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

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

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

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

Very educational, indeed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: CentCom.

28 November 2007
By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson
407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
.

ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN) — Seven local Iraqi firefighters shared a momentous occasion as they graduated from the Ali Base basic firefighter skills course. The 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services flight firefighters put on a six-day training course to train Iraqi firemen of varying experience levels, from a province in nearby An Nasiriyah.

“Our Air Force firefighters are directly supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom by helping them improve the fire services in southern Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. DeRon Branch, course leader with the 407th ECES. The regional program is run in cooperation with liaisons from the Iraqi fire service.

The 80-hour Air Force curriculum was condensed into about five, four-hour blocks covering basic firefighting skills, search and rescue, live fire training, auto extrication and medical training to include CPR. Before the start of the course, students went through a vigorous Iraqi and American selection and screening process.

The first visit to the fire house included introductions and academic classroom work. But in the weeks following, the men got to put those lessons into practice. “My most memorable experience would be the eagerness each student possessed to become firefighters,” Sergeant Branch said. “They were all very hard working.”

“The training the men have received, we are very grateful for,” said an Iraqi firefighter. “We will use our training experiences every day by training others. Now we just need the right equipment to help us, so we can better respond and save lives.” The sixth and final day of training, the Iraqi firefighters went through a confidence course allowing them to apply the techniques they learned.

“Our mission is to save lives. And after all their training, they looked like they were ready to save lives too,” said Staff Sgt. Dan Erickson Jr., a fire protection crew chief with the 407th ECES. The firemen were each given a certificate of training during a special graduation ceremony.

Photo – A local Iraqi firefighter operates a hose while Staff Sgt. Joshua Wilson gives advice to effectively knock out a fire during training. The 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters conduct a live-fire training exercise for the Iraqi firefighters teaching basic skills of advancing a hand line, procedures on approaching hazardous environments and performing search and rescue. Sergeant Wilson is deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder).

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Source: 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.

30 October 2007
By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti
1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – “Left, left, left, right,” the 30-man platoon of Iraqi Police in training shouted in Arabic while marching to their next class. The Military Police Platoon from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment developed a 10-day preparatory class to implement the basics for Iraqi Police recruits prior to attending the Baghdad Police Academy which initiates them as official police officers.

“This course is designed to give … IPs a basic understanding on what their job will consist of,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brinson, the MP Platoon’s top sergeant for HHC, 1st Squadron, 7th Cav. Regt.

The trainees, waiting to attend the academy, come from various stations in the surrounding area to learn basic policeman skills, he added. It’s an orientation, ensuring all baby IPs go into the academy on the same level of general knowledge.

“The training covers basics on ethics, principles, Iraqi law, first aid, basic rifle marksmanship, responding to a crime scene and search techniques in various scenarios. The recruits follow a structured daily schedule emphasizing teamwork and discipline,” said Brinson, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla, native.

The 10 days are spent introducing the material in the classroom and then actively applying them. The last two days consist of practical exercises that incorporate the entirety of the course.

“Everything learned has to be applied during the hands on scenarios. The situations gradually get harder to test their understanding,” explained Brinson. “Everything is a perishable skill; they have to practice it in order to retain it. They understand the task; they are definitely learning what they need to know to be successful.”

“The trainees get better every day. The course helps them become good IPs and work with the coalition forces to do our job,” said Iraqi Police 1st Lt. Hesham Saman Ali Sauba Boor, a course instructor.

Each IP station is responsible for sending an academy graduated officer to teach the new IP recruits various topics. Military personnel rotate through as instructors from the MP Platoon and are also assisted by the Iraqi Army liaison officers.

“Having the IP officers teach them accomplishes a lot; it mainly helps the Iraqi Police force become self-sufficient,” Brinson said. “It’s another step in the progress to make security forces stronger.”

As he watched the IP recruits successfully complete a bounding exercise, Brinson noted, “I see the trainees take more pride in themselves, and this course is helping them to become a cohesive unit to accomplish the mission.”

