February 18, 2008

From the Front: 02/18/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Northern Disclosure: Rain Check? - Before I was in the Army, I worked in the Golf Industry. I held several jobs from working on the course to cart barn and also working in the Pro Shop and Golf School. One of the pleasures of working in the Pro Shop is customer service, the beauty of that industry are people are only there for recreation so it is very rare that a customer is irrate or unhappy. The only time there seemed to be a negative tone in the Golf Shop was when weather had interrupted peoples play. When paying several hundred dollars for a recreational activity that only lasts 4-6 hours one ussually wants to get his or her money worth. So when the rain or wind was too much they would enter the Golf Shop and I would offer a Rain Check. (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: The Bloggers Among Us - It still surprises me how many emails I get about the blog, how many comments I get on the blog and how many people come up to me on the FOB and say, “I didn’t know you had a blog.” The other comment I hear frequently is, “My son (brother, father, friend) never writes! Funny, I don’t hear that comment about daughters, sisters or mothers. I guess women are generally better about keeping in touch with family. I don’t blog as often as I did when I was at FOB Salerno, and not often enough for some of my friends and family. The differences between my life and my job at FOB Salerno and my life and job here at FOB Apache are like night and day, and one of those differences is the subject my blog entry today. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Madeline's letter - Thank you, Madeline Tomberlin. As I mentioned before, I received a Christmas card that meant a lot to me. I know it's a bit late to be talking about Christmas cards, but we have been busy and had so much going on, this is the first opportunity I've had. In a bundle of Christmas wishes from Beverly Moore's fourth-grade class at Andalusia Elementary School was a note with a familiar last name. Madeline opened up her letter saying, "You probably do not know me, but my name is Madeline Tomberlin. My daddy is John Tomberlin, your cousin." (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: “Sunni extremism is now in retreat." - Former CIA case Officer Reuel Marc Gerecht argues today that, barring a precipitous U.S. abandonment of the country, “Iraq could well become America's decisive victory over Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and all those Muslims who believe that God has sanctified violence against the United States.” Gerecht bases his argument on two observations. The first is the apparently tiny number of jihadist radicals now entering Iraq from neighboring countries, especially when compared to the large number of fighters who traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviets. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: A Different World - Here’s an anecdote LT S conveyed to me one night out at the Crow’s Nest over some cigarettes and near-beers. I wasn’t there to witness the following events first-hand, luckily. I probably would have done something hilarious and irrational that would lead to losing my job. The setting: While on the grand tour of our combat outpost, Major X, a visiting field grade, picks up a stack of newspapers and engages LT S about them. Major X: “What are these here, Lieutenant?” LT S: “Copies of one of the Iraqi national papers, Sir.” (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraqi Shopkeeper and Policeman Save the Day - Recently, the Say Anything blog opined why Americans weren't fighting back to prevent calamity following the tragedy at Northern Illinois University. I agree that an armed society is a polite society, but I would certainly not criticize the victims of this horrible massacre for not reacting with cat-like reflexes to avert tragedy. These remarks as well as dropping memes like the following made the gentleman nominated for Operation Yellow Elephant: Meanwhile, back here in the United States, the Democrat front-runner for the commander-in-chief job is still mired in defeatism describing our soldiers in the battlefield as “wondering when it will end". (READ MORE)

Eighty Deuce on the Loose in Iraq: One last bit of excitment? I think not... - The last patrol that I went on was one exhausting patrol. We ended up dismounting quite a bit. It wasn't so much that over the course of the day we walked a whole lot, but it wasn't a short walk or anything like that either. Pretty much it was just not stop, continious dismounting that just seemed as if thats all I did all day. I don't recall spending too much time inside the truck. Fortunatly the wheater was just about perfect for the amount of walking we ended up doing and I even had to shed the little bit of 'snivel' gear that i had one once the afternoon hit. So for the dismounts we really didn't do much that was really noteworthy. (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure: The Odyssey Of The Four Day Pass: Inland Sea - On "day two," which was actually our third day here, I and some friends that I had made while on pass signed up for the "Inland Sea Picnic." Not knowing much more than the title of the event, we showed up at the appointed hour, which was early again. Roll call was called by last four of the SSN, and we were split into SUV-sized loads and awaited our chariots. The SUV's arrived a little late, and as we began to load my one and only pair of jeans that I had brought with me went into failure mode. No, they were not too tight, and they were Lee jeans, so you wouldn't think that they would be so cheap. (READ MORE)

Defiant Compliance: Transfer of Authority - Dear Reader, My boyfriend took me to work on Valentine's Day! It also happened to be the date that a major Transfer of Authority took place between Army III Corps and the incoming unit, the 18th Airborne Corps. I snapped a few pics with my cameraphone. They were taken in the main lobby of the Al Faw Palace, Victory Base Complex, Baghdad. The old general, LTG Odierno (who happened to be the commanding general for my old unit, the 4th Infantry Division, who are now back in Iraq for their third tour since OIF I, 2003-2004) gave a speech, and so did Gen. Petraeus. There was so much brass in the room... It was packed! (READ MORE)

Doc in the Box: Daily Grind - Mornings start out with a shower and shave and I try to make it out to breakfast with Gunny A and my RP1 (religious programs specialist). My normal breakfast consists of a freshly made hotdog and cheese hot pocket, maybe biscuits and gravy, some fruit, dark coffee (they have a choice between normal and mud, I’m in the Navy, we do the mud) and two grapefruit juices. Sick Call starts at 8 and patients come in with their complaints but in reality, no one pays attention to the schedule. When they feel bad, they just find us and we try fixing them. Most of our business is upper respiratory infections, the dryness and dust make for the Iraqi Cough. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 16 February - Well, today was another mind-numbingly BORING day …seriously, all I do lately is surf the internet all day looking for more tattoo ideas (I’m up to about 25 now) and look at motorcycles…I am sleeping about 12 hours a day now, on average, just to avoid doing nothing…I actually had two things to accomplish today—one, which was very exciting, although it only used up about 20 minutes of the day, was to fill out my paperwork to initiate my air travel out of here…all the personal info and where I need to go from here… (READ MORE)

Acute Politics: Bandit White - My morning with Bandit troop started with White platoon and a meeting with a sheik. Sheik Nahmed is the leader of Minari village in south-central Arab Jabour. He is a regular visitor to the front gate of PB Meade as he looks for work for his men. Today, he has come to sign a contract to pick up trash along one of the main roads through the area. When the project is in full swing, it will employ 100 men, and pay $7.50 a day- about the same as membership in one of the developing Sons of Iraq “neighborhood watch” programs. (READ MORE)

Acute Politics: Bandit Red -I caught up with Bandit troop’s Red platoon on a dusty road within sight of PB Meade. They were on mission to search through the fields and canals surrounding the site of a huge cache, and had been diverted to check out a report from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle team of men digging in a field. The report sounded promising enough- 4-5 men digging near the road until a bongo truck (the distinctive middle-eastern version of the pickup truck) pulled up, at which point the men started unloading items into the hole. It *sounds* like IED planting or cache digging, but my experience with UAV intel has been poor enough to leave me a cynic. (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing about Iraq:
The Calm Before The Sand: "Fall Out." - On the morning of December 13, 2007, an Airbuss A330 chartered by the U.S. Government touches down at Ramstein Air Force Base, near Kaiserslautern, Germany. Its undercarriage strikes the rain-slick runway with a wet slap and a screech, and as the plane shudders under the buffet of reversed thrust, 160 soldiers cheer and whoop, or merely sigh with relief. I am among that group. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Tina Susman: In Baghdad, it's business as (un)usual - It took four years to happen and four days to get the exhibits through the Green Zone's zipper-tight security and into place, but Baghdad's first-ever Business to Business Expo closed Sunday after a relatively seamless three-day run. There were the usual contracting giants and telecommunications companies exhibiting wares to each other and to prospective customers, but their stalls paled in comparison to the likes of the state-run tobacco company, and the state-run fruit-juice and food company, whose messages were clear: Eat Iraqi! Smoke Iraqi! Drink Iraqi! Buy Iraqi! (READ MORE)

Tony Perry: War as a family affair - Marine Sgt. Brian Mendez, 24, has been in some of the worst fighting of the Iraq war and has the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon to prove it. "Fallouja was more gunfights, Ramadi was more [roadside bombs]," Mendez, a scout-sniper, says matter-of-factly. In 2006, Mendez's wife, Laura, 22, announced that she wanted to enlist in the Army to fulfill a dream she'd had since the two were high-school students in Torrance, Calif. In the last year, the couple has only spent two 15-day leaves together. (READ MORE)

Gordon Alanko: Sons of Iraq - As Coalition forces in Iraq have moved to a doctrine centered more on counterinsurgency and begun to engage the sheikhs, the military has relied more and more on security forces supplied by local sheikhs to point out bad guys, weapon caches, and IEDs. In Arab Jabour, those forces are called Sons of Iraq. Sayifiyah, in southern Arab Jabour, had local villagers trying to start a Sons of Iraq program before US forces even reached their village. Al Qaeda in Iraq has long been the only power in much of Arab Jabour, and the people of Sayafiyah were fed up. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces targets al-Qaeda networks in northern Iraq; one killed, 23 detained - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces killed one terrorist and detained 23 suspects Saturday and today during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in northern Iraq. Coalition forces conducted an operation in Sharqat today targeting an alleged founder of an anti-Coalition insurgent group tied to the leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq network in Bayji. As Coalition forces called for the occupants of a target building to come out, one man ran out of the building and was directed to stop. He continued to maneuver towards the ground force’s position despite their continued commands to stop. Due to increased threat of suicide attacks in the region, Coalition forces perceived hostile intent from the non-compliant man and engaged, killing him. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces disrupt Special Groups criminal networks, armed suspect killed - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces conducted an assault on a suspected Special Groups finance facilitation network, killing an armed suspect in self-defense early today in the Suwayrah area, south of Baghdad. Coalition Forces were targeting Special Groups networks reportedly associated with criminal element leaders involved in attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces targets weapons facilitation networks; two killed, 12 detained - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces killed two terrorists and detained 12 suspects Saturday and today during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in central Iraq. In continued efforts to disrupt terrorist safe havens northeast of Samarra near the Hamrin Mountains, Coalition forces conducted an operation Saturday targeting an alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq leader for the network operating in the Albu Awad village. As they arrived at the target location, two men were observed fleeing the area and were directed to stop. Both men continued to maneuver in opposite directions and Coalition forces followed one, engaging and killing him. (READ MORE)

