May 19, 2008

From the Front: 05/19/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
One Marine's View: Your Marines - Missions are going very well for us. We have detained several bad guys and corresponded warrants for them. The weather has been hot, then full of sand as the movie like sandstorms roll into our area. As we conduct our partnered American and Iraqi missions, we compliment one another as they can notice things we cant and we can bring a hell storm to the scene in a blink of an eye. I know you arnt hearing anything about how well the Iraqi’s are doing but they are doing great things, every day. They are listening to us, learning and when we see them make several small strides we know we are on the right path. Some working for free, only to make a difference. They are making a difference! Your Marines have great morale. Living in sandy uncomfortable conditions, covered in sand after each sandstorm as their wooden swahut allows the dirt to flow in from the constant blowing wind. I love these times, I really do. (READ MORE)

Hard Soldier: "Voodoo 1....Out" - A year in the desert can do an awful lot to change a mans perspective on the world and things around him. Over a year ago my main goal was just to get home to my wife and kids and carry on with my life, maybe try to live the same way I did before the war. Easier said than done, I'm back in the good ol U.S. of A and I gotta admit I'm pretty nervous about going home to my family. Friends ask if I'm different and I always say I'm still the same old me but in a lot of ways I'm not and will never be. Don't get me wrong I don't think I'm suffering from PTSD or anything but I think the years experiences have definetly given me a whole new outlook on life. A lot of Americas young men had it worse than I did out there but, the IED's and small arms fire I recieved were enough to wake me up and realize that I shouldn't take life for granted. (READ MORE)

James Aalan Bernsen: Letters from Kids - We get lots of letters over here from random people that we’ve never met. It’s humbing and gratifying, but sometimes overwhelming. I wish I could respond to them all, but I have a hard enough time writing the people we know. I keep reminding myself every day to write a letter to those nice folks at the VFW who mailed me a care package, or for my aunt, who sent me molasses cookies. But among all of the letters and packages we get, the most entertaining are those from the children. Countless schoolkids sit down and write a soldier. In poor grammar, but with heartfelt emotion, they tell us what they think. Sometimes they can make soldiers cry. Other times, we just smile. Most of the time, though, they make you laugh. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: The Happiest Dog in Iraq - Recently, our parent unit opened up another combat outpost in the hub of the outlying villages, earning the all too obvious nickname of Little Anu al-Verona. While one of our sister platoons operates out of here now, the Gravediggers recently covered down on their security operations for a day so they could get back to the FOB for a maintenance refit. It was here, surrounded by palm trees and an irrigation system that actually functions, that we discovered the happiest dog in Iraq. Most dogs over here bear no resemblance to their domesticated cousins in the western world; instead, they are as feral as coyotes, as scrawny as hyenas, and as ugly as the Duke University student population. ("And I always remember that whatever I have done in the past, or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible one way or the other." - Richard Milhous Nixon.) (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (19 May) - The Good: The interrogation of detainees from the Mosul offensive (Operation Mother of Two Springs) continues as Iraqi security forces seek to round up Al-Qaeda thugs. There are some reports that many terrorists have fled the Mosul area. The Chicago Tribune reports that much of the anger from Iraqis about the Qu'ran shooting incident has been alleviated due to Maj. Gen. Hammond's formal apology. The Al-Qaeda operative, that was responsible for the death of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho in Mosul two months ago, has been sentenced to the gallows by the Iraqi Central Criminal Court. Persecution against the Christian minority from extremist thugs has been an ongoing problem in Iraq, and this sentencing sends a message that Iraq's justice system is committed to protecting them (note: this is good in my mind, even though I don't support capital punishment). (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: “Ambush Alley” to Peaceful Alley - RAMADI, IRAQ (May 17, 2008) – Step after step, combat boots hit the pavement. It’s been a few hours for the Marine squad walking the Ramadi streets. Fatigued yet steady, the young men push forward on their routine foot patrol despite the mid-day desert heat; each squad member maintaining a constant alertness with eyes scanning the environment in every direction. The squad leader passes by a familiar face; a local vender who he sees almost every day. Instantly, the look of exhaustion washes away, and a smile is brought to his face. Lifting his hand, he warmly greets the vender with, “Al salaam a’alaykum.” Every day, Marine infantrymen like those with Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, patrol neighborhoods and actively engage the community of al-Anbar Province. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Weapons Co., 2/24 more than “Motorized Mayhem” - HAWAS, Iraq (May 14, 2008) – Marines of Mobile Assault Platoon (MAP) 3, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, helped bridge a gap in the local Iraqi logistical system May 12, providing compensation for local Iraqi Police and civil operations in the Northern al Anbar Province. As the Weapons Company’s Police Transition Team, MAP 3 conducts partnered patrols with the emerging security forces in the area, assists the local Iraqi Security Forces in establishing logistical and operational readiness and provides the local ISF with a beacon of professionalism to emulate. (READ MORE)

Major John: Range Day - Some of the security in my area is not military. We spent some time on the range making sure that I could shoot their weapons and handle any basic problems like a jam or misfeed. I had not fired an MP-5 before, and it was a very interesting weapon. Very little recoil, and light. The fellow who taught me to use it had me run through single shot, then automatic. When I had finished that, he told me to run through the rest of a magazine from the hip. I felt like a 1920s gangster... (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Working with Iraqi Army- slow progress and cultural challenges - FOB O’Ryan - Captain Jeff Canning, 30, of Anchorage AK, thought he was out of Iraq. After a year serving in Northern Iraq he waited at an Army air terminal. He waited a day, then another, no big deal for a solider used to the variables of air travel here. When we saw our connex boxes (storage trailers) coming back, Canning said, we knew something was wrong. Instead of going home, Canning and his 172nd Stryker Brigade were sent down to Baghdad to quell the surge in violence there. They stayed four extra months. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: (VIDEO) On patrol in Yathreeb - Lt. Col. Dunleavy, two long-time interpreters and cultural advisor Sue Roffee interact with locals and speak on recent improvements here. (VIEW VIDEO)

