March 19, 2008

From the Front: 03/19/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
The Magic Kingdom [Formerly Those Wacky Iraqis]: My Digs - Here is where I live for the next few months. A lot of the other guys complain but I have my own room, TV, Internet, and don't have to share my shower or toilet with anyone else. Of course if the toilet seat and lid matched it would be a much better situation but I make do. No boom, boom but I do have a street lamp that just blares through my window at night. I think I'll find a cheap blanket somewhere to put up and try to block it out. (READ MORE)

Tragically Famous: A brief hiatus and you'll believe they hate us... - Warning: This journal is NOT for kids. This journal is not for those easily affected by personally tragic experiences. Read at your own discretion. I forewarn everyone about the realities of this war, and henceforth the realities of this journal. They are exhilaratingly fun to write about on the good days, but there’s the dark side to this moon as well. I wish no one had to see it. I wish no family had to bear the weight of an unwelcomed visitor in uniform on their doorstep. However, that’s just not our reality. Iraq is the stadium, and we are the visiting team. No matter how the numbers stack up, some are sent packing, and some are sent packed. It’s a really hard day when a soldier tells his leader, “I just can’t get back in the truck. I can’t do it anymore.” This is the story, and I will say it is fictional based solely that those who can confirm the second hand information are currently recuperating in the hospital. You infer what you need, but please follow me carefully down this road. (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (19 March) - The Good: Tina Susman's latest in the LA Times on the Iraqi affinity for electronics (she usually writes pretty interesting stuff that focuses on Iraqis). A piece focused on the ups and downs of doing business in Baghdad. Dick Cheney is schmoozin leaders in Baghdad and Kurdistan in hopes that they pass key legislation in a rapid manner. Here's a set of interviews in WaPo with a cross-section of American and Iraq society on the Iraq war 5 years later (be sure to read Paul Rieckhoff's). The Bad: Foreign Minister Zebari (an Iraqi leader whom I trust) warns against an abrupt US withdrawal and acknowledges that the last 5 years were full of "Tears and Blood". (READ MORE)

Jason's Iraq Vacation: 5 years - That's how the war in Iraq has been going on. When it started, I was on my way to Afghanistan, so I was a little preoccupied to fully understand why we were going there. After my past year here, I have seen some definite progress, and I have felt extreme frustration. I want to be proud of what we have done here, and I am, but at the same time, when our Prez says something like this, I want to puke. Romantic? Really? (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Movie Review: This is War - I was given a free copy of "This is War" which tells the story of the Oregon National Guard 2/162. It's an excellent documentary of the unit's travels through Iraq during 2004 to early 2005. The way it is edited focuses on interviews with the soldiers, instead of a bunch of footage of Bush during his boneheaded "Mission Accomplished" speech or Abu Ghraib, which leaves the political element of the Iraq war on the cutting room floor. This is beneficial in the case of this documentary, as it truly is a soldier's tale. Their stories shatter the stereotypes perpetuated from non-military types of "murderous thugs", "rubes with weaponry", or "glorious crusaders for God's Army" that float around the punditsphere on all fronts. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Taking off, our Sox - Sox took off from Camp Vulcan today, on his way back home to pick up the pieces of his dream left by a tornado. His emergency leave was finally approved last night, paving the way for Sox to head home and take care of the insurance claims and other business surrounding the loss of his new home - the home he was set to share with his future wife. It's not likely we will see Spc. Sox again. He only has about one month left in his Afghanistan deployment, so it will not make sense to bring him back once he has made it home this close to the end. CPT Knueven and SFC McEnroe say goodbye to an important member of the team.So we said our goodbyes to Sox this morning and put him on the road and, eventually, on a plane to go back home. (READ MORE)

Alexandra Zavis: IRAQ: Five years on, two views of Baghdad - When you walk the streets of Baghdad, the results of five years of war are inescapable. U.S. air strikes and insurgent bombers have ripped huge, gaping holes out of office blocks. Miles of concrete blast walls separate Sunni from Shiite neighborhoods and encase markets, police stations and government offices. Convoys of armored SUVs with machine guns at the ready careen down streets choked with traffic. Iraqi soldiers armed with AK-47s stop you at every turn to check your ID or search your car for bombs. And U.S. military helicopters roar overhead. But step into one of those helicopters, and another city emerges. The dust and grime soften in the pink glow of the sun as it sets over the Tigris River, and signs of normalcy appear amid the debris. (READ MORE)

Doc in the Box: It's a small world - Back in the late 90's I was stationed at NWS China Lake, a Navy base down the street from Death Valley and worked for this cranky old first class named Mark Lawrence. Mark was famous for making grown men cry, an act I had witnessed every couple of months while I was there. But for some reason, Mark and I got along like peanut butter and jelly and made a great team running the Aviation Medicine Department. He retired and moved out in the local community but we still hung out. Mark had 3 sons who were in high school and the oldest one was talking about joining the Army which drove Mark batty to no ends. Soon thereafter I got out of the Navy and tried to find my fortune as a mechanic in Arizona and Mark and I lost touch. (READ MORE)

The Angry American: Shorter than a Midget on His Knees - Where the fuck have you people been? Oh ya its me that dropped off of the net. Well quite frankly I just haven't felt like writing and really nothing significant has happened for me to write about. There probably has but most likely I've been really lazy. Anymore we are just doing the same old shit day in and day out. Not like the wahabi's haven't noticed either, they are pretty smart like that. Dusting off the old Kalashinikov's and RPG's to come out and take pot shots and such. Clever little fellas. Packed my bags tonight its getting close really really close. Its interesting all the conflicting information that we keep getting about what the hell is going on. You'd almost think that these people haven't done this shit before......... Oh yeah. They haven't. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Hope in a Concert Hall, and Later, Anger and Dread in the Streets - A memory. Spring 2005. The hushed excitement before the first chords of a symphony. I was sitting in a darkened theater with hundreds of Iraqis, breathing together in collective expectation. Beethoven washed over us like a wave. At the time, Baghdad was plagued by bombings. Later they would seem almost old-fashioned: blind strikes with random victims, different (though no less destructive) from the murderous sectarian hunts of 2006. The concert hall was full of interesting people: a physics professor, a pilot, a professional cellist, a businessman. They had a guarded hopefulness that I admired. “It’s the beginning of a new life,” said the professor, holding his 11-year-old, Ali, by the hand. “It’s a birth.” (READ MORE)

The Hangings of a Girl and a Dictator, and What Happened in Between - Two deaths, the lynching of a 10-year-old girl and the hanging of Saddam Hussein, provide the grim bookends of my time in Iraq. In March of 2003, the port city of Basra had yet to fall and forces loyal to Saddam Hussein were bitterly determined to demonstrate their power over the largely Shiite population of Iraq’s second largest city. With Basra encircled by mainly British forces, the end was near. In those last desperate hours, the thugs in charge took a young girl, strung her up from a lamppost and left the body to dangle limply for three days as a message to those who threatened to rise up against the government as they had done a decade ago - only to find themselves abandoned by an American government that had encouraged the rebellion. (READ MORE)

In Firefighters’ Glee at U.S. Deaths, Insurgency Blooms - It took us a while to figure out the insurgency: what it was, who it was, how big it was. In the spring and early summer of 2003, the Iraqi insurgency seemed a small thing, a nuisance, a cabal of Saddam Hussein look-alikes with rusty rifles. American officers insisted there were just 5,000 of them. Not so many, in other words, in a country of 27 million. But we could tell the insurgency was growing. We could feel it, in the looks we got on the street, in the way the Iraqis looked at one another when they were talking to us. Each of us had his own moment of recognition, when we knew the insurgency was not just a scattering of street gangs, but a movement that was blossoming on the support it enjoyed among the country’s Sunni Arabs. My moment came in Mosul. (READ MORE)

U.S. Senators walk the streets of Iskandariyah - JOINT SECURITY STATION ISKAN, Iraq – A congressional delegation of Senators John McCain, of Arizona; Joseph Lieberman, of Connecticut; and Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, visited Iskandariyah March 17 where they discussed the security, governance and economic progress of the city with Coalition forces. Maj Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, accompanied the delegation from Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Local resident leads Coalition forces to weapons caches (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – An Iraqi citizen led Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, attached to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division to two separate weapons caches in the Shaka 3 region March 17. The first cache included 47 82 mm mortar rounds, 10 60 mm mortar rounds and 13 mixed sizes of mortar fuses. (READ MORE)

VBIED attack kills 3, wounds 40 in Mosul - TIKRIT, Iraq – A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack killed three local nationals and wounded 40, when it detonated outside a local electronics store in Mosul March 18. Local medical and fire department personnel were immediately dispatched to the scene. The fire was contained, but the four-story building was destroyed. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army discover cache in Salah ad Din - TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi Soldiers discovered a weapons cache of explosives east of Balad, March 16. The weapons cache included ammonium nitrate, more than a dozen mortar shells, several pounds of homemade explosives, several weapons, and materials for making improvised explosive devices. (READ MORE)

‘Wolverines’ find 2 EFPs (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers discovered two improvised explosive devices while conducting a patrol in southern Baghdad March 17. Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division found two explosively formed penetrators while on a route-clearance mission in a southern Baghdad neighborhood. (READ MORE)

ISF, CF discover 8 caches across Salah ad Din - TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi and Coalition force Soldiers discovered eight different weapons caches across Salah ad Din province, March 17. The weapons caches included 90mm rounds, more than a dozen various mortar rounds, more than a dozen various rockets, and other explosives and improvised explosive making materials. (READ MORE)

Freedom Watch Afghanistan - Mar 19 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)

Mechanics battle Taliban, snow, terrain to keep vehicles working - NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Mechanics from Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), complete numerous odd jobs beside their average nuts and bolts mechanic work in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. The mechanics are stationed at Forward Operating Base Keating located in a valley between a junction of two snow-melt fed rivers in the Hindu Kush Mountain Range. Vehicle roll overs, flash floods, road wash outs, rock and snow avalanches are just a few of the hazards that make maintaining vehicles a challenge. (READ MORE)

Militant IED operations degraded in Khowst - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Coalition forces conducted an operation to disrupt militant activities in Khowst Province March 19 in which several militants, a woman, and boy were killed. Two suspected militants were also detained. Coalition forces searched compounds in the Nadar Shahkot District targeting Bismullah – a militant conducting improvised explosive device and weapons facilitation operations. Several armed militants were killed when they fired on Coalition forces during the search. (READ MORE)

Trackbacked / Linked by:
Cables, dispatches and memoranda from Peace Like A River

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