March 12, 2008

From the Front: 03/12/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Matt Dupee: Haqqani Network compound pounded by Coalition airstrikes - Coalition forces struck a compound with precision-guided munitions in the early morning hours of March 12 following an imminent threat from the Haqqani Network, US military officials have told Phil Peterson, a Long War Journal correspondent currently traveling with the US military in Afghainstan. Multiple intelligence sources believe senior insurgent leaders were present in the compound at the time of the strike. There is no report of civilian casualties from the site of the blast. While the strike will further erode the capabilities of the Haqqani Network, it remains unclear at this time if Siraj Haqqani, the network’s top leader, was at was at this location at the time of the strike. (READ MORE)

One Marine's View: Another Convoy - Its late in the afternoon and we are heading out on a convoy to an outpost. Its hotter and humid that usual and you feel the sweat building in the seat like you have been riding in a car for 19 hours but you only have been in there 10 minutes. We hold at a security halt as other hummers are linking up with us and we talk about the day and how its been going. How hot it is bitch and moan a bit then the young driver tell me a joke or two. It breaks up the monotony. As we move out I continue to scan the road as I did last deployment at all of the trash on the sides and piles of dirt thinking hmmm that could be an IED, so could that, and that but you continue on. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: The Evolving Obama and the Calculating Obama - What does Barack Obama really think about the U.S. involvement in Iraq? Who knows? His campaign wants us to focus on an anti-war speech he made in 2002, a speech that supposedly demonstrates his far-sighted judgment and obviates any need for any actual executive or military experience. But that speech is hardly the only thing he or his foreign-policy advisers have said about Iraq since his would-be epoch-making remarks, and the whole picture (as we have it so far) is increasingly suggestive. Tim Russert of Meet the Press took a look at both Obama's and Clinton's Iraq statements on Sunday's program, so I'll draw on his transcript. The issue for Russert involved the repeated promises by Clinton and Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq as fast as possible. Did either of them mean it? Here's how Russert characterized the situation: "[B]oth campaigns are pointing to the other, saying, 'They're not really serious about an immediate withdrawal.'" (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Outside the wall - When you do an humanitarian assistance drop inside of a district center, you notice something immediately: There are no girls or women coming through the line. As with most other aspects of the Afghan culture, females are not allowed at such events. Men and boys are the only ones permitted to go to the giveaway. The hope for those of us involved in giving the stuff away is that it will make it into homes where women and girls will benefit. But there are no guarantees. At the recent drop in Deh Yak, women and children waited outside the wall trying to find a way to obtain some of the food, clothing and blankets being distributed. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Field Trip - The only time CPT Whiteback can get all of his lieutenants together in one room is late at night, sometime before the cock crows, sometime after Arab MTV airs three hours worth of Laguna Beach re-runs. During one of these sleep-deprived, coffee-fueled, wild-eyed-do-not-question-me-at-this-hour sessions, our CO announced that one of the line platoons would have “the pleasure to escort some Green Zone moneybags around Anu al-Verona tomorrow.” Apparently, they wanted to see what the real Iraq was like, and as per the military industrial complex tradition, would be bringing all kinds of pogue-alicious brass with them. He scanned the room and smiled viciously at me. “The Gravediggers will hate this mission the most,” he said. “That’s why you’ve got the golden ticket, G.” (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (12 Mar) - The Good: There is a huge conference going on in the city of Erbil in the autonomous Kurdish region. A variety of issues are being discussed: Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Somalia, and of course stability in Iraq. A stable Iraq will largely be contingent upon help from its neighbors, so these diplomatic talks are important. Interesting that it's being hosted by the Kurds. The conventional wisdom by US pundits is that Arabs hate the Kurds, maybe I'm missing something, but it seems they are getting along alright during this conference. Anyone with more knowledge of the cultural situation, please correct me. The Bad: More shitty violence. (READ MORE)

