February 27, 2008

From the Front: 02/27/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Hello Iraq: “Message to Congress: Build the Fence” - While our troops defend our freedom and Democracy abroad and the same for others, it is our duty to do the same here at home. Part of that effort is the security and the protection of our nation. Congress has repeatedly let us down both at home and abroad in both our efforts and those of our troops. There is a lot going on right now that we all need to do to force Congress to pass legislation to protect our borders and support the efforts of our troops abroad. Here is one such effort regarding the “border protection” that is crucial here at home. Don’t let our troops down by dropping the ball here at home! (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: The Surge as Failure - A trio of Democrats make a stab today at saving their party's disastrous stand on the surge. The authors, John Podesta, Ray Takeyh, and Lawrence J. Korb, have long been critics of the surge; these thinkers have suggested in the past that Gen. Petraeus was not to be trusted in any claims of progress in Iraq. Today, they resume their increasingly discordant chorus on WaPo’s op-ed page. “[T]here is unease among the [Democratic] party's base,” they note. “Some ardent activists have suggested that upon election, a new Democratic president will come under inordinate pressure to sustain the U.S. military commitment to Iraq, albeit with some modifications.” (READ MORE)

all expenses paid afghan vacation: just when things start getting good, time to leave - We’re getting into the stages of last time doing this, last time doing that and so on now. I can’t believe it’s almost all over. Some of the days seem painfully slow but looking at large blocks of time, it has gone by quickly. It seems like just at the end is when things start getting good around here. The gym has been completely renovated, a new aviation unit is in country now with a lot more assets than the last one meaning…we have air support and escorts flying overhead on a lot of missions now, the weather has warmed up to being perfect recently, and just the other week one of our trucks was able to return fire on a baddie position (very small small incident with just a few shots). (READ MORE)

Tony Perry: IRAQ: The un-Charmed life - One of the more idiosyncratic aspects of the lives of young Marines is the superstition about the dangers of finding a package of Charms, the small square candies, in a Meals-Ready-to-Eat package. Skittles or M&M's are fine, but Charms represent imminent mayhem. Supposedly some Marine who got Charms in an MRE was soon killed or court-martialed or found out his girl was cheating on him. If a Marine finds Charms, he is not to touch the pack with his hands. Instead he must wear gloves while disposing of it. I've seen this with numerous companies over several years, starting with the assault on Baghdad in 2003. (READ MORE)

Tina Susman: IRAQ: Dog duty - It wasn't your typical military mission. For starters, the soldiers leading the patrol had four legs each, one of which was frequently lifted. They were Army Staff Sgt. Iron and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Pluto, two of about 200 dogs deployed in Iraq to sniff for bombs, chase down insurgents, hunt for human remains or just offer comfort to soldiers in need. For the first time, therapy dogs have been sent to a combat zone, and two are in northern Iraq working with stressed-out troops. Iron and Pluto are not the warm and fuzzy type, though. Fearsome-looking creatures who weigh more than 80 pounds each, they go up front on foot patrols to search for weapons and explosives in insurgent-filled areas not previously scoured by U.S. troops. (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Vested Interest - Sarah over at Trying to Grok has an insightful post sparked by this article from Slate. "The soldiers on the ground are working with the nuances and getting physically and emotionally invested in the outcome. Really, really invested. And they don't want to fail. But most of all they don't want to be sent home before they have a chance to succeed." Sarah is right on there. She talks about it in the context of what her husband has done and will do in the future. I suppose there are many people that can go and do a job until they are told to quit, merely shrug their shoulders, and move on to the next assignment. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 27 February - Today started around 0600…got up and cleaned myself up for the trip to J-Bad…I was a gunner on a hummer, rockin the MK-19…it’s a pain in the ass gun to mount and load and clear and all that, but just one time of firing that bad boy makes it all worth it—unfortunately we never get the chance to use it—or you could make the argument that it a fortunate thing, since it means we don’t get attacked…either way, I would just love to fire that thing off and blow some shit up with it…so, as usual, I had to wake up the armory room guy to get in and sign out my weapon…loaded up the truck and stage it in the convoy pre-departure area… (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Latest Law Dogs - There are six more law dogs roaming around Camp Vulcan. Slinky has had puppies . . . again. They were born while the snow was still covering everything and the nights were still very cold. But all are doing well and eating everything we can put down in front of them. For the longest time, they stayed beneath our deck and couldn't be coaxed out. But as the snow has melted and the days have been sunny and nice, they've ventured out more and more to explore their surroundings. (READ MORE)

Major John: A visit from the General - When we first arrived at Phoenix Academy [the location where Military Transition Teams receive their final training] we had a couple of distinguished visitors drop by. First, LTG Austin, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, came by and gave us his take on the fight, as well as his priorities for the year. Then we had GEN Petraeus stop in and go straight to Q&A.I was the first person he pointed to and solicited a question from…I didn’t hold back either. I point blank asked him if the Iraqi logistics system was broken. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Coalition forces disrupt Special Groups criminal network, detain one suspect - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces detained a suspected Special Groups member during operations to disrupt criminal element networks early Wednesday in Baghdad. Coalition forces were targeting Iranian-backed Special Groups criminal networks involved in attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Coalition targets al-Qaeda in Iraq networks; one killed, nine detained - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed one terrorist and detained nine suspects today during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda operating in central and northern Iraq. North of Tarmiyah, Coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists including an alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq leader involved in the facilitation of finances for the northern belt network. The network is responsible for the majority of car-bombing and improvised explosive device attacks in the area and is involved in extortion, intimidation, weapons trafficking and the facilitation of foreign terrorists. (READ MORE)

Suicide bomber kills 9 at Iraqi Army checkpoint - TAL AFAR, Iraq – An al Qaeda in Iraq suicide bomber killed nine civilians and wounded three after exiting a bus at an Iraqi Army checkpoint. The IA stopped the bus to check passenger identification cards. The IA reported the AQI member boarded the bus in Rabiyah. (READ MORE)

Weapons cache destroyed in Arab Jabour - BAGHDAD – MND-C Soldiers found and destroyed a large weapons cache Feb. 22 in southern Arab Jabour. Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, located the cache while conducting operations along a route in Arab Jabour. The cache consisted of 166 57 mm mortars, six of which were attached to command wire, 18 liters of homemade explosives and one DSHKA heavy machine gun. (READ MORE)

Citizens’ Tips Lead Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers to 11 Weapon Caches - CAMP STRIKER — Local citizens gave information to Iraqi Army (IA) and U.S. Soldiers that removed hazardous materials off the streets near Janabi Village and Qarghuli, Feb. 22. The Iron Rakkasans of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), uncovered numerous weapon caches with their IA counterparts in the past week. “The capture of 11 caches this week is the strongest indicator that the Iraqi Army is mastering the principles of counterinsurgency,” said Capt. Michael Starz, commander of Co. C, 3-187th Inf. Regt. (READ MORE)

U.S. Army Doctors Begin Lifesaving Procedures on 8-Month-Old Iraqi Baby - FOB DELTA — U.S. military doctors recently began the process of treating a potentially life-threatening condition for Noor, an 8-month-old Iraqi baby girl. Doctors from the 948th Forward Surgical Team (FST), from Shelbyville, Ind., performed the first of three procedures to reverse Noor’s prolapsed rectum. The procedure involved manually reducing the swelling in the rectum and manipulating it back inside the body. Once the rectum returned to its normal location, the area around the rectum was injected with a highly-concentrated dextrose solution. (READ MORE)

Troops provide ton of aid to Kandahar - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Afghan national security forces, assisted by Coalition forces, provided medical treatment to 210 patients and provided more than one ton of humanitarian aid for 400 Afghans in Hajyano-Qala in the Arghandab District of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 19. Kuchi elders attended a community development council recently and requested medical and humanitarian aid from the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan representatives. (READ MORE)

Troops deliver items to Farah Province Women’s Center - FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Afghan National Army Soldiers, assisted by Coalition forces, distributed food, tea and clothes to more than 350 women and children visiting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s Women’s Affairs Department Office in downtown Farah Jan. 26. ANA Soldiers distributed more than 1,000 pounds of flour, rice and tea. They also distributed clothes, shoes and blankets to the women and children registered with the department. The donations will help ease the effects of the harsh winter months. (READ MORE)

66th MPs train Afghan police in Nangarhar - NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Soldiers from 66th Military Police Company, based out of Ft. Lewis, Wash., spent 21 days conducting a round-robin training cycle to help their fellow policemen in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Afghan National Police in Shinwar District here were taught hasty and full-vehicle searches Feb. 12. The class was part of larger training cycle that started Jan. 19 to help refresh and reiterate basic police skills. (READ MORE)

Insurgent rocket kills 5 Afghans in Helmand - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – An insurgent rocket landed near a group of civilians in Helmand Province killing five and wounding one Feb. 25. Afghan National Army and Coalition forces witnessed the errant 107 mm rocket and immediately responded to the site in Karez de Baba and treated the wounded, who suffered sharapnel wounds to their lower extremeties. The injured Afghan was medically evacuated to a nearby treatment facility. (READ MORE)

ANA commandos arrest suspected insurgents in Khowst - KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army commandos from the 203rd Kandak, assisted by Coalition forces, arrested 17 suspected insurgents near Tirzaye and Sabari Districts, Khowst Province, Feb. 24. Intelligence, provided by Afghan citizens, led the combined force to several compounds suspected of housing the militants. The detainees are suspected of being members of the Taliban, operating as facilitators in the emplacement and detonation of improvised explosive devices in Khowst. (READ MORE)

New bridge increases commerce, improves quality of life - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Until recently, a large obstacle stood in the way of the people in the villages of Tupak and Nalyar in, Nurgaram District, Nuristan Province. That obstacle was removed when the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team funded an 82-foot-long, $100,000 bridge across the Alingar River Feb. 18.Local residents once travelled into another province before doubling back on the opposite side of the river. This round-about trip involved an unnecessary two-hour car ride. (READ MORE)

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