May 9, 2008

From the Front: 05/09/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Iraq: The Purgatorium: Too Short For This Shit - It was a whiz, a zooming, a whistling, kind of like a low flying jet. You know, until it exploded. [Sgt DolphLundgren] locked eyes in a moment of idiotic disbelief, just as that adrenaline ice-water-in-the-face feeling took over. We were taking incoming. And close. We stumbled out of his trailer and outside was complete insanity, everyone running in different directions. One of the impacts was DAMN close. "Suspect! GET AN AID BAG!" Sgt "Dolph" orders. "Gotcha! .......Where?" "On the truck!" "I don't have a key!" I shout back at him. "On TOP of the truck!!!" "Oh! Ok!!!" (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Numb - The days bleed into nights and the nights bleed into days and there’s really no point in acknowledging the difference anymore. The sun just means we drink more water, the night just means we live in the green world of night vision rather than the grey world of day vision. Patrol. Eat. Sleep. Patrol. Go to meeting. Patrol. Eat. Make phone calls home and ignore the strain in their voices since they're doing the same. Patrol. Sleep. Get woken up in a panic, it’s time for a new and Fragolicious. Patrol. If my calendar hadn’t hung itself in the winter, it would tell me that we’re a third of the way through the deployment. That’s something, at least. Something tangible. Something concrete. Something that seems far too long and far too short all at the same time. Time over here just doesn’t make sense. It does make cents, though, which you know. Matters to some people. (READ MORE)

Omar: Iraq Quietly Confronts Iran With Evidence of Wepons Trafficking - The Iraqi minister of defense pushed the debate with the Iranians over their provision of weapons to Shia militias one more step on Monday. Minister Abdul Qadir Obeidi indirectly confronted the Iranians, without naming them, with new findings that prove their involvement in the arming of Shia militias. On Monday, state-owned al-Sabah published a statement by the minister in which he spoke of the capture of a certain type of rocket that was never found in militia-held caches until now: “Defense minister Abdul Qadir Mohammed Obeidi revealed that army troops found a 200-mm ground-to-ground rocket manufactured in 2007 during a search operation by the troops north of Basra. Obeidi told al-Sabah in an exclusive interview that, under international laws and norms, this kind of rocket can be traded only with the approval of parliaments and is used only at times of extreme necessity during wars … and wondered how this rocket entered the country. Obeidi added that this rocket can be launched only from a special platform and by specialized crews.” (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (9 May) - The Good:6 militia thugs have been killed in Sadr City after firing at US soldiers. You'd think these guys would change their behavioral patterns as every time they shoot, they usually get greeted with retaliatory fire from US ground forces or hellfires from the air. The cell that launched a mortar attack last afternoon in Baghdad that killed civilians met an non-triumphant end from 3 hellfires shortly after the launch. Colin Powell is backing the GI-Bill sponsored by Sen. Webb, which is a pretty high-level endorsement. The Bad: Two contractors were killed by indirect fire (rockets) down in Basra. Despite my gung-ho enthusiasm yesterday that Islamic State of Iraq front man, Al-Masri, was captured in Mosul, it turns out to be a case of mistaken identity. (READ MORE)

Major John: Iraqi Joke - An Iraqi Army captain told me a joke today: "President Jalal Talibani summoned the leaders of the Iraqi parliament to his office for a meeting. In the middle of the meeting his wife calls him and says, 'Jalal, there is a thief in our house!' President Talibani replies, 'impossible, they are all here with me.'" I guess we have some things in common with the Iraqis, yes? (READ MORE)

Charlie Foxtrot: Iraq - A Bigger Distraction Than We Thought? - For quite a while now, whenever things go well in Iraq, the Democratic party-line response has been "Yeah, but it is distracting us from the War on Terror!" Little did we know it is actually worse. Much worse. According to Barrack Obama: "...the way the war in Iraq has been handled has kept the United States from focusing on key issues like energy policy, global warming and the economy..." Holy Cow! I had no idea..... Now far be it for a politician, especially one running for President, to hyperbolize to score a point, but personally I am pretty sure Obama has it backwards. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Like parole officers, but with better 'intelligence' - Shehabi, a town in Salah Ad Din province, used to be crawling with insurgent activity, but this week soldiers of Archangel Platoon of the 2/320th battalion rode in with boxes of school supplies instead of battering rams. The platoon visited the home of former insurgents, but instead of kicking in doors, they greet the brothers and a neighbor who were just released from the infamous Buka prison with a hand shake and the word, “Salam”. Staff Sgt. Jacob Murphy, 28, of San Francisco and Sgt. First Class Jonathan Mudgett, 33, began by asking whether the men were having any problems on their farm. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Navigating Army laws to do right by locals - LSA Anaconda, Iraq - A farmer claims Army mortars burned his crop field and killed one of his cows. Major Harold Johnston, of Terre Haute, IN, listens patiently. He’s heard this story before. The Major is chief of claims and operational law at the Civilian Military Operations Center. According to the farmer, last week insurgents unknown to him used his field to launch mortars at LSA Anaconda, a major supply base north of Baghdad. U.S. forces returned fire and destroyed part of the farmer’s field. Now it’s up to Maj. Johnston to decide whether the man deserves a payment for accidental damages. (READ MORE)

