March 7, 2008

From the Front: 03/07/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Under the Crescent Moon - We slip out under the crescent moon, carefully treading our way through the midnight blackness, adjusting to our night vision devices while locking and loading our M4s. Red direct, fingers and minds ready to switch from safe to semi in an instant, trained to kill without hesitation and without mercy. Shades of green ebb and flow into our vision, like a Poe hallucination where color and depth perception disappear into a hazy mist of the amorphous. I utter a quick message to our Headquarters element over the radio, letting them know we’re departing, and follow the shape in front of me disappearing into the dark horizon. “Sir?” PVT Das Boot says from behind me, as I leave both him and the radio on his back. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Spreading some sunshine - After several days in a row of absolutely gorgeous weather and sunshine, Thursday was cold, rainy and overcast. It was up to the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army to bring the sunshine. They did so in the form of humanitarian assistance. More than 400 families received food, prayer carpets, blankets and other sorts of HA in the combined operation by the ANA and ANP. We went along for the ride and mentored our counterparts as they planned and executed the drop in the Deh Yak district center. The U.S. forces also acquired the stuff passed out. (READ MORE)

Jason's Iraq Vacation: An Open Letter to an Army Human Resources Command spokesman - Dear Mr. Gall, This letter is regarding your remarks in a recent Stars and Stripes article about the IRR, “Army mustering IRR members, reinvigorating force”. The article in itself is nothing surprising – the Army had no handle on its IRR system, more than half the recalls didn’t show, yadda yadda I’ve been bitching about those same things for over a year now. However, at the end of the article you are quoted as saying something that turned my face red and caused everyone in my section to laugh at the size of the vein in my forehead as it swelled to abnormally large status. But to ensure fewer unpleasant surprises in future mobilizations — like call-ups of dead IRR members — Army officials plan to physically muster no more than 20 percent of “their smiling little faces” each year, Gall said. (READ MORE)

Lt Nixon: Iraq News (7 March) - The Good: An Al-Qaeda torture house has been found by US forces working with the Sons of Iraq south of Baghdad (thanks to 3ID for the operation, and thanks to Blackfive for the pic below). The house was tipped off by the locals showing the effectiveness of the counter-insurgency campaign of meeting and greeting friendly locals (especially the locals with AK-47s who want to kick out Al-Qaeda). The house had hooks, handcuffs, and a bunch of other sick, twisted shit. A round-up of suspected Qaeda insurgents killed/captured by either Iraqi or US forces can be found here. The Bad: Damn. Another suicide vest attack in Baghdad's middle-class Karrada neighborhood. This one used the old tactic of blowing up one small bomb, and using a larger sucide attack to kill people who gatheted around the first explosion. (READ MORE)

The Alley: bratwurst and near beer - Yesterday afforded a little time to do something nice for our OR staff, so we planned ahead to have our Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) bring us some bratwurst from Germany, where the wurst is significantly better than at the Exchange here on base. We boiled them in near-beer and then grilled them for a little while. The "party" was on the hospital roof, around OR 5, and was a good time. Speaking of near-beer, the quantity and variety of nonalcoholic beers really boggles the mind. General Order #1 for the AOR specifies, among other things, that no alcohol will be consumed or brought into the country. So, the DFACs and BXs carry a variety of nonalcoholic malted beverages: Beck's, Holstein, Bitburger, St. Pauli Girl N.A., and others are readily available. It's a little bizarre, I admit. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: AQI's Election Campaign - The so-called "resistance" bombed 68 shoppers to death in Karrada yesterday; at least another 120 were injured in two attacks in Baghdad. There are rumours that the Karrada attacks were in response to the January killing of California-born terrorist Adam Gadahn, but whether there's anything to that or not, the latest mountain of Iraqi corpses ultimately serves AQI's usual purposes: fomenting hatred between Iraq's sects, and demoralizing Americans. These days there's another dimension to such mass killings: AQI surely wishes it could influence the U.S. elections. After all, next week is the anniversary of the 2004 attacks in Spain that killed nearly 200 people. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Anbar Awakening, Continuing to Deny AQI Safe Haven - FALLUJAH, Iraq (March 7, 2008) – Just two years ago, Iraq could have been best described as ‘complete chaos’. Sectarian violence was on the rise, Coalition forces were relentlessly repelling off attacks and al Qaeda in Iraq was gaining popularity. It was a country on the fringes of all-out civil war. Al Anbar’s future was dim and bleak; it seemed like a ‘lost’ cause politically, socially, and militarily. The Iraqi people were in a fight for survival, whether it was against al Qaeda or an opposing religious sect. At that time, al Qaeda was inflicting its terror onto the people; kidnapping, torturing and murdering anyone who defied them. It wasn’t until a turning point and one Iraqi man standing up against the terrorist group that there was a chance for hope amongst the chaos. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: War-torn city rises from ashes - Just mentioning of the city of Fallujah conjures up images of a devastated city ripped apart by the horrors of war. It was November 2004, there were an estimated 2,000 insurgents infesting the city prepared to fight to the death and it was the Marine Corps’ job to facilitate this. After bitter house-to-house fighting the Marines took the city. In the battle’s wake, laid a city in ruin. Numerous buildings turned to rubble, the streets littered with debris, any form or city infrastructure such as water and power eliminated. It was total devastation. The Fallujah of today still holds the scars of war. Bullet holes pockmark numerous buildings throughout the city. Yet, out of the ashes of fiery combat a city of hope has begun to arise. (READ MORE)

