May 5, 2008

From the Front: 05/05/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Tragically Famous: The first leg is down. It's not really a ghost town - There was an eerie feeling this morning. The life, the movement, the buzz, as you would call it, had disappeared entirely. All that was visible to the eye gave the uneasy impression of ruins, a deviant ghost town. The merciless sand storm was in full bloom this morning, and we were returning to base. One momentary look around the FOB, and the conclusion would jump at you like a Jack Russell Terrier. The debris, the scarred terrain, and the lack of people; it all showed the inconvenient truth of war. We have lost soldiers. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Messing with the chAir Force - I know, I know. It’s not their fault. They don’t know any better. We’re all on the same team, we just have different specialties. Blah blah blah. I don’t care if this comes off as short-sighted or harsh, funny is funny. And during a routine escort mission for a unit of Air Force civil engineers, funny happened. Since the Secretary of Defense thinks they aren’t pulling their weight right now, and I’m irreconcilably jealous of their six-month deployments, I don’t feel bad piling on the chAir Force like this. (READ MORE)

Mohammed: Do Iraqis Want an Arab Nuclear Bomb? - The change that took place in Iraq was not only a political one but also, and more importantly, a change in awareness; something that isn't easy to detect. This is what I see clear in the nature of Iraqi dialogue among the public, and I'm always pleased by the degree of awareness and open-mindedness that emerged in the years that followed the change. I believe it is an important indication about the future. Recently I've been reading through one of the BBC forums whose topic is basically "do Arabs have the right to possess nuclear weapons?". I didn't hesitate to read all the contributions, which numbered over 600 from various Arab countries. I wasn't surprised by the nature of Iraqi contributions to the discussion. I had always called these "singing outside the Arab flock". (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanstan: Soundtreking to Kuwait - Our odyssey home is off to a grueling start. What was supposed to be a simple four-hour flight to Kuwait turned into an 18-hour ordeal. We started manifesting for our flight out of Kuwait at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday (Afghanistan time) at Camp Phoenix. The trick was to get around 150 of us to the Kuwait International Airport safely using a small up-armored recreational vehicle ("Stripes" anyone?) that can only carry 30 at a time. Okay. No problem. At least we're going home. We get to KIA where we again must wait to go through customs. Once through customs, we are put in another holding area where we again must wait to board our plane. Finally, it's time to get on the airplane. We struggle to cram all of the guys on board with their carry-on bags and computer cases. Once everyone and everything is lodged in place, we are ready for takeoff. (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (5 May) - The Good: Michael R. Gordon has an extensive article about Hezbollah influence in Iraq, and how they train proxy militia operatives in Iran. This brings up memories of the 5 US soldiers murdered in Karbala in 2007 in their sleeping quarters by gunmen disguised as Iraqi Security Forces, which was later publicly disclosed as the work of Hezbollah. The spokesman for the government of Iraq has stated that there is "concrete evidence" of Iranian influence. All of this will put more pressure on Iran to halt their malicious involvement and encourage their more constructive roles (economic ties, religious ties, etc.) 9 terrorists were killed near Lake Thar Thar in Salah ad-Din province. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Local soldiers save trucker from possible explosion - LSA Anaconda- Alpha Company of the 1/293rd Battalion from Warsaw, IN runs armored security for supply convoys out of the busiest supply base in theater. They are out on Iraqi roads most nights, all night. As National Guardsmen, they’ve only been training for this mission for several months, but sometimes it helps that Alpha Company’s soldiers have other full-time careers. On Friday night it just so happened that when a tanker truck the Indiana soldiers were escorting rolled over, the two Indiana soldiers closest to the accident- Specialist John Villegas, 41, of Portage, IN and Corporal Christopher Collins, 26, of Kenosha, WI- both knew exactly what to do. (READ MORE)

Bill Ardolino: Baghdad police show progress, but challenges remain - Few things are simple in Iraq, and that maxim is no more evident than when evaluating Iraqi security forces. Relevant answers to important questions are always a matter of degree. These questions include: • How well do the Iraqi security forces operate, and to what extent are they still dependent on Americans financially, operationally, and logistically? • How corrupt is a given Iraqi security forces unit, and does the graft hinder manpower, morale, and operations, or does it simply meet regional cultural standards? • How much have insurgent groups and militias infiltrated a given Iraqi security forces structure? • To what extent are those with questionable loyalty hardcore troublemakers vs. individuals playing both sides of the fence for money or because they are subject to mafia-style intimidation? (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: GMLRS strike knocks out Special Groups command center in Sadr City - US and Iraqi forces continue to target the Mahdi Army as an Iraqi delegation visited Iran to confront the country over its support of Shia militias battling the government. The US military conducted a guided rocket attack on a Special Groups headquarters adjacent to a hospital in Sadr City, while 14 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed during clashes over the past 24 hours. The US army targeted and destroyed a Special Groups command and control center in a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System strike in Sadr City at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "There were six GMLRS rocket strikes on these Special Groups criminal command and control nodes," Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Division Baghdad, told The Long War Journal while refuting claims that the US used aircraft to attack. "We conducted a precision strike, hopefully got a few leaders, and sent a very strong message." (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Greyhawk: Words - I've been trying to ignore this topic... “Words matter, and in the global war on terror we are losing the battle of words, in a self-inflicted defeat. The consequences could not be more profound. Recent government policy memoranda, circulating through the national counter-terrorism and diplomatic community, establishes a new ‘speech code’ for the lexicon in the war on terror, as reported by the Associated Press and now available in the public domain.” it seemed mostly pointless to me. Then while working another project I stumbled across this poignant reminder of why I was wrong. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

MND-B soldiers target criminals, kill nine - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers killed nine criminals during night operations in Baghdad May 4-5. An aerial weapons team conducting surveillance identified a group of criminals preparing to launch an indirect-fire attack in Sadr City at approximately 9:50 p.m. May 4. An earlier indirect-fire attack occurred from the same location. The AWT engaged and killed three criminals with a Hellfire missile. A 240 mm rocket rail was also destroyed. At approximately 10:20 p.m., an AWT identified a criminal emplacing an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad and engaged the individual with 30 mm rounds, killing the criminal.(READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces capture mid-level al-Qaeda in Iraq leader; detain six other suspected terrorists - BAGHDAD – Soldiers with the 5th Iraqi Army Division and a Muqdadiyah Special Weapons and Tactics team, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained a mid-level al-Qaeda in Iraq leader and detained six other suspected terrorists in an operation in As Sa’diya, approximately 55 miles northeast of Baghdad, May 3. ISF conducted the operation to detain the leader and disrupt the operations of an As Sa’diya-based AQI organization. (READ MORE)

SOI turns in large weapons cache - BAGHDAD – A Sons of Iraq member turned in a large cache to Spartan Soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, May 2. The cache contained an operational DSHKA anti-aircraft gun with 300 rounds, 17 rockets of various sizes, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with seven RPGs, one 120 mm projectile and other small arms munitions. The contents were handed over to an explosive ordnance disposal team for disposal. (READ MORE)

SOI recover cache in Kartani Fahal village - BAGHDAD – A local citizen’s tip led to a cache find in Kartani Fahal village in Sadr al-Yusifiyah, about 25 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, May 3. After receiving the tip, Soldiers from 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), arrived on the scene to find Abna al-Iraq, or Sons of Iraq, already recovering the cache, with Iraqi Army troops providing security. (READ MORE)

MND-B soldiers seize munitions - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers patrolling the West Rashid district of southwestern Baghdad discovered a weapons cache at approximately 12:45 p.m. May 4. The cache seized by the soldiers from 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment, attached to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, consisted of eight rocket-propelled grenade rounds, seven 81mm mortar rounds, five 60 mm mortar rounds, a bag of grenades, a 70 mm rocket, eight Iranian-made mortar rounds, five cans of homemade explosives, one bag of HME, an improvised explosive device, a sniper rifle, an AK-47 and a box of PKC and shotgun rounds. (READ MORE)

MND-B soldiers kill 5 terrorists, detain 24, find EFPs, 3 caches across Rashid - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers killed five criminals, detained 24, found two caches and two explosively formed penetrators throughout a 24-hour period in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad May 1. At approximately 8 p.m. May 1, Iraqi policemen from 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, and soldiers from 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were attacked by 10 criminals using small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire in the Aamel community during an operation to apprehend a key criminal. (READ MORE)

U.S. Special Forces kill four insurgents, detain seven in Jazeera Desert - BALAD, Iraq – U.S. Special Forces soldiers detained seven suspected insurgents and killed four during a reconnaissance patrol in the Jazeera Desert, approximately 237 miles north of Baghdad, May 1. U.S. SF soldiers conducted a patrol to identify enemy safe havens and weapons caches in an area where insurgents have been known to conduct operations. During the patrol, U.S. SF soldiers came under small-arms fire and returned fire killing two armed individuals near the village of Lazaga. (READ MORE)

Government Officials Meet with Qarghuli Sheikhs - CAMP STRIKER — Local government officials visited tribal leaders of Qarghuli to discuss a number of issues May 3. “The government representatives approached us to speak of our concerns,” said Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, who held the meeting in his home. “This is out of the ordinary. We are usually the ones going to them about our concerns and issues.” Rakkasan leadership of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), attended the meeting but only to observe. (READ MORE)

Wholesale Farmers’ Market Reopens in Yusifiyah - CAMP STRIKER — The Yusifiyah Wholesale Farmers’ Market had a grand reopening last week after closing four years ago. “This was the center of commerce for the city before the war,” said Capt. Steve McGregor, from Longwood, Fla., projects officer for 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “It shut down because of all the fighting ... It was the main way the farmers in this agrarian society made their money.” (READ MORE)

PRT Facilitates Mada’in Agricultural, Technology Expo - FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER — More than 1500 Iraqi farmers attended the Mada’in Agricultural Technology Exposition in al-Wahida, Iraq, recently. The expo resulted from efforts by the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, attached to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, to revitalize farming and agribusiness. The 3rd HBCT ePRT leaders emphasized agricultural initiatives in the qada to provide long-term economic stability in the primarily agrarian district east of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Families Return to Chalabi Village - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — Approximately 120 men of the Chalabi tribe returned to their homes recently in the Sayafiyah region, about 25 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, more than a year after being driven out by al-Qaeda in Iraq extremists. Escorted by Sons of Iraq leader Jumah al-Kazarji and Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), a large convoy of cars and trucks ushered the Chalabi men back to their abandoned village. Their reclamation of homes signaled the hopeful beginning of a new era of peace and security. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police Station Opens in Yusifiyah - CAMP STRIKER — The people of Yusifiyah had reason to celebrate when the Yusifiyah Iraqi Police Station officially opened its doors to serve the community last week. After 10 months of renovations, the Yusifiyah police force has a new headquarters. “The constant presence of police in Yusifiyah is going to provide a consistent level of security,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Rohling, the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commander. (READ MORE)

Coalition Forces Extend Care to Iraqi Community - CAMP AL ASAD — He’s 16 years old, and only weighs 60 pounds. Marwan Ahmad Mohammed doesn’t spend his days like most teenage boys. He stays in military care facilities where they constantly work to repair his wounds sustained in an attack from more than a year ago. His brother, Omar Ahmad Mohammed, has been camping out next to his bedside during his current stay at Camp Al Asad’s 325th Combat Support Hospital where medical providers have been giving him all the medical attention he needs. (READ MORE)

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