Staer Gabar Abedallah, a trainee, shared that he chose to become an Iraqi Police officer to serve his country, secure his community and stop the terrorists.

“The training is a great opportunity to concentrate on training and help the Iraqi people move forward in self governance,” said Stonington, Ill. native, Sgt. David Ashbridge, a military police team leader for HHC, 1st Squadron, 7th Cav. Regt.

Photo – Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brinson, the platoon sergeant for the Military Police Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, instructs an Iraqi Police trainee in a 10-day preparatory course how to properly bound when under direct fire at Camp Taji, Iraq Oct. 27. Photo by Spc. Shejal Pulivarti.

This is a great article of accomplishment. I never believed in a huge central government, and I’m glad the Iraqis are finding it is within their own power to make their lives better. Ya know, after WWII, we DID write Japan’s constitution for them and look at them now! We should have written this one

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While this is an article by CentCom, I would like to share it with you. There is much information out there, if we are willing to find it, to fight back those who have no moral standing in this war. No, I am not saying that if you are against this war then you are immoral. What I am saying is that the kooks who believe we did this to ourselves, we deserved it, we should share classified documents so our enemies can know what and where and how we are finding them are traitors, and they need to be stopped. The way to fight back is easy…inform yourself.

That is why I am using this artlcle for Open Trackback Friday at Linkfest. (Join us!) Please remember that if I send you a ping, please send me one. I’m down to 3 people who ever send me a trackback, and I KNOW I send more pings than that! I will soon be making a list of everyone who is naughty and everyone who is nice…lol. Yes, it’s that time of the year sneaking up on us rather quickly! Anyway, if I don’t receive a trackback, I shall stop trackbacking to you. It is, after all, it is time-consuming. It is also only fair…

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

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5. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Four.
6. The Florida Masochist: All Knucklehead Day Award Five.
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Source: US CentCom.

22 Sept 07
By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser
2nd Marine Division
.

HADITHA DAM, Iraq — Mention of the U. S. Navy usually conjures images of huge battleships cruising across the oceans, but the Navy is also responsible for much smaller boats and waterways. The Navy has fought on rivers and lakes at home and overseas since its establishment during 1775.

During the War for Independence, sailors fought on tiny boats against the huge warships of the Royal Navy on colonial waterways. The War of 1812 found sailors on the Mississippi River aiding Gen. Andrew Jackson during a major British assault on New Orleans. With the beginning of combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the 1960s, the Navy joined forces with the U.S. Army to form the first Riverine squadron, known at the time as the Mobile Riverine Force.

The Navy officially stood up the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, responsible for fielding a new Riverine force in Iraq, Jan. 13, 2006, in Little Creek, Va. Sailors in the new command began training during June 2006 in preparation for their upcoming deployment. Less than a year later, during March 2007, Riverine Squadron 1, Riverine Group 1, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, deployed to Iraq’s waterways in support of Regimental Combat Team 2, in Al Anbar Province.

Now, for the first time since the Vietnam War, a Navy Riverine unit is wrapping up their tour of duty, turning over their area of operations, and preparing to come home.

When we controlled the rivers during Vietnam, it was a huge hit to the enemy and a major U.S. success. [My bolding.] It’s the same here,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer John V. Flanagan, a damage control chief with the squadron. “Manning boats and guns is the Navy’s job. We just scaled down the boat, the gun, and the size of the operations. It feels good to be the first ones back in this position. Those are big shoes to fill, but I think we did pretty well.”

Flanagan, as well as the other sailors in the unit, commonly referred to as riverines, is pleased with the success the squadron has had in Iraq.

“My measure of success is this, in seven months we’ve only been shot at twice and we never hide. We are doing things right and the enemy stays away. They know if they mess with this unit they will be leveled. It’s the most significant Brown Water Navy contribution to the war so far. They came in, ramped up training and deployed in less than a year. We haven’t lost anyone and we’ve completed every mission. That’s success plain and simple,” said Flanagan, who is serving on his third deployment.