Cheese's Milblog: I just got off of Rapid Reaction Force(RRF) - ...and am surprised to not be heading right back outside the wire, for once! RRF was much more interesting this time, mainly because we just got a Wii in the mail. For those who are unaware, RRF is where we get all of our stuff ready to roll out the gate, then we sit around and wait for something to happen. Think firefighter...with guns. Normally the RRF shack is a place to watch old DVDs...but not this time. One by one, each guy who made fun of us as we whacked away at digital tennis balls ended up joining in. Seeing guys in ACUs swatting WiiMotes around in an under-sized RRF shack is beyond hilarious. On a more serious note, we stumbled upon a tragic little village during a patrol a couple of days ago. The place is a landfill. The people live off of the garbage that other people throw away. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US Military denies al Qaeda leader al Masri is in custody - Less than 24 hours after a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced the capture of Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, the US military denied al Masri has been captured. "Neither coalition forces nor Iraqi security forces detained or killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri,” Major Peggy Kageleiry, spokeswoman for Multinational Division North, told The Associated Press. “This guy had a similar name." Al Masri was reported to have been captured in Mosul. The report of al Masri’s capture was cause by a case of mistake identity, said Mohammed al Askari, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense. “We called the commander of Ninewa operations 10 times and every time he insisted it was Abu Hamza al-Muhajir [a pseudonym for al Masri] because when they caught him, they asked him whether his name was Abu Hamza al-Muhajir and he said yes," al-Askari told AP. (READ MORE)

David Wood: Gates: No extension of 1/6 in Afghanistan - Marines in Afghanistan, due to rotate home this fall, will not be extended, Defense Secretary Gates indicated this afternoon. "There is no plan to extend the Marine deployment beyond this winter, November," Gates said Friday at a Pentagon news briefing. "We are still going to be looking at what the options are in terms of augmenting our presence" in Afghanistan beyond 2008, Gates added. "As this point at least, as far as I know there is no specific planning going on along those lines.'' The 2,500 Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which includes the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, were diverted from a planned deployment in Iraq to Afghanistan, where they arrived ini March. (READ MORE)

Heading Home:
strypgia: Homeward Bound - Been on the road a lot since May 1st. First to FOB Kalsu to do the Customs Inspections for our detached A company, then a overnight at BIAP to fly to Kuwait. We've now waited out the brief stay at Camp Virginia, and in a few hours we'll leave for Ali As Saleem Airbase, then Kuwait City International Airport. Wheels-up at 1000. Fuel stop in Shannon, Ireland or Leipzig, Germany, and then sometime Thursday night we'll touch down at Fort Benning, Georgia. Home. Well, home base, anyhow. But the Bad Influence is supposed to meet me as soon as I touch the ground, and then I will be home. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Homeward bound - If all has gone according to plan, as you read this we should be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. We are on our way to Fort Riley, Kansas, where we will spend the next five days or so turning in equipment, clearing paperwork and sitting in on briefings designed to make sure our heads are on straight and our expectations about going home are realistic. It won't be home, but it will be in the greatest country in the world. That counts for a lot. I write often about missing family and friends, but I don't often point out missing living in a country like the U.S. (READ MORE)

Sgt Hook: Update - Just checking in and wanted to send a very big THANK YOU to all of those who have shown tremendous support to the Soldiers serving over here. My unit recently received a ton of Girl Scout Cookies from three troops in Texas with the help of the local firefighter’s union and longtime supporter Anthony. I also want to thank all those who sent birhday wishes and checked up on my well being. My apologies for not replying to your comments and emails, but thank you so very much. In a few hours I’ll be heading home for a little R&R leave. I’ve been so busy recently that I don’t think I’ve had a moment of peace for a long time. I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks to let my hair down. (READ MORE)

Going Back:
Colby Buzzell: Return to Sender - When I voluntarily enlisted in the Army, I remember asking my recruiter about the fine print on the contract about being called back up to active duty once my enlistment was completed. He assured me not to worry, that every contract said that and it would only happen if "World War III" broke out. That was a little over five years ago. After serving in Iraq, I elected to use my GI Bill to enroll in a photography course at San Francisco City College. I felt good, and I had a feeling that the days to come were all going to be good as well. On way out of my building two weeks ago, I checked my mailbox and found a letter from the Department of the Army with "Important Document" printed in all caps on the middle. I immediately felt sick... (READ MORE)

The Homefront:
Lou Michel: Routines, drudgery & something different for supper - The kids are really doing pretty good. Between school, sports and activities their schedules are pretty full, their routines in place. My nine year old daughter is the more difficult of the two to manage. She's just like my mom, fiercely independent and stubborn as a gear oil stain on a white cotton tee-shirt. Trying to get her into a routine not of her own design has been about the most difficult challenge so far. Since the kids get on the bus at different times in the morning, I used to delegate the challenge to Judy by heading off for work after getting Ed on the bus bright & early. When Judy left on her little trip, there I was alone with 50 pounds of Tazmanian devil. Finally after four months I think I see a glimmer of hope. I've run through my complete parental portfolio of tactics to make the progress I boast of, talking softly, redirecting, screaming, stern looks, firm grips, and lots of hugs & kisses. (READ MORE)

Trying to Grok: I'M NOT ANTI-WAR - Dragonfly found an interesting opinion piece called Anti-War Wounds. I don't relate to every opinion in the article, but it's well-written and makes a good point about "being the 'we.'" And about how it feels when people don't get that. “My husband fights this war. He risks his life every day. We have both made sacrifices for it. And to hear them say that it’s ‘a waste of time,’ that it ‘will never make a difference,’ that ‘we should call the whole thing off’ — well, if that’s true, I’m not sure I’ll get out of bed tomorrow morning. There has to be a reason that our family — and thousands of others — are enduring this.” Yesterday someone called to say goodbye to my husband before he left, not knowing that he'd been bumped forward. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

MND-B soldiers foil criminal rocket teams - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers engaged two criminal rocket teams and fended off an attack by armed criminals during night operations against in Baghdad May 8. At approximately 6:30 p.m., MND-B soldiers monitoring an aerial surveillance system witnessed two Special Groups criminals gathering around a rocket rail that had been used for an indirect fire attack earlier in Sadr City. The criminals then loaded two carts and pushed them down a street. An aerial weapons team was called in, engaged the individuals with one Hellfire missile and killed both criminals. (READ MORE)

ISF detain criminal cell leader, three al-Qaeda in Iraq - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces detained a Special Groups cell leader and three al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists in two separate operations, May 8. Iraqi Special Operations Forces conducted an operation in Baghdad and detained an al-Bayaa district Special Groups cell leader believed to be responsible for kidnapping operations and indirect fire attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces. Two additional suspects were detained. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers kill 6 criminals - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers killed six criminals, who attacked Coalition forces with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, during multiple engagements in the Sadr City district of Baghdad May 8. At approximately 1:30 p.m., soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were attacked by criminals with RPGs and small-arms fire. Soldiers returned fire and killed one criminal. (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B find several weapons caches across Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraq Security Forces and Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers destroyed several weapons caches across Baghdad May 8. At approximately 6 a.m., soldiers with Company C, 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, discovered a weapons cache containing eight 120 mm mortar rounds in West Rashid. At approximately 8 a.m., Iraqi Army soldiers found three weapons caches during a combat patrol in Sadr City. (READ MORE)

Rocket attack against military post linked to criminals - TIKRIT, Iraq – Five 107 mm rockets impacted a Coalition force post in Diyala Province May 8. The initial investigation into the attack indicates the rockets are similar to munitions used by criminal groups and not al-Qaeda in Iraq or its front, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq. Since the kick-off of Operation Iron Harvest in January, the stability and growth of Diyala’s government and economy is evident, according to a Multi-National Division – North spokesperson. (READ MORE)

MND-C Soldiers find large rocket, mortar cache (Shubayshen) - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Center Soldiers recovered nearly 200 weapons rounds near Shubayshen, about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, May 7. Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), acted on a tip that there was a weapons cache in the area. The cache contained 82 57 mm rockets, 95 82 mm mortars and 23 120 mm rounds, all of which could have been used as improvised explosive devices. (READ MORE)

MND-C Soldiers discover weapons cache in Sa’id Abdullah Corridor - BAGHDAD – Soldiers from 320th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), unearthed a cache during air assault operations in the Sa’id Abdullah Corridor, about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, May 6. Soldiers from 320th Field Artillery, found a buried cache that contained 18 86 mm projectiles, three 82 mm rounds, three 130 mm rounds prepared as improvised explosive devices, one 75 mm rocket, one 60 mm mortar base plate, one rocket-propelled grenade round and one packing tube with 2,500 7.62 mm rounds. (READ MORE)

Bridge brings two provinces closer together (Bayji) - TIKRIT, Iraq – A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening two temporary bridges in Bayji was held May 8. These two bridges, which expand over the Tigris River, will promote more trade and stimulate the economy of the region by allowing the people of the provinces of Salah ad Din and Kirkuk to unite. Iraqi Security Forces helped to set the conditions in the area to make it possible to reconstruct the bridge, symbolizing the dedication of the ISF. (READ MORE)

Criminals killed after rocket attack against Iraqi citizens (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – A Multi-National Division – Baghdad air weapons team killed two criminals and wounded four, all of whom were involved in launching a rocket attack on Sadr City citizens. The criminals were hiding in a building in the Sadr City district of Baghdad at approximately 2 p.m. May 8 after launching the rocket. The criminals launched the indiscriminant rocket attack at approximately 1:30 p.m. that killed two Iraqi citizens, injured eight more and damaged a house in central Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Soldiers Visit Windmills in al-Zatir and Hollandia - FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER — U.S. troops visited windmills in al-Zatir and Hollandia, Iraq, on a quality analysis and control trip May 5. The Soldiers with 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, made the trip to check on progress made on windmills over the past eight months. Major Michael Blankenship, from Jonesborough, Tenn., 489th CA Bn., oversees the project and said he makes these trips weekly to ensure progress goes as planned and workers are following instructions. (READ MORE)

Medical Soldiers Show Readiness during Mass Casualty Battle Drill - FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER — Soldiers from Company C, 47th Forward Support Battalion, performed a simulated mass casualty drill at the troop medical clinic on FOB Hammer, May 6. A mass casualty (MASSCAL) event is any situation where there are more casualties than the aid station can normally handle. “When a mass casualty call comes in, all physicians, from dentists to surgeons, are called in,” said Capt. Aaron Mallory, of Panama City, Fla., Company C commander. “Those who cannot help on the treatment floor are sent to help with triage.” (READ MORE)

First Iraqi Comedy in Wasit since 2003 - FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — Actors from the popular Iraqi sitcom, “Mud House,” performed the first comedic play May 4 in Wasit Province since 2003. “People and People” conveyed Iraqi life from a comedic perspective to entertain the Wasit audience and give them hope and optimism for the future, as described by the actors, An’am al-Rubay’ai, Ali Dakhil and Majid Yasin. Fifteen hundred people filled the Municipality Hall in al-Kut to see the play, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in coordination with the 214th Fires Brigade and the Iraqi Police. (READ MORE)

Kirkuk IPs Conduct Successful Joint Operations - TIKRIT — Kirkuk’s Emergency Services Unit and the Aruba Police conducted a successful joint operation against members of a suspected kidnapping ring May 4. One of the suspects opened fire on police as they approached the target house. The police returned fire, killing the gunman. An Aruba policeman was also wounded in the attack. During a search of the premises, police recovered eight false identification cards, one AK 47 with 35 magazines and one pistol with 23 magazines. The police also detained another occupant in the house, who is currently been held for questioning. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces Highly Visible in Basra - BASRA — Operation Charge of the Knights has successfully completed missions in several districts -- rooting out criminal elements all across the city since it began on March 25. The Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police have formed a combined effort to systematically move through the districts of Basra, in some areas going house by house, to restore order and the rule of law. Soldiers and Policemen alike are working to make sure the criminal elements are kept out of the city by maintaining a highly visible status. (READ MORE)

TST platoon follows tip - Members of the time sensitive target platoon, an element of 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, conducted a search mission May 1 in Jisr Diyala to verify information on a potential weapons cache. The TST specializes in raid and search operations against criminals in the Mada’in Qada; their searches are not limited to one battalion area of operations, said Maj. David Guthrie, from Hampton, Va. “The TST is really a master of all areas,” said Guthrie, the operations officer in charge of planning the TST missions. “They do missions all over the Mada’in Qada.” (READ MORE)

International seminar enhances Afghan, Coalition medics - BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- Medical leaders from coalition forces and international medical organizations gathered at the Jirga Center May 5 for an all-day seminar to discuss infectious diseases, which plague the Afghan population. The speakers at the seminar were Afghanistan medical experts from the Ministry of Public Health in Kabul and the World Health Organization. The purpose of this seminar is to train U.S. and Coalition doctors to treat Afghans the Afghan way, said Lt. Col. Mendalose Harris, CJTF-101 Public Health nurse. The first speaker was Dr. Ahmad Jan Naeem, Director of Policy and Planning at the Ministry of Public Health. Infectious disease control is very important because most of the mortalities in Afghanistan are a result of infectious diseases, said Naeem. Dr. Sha Muhamad Rahim, a staff officer at the Ministry of Public Health, spoke of five strategies being developed to combat infectious diseases. (READ MORE)

No comments: