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Archive for the ‘SW Asia’ Category

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

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

Jihadists Move to Encryption on Internet Sights.

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

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

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

Dragnet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrorism Probe Points to Reach Of Web Networks.

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

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

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

Does that give anyone pause? It does me.

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

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

Members of the Samantha Burns’ OTA:

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

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

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

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

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Military and foreign news plus OTB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

Posts I’ve trackbacked to at Linkfest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bagram Media Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very educational, indeed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: .

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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Source: CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: DVIDSHub.

Story by Capt. Michael Meridith
Posted on 11.30.2007 at 12:27PM
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When Chief Master Sgt. Stanley Burrows looks up at the U.S. and Afghan flags flying side-by-side in Camp Cunningham, he feels a special sense of satisfaction. The flags, which began flying around the clock for the first time today, represent the culmination of several months of effort involving Airmen volunteers from across the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

“I arrived here in early August and in my first couple of weeks the command chief master sergeant said there were some concerns that we were flying a smaller Afghan flag than the U.S. flag,” said Burrows, the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron manager from Herriman, Utah. “I told him that to me it was worse that we were flying the flag from a pole that was bolted to a building.”

That conversation was the spark that put Burrows into action. Within days, he had outlined a plan that would lead to the installation of two new (and much sturdier) steel flagpoles and a refurbished lighting system to allow the flags to fly 24 hours.

The first step occurred when Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin Hill and Senior Airman Brian Holmes, volunteers from the 1st Expeditionary Red Horse Group, built a third concrete column to join two others already under the flagpoles. One column is inscribed with a dedication to the camp’s namesake, fallen pararescueman Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, killed in 2002 while moving wounded comrades to safety. The other column is inscribed with George Orwell’s quote: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” [My enboldening.]

By Nov. 20, the flagpoles had arrived and were proudly carried to the site by a group of security force volunteers, said Burrows. Afterward, members of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, including Tech. Sgt. Ken Payne, Air Force Staff Sgt. David Garcia, Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott Towner, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeff Walker and Airman Rob Brodrick, moved on to the next phase of the project.

After the base of the existing aluminum pole was jackhammered away, a new concrete foundation was laid on Nov. 23. Less than a week later the concrete hardened and the poles were carefully installed and secured into place with a refurbished lighting system to support them.

“It’s a bit different than the types of jobs we normally do,” said Garcia, a Houston native. “I haven’t done anything like this before but it feels good to be able to contribute something lasting to Bagram that people will look at every day.”

That sentiment was echoed by Red Horse’s Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin Hill. “It’s good to know that you can walk by and say ‘I did that,’” said the New Goshen, Ind., native. “It makes you feel proud to know you were part of it.”

The final touch to the project was the addition of a full-size, all-weather Afghan flag, donated by Burrows’ wife. After months of anticipation, Burrows’ dream became a reality when both the U.S. and Afghan flags were raised on their new poles, Nov. 30[, 2007].

“I think that if we are representing the U.S. and coming here to be a partner with Afghanistan, we need to have a flag that represents them well. Like the rumble of our F-15Es (Strike Eagles), seeing both of the flags up there, flying together, reminds me of why we’re here,” concluded Burrows.

The American and Afghan flags fly side-by-side after being raised on two new flagpoles at Camp Cunningham, Nov. 30, 2007.

Date Taken: November 30th, 2007
Location: Bagram Airfield, AF
Photographer: Capt. Michael Meridith
455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

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Source: CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is the day, Nov. 25, six years ago that CIA Special Operations Mike Spann was ambushed and murdered in Kala-Jangi (Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan) during the beginning of the war. He was interrogating Jihad Johnny at the time. We know of this jihadist because he was brought home to the states, given a trial, given a chance to live, and given another opportunity to live which he denied for Mike Spann. Am I bitter? What do you think?! (I think the little punk deserves the death penalty by a firing squad.)

I wish I could separate the two from my mind, because Mike is so much different than that traitor. Be it as it is. That is all I will say about it.

Mike was a very good man. He was a wonderful husband and son, His Mother and Father have a site in his honor named Honor Mike Spann. Please visit it. There is a place for you to comment. I would suggest words of encouragement. If not, do not bother. They have suffered enough. They don’t need to suffer creeps who have an axe to grind with George W. Bush. So please be respectful.

Blackfive has written an article about Mike Spann as well, so it would be a good idea if you went over to read that one. I shall end with the words I borrowed from him that are from Mike’s wife:

Mike’s wife, Shannon, gets the last word, “Mike is a hero not because of the way he died, but because of the way he lived.”

Hat-tip: Blackfive.

PS. I would like to say thank you for all of those who prayed with me for The Florida Masochist. He is doing well, and he has posted another article today. God bless you all.

I am opening this post for open trackbacks at Linkfest. Please remember to add my link in your post, and please, for Heaven’s sake, no porn! Yes, you have all been very good at this. This is for those who are new. 😉

Posts I’ve trackbacked to at The Florida Masochist: Cautious Chinese, The Knucklehead of the Day award, Marching Orders and Today’s lesson.

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    Source: US Central Command.

    05 November 2007
    American Forces Press Service
    .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Source: US CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Source: US CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posts I have trackbacked to: The Florida Masochist and The Florida Masochist, Church and State, Right Truth,123beta, Big Dog’s Blog, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, A Blog For All, Stageleft, Shadowscope, The Yankee Sailor, Nuke’s, and CommonSenseAmerica, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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    C-17 Crews Make Record Airdrop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Source: US CentCom.

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    Source: US CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Source: US CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Sister services, brothers in arms

    Source: US CentCom.

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

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

    “Army-Navy.” GO NAVY! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Source: US CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Source: CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    New Ramps Increase Bagram Capacity

    Source: CentCom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Source: CentCom.

    This article is especially special to me, since the guy I’ve been talking to is over there to do the same thing. These guys do a great job, and they also go through many hardships. Personally, I pray for everyone over there not to have survivors guilt.

    11 Sept 07
    by Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
    U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan (AFPN) — Afghan instructors are training Afghan national police officers in a series of security forces classes here, while two American Airmen provide watchful mentorship. The Afghan national police sustainment training is a giant step forward for the future of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan military, said Staff Sgt. Daniel Smith, Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team’s police technical adviser.

    Sergeant Smith and Senior Airman Zackary Osborne, both deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., are mentors for the instructors.

    “From this point on, the Afghans will have a more active role in the development of their police and security forces,” he said. “In the past, coalition and government forces supplied the training to the Afghans, but now, as the instructors receive qualification, we can step back and let them train themselves.”

    The month-long classes cover a wide variety of security-related topics, such as arresting procedures and riot control, and are required by all first-year officers. Once the course is completed, the police officers are no longer considered “rookies” and are given a pay raise.

    Already, Sergeant Smith said, he can see a difference within the classroom. “The students’ attention is held when the Afghans are instructing,” he said. “They go through the material a lot faster, since nobody has to pause and wait for an interpreter to translate everything. And we can see how they are catching onto things a lot faster. At this point, all that we (Americans) do is stand back, observe and give suggestions every now and then. They are running the show.”

    The instructors were trained by a U.S. government-contracted security firm at the Regional Training Center in Jalalabad, a city east of Laghman Province where forward operating base Mehtar Lam is located. In a few months, construction will be complete on a provincial training center near the FOB, so more instructors can become trained and qualified locally.

    “We will be able to hold our classes there at the PTC, rather than inside a tent on the FOB,” said Sergeant Smith. “There all their training needs can take place.” These classes are only part of the Laghman PRT’s mission, which serves to provide international aid to the area via security backed by national and coalition forces, reconstruction projects and humanitarian aid delivery. They are also responsible for disarming and demobilizing militia forces and terrorist activity throughout the region with the help of the locals.

    “I’m extremely proud of what my Airmen are doing here with the Afghan military and the Afghan police,” said Lt. Col. Robert Ricci, the PRT commander deployed from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. “They have allowed the local authorities to expand their capabilities for security, and because of that, Laghman Province is a lot safer and that allows all of us to work harder to get this province, this country, on its feet.”

    Photo – Staff Sgt. Zachary Osborne listens as Afghan National Police instructor Maj. Muhammad Omar teaches a class on patrol procedures to Afghan National Auxiliary Police trainees Sept. 3 at forward operating base Mehtar Lam in Afghanistan’s Laghman province. Sergeant Osborne is an Air Force security forces member deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. He is assigned to the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team police technical advisory team and works as a mentor to the Afghan instructors. The course is now being taught entirely by ANP instructors. The PTAT’s role has now shifted to monitoring the course’s progress and mentoring the ANP instructors. U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

    May God be with all of them, and may no one need comforting…

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    Source: CentCom.

    This is an article that has me all choked up again. The well-spoken Soldiers who are but young men, the spirit, the purpose, sureality of it all. Please read this, even though I am late posting it.

    11-Sept-07
    By Sgt. Jim Wilt, USA
    Special to American Forces Press Service
    .

    BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – At 5:16 p.m., the only sounds that could be heard here were the distant drone of helicopter rotors and the flap of flags in the wind.

    In the United States, it was 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, six years to the minute after a plane hijacked by terrorists struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

    For one minute, servicemembers attending a memorial ceremony here were silent.

    For one minute, these servicemembers honored those who perished that fateful day.

    For one minute, these servicemembers honored those who fought back on a plane.

    For one minute, these servicemembers were reminded why they are here.

    “The world that was behind me when I went into school that morning was gone forever, and the new one waiting for me that afternoon was wildly different,” said Army Sgt. Gregory J. Barbaccia during a speech at a ceremony commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    Barbaccia was a 17-year-old high school student in lower Manhattan when the attacks happened. Barbaccia, who is now 23 and serving here, was one of several speakers at the memorial. His speech revealed his memories of Sept. 11, 2001. “Downtown that day looked like exactly what it was, a war zone,” Barbaccia said. He painted a vivid picture of what that war zone looked like with his words.

    “A layer of ash covered the streets and a cacophony of alarms refused to cease. I remember the 60-block walk home where my friends and I walked north up the middle of 6th Avenue, which was completely void of all traffic, except for sporadic rescue vehicles from neighboring counties with unfamiliar demarcations rushing downtown, their sirens piercing the eerie silence. Crowds of people gathered outside any establishment with a television, standing like statues in anesthetized silence,” he said.

    “From virtually all points in Manhattan, one could look to the south and see a huge plume of smoke hovering over the rubble where two towers once stood, two majestic American symbols, symbols representing both commerce in the free world and democracy,” Barbaccia added.

    For Barbaccia and his friends, the impact of what happened didn’t hit him until the evening of the 11th. “When the death toll was repeated that evening in the media, my friends began grasping the horror that their parents might not be coming home,” he said. “As for me, in that strange and surreal moment, the die was cast,” Barbaccia said. “A seed in my mind was deeply planted and roots already taking hold.”

    Following the attacks, Barbaccia said, he and his friends spent their time handing out supplies to rescue workers near “Ground Zero.” “In my enthusiasm and focus to do what I could, there was no discerning morning from afternoon or day from night,” he said. “Just knowing that I was there to serve, I was there to show my gratitude, I was there to say, ‘Yes, I believe.’ “We kept handing supplies to the unending convoy heading into the abyss, and the people kept cheering,” Barbaccia said.

    The terrorist attacks left their mark on Barbaccia as they left their marks on many others. “I’ll never forget the acrid smell, the fearful and numbed look on people’s faces, the sounds and the sour taste in my mouth,” he said. Those memories led him to join the Army. “I knew it was my duty to wear this uniform,” he said. “America needed help, and life in (America) has been very good to me, and I wanted to give back.”

    “Due to the way my father raised me and the strong service ethic instilled in me from my high school, I always felt it was my duty to serve, only I was unsure in what capacity,” said Barbaccia, who also has had two tours in Iraq. “The violence of the Sept. 11 attacks helped me decide to join the military.”

    Six years after the attacks, Barbaccia said he believes fighting terrorism in Afghanistan is the right thing to do. “The Taliban had tyrannical rule over this country and robbed its citizens of inherent rights and freedom,” he said.

    During the ceremony, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, the Combined Joint Task Force 82 deputy commanding general for operations said Barbaccia “represents the highest quality” of servicemember. Votel also voiced his own feelings on the events. “I can recall how angry I was that someone could perpetrate an attack on our country,” he said.

    Army Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, the International Security Assistance Force deputy director for security, said he was struck by Barbaccia’s speech. The attacks were “our generation’s Pearl Harbor,” Champoux said. “Events that day changed us as a person and as a nation,” he said.

    Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Hayes, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing safety superintendent, was at Ground Zero the day of the attacks. Hayes, who is part of the New York Air National Guard, was a fire fighter aiding in the rescue efforts. “My main focus was to rescue as many people as possible,” he said. “We worked and worked until we couldn’t work anymore.” “My wife didn’t know if I was dead or alive,” he said. Today was an emotional day for many people. Hayes said he had a lump in throat all day.

    In his closing remarks, Barbaccia echoed the thoughts of many servicemembers. “That morning terrorists gave their lives to cause those attacks,” he said. “So here we stand, six years later, prepared to give ours to prevent further ones.”

    Photo – Army Sgt. Gregory J. Barbaccia, who was in New York during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, gives a speech at the Combined Joint Task Force 82 Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2007. Barbaccia, 23, was in school in lower Manhattan during the attacks. Photo by Sgt. Jim Wilt.

    What nation are we to be blessed with such men as this?

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    I have no idea why I cannot use my left hand. It won’t work (no pun intended. You know, left+work=welfare. I guess ya had be there). That is why I am going to direct you to my hero’s site: “Bill and Bob’s” Excellent Afghan Adventure. He has returned after a mission which took over two months. Please read it, and leave him a comment of comfort. I would love to run all the way over there to comfort him, but somehow I believe I would cause more harm than comfort!

    Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis Add this post to Fark Add this post to Technorati Add this post to Del.icio.us (To use Digg, please go here: http://rosemarysthoughts.com/2007/09/28/this-hurts-but-not-my-hand/ Thank you.)

    For this reason, I choose this post as my Linkfest post of the day. Thank you for understanding.

    Trackback for this post: http://rosemarysthoughts.com/2007/09/28/this-hurts-but-not-my-hand/trackback/

    These are the posts I’ve trackbacked to:

    These are the kind people who’ve trackbacked to this post (in case I am unable to write the one finger at a time, you may also find their articles in the comment section. Thank you for understanding):

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

    Hunter warns Columbia University
    Cancel Invitation to Iranian President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    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.

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    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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    There is a group of men, one in particular, who are training the Afghan National Police in every aspect (starting from the ground up) of police work. Finally, after being out in the middle of only God knows where, he has had an opportunity to post to his blog. I encourage you, I implore you, if you do nothing else today, please visit his site. It is named, “Bill and Bob’s Excellent Afghan Adventure. The date on this post is August 31, 2007.

    He is wonderful man with an ex-wife who is very kind (I think) and 4 children whom he loves ever so dearly. His children adore him as well. His brother and sisters are helping him while he’s overseas, and they are very supportive of him. So am I. I am very proud of him.

    He volunteered to go over there. He is in the National Guard, and he wanted to do what he deemed necessary. He is with the PMT (Police Mentor Team), and his team and he are trying to train the ANP (Afghan National Police) to be able to stand up to the terrorists on their own. We are not walking away from these people this time, and I am glad for this.

    It takes a minimum of ten years to quell an insurgence. I just don’t know how long it will take to ‘quell’ a war with people who want you dead just because you exist. We have no choice but to find out, because victory is our only option. Have a nice day.

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    This is a wonderful man and a wonderful article he has written. Since I would really like everyone to read it, I am going to open this post up to an open trackback. Please join me by using your Linkfest link. For those of you who do not have one, do not panic. All you have to do is click here and follow the directions. Thank you. 🙂

    These are the posts I have trackbacked to: Shadowscope, “Sing, Beast, Sing” (“I’m Mad” — Willie Mabon), The World According to Carl, Is It Just Me?, Leaning Straight Up, and Conservative Cat, The Amboy Times, Woman Honor Thyself, DeMediacratic Nation, Right Truth, Nuke’s News & Views, and MacBro’s Place, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are the good folks that have trackbacked to me:

  • Church and State: Labor Day Open Trackback Aug. 31 – Sep. 3.
  • Blue Star Chronicles: I Hate the Military’s Stop Loss Policy.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Knuckleheads of the Day awards.
  • Faultline USA: Petition: Stand by the American Mission in Iraq.
  • The Florida Masochist: Squashed.
  • Right Truth: John Edwards wants mandatory preventative health care.
  • Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: Catching up with hurricane activity.
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    27 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    380th Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA – SOUTHWEST ASIA — Global Hawk and U-2 aircraft provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and in order to be efficient and effective the technological sensors on these aircraft cannot be subjected to heat for extended periods of time.

    Due to the compact size of the Global Hawk and the freezing temperatures at its normal operating altitudes, the aircraft does not have a robust environmental control unit to keep the numerous electronic systems cool in very warm temperatures. “That is why the hangar the aircraft are kept in has air conditioning and we perform almost all of our launches and recoveries at night when it is ‘slightly’ cooler,” said 2nd Lt. David Bates, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, referring to the Global Hawk.

    The tolerance for hot temperatures for the main operating computer on the Global Hawk is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This was a major factor recently when one of the aircraft was returning to base with an in-flight discrepancy, according to Bates. “We were unable to launch the spare aircraft due to difficulties with the communications hub on the aircraft and subsequent faults,” said the lieutenant.

    After the first shutdown on the Global Hawk, the team was in the process of devising a system that would allow them to be able to launch the aircraft in mid-day heat. Then an opportunity presented itself. After troubleshooting the aircraft for hours in the midday heat, 380th airmen were concerned about the aircraft compartment temperatures. The call was made to press with the launch and the aircraft was able to taxi onto the runway and begin to take off. “Only seconds later the aircraft autonomously stopped the takeoff roll due to an over temperature indication,” Bates said. He said that if the aircraft’s onboard fuel, used to cool the sensor systems, got too hot during operation, the system was designed to halt operations in an effort to save its expensive components. “It was just very unfortunate timing that it stopped right after it started to take off because as soon as it gained some altitude it would have cooled quickly,” he said.

    Shortly after the event, the team members found themselves in a “nightmarish” repeat of what happened days earlier. Another one of their aircraft was returning to the base and they had to turn another aircraft to get the mission complete in the middle of the day. “This time we were already working on the aircraft to troubleshoot some issues; we only have three jets and were flying every day, so maintenance had to use whatever time they could and so it had been already outside for some time,” said Bates. Due to the winds that day, they also had to tow the aircraft to the opposite end of the runway, about a 45-minute and two-mile tow on the ramp that, at the time, was about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. “The time required to tow plus the time it would take to prepare and launch the jet would almost certainly send the temperatures of our compartments through the roof,” Bates said.

    Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Brogan, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, suggested getting a water truck from the fire department and hosing down the aircraft wings where the fuel that cools the components is stored. “The fire department’s responsiveness was impressive and they were quite eager to assist,” said Bates. Capt. Fernando Colon, 380th EAMXS, took another initiative and got a pressure washer so they could cool the aircraft wings while towing. Once on the spot, they were quick to pre-flight and get the aircraft in the air; from engine start to takeoff was about 18 minutes. “Operators indicated that the internal component temperatures were cooler than some of the launches we do at night. The aircraft launched and completed a successful mission,” Bates said.

    For the U-2 aircraft, the purpose is to develop the most efficient aircraft and sensor cooling process possible and minimize the amount of time aircraft and sensors are exposed to heat as well. The maintainers’ greatest challenge is keeping the aircraft and sensors cool until the aircraft gets airborne. “In order to do this, we have orchestrated a “NASCAR” pit crew style launch,” said Capt. Randal Hoewt, 380th EAMXS. The team has 10 people involved with the launch process; each person has a choreographed job that must be done in conjunction with the other members to ensure the launch goes smoothly.

    “Another challenge we face is keeping the aerospace ground equipment from overheating,” said the captain. “After experimenting with different configurations of equipment we found the optimal set-up that ensures max cooling air and prevents the equipment from overheating.” One solution to this problem that squadron airmen suggested was to include work with the AGE flight maintainers to inspect the AGE equipment and replace all worn hoses, gaskets and seals. According to Hoewt, they also determined optimum AGE positioning for aircraft launch by marking all positions, creating an AGE template around the aircraft so there would be the same set-up for every launch.

    They eliminated the cooling cart, power cart and air cart repositioning by developing an AGE driver drop box. They eliminated unnecessary cooling hoses by positioning the equipment safely as close to aircraft as possible, resulting in maximum airflow volume with minimal cold air dissipation. While the maintainers are minimizing the amount of time the aircraft and sensors are exposed to the heat, they ensure sensor nose covers are installed at all times and cooling air is applied a minimum of three hours prior to flight and left on aircraft until the last possible second. “We minimize the time the aircraft and sensors are exposed to the heat on recovery as well,” said Hoewt. “We will tow the aircraft back into the hangar as soon as we can.”

    Squadron maintainers also have created a seven-minute launch sequence mentality across maintenance and operations, according to the captain. By working with the operators, they were able to reduce the pre-launch time from approximately 25 minutes down to seven. This has paid huge dividends in sensor reliability and also reduced aircrew discomfort. Cruising at extremely high altitudes, Global Hawks and U-2s survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy to give military decision-makers the most current information about enemy location, resources and personnel.

    Photo – Master Sgt. Kevin Wirth hoses down the wing of a Global Hawk in an effort to cool it off. The Global Hawk and U-2 aircraft at this deployed location in Southwest Asia provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and in order to be efficient and effective, the technological sensors on these aircraft cannot be subjected to heat for extended periods of time. Wirth is with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo.

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    25 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
    U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs
    .

    HERO CAMP, Afghanistan – Airmen and soldiers are blending medical supply logistics with a dose of Afghan National Army partnership in a dusty warehouse at ANA’s Hero Camp near Kandahar Airfield.

    It’s a prescription for successful mentoring as the Afghans prepare for a new hospital opening here, said Capt. Jay Snodgrass, a medical logistics officer and ANA mentor deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The American servicemembers are helping install medical equipment into a new $6.5 million, 50-bed hospital at Hero Camp. “We’re simply here to help them improve the processes they already have in place, to share with them the lessons we’ve learned about hospital administration and logistics,” Snodgrass said.

    The airmen and soldiers helping transfer equipment are medical logistics, administrators and equipment technician members for their respective services assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, which is headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan. While in Kandahar, the servicemembers work side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts, who are responsible for supplying and equipping the Hero Camp hospital, as well as other ANA clinics and brigade support throughout the region.

    Mentoring doesn’t always come easy, said Tech. Sgt. Curtis Miller, a medical logistics technician from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. While Miller’s focus is to teach Afghans how to maintain hospital equipment, he and other embedded transition team members use every available opportunity to give advice where needed. “There is a learning curve,” Miller said. “A lot of the things we take for granted in the United States, such as changing gloves for each patient, are things Afghans typically don’t consider in a hospital. We try to spend time educating them on the benefits of sanitation and ways to prevent infection.”

    Miller said when he first began as a mentor, he was a little unsure how a young, American noncommissioned officer would come across to an Afghan military man who has served longer than the sergeant has been alive. It was unnerving to say the least. “There is an Afghan colonel we work with who was put in prison during the Russian occupation two decades ago,” Miller said. “He was given execution orders and was two days away from being put to death when the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan — two days away from being killed. Now, he has those orders on display in his office. You see this and you think, man, these guys have been through a lot.”

    Nevertheless, the Afghan officials are eager to learn and work with their American mentors.

    “My mentor, Captain Snodgrass, and I are very close,” said Afghan Maj. Abdul Ghafar, the 205th Hero Corps warehouse commander. “The Americans work fairly with each other and with us. We interact as equals.”

    The relationship between the Americans and Afghans is a result of respect and tolerance from both sides, Snodgrass said. “Major Ghabar has 27 years military experience,” he said. “He knows a lot about leading troops and warfare. What he doesn’t have full knowledge of is how to manage a warehouse of this magnitude, to take care of the logistics of supplying a hospital and an entire region with 30,000 troops. So, that’s why I’m here, to help him become familiar with the various processes.” Snodgrass pointed out that the Americans are not there to impose their way of life on the Afghan people. Instead, they are learning from each other.

    “We’ve had a lot of conversations about our different cultures,” he said. “They wanted to know about some of the Christian holidays I celebrate. It’s not a big deal to them that I practice a different religion than they do.”

    At the same time, Snodgrass and his team of Americans try to accommodate the Islamic traditions of the Afghans into their work. “We try to work around their prayer schedule,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to keep working through the prayer times, but then we step away and give them their space to lay out their prayer rugs and do what they need to do. We try to be aware of their holidays, too. For example, I won’t eat or drink in front of them during Ramadan, when they fast. When it comes down to it, it’s just about respecting each other.”

    Snodgrass said he is confident about Ghabar’s leadership, and that the hospital and its warehouse will do well in the future as the Afghans gain experience in stocking and equipping such a vital mission. “What we are doing here is just part of an overall mission to help Afghans stand up a viable, safe, world-class healthcare system,” he said. “The day they can take on these operations themselves without our assistance will be a very good day for all of us.”

    Photo – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Doug Suddueth (bottom left) and Army Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rivas move a load of medical equipment to a truck Aug. 18 in Afghanistan. Suddueth is deployed from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Rivas is deployed from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

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    25 Aug 07
    By Spc. Henry Selzer
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALAGUSH, Afghanistan – Just like the people of the U.S., the people of Afghanistan are very proud of their independence, which means Aug. 19 is a date marked by celebration.

    When the people of Nuristan province were invited to celebrate the U.S. independence on the Fourth of July with Soldiers here, the idea of holding an Afghan Independence Day celebration for the citizens of Nuristan was brought up. “It seems that the bigger more eventful celebrations are in the larger cities,” said Navy Cmdr. Samuel Paparo, 43, of Philadelphia, commander of the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team. “Holding a celebration out here for the people who can’t make it to the big celebration is our way of celebrating with them and to help connect them to their government.”

    Afghans living in Nuristan were invited to the celebration where they were given a chance to interact with the Soldiers of the FOB and enjoy a variety of the local food, which was prepared by Army cooks. Not only did holding the Afghan Independence Day celebration give Soldiers a chance to interact with the people of Nuristan, it showed Afghans that Soldiers care about them and are here to support them.

    “To[o] often when we see each other it is about business, but today is all about you and your independence,” said Army Lt. Col. Steve Maranian, 40, of Natick, Mass., and commander of 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, during the Afghan Independence Day celebration.

    The celebration highlighted a common history the people of Afghanistan share with the United States. “We use the 4th of July to celebrate our independence from the British, and we wanted to take today to get together and help you celebrate your independence from the British,” said Paparo.

    Today the U.K. along with the U.S., Afghan National Security Forces and many other multinational partners all work together toward the common goal of making sure the Afghan people can freely celebrate many more Independence days. “We are very glad that you accepted our invitation to celebrate your independence and share a meal together and hopefully we can do it again soon,” said Maranian.

    Photo – An interpreter with the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team helps a town elder with his food during the Afghan Independence Day celebration on forward operating base Kalagush Aug. 19. Photo by Spc. Henry Selzer.

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    This is little bit of progress we never hear about, and it is one of my favorite holidays. That is why I chose it for today’s Linkfest. If you are not already a member, just click on the blue icon above to join. You can also post your best (or funniest) work here. Just think about joining the Linkfest. It is really worth your time, and it is free. Thank you.

    These are posts I’ve trackbacked to: Pirate’s Cove, Webloggin, The Pink Flamingo, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, The Bullwinkle Blog, Wake Up America, Conservative Cat, High Desert Wanderer, Leaning Straight Up, The Pink Flamingo, Committees of Correspondence, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns and Big Dog’s Blog, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are people that trackbacked to this post:

  • DeMediacratic Nation: “Be polite. Be professional. Be prepared to kill.”
  • Faultline USA: CNN: Are All God’s Warriors Equivalent?
  • Right Truth: The Iraqi Government Has No Power?!
  • The Virtuous Republic: Interesting Story about an Armenian Enclave in Azerbaijan.
  • Diary of the Mad Pigeon: Bloggers Track a Pedophile.
  • Planck’s Constant: FOKO and the Burning Forests of Madagascar.
  • Webloggin: Perhaps Beauty Pageants Should Become a Thing of the Past.
  • Potbelly Stove: How do you spell relief….
  • Webloggin: Confirmed: Gonzales Has Resigned as Attorney General.
  • The Florida Masochist: The Knucklehead of the Day award.
  • Republican National Convention Blog: Tracking the elusive shipping container.
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    23 Aug 07
    By Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team PAO
    .

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The first U.S. casualty from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan was Army Sgt. Jay Blessing, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Nov. 14, 2003. Blessing was in a convoy that was attacked just seven miles from camp in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

    United States and Afghan national security forces of the camp Blessing [who were?] failed to [be] reach that day started calling their camp, Camp Blessing to remember and honor the fallen Ranger. “He gave his life helping the Afghan people,” Collin Johnson, who served with Blessing, said at the time, “This will remind every Soldier that comes here of his sacrifice.”

    Four years later, Soldiers from 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based at the camp that bears his name now carry on Blessing’s hopes for a free Afghanistan. The once small outpost has expanded dramatically to become the base of operations for Task Force Bayonet.

    One constant, despite the changes, is that military personnel still drive the same road to Camp Blessing that was used four years ago. Keeping the road safe is even harder now than when Blessing’s convoy traveled it. Al-Qaida has influenced Taliban and other extremists in Afghanistan to use IED attacks against forces supporting the legitimate government of Afghanistan in more frequent numbers.

    Blessing was the only service member killed by an IED in 2003. In 2004, 12 members died from IED attacks. Eight months into 2007[,] IEDs have killed 45 military personnel, according to www.icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks these statistics closely.

    The numbers would be even higher if it wasn’t for a special group of people travelling the roads ahead of convoys to help reduce the threat and number of IEDs. The Route Clearance Package for Task Force Rock is from Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The RCP patrols the roads seven days a week searching for IEDs.

    The RCP is Task Force Rock’s first line of defense against IED attacks. The RCP clears roads to all of Task Force Rock’s forward operating bases and fire bases. On Aug. 15, the RCP cleared the road into Chowkay Valley, which has been a site of fighting for several years. Task Force Rock recently lost Army 1st Lt. Benjamin Hall, a platoon leader in Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), during a fire fight in the valley July 31[, 2007].

    “There is one spot where three separate attacks were carried out,” said Army 1st Lt. William Cromie, a[n] RCP Platoon leader in Alpha Company, who is from New Jersey. The spot Cromie spoke of is a bend in the road a few miles into the valley. Destined Co., 2-503rd, Afghan Security Guard and an element from Cromie’s platoon have been attacked by Taliban extremists at the bend.

    A few weeks prior to the patrol, the RCP found an IED a few hundred feet in front of the ambush point. Cromie’s platoon has found two IED’s since arriving in [the] country three months ago. “I love what I do,” said Cromie. “It’s a very unforgiving job, but the job is extremely rewarding when we find something.”

    Photo – Army 1st Lt. William Cromie, Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, watches his Soldiers, Aug. 15, from an overwatch position as they clear an ambush point previously used by Taliban extremists in Chowkay Valley, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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    21 Aug 07
    by Staff Sgt. Les Waters
    376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) – Members of the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group recently saw their efforts come to fruition during a hand-over ceremony of humanitarian medical equipment from the United States to three hospitals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of Operation Provide Hope.

    The largest single U.S.-assistance project for Kyrgyzstan since its independence, Operation Provide Hope is a humanitarian medical program coordinated by the State Department and supported by the Department of Defense and private donors.

    This summer, the 376th EMDG worked closely with the State Department to inventory, inspect, install and train on millions of dollars of medical equipment to improve medical capability in three local hospitals. Bishkek City Hospital No. 4 (Center for Scientific Research), Bishkek City Hospital No. 1 and the National Center of Oncology were selected by the State Department to receive the equipment.

    “It was a great pleasure to work with the U.S. Department of State and support the Operation Provide Hope hospital upgrade mission to the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Col. David Hocking, 376th EMDG commander.

    The hope is that the upgraded equipment will translate into enhanced medical care for patients.

    “It was like you are taking a good thing and making it better,” said Maj. Stephanie Gardner, 376th EMDG nurse anesthetist. “The care that is given in the hospitals is excellent, and the hope is that the equipment will make things easier to provide even better care. I feel like I helped them to ease the workload so they can concentrate on continuing to give excellent care.”

    The ceremony was held at the National Center of Oncology, one of the locations Major Gardner helped install equipment and train people. “I had a hand in training the medical staff and setting up … I guess I felt like a proud parent because the equipment was all set up and the hospital looked really nice,” said Major Gardner. Part of the training the base medical staff provided included reviewing and highlighting equipment-operating manuals for translation, as well as assisting at all the locations that received equipment. It is training that is ongoing.

    “We will continue to provide assistance and on-going training as much as the mission permits,” said Maj. Melissa Rokey, 376th EMDG administrator and project officer for this operation. “This ongoing assistance will hopefully further develop the relationship between our staff and the local hospital staff. This relationship is extremely important in many ways, to include our continual awareness of their ability to help support us in case of any contingency. It is our hope that we can continue giving something back to the community and their medical staff.”

    Colonel Hocking said that the assistance translates on a larger scale the relationship between the two countries. “The critical support provided by our team ensured the overall success of this operation and demonstrated to the Kyrgyz people we’re a deeply compassionate nation as well,” Colonel Hocking said.

    It was a team effort beyond the medical group. None of this would have been possible without the C-17 Globemaster IIIs bringing in the pallets and then maintainers and logistics Airman unloading it onto other vehicles. Security forces also arranged base entry for vehicles to take the equipment downtown.

    “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the efforts … from unpacking boxes, to installing the equipment, to training, our team performed flawlessly and still never missed a beat in our primary mission at Manas AB,” said Colonel Hocking. Humanitarian assistance through Operation Provide Hope totals approximately $42.3 million over the past three years. The project was coordinated with the government of Kyrgyzstan, including the executive administration of the prime minister and the Ministry of Health.

    Photo – Maj. Stephanie Gardner provides training to Chinara Djanaera, an operating nurse from the National Center of Oncology, following the hand-over ceremony of humanitarian medial equipment from the 376th Expeditonary Medical Group to three hospitals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Col. David Hocking, 376th EMDG commander, and two other nurses observe the training. The National Center of Oncology was one of three hospitals to receive the medical equipment. Major Gardner is a nurse anesthetist with the 376th EMDG. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Les Waters.

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    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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    8 Aug 07
    by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) – To show their appreciation for other’s efforts and hard work, Airmen from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing have been volunteering to serve food to the operations personnel at the base’s containerized deployable kitchen.

    Chaplain (Capt.) Kevin Humphrey, 380th AEW chaplain has volunteered to serve food 10 times since he’s been deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “I used to work in food services before coming into the military and understand how difficult a job it is and how thankless, so I like to volunteer to let them know with my words and my actions that I genuinely appreciate what they bring to the fight,” he said.

    The chaplain’s goal is to make the Airmen laugh. He will ask diners if they want “camel spider” or “deep fried dove” for their entree. “It is such a great way to quickly touch base with people and get a real pulse for the morale of the wing. I also enjoy trying to make them laugh and brightening their day.” He said that little things like a smiling face and a bright attitude can have a tremendous impact on someone’s day. Sometimes it seems people get so far removed from the direct mission of the wing; they forget what it is about, the chaplain said.

    “All of us do our jobs to put planes in the air so we can put bombs on target or be the eyes in the sky; however, we forget when we do not venture over to the flightline what the true mission really is and we have a tendency to have a narrow perspective solely focused on what we do and not the mission as a whole,” Chaplain Humphrey said.

    For Staff Sgt. John Geer, 380th AEW chaplain assistant, deployed here from Seymour Johnson, he volunteers because he likes helping people and is concerned about the morale and well-being of the Airmen.

    “This opportunity gave me chance to have fellowship with those I don’t see as often as I would like,” said Sergeant Geer. Prior to being a chaplain’s assistant, he worked on the flightline with the B-52 Stratofortress. “I think it’s important to serve over there because it shows appreciation and improves relations. Sometimes it is hard to get help for yourself with anything that may be going on in your life because you’re concentrating on the mission and using the core value of service before self to stay late, skip meals, and so much more, that when someone can come out to you and lend a helping hand, and an open ear it means a lot,” Sergeant Geer said. The chaplain staff also delivers popsicles on the flightline.

    For Capt. Michelle McKinney, 380th AEW financial management, deployed here from Scott AFB, Ill., volunteering her time keeps her humble. “I think it’s important to understand what some of the other career fields do on a daily basis, especially those that are often taken for granted,” she said. Although Airmen here work long hours every day doing their respective operations and responsibilities, they are also taking the time to serve those who serve — reiterating that Airmen can be wingmen at home and abroad.

    Photo – Brig. Gen. Lawrence Wells, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, dishes up a meal for a diner Aug. 7 at the containerized deployable kitchen. The general and members of his staff served food at the CDK all week to show their appreciation for the hard work and efforts put in on the operational side of base. Photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Cook.

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    7 Aug 07
    By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
    379th Air Expeditionary Wing
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA – The 379th Expeditionary Wing’s aerospace medicine team provides care for the flyers so they can stay in the fight. “We are the maintainers of the ‘wet ware’ that flies the hardware,” said Maj. Walter Matthews, chief of aerospace medicine for the wing.

    Flight surgeons are rated aircrew along with pilots and navigators and are required to fly four hours per month to maintain currency. “In order to evaluate the factors involved in flying here, we fly with our air crews,” said Matthews, who is deployed here from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

    Traditional medicine deals with abnormal physiology in a normal environment, while aerospace medicine deals with mostly normal physiology in an abnormal environment. The flight medics provide occupational medicine for maintainers, ensure the safety of the workplace and oversee their water and food quality. The team also assists the fire chief with the medical aspects of in-flight emergency investigations along with gathering the medical intelligence from the rest of the crew members.

    “The quality of medical care received in both the flight medicine clinic and the main clinic is the same, but flight surgeons see medicine through a distinctly operational lens,” said Matthews. “We are charged with being the bridge between the flying world and the medical world.

    The most critical requirement for the crew to accomplish their mission is to gain the trust of the flying community. To do this, the flight medics spend most of their time in the aircraft on the line. “Air crews can sometimes have a hard time trusting docs, but they usually trust ‘their own.’ This is why flight surgeons are as much aircrew as physicians,” said Matthews.

    Not only do the flyers rely on the support of the physicians, but the doctors rely on the flyers as well. The crew must not only fix what is wrong with a flyer, but also must determine if that condition will cause problems in the jet or degrade the flyer’s ability to effectively fight in the air.

    “A strong bridge must be well-anchored on both sides,” said Matthews.

    Each of the flight medicine Airmen is part of one of the flying squadrons. The medics are part of the squadron medical element for those groups and are given the responsibility to keep the Airmen healthy. “The doctors, independent duty medical technicians and medical technicians all bring different skills to the table to form a cohesive unit that can deal with anything that is presented to them,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Nored, deployed from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.

    Off the line, on a daily basis the flight medicine clinic sees patients for initial illnesses, follow-ups, shots and malaria medication. “We are building a healthier population by being vigilant with our immunizations program,” said Tech. Sgt. Marc Marrerro, deployed from Offutt Air Force, Neb.

    They maintain a presence of all aspects of the mission that affect the flying community by ensuring the health and performance of the flyers, providing primary medical care, conducting evaluations and monitoring performance enhancement.

    Photo – Airman 1st Class Nagelia Harrison, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flight medicine clinic, prepares to draw a blood sample from a patient’s arm. The flight medicine clinic caters specifically to the health of aircrew member. Photo by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke.

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    8 Aug 07
    By Army Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd ABCT Public Affairs
    .

    NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Sailing through the clouds Soldiers from the Afghan National Army and Task Force Saber air-assaulted onto landing zone Shetland July 19 during Operation Saray Has.

    The LZ was located in a large meadow near the top of a mountain in here. Local Afghans use the area as a grazing pasture for livestock, while Taliban extremists often use it to stage attacks against TF Saber.

    The spot the Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and the Afghan 3rd Kandak, 201st Corps landed on was roughly 10,000 feet above sea level. The air-assault was part of a reconnaissance mission to determine the point of origin for rockets, which were fired at Forward Operating Base Naray that injured several Soldiers a few weeks prior.

    “We came up here to confirm or deny enemy-use of the hilltop,” said Army 1st Lt. Chris Richelderfer, HHT executive officer. “Seven Soldiers were injured from that attack,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Pedraza, command sergeant major of TF Saber.

    After air-assaulting onto the mountain, a patrol was dispatched to an adjacent mountain to scout out the terrain and possible enemy positions. The rest of the Soldiers secured the area while Army Capt. Nathan Springer, HHT commander, along with the Naray district Sub-Gov. SamShu Rochman spoke with the local populace. “I wanted the local government to have the lead when talking with the locals,” said Springer.

    Rochman spoke with civilians from the villages of Badermashal and Cherigal about security in the area. While Rochman and Springer were speaking with villagers, wood smugglers accidentally walked their donkeys carrying stolen wood into the meadow.

    “The wood on the donkeys had been stolen from the Naray lumber yard two days before our mission,” said Springer. Rochman was adamant about bringing the wood smugglers to justice. The wood smugglers were brought off the mountain, back to Naray to face prosecution.

    Operation Saray Has was more productive than both Springer and Rochman had planned. “It validated the need to conduct future operations in the area to deny [Taliban extremist] that terrain,” said Springer.

    Photo – Army Capt. Nathan Springer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Commander, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, looks up the mountain July 19 while on patrol during Operation Saray Has. During Operation Saray Has, two rocket positions were found that had been previously used to attack Forward Operating Base Naray. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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    31 July 07
    By Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd ABCT Public Affairs
    .

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team spent July 22-28 in Dangam district in Kunar province near the Pakistan border. The area is surrounded by lush farms that thrive from a stream flowing through the valley.

    The Soldiers are from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), and they were in the area to help fortify the position of an Afghan National Police station and also to establish and reinforce observations posts with the Afghan National Army on nearby hilltops.

    The OPs help monitor and stop Taliban extremist movement in the area. Red Platoon named the OPs after one Soldier’s mom, another’s daughter, Sandra and Haden respectively and famous TV stars:, Chuck Norris and Mr. T. “We thought of the baddest dudes we knew,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Benoit, a squad leader in Red Platoon. “Naming OPs like we do helps keep morale up.”

    Even though the atmosphere in Red Platoon is a little laid back, the Soldiers take their jobs seriously. From OPs Norris and Mr. T, the platoon observed cross-border activity, called for and adjusted indirect fires, and engaged the enemy with direct fire.

    “Our mission was to establish a joint security station in the Dangam area with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army,” said Army 1st Lt. Jesus Rubio, Red Platoon leader. “We’re also out here to get situational awareness of the area and build friendships with the local leaders.”

    The district center of Dangam is a sign of progress for the local ANP. The center has a store, mosque, police station and a school for girls and boys. It also has computers and internet capabilities.

    Red Platoon has built up the area around the ANP station to better safeguard against attacks from Taliban extremists. The district center fortifications are just a small piece of the mission. The observation posts that Red Platoon maintains also help build cohesion between the Soldiers and the local populace. “We met the new Afghan Border Patrol commander while we were out at Mr. T,” said Benoit. “A local villager walked all the way up the mountain to tell us the whole valley was talking about us. Everyone was very excited we were up here, he told us.”

    Another benefit of establishing OPs throughout the valley is the intelligence that was gathered. “We observed the bad guys moving on the mountain,” said Benoit. “We also got names of smugglers. We definitely laid the grounds for long-term relationships with the locals.”

    Red Platoon is in the initial phase of helping build up the district center. Future joint operations will continue for the next 14 months that Red Platoon will be in Afghanistan.

    Numerous times at OPs and at the district center, the local village elders would invite the Soldiers over to their houses for food and tea. “The Afghans treated us like kings at Mr. Ts,” said Benoit. “It was awesome.”

    Photo – Paratroopers from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), navigate to Observation Post Chuck Norris July 25 in Dangam, Kunar province. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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    KABOOM: Countering IED attacks

    27 July 07
    By Spc. Mathew Leary
    4th BCT PAO
    .

    Hearing the explosion just around the corner from his vehicle July 15, Army Sgt. Felix W. Bala knew that some of his fellow Paratroopers had just been hit by an improvised explosive device.

    “We were cruising along about to make a turn when all you could hear was the explosion,” Bala said.

    Commanding his driver to quickly take the next turn so they could help their presumably injured comrades, Bala’s truck executed a sharp left turn and pulled up near the damaged HMMWV. By this point, the other vehicles in his platoon had formed a wide perimeter around the blast area. As their truck rolled to a stop, the Soldiers were relieved as they looked back at the truck in question, Bala said.

    “By that time, the guys in the truck were getting out of the vehicle under their own power,” he said. While this IED attack involved Bala and Paratroopers of 1st Platoon, Troop A, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, it is a reminder that for all U.S. servicemembers serving in Afghanistan, the fight against IEDs is critical.

    “The way to cut down on IEDs is to build the relationship between local citizens, the Afghan National Security Force and the [Islamic Republic of Afghanistan],” said Army 1st Lt. Briton M. Crouch, 1st Plt. leader for Troop A, 4-73rd Cav. For this reason, the Paratroopers of the 4-73rd Cav. are headed back to the town of Hassan in Gelan district, the village where an IED went off under one of the trucks, the day after the attack.

    IED-DAY Minus 1.

    Leaders from the 4-73rd Cav. are determined to pursue all leads relevant to the IED attack on Troop A just the day prior to July 16. The return trip to the village is designed to achieve one simple goal–stop further IED attacks. “We are doing a follow-up in the area to garner more support,” said Army Capt. George E. Bolton Jr., commander of Troop A. “You have to work with the people so they will prevent [IED attacks] from happening.”

    As troopers from the 4-73rd Cav. arrive in town, a handful of local villagers begin to fill the streets to see what is going on. After a few minutes, more and more locals enter and begin approaching and talking to the Soldiers, although often neither party can understand the other due to the language barrier. Although not all the conversations can be translated, fortunately there are interpreters with Troop A to facilitate some communication, the fact any talking is taking place is a good sign, Bolton said.

    “They showed up and that’s the first step,” he said. A group of village elders, who are the authoritative figure for Hassan, gather together with ISAF to hold an impromptu shura, a sort of town meeting in Afghanistan.

    Speaking with Bolton and Army Lt. Col. David J. Woods, commander of the 4-73rd Cav., the locals speak their minds about the conditions in their town. They address the security situation and lack of ANSF forces in the area.

    One of the problems facing the developing ANSF in the past is they have not had the capabilities to visit all of the villages in their area. However, as they grow and mature, they are slowly extending their hold over areas of Afghanistan that have been void of any law enforcement for several months, Woods said.

    “They told me the Taliban comes in at night driving through the village to harass and intimidate the people,” Crouch said.

    IED-DAY Minus 2.

    The Paratroopers are preparing to head back to Hassan to again engage the local populace, but this time with the aid of ANSF and District Commissioner Mubaballah, who is the head of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Gelan.

    “This is where we assist the ANSF in their mission,” Bolton said. Mubaballah and ANSF soldiers independently wanted to visit the town, but with their police and military forces spread out on other missions they lacked the resources to travel there. So they teamed up with ISAF to make the trip.

    “That’s part of our role here, to allow the establishment of their government in their own country,” Woods said. “That’s our job, that’s our purpose.”

    ISAF support ANSF by providing the police force the extra manpower to cover most of the district and provides training to the ANP and ANA, showing them standard military techniques and strategies, Woods said. Really, this is the best way to curb IED attacks that injure not only military forces but Afghan civilians as well. Developing a congenial relationship between the people, IRoA and ISAF are the key, Woods said.

    At this shura, ISAF personnel take a back seat as the district commissioner engages the village elders, again encouraging them to work with ANSF and government officials. “When a police chief or government official comes down to see them, it makes the people feel like they are loved and cared for,” Bolton said. The results are evident as the townspeople speak freely about their need for new roads and schools, as well as the threat of Taliban insurgents who plant IEDs on their roadways.

    “The whole thing is for us to separate the Taliban from the people,” Bolton said. “These people are afraid of the insurgency and unsure of their government,” Woods said. “But that’s why we are here, to help them establish those relationships, and show them that the ANSF and [IRoA] are going to give them that sense of security.”

    “By providing that link between the people and their government, while simultaneously distancing the insurgency from the people is exactly the way to slow down the emplacement of IEDs in these remote towns and villages,” Woods said.

    It is evident some form of bonding is taking place as children run up to Soldiers tugging on their sleeves playfully and the villagers and troopers exchange waves and smiles.

    Perhaps that will prevent more Soldiers from cruising along and suddenly hearing that sound no Soldier wants to hear:

    KABOOM!

    Photo – Communicating through means other than talking, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Parrish, mortar platoon sergeant for Troop A, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, demonstrates the art of “high-fiving” to a group of Afghan kids July 16 while visiting Hassan village in the Gelan District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. Matthew Leary.

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    The Iranian Threat

    This map links to a different map. I goofed when I added the extra link to make the map larger. Just so you know.
    As I was checking out who was reading my site, I was surprised to find that people from inside Iran are continuing find me. This is not a bad thing, I am just surprised. Anyway, this map is what I found they were looking for so I am providing it for them.

    I have quite a few friends in Iran and outside of Iran who are Iranian. They are very kind and gentle people who are trapped by their government. They could be very prosperous, very welcomed in many countries, and so much more. As it is, there are sanctions against the government. I pray the people understand these sanctions are NOT against them, although they are the ones who will suffer the most.

    Hopefully soon, my friends will be able to walk and talk freely, just as we are able to in our country. They are human, too, after all. As far as the terrorists go, however, I would do anything in my power to help them go meet their allah! Speed it up, guys. 🙂

    Update: Regarding the title, I lost my train of thought. Please forgive me. It happens when I’ve been up all night. lol.

    From VOA News:

    “[You have] [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad [has] multiple times [been] talking about wiping Israel off the map. Now they’ve shifted their focus to Bahrain and they want to gobble up Bahrain. Well, I think it’s another indication of how this is a regime that operates completely outside the accepted norms of international behavior.” [Continue reading.]

    Another great article which tells us at length the threat we are facing:

    Iran continued its threats against Bahrain after an editorial in the Iranian news last week claimed that Bahrain was a province of Iran. [Continue reading.]

    This last quote comes from Gateway Pundidt. Great blogger, as usual.

    If Iran is going to keep threatening to confiscate the three islands (which are countries of their own), Bahran and some of the other tiny countries, then who’s to say they won’t pull another ‘Hitler’? Mr. Shaiatmadami is the ‘person’ who wrote the editorial that is one of the focuses of this rancor. (Sorry, I can’t find the link. I’ll keep looking, though.) Well, Iran had to back off this time. Yes, this time…but what about the next time when they have nukes?

    PS: Today is an open trackback day. All I ask in return is return the favor. Thank you, and have a great day.

    H/t Gateway Pundit.

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    Trackbacked at:

  • Perri Nelson’s Website: Proud to be non-union!
  • The Amboy Times: Newt: War on Terror is Phoney.
  • Shadowscope: Bloggers That Take Themselves MUCH Too Seriously….
  • CommonSenseAmerica: A Letter From Terry...
  • Plank’s Constant: The difference between Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
  • Conservative Cat: Notes from Ferdy – The Dems Finally Get Something Accomplished.
  • Right Truth: Today’s news in pictures.
  • DragonLady’s World: OTA Monday 49.
  • The Virtuous Republic: Two Examples of Why We Need to Secure Our Southern Border.
  • Perri Nelson’s Website: Monday’s Open Trackback.
  • Blog @ MoreWhat.com: Secure the Borders Linkfest.
  • Committees of Correspondence The Open Trackback Alliance LXXXIV.
  • DeMediacratic Nation: The Conspiracy to find Conspiracy.
  • Big Dog’s Weblog: Watch Out for Sneaky Immigration Bills.
  • Right Truth: Coalition of the Good (Muslims and Arabs).
  • Pirate’s Cove: Beer Monday: Where’s The Diversity, Kosbats?
  • The Pink Flamingo: SUN AUG 5 Creeping Racism.
  • Webloggin: Media Matters Defends Democrat Majority Whip James Clyburn’s Progress Fearing Statement on Iraq.
  • Leaning Straight Up: Jackie Mason Slams the Democrats.
  • third world county: I blog these things so you don’t have to.
  • Thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe
  • .

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    25 July 07
    By Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Day
    2nd Marine Division (FWD)
    .

    Ramadi, Iraq — The scout-sniper platoon from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, left the ground behind as they took to the skies to hunt for weapon caches and insurgents. As part of the aeroscout mission, the Marines travel by helicopter to areas not normally checked because of their remote locations.

    “The average size group for this type of mission is usually two platoons. We’re doing it with about half,” said 1st Lt. Jordan D. Reese, the executive officer for Weapons Company, 3/7. “We train constantly, so that we are comfortable with each other. The Marines know what type of air power they have behind them. We believe there is no objective we can’t handle.”

    Marines from the scout-sniper platoon conducted aeroscout operations south of Ramadi, in the desolate lands of the Razazah plains July 22.

    The Marines loaded onto the helicopters at 9 a.m. They carried with them a full combat load, and packs of food, blankets and water to pass out to the people they encounter on the mission.

    “The food drops are our way to show that we are on their side,” the Rockford Ill. native said. “In the city this might not be a big deal, but this food could mean life or death to these people. There is nothing out there in the far desert. Maybe it will keep them happy enough to have them stay working with us, and not the terrorists.”

    During the flight, Reese observed different sites looking for anything suspicious. After flying around for about 15 minutes, he spotted a tent with vehicles around it and people walking around. He decided to insert the team to take a closer look.

    The two CH-53 Sea Stallions landed and the two scout-sniper teams moved fast out the door of the helicopter and began to provide security for the landing zone.

    “With a unit this small conducting the operation, it is real easy to maneuver,” Reese said. “We can get in, hit the objective, and get out in about 20 minutes.”

    Once the helicopters lifted the scouts went to work, moving fast, but cautiously toward the tent. Between the two teams, one team held security while the other team searched the people and the structure.

    After a quick, but thorough search the Marines decided there weren’t any suspicious items or information, so they called in the helicopters for extraction.

    “These missions give us a presence in an area which hasn’t had any coalition forces in it for years or even ever,” Reese said.

    “This will keep the bad guys on their toes and that is really what we’re going for. Keep them guessing so we can catch up to them and get them.”

    Though the Marines had finished with the objective, they were not done. While observing a different area, Reese noticed some additional suspicious activities. They went back to work.

    “The Marines showed the ethos of being a professional warrior today,” said Capt. Miguel A. Pena, a forward air controller for the battalion. “They showed the people we’re here to provide help to them.”

    As the Marines sprinted toward their second objective, men came out with their hands up as the Marines approached their vehicles.

    “We are able to reach far into the desert winds and help some people who we had no contact with before,” Pena said. “We are conducting these missions in a nonstandard way. Before they were ground driven, now we bring the air element to the fight.”

    The Marines questioned the men through the interpreter. They asked them about where they were from, why they were there, and if anything suspicious happened recently. The Marines gave the group of men the one of their packs of food for co-operating with them.

    The Marines then set up landing zone security again, while Pena called for the birds to come pick them up.

    “These missions provide us with the opportunity to hit the enemy before they hit us,” Reese said. “We will continue to do it because of all the positive effects it has on the people and on our mission here in Ramadi.”

    Photo – Lance Cpl. Adam A. Ramirez, squad automatic weapon gunner for the scout snipers, runs off the CH-53 Sea Stallion toward the objective. The Marines only have a short time on the ground so they move fast to ensure they can get everything they need done at each site.

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    24 July 07
    by Capt. Teresa Sullivan
    379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
    .

    SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) – Airmen of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing dropped 120,000 leaflets over the Helmand Province in Afghanistan July 22 to help prevent civilian casualties while prepping the battlefield for future operations.

    The nine-member crew of the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, all based out of Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, successfully accomplished a short-notice mission to release leaflets over four southwestern Afghanistan drop zones in a dangerous Taliban hot spot, despite challenging winds and dust storms.

    The leaflets were designed to deliver a message to the people of the province to take refuge in their homes and also discourage them from harboring Taliban members. In the meantime, coalition forces continue efforts to eliminate the insurgent’s stronghold while avoiding loss of innocent lives.

    The mission began several days prior to C-130 Hercules’ takeoff when the squadron was alerted and planners began developing their strategy. Their computer-based plan considered route, location, wind forecasts and leaflet size in its calculations. High winds and dust storms throughout the area made planning a challenge.

    Prior to the mission, the aircrew gathered to discuss the game plan.

    “It’s going to be a long night, but you are all prepared,” said Lt. Col. Joe Sexton, the 746th EAS commander to the C-130 crew after the mission brief. “It’s no coincidence that you all are on this (mission). I have full confidence in all of you. You guys are going to go out there and do it right.”

    Ready to put their plan to the test, they set off for the airdrop.

    “We were originally scheduled to do a different mission, but we were alerted to come into work because we were going to be doing a ‘special’ mission,” said Capt. Brett Cochran, a C-130 pilot and native of Pflugerville, Texas. The captain was responsible for flying the aircraft over four drop zones. “This is the first mission of this kind for our squadron during this deployment so far, so it’s important we get things started on a good note.”

    A lot was on the minds of crew members who were new to the combat zone airdrop business. “What-if” discussions included the dust storms, fuel, shifting winds, contingency plans and defensive tactics on the way to Kandahar International Airport to pick up the leaflets.

    The Air Force uses leaflets to deter enemy forces or reduce their will to fight. In this case they were being used to encourage innocent bystanders to stay out of harm’s way. While the leaflet-drop mission may be new to some of the pilots of this expeditionary squadron, it’s a mission that’s tied closely to the 379th AEW’s heritage.

    In the summer of 1944, leaflets were dropped over Germany by the 379th’s ancestor, the 379th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force, intended to shape the adversary’s psyche, and to destroy their ability to wage war.

    Then 379th BG’s leaflets were designed to spread the word on allied progress during World War II. Some provided words of encouragement to the people of enemy-occupied countries while others focused on relentless bombings of Nazi airfields, oil refineries and cities undermining the enemy’s will to resist.

    Knowing the wing’s forefathers carried out similar missions 63 years ago reminded the aircrew that they’re part of a long tradition of airpower.

    “It’s neat that we can continue on with the legacy,” said 1st Lt. Mike Heddinger, a 746th EAS co-pilot from Wichita Falls, Texas. “It’s also great that we’ll be helping the guys on the ground by prepping the battlefield.”

    As the crew departed Kandahar for the Helmand Province, pilots reviewed their play book once more while loadmasters rehearsed the drop in their minds preparing the harnesses, oxygen tanks and boxes of leaflets.

    “What we’re going to do is line these boxes up as advertised and push them out the door at the right time,” said Master Sgt. Larry Lambert, a 746th EAS senior loadmaster from Asbury, N.J.

    The loadmasters in the back of the C-130 were responsible for the drop portion of the mission, communicating closely with the crew in the cockpit.

    “We’ve been around the block a few times, so I can put my faith in the guys up front (of the C-130),” he said. “These leaflets can save innocent lives, so we’re fired up to be a part of this.”

    As the aircraft approached the drop zone Sergeant Lambert established contact with his two loadmaster teammates using designated hand signals, letting them know when they were 20, 10, four, three, two and one minute away.

    The crew was 5,000 feet above the target and everyone was fully prepared in safety gear. Within the hour the mission was complete. The crew went four for four over the Helmand Province, dropping the leaflets on time and on target. Within minutes it would be raining leaflets over the Helmand Province.

    “It was a good day. We accomplished what we were asked to do,” said Captain Cochran. “We completed the mission at hand and it’s a great feeling.”

    This is what it’s all about, said Maj. Pat O’Sullivan, the 746th EAS director of operations, from Sebring, Fla.

    “We love this stuff. Missions like this drop with little to no notice,” he said. “As soon as we received the word, they started moving, planning for and coordinating every possible scenario and variable. They were ready for every situation, guaranteeing a successful mission.”

    Photo – Tech. Sgt. Matt Rossi drops 30,000 leaflets July 22 over a drop zone in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan. The squadron successfully met their objective of dropping 120,000 leaflets over the Helmand Province, prepping the battlefield. Sergeant Rossi is a 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron instructor loadmaster. Photo by Capt. Teresa Sullivan.

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

    Qari Faiz Mohammad killed in a raid in Helmand province

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

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

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

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

    No matter when, where, who, what and no one gives a flying hoot about why, the fight will continue. They want every Christian, Jew, Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, non-proper Muslim, and everyone else who does not subscribe to their way of interpreting the Koran DEAD. Are we clear on this now? Good. Have a nice day.
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    This operation was successful in that the head of the Security Division went along with them, he spoke to the people to calm their fears, he told them he was there to get rid of the Taliban and to provide security, and he also wanted them to know they should build their own city government from which they should have one representative to speak to him so that he could help them with their needs. Wow. I’d say that’s a big first step, eh?

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

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    This is horrendous. If there is hunger in the world? Blame America. If there is a flood in the world? Blame America. If there is torture, stoning, raping, murder, or any other criminal offence in Iran? Blame America?!

    Serendip has written a very worthy and timely article about the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). They are supposedly a human rights group, but Iran has used this trick before. They know what will move public opinion, unlike some people we know, and they use it against us.

    Who could say human rights is not a good cause? From these people? ME! How dare they come onto our soil, go into our Congress, and try to persuade them to relieve Iran from the sanctions. Do you know why? BECAUSE THE SANCTIONS ARE WORKING!

    Please stop over at Serendip’s blog, and read about this. They are as bad as CAIR, if not worse. We must be louder and more active than these make believe groups. They are not civil rights groups. They are beholden to the Ayatollah Khomeini. Don’t ever forget that.

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    This is one of those stories that touched my heart so warmly. Many people look at our Soldiers and see only brutes or men ready to kill you if you look at them wrongly. This is the furthest from the truth. They do not understand the ROE (Rules of Engagement). Many people have no idea about life in the military, this is the story for you.

    Let me see if I find just one paragraph to entice you. This seems like the right one:

    “It seems like time stopped here 2,000 years ago,” said Polish Pfc. Chris Demko, a gunner on one of the giant Rosomak armored personnel carriers. “We see these kids running around with nothing, not even shoes, and we want to change that.” [The Real Kite Runners flying the Afghan Skies.]

    Bravo for the Polish Soldiers! It just goes to show that loving children and humanity does not stop at our waters edge. 🙂

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    This is one cool article. I know. I’m sick for thinking it is cool to know that our men can kill so many of our ENEMIES, right? YOU’RE READING THE WRONG SITE! Go away! lol.

    I love it! Check out this paragraph:

    “It’s not like the previous wars when they lined up and we would mow them down,” said Mantle. “Fires have a lot of different effects. When we fire the 155s from here, the enemy doesn’t hear the round coming in. It immediately puts the enemy on the defensive and has a tremendous demoralizing effect.” [Big guns play big part in eastern Afghanistan.]

    Give them all the guns they need, then give them about twice that! Let’s kick butt!

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    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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    An article from CentCom:

    18-Jun-07
    By Army Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Public Affairs
    .KORENGAL VALLEY, Afghanistan — The paratroopers were keen for the mission despite their rough conditions. The difference between a tan line and dirty skin has long since passed. Bites from sand fleas and mosquitoes just add to the problem. Electricity, toilets and running water (a 45 minute patrol away) are long forgotten conveniences.

    The paratroopers are Sky soldiers from Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. [Continue reading.]

    This is a pretty gruelling one, probably because it hits so close to home. That’s all I will say at this moment. These guys are the best we have, so read about them. If you would like to adopt a Soldier, a Marine, a Platoon, whatever, you just go right here. I am telling you, you will not regret it. You want to know what you can do for the war effort? Try this!

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    The Aghanistan National Army (ANA) are busy training and working towards the day when they may be able to defend Afghanistan on their own. It seems to be going well. The 205th Regional Security Assistance Command are quite capable and are making sure of this. They are making sure that the ANA has the supplies they need and that the British are teaching them the American ways to run an Army. I like this. If you would like to read the whole story, you will find it here. Have a great day, and to those of you who are serving, “THANK YOU, and God bless you!”

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    Thatcher’s (Son) Lawyers Challenge Charges.

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

    Interview.

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

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

    Hat tip to Kathy Kinsley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Reflections

    Since I have not yet revealed my “self” to you, I thought today may be a fine day to start. Sundays are very special to me, since they are the day I set aside for the Lord. Actually, every day is the Lord’s day, but we Christians in particular set aside this day.

    I have been very happy, very angry, and very confused these past weeks. I am full of joy for the Iraqi football team. Look how wonderfully they play! I am very proud of them. I am very angry at Sadr and Allawi. Sadr-because he causes so much pain to the Iraqis, and Allawi for not realizing that if you let him get away with it, Iran will just arm him again. What kind of a man hides in a holy place? Does he desire the shrine to be destroyed? Do people worship the building, or do people worship what the building represents? If it is the first, then they have no god. If it is the second, then buildings can be repaired or rebuilt. Once someone fires a weapon of war at a soldier of war, they have just declared that building a target. Does he not realize he is not safe? If the new government prevents the coalition from finishing the job and someone wants to find fault with someone, find it with Sadr and Allawi. Sadr is the murderous punk. Allawi for appearing weak. I am confused, however, as to why we don’t take appropriate action. Why not? Does our government want to look weak? Who is tying my President’s hands? The State Department? They need to go, all of them (state dept!) Do not the Iraqi people deserve to live in peace? Yes, they do.

    I could pour out my heart for the peoples all over the world that are living in fear and under a corrupt government or communism, but I am afraid no one would care. How selfish have we become? Did we forget how we became great? It was not by our own strength, no! It was the loving hand of God that led the way. Now, some want to forget He even exsists! How dare they! I am outraged! Don’t tell me not to believe what I know to be true. I tolerate the ignorant, because it doesn’t make sense to argue. They won’t change their minds, and by all means they shouldn’t. At the same time, would they please, PLEASE, be at least half as gracious to me??? They preach tolerance, but what they mean is “do as I say. My way or no way.” That, my dear Marxist friends, is not tolerance. It is totalitarianism. This, I will not tolerate! Just as before, I will fight them with prayer, calling my Congresswoman, my Senators, the President, and continue in my efforts with organizations which I belong. We are so blessed that we can still fight without any bloodshed! Thank God.

    I still haven’t said much about myself, huh? Oh well! I find it diffifcult to speak about myself, because I don’t really know what to say. I love to write, I enjoy writing poetry, I love the Charlie Daniels Band (country music,) Toby Keith, my cats, all animals, people-most of the time(!), etc. Boring, huh? Ha ha! 🙂

    I was born in a small town outside of Philadelphia. I lived there until I was nine, then my family moved to upstate New York. I have lived a rather fancy free, yet challenging life. I am an ex-alcoholic since August 19, 1987. I can sometimes go on and on if given the opportunity. I have had 3 brain strokes, but I am fine. I have a port wine birthmark on my face. When I was born, it covered the whole left half of my face! I have learned a lot by looking like this.

    I have discovered that some people are shallow, while others are not. I can very easily get rid of the ones who are by not wearing make-up. I hate make-up. It makes me feel phony. I used to wear it all the time, though! Funny, isn’t it, the changes we go through as we grow.

    I love this journey called life. I have been to 47 states, and I even lived in 9 states, stayed in a few for more than a week! The one thing that impressed me the most was how much we have in common and how much stays the same, just change the names and places. Of course I wasn’t politically active at the time I was trampsing around the USA, so I can’t speak on that behalf, but I sure enjoyed myself. I would get this itch that said go here or there, and off I would go! I don’t do that anymore, and that makes me sad, but it is okay.

    Well, that is about as much as I am willing to share at this moment. I don’t even know if this is politically intelligent. Ah, who am I kidding? I don’t care what people find out about me. I am not ashamed for being alive. I thank God (not as often as I should) that I am alive. Thanks for reading all of this, if you’ve gotten this far.

    Let me know what you think, and I could sure use some helpful hints on creative writing, topics, what not to say, etc. God bless the USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, the UK, Poland, Italy, and all the coalition countries, all people that are being oppressed by their government-may they have freedom soon, the children, our families, friends, and neighbors. Have mercy on us, dear Lord, and show us the way. Keep our feet straight away on the path You have set for us, and grant us the strength to weather the storms of life. I pray for Your Peace, Your Love, Your Wisdom, Your Grace, Your Justice, Victory and Your Mercy. I love You, God. Thank You.

    That’s all folks! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! (Looney Tunes cartoons!)

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