The months leading up to the riverines’ deployment were filled with various schools, exercises and training sessions. Every riverine in the squadron attended the Marine Corps School of Infantry East, in North Carolina. Boat captains and crewmen attended Special Missions Training Command, to learn more about the watercraft. Gunners went through the Marine machine-gunners course, and selected sailors even attended the Defense Language Institute for an Iraqi immersion course. Riverines assigned to Maritime Interdiction Operations Teams, a ground combat element, went through a specialized combat course provided by Blackwater, a private civilian security firm. In addition, most of the riverines also completed a combat lifesaver course.

“The training was great,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Bennett, a boat captain with Detachment 3, Riverine Squadron 1. “Before we deployed, we met some of the riverines who served during Vietnam, and they emphasized the importance of what we are doing and got us excited about coming. Then, when we got here, the Marine Dam Security Unit trained us and prepped us for the takeover of (Haditha Dam). We’ve been set up for success since day one, and when we got her,e we just wanted to work and help out. We wanted to leave our footprint and get experience.”

The riverines are responsible for the security of the Haditha Dam, but in addition, they work with other units within the regiment on various combined arms operations.

“We’ve worked with Marine Anglico guys, They were awesome. We provided support for the Navy Seals sometimes. We worked a lot with the regiment’s Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, doing blocking positions and sweeps, and provide security for various units,” said Bennett, a 35-year-old Seguin, Texas, native. “A lot of times, we transported people and gear, because the waterways are safer than roads to travel on. Once, we even worked with the Air Force on an operation. We don’t care, we just want to help out.”

Many of the riverines say their new role in the war has given them a better perspective for the type of life a Marine or soldier might have, and most of them are happy to share that warrior heritage.

“We definitely have more appreciation for Marines, soldiers, and groundpounders in general,” laughed Bennett.

“We are proud of the fact that the only difference between us and the guys on the ground is the water under our boat. We share hardships, we know what that type of lifestyle entails, and we’re proud to have a claim in that,” agreed Flanagan. “There’s no rivalry or bickering, because we’ve been trained by everyone, Marine, Army, Navy, even civilians, its one team, one fight.”

Photo – Navy riverines with Detachment 1, Riverine Squadron 1, Riverine Group 1, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command man their machineguns during a patrol on the Euphrates River. The squadron was stood up, trained, and deployed in less than a year, and is the first Navy riverine unit to be deployed since the Vietnam War. Photo by Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser.

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While I did not write this article, Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser did, I believe it one that should be shared. Our men have done well since their inception of the Navy (and all other branches), and it is about time we all stood up and said so. Let’s support our men and women. Pass this story along.

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Source: US CentCom.

18 Sept 07
by Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr.
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan Public Affairs
.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghans lead best when in the lead and in the Basic Warrior Training Course at the Kabul Military Training Center, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of Afghan drill sergeants.

The mentors call this progress. They describe their jobs as being only temporary – the goal is for the Afghans to take charge in all facets of their army with coalition forces acting in a supporting role or as an enabler.

The Afghan national army leaders have “improved a lot on tactics and leadership,” said Army Master Sgt. Roberto Garcia, a senior mentor at KMTC. “They still have a long way to go … but they are hard workers and they work a lot of hours.”

Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan mentors assigned to BWT in the past have seen their jobs go from dominant in the training and development of ANA soldiers to more of a supporting and advisory role to ANA non-commissioned officers and officers at KMTC. The new soldiers training at KMTC are experiencing this transition first-hand.

“NCOs are ready to take on the responsibility,” said Garcia, a drill sergeant assigned to the 218th Army National Guard Regiment’s Brigade Combat Team at KMTC. “It’s sometimes hard for us to (step back), but we have to remember that we have to be patient. We just have to realize that our military has been around and developing for over 200 years. We can’t expect (for theirs to develop) in five years.”

The senior mentor to the ANA Advanced Combat Training brigade commander, Army Lt. Col. Daniel A. West, echoed Garcia’s perspective.

“We can’t implement our system here,” said West, also a member of the 218th BCT. “They don’t have the same equipment or personnel in place.”