IA Soldiers’ quick action prevents suicide attack - BAGHDAD – The alert action of Iraqi Army Soldiers prevented a suicide bomber from reaching her intended target in the Rusafa District at approximately 10 a.m. Feb. 17. As a result of their quick reaction the only death resulting from the aborted attack was that of the female suicide bomber. Two Iraqi citizens were injured in the blast. (READ MORE)

SOI hand over two suspected criminals; MND-B Soldiers seize munitions - BAGHDAD – Members of the Sons of Iraq (Abna’a al-Iraq) handed two suspected criminals over to Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers in East Rashid Feb. 16. The SOI turned the men in to “Cougars” of 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to Task Force Dragon, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, because they were in possession of homemade explosives. Coalition forces explosive ordnance disposal personnel safely destroyed the munitions. (READ MORE)

Sons of Iraq detain, turn over suspected criminal - BAGHDAD – Members of the Abna’a al-Iraq, or Sons of Iraq, handed over a suspected Special Groups criminal to Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers in West Rashid Feb. 15. The SOI, turned the suspect over to soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., attached to Task Force 4-64 at a combat outpost in Risalah. The suspect was taken to a Coalition Forces detention facility for further questioning. (READ MORE)

Paratroopers capture Hasnawi lieutenant - BAGHDAD – Soldiers with Multi-National Division – Baghdad captured a top lieutenant of Arkan Hasnawi, a Special Groups leader, during an operation in northern Baghdad Feb. 17. Paratroopers with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, MND-B, detained the individual at approximately 1 p.m. after receiving a tip on his whereabouts. The suspect is allegedly a key ringleader in Hasnawi’s criminal network, said Maj. Cameron Weathers, the intelligence officer for the 2nd BCT. (READ MORE)

Joint IP and CF patrol finds SVBIED near Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq – Coalition forces and Iraqi police discovered a suicide vehicle-borne improvised-explosive device containing approximately 5,000 pounds of explosives, Feb. 15 on a joint patrol in the Ninewah Province neighborhood near Mosul. Civilians in the surrounding area were immediately evacuated, to minimize possible casualties, in the event the SVBIED would have to be detonated in place. After further assessment, explosive ordnance disposal personnel determined the SVBIED was stable enough to be towed outside of the city for detonation. (READ MORE)

Council Aims for Saydiyah Revival - BAGHDAD — Saydiyah, on the southern side of Baghdad, is in the process of restoring their community into what it once was—an economically-thriving neighborhood where different religious beliefs were not only tolerated but encouraged. The neighborhood, along with other areas in Baghdad, has received assistance from their immediate support council, the government of Iraq and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Invites Coalition Brothers to Tour Villages, Meet Residents - KIRKUK — The 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraq Army (IA) Division’s Civil Affairs Office extended its reach recently to include educating and training their fellow Soldiers in Civil Military Operations during two village visits, Feb. 12 and 13, in the Kirkuk province of northeastern Iraq. From the planning and execution, to instructing the infantry Soldiers on proper etiquette, Maj. Zyad Junade Omar, 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraq Army Division’s Civil Affairs officer told the IA Soldiers of K-1’s Garrison Support Unit (GSU) and its Regional Training Center (RTC), that they were putting a new face on today’s Iraqi Soldier and its Army. “You are showing your fellow Iraqis that you are representative of an Army that is here to help and protect them,” Zyad said. (READ MORE)

Iranian Rocket, Other Munitions Handed Over to Coalition Forces - FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — Coalition forces received a weapon cache of more than 2,000 rounds at Forward Operating Base Delta, Feb. 13. The cache consisted of 2,078 various types of munitions including a 107 mm Iranian-made rocket, 14.5 mm rounds, 82 mm rounds, 155 mm rounds, 100 mm rounds, hand grenades, 130 mm rounds and 30 meters of fuse fire cord. The munitions were collected by the Iraqi civil defense directorate from the villages of Numaniyah, Suveira, and al Aziziyah. (READ MORE)

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