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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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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 CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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29 Aug 07
By Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich, II
Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
.

HABBANIYAH, Iraq – When a group of American military advisors deployed to Iraq and took over a small combat outpost on the outskirts of town recently, they knew the task ahead might get tough, but each day would be rewarding. The Marines and sailors that make up Military Transition Team 13, working alongside the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are increasing the security of the area and the quality of life for local residents as well.

They operate out of a dusty, war-faced outpost named the OK Corral. They usually work long hours, patrolling streets with Iraqi soldiers or standing post overlooking the Euphrates River. They cook each meal themselves, because there is no chow hall to feed the 14 Marines, two corpsmen and company of Iraqi soldiers. They have learned to adapt, dealt with sweltering heat and braved the roadways of a foreign land.

Many of the men of MTT 13 have been to Iraq before, making them ideal candidates for an advisory team. The soldiers that make up 1st Battalion are veteran war fighters as well; hardened by battles past, experienced in combat operations. Perhaps that is why the people in this area trust the Iraqi soldiers.

Habbaniyah acts as a corridor in a crucial area, known as Jazerria, located between the once terrorist safe heaven cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. Nowadays, people go about their lives freely while searching for jobs, attending schools, plowing fields and shopping in crowded markets without fear of being shot in the crossfire of combat.

“The IAs have won the trust of the people,” said Cpl. Jason Syvrud an infantryman attached to MTT 13. “People see that they’re here, the area is safe, they are happy that their families aren’t at risk anymore. The IA is here to help the whole country and get this back on its feet. The people are loving to see the change. The country as a whole is trying to rebuild.”

Syvrud is only 22, but is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. He has been in cities where it was difficult to trust the citizens. But now he has seen a significant change in the war and in the people. He feels pride in his advisory role, knowing each day is bringing comfort to strangers he once felt uncomfortable around.

“I’ve seen in the three times I’ve been here this country has done a complete 180. It’s gone from everyone not knowing what to do and being scared to do anything, to them starting to come out and finding out what a democratic society would be like,” he said. “Now, they are really trying to get involved. They are building their schools up, they’re building up the mosques, their homes. They’re trying to find jobs. It looks more and more like a typical American rural area. The majority of the people seem happy. They’re doing what they have to do to survive and building a life out of this.”

Safety is what brings out the smiles and trust of the townspeople Syvrud said. The locals are involved with the Iraqi Army now. They help locate possible terrorists. They have begun to rebuild their community by fixing up schools, roads and mosques. The province is still early in reconstruction efforts, but the transition seems to be working as planned.

Getting the soldiers to understand the benefits of civil engagements, such as the civil medical engagements, is a priority for MTT 13 team chief, Lt. Col. Thomas Hobbs. Transition teams have assisted in several CMEs, which provide medical care to people who would normally have to travel to Ramadi to see a doctor. With more than 16 years of experience in the Marine Corps, Hobbs said focusing on civil affairs can not only counter the insurgent’s propaganda, but win the hearts and minds of law-abiding citizens.

“This battalion tends to be very focused on conventional operations. What I mean by that is in a counter-insurgency environment they are enamored with cache sweeps, security patrolling,” Hobbs said. “They should be focusing on civil affairs information operations and focusing on the population as a whole. The security level right now allows for that, so I’m trying to teach them to think in that manner.”

Hobbs praised the Iraqi company commanders for understanding the impact civil affairs has on the war efforts. “They have been very willing to get out and meet the population and doing civil affairs projects on their own, even without money. We’ve been really successful in getting the companies to move and they’re actually initiating a lot of things I want to change or make better,” he said.

Hobbs said the predominately Shiite Army has been received with open arms by the Anbari locals, who are mainly Sunni. A huge reason for this may lie in the idea of getting his team of advisors to stress the importance of making the population comfortable to Iraqi leaders. It is his philosophy that if the people are happy and satisfied with their life, then the terrorists will no longer have the ability to move freely within the community. He said the company and platoon leaders have begun to buy into the civil affairs mindset. As a result, the city has not seen any escalation in force in more than two months.

The soldiers of 1-3-1 can fight, that has been proven during the past year and a half of combat operations. Hobbs said the battalion is known throughout the Iraqi Army for its ability to engage and defeat the enemy, and that is what the terrorists should realize. The mission now is to concentrate on keeping this rural area safe and prospering. The smiles on children are evidence enough that the plan is working.

