March 25, 2008

From the Front: 03/25/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Hard Soldier: It's Been a Long Time, I Shouldn't Have Left You - Wow! yup that's about how one can best describe all of my experiences since my last post. I almost don't know where to begin so I'll start with after Halloween. November 2nd was my birthday, I turned.......25! no wait that was oh hell, some years ago. So it was my birthday and in true birthday tradition I got a good ol fashion wuppin by my guys. There is something about the birthday wuppin that just completes a birthday, like a rite of passage it is there to remind you that you are getting older and you don't heal any faster. We were coming up to Camp Cedar II and had blocked off traffic in southern Iraq at the stroke of midnight when I hear my gunner SPC Shaw turn his turret and suddenly he has his arms pinning me to my seat. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Urban combat - It seems a bit odd teaching urban warfare techniques to Afghans when so little of the country could be classified as "urban" by most definitions. An ANP leader talks through clearing a room with his team.But when it comes to urban combat, the concept really relates mostly to close-quarters fighting in the clearing of rooms inside of a house or building. It also applies to the movement between buildings, down confining alleys and up and down stairs. So in that sense, urban combat is very applicable to what the Afghan National Police do quite often. In fact, when we do joint operations with Coalition, ANP and the Afghan National Army, the ANP are the only ones authorized to search inside of homes and buildings. (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (25 Mar) - The Good: Iraq has a brand new electronic stock exchange. I guess that's progress, now where's the starbucks for the yuppie day traders to get their triple mocha lattes. The Bad: Clashes with, supposedly, the Mahdi army in Basrah and Baghdad. This has potential to get really nasty. Mr. Sadr's people are saying that these are peaceful protests. Hard to say what the hell is going on. Stay Tuned. The Ugly: Bush reiterates that the war was still worth it. That's a pretty bold statement at this point... (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Stake Through Their Hearts - The sun was setting over Nineveh as four terrorists driving tons of explosives closed on their targets. On August 14, 2007, the Yezidi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera were under attack, but only the terrorists knew it as they drove their trucks straight into the hearts of the communities. The shockwave from detonation far outpaced the speed of sound. Buildings and humans were ripped apart and hurled asunder. Superheated poisonous gases from the explosions gathered the smoke and dust and lofted heavenward, while the second detonation quickly followed. The terrorists had landed their first blows straight through the heart of the Yezidi community, turning a wedding party into hundreds of funerals. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: ‘Moving out,’ Marines Demilitarize Station in Ramadi - RAMADI, Iraq (March 12, 2008) — Marines with Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, have de-militarized Joint Security Station Steel, which was their home for months. Joint security stations are designed to embed Marines with their Iraqi Security Forces counterparts, developing a close working relationship in a unified effort to protect and serve the city. (READ MORE)

Doc in the Box: Easter and Juno - Just lying in my bed watching Juno and my roommate is across the way is watching wrestling which seems to be on out here every other night. I’m totally digging the movie and typing this at the same time which calls for much editing later. But got to write when the feeling calls. We had a Bar-b-q for Easter Sunday, even though we’re at the edge of the world, our PX still carries frozen t-bones, hamburgers and chicken. Had a good turn out, 60’s music playing and horseshoes were making ting sound in the background. I donated a rice cooker full of sweet rice and everyone pitched in something, chips, soda, non alcoholic beer, ack, non alcoholic beer. For the moment, it was almost like we weren’t on the opposite side of the world from everything we love. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: The Liberation of Karmah, Part I - KARMAH, IRAQ – Just beyond the outskirts of Fallujah lies the terror-wracked city of Karmah. While you may not have heard of this small city of 35,000 people, American soldiers and Marines who served in Anbar Province know it as a terrifying place of oppression, death, and destruction. “It was much worse than Fallujah” said more than a dozen Marines who were themselves based in Fallujah. “Karmah was so important to the insurgency because we've got Baghdad right there,” Lieutenant Andrew Macak told me. “This is part of the periphery of Baghdad. At the same time, it is part of the periphery of Fallujah.” (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Not the Karmah We Knew - Michael Totten brings this story to us. The Liberation of Karmah Part I. This is not the Karmah we knew. The Karmah we knew led to three bracelets I rotate wearing to remember our men lost in February 2007. The Karmah we knew was a city of death and fear. I can't even remember the number of nights I sat in a Buffalo along the road north out of Camp Fallujah going through Karma. Or sitting in the TOC watching one of the platoons move up and down the map, breath held till I got the word "RP Camp Fallujah - time now." (READ MORE)