ETT PA-C: I got nothing boss! - The internet actually came up for a while today so I started to put some blog material up and actually published it for about 20 minutes or so. After realizing that the press would probably hound my family and get me put in prison for stating pro American, pro Christian and anti Taliban sentiments, I deleted it. Call me weak but truthfully my rant was founded on press releases from the BBC and local press. I figured spilling my opinion of the Islamic culture (IN THIS COUNTRY) would get me in trouble by mindless liberals out to get the bad American soldier who tramples across the world doing Satan's work. So, moving on to a more cheery note...One of my best friends, who will be kept nameless for his safety from those mindless people, had a daughter in the last few days. Congratulations! Welcome to the whooped dad club! Every penis in the world has just become a problem. (READ MORE)

borzou: IRAQ: Forecast calls for more violence, or not - There's an old Iraqi tale about a Baghdad native who moves to London and ends up never leaving the house because it rains so much. The joke is that as an Iraqi, he's used to staying inside whenever there's even a hint of inclement weather. It's a commentary about Iraqis' attitude toward rain and cold. Indeed, they're notoriously squirmish about weather, sometimes opting to keep their kids from school even when there's little more than a sprinkling of rain outside. Insurgents, too, seem to stay away during bad weather. Attacks always drop off somewhat during the rainy weeks of late winter, picking up steadily again in April. Rain showers might increase traffic accidents in Iraq, but roads almost always become less prone to bomb attacks. A Mahdi Army fighter once explained that his roadside bombs failed to work properly in bad weather, so he usually preferred to lounge at home when it rained. (READ MORE)

Alexandra Zavis: IRAQ: With a heart, home again - The Iraqi toddler brought to the United States for lifesaving heart surgery through the efforts of Marines has been reunited with her family in Haditha. The girl’s father and several other relatives were at Baghdad International Airport on March 7 to welcome 2-year-old Amenah and her mother back home, according to a military statement. The family then flew to Al Asad Airbase in Anbar province, where they boarded an MV-22 Osprey to Haditha. Later that day, Marines attended a celebratory dinner at the girl’s house. "I am very happy. I was very worried that my daughter would not come home alive," Amenah’s father, Ala Thabit Fattah, was quoted as saying. "I am very grateful for the great treatment the American people gave to my family." (READ MORE)

Paul McLeary: The End of the Weapons Cache - We parked the Strykers next to a deep, wide canal, whose bright blue water rushed under a narrow bridge blocked by two concrete traffic barriers. Lieutenant Max Pappas went through the plan again: we would cross the bridge on foot, run a few hundred meters along a dirt road bordering a reed line, plunge through the canal at a narrow point and converge on the farmhouse where we had found the weapons cache the day before. There had been reports that a few military-age males had been seen at the house after 1st platoon arrested the young man suspected of planting the weapons cache the day before, and Captain Higgins wanted to see if he could catch anyone poking around the house. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 11 March - Well, in case you all didn’t know—today is my 17 year anniversary in the Air Force—who would’ve thunk it…I don’t think anyone ever imagined I would be in the same job, let alone the military, for this long…I certainly never thought I would last this long…but, here I am 3 years from retirement…it’s been a long, fun trip…and I must say, 99.99% of it has been awesome…I have traveled the world and seen a lot of things…I have lived in countries I never would have even thought about had I stayed in the civilian world…maybe I’ll write a book all about my travels and the places and people I have seen in my life, plus all the great partying and good fun I have had…anyhoo…back to life here at the FOB…we were supposed to be flying out tomorrow, but we got word later in the evening that the choppers had been canceled…now we don’t know when we are leaving… (READ MORE)