“I feel proud when I look around and see the kids and people smiling,” Syvrud said. “They’re happy when the Army and Marines come walking around, they aren’t afraid of us anymore. They’re happy with themselves, they’re happy with the environment around them and they’re striving to get better. They’re not just satisfied with things, they want it better, just like any American does.”

Photo – Lt. Col. Thomas Hoobs, team chief for Military Transition Team 13, talks to members of the Iraqi Security Forces during an inspection of a local bridge. Keeping roadways safe and drivable not only helps navigation of anti-terrorist traffic, but is part of a wider ranging civil affairs mission of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

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28 Aug 07
By Sgt. Andy Hurt
13th MEU
.

NEAR KARMAK, Iraq – The strength of any democracy is the equal representation of various cultural interests; thus, the power of a military force can be measured by diversity as well. American culture takes pride in boasting equal opportunity in public service roles. Iraqi culture mirrors this attitude, and the warriors of the Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division – currently conducting a force integration with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines – are a simple, flawless example of strength in diversity.

Speaking from an office at Combat Outpost Golden in Al Anbar Province here, Iraqi Col. Ali Jassimi, 1/2/1 commanding officer, explained the cultural representation within his unit. “My staff is Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish. We have officers from many different areas of Iraq; Mosul, Baghdad, Ramadi – and we’re all here working together,” he said. “There are many people around the world who would think this would be a problem. We are a perfect example that it is not.”

Jassimi, a native of Southern Iraq, said there is a preconceived notion in some global media circles that various sectarian issues create problems within the new Iraqi Army. To combat this, he said, he avoids prejudice by ignoring religious preference altogether. “When I get a new officer, I do not ask him if he is Shiite or Sunni. I don’t care.” The recent history of the diverse organization’s success in Falluja (a primarily Sunni area), conducting security and stability operations is a testament to the camaraderie of junior enlisted troops (Juundis) who come from all walks of life, said Jassimi.

“We’ve had great success in Falluja, and it’s because of the Juundis– they’re all brothers.” The colonel went on to explain that junior enlisted troops in his battalion ignored sectarian issues during operations. “If anyone needed help, we helped them. We visited mosques, and no matter if it was Shiite or Sunni, we prayed with them.”

Captain Mustafa Al Jaaf, a Kurdish staff member of 1/2/1, echoed his commander’s sentiments. “We are from all over Iraq, and it makes a stronger force. You can see now Falluja is a much safer place.”

Originally from Ramadi, Capt. Basim Ashumari said his anger over foreign fighters – Al Qaeda subordinates historically from Egypt, Jordan and Syria – caused him to join the new Iraqi Army and fight for his countrymen, no matter what religion they were. “In Ramadi, I saw men from another country come and kill civilians, so I decided to join the new Iraqi Army. No matter what religion they are, these officers here are on a mission to keep the Iraqis safe. We are one team with one goal.”

Marine Lieutenant Col. Woody Hesser, Military Transition Team commander, said within the MTT, the ethos of “one team, one fight” is clearly evident during joint operations. Hesser and his team have shadowed 1/2/1 since January, and he says with each patrol a shared interest in Iraqi security is obvious. “We’re here fighting a war, and when we go on patrol, it’s one fight. There have never been any sectarian issues,” said Hesser. “Really, it’s almost like another Marine unit taking over, but it’s not about ‘Marines’ and ‘Iraqis,’ it’s about good guys versus bad guys.”

As Marines have always kept close the ethos of “brothers in arms,” the Iraqi Army shares the exact ideal. During a nightly dinner with 1/2/1 staff, uniforms and language are the only visible difference between 3/1 Marines and Iraqi Army forces here. The staff laughs, jokes and singles out members with good-natured scrutiny. At the end of the night, they shake hands and go on with business. Officers constantly duck in to the commander’s office to have forms signed and plans authorized. The parallels between US and Iraqi forces are striking.

For the Iraqi Army, however, it is not a mimicking act – it is an old way of life. “I’m from the north and I’m a Sunni,” began Maj. Istabraq Ashawani. “That man over there,” he gestured, “is a Shiite. That man over there is Kurdish … everyone in this battalion is a family. We eat together, sleep together and pray together. Anything you hear on the news about us being ‘different’ is not true,” he exclaimed. “Ask any Juundi or officer … we’re all the same.”

Photo – Colonel Ali Jassimi, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army division, speaks proudly of the ethnic and cultural diversity within his unit. Despite claims by liberal media that the IA is one-sided, Jassimi said, his battalion is a perfect example of strength in diversity. Photo by: Sgt. Andy Hurt.

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This is one article I just could not pass up. It is absolutely NEWSWORTHY, and you will never read about it in the news. For this reason, I am going to have two posts to Linkfest today. Thank you for induging me, and please read it. (http://www.linkfests.us/cgi-bin/.track.cgi/2873)

These are the post I’ve backtracked to: Webloggin, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Planck’s Constant, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, Pursuing Holiness, Conservative Thoughts, Nuke’s News & Views, Leaning Straight Up, Cao’s Blog, Conservative Cat, Woman Honor Thyself and third world county, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

These are the sites and their posts that have trackbacked to this post:

  • The Amboy Times: CAIR: Media Cowers in Face of Islamist Threat.
  • The Florida Masochist: Knucklehead of the day award.
  • Faultline USA: America at a Crossroads –The Missing European Anti-Americans.
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    26 Aug 07
    by Multi-National Division-North
    Public Affairs Office
    .

    BAGHDAD – Operation Lightning Hammer concluded Wednesday after a 12-day, large-scale operation to disrupt al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements in the Diyala River Valley, a complex area of villages and palm groves in Iraq’s Diyala province.

    The operation, which involved approximately 16,000 Iraqi and Coalition forces clearing approximately 50 villages, was a key element in Multi-National Corps-Iraq’s overall operation, Phantom Strike; and resulted in 26 al-Qaeda members killed, 37 suspected terrorists detained and the discovery of 10 weapons caches. “The strength and determination of the fighting men and women from the Iraqi and Coalition forces showed great results during Lightning Hammer,” said U.S. Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of Coalition forces in Diyala province. “We have continued to diminish their supplies and disable al-Qaeda’s abilities to disrupt the population.”

    Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, initiated the operation with a late-night air assault into targeted locations on Aug. 13, and conducted an additional three air-assaults during the course of the operation. Residents of most villages welcomed the security forces, providing tips and intelligence about recent activities in their towns, and were interested in joining the Iraqi Security Forces. Following clearing operations, the Iraqi Army provided medical assistance and humanitarian aid to the local citizens, many of whom said their villages were recently influenced by al-Qaeda.

    More importantly, more than 80 tribal leaders and representatives, some of whom had not spoken in over a year, met Aug. 19 to discuss their grievances and swore on the Quran to unite in their fight against terrorists and become one tribe of Diyala. “As I conducted my battlefield circulation and talked with many of the citizens, they repeatedly thanked our Soldiers, but more importantly, their security forces, for liberating their towns from the terrorists – specifically al-Qaeda,” Sutherland said. “Because their villages have been cleared, the local and central governments will now be able to provide those essential services al-Qaeda destroyed, and the people feel a sense of security they have not known for some time.”

    Throughout the operation, the Task Force Lightning Soldiers also discovered 22 improvised explosive devices, 11 of which were discovered based on tips from a police chief in the river valley, and reduced three house-borne IEDs and six vehicle-borne IEDs, all of which could have been used to harm a large portion of the population or security forces. Additionally, an al-Qaeda command post was discovered in the village of Shadia, and an al-Qaeda medical clinic was located in Qaryat Sunayjiyah.

    The command post, which was surrounded by fighting positions, contained bed space for 20 individuals, supply requests, records of munitions, a list of families supporting the element, a list of al-Qaeda members detained by Coalition forces and other terrorist propaganda. “Although we didn’t find many of the terrorists, the operation proved to be a great success because we disrupted al-Qaeda, causing them to run,” Sutherland continued. “Their fear of facing our forces proves that the terrorists know there is no safe haven for them in Diyala.

    “And though this specific operation is over, our fight is not over,” he continued. “We will continue to aggressively target al-Qaeda, and ultimately, they will be brought to justice.” The results of Lightning Hammer cleared the Diyala River Valley of al-Qaeda and allowed Iraqi and Coalition forces to maintain a permanent presence in Mukeisha, a village in the heart of the river valley area.

    Photo – Spc. Samuel Melendez, Bravo Trop, 5th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, patrols a mrash outside of Qubah, a small village in the Diyala province. The patrol was part of Operation Lightning Hammer, a maneuver to flush insurgents from the area. Photo by Sgt. Patrick Lair, 115th MPAD.

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    20 Aug 07
    By Gunnery Sgt. Eric Johnson
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    HADITHAH, Iraq – The morning of July 4th started out like any other day inside the Hadithah Police Station. The Iraqi Police conducted morning police call, uniforms were set straight, and reports were prepared. The Marines of the Hadithah Police Transition Team (PiTT) gave guidance to their Iraqi counter-parts, making corrections wherever necessary. As the heat began filling the building, the anticipation for the day’s events grew.

    Within the building’s multi-purpose room, the morning formation lined up. However, the formation wasn’t made up of Iraqi police officers standing at attention, ready for drill practice. In fact, no one was standing at attention. July 4th was the first Youth Soccer Day held at the Hadithah Police Station.

    Over 200 local children gathered at the police station for a chance to play soccer with their police officers. The police and children were equally excited for the day’s festivities. The first hour was spent posing for pictures. After the initial photo op and introductions, soccer balls were passed out. Through donations from friends and family back in the United States and from some Iraqi Police Officers, over 100 soccer balls were given to the kids. Along with the soccer balls, hundreds of toys, stuffed animals, and backpacks were also donated.

    Lieutenant Col. Mazher Hasan Khazal, the Hadithah Police Chief said, “today is a great day, not only for the Iraqi Police, but for all of Hadithah. We will never forget what our Marine brothers have done to make this possible.” The current Iraqi Police Station is actually a hardened building, which once served as the city’s Youth Center. The Marines and Iraqi Police took over the building in October 2006. For the past several years, there hasn’t been a need for a youth center, most of the city’s children would rarely go outside.

    The need for some type of outlet for the kids during their summer school break, a time when terrorists recruit young children, prompted the PiTT Marines to come up with a youth-oriented soccer program. Members of the PiTT team were sitting around talking about their families one night with the Iraqi leadership. They tried to explain the Boy and Girl Scouts of America to the police chief, and he asked if they could help set something like that up in Hadithah. That’s when the PiTT came up with the idea for a soccer camp. The police chief loved the idea

    Friendliness from the locals toward Marine and Iraqi Forces over the last few years has been minimal. Anyone approaching a Marine or Iraqi patrol was looked at as a possible insurgent, and not allowed to get too close. The city has seen a shift in the security and the attitude of the local people. The success of the Youth Soccer Day provided the rebirth this city has seen. Marines and police alike were covered with hugging hands and grabbing fingers.

    “I thought that at one point the kids were just going to mob me over,” said Cpl. Joseph Dayner, PiTT communications advisor. “I just kept pushing through the crowd passing out toys.”

    The Youth Soccer Day was a testament to the successful counter-insurgency campaign 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines is conducting in the Hadithah Triad. The Iraqi Police have played a large role in the city’s stability. The force is a lot larger, more professional, and the people of Hadithah readily accept them. It is a sign of hope that the situation here has turned the right corner.

    Photo – Gunnery Sgt. Eric Johnson, operations chief of the Hadithah PiTT plays soccer with local Iraqi children in front of the Iraqi Police Station. Photo by: Cpl. Stephen M. Kwietniak.

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    20 Aug 07
    By Sgt. Sara Wood
    American Forces Press Service
    .

    WASHINGTON – U.S. troops serving in Iraq will have a little more protection soon, as two of the military’s newest armored vehicles are on their way to the theater.

    Two Buffalo Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as “MRAPs,” were loaded onto C-5 Galaxy aircraft Thursday night at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., to be shipped to Iraq. This latest shipment is part of the Defense Department’s push to get as many of the new vehicles to troops in combat as quickly as possible.

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been pushing the production and delivery of MRAPs, which boast a V-shaped hull that deflects bomb blasts and protects troops inside better than the military’s current vehicles. The Defense Department awarded two more contracts for the vehicles the week of Aug. 10, which brings the number of vehicles on contract to 6,415. An estimated 3,500 MRAPs are expected to be shipped to Iraq by Dec. 31.

    The MRAPs are shipped to Iraq by the 437th Airlift Wing, out of Charleston. The vehicles are part of the 300 tons of cargo the unit moves on a daily basis. It typically takes two days to airlift the MRAPs to Iraq, said Cynthia Bauer, a public affairs officer with U.S. Transportation Command, which oversees the movement of the vehicles. A small number of MRAPs are taken by sea, which takes between 22 and 30 days, she said.

    As of Aug. 9, Transportation Command had shipped 701 MRAPs and MRAP-like vehicles to the Central Command area, Ms. Bauer said. The command will continue to ship the vehicles as military commanders in theater request them, she said.

    MRAPs come in three categories: Category I vehicles are designed for urban combat operations and can transport six people; Category II vehicles have multi-mission capabilities, including convoy lead, troop transport, ambulance, explosive ordnance disposal and combat engineering, and can transport up to 10 people; Category III vehicles perform mine and IED clearance operations and explosive ordnance disposal and can transport six people, or five with additional equipment. The Buffalos that were shipped Thursday fall under Category III.

    The troops who participated in loading the vehicles yesterday told local media that they feel their job is important, because the MRAPs have been proven to save lives in combat. “It’s absolutely critical. It saves lives every day when they have them,” Air Force Master Sgt. Jared Breyer, with the 437th Airlift Wing, told ABC News.

    Photo – A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle is loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy aircraft Aug. 16 at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Air Mobility Command assists with the movement of MRAP vehicles to U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility as directed by the National Command Authority, the Joint Staff and U.S. Transportation Command. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson.

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    20 Aug 07
    USS Enterprise Public Affairs
    .

    ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE – Enterprise Carrier Strike Group commenced operations in the Persian Gulf Aug. 10, where they are currently deployed to support maritime security operations as well as Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

    20 Aug 07
    USS Enterprise Public Affairs

    Rear Adm. Daniel P. Holloway, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12/Enterprise Strike Group, said the strike group is ready to do what it takes to accomplish the mission. “This is part of what we are out here to do,” said Holloway. “We are a nation at war and we will continue to do our part to stabilize the current situation in Iraq and eliminate terrorist threats.”

    Enterprise CSG’s deployment will help reassure U.S. allies in the region of the Navy’s commitment to set conditions for security and stability for vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. Maritime security operations have a strong track record of providing security and stability in the maritime environment through coordinated operations with coalition partners that complement the security efforts of friends and allies in the region.

    The presence of Enterprise CSG in the region allows the coalition to flex multi-dimensional task force capabilities and demonstrate the ability to respond to threats to maritime security. Enterprise CSG also commenced the first combat missions of their current deployment Aug. 12 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1, stationed aboard USS Enterprise, conducted multiple-strike missions by providing air support to coalition ground forces.

    U.S. naval and air presence in the region is the continuation of a six decade-long U.S. policy to stand by friends and allies among Gulf Cooperation Council nations and protect the free flow of commerce. These relationships support and encourage regional stability and cooperation. U.S. forces will continue to maintain this regional presence to deter destabilizing activities, while safeguarding the region’s vital links to the global economy.

    The squadrons of CVW-1 include the “Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron 211; Knighthawks” of VFA-136; “Sidewinders” of VFA-86; “Thunderbolts” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251; “Dragonslayers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11; “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 137; “Screwtops” of VAW-123; “Maulers” of Sea Control Squadron 32; and the “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40.

    Photo – The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise conducts maritime operations in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 17, 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Brandon Morris.

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    14 Aug 07
    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Christopher T. Smith
    Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet
    .

    NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) – Coalition forces are training Iraqi marines to take over the mission of providing security to Iraqi territorial waters in the North Persian Gulf.

    Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 has been conducting a dual mission aboard Iraq’s Khwar Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) in the Persian Gulf. MSD-24 provides security for the platforms as part of the Coalition’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 158 while simultaneously training Iraqi marines to eventually assume responsibility for the protection of Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure.

    Gunner’s Mate 1st Class (EXW/SW) Timothy Burrell said the Iraqi forces are undergoing advanced training on a variety of possible threats. “They are now countering multiple threats while experiencing casualties such as loss of power and loss of communications. Their exercises [the] last 24 hours [were] rather than just a few,” said Burrell. “They’re really working toward taking ownership of the platforms.”

    Lt. J.G. Danny Soria, ABOT’s officer in charge, agrees that the Iraqis’ training has paid dividends. “The Iraqi marines have responded well to our training program,” said Soria. “Since our arrival, the platoons that have been observed have improved their readiness drastically.” Iraqi marines stand all of the watches aboard ABOT and KAAOT. “Currently, the Iraqi marines are our eyes and ears and the first to react to the threat,” said Soria. “MSD stands a reactionary force.”

    In addition to preparing the Iraqis to better defend the oil platforms, Coalition forces are preparing teams of Iraqi marines to conduct their own Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations.

    Coalition forces joined with the Iraqis to conduct Exercise Rapid Talon, Aug. 6, in the North Persian Gulf. During the exercise, Iraqi marines boarded a tugboat that simulated a commercial vessel transiting the region. “Rapid Talon is a routine exercise that we use to evaluate Iraqi boarding teams,” said Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Iain Doran, CTF 158’s Iraqi training and transition officer. “We put them through different scenarios to test their core skills and rate their proficiency level.”

    The marines, who are trained by the U.S. Coast Guard, are not only conducting exercises, they are also involved in real-world VBSS operations. “Depending on how well the Iraqi platoons perform during Rapid Talon, the platoons conduct boardings with either a Coalition-led team, or if they performed very well, with only their U.S. Coast Guard trainers,” said Royal Navy Warrant Officer 1st Class Darren Paskins, CTF 158’s assistant Iraqi training and transition officer.

    Doran added that the platoons’ contributions to the Coalition are signs of significant progress in their training. “Some platoons have now completed solo tanker sweeps under the supervision of just two or three of their Coast Guard trainers, and the feedback we’ve received from the masters of the vessels is that the Iraqi boarding teams are very effective and professional,” said Doran. “This is quite a big step, and something that’s only been recently introduced.”

    Coalition forces are training the Iraqis to someday take the reigns of all VBSS operations in their littoral waters. “Ultimately, this training will give the Iraqis the ability to police their own territorial waters,” said Paskins. “It’s important that they get as much experience as possible, so we have them conduct as many boardings as we can in order for them to gain the experience and knowledge that are required to carry out the mission.”

    Doran stressed that although Iraqi forces are making significant strides in their training, CTF 158’s mission is still the responsibility of the Coalition. “The whole mission in the [North Persian Gulf] is conducted by the Coalition,” said Doran. “Inherently, we provide security for the oil platforms themselves and the vessels coming to and from the oil platforms. We do this by conducting Maritime Security Operations.”

    MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. Iraq’s oil platforms account for about 90 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

    Photo – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Nickel Samuel assigned to Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 observes Iraqi marines participating in a live-fire exercise. MSD-24 is training Iraqi marines to maintain security in and around the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    15 Aug 07
    by Multi-National Division – Baghdad Public Affairs Office
    .

    Baghdad – Local citizens fed tips to Soldiers from the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which led to the finding of four weapons caches and the detaining of two suspects in multiple operations north of Baghdad, Aug. 8 and 9.

    Troops from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 1st BCT, acting on a tip from a neighborhood watch volunteer, uncovered an improvised explosive devices cache near the town of Sab Al Bor, Aug 8. The cache included five complete IEDs and 12 incomplete IEDs. The cache also included 20 munitions of varying sizes, 100 pounds of homemade explosive, one can of nitric acid, some command wire as well as the tools necessary to manufacture IEDs.

    The same day acting on a tip from a volunteer, Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, also of 1st BCT, found a 100 millimeter projectile, 10 80mm mortars, six IED timers, two rocket-propelled grenades and an accompanying booster. In two separate incidents also involving information garnered from volunteer sources, Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, working with their Iraqi counterparts from the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), unearthed two caches and detained two suspects.

    In the first, while draining a canal, engineers from 2-8 Cavalry’s Sapper Company found three 60mm mortar rounds, two 82mm mortar rounds, one 120mm mortar round and one 122mm projectile Aug. 9 near Kem. In the second find, during a cordon and search, 2-8 Cavalry troops and Iraqi troops found 1 sniper rifle with two scopes, one AK-47 assault rifle with five magazines, a 9mm Glock pistol, a hand grenade and detained two suspects in connection with the cache near Al Dhabtiya, also on Aug. 9. All of the finds were further evidence of Ironhorse Soldiers’ success in working with Iraqi communities and volunteers to root out insurgents and extremists alike, said Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, 1st Brigade Combat Team’s deputy commanding officer.