That Krazy Korean: Bizzaroland: Part Deux! - I think it is only fair to caveat this blog with the fact that I’ve only had one or two hours of sleep in the last two days, and of those brief cat naps, none were near the R.E.M. quality that a body needs to replenish it’s stores. No matter, as I’m not in Iraq, and any time away from Iraq can be considered a good thing. I almost did not get here. On the eve of my transportation out of the IZ, a smoldering helmet fire burst into an inferno (compliments of the two star) requiring briefs and updates on a topic that was unfortunately in my lane. I scurried around to get the information to the people who needed it and thanks to a boss that was understanding of my plight, he cut me loose at the last second so I could go on my last pass. I can only hope that my absense doesn't lose the war for us. (READ MORE)

Grim's Hall: Cooper, Dr. Helen, and COIN - Dr. Helen rereads a classic, and worries about whether the values of Colonel Cooper are drowning under "The New Feminized Majority." (An aside -- surely no one wanting a "feminized majority" would have actually titled their book that; no title could have been better calculated to drive off half the populace. One meets cheerful self-described "tomboys" on a regular basis, but one never meets a self-described "feminized male," at least, not in the places I'm accustomed to travel.) Dr. Helen worries: “Some useful bits of information that Cooper provides is that one must train himself into a state of mind in which the sudden awareness of peril does not surprise him. ‘His response should be not "Oh my God, I'm in a fight!" but rather, "I thought this might happen and I know what to do about it."’” (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing:
Acute Politics: Angels and Demons - It was one of those days when hell opens up and spills forth into the desert, the sun baking the last trace of water from the parched dust and fueling the devils that whirl across the ground, throwing up columns of ocher talc. The sky was hazy with brown and tan- the breeze felt like a hair drier infused with gritty dust. I sat outside the tent, enjoying an afternoon smoke with one of my friends and trying to ignore the dust mingling with my quickly drying sweat. We were interrupted by my squad leader: running from another tent, he stopped long enough to tell me “Grab your shit and run to the truck. We just picked up a mission.” before he ran on to gather others. We routinely tolerate mission changes in the hours leading up to our departures- usually simple additions or deletions of roads, or corrections on times. This time, the change was a rare one, full of foreboding. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Soldiers Find, Raid AQI Torture House in Northern Zambraniyah - FOB KALSU — Members of a ‘Sons of Iraq’ (SoI) group led Coalition forces to an al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) torture house and prison in northern Zambraniyah, March 5. The patrol was conducted based on intelligence provided by an SoI leader in the area, said Capt. Chris O’Brian, troop commander of Troop C, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently attached to 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. “The guy wants to clean up the area,” said O’Brian, a native of Herndon, Va. “AQI killed half his family.” The SoI leader, who heads a group of 300 SoI, worked with his men in support of Troop C Soldiers on the patrol. (READ MORE)

Coalition targets al-Qaeda in northern Iraq; one killed, five detained - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed one terrorist and detained five suspects Thursday and today during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in northern Iraq. In northeast Mosul Thursday, Coalition forces targeted a suspect believed to be the replacement for the former Saudi al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader and foreign terrorist facilitator Abu Yasir al-Saudi, also known as Jar Allah, who was killed by Coalition forces Feb. 27. Reports indicate the targeted individual is involved in coordinating attacks and kidnappings in the area. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces capture Special Groups facilitator, kill armed criminal - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces captured a suspected Special Groups facilitator and killed an armed criminal here early this morning. The targeted individual was reportedly an Iranian-backed Special Groups facilitator who arranged for Special Groups criminal militia members to receive training in Iran. The training prepared Special Groups criminals for sniper, improvised explosive device and explosively formed penetrator attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces. As a facilitator, he reportedly coordinated Special Groups funding, training and weapons. Reports also indicate the wanted individual was an associate of Iranian-backed Special Groups criminals involved in attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Al-Qaeda networks in central Iraq disrupted; eight killed, 17 detained - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed eight terrorists and detained 17 suspects Thursday and today during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in central Iraq. Northeast of Samarra near the Hamrin Mountains today, Coalition forces conducted an operation targeting the alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq leader for the Kanan village. The targeted individual is reportedly associated with numerous AQI members in the region. During the operation, the ground force called for the occupants of several target buildings to come out and observed them attempting to engage the ground force. (READ MORE)

Tal Afar SWAT, U.S. Special Forces recover weapons cache near suspected AQI training camp - BALAD, Iraq – The Tal Afar Special Weapons and Tactics team and U.S. Special Forces recovered a weapons and munitions cache near a suspected terrorist training camp south of Tal Afar March 4. Tal Afar SWAT and U.S. SF conducted an operation to recover a suspected cache connected with recent al Qaeda in Iraq activity in the area. The cache was discovered near a suspected AQI training camp that was the scene of a Tal Afar SWAT and U.S. SF operation March 2. The operation to disrupt AQI activity in the area resulted in nine terrorists being killed and eight suspected terrorists detained. (READ MORE)

Sons of Iraq discover two caches, turn over to MND-C Soldiers - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Members of the Sons of Iraq turned two weapons caches over to Soldiers in Arab Jabour in two separate incidents March 5. In the first incident, an SOI member turned over six 120 mm projectiles to Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. Another SOI group turned over a second cache to Soldiers from Company C consisting of 20 22 mm anti-aircraft rounds, 300 DSHKA heavy machine gun rounds and one DSHKA barrel. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces recover large weapons cache in Jabella - BALAD, Iraq – Jabellah Iraqi Police recovered a large weapons and munitions cache in Jabella, south of Iskandariyah, March 4. An Iraqi police officer discovered the cache in a house in Jabella. Jabella IP secured the cache and contacted provincial officials to determine its disposition. Provincial Iraqi Security Forces responded to provide inventory and take charge of the cache, pending its final disposition. Provincial officials ultimately decided to transfer the cache into Coalition forces control. (READ MORE)

Soldiers Teach Iraqi National Police Combat Lifesaving Skills - FOB RUSTAMIYAH — In continuing efforts to increase proficiency, self-sufficiency and survivability of Iraqi security forces, National Police Transition Team (NPTT) Soldiers conducted a Combat Life Savers Course (CLSC) for Iraqi National Police (NP) officers Feb. 25-27, at Combat Outpost 799. NPTT Soldiers for 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st National Police Division, who are attached to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Multi-National Division – Baghdad, conducted the course for policemen from the NP’s 2nd Bn., 4th Bde. (READ MORE)

ANA brings new breed of Soldier - CAMP CLARK, Afghanistan- A graduation ceremony for a new breed of Afghan National Army soldiers was held here Feb. 27 as a sign of a renewed shift of focus to the non-kinetic fight against insurgents in Afghanistan. More than 30 ANA 203rd Corps soldiers graduated from the 14-day Afghan Information Dissemination Operations course where they learned skills dealing with media, conducting population surveys, face-to-face engagements with local leaders, humanitarian aid and loudspeaker operations. “The information age has changed the face of war,” said Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Kramer, an ANA mobile tactical trainer from the 324th Psychological Operations Company. (READ MORE)

Afghan National Police Distribute Humanitarian Supplies in Nangarhar - In late February, Afghan National Police (ANP) provided humanitarian assistance to the Barinah Village, Surkh Rud District, Nangahar Province. The ANP are concerned about continued security in the area, and want the people of Barinah Village to understand that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRoA) are there to help and provide much needed humanitarian assistance and security. The Barinah Village Malik asked the ANP if they would be willing to provide further assistance to the village in the future. (READ MORE)

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