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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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Source: CentCom.

by Norris Jones
Jan. 7 2008
.

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

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

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

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

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 The toilets were overflowing, the air was stagnant, the medical equipment was outdated and much of it didn’t work.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

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

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Source: .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Sister services, brothers in arms

Source: US CentCom.

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

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

“Army-Navy.” GO NAVY! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: US CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: US CentCom.

18 Sept 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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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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Sept 07
By Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Amid various media reports of water shortages in Baghdad, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy) continues to help the residents of the Mada’in Qada find short- and long-term solutions to insurgent-created water distribution problems. Soldiers from the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy), performed an assessment of the Al Bawi pump station, outside Salman Pak, Sept. 4, 2007.

Holland, Ohio, native Lt. Col. Todd R. Ratliff, 42, Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander, inspected the building, the pumps and the generators at the facility. “This was an assessment to verify information we were getting from the Qada Council,” he explained.

The Mada’in Qada Council is working to rebuild the pump station damaged in an attack by Sunni insurgents, March 17, 2007. The insurgents targeted the station in an attempt to deny irrigation and drinking water to the Shia population in the towns of Nahrwan, Wahida and Jisr Diyala.

Maj. James Carlisle, 42, from Palm Beach, Fla., chief of Civil Military Operations, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said he is pleased with the progress of the station. “The Iraqi government continues to install more pumps and increase water capacity,” he said. “The progress we see exceeds Coalition forces’ expectations.”

At the station, workers are trying to overcome power issues that prevent the station from running effectively, explained one of the site workers through an interpreter. The station has five generators. Only two of them are currently working. “The power grid is not reliable,” said Ratliff. “They need a new electrical system out there. You could see wires hanging everywhere.”

Ratliff sees some signs of progress. “They are doing okay with what they have,” he said. “What we will do now is go back and review what we have and see what we can do to help.”

Photo – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Todd R. Ratliff, 42, commander Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy), 3rd Infantry Division, talks with workers at the Al Bawi pump station, outside Salman Pak, Sept 4, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ben Hutto.

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Source: The New Afghanistan After Years of War.

This is an Afghanistan friend of mine who is keeping track of what is happening to his home. He sends me articles that he writes once in while. I hope you will find them as enlightening as I do. I hope that we may be able to change this landscape for all the good people of Afghanistan, including the girls and women.

The first article he wrote is entitled, “Afghanistan’s Exploitation of Women.” The second article is, “A Nation Reconnecting after Centuries.”

These two articles are very informative, and they give an insight into a land that is war-torn, yet beautiful, isolated, yet it used to be one of our great resouces, oppressed, yet on its way toward a democratic republic. If you would like a peak into the heart of Afghanistan, you will read these articles. It is at least, if nothing less, the revelations of one man who has been there and longs for peace. Thank you.

Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis Add this post to Fark Add this post to Technorati Add this post to Del.icio.us Digg!

Since I believe it is important for us to understand the culture and some of the obstacles in our way to success, I am chosing this article for my open trackback. I hope you read it. He is a very nice and gentle man. Thank you.

These are the posts I have trackbacked to: third world county, Pirate’s Cove, Webloggin, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, High Desert Wanderer, Open educational resources, , Stageleft, My Protest to the Mexican Presidente, Cao’s Blog, Faultline USA, Big Dog’s Weblog, Right Truth, Church and State, Nuke’s News & Views, Labor Day thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

These are the people who are kind enough to trackback to me:

  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Two.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Four.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Six.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Sixteen.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Fourteen.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Twelve.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Labor Day Knucklehead award Marathon Part Ten.
  • Right Truth: Were four Korean hostages raped by Taliban?
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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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    23 Aug 07
    By Army 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz
    Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan – Afghans and Multi-national forces are currently working hand-in-hand on a variety of expansion construction projects here.

    Soldiers from the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy); 1st Construction Company, 100th Republic of Korea Engineering Group; and Polish 1st Engineer Brigade, are working together to construct metal building systems (K-Spans), roads, ditches, culverts and sewage lagoons here. TF Pacemaker Headquarters Support Company Soldiers, led by Army Capt. Eric Parthemore, from West Liberty, Ohio, are not only engaged in supporting the battalion, but also manage the missions of the multi-national forces.

    The Polish engineers provide both additional capacity and leadership to multiple horizontal construction projects. Polish soldiers, led by Polish Army 1st Lt. Radoslaw Teleżyński, are working to improve the roads here by ensuring that proper drainage and sewage structures are constructed before the rainy season begins. The Polish army has been deployed in places such as Lebanon, Syria, and Africa to support many humanitarian missions since the war on terror began in 2001.

    “I didn’t know what to expect or what missions we would have, but working with American Soldiers has been a great experience. They have been very helpful,” said Teleżyński. I have been able to learn different training techniques from the American Soldiers and compare them to our techniques. I changed our technique to what works best to accomplish the mission successfully.”

    Polish Pfc. Rafaz Soboń added, “This is my first time deployed and it has been a new and interesting experience. We learned about different cultures in class, but it is better to learn from first-hand experience.”

    The 1st Construction Company from the Republic of Korea focuses on K-Span construction. According to Parthemore, the Korean engineers are especially meticulous and bring a vertical construction capability to the HSC that it does not have. The company is commanded by Korean Capt. Bo Geol Choi from Seoul, Korea. Once completed, the K-Spans will enhance maintenance operations and provide more space for supply support activity here. Even though K-Spans are not common in Korea, the soldiers were previously trained by civil engineers in their country, said to Choi.

    “We are very proud to be part of this mission. Our main goal is to bring the proper engineering assets for future Coalition forces,” says Choi. “There have been a few challenges over the language gap as well as different working systems, but over all, the construction progress and the relationship with American Forces are going well.” Korean soldiers, Sgt. Chi-Keun Lee and Cpl. Min-Gi Kim agreed, “It is fun learning about different cultures, even though sometimes we have to use hand signals to communicate with each other.”

    “The addition of Polish and Korean engineers along with Afghan contractors, gives our task force a tremendous capability that we do not normally have,” said Parthemore. Simply working on a single jobsite with engineers of four nationalities working together toward a common goal is very satisfactory. Also, our common understanding and respect for safe operations keeps us accident free despite the communication difficulties,”

    Photo – Polish Pvt. Piotr Oparski, Polish Engineer Platoon, works on the final touches of a culvert in Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, as a scoop loader hauls the rest of the dirt. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz.

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    15 Aug 07
    Sgt. David E. Roscoe
    Task Force Pacemaker
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, Afghanistan – U.S. Army engineers in Afghanistan are doing their part to restore security and the country’s economy by building roads, bridges and levees to connect Afghanistan’s people.

    Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and mountainous landscape isolates most of the population from the country’s major cities and industrial area. Lack of funding, harsh seasonal weather and flash floods have made it almost impossible to maintain a lasting road system within the country. Only about 35,000 kilometers of roads connect the country’s economic centers. This explains why one of the main goals for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other engineer units is to build and repair an efficient road system in Afghanistan.

    However, major concerns arise for soldiers constructing roads in a combat environment. Improvised explosive devices, car bombs and ambushes are a constant threat to soldiers working on roads. “Our company has been attacked by one IED and one (car bomb), found three IEDs, and been ambushed three times while conducting road-construction missions in Afghanistan,” Army Capt. Nicholas O. Melin, commander of Company B, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, said. “The motivating thing about all this is that our soldiers are not allowing these obstacles to stop them, and they have maintained their good spirits in the face of danger.”

    Unpredictable rainfall in Afghanistan also has been a major threat for local homes and crops as local rivers flood. This was the case in Sira Qala, a community outside Forward Operating Base Sharana, where an aging levee suffered major flood damage threatening the village’s economy. Army 1st Lt. Robert Green, Equipment Platoon leader with Headquarters and Support Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, was tasked to repair the levee. “I think it was an important construction mission with an immediate impact on the population,” he said. “While it may not be a permanent solution to the problem, it will at least continue to protect the village for another couple seasons.”

    Connecting Afghan civilians to cities with medical facilities also has been a major road construction goal for the battalion, dubbed Task Force Pacemaker for its Afghanistan deployment. In June, the battalion’s Company A completed a 15-kilometer road that connected the village of Khyur Khot to the town of Mest.

    “The Alpha Company road-construction mission was very important because it connected the locals in that area to the town of Mest, which has medical facilities,” Army Capt. Mona A. Tanner, TF Pacemaker plans officer, said. “The road also provided coalition forces with freedom of movement between the two areas. The Alpha Company soldiers were consistent, determined and didn’t let delays weaken their spirits.”

    Army Lt. Col. Mark J. Deschenes, the TF Pacemaker commander, added: “The primary purpose of Task Force Pacemaker’s road-construction mission is to maximize mobility for coalition forces and the Afghan people. The roads that we are constructing support economic growth and an efficient security presence in the country. Locals are able to travel from point A to point B easier than they were able to in the past.

    “They are able to reach medical services and job opportunities with less difficulty,” he added. “The roads also allow for an increased security capability for coalition forces, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, providing a safer environment for everyone.”

    Photo – Army Staff Sgt. Troy L. Bohanon, a member of Company A, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, surveys the Khyur Khot to Mest road. U.S. Army photo.

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    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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    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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    In the Horn of Africe, there is much we know very little about, yet there is so much good news coming from this area. This is in part due to the CJTF-HOA teams and the media. The CJTF-HOA actually does the work, and the media does not.

    “Asalaam aleikum,” (may God’s peace be upon you) and “karibu,” (welcome) are common words you will hear on Pemba Island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, in East Africa, which was the site of a primary school dedication by Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa on July 16.

    A dedication is an event the coalition of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa holds when they complete a civil-military project. The dedication symbolizes turning over the completed project to the local community. So far this year, CJTF-HOA has dedicated 22 projects throughout the Horn of Africa. [Continue reading.]

    What a wonderful article this is, truly. Could it be possible that this is the reason why some celebraties find it more rewarding to help the Africans with their education than right here in the United States where they have money coming out of their ears without any progress in the education of our children? Hmm…

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    Brig. Gen. James McConville wanted to visit this airfield himself so he could familiarize himself with what is happening on the ground. Very commendable, IMHO.

    The visit began with an overview of the historical strategic significance of Kandahar and an explanation of the dynamic, multi-national environment that defines KAF and RC (South).

    “Kandahar has a long history,” said Army Maj. Doug Brown, S3, Task Force Anzio. “It has been and remains a strategically significant geographic location because of the trade routes through the country. Kandahar itself dates back to Alexander the Great, who the Afghans still hold in high esteem.” [Continue reading.]

    Afghanistan certainly is a land of many different people. Did you know that in Afghanistan that only the Postunes are referred to as Afghans? I didn’t either, until an Afghanistani friend of mine gave me this information. Is it true? I have no reason to disbelieve him, but I cannot say definitively. Have a nice day.

    Correction: The name of the airfield is KANDAHAR, not Kandar. In my defense, I do believe my tiny fingers were getting weary. 🙂

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    This 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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    I always appreciate the articles written about the children, especially at the orphanages. Why? It helps me to know they are not forgotten (just as our brave men and women are not forgotten). This trip involves a Chaplain who had just a wonderful time while he was there. He was amazed and heartened by what he saw. I wish we could all see–or at least read about–the things that he saw.

    Sources: CentCom and it has been reposted at DoD Daily-2.

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    For some reason, the Horn of Africa has gotten my heart. I can see it has gotten the hearts of many of our military men and women as well. They are doing such a fantastic job over there.

    In this first article, the medical personnel are taking classes so that they can help those people who live in isolated areas. They just don’t want them to die if they could prevent it.

    CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI – In deployed locations, corpsmen and medics can’t be everywhere. It’s important for all service members to become Combat Life Savers so they can be trained in how to save a life in a remote location. The first few minutes of a traumatic injury are crucial to the victim’s survival, which is why it’s important to know at least basic life saving skills.
    […]
    “It is just no longer plausible for the medics and corpsmen to provide all the initial care in the modern battle field,” said Ingemunsun. “They are limited and can not help everyone at one time. The more service members that get the proper training, the more people that can be saved.” [Continue reading.]

    These people are certainly impressive, if not to you, to me. The deserve our Honor. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Armed Services.

    This next article is a sweet one. When I think of Seabees, I do not think of them doing anything on land. I know. They are not fish, but I just don’t. Wait until you read this!

    DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti – Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 spent the better part of June 13 cutting down trees at the Djibouti Hospital to make room for a community relations project that will include gazeboes that will improve the quality of life of the community.

    The Djiboutians originally started removing the trees, but were unable to complete the project because they didn’t have the right tools. The director of the Djibouti Hospital asked Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Charlie Company, 486th Civil Affairs Battalion for assistance. They in turn coordinated with the Seabees to get manpower and tools. [Continue reading.]

    These guys are outstanding in my book, and they should outstanding your book as well!

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    I know many people think the only thing Marines, Army persons, Navy personnel, the National Guard, the Air Force crew and the such are only capable of killing. Trash things and kill people. That’s all there is to it, right? Hold on! Not so fast here. Here are two articles that could at least pierce your hearts, if only you would read them.

    The first article is aboout changing the lives of these destitute people, one mission at a time.

    BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The C-130 is one of many different types of aircraft stationed here, but could easily be called one of the most versatile.The members of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron put that versatility to the test every day. The three primary missions of the C-130s here are airdrop, air-land and aeromedical evacuation.

    “Our airdrop missions can be anything from dropping pamphlets to the locals to humanitarian drops such as water, blankets, food and firewood in the winter, ammunition and troop re-supplies,” said Senior Airman Patrick Keefe, 774th EAS loadmaster. “Air-land missions consist of troop movements or hauling cargo.” [Continue reading.]

    They are being modest. They also provide food to people who are so idolated that they cannot feed themselves. These people are just trying to stay alive after years and years of war.

    The next article is about the necessity of water and the huge impact dams and irrigation will have not only on their crops but also on their economy. Just take one paragraph:

    In a country held back by more than 30 years of war, ineffective water use has made life even more difficult in this already-barren country. Managing water is life or death for farmers like Haji Mazdigar Gul, 56, who explained that without a diversion dam, flooding often causes him to lose his fields, jeopardizing his family’s survival. His village of Koza Bokhana is one of 30 that will benefit from dams, which will redirect water from rivers to the fields of more than 80,000 farmers and families. [Continue reading.]

    This is a very good thing they are doing, and they are not doing it alone. The Afghan people are actually working side-by-side with them. They are all great and while we empower them, we also are helping ourselves here at home. Read and find out why. I am very proud of you guys and gals! 🙂

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