March 18, 2008

From the Front: 03/18/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
One Marine's View: ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS - You are going to miss this I tell the young Marines especially the ones bitching about the deployment. There is something primitive about being deployed during war . Your entire focus is killing the bad guy or the other extreme helping them back to life. You eat, sleep think about your girl back home, workout train, prepare, eat, sleep think about your girl, and repeat cycle. You don’t get into a routine like that back into the states. Not like here. Even Marines who stay on the FOB still prepare to eventually do one of the above, kill or help or support those who do. When you get back to the states this all changes. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Hillary Drones On - "Senator McCain and President Bush claim withdrawal is defeat,” Hillary Clinton told an audience at George Washington University. “Well, let's be clear, withdrawal is not defeat. Defeat is keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years," Sen. Clinton said. “I will bring our troops home, work to bring stability in the region, and replace military force with a new diplomatic initiative to engage countries around the world in helping to secure Iraq’s future.” Yeah, yeah. Is anybody taking any of this blather seriously anymore? A precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would obviously be defeat, and to claim otherwise is Orwellian. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Tornado wipes away soldier's dream home - Spc. Sox has survived four IED attacks from the Taliban while fighting for his country here in Ghazni, Afghanistan. But it is a natural disaster back home in South Carolina that is creating the most stress in his life. Sox was told by his fiance, Angel, yesterday that the house that was going to be their dream home when he returned from this deployment had met with the nightmare of an EF-3 tornado during last weekend's storms. The home was completely destroyed. Now, instead of the home he and his new wife were going to share after their wedding in October, they are left to pick up the pieces of furniture and possessions they had started moving into the empty house. The 21-year-old Sox spent the day Monday dealing with the shock of the news. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Is 'Iraqi' Opinion 'Meaningless'? - The BBC reports today that "more than 50% of Iraqis think their lives are good, more than at any time in the last three years, a survey says." Though public opinion polls are difficult to read in the Middle East, where the polling phenomenon of "preference falsification" is very widespread, it was interesting to see the results of this one. "While 55% of all Iraqis believe that their lives are good, only 33% of Sunnis are happy with their lives, compared with 62% of Shias and 73% of Kurds." The BBC's correspondent concludes that, "In spite of all the improvements, the Sunni population of Iraq clearly remains deeply alienated, and deeply hostile." (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (18 March) - The Good: A reconciliation conference is taking place today amongst leaders in the Government of Iraq. There is some potential for Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish blocs to work together to get with the program on some key pieces of legislation such as oil-revenue sharing and what to do about Kirkuk. But the cynic in me says that this could be an exercise in futility as the Sunni bloc is boycotting the event (note: the main Sunni bloc is the Iraqi Accordance Front, not the "Concord Front" as mentioned in the link). Polling data of Iraqis released by ABC/BBC notes improvements across the board from last year. Some people have been detained on suspicion of being involved with the massacre yesterday in Karbala. The Bad: Damn, way too much violence. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Everyday People - FALLUJAH, Iraq (March 18, 2008) — One of the greatest things about my job except for being able to lead Marines in combat is that I get to interact with the local Iraqis on a regular basis. On a recent trip to Fallujah I spoke with Ali Hadi Salah Alfhdawi “Hadi”, the manager of Fallujah Public Radio. Hadi, was born and raised in Fallujah. In his lifetime he has survived under the brutal dictatorship of the Saddam era, seen his country at or near a constant state of war, and witnessed his city practically leveled to the ground during the battle of Fallujah. Yet despite all he has lived through, he is an optimistic beacon of hope shining in the dim haze that is Iraq. Our typical conversations usually revolve around the radio station he runs, what he needs, what help we can offer, suggestions, and ideas about improving how he can better entertain, inform and educate his listening public. (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Five Years Burning Down the Road - Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What have we accomplished in that time? Many blogs and other news outlets will give you things like the dollars or maybe dinars spent. Casualty lists of course are good fodder for these stories, as if the sheer numbers tell you about the heroes and the villains; the innocents and the guilty; those determined to be there and those caught in the cross fire. The predictions that Al Anbar was lost to the clear evidence it was won; the military success of the surge and its condition setting; what is now going on in Mosul. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 18 March - Woke up early today to get everything thru customs—checked baggage…we were supposed to have a truck at the tent at 0800 but it didn’t show up till around 0930…typical…we loaded up the truck and headed to the pax terminal…we sat around there for a while waiting for the customs agents to start processing…there were all the Air Force people from 4 different PRTs…people we haven’t seen since Ft. Bragg…so we all hung out and caught up on all the latest gossip and how everything went at their FOBs with their missions and who got married and who got fat and who left early and all the other crap people talk about…finally after sitting around for what seemed like days, we got into the customs area…we had to dump everything we had and the agents went thru it all with a fine-toothed comb… (READ MORE)

That Krazy Korean: Fires - For a few minutes this morning I was sitting on the warm concrete outside the makeshift gym enjoying the mild temps and the gentle breeze. I had just finished a run on the treadmill during my “yard time” and took my stretching out of the building where I could cool off sans Arab-MTV playing on the monitors. I had plopped down on the ground to start stretching my hamstrings when I noticed some white stuff falling on my sweaty legs and arms. Snow? Nope. It was 90 something degrees this morning and unless the Lions won the Superbowl and hell had actually frozen over, I didn’t think that snow in Iraq was possible this far into spring. After I touched and smeared the gray/white flakes on my skin I realized it was ash from some distant perpetual fire. (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing:
Army of Dude: Photo Story Monday - A Celebration of Life - Last week I mentioned that the original members of second platoon would get together to honor Brian Chevalier, our friend that was killed in Iraq a year from last Friday. There had been enough mourning that day and the subsequent weeks and months, so we decided to celebrate the honor of being a part of the short life of our friend Chevy. The night started like so many before it: with beers in hand and Guitar Hero on the TV. Dozer was out back grilling burgers as familar faces arrived by ones and twos. Conversation spilled into the kitchen as beer bongs were filled and caps came off bottles. The apartment renter, Ponch, lamented how there was a penis drawn on his refrigerator every time he has guests over. Bryan responded with a huge drawing of a purple, veiny member. We were assured it was not an accurate portrayal. (READ MORE)

Acute Politics: 5 Years, 1 year - We've been at war in Iraq for 5 long years now, with more long years to go (assuming, of course, that we don't pull out like naive teenagers). I wonder, though... who remembers (without looking!) when the war began in Afghanistan? Jules Crittenden has your roundup of blogger opinion and editorial opinion on the anniversary. It took5 years to research what a lot of those serving in Iraq already took prima facie, but Havard University social scientists believe there is a link between public criticism of the war and increases in violent insurgent attacks. The Idaho Statesman began a 5-part series yesterday on the "5 Years of War". The series opened with a fairly well-balanced article on ordinary life in Baghdad and a leading question: "When you close your eyes and think of Iraq, what does your mind's eye see?". (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Progress Is Cited Again in a Baghdad Market - BAGHDAD — Abbas Majid, a grizzled newsdealer, shooed the flies away from the dozen or so publications laid out on the sidewalk at the Shorja market. “John McCain?” he said in response to a questioner. “No, I don’t know about his visit. In the papers there is nothing.” At the sprawling Baghdad market, where Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, took a much-publicized stroll 11 months ago, few on Monday knew of his latest visit, which began Sunday. Word of it aroused mostly apathy tinged with resentment. (READ MORE)

From 9/11 to Fall of Baghdad, an Ex-Marine Explains What It Means to Him - On Sept. 11, 2001, Tim McLaughlin, from Laconia, N.H., was a Marine Corps first lieutenant working in Room 5E678 of the Pentagon. He had broken his leg in training and was temporarily serving in an administrative capacity. He helped fire and rescue teams from within the Pentagon that day. A year and a half later, he commanded the first American tank that rolled into Baghdad’s Firdos (Paradise) Square shortly after 4 p.m. on April 9, 2003, signaling the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule. It was his Bravo Company, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, First Marine Division, using a Hercules tank-recovery vehicle and a heavy chain, that helped Iraqis pull down Mr. Hussein’s hollow metal statue before the world’s television cameras. (READ MORE)

Baghdad, April 9, 2003: Fear, Euphoria and Hints of Things to Come - April 9, 2003, the day Baghdad fell. In an old notebook, seeds of the future are there. By dawn most of Saddam Hussein’s military had melted away, leaving a city ripe for the plucking. American troops already controlled the west bank of the Tigris, and their colleagues on the east advanced through the morning toward the city center, hourly shrinking the bubble of Saddamist control. Shortly before noon, fear spread through the last remnants of the Sunni-dominated Baathist apparatchiks who were still “minding” foreign journalists at the Palestine Hotel. Messengers arrived aghast, proclaiming, “The Shias are looting Saddam City.” (READ MORE)

ISF, CF discover 17 caches across northern Iraq - TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi and Multi-National Division - North Soldiers discovered 17 different weapons caches across northern Iraq March 16. The weapons caches included approximately 750 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, more than 250 mortar shells, more than 200 pounds of homemade explosives, several weapons, a 500-pound Spanish bomb, Italian anti-tank mines, suicide vests, improvised explosive device making materials, and several weapons systems with rounds. (READ MORE)

Two terrorists killed, 23 suspects detained in Coalition operations - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed two terrorists and detained 23 suspects today during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in central and northern Iraq. Coalition forces killed two terrorists and wounded two of their alleged associates during coordinated operations targeting a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq propaganda network southwest of Samarra. When the ground forces approached the target building, several occupants refused to follow Coalition forces’ instructions to come out. Coalition forces perceived hostile intent from the resistors and engaged them, killing two and wounding two, who were subsequently detained. In addition to the wounded individuals, 11 other suspected terrorists were detained, and Coalition forces discovered hidden weapons and media materials on scene. (READ MORE)

Joint operation uncovers cache in Kirkuk - TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi Army and Coalition force Soldiers discovered a significant weapons cache north of Hawijah March 16. The weapons cache’s explosives included approximately four suicide vests, more than 100 mortar rounds, more than 20 RPG rounds with propellant charges, approximately 100 cheese charges, about 2,400 rounds, and several other explosive munitions. The cache also contained improvised explosive device making material and several weapons. (READ MORE)

Seven killed, eight detained during Coalition operations targeting al-Qaeda - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed seven terrorists and detained eight suspects Monday during operations to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in central and northern Iraq. During an operation north of al-Mansuriyah in the Hamrin Mountains, Coalition forces targeted alleged associates of a suicide bombing cell for al-Qaeda in Iraq operating in the Diyala River Valley. Reports indicate the individuals were associated with terrorists throughout the Hamrin Mountains region believed to be planning an upcoming suicide attack, and with terrorists killed during Coalition forces operations March 14 and 16. (READ MORE)

ISF, U.S. Special Forces detain 1 suspected IED cell leader, 1 suspected SVEST smuggler in separate operations - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained one suspected improvised explosive device cell leader and one suspected suicide vest smuggler in separate operations March 16. The Ninewah Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics team conducted an operation in the village of Al Athba, south of Mosul, to disrupt an IED cell responsible for attacks along a main supply route. (READ MORE)

Senator Carl Levin visits Mosul for situation report - MOSUL, Iraq – Michigan Senator and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin visited Mosul March 17 for a report on the current situation in the northern Iraqi province of Ninewah. The Senator met with Brig. Gen. Tony Thomas, deputy commander of 1st Armored Division and Multi-National Division - North, Col. Michael Bills, commander of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Mosul, members of the U.S. Dept. of State and other military leaders. (READ MORE)

Senators McCain and Graham walk the streets of Haditha - HADITHA CITY, Iraq – Arizona Senator John McCain and a delegation arrived March 16 in Haditha City, Iraq, to view the progress that has been made in the area. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 showcased the vast changes that have occurred here in recent times to the delegation. (READ MORE)

New Police Station Brings in New Era of Law - CAMP TAJI — A new era of law was ushered in with the cutting of a ribbon at a ceremony opening the new Iraqi Police station in Shat al Taji March 15. “Our goal is to serve the people and impose the law on all the people,” said Maj. Gen. Kaadim Hameed Sharhaan al Muhamadani, commander of police, Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Air Force Increasing Sorties, Fleet - WASHINGTON — Iraq’s air force, with help from a U.S. transition team, attained a tenfold increase in its number of weekly sorties and doubled the size of its fleet over the past year, a military official said March 17. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert R. Allardice, commander of the Coalition Air Force Transition Team, said the Iraqi air force in 2007 evolved from flying about 30 sorties a week to 300 by the end of the year. At the same time, the force’s fleet grew from 28 airplanes to 56. (READ MORE)

Freedom Watch Afghanistan - Mar 18 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)

ANSF, CF nurse malnourished child back to health in Zabul - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Too weak to move out of the fetal position or even utter a noise, a malnourished two-year-old girl, weighing merely seven pounds, was nursed back to health by Afghan National Security and Coalition forces medics in Arghandab District, Zabul Province, recently. "When she arrived she weighed 7.8 pounds,” said a Coalition soldier, at the scene. “She was so weak she could not move out of the fetal position and did not respond when we gave her a bath. Apparently, the child has never even attempted to speak either.” (READ MORE)

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