Major John: The Geometry Was All Wrong! - Intersecting Parallels? What non-Euclidian geometry informed the shape of this ancient structure? What mad glyphs are these that remain inscribed in the bricks? What Elder rites had been performed under the Moon that shone those centuries ago upon the great city along the life giving Euphrates River... Ha. My apologies, but I happen to be a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and the Running Dog had sent me a most well done e-mail in that idiom. I wasn't going to blog anything about the Ziggurat at Ur (and so I told a fellow milblogger), as it has been done by other, earlier Milbloggers. And it is kind of like writing about the Eiffel Tower when you go to Paris - none too unique. (READ MORE)

John: Manas, again - The last time I was in Manas AB in Kyrgyzstan, it was on our way into Afghanistan. Manas is basically a waypoint, a base with a large enough runway to accomodate all the airplanes that won’t fit onto the dilapidated airstrips of Afghanistan. Unlike last time, I’m actually spending several days here. On our way into the theater, I was only on the ground for a few hours before we flew to Bagram. I’ve been here for almost a week now, and I’ve still got a few days to go. (READ MORE)

That Krazy Korean: Counting down - For most of the northern hemisphere, March 20th marked the first day of spring (or vernal equinox which means equal parts daylight and darkness). It seems that in the last week the country of Iraq enjoyed only 5 days of spring-like weather, with temps in the 80’s and a nice breeze to move the haze of burning trash. Yesterday and today the mercury climbed to almost 100 marking the early arrival of summer. What the heck happened? Why did they skip right over the 90 degree range? Again, I hate commenting on the weather as I feel like it is a cop out from actually writing something of significance. Sure, if we were suddenly buried under 6 inches of snow due to some freak blizzard in the middle of April, then that would be something to write about. But normally it is sunny, it is hot, and it is not pleasant so it doesn’t warrant a full blog to talk about it. (READ MORE)

Jim Foley - In Iraq: Easter at Balad - This mosque dates to when Balad was an Iraqi Air Force base under Sadaam. It is now fenced off and soldiers are not allowed in. Balad, Iraq- It's claimed to be the busiest airport in the world. Daily Balad receives all kinds of choppers and C-130 planes. At night you can see the fiery jets of the F-16s as they rocket into the sky. Balad is the logistics hub for the military in Iraq. It supplies the "bullets and the beans," as any staff sergeant will tell you. But Balad supplies them for the entire theater. This is why so many of Indiana's 76th soldiers will be doing convoy security. (READ MORE)

The Satirist at War: Bravo, Prince Harry - I was disappointed last year when it sounded like he wouldn't get a crack at Iraq. Bravo to Harry for getting out there and nabbing some experience in one of the most dangerous provinces in Afghanistan. Bravo to the British Press for keeping it under tabs. Early reporting suggests that it was the American media that outed the Prince... have to say, if this is the case, it's extraordinarily disappointing. Let the boy become a man, and choose his own path in life. It's not his fault for being born into his position... sometimes I think that we Americans are coddled, assuming that the rest of the world enjoys the liberties that for us are both a blessing and a blasted prison. While I'm sure his duties were carefully controlled, given the unpredictable nature of the war in Helmund, it speaks very highly of his character that he would make such a concerted push to do something that to him seems to have been very important. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Soldiers of a Thousand Dawns - Quiz time: Name two current milblogs from deployed troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. Did you pass? Noah Shachtman: "I think the golden age of soldier blogs, you know, soldier-on-the-front-line-blogs, is over, unfortunately." If that's true, the US Air Force will certainly breath a sigh of relief: "Nearly three years after the Army took notice of Soldier blogs and began insisting the writers register with their chain of command, the Air Force is going in a different direction altogether: restricting which blogs its airmen may read.But while the Army -- which now has regs requiring security reviews of blogs before publishing -- acted to keep sensitive information from getting out, the Air Force’s move appears driven by a desire to choose which news sources are legitimate." (READ MORE)

Heading out:
Big Tobacco: Picking and Choosing the Rules to Follow - It’s almost here. My three months of fun ends on Friday. I will report to my armory and take a bus with my unit to the training site. When I get the training site, I will be sent to my new company and get my new squad. From there, we get three weeks of weapons training and plenty of road marching. Two days before the end of the training cycle, I’ll board a plane and head to Indiana for BNOC Phase II, a leadership school that I need to become a Sergeant First Class. For every training cycle, there is a packing list. But this training cycle is slightly different, there are rules to this one. (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing:
Eighty Deuce on the Loose in Iraq: How to Write a Book 101... - Too bad I never attended that class, other wise I might have an idea of what the hell I'm doing. HA! I did have a job once, just after I graduated High School where I worked for an independant book publisher (nothing big time) formatting work given to us in a Word document so that it would fit on to a normal printed book page. It wasn't a bad job, but because of how young I was, I was not getting paid what I should. It was my first tech type of job and in many was I wish I would of stuck with it a bit and continued with that skill set. So for those of you who know me, or those of you who have corresponded with me, you probably already know what I'm about to say, but I'll go ahead and tell everyone else the story behind my blog. Bare with me... (READ MORE)

