hope you enjoy them, give them the recognition they deserve, and take heart. If you are so moved, there is a place on his site for you to donate to help him. He is out there on his own. If you would like to know why this man was motivated to go to Iraq and Afghanistan so many times, I’m sure you will be able to find this explanation. In the meantime, I will look for it and place it in a link here. 🙂

    Add this post to Fark Add this post to Technorati Add this post to Del.icio.us Dig This Story TrackBack @ My Newz ‘n Ideas.

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    Today I have read an article by Mohammed of Iraq the Model (ITM), and I must say I concur. The Middle East is a hot spot today, to those of you who have no idea about the Middle East. To those who live there, to those who have become educated, it is an ongoing cycle that must be broken in order for victory to be achieved.

    We have Israel in a war with Hamas and Hizbollah, and we have the Coalition Forces and Iraqis in a war with ex-Ba’athists, militias, Syrians, Saudis and Iranians. Iran is on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons capability, and all the people on the outside want to do is talk. They do not understand the mindset of the Middle East.

    The one with the most strength and endurance is the victor. It has been this way forever. The Revolutionary War took 8 years! The last Brit to leave was evacuated from Brooklyn, NY November 25, 1783. If our freedom was worth this much rancor, so is the Middle East’s. (Source: REVOLUTIONARY WAR TIMELINE.)

    We have talked for years as Iran used its knowledge to develop nuclear weapons. What did this achieve? The Iranian people suffered more at the hand of Ahmadinejad, human rights were grossly violated daily, people were murdered in prison by the guards. Some of them were raped. Where is the outrage? Where are the investigations?

    We have forced Israel to sit at the table with terrorists who are bent only on their destruction, and what did Israel get in return? War. Let me ask you this: If President Bush wanted to sit down with Osama bin Laden after September 11, 2001, would you have agreed with him or have him impeached? I know my answer, so why should Israel’s be any different?

    We have to put an end to these terrorists, and that means killing them dead. If it takes a few tapings of rubbing their faces in pigs blood and showing it to the Middle East to show we mean business, maybe then they would get the message. Their families would be disgraced, they would not be going to heaven, and the next time you kill another innocent? We take someone from Gitmo and slit his throat after dipping the knife in pigs blood.

    My heart aches everyday as I hear about the Iraqis, Lebanese, Israelis, and Iranians dying. Let us get serious, and understand once and for all: WE ARE AT WAR.

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    Thatcher’s (Son) Lawyers Challenge Charges.

    Apparently, he is accused of aiding in the effort of trying to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled Africa’s third largest oil producer’s for the past 25 years. His claims of innocence will be heard for 2 days. Note: He has been arrested but not charged. They claim to seek only extradition to Brittain.

    Interview.

    Jamie Glazov interviewed Mr. Carl Zinmeister about his book Dawn Over Iraq. He is an imbedded reporter who went back to Baghdad in January for a few months to get the real pulse. Recommended reading. Hat tip to Rob from the Kommentariat.

    More than one reason to drop in on Sudan This is a site I ran across back in August, and I highly recommend it. You can find news on just about any place of interest to you.

    Hat tip to Kathy Kinsley.

    It’s about time. “The National Regulatory Commission has shut down its online document library, pending a review to determine what potentially sensitive documents should be removed because they might be useful to terrorists…” Really? Do ya think? Well, do you?

    This is 10/26/04. We were attacked on 09/11/01. Did they have enough time?! For God’s sake, what the heck is wrong with you?

    Karzai Clear Winner
    By Stephen Graham.
    Associated Press WriterKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — More than two weeks after Afghanistan’s first presidential election, vote counting wrapped up Tuesday and interim leader Hamid Karzai emerged with a resounding victory. Well, well. How about that! I am so happy for Afghanistan, and I will be just as happy for Iraq after their elections. Freedom is on the march!

    Deadly Flash Point.
    Against popular belief, Communist China is NOT becoming more democratized. Free trade is not working. China is our enemy.

