February 26, 2008

From the Front: 02/26/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Putting on the dog - After too many months of seeing guys here at Camp Vulcan wear nothing but ACUs and PT clothes, there is now something new for the team. We recently received unit T-shirts and sweatshirts with cool designs commemorating our time here. The Law Dog shirts were designed by Jody Potter, a graphic artist and all-around great guy at The Birmingham News. They were made by Peake Screenprinting in Huntsville, Ala. (READ MORE)

James Aalan Bernsen: The world's coolest SUV - Move over Cadillac Escallade. Go play with your tonka truks, dinky little Nissan Armada. That's because the MRAP is in the House. For folks who don't follow the latest in military vehicles, allow me to introduce to you the Mine Resistent Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicle - the latest and greatest thing that is out there protecting our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines every day. Designed specifically from lessons learned here in Iraq, this goliath represents the most advanced all-terrain vehicle the planet has ever seen. Able to take immense pounding from IEDs - and belive me, it can endure a lot - the MRAP is the closest possible combination of the security of a tank and the agility and utility of a Humvee. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Oliver Twisted - Just another day in the Suck. Just another day of Mogadishu-style missions, with our dismount teams walking with me in between creeping Strykers, winding through the back-alleys and alley-backs of this hellhole in Iraq. Just another day of engaging the locals, listening to their multitude of gripes, bitches, and complaints. Just another day of “Mistah, Mistah, gimme -” “Please, Sir, I want some more.” Last calling station … say again? You’re coming in lucid and earth-shattering. I looked down at the originator of the voice. Three Iraqi girls, all with shining black eyes and so similar in appearance that their sisterhood was immediately recognized, had crowded around me and Biggie Smalls. (READ MORE)

Eighty Deuce on the Loose in Iraq: The Charlie Company Surge... - When you look forward to redeployment and to ending your mission here in Iraq, you set certin expectations in your mind as far as what you expect it to be like. In my head I had expected us to ride things out, continue to do what we normally do, but nothing special, physically and mentally phasing ourselves out of our combat mission. Well as could be expected with just about everything I have ever experienced in the Army, what you expect tends to be nothing like what is or will be. The last patrol that I went on, was my last time patrolling with my platoon in our normal patrol cycle. I still have some things that will require me leaving the FOB and continuing combat missions, but the days of spending a day or 2 out with my platoon in our typical fasion are done for. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Doves of Mosul - On 23 February at FOB Marez in Mosul, I saw a dove on the ground. The bird was still alive but obviously sick. It looked up at me blinking, yet made no move to escape. The feathers were not groomed and it appeared to have a small growth near or at the leading edge of its right wing. The next day, I was talking with Captain Brad Warr, an Army physician’s assistant whom I got to know during 2005 in Mosul when he was with the “Deuce Four.” For an hour or so, we caught up, rambling on about this and that. CPT Warr told me about a relative who was studying photography. (READ MORE)

Paul McLeary: “The Sunni and the Shia are like the Tigris and the Euphrates” - A slim, slightly weathered-looking man with flecks of gray in his hair, Colonel Ehssan—leader of the local Sons of Iraq group—sits behind his desk, looking unhappy. We had driven from COP Courage this morning to his “office”—a first floor room in an old building set far back from the main road on a narrow dirt strip, only a few miles from the American base. The room, and the building, is typically Iraqi, meaning typically shabby, with sand-caked windows, peeling yellow paint on the walls, and a few long couches turned toward the colonel’s desk. A space heater sits in the middle of the room, providing whatever heat it can muster. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: 2/24 Patrols, Keeps Streets Safe - SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq (Feb. 23, 2008) – Thanks to the Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, the streets of Saqlawiyah continue to be a safer place to live. “With us always patrolling and keeping an eye on the area, the Iraqis seem to feel more comfortable and are out of their homes more,” said Cpl. Kyle W. Peterson, a squad leader with Co. E. “They’ve said that they feel safer with us around.” The purpose of a security patrol is to get the presence of the Marines known and to deter insurgent activities, said Lance Cpl. Wade J. Strait, a fire team leader from Moline, Ill. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Proactive PSF takes fight to enemy - HABBANIYAH, Iraq (Feb. 26, 2007) – In the early morning hours of Feb. 23, Marines of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, heard gunshots in the distance, which quickly escalated into a spontaneous gunfight. The Marines located the source of the fire, after a short assessment of the situation, and upon request from Provincial Security Forces (PSF), they patrolled to a warehouse where the gunfight was taking place. With the PSF already battling the insurgents, the Marines quickly set up a cordon and provided security for the Iraqi police. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: Guns in the Desert - ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ – The Humvee slammed to a halt on the desert road between Fallujah and the town of Al Farris. I peered around the driver's head from the back seat and tried to figure out what was happening. “Why are we stopping?” I said. “IED,” Sergeant Guerrero said. I swallowed and took the lens cap off my camera. “Where?” I said. All five Humvees in our convoy had stopped and pulled to the side of the road. None had been hit. "We think there's one buried off the road around here.” (READ MORE)