    “Cooperation by citizens and their volunteer security roles is what will turn the tide in securing Iraq,” said the Austin native. “We have the largest reconciliation and volunteer movement in Multi-National Division-Baghdad. We fully support Iraqis taking an active role in securing their neighborhoods, towns and villages to stop the violence which hinders the government’s delivery of essential services and an environment that enables small business opportunities and growth.”

    Local Iraqis have grown tired of the al-Qaeda stranglehold and they are taking back their communities and their lives, according to Andrysiak. “Their efforts, along with that of the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, may prove to be the turning point,” he added.

    Photo – Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment take defensive fighting positions, while their commander talks with locals inside the fenceduring a cordon and search in Husseniya. Photo by Sgt. Rachel Ahner.

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    8 Aug 07
    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith
    Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
    .

    NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) – Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 5 Oil Platform (OPLAT) Detachment provided security for USS Chinook (PC 9) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams while conducting Interaction Patrols (IPATS) Aug. 5 in the north Persian Gulf.

    NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det.’s mission is to protect VBSS teams while they are maintaining security in the region’s shallow waters. “We assist in Maritime Security Operations (MSO), in particular, in the shallow water region of the area,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Merrill, Inshore Boat Unit (IBU) 51 officer in charge. “Using our patrol craft, we provide a 360-degree ring of security around boarding teams as they board commercial vessels.”

    VBSS and IPATS are elements of MSO that help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the coalition’s efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

    Sailors assigned to IBU 51 and IBU 52 comprise NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. and provide security that larger vessels can’t offer. He added that the Sailors’ mission is significant because it enhances the capabilities of the coalition.

    NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. also assists in the training of Iraqi marines. “We simulate an opposition force for the Iraqi marines who are training to one day take over the defense of the oil platforms,” said Merrill. “We act as a vessel that may be conducting surveillance of the oil platforms or rapidly approaching the platforms. We play the bad guy, so to speak.”

    Merrill explained that the IBU 51 and IBU 52 Sailors serving in NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. were hand picked for the mission. Gunner’s Mate Seaman Justin Headley said he looks forward to working with them on a daily basis.

    “Although we sometimes work long hours, and the heat starts to get to you, I enjoy what I’m doing because I enjoy the people I work with,” said Headley. “When you have a good core group of people working with you, the job is much easier, even when you’re not working in ideal conditions.”

    NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det., based out of San Diego, has been supporting MSO in the north Persian Gulf for more than two months. The squadron’s standard mission is to provide harbor security and protection for high value maritime infrastructure.

    Photo – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Nickel Samuel assigned to Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 observes Iraqi marines participating in a live-fire exercise. MSD-24 is training Iraqi marines to maintain security in and around the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith.

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    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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    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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    This operation was successful in that the head of the Security Division went along with them, he spoke to the people to calm their fears, he told them he was there to get rid of the Taliban and to provide security, and he also wanted them to know they should build their own city government from which they should have one representative to speak to him so that he could help them with their needs. Wow. I’d say that’s a big first step, eh?

    Source: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily News-2.

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    Originally posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

    13 July 07
    By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    ANAH, Iraq – The air smelled clean, the roads were paved and spotless, and the laughter of children echoed through the streets. A young girl, in a lilac colored dress, sprayed her driveway down with a garden hose proving the plumbing worked in her town. Men, women and children gave friendly waves to the Marines and Iraqi policemen as they patrolled through the secure streets here.

    “Patrols like these let the people know we are fighting for them, and they see that,” said Lance Cpl. Charles Tobin, a SAW gunner with Bravo Company Proper, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines proper, attached to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2.

    The mixed patrol of Iraqi police and Marines passed through alleyways and side streets where instead of littered ground and walls covered in graffiti, the curbs had neatly swept piles of dirt and the houses freshly painted.

    “The average Anah person seems more affluent than the average Iraqi,” said Cpl. Steven Kreyenhagen, a team leader with Bravo Company. The Iraqi police explain that the townspeople here are mostly college educated, and all of their children attend school. “There are schools established in town, and the teachers speak great English,” Kreyenhagen said.

    The Marines and IPs stopped into the local markets, full of vegetables, dry goods, electronics and clothing, to buy snacks for local children and bread to share with their brother Marines not on patrol. “I like interacting with the people,” Tobin said. “You can be having a horrible day and the kids will crack you up, making your day all better.”

    Children waved at the patrol and saluted the IPs with the open-handed salute traditionally given to Iraqi officers as a sign of respect. “The area has some five and six-year-olds speaking better English than me,” Tobin said.

    A grasp of the English language doesn’t make the people of Anah superior to other towns but understanding the language of its protector’s means they have a worldly view on the coalition’s mission in Iraq.“My squad’s been invited to dinner twice already by friendly homes,” said Sgt. Tacoma Parris, a squadleader and native of New York City. “They’ve gained our trust.”

    Trust aside, the town still hides some insurgents rather willingly, or by force. “Most of the time the locals won’t tell us who planted the IEDs,” Parris said. “They’ll tell the IPs because the IPs are from the neighborhood.” The townspeople know their neighborhood, and they tell their IPs because they want safety.

    “They’d rather tell a buddy or brother they grew up with,” Parris said. “They trust us, but not wholeheartedly.”

    Anah is filled with hardworking, educated citizens, but those who travel outside of the safe town are affected by the less positive situations occurring in other parts of Iraq.

    “I used to take the bus five days a week to work before the war,” said Ghassan Thabet, an electrical engineer living in Anah. “The road is now dangerous to Al Qa’im.”

    Food rations are given to the unemployed people of Iraq by its newly established government. With help from coalition forces and the strength of local police, the roads will become safer and buses will carry hard working people like Thabet.

    Constant, friendly patrols, mixed with IPs and Marines, keep the citizens of Anah safe and help the locals here see there is a transition happening, and that terrorism will eventually subside.

    Photo – An Iraqi policeman enters a gateway into a townsperson’s home along with Marines from Bravo Company, Proper Task Force, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, attached to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, on June 24, 2007. Marines and Iraqi police speak with homeowners providing a friendly face and show the cohesion of Iraqi and coalition forces.

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    Here is great news for us all. The Senate had taken out of the bill that is supposed to protect those who report suspicious behavior the protection from being sued. While in Conference, some people really stood up for America. See, what the Senate wanted to do was allow us to be sued by CAIR or any individual if they were acting suspicious, we reported it, but they turned out to be no threat. (How do they tell?) Can you say, “Dry run”?

    This legislation was brought about by the Flying Imams (6 of them) in Denver who were reported as acting suspiciously before and while they were on the flight. They were removed from the plane, and now they want to sue us. Hence the term, John Doe’s. They want to sue the people who reported them as a way of shutting up the public so the next time, they will no problems committing their heinous acts.

    A person could lose their entire life savings by reporting such a person, but the Democrats did not care. They wanted to please their base; the trial lawyers. We’ve won this far. Keep the pressure on them by calling toll free: 1-866-340-9281. Thank you.

    Press Release
      VICTORY! CONFEREES AGREE TO PROTECT ‘JOHN DOES’– AND ALL CIVIC MINDED AMERICANS – FROM C.A.I.R. ET. AL.’S HARASSMENT LAWSUITS

      (Washington, D.C.): The Center for Security Policy is gratified that its efforts, those of innumerable bloggers, radio talk show hosts and other public-minded citizens translated into an important legislative victory late last night. Thanks to the leadership of Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and especially that of Rep. Pete King, Sen. Collins’ counterpart on the House Homeland Security Committee, legislation along the lines of that adopted by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives last May at Rep. King’s initiative will shortly become law.

      The language will provide protection against the sorts of harassment lawsuits filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) after several unidentified individuals reported six Muslim imams engaged in suspicious – and frightening – behavior prior to boarding a USAir flight in November 2006. CAIR has been identified as a front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood and is an un-indicted co-conspirator in an alleged terrorism-financing plot.

      Center President Frank Gaffney said on learning of this extraordinary development:

      Thanks to courageous, principled and tenacious efforts by key legislators like Rep. King and Sens. Lieberman and Collins, the American people are going to be free to do their part in the War for the Free World – serving as indispensable eyes and ears for those trying to protect us against terrorism – without fear that the likes of CAIR will be suing them for doing so.

      We are extremely grateful to these lawmakers and also to members of the Democratic leadership who opposed such efforts, but eventually relented in the face of an outpouring of public demands that the King amendment be enacted into law. We are even more appreciative of the efforts made by all those who helped alert the public to the need to engage so directly and, ultimately, so decisively.

    Thank God for such Americans as these!

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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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