June 5, 2008

From the Front: 06/05/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
IraqPundit: Obama: Clueless Panderer - In case you started thinking Barack Obama would be a whiz at foreign policy and diplomacy, the rookie senator himself just reminded us that he's somewhere between clueless and a panderer. On Iraq, Obama still talks withdrawal. "John McCain has a vision that is very similar to George Bush's. He wants to continue in Iraq on the current course," he said. You know, the one that, as far as Obama knows, isn't working. Never mind that another group in Sadr City just signed [Arabic] up with the local Awakening. The presidential hopeful said he would pull the U.S. out of Iraq once he's in the White House. (READ MORE)

James Aalan Bernsen: Middle Eastern Night at the MWR - The MWR is where soldiers and others on base go to relax, sit on real, authentic couches, use computers, play pool and watch television. Although the television's almost always tuned into wrestling, so I don't think you could call it relaxing. MWR stands for Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and every base has one of these places that ostensibly gives us a chance to unwind and take our minds off the war. Not that you really have much opportunity to use one when you're on a 12-hour shift like me. Generally, if I'm not working, I'm sleeping or working out. But I do get over there to do a few things on the Internet that I can't do at work - such as writing on this blog, for instance, or watching videos on Youtube. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Five senior Mahdi Army commanders captured in Karbala - Iraqi police announced the arrest of five senior leaders of the Mahdi Army in the city of Karbala as assassination attempts were made on three police commanders in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The largest attack occurred in a Shia neighborhood in Baghdad, and resulted in more than 13 killed and 50 wounded. The Karbala police announced the capture of Mahdi Army commanders Ali Abd Taan, Sayyid Munadil, Muhsin Sharea, Haidar Jouri, and Razzaq al Samma. The five men lead a Mahdi Army unit in Karbala that was behind attacks on Iraqi police forces during a religious festival in August 2007. The attacks led to the closing down of the festival and a declaration of a unilateral cease-fire by Mahdi Army and Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al Sadr. (READ MORE)

David Wood: Marines in Afghanistan: Garmsir finally quiet - After more than a month of fighting, as in this Associated Press file photo, Marines in southern Afghanistan are reporting that the Helmand Province town of Garmsir is finally subdued. The operation, planned to last up to 12 days when it was launched April 28, was aimed at eradicating an insurgent command center in Garmsir and seizing control of the region, which was used as a major insurgent staging center and smuggling route for opium and weapons. During Operation Asada Wosa, the Marines reported about 150 enemy engagements, mostly involving small arms, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Marines discovered just under 50 insurgent caches of bomb-making materiel, RPGs, mines and other explosives. (READ MORE)

David Wood: Politics and the unseen war - While these Marines snatched rest between combat missions in southern Afghanistan, where in the dizzying cascade of presidential political events over the past few days was mention of that war? A month ago, I snapped this photo of helicopters and crew of HMM-365, the Marine air squadron attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, at a remote site in southern Afghanistan where they are supporting combat operations. I have no doubt they are still there -- or flying out of another remote site that has all the comforts of this one (notice the tiny strip of shade). ... (READ MORE)

From the 'Stan: Garmsir is quieting down - The 24th MEU has mostly rid northern Garmsir of insurgents by capturing a series of identified enemy strong points and defensive positions, according to a press release I got today. Since the Marines started operations in southern Helmand province, the insurgents have been fighting to hold their ground. The Marines have participated in about 150 engagements with small arms fire, indirect fire, and rocket propelled grenades, according to the release. The last engagement was June 1 when an insurgent attempted to engage coalition forces with an RPG. Since then, the 24th MEU has continued clearing operations in the district. (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Toby Nunn: Motivation - In many settings in the Army especially schools Soldiers are evaluated on motivation, and in many cases the Soldiers ability to act motivated. While going through obstacle courses and getting my rocks burnt up in other schools and having to "fake the funk" there was a badge at stake or some needed qualification to do a job. I have found that Military Motivation has been very strong in my life and has helped me through some trying experiences. I have also learned that I can endure some pretty trying circumstances which is what brings me to Part 1 of todays discussion. For the past Year and a half, I have lived out of a Duffle Bag or Ruck Sack and never for very long at ANY location but I must say that I am living in the lap of luxury right now. I am in a room all by MYSELF. For the first time in a year and a half I roll over in a bed and if my eyes are open they don't gaze upon another man but thats not even the best part at all. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Is Obama the new Khatami? - Barack Obama is currently basking in his hard-earned Democratic Party nomination and status as the first black major-party candidate for U.S. president. But one prominent Iraqi politician has an interesting prediction for a potential Obama presidency. Shiek Humman Hammoudi, a Shiite cleric and senior figure in the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, predicted that Obama's reform-heavy message and promises to shake up the system could founder on entrenched American political realities. Hammoudi, who like many Iraqi Shiite leaders spent years in exile in Iran during the Saddam Hussein years, compared Obama to former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami -- who stunned the conservative Iranian establishment with his 1997 landslide win. (READ MORE)

In Pictures: Mahdi Army caches seized in Sadr City - Since the Iraqi Army moved into Sadr City on May 20 after a negotiated cease-fire with the Sadrist movement, policemen and soldiers have seized 94 weapons caches of varying sizes and composition. Weapons seized include the deadly explosively formed projectile roadside bombs, explosives, mortars, land mines, rockets, anti-aircraft rockets, rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, mortar tubes, rocket launchers, AK-47s, sniper rifles, ammunition, and other bomb making materials and weapons. Many of these caches have been found based on tips from residents in Sadr City. Some of the caches were stored in mosques, schools, and hospitals. Multinational Forces Iraq believes the weapons cache finds have put a significant dent in the Mahdi Army’s capabilities inside Sadr City during the past two weeks. (READ MORE)

Iraqi National Police Gain Villagers' Respect - MOSUL — The residents of Yarimjah, a neighborhood in southern Mosul, were apprehensive when Iraqi national police officers arrived at 4 a.m. May 24. They had heard many rumors about the national police from neighbors and television. What the neighborhood residents experienced was unexpected. The 2nd Battalion, 6th National Police Brigade, under the command of Col. Fasial Majed Muhsen, moved into the area with exemplary discipline and courtesy. (READ MORE)

ISOF Capture Suspected AQI Cell Leader - BALAD — Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a suspected cell leader for the al-Qaeda in Iraq in eastern Mosul June 2. The ISOF conducted an operation to capture a suspected terrorist who is believed to serve as an improvised explosive device cell leader for AQI. The man is suspected of numerous vehicle-borne IED attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces, which killed Iraqi soldiers. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces round up Special Groups criminals around Iraq - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces captured an alleged Special Groups leader, and the suspected primary Special Groups weapons smuggler and financier for Al Kut in operations south of Baghdad Thursday. Acting on intelligence information, Coalition forces conducted a raid on the residence of a suspected Iranian-trained Special Groups leader in al-Mahawil, which lies about 70 km south of Baghdad near Hillah. (READ MORE)

Construction start on Iraqi Army command site in Basrah - BASRAH, Iraq – Construction has started on the Iraqi Army’s new Shaiba Location Command in Basrah. The $42.7 million project will include dozens of structures providing office space, warehouses, fuel and ammunition supply, a dining facility for 1,000 people, barracks, laundry, barber shop, medical clinic and fire station. The facilities are to be sited on a military installation 15 kilometers south of the Basrah