April 18, 2008

From the Front: 04/18/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Iraq: The Purgatorium: Don't Recruit Me - I have no place on any more bandwagons. This includes IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War). I have no problem with them whatsoever and I commend them for doing what they feel is right, but that ain't me. There isn't a single cause I'm looking to rally for. I don't need any form of salvation or enlightenment or redirection. Don't need my eyes opened to the truth, I'll just kick it here in the Matrix, thankyouverymuch. Still committed to my last cause as a matter of fact. I don't want your sweatshop petitions or dates of when your next rally is. Don't want to protest anything. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Iraq After U.S. Withdrawal - While Hillary Clinton (within 60 days) and Barack Obama (in 2010) argue about who would withdraw U.S. troops faster, al-Qaeda announces its plans for a post-US Iraq. Ayman Zawahiri, OBL's number two, says this about the U.S. withdrawal: "This is a stupid drama to cover up the failure in Iraq and for Bush to escape from the decision of withdrawing his forces, which would be considered an announcement of the defeat of the Crusader invasion of Iraq, and to pass the problem to the next president." (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Top Ten signs you've been in Afghanistan too long - 10. You develop your own acceptable level of dust on your food. 9. You think a burqa is an appropriate anniversary gift. 8. You begin to think the earsplitting Islamic singing on the loudspeaker is not so annoying. 7. You can tell the difference between grilled goat and grilled sheep by the smell. 6. You start to believe you wear a turban back home and make it work. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: The Gravediggers' Cache of Quotes (1) - This is long overdue. Four months into the Suck, and some brilliant (or otherwise) quips have been uttered by me and my men – usually in the hazy, ambiguous hours after midnight and before dawn. Rip-It abuse can only carry a man so far. Here’s the initial collection of bodacious, quotalacious wisecracks; some of them were intended, but as is the case with something so repulsively serious as war, most of them were not. (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (18 April) - The Good: Sadr City operations are now involving Tanks N' T-Walls (Michael R. Gordon reports). Significant humanitarian assistance is going to be needed from the Iraqi government to coincide with this in order to avoid a "siege" mentality. This will also undercut support from poor Shi'ites for the militias and Iranian-backed goon squads that operate in the area. The Iraqi Accordance Front is talking about returning its ministers to the government after a months-long boycott. This is due to the Sunni bloc being pleased with the Prime Minister for taking on the thugs in the militia that "cleansed" so many Sunnis in 2006 and 2007, apparently. (READ MORE)

ETT PA-C: I'm trying - I'm trying to think of something worthwhile to report but the only thing that comes to mind is getting the hell out of this country. We dropped off three of the original guys a few days ago which is a good thing because they're going home and because I'm not sure if we could get a lick of work out of them if we had to. The two of us, SGM and myself, are out of here a week and a half or so. So, nothing to report.....good, I guess. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Hawaii-based Marines help provide medical care to Iraqis - ARMA, Iraq – A convoy of humvees, 7-ton trucks, and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles pull up to a sheik’s home. As they arrive, local citizens, already lined up, wait outside the gate to receive aid through the teamwork of the local government, Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces. On April 12 and 13, Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, alongside Iraqi doctors, conducted a cooperative medical engagement to provide medical care to Iraqi civilians in the Gnather and Lahib villages. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: Now They Have Turned to the Tribes - Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha, leader of the Iraq’s Anbar Salvation Council before he was murdered by a car bomb in front of his house in late 2007, summed up the Anbar Awakening movement in a few concise sentences to Johns Hopkins University Professor Fouad Ajami. “Our American friends had not understood us when they came,” he said. “They were proud, stubborn people and so were we. They worked with the opportunists, now they have turned to the tribes, and this is as it should be. The tribes hate religious parties and religious fakers.” The tribal system in Anbar Province is ancient. Attempts to overthrow it are not wise. Both Americans and Al Qaeda learned that the hard way. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Targeting al Qaeda in Iraq’s network, March-April 2008 - As Coalition and Iraqi security forces work to dismantle al Qaeda in Iraq’s network nationwide, al Qaeda is attempting to re-establish operations in its former stronghold in Baghdad as well as in the northern city of Mosul. Al Qaeda’s ability to conduct large-scale, coordinated attacks has diminished since the fall of 2007 as the security situation improved. But as yesterday’s suicide attacks in Baqubah, Mosul, Ramadi, and Baghdad show, al Qaeda still maintains some capacity to coordinate operations and target civilians. (READ MORE)

Matt Dupee: Bara bin Malek Front Commander killed in Pakistani shootout - A senior leader of a Taliban splinter group known as the Bara bin Malek Front, one of the most dangerous insurgent groups operating in northeastern Afghanistan, was killed during a blazing shootout with Pakistani police in the North Western Frontier Province earlier this week. Security forces opened fire on Mullah Ahmad Shah, better known as his nom de guerre Commander Ismail, after he failed to stop at a police check point near the Afghan border. Ismail was attempting to smuggle a kidnapped Afghan day laborer back to an insurgent hideout on the Afghan side of the border, according to Pakistani security officials who spoke with CBS. Taliban spokesman Zabibullah Mujahid also confirmed the killing of a top Taliban commander in the area according to the same report. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Informant leads MND-C Soldiers to weapons cache (Shubayshen) - BAGHDAD – A tip from an informant led Iraqi Army soldiers and Multi-National Division – Center Soldiers to a weapons cache in Shubayshen Village, south of Baghdad, April 16. Soldiers from 25th Brigade, 6th IA Division and and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) conducted a search through the area until they came upon the site described by the informant. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police take the lead in security of Kirkuk - TIKRIT, Iraq – Kirkuk reached a significant milestone as it transitioned the last of its traffic control points from Iraqi Army control to the Iraqi Police April 14 at a check point just north of the city. Governor Abdul Rahman Mustafa, the provincial governor, Maj. Gen. Jama Thaker Bakr, the Provincial Director of Police, Brig. Gen. Omar Aref Waly Khatab, the Emergency Services Unit Commander, and Lt. Col. Kevin Brown, deputy commander, 1st Brigade 10th Mountain Division, toured the TCP with the Iraqi Police to greet residents as they entered the first city in Iraq to be under the full operational control of the Iraqi Police. (READ MORE)

‘America’s Battalion’ Capitalizes on Ramadi’s Security Situation - RAMADI — Processions of armored vehicles clamoring down the now busy streets of Ramadi, Iraq, have come to be quite a familiar sight, but for the Marines of Headquarters and Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, running re-supply missions during daylight hours is a stark difference from their last deployment. “We couldn’t so much as leave the wire last year without getting into some sort of fire-fight,” said Cpl. Pirtus Esperience, a rifleman attached to H&S Co., 2nd Bn., 8th Marines. “Now we’re running supply convoys out to the companies in the city during the daylight hours pretty much without incident.” (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Transformed Into National Force - WASHINGTON — In the past year, the Iraqi army has transformed into a national force that has deployed across the country in operations that show its increasing combat capabilities, a senior commander there said Thursday. “There should be no mistake on the behalf of anyone that the Iraqi army is a national army,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Robin Swan, commander of the Coalition Army Advisory Training Team. “Just over the past year, it has made a tremendous, tremendous impact in areas throughout Iraq. In as short as nine to 12 months ago, [it was unimaginable] that battalions and a division headquarters from al Anbar province would be utilized throughout … Iraq. But that is exactly what has happened.” (READ MORE)

Soldiers Distribute School Supplies - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — A convoy rolls up to a small school in the Monsouri area of Iraq, just outside FOB Kalsu, and at first glance the school looks abandoned. Then small faces start appearing and heads lean out the windows. Moments later, Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Kalamazoo, Mich., currently assigned to 1-76th FA, are surrounded by helpful faculty and eager students, waiting to see what has been brought. (READ MORE)

Town Hall opens in Jurf as Sahkr - Approximately 500 people gathered to commemorate the grand opening of the Jurf as Sahkr Town Hall April 15 in Jurf as Sahkr, Iraq. Leaders from the 3rd Infantry Division, Iraqi Security Forces and local officials were present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The opening of the Jurf town hall is just another indicator of the progress that continues to occur in the area,” said Col. Timothy Newsome, commander of 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div. (READ MORE)

Soldier re-enlists 340 feet off the ground - U.S. Soldiers opt to stay Army on a daily basis. In an office among peers or outside a headquarters building are frequent spots for re-enlistment ceremonies. One Soldier in the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, wanted to make his commitment to the Army unique. Spc. Bobby Nieto, from Stonewall, Texas, chose the top of a 340-foot smokestack to raise his hand to re-enlist April 8. (READ MORE)

Nine Rakkasans become U.S. citizens - Nine Rakkasans were among 259 Soldiers from 71 different countries who became U.S. citizens during a mass naturalization ceremony at al-Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq, April 12. “I can’t think of a better use of the al-Faw Palace than to naturalize men and women who are fighting in support of the United States of America,” said Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, the Multi-National Corps - Iraq commander. “Saddam Hussein built this palace to celebrate his victory over Iran and today we use it to celebrate our brothers and sisters gaining their citizenship.” (READ MORE)

Militant IED operations disrupted in Khowst - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – One suspected militant was detained Thursday, during a joint Afghan National Security Forces’ and Coalition forces’ operation to disrupt Improvised Explosive Device activities in the Khowst province. ANS Fand Coalition forces conducted a search of compounds in Gorbuz District, Khowst province, targeting a militant IED cell member known to have conducted attacks on Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Small Rewards Program pays big dividends in insurgent weapons finds - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – An Afghan man assisted Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces in uncovering more than 325 pieces of ammunition when he led them to a weapons cache in a cave in Northern Afghanistan, April 13. According to a Coalition soldier who participated in the ANSF-led mission, the cave was “very effectively covered up” and required a great deal of digging to get to the entrance. (READ MORE)

Special Forces bring Afghan, U.S. students together - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Elementary school children from the U.S. and Afghanistan met face to face last night, over video teleconference, facilitated by the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, as part of a partnership program and cultural exchange. CJSOTF-A has been working with village elders, teachers, parents and students of the Jan Qadam Elementary School, outside the gates of Bagram Air Field, to enable the school to become a more effective center of education. (READ MORE)

ANA, CF capture Taliban leader in Khowst - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army Recon Company, 203rd Thunder Corps, assisted by Coalition forces, captured a suspected Taliban leader in Khowst province, April 14. The ANA elements, led by the Recon Company, conducted an air-assault cordon and search operation to establish security, disrupt insurgent activity and deny enemy sanctuary southeast of Shembaut village. While searching the village, they detained the insurgent leader. (READ MORE)

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