Doc in the Box: Groundhog Day - The rituals are starting to sink in, the little idiosyncrasies, the quarks that each of us do to stay sane with the sameness. Our secret pet peeves are now common knowledge and the people we spend 16 hours a day with are as well known as the back of our hands. One thing about being out here, it wears out the buttons we all have inside of our head because someone is always there pushing them to get a rise.I have my clique of buddies that I hang out with but at the same time, I stay above the fray. Being the doc, I have to get along with everybody and mostly, I’m pretty good at that but occasionally even I have someone whom I just rub the wrong way and nothing I can do will fix it. (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing:
Bill Roggio: Walling Mosul - The building of new combat outposts has been an integral part of the counterinsurgency plan to secure Mosul. The expansion of the outposts inside the city, as well as the rebuilding of a berm surrounding the city, is seen as vital elements in reducing the violence in the northern city. The 4th Brigade of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division has opened its newest combat outpost in northern Mosul. The brigade, along with its 3rd Battalion, rolled out from Forward Operating Base Lion to the newly built Combat Outpost Knife in the Rashidiyah neighborhood. Knife will be manned by elements from the brigade’s 3rd Battalion while Iraqi police will man the checkpoints on the crossroad outside the outpost. (READ MORE)

Richard S. Lowry: The Rock of the Marne - After 11 months of taking the fight to the enemy, the Rock of the Marne’s Division Headquarters has less than ninety days remaining in their tour in Iraq. Soon, they will turn over responsibility for Multi-National Division-Center to the 10th Mountain Division. But, General Lynch plans to sprint to the finish. Last month he wrote guidance for the last 100 Days. Soldiers of MND-C no longer commute to work. They are set in over 56 patrol bases and combat outposts to secure the population. They will continue to clear enemy safe havens and build patrol bases. The Dog Face Soldiers will continue relentless pursuit. The enemy may run, but they cannot hide. As the Surge forces redeploy, they will not give up ground for which their Soldiers fought and died. They will continue to partner with the Iraqi Security Forces, build police stations, transition new units into Sayafiyah and Salman Pak, and renovate Joint Security Sites. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 12 March - As you know we were supposed to leave today, but the birds were canceled…so now we are being told to standby in case any choppers happen to roll thru here…the commander used the term “five-minute tether”…we will have about five minutes notice to grab our shit and head to the helo pad…which is all fine with me—I can be out there in about 45 seconds…the problem with that is we can’t do anything—basically just sit around the barracks with our stuff all packed and ready to hit the road…as of now, 1730, the word is to be ready at a moment’s notice in case anything comes this way…the whole day I just sat around the barracks playing/watching video games with the rest of the old crew—well, the enlisted Air Force guys anyway... (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
In Kurdistan, Brisk Business in Blast Walls - GOPALA, Iraq — Just northeast of Kirkuk is a factory doing some of the best business in Iraq, but whose workers would be content to see it close down. It lies between Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya on the safer, Kurdish, side of the checkpoint marking the boundary between the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government and the rest of Iraq. Glimpsed through trees from the highway, the storage yard at first seems to be a do-it-yourself medieval fortress: scores of watchtowers, blast walls, sentry posts and barriers are stacked up in a field ready for delivery to whichever home, compound or neighborhood is next to be sealed off from the outside world. (READ MORE)

Civilian bus attacked by EFP near Basra, one soldier and one civilian wounded - BAGHDAD – An explosively formed penetrator attacked a civilian bus and Coalition forces convoy 45 miles west of Basra at approximately 1:40 p.m. March 11. Operational reports confirm one U.S. soldier and one civilian were wounded in the convoy. Initial, on-scene reports indicate the explosive device was similar to other EFPs attributed to Iranian-influenced technology. (READ MORE)

Al-Kut ISWAT and U.S. Special Forces destroy van, kill several armed suspects - BALAD, Iraq – U.S. Special Forces, responding to a request for support from Iraqi Security Forces, destroyed a vehicle transporting weapons and explosives during operations March 11 in al-Kut. The U.S. SF quick reaction force supporting al-Kut ISWAT was attacked in the city by suspected criminal militia fighters. Al-Kut ISWAT was patrolling in the city when attacked by several enemy fighters armed with assault rifles and at least one RPK machine gun. (READ MORE)

VBIED kills 7, injures 11 at Sons of Iraq checkpoint near Balad - BALAD, Iraq – At a Sons of Iraq headquarters building in Ad Duluyiah, seven local Iraqis were killed and 11 were injured by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device March 11. A Sons of Iraq member fired his weapon at the driver of the explosive-laden pickup truck after realizing his intent, but the driver was still able to detonate the bomb. (READ MORE)

Air Strike Destroys Torture House - FOB KALSU — A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped six 500-pound GBU-38 bombs onto a recently discovered al-Qaeda in Iraq torture house and prison in northern Zambraniyah, March 10. Members of a ‘Sons of Iraq’ (SoI) group led Coalition forces to the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) torture house and prison in northern Zambraniyah last week. (READ MORE)

Iskandariyah Vocational School Benefits Residents - CAMP STRIKER — More than a dozen representatives from the Mahmudiyah Qada toured the Iskandariyah Vocational School recently, to see how local residents may benefit from it. The Mahmudiyah Qada council chairman and education director general, an area representative, the Yusufiyah nahia chairman and nine senior sheiks from throughout the qada attended. The group toured the vocational school, adjacent the Iskandariyah Industrial Complex. (READ MORE)

Iraq Report Cites Security Gains, Need for Political, Economic Progress - WASHINGTON — The latest quarterly report on the situation in Iraq notes continued security improvements and limited but important political, economic and diplomatic progress that must expand to preserve fragile security gains. The Defense Department released its “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” report today, the latest in quarterly reports to Congress, covering the period from December to February. (READ MORE)

New Patrol Base Under Construction Near Sayifiyah - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — Construction of Patrol Base Vanderhorn began in early March near Sayifiyah, a region formerly controlled by insurgents. The patrol base will be home to a company from 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). (READ MORE)

Freedom Watch Afghanistan - Mar 12 2008 - CJTF82 Mission: In conjunction with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRoA), joint, interagency, and multinational forces, CJTF82 conducts full spectrum operations to disrupt insurgent forces in the combined joint operations area, develops Afghanistan national security capability and supports the growth of governance and development in order to build a stable Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Haqqani Network claims responsibility for Sabari blast - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (10 March) – The leader of the Haqqani Network claimed responsibility for the Sabari District Center suicide bombing attack March 3, which killed two ISAF servicemembers. Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani Network, took responsibility for the attack wounding dozens of Afghan civilians and promised more suicide bombings in Khowst Province. Haqqani said to reporters the truck that damaged an ISAF security outpost at the district center was loaded with explosives, drums of petrol, gas cylinders and mines. (READ MORE)

ANSF makes improvements to national communication flow - GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - With the growth of Afghan National Security Forces since the establishment of democracy in Afghanistan, the need for consolidated information and authority has become essential. One way in which consolidated information and authority is disseminated, is through Joint Regional Coordination Centers. JRCCs are comprised of about 20 military and police personnel who disseminate information and guidance to members of smaller tactical elements. Such institutions require planning and management of units to happen in real-time 24 hours a day. (READ MORE)

Soldiers in Zormat put the CARE in healthcare - FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZORMAT, Afghanistan - A call came in Feb. 26 at approximately 10 p.m. saying at least one casualty was en-route to the FOB here. Soldiers began scrambling from the moment the call came in, readying equipment and making sure all necessary personnel were aware of the situation. “I was sleeping and one of the Soldiers came to my door and told me there were going to be some patients coming,” said Army Staff Sgt. Landon B. Powell, medical noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. (READ MORE)

Zormat police chief vows reforms - FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZORMAT, Afghanistan – A shura was held in Zormat Feb. 25, which discussed the reintegration of the Afghan National Police into the district. ANP representatives were present to speak with the district leaders about the reintegration of police into the Zormat district after corruption had marred the Zormat ANP in the past. Zormat District’s new Chief of Police Jani Khail said he is ready to change the face of the ANP. (READ MORE)

ANP return to their beat in Zormat - FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZORMAT, Afghanistan – Afghan National Police return to patrolling their normal beat here Feb. 26 after completing a six-week training course at the Jalalabad Regional Training Center. The new ANP worked with the Afghan National Civil Order Police and Coalition forces targeting a madrassa, (religious school) believed to be housing weapons and insurgents in Dowlatdai Village. (READ MORE)

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