Battlefield Tourist: Embedded Training Teams (ETT) - Herat, 2004 - Take a trip around Afghanistan as members of the US National Guard work to raise a new army in Afghanistan. This 6:00 story starts in the western Afghan city of Herat, where Embedded Trainers effectively help the Afghan National Army quell large scale rioting in the weeks after Ismail Kahn is removed from power. From there we head back to Kabul and KMTC (Kabul Military Training Center), where new Afghan recruits get up to speed in warfare. Eight weeks of boot camp, then to the front you go. (READ MORE)

Army of Dude: Photo Story Monday - Stories Cut Short - I was in Baghdad when the number of U.S. forces killed in Iraq reached 3,000. It was New Year's Eve, and we were walking in from a couple of miles to conduct a raid in some shitty ghetto no one ever heard of. It was supposed to be a quick in and out. Except for the two mile hike. It started near midnight and we had been walking for awhile until we halted, Dozer and I taking cover behind a long Iraqi van. I covered my watch with my hand and hit the Indiglo button: 12:27 AM, New Year's Day. I whispered to Dozer about the milestone we reached and we hugged before getting back up to continue the march. We had hoped 2007 would be better than the year that preceded it, but it didn't go exactly like that. 2007 was the deadliest year for American troops in Iraq because of the surge and a new up close and personal strategy of living amongst the Iraqi Army in regular neighborhoods. (READ MORE)

My War Stories: Prologue - "In war there are no unwounded soldiers." Jose’ Narosky The heat, dust, loneliness and frustration, worry, lack of sleep and fear all play over and over in my mind like a maddening commercial looped for eternity. The endless nights on guard just watching, waiting for the stillness to be shattered by the sounds of gunfire and explosions can be maddening. You start wanting it to happen, willing it to happen and when it doesn’t your left empty and drained. The constant vigilance feels like slow bleeding…you wonder how far you can go and survive. How much more can I take and still be the man who left America and my family just months ago. Has it been that long? I feel so old and tired. It’s as though the very act of touching the soil draws the life slowly out of you with each step. With the end of my tour in the Stan nearing what once seemed so intangible and far away may now becomes a reality. That day, that moment that will bring so many lonely hearts together in one place seems almost unimaginable. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Verbal wars of Shiite clergy - Before clashes erupted in the southern port of Basra early today, there were many hints that tensions between Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and the Iraqi government could explode and imperil Sadr's seven-month cease-fire. If today's strife turns into a broader conflagration, people might look back at the war of words in sermons last Friday in Shiite mosques as a hint of what was to come. Last Friday, in the Shiite holy city of Kufa, Sadrist cleric Sheik Abd Al Hadi Al Mohammedawi compared Iraq’s government to late dictator Saddam Hussein. (READ MORE)

Different, and Not So Different - Bill was tall and thin. Khalid liked to introduce himself as “Fat Khalid.” Bill was a devout Mormon, while Khalid was young and more intrigued by the worldly elements of life. Bill was a Sting aficionado; Khalid loved Hollywood movies. Bill had a wife and four kids, and Khalid was the breadwinner for his mother and four sisters. Both of them could be hopeful in the face of despair and hopelessness. And they bore, with great aplomb, tremendous burdens unimaginable for most people. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces re-open damaged bridge - MOSUL, Iraq – Coalition forces re-opened a critical traffic route between Tal Afar and Mosul March 23 The route had been closed for four months after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks. Soldiers from the 43rd Combat Engineer Company installed the Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge, or AVLB, on the Badoush Bridge to restore vehicle travel. This saves vehicles several hours of delays caused by detours. (READ MORE)

Ministry of Interior procures weapons and ammunition via Foreign Military Sales - BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Ministry of Interior is continuing to receive police vehicles and a variety of weapons and bulk ammunition it has procured through the Foreign Military Sales program. The Foreign Military Sales program in Iraq is managed by the Security Assistance Office within the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq. The function of the Security Assistance Office is to help the Iraqi Government build its defense capability through the purchase of defense equipment and services. In the case of the Ministry of the Interior, this includes police patrol cars, spare parts, biometric identification devices, police weapons and ammunition. (READ MORE)

IED kills two children, injures two near Baqubah - TIKRIT, Iraq – An improvised explosive device killed two children and wounded two other civilians in Khatoon, north of Baqubah, March 23. Multi-National Division – North soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division responded to the attack. When the soldiers arrived, Iraqi Army soldiers, Iraqi Police officers and Sons of Iraq had already secured the scene. The two children were sitting at a corner when the detonation took place. (READ MORE)

Hillah SWAT detains suspected terrorist, discovers large cache - HILLAH, Iraq – Hillah Special Weapons and Tactics and Iraqi Police forces, working with Coalition forces, detained one individual and discovered a large weapons cache while conducting patrols in the Hamza and Hashimiyah areas March 22. The detained individual is accused of directing the planting of improvised explosive devices on routes used by Iraqi security forces and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

CF kills 4 suspected AQI members in Diyala Province - TIKRIT, Iraq – Multi-National Division – North soldiers killed at least four suspected al -Qaeda in Iraq members, wounded one, and detained eight during two different engagements March 23 in Diyala Province. During an Iraqi Army-led clearing operation in Qasaibah, near Muqdadiyah, an MND-N Apache helicopter fired on an enemy ambush position, killing three. (READ MORE)

Apache crews destroy enemy rocket-launching rails - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad attack helicopter crews destroyed 10 rocket-launching rails northeast of Baghdad that enemy forces had been using to launch rocket attacks March 23. Apache helicopter crews from 4th “Longknife” Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Task Force XII, reported seeing rockets launched from the area earlier that evening. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces engage suspected IED emplacers in Basra - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed five suspected improvised explosive device emplacers and wounded several others after 10 individuals were spotted conducting suspicious activity in the Al Hyyaniyah District, Basra at approximately 11: 45 p.m. March 24. After verifying the individuals were burying what appeared to be an IED, Coalition forces directed aerial fires against the enemy force. (READ MORE)

11 detained after mortar attack on FOB Falcon - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Eleven suspected criminals were detained by Coalition and Iraqi Army forces March 21, four kilometers south of Forward Operating Base Falcon. Those detained are suspected to be a part of a criminal cell responsible for a mortar attack directed at FOB Falcon earlier in the day. Pilots from the Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division provided air support to soldiers on the ground after the attack and witnessed a truck, believed to be carrying the mortar team, moving from the probable point of origin to a section of houses about a half-kilometer to the west. (READ MORE)

Citizens Line Up at Tameem Recruiting Drive - COMBAT OUTPOST CASHE — One hundred and seventy-five Iraqi men waited for their opportunity to join the police force during a recruiting drive at the 3rd Battalion, 1st National Police Brigade headquarters in Tameem, a town southeast of Baghdad, March 22. Prospective policemen went through a rigid screening process to find the best possible applicants, said 1st Lt. Kurt Cheeseman, from Greenwood, S.C., the targeting officer for 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. Men between the ages of 18 and 35 had to bring a national identification card, proof of intermediate education and pass a reading and writing exam, medical screening and physical fitness test. (READ MORE)

Streets Return to Life as Iraqi Market Gears Up - ADHAMIYAH — Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers here witnessed the changes and progress in the area and its bustling market during a joint dismounted patrol with the Iraqi army on Chem Street. The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers of 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, attached to the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, along with Iraqi army soldiers of 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, and members of the “Sons of Iraq” citizens security group have been working hand in hand to provide Adhamiyah residents with enough security for them to feel safe walking the streets. (READ MORE)

ANSF, CF disrupt terrorist network in Kandahar - KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces assisted by Coalition forces, detained seven suspected Taliban facilitators March 23, in Zhari District, Kandahar Province. Information, provided by concerned Afghan citizens, led the combined force to a compound suspected of housing the militants. During the search, security forces detained the suspected facilitators of the terrorist organization in Zhari District. Intelligence indicates the suspected insurgents have significant ties to the planning and detonation of improvised-explosive devices in Kandahar Province. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces disrupt Taliban operations in Nangarhar - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Coalition forces conducted an operation March 23 to degrade Taliban command and control networks in Nangarhar Province in which two armed insurgents were killed. Coalition forces performed a search of an area in the Kama district targeting a Taliban sub-commander responsible for facilitating anti-coalition activities. The targeted individual is also associated with improvised explosive device operations. Two armed insurgents were killed during the course of the operation. (READ MORE)

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