May 3, 2008

From the Front: 05/03/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Iraq: The Purgatorium: The Ringing - The heat wasn't too oppressive, in fact, there was a little bit of a breeze. The funny thing though, is that we didn't even notice. "FRAG OUT!" The grenade explodes, throwing up the big cloud of dust, not the fireball you see in movies. A 105mm tank round blasts its target with another deafening roar. 5.56mm shell casings are bouncing off of my helmet from the guy next to me, and my shell casings are hitting the guy on my right. We're spitting lead with apocalyptic fury. The .50 cals are rocking, the 240Bravos are chattering, the shotguns, the pistols, the mortars. It's an orgy of firepower. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Camp Phoenix: Under new management - All of the members of the Alabama team have made it to Camp Phoenix for outprocessing. It's funny to see all of the guys aimlessly walking around with folders and checklists making sure they get cleared by all the various stations. It is our first trip to Camp Phoenix since the South Carolina 218th Brigade Combat Team handed off to the New York 27th BCT. Other than a different patch on the soldiers' arms and a different accent in the air, not much appears to have changed. But Maj. Beason from Homewood, Ala., did point out one significant difference during breakfast this morning. Two hours after breakfast started being served, the grits on the serving line had barely been touched. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Goodbye, Ghazni - The Alabama State flag no longer flies over FOB Vulcan. All of my Diet Mountain Dews are gone. I am in Camp Phoenix in Kabul starting the process of clearing all of the paperwork and turning in all of the equipment before heading home. I have left Ghazni. Ghazni will never leave me. My last day in the historic city was spent saying goodbyes to new friends. But it was also full of introductions of our replacements to many of those who made this year so enjoyable. We visited the orphanage and women's center one last time, delivering some humanitarian assistance packages, including many of those sent to us from many of you. After seeing Afghans shoot at them and try to blow them up earlier this week, hopefully those visits helped the new guys see Afghan people in a different light. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: A Recentralized War - There is the war I trained for. Studied. And sweated over. The powers-that-be call it decentralized warfare. It is a theory that has succeeded before in practice; the most cited modern example being the involvement of the British in Malaysia. This is where small units like platoons function as nigh-independent entities, operating free of bureaucratic restraints and traditional military sluggishness. It’s the counterinsurgency’s version of a cell. Here, in this malleable, flexible world, creativity and ingenuity replace buzz words and reactionary constrictions as the central pillars of a military’s output. You are not simply marking time in this kind of war, you are making it. (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (3 May) - The Good: US Forces continue the fight in Sadr City as 8 militia thugs have been killed on Friday. One of the engagements involved a M1A1 tank. Hypothetically, if I was in the militia, I probably wouldn't attack a big ass tank with an AK-47... the odds would not be in my favor. Interesting letter to the editor in the NY Times about how we should engage Iran diplomatically instead of rattle up the sabers. Well, Mr. Letter Writer, the Iraqi government is doing just that as they have presented evidence of Iranian involvement to theocracy in charge of Iran. The Bad: While the number of terrorist attacks declined worldwide slightly in 2007, the number of victims increased by 9% to more than 22,000. (READ MORE)

Tina Susman: Policing traffic on sniper alley - Setting up traffic cones shouldn't be difficult, but setting up traffic cones on a street in Baghdad that is notorious for snipers and roadside bombs presents a new set of challenges, as Army 1st Lt. Matt Vigeant discovered recently. Vigeant was gracious enough to let me tag along as he and some of his men from the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment went about the task a few days ago on Route Pluto, a major street that runs near the edge of Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. The goal was to slow traffic down and watch for suspected militia members who were expected to be attending a funeral in nearby Sadr City. (READ MORE)

Cheese's Milblog: Afghanistan, the beautiful - I know, I know...I've been insanely busy, but I hope that there won't be this kind of break in my postings for a while. They're really stepping up the tempo here, but at least it keeps me busy. I'm starting to get a pretty good handle on this place, due in no small part to our having visited every village in our sector! Thankfully, our leadership makes a point to visit with all the local elders to ask what they need and drop off some basic supplies. You'd think that the South Carolina boys we replaced had been doing this all along...and you'd be wrong. Some of these people hadn't SEEN American troops in years! How is that even possible? But that's neither here nor their, the important part is that we're doing it now, and the people love us for it. It makes me feel a lot safer knowing that all the villages are on our side. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: The price of one Iraqi life - LSA Anaconda- A woman covered in a black dress and scarf sat across the desk from Sergeant Jonathan Fondow of the 101st Airborne, her face masking the untold pain. “Please tell her we’re extremely sorry for her loss and we know no amount can replace her loss,” Fondow said through a translator. The sergeant from Park Rapids, MN, investigates local Iraqi damage claims under the watch of the 101st Airborne- who control the bulk of combat and civilian affairs missions around LSA Anaconda. “No oil fortune can replace it,” the woman said. “He was my oldest son.” (READ MORE)