However, the ANA has implemented a training system in which their NCOs are increasingly at the helm. Soldiers are assigned to train new recruits at BWT, the NCOs are being trained to be drill sergeants and NCOs are training BWT graduates for further responsibilities and assignments within the army.

A new class of recruits begins BWT about every two weeks at KMTC, and NCOs are taking the lead at teaching course materials.

“It was mostly officers, mixed with some NCOs (teaching the classes). That’s what I saw when I got here,” Garcia said. Now it’s mostly the NCOs teaching, with officers occasionally helping out.

During a recent live-fire training exercise of ANA soldiers at KMTC, ANA NCO instructors oversaw soldiers in their initial firing of 82 mm mortars and Russian-made SPG-9s, which fire 73 mm grenades.

The exercise was the “smoothest since I’ve been here,” said Army Master Sgt. Anthony J. Harris, a senior NCO mentor for combat arms assigned to the 218th BCT. “They are pretty self-sufficient.”

The soldiers themselves are responding to the new ANA leadership.

“They’re always excited,” said Spc. Seth R. Hungiville, a weapons specialist with the 218th BCT. “There (are) a lot of similarities in how the soldiers are very fascinated with the weapons systems just like we are when we get to fire a new weapons system.”

Photo – An Afghan national army drill sergeant demonstrates weapon functions of an AK-47 to ANA soldiers during Basic Warrior Training at Kabul Military Training Center. Coalition soldiers assigned to the 218th Brigade Combat Team at KMTC mentor Afghan national army Basic Warrior Training drill sergeants. Photo by Staff Sgt. Luis P Valdespino Jr.

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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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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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13 Aug 07
By Spc. Jennifer Fulk
Combined Press Information Center
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KIRKUSH, Iraq – Coalition advisors gathered at the Kirkush Military Training Base, Aug. 8, 2007, to see the progress being made in the region.

Denmark Army Gen. Werner P. Kahle visited Iraqi Army Gen. Sabah, head of the Regional Support Unit at the base, located approximately 70 miles northeast of Baghdad. “Think of it (the RSU) as a distribution center,” said Navy Capt. Joe Hedges, assistance chief of staff of engineering. “We are building distribution systems to get supplies to soldiers in the front,”

“If you have an army in the field, you have to be able to support them,” said Karl Kornchuk, the RSU’s senior advisor. This area is vital to the support of the Iraqi army. It provides logistics to several Coalition and Iraqi units. The area also has a noncommissioned officer academy, in addition to the RSU, which is currently led by Coalition forces.

There are 31 buildings being erected on the compound, which include living quarters, life support buildings, a gym and a classroom. All of the buildings should be complete in four to six weeks, said Paul Hunaker, the project manager. The project also includes 12 new 50,000-gallon fuel tanks, a new ammunition storage point, and sewer system upgrades. Once completed, these projects will increase the standard of living for the Iraqi army and will better enable them to get supplies to their fellow soldiers in the field.

The other side of this important project is training programs that are under way on the base. “The Regional Maintenance Company is small, but the trends are positive,” explained Kahle. “We’ve had a 75 percent success rate on this high visibility project.” he continued, referring to an eight-week class given to Iraqi soldiers who have had some type of maintenance background. The first class began on July 23 and the second a week later. From each class, the best student will be chosen to attend an advanced course and will eventually be the instructors themselves.

“The students are very eager and enthusiastic to learn,” said Francous VanGhant, chief of the Fiafi Group that was contracted to run the class. Vehicle maintenance is important so that the supplies that come through the base can actually be sent out to the soldiers who need them most. “We have to be able to get manpower, supplies and facilities to the same point at the same time,” Hedges said. “Without one of the three, the system doesn’t work.”

However, every effort comes with challenges and the Kirkush Military Training Base is no exception. “It’s like the saying, ‘Building an airplane while you’re flying,’ we’re working on a myriad of problems on the other side,” said Kornchuk. It is also much more expensive to build in the area because contractors are forced to provide their own electricity, water and living. Providing security to convoy in all of these materials is very costly.

Another issue, albeit a much smaller one, is that asphalt is nearly impossible to obtain because the routes are unsecured, so gravel is mainly used. As in all areas of Iraq, security is a very important issue, and employing the locals is key in the security effort. “People from the surrounding area also assist in the route security effort because they know that the supplies being brought in will eventually help them as well,” said Hedges. “A visible force is the key to securing the area.”

As the senior advisor for almost a year, Kornchuk is confident in the Iraqi army’s ability to grow and eventually sustain themselves. “I’ve seen their progress, and I can quantify it,” he said.

Sabah said that he hopes the base will become one of the main sources, and the best sources, of support for the Iraqi army. While there is certain to be some obstacles in the future, Kahle is confident in the Iraqi army. “They can only improve. I am confident that within one year it will be completely operational,” he said. “It all comes down to building close relationships and moving forward together to build a truly free democracy and a wonderful place to live.”

Photo – Denmark Army Gen. Werner P. Kahle studies a pair of boots that will be worn by an Iraqi Army soldier. Kahle visited Iraqi Army Gen. Sabah, head of the Regional Support Unit in Kirkush. Photo by Spc. Jennifer Fulk.

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8 Aug 07
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
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NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) – Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 5 Oil Platform (OPLAT) Detachment provided security for USS Chinook (PC 9) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams while conducting Interaction Patrols (IPATS) Aug. 5 in the north Persian Gulf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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25 July 07
by Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke
447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
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NEW AL-MUTHANA AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) — Firefighters from the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron are spending their spare time training firefighters from the Iraqi air force to make them an autonomous unit at New Al-Muthana Air Base. Airmen spend about one day a week running Iraqis through drills and training procedures.

During training earlier this month, Master Sgt. Craig Milton, the 447th ECES assistant fire chief, put together a live building fire. During this scenario the firefighters from the U.S and Iraqi air forces had to work together to extinguish the fire and rescue a 200-pound dummy from a burning room. Other training involved a simulated burning aircraft where Iraqis had to shut down jet engines and remove an unconscious pilot.

Airmen have been training Iraqis regularly for about two months, said Master Sgt. Steven Carver, the 447th ECES deputy fire chief. The most pressing obstacle is the Iraqi’s equipment deficit. Sergeant Carver said they just cannot obtain good equipment easily and could use up-to-date rescue trucks and more breathing tanks.

However, other areas involve a mindset, and not the pocketbook. Inexperience is a speed bump since none of the Iraqis here were firefighters before April 2003, said Hassan Shimary, the Iraqi air force fire chief. “In the United States, (firefighters) have learned from many mistakes, like rushing into a building without first making observations,” Sergeant Carver said. “People die if you don’t consider the environment, and that’s what we’re trying to teach them.”

An entire U.S. Air Force squadron is here to provide guidance and to council the members of the Iraqi air force. The 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron works closely with Iraqi airmen from multiple professions daily. But Col. Mark Schmitz, the 370th AEAS commander, said he has no firefighter advisers in his squadron, and he depends on the firefighters from the 447th ECES to volunteer help. “I’m lucky enough to be based next to Sather where there are experienced firefighters,” the colonel said. “The Iraqis have equipment, manning and training shortfalls, but I think their firefighters are improving because of the Sather firefighters help.”

With the right training, the Iraqis will get the experience they need to be independent in a couple years, Sergeant Milton said. And during that time, the Iraqis said they hope to continue to build working relationships with Americans. “We enjoy the experience to train with Americans,” said Chief Shimary through a translator. “We are glad to have the Americans for friends; they give us confidence in what we’re doing.”

Photo – Master Sgt. Craig Milton observes firefighters from the Iraqi air force remove Staff Sgt. Vance Vansteel from an Iraqi C-130 flight deck July 9 at New Al-Muthana Air Base, Iraq. Sergeant Vansteel represented an unconscious pilot during a simulated aircraft fire. The exercise trained Iraqis to respond to an aircraft fire by shutting down engines and removing an unconscious pilot. U.S. Airmen set up the scenario and guided them through the process. Sergeants Milton and Vansteel are firefighters with the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. Photo Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke.

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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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