David Wood: Measuring success, failure ... or drift - The Defense Department, under orders from Congress, is about to unveil its first attempt to document progress or lack of progress in the seven-year U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. It takes no special insight to guess that the conclusion of the Pentagon report, already overdue, will be: winning in some places, not in others. My conclusion: Afghanistan will soak up a lot more of America's time, money and lives, and much of it will be wasted without a clearer strategy for both security and development. A key question, not likely to be explored in the report: Does it make sense for the outside world to send in thousands of conventional troops to try to provide security while the country is modernized, the control of the central government is extended across its territory, a form of democracy is established nationwide, and sanctuary is thus denied to radical Islamists? (READ MORE)

From the Halls to the Shores: (VIDEO) 'Raqstar -New posts will appear below this one until the above date... mostly because it took me awhile to put this together and I don't want it to get buried... (VIEW VIDEO)

Bill Roggio: Taliban suicide bomber kills 13 in Mardan - The Taliban have struck in the settled district of Mardan in the Northwest Frontier Province. A suicide bomber struck in a bakery in the city of Mardan. Thirteen Pakistanis were killed in the blast, including four policemen. Twenty-two Pakistanis were wounded and shops in the city were devastated. "The bakery was completely destroyed along with many other area shops in the blast," GEO News reported. The suicide attack in Mardan is the first mass-casualty suicide attack since early March. A dual suicide attack in the city of Lahore killed 28 and wounded over 200 on March 11. The headquarters of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency was one of the targets in the Lahore bombings. (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Sergeant Grumpy: Back in the US of A - A quick note to let everyone know that we are back in the States. As "D" will attest, we are going thru a lot of stupidity, Army style. But the key is we are home. It is so clean and green here, and people bathe - glorious! (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Badger 6 Signing off the Net - Today I turn 40 years old. This, for what ever reason, seems like the appropriate place to end Badgers Forward. When I conceived of this blog I imagined something as big a Blackfive except from the war zone. I suppose if you are going to dream, dream big. While this blog never reached that level of readership I think I did a fairly respectable job of gaining a readership and turning out consistent quality writing. I am generally proud of the job I have done with the blog. Why end it? I was tempted to end it last year when I left Team Badger and Task Force Pathfinder as they all departed theater and I moved from the Ramadi - Falluja corridor to southern Iraq. Mrs. Badger 6 prevailed on me to keep blogging. The blog was simply not as good when I moved away from Command to work on a Brigade Staff. (READ MORE)

Heading Out:
The War on Big Tobacco: Getting Packed - I did not smoke while writing this. Last night, I was standing in my kitchen with my in-laws cleaning up after dinner. Lately, I’ve been enjoying having big dinners before my family goes to temple on Fridays. I’m trying to stretch these Fridays out as long as possible since I only have four more of them until I leave. My in-laws are over. They will be coming with us along with our neighbors, who are Conservative Jews, and hence not used to the things Reform Jews like me do… like have fun on Shabbat. My cell phone rings, ruining my pleasant mood. It’s SSG Angry Man [OPSEC], one of my squad leaders. He sounds like it’s the end of the world. I calm him down enough to get the whole story. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

MND-B Soldiers prevent an IED attack and seize munitions - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers killed an IED emplacer and seized munitions in Baghdad May 18. Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, discovered the weapons cache on the rooftop of a building during a dismounted patrol in the Shurta area of West Rashid at approximately 3:35 p.m. Soldiers found 30 120 mm mortar rounds, 12 60 mm mortar rounds, 120 pounds of homemade explosives, several rocket-propelled grenade rounds, an SKS rifle, an RPG launcher, 10 mortar fuses, 30 shotgun shells, a hand grenade, two electric blasting caps, a Tommy gun, IED-making materials, and numerous Iraqi Army and Police uniforms. (READ MORE)

Three suspected al-Qaeda terrorists detained in Baghdad, Mosul - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces targeted the al-Qaeda in Iraq facilitation network during operations in two major cities Monday, detaining three suspected terrorists. Using information from operations April 3 and May 11, Coalition forces targeted a foreign terrorist facilitator believed to operate in Mosul and detained two suspected terrorists. (READ MORE)

Conviction and Sentencing of the Kidnapper of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho US-EMB - We welcome today’s statement by the Government of Iraq on the conviction and sentencing by the Iraqi Central Criminal Court of the individual responsible for the kidnapping and subsequent death of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho in February. Reiterating our condolences to the Archbishop's family and community, we commend the Iraqi authorities for bringing the perpetrator of this brutal crime to justice. We will continue to support the Iraqi government in its efforts to protect all Iraqis, regardless of religious affiliation, against violence and criminal acts. (READ MORE)

Water Treatment Facility on Way to Recovery - CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The Karkh water treatment plant in Taji, northwest of Baghdad, has been under construction and undergoing upgrades since its near destruction in 2005. Lt. Col. Paul Williams, an Iuka, Miss., native, who is the officer in charge of the United States Army Corps of Engineers Taji Area, visited the Karkh Water Treatment Plant to check progress on the work taking place May 14. He was joined by Lt. Col. David Davidson, a Lewisburg, Tenn., native, who serves as the deputy commander for 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad. The two leaders are in charge of overseeing the progress of the work being done at the water treatment plant. (READ MORE)

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