David Wood: Profound thanks - Luckily, the resupply bird bringing badly needed water, chow and ammo to Alpha Company came 20 minutes early. Suddenly it was there, its twin blades thwacking away out there in the darkness and the crew itching to be gone before insurgents hiding in the treeline could get a fix on them with an RPG, and Gunny DeLeon was shouting, “C’mon, Mr. Wood, grab your stuff, let’s go.’’ No time to say goodbye. After six intense weeks with Marines, I don’t know that I could have managed. I grabbed my flak vest and helmet and rucksack, racing out into the darkness behind Gunny’s reassuring bulk and unerring night vision, high-stepping through hip-high poppies, ducking under the whirling blades, tumbling, with a final push from Gunny, into the helicopter. In seconds it lifted off and powered into a tight turn, heading west. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Sadr City barrier 'a magnet' for Mahdi Army attacks - The large majority of the direct attacks by the Mahdi Army against US and Iraqi forces in Sadr City are occurring on Qods Street, where a barrier is being erected to separate the Iraqi Army and US controlled sections in the south from the northern portion of the district, the US military told The Long War Journal. The Mahdi Army is attempting to stop the building of the barrier. US Army engineers are in the process of installing tall concrete barriers along the length of Al Qods Street, a major route that runs approximately east to west in the southern portion of Sadr City. Al Qods Street divides the Ishbilyah and Habbibiyah neighborhoods, which are controlled by the US and Iraqi military, from the northern neighborhoods. (READ MORE)

Bill Ardolino: Where in the ... (Update, FOB Loyalty & a JSS in South Rusafa) - The weather cleared and I made it out of the International Zone to Forward Operating Base Loyalty and on to an embed at Joint Security Station (JSS) with White Platoon, Blackfoot Troop, 3-89 Cavalry, scouts for the 4th Infantry Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. The JSS is an Iraqi Police station in the southern Rusafa District in Central Baghdad. So far, my platoon has conducted one nighttime presence patrol in "a neighborhood (in the relatively calm district) with the most potential to become violent because of the JAM (Jaish al-Mahdi) special groups networks that are known to operate in that area," according to 2nd Lieutenant Mike Herbert. The patrol was uneventful, except for the fact that a shopkeeper's voice dropped to a fearful, glance-punctuated whisper when I asked him what he thought of the Mahdi Army. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Criminal attacks kill 3 Iraqis - BAGHDAD – Al-Qaeda in Iraq killed three civilians and wounded three in a car bomb attack west of Baghdad May 2. At approximately 9 p.m., terrorists attempted to assassinate a Sons of Iraq leader west of Baghdad and killed three innocent Iraqi civilians and severely injured three Iraqis. AQI filled the trunk of the SOI leader’s vehicle with explosives in the town of Aqur Quf. The explosives detonated and killed the leader’s son, his nephew and his nephew’s son. (READ MORE)

Criminal element command-control center destroyed - BAGHDAD – In combined operations this morning, Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces destroyed a criminal element command and control center with precision-guided munitions in northeastern Baghdad at approximately 10 a.m. May 3. Intelligence reports indicate the command and control center was used by criminal elements to plan and coordinate attacks against Iraqi Security and Coalition forces and innocent Iraqi citizens. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army soldiers detain two terrorist cell leaders - BAGHDAD – Soldiers with the 5th Iraqi Army Division, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained two suspected terrorist cell leaders in the village of Thebania, approximately 200 miles north of Baghdad May 2. Iraqi Army soldiers conducted an operation at approximately 11:30 p.m. May 1, to detain the two targeted individuals and disrupt terrorist activities and illegal smuggling in Mosul. Both men are believed to be mid-level leaders of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, which is a front organization for al-Qaeda in Iraq. (READ MORE)

MND-B soldiers kill 6 criminals in operations in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers killed six criminals during night operations in Baghdad May 2-3. Soldiers from 107th Engineers Battalion, 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, were attacked with an improvised explosive device at approximately 9 p.m. in northeastern Baghdad. As they secured their vehicles, the soldiers were attacked by criminals using small-arms fire. The MND-B soldiers returned fire and killed two criminals. No soldiers were injured in the IED attack or subsequent engagement. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army recovers cache in Abu Hamid - CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 25th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division found a cache of multiple mortar rounds near Abu Hamid, about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, May 1. Acting on a tip, the soldiers found a cache in two different holes that consisted of over 40 mortar rounds, a 120 mm artillery round, 12 boosters, one canister of TNT and various illumination round components. (READ MORE)