Acute Politics @ The Long War Journal: Reconstructing relationships: Hawr Rajab - “Like juggling kittens” is how one civil affairs soldier described the struggle to balance the needs of the population in the Arab Jabour region. With the area just recently cleared of al Qaeda in Iraq fighters, the work of reconstruction is just beginning. Most projects are small, and directed toward improving the area as well as providing much-needed jobs. Micro-grants of $2,500 or less are targeted to specific businesses judged likely to be successful; a civil affairs team will tour a village and identify local businesses that provide essential services, such as butcher shops, fruit stands, or ice makers. The owners of such businesses are told about the grants and given a chance to apply for money. (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing:
Matt Sanchez: Bright Idea--Iraqi Electricity - Most of us expect something to happen when we plug in an appliance or flip a switch, but in Iraq flipping a switch to get power is a key part of fighting terrorism. The strategy to combat a counter-insurgency consists mainly of improving the living conditions; that means bringing a national infrastructure neglected by dictatorial socialism and asphyxiated by a decade of sanctions to a functional level for a growing population with an increasing appetite for energy. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
MND-B Soldiers capture special groups leader - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers captured a suspected Special Groups commander during an operation in Baghdad’s Sha’ab neighborhood Feb. 24. The suspect is accused of being involved in multiple improvised explosive device attacks. Paratroopers with 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, detained the suspect after receiving actionable intelligence on his activities. Several other suspected criminal members were captured with him. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police find more than 500 munitions in cache - BAGHDAD – Iraqi police manning a checkpoint near Jurf as Sakhr, Iraq, discovered a large weapons cache with more than 500 munitions Feb. 22. The cache contained 240 60 mm mortars, 189 100 mm mortars, 107 fuses, three 82 mm rockets and two 88 mm mortars. The IPs spotted three masked individuals digging approximately 250 meters from the checkpoint. The policemen yelled at men and moved toward the location. By the time they arrived at the site, the individuals had fled. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces kill 7 terrorists in firefight near Khan Bani Sa’ad - TIKRIT, Iraq – Multi-National Division – North Soldiers killed seven terrorists during a firefight east of Khan Bani Sa’ad, Iraq, in the early morning hours of Feb. 25. Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash., were ambushed while conducting an operation to capture a known al-Qaeda in Iraq operative. When the Soldiers closed within 30 feet of the target house, they came under attack by small arms fire and grenades. Three MND-N Soldiers were injured in the initial attack. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army performs recruiting drive despite attacks - MOSUL, Iraq – Despite two mortar attacks, an Iraqi Army recruiting team recruited over 2,200 Iraqi soldiers and officers here in the Ninewa province during a drive Feb. 11-19. "This is extremely impressive, as these recruits and rejoiners had to travel through the city of mosul braving IEDs and potential insurgent attacks in order to be recruited into the ranks of the Iraqi Army," said U.S. Marine Capt. Jose Acevedo, Iraqi armed forces recruiting advisor. (READ MORE)

4 Iraqis killed, 9 wounded in IED attack - BAGHDAD – Four Iraqi citizens were killed and nine were wounded in an improvised-explosive device attack at approximately 8 a.m. Feb. 25 in the Diyala neighborhood of the Karadah district of Baghdad. Post blast analysis indicates the explosion was caused by a small mortar-round IED. Most of the civilians were reportedly visiting Karbala in observance of Arba’een. Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police have detained one suspect at this time. (READ MORE)

Coalition Forces capture 4 key AQI leaders - BAGHDAD – Coalition Forces capture four suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders in the Baghdad Feb 24. The suspects are accused of being associated with numerous terrorist attacks in the Baghdad area, to include vehicle-borne improvised-explosive attacks, suicide VBIEDs and suicide vest IED attacks. A series of recent terrorist attacks is believed to have been actively targeting innocent Iraqi civilians and Sons of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Baghdad Governor Opens Bridge - FOB HAMMER — Hussein Tahan, governor of Baghdad province, cut a ribbon to open the new Rustimiyah Bridge across the Diyala River, Feb. 22. The new bridge runs adjacent to a larger bridge that was damaged by an extremist’s truck bomb, May 11. The larger bridge reopened May 16, but remains in need of rehabilitation. “Today is a great day,” said Tahan during a speech at the opening ceremony. “It is a sign that security has improved.” The governor went on to highlight future governmental projects. (READ MORE)

Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers Work Together to Clear Village of AQI - BALAD RUZ — Coalition force (CF) Soldiers worked with Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers to coordinate and execute a clearing mission near Balad Ruz, Feb. 17. IA Soldiers from 4th Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division stationed at Turki Patrol Base were helped by Soldiers from Troop G, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, to conduct a reconnaissance mission to gather intelligence about the area and people wanted for questioning. “We are looking for terrorist weapon caches, people who were kidnapped and suicide vests,” said Capt. Robert Green, Grim Troop commanding officer. “Pretty much anything the terrorists can use. We are trying to make the country safer...” (READ MORE)

1,100 Graduate Inaugural Iraqi Police Academy Basic Training Course - BAGHDAD — History was made when the inaugural class of more than 1,100 Iraqi Police (IP) recruits graduated the two-week Basic Recruit Training Course, Feb. 21, at the Furat Iraqi Police Training Academy in Baghdad. During the initial phase of their training, the graduates successfully completed training on weapons familiarization, law, ethics, crime scene, handcuffing and various other skills. “Today’s graduation makes us very happy because this will provide security and control to this area,” said Nihad Mahmad Taha, an IP graduate. “We’re all very excited about it. I joined the IP because I’ve seen how much damage the extremists did to our country, and I wanted to provide protection to my people.” (READ MORE)

Adhamiya Council Meets, Chooses Leaders, Committee Members - BAGHDAD — Leaders from the Old Adhamiya neighborhood in Baghdad met with Iraqi Army Soldiers Feb. 18, to agree upon leaders and committee members for the Tribal Support Council. Sheikh Amar Amid Al Azawi was elected chairman; Sheikh Abdu Khadir Al Dulaimi and Abu Abid were elected as vice chairmen. Abid is a prominent ‘Sons of Iraq’ (SoI) leader in the area. SoI is a volunteer security group formally known as the Concerned Local Citizens. The group mans check points, conducts security patrols, and helps Coalition and Iraqi security forces identify terrorists and find their weapon caches. (READ MORE)

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