    “Relations with Taiwan are governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, which stipulates that the U.S. is bound to assist Taiwan in defense against attack. Congress passed the Act in April 1979, after U.S. President Jimmy Carter stripped Taiwan of formal recognition as the true government of China, and recognized the Communist government in Beijing as the sole government of the Chinese people.”

    “Neither sanctions from the world community, nor the threat of the loss of the 2008 Olympics, would deter China from invading Taiwan, if the moment seemed right….

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    Evidence?

    My Newz ‘n Ideas.

    It has been well known for quite some time now that you will find some people prone to conspiratorial thinking. Let us start with: The war in Iraq was for oil. If that were true, why is gas more expensive now than before the war? France, Germany, Russia, and China had contracts for future oil sales, and they were the most strident obstructionist. Could it be that they were all involved in the Oil for Food scandal that is under investigation as I write this? Their contracts are now null and void, since the government they dealt with no longer exists! Yes, it is indeed they who were against us because of your precious oil. Tsik tsik tsik.

    Second, there are no weapons of mass destruction and there never were. Okay, then why did Bill Clinton bomb Iraq in 1998? Why did 15 out of 15 members of the UN Security counsel vote to have Saddam turn them over or else…? Clinton, Albright, Burger, France, UK, Spain, Germany, and other countries all had intelligence that he did indeed have these weapons. If President Bush was had bad intelligence (which he didn’t,) then everyone was wrong. Ultimately thought, there is only one person who is to blame, that could have prevented the war. That is your darling Saddam. This is what happens when we don’t stick together. What don’t you understand about “Either you are with us or you are against us.” Saddam was dancing in the streets on September 11, 2001. I have not forgotten, have you?

    Last, but not the least of this argument, why did we FIND Saran nerve agent if it wasn’t there? What about the mustard gas, the 3000 chemical suits we found hidden in a hospital during the 3 week war, the soldiers that became ill due to exposure to WMD, and on and on? It happened because it is true. No conspiracy here, sorry.

    Maybe the President is friends with the Saudi Arabian government? Well, every president since FDR has been friends with the Saudis. It’s called diplomacy. You cannot scream for the diplomacy for a murderous dictator, Saddam, drive your fancy cars, scream about the price of gas, deny us the ability to drill for oil on our own soil, and not expect us to keep diplomatic ties with the Saudis. They are even moving toward local elections, or haven’t you heard through your pathetic screeching?

    Yes, there is a movement going on in the Middle East. People see what the Iraqis are able to do and wonder why they are not allowed. Freedom is the only thing that once you taste it, you can’t stop it from spreading. Are you forgetting Tienamin Square? I can assure they have not. Communism will fall. It cannot stand. It is evil the way it has to be implemented. If you were decent people, you would do what I do-buy American as much as you can. I realize computers are no longer made it this country. Thank you, lefties, for driving them away, and then you scream there are no jobs. Well, I’d have to say you’re right. Have you ever owned a business here? Capitalism was not meant to be an arm of the government, you fascist idiots with your regulations!!!! Please excuse me. You may have noticed that I have just about had it with these children dressed in grownup clothes.

    Do you not realize we are in WWIV? (Yes, the cold war was WWIII.) Lay off our, my, president. Your hatred will destroy you. If you want to destroy yourself, fine, just don’t take me with you. That is exacly what you are doing. The Middle East and al Qaida are watching everything you do. If they see disunity, they feel safe. Do you want the blood of your fellow countrymen on your hands? Keep acting like you know no better. You, we, will all the price. I am not saying shut up. I am asking you to THINK before you speak. That’s all. I hope and pray for the Afghani and Iraqi people, that they may continue to know sweet freedom, and never again let a dictator destroy your beauty and spirit.

    Well, now that I have given you some facts to ponder, although I really want to yell and scream at you that you are fighting the wrong people-we are not the enemy!-now I can go to sleep with a smile upon my face. A sad smile, yes, but a smile nonetheless.

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