MND-B soldiers kill criminals, protect the Iraqi people (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers and their Iraqi Security Forces partners engaged criminal elements May 2 in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, as they continue to provide security for the law-abiding people of Iraq. At approximately 7:20 a.m., MND-B soldiers observed a criminal on a rooftop with an AK-47. The soldiers engaged and killed the criminal. (READ MORE)

Peace, prosperity, poultry in Hawr Rajab - BAGHDAD – Two Iraqi poultry farmers received 3,000 chicks each April 27 in a bid to jump-start their industry in Hawr Rajab, a rural community south of Baghdad. The farmers, Muhammad Husayn and Amman Kameers, accepted the chicks from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and the Baghdad-7 embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team. “It’s meant as a start-up packet,” said Mike Stevens, the ePRT agriculture adviser. “It’s just to cut back on their input costs so they can make a profit and become self-sustaining.” (READ MORE)

Medical supply delivered to Basra hospital - BASRA – Iraqi Soldiers from the 33rd Brigade made a delivery to the people of Basra May 1 that is intended to help the health care system in the city. A truckload of medical supplies was delivered with assistance from Soldiers with Soldier 82nd Airborne Division. Soldiers from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment drove the truck loaded with medical supplies from a warehouse in Basra to the hospital where Iraqi soldiers unloaded the truck, built up pallets then moved the pallets of supplies into a storage area for use in the hospital. (READ MORE)

ISF capture criminal bomb-makers (West Rashid) (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces responded to an explosion at approximately 1:15 p.m. in West Rashid May 2. Iraqi National Police and Iraqi Army soldiers found one criminal dead, another wounded and their vehicle destroyed. The ISF quickly took control and secured the area, which led to the arrest of three more criminals. An explosive ordinance disposal team determined the blast was the result of a premature detonation of approximately 40 pounds of explosives, with ball bearings, in a suicide vest or improvised explosive device. (READ MORE)

Four terrorists killed, 10 suspects detained in Coalition operations - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed four terrorists and detained 10 suspected terrorists during operations targeting the al-Qaeda in Iraq network around Mosul Thursday and Friday. Thursday, Coalition forces targeted members of an AQI bombing network 70 miles south of Mosul. As they prepared to stop a vehicle, Coalition forces were engaged with small arms fire from another vehicle. Responding to the hostile threat, Coalition forces engaged the vehicle, killing three terrorists and destroying weapons and ammunition inside. (READ MORE)

Three wanted men, six other al-Qaeda suspects detained - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces captured three wanted men and six additional suspected terrorists during operations targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq Thursday and Friday. Coalition forces detained a wanted man Thursday in Iskandariyah, 60 miles south of Baghdad. The man is an alleged AQI leader in the Arab Jabour area and is believed to conspire directly with AQI senior leaders. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Citizens Capture Criminal Responsible for Detonating Bomb - BAGHDAD — Iraqi citizens, who witnessed a vehicle borne improvised explosive device that killed one Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier, turned over a criminal to the Iraqi National Police, May 1. The citizens observed a man parking a vehicle and walking a significant distance away from it. They saw the man using a cell phone before the detonation. After the blast, Iraqi citizens chased the criminal and made a citizen’s arrest. The criminal was turned over to the Iraqi National Police, where he tested positive for explosive compounds. (READ MORE)

Coalition Forces Provide Supplies to Displaced Families - FOB KALSU — Coalition forces recently participated in a 200-bag humanitarian aid drop to more than 20 displaced families in Iskandariyah, approximately 30 miles south of Baghdad. Soldiers from Company B, 415th Civil Affairs (CA), currently attached to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, distributed the aid in the Hateen Apartment Complex. The aid recipients resettled in the apartments from various cities around the area, said Capt. Daniel Scheeringa, CA team chief for Company B. (READ MORE)

Militant detained in Khowst province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces detained a militant Thursday in Khowst province. The militant came to Forward Operating Base Mando Zayi, Khowst, to lodge a complaint that Coalition forces had searched his house in Nadar Shah Kot District the previous night. When Coalition forces identified him as the militant targeted in the previous night’s search, he was apprehended. (READ MORE)

Two militants detained in Khowst province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan and Coalition forces detained two militants Thursday during a joint operation to degrade militant operations in Khowst province. Afghan and Coalition forces performed a search of compounds in Khowst District targeting a Haqqani network militant known to finance and facilitate attacks against the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. During the course of the operation, they detained the targeted militant and an associate suspected of being a member of his cell. (READ MORE)

Militants killed, seven detained in Khowst province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Several Militants were killed and seven were detained during a joint Afghan and Coalition forces operation to disrupt anti-government militant operations in Khowst province Friday. The armed militants were killed when they engaged Coalition forces. Afghan and Coalition forces searched compounds in Sabari District targeting a Haqqani network militant cell conducting IED operations. (READ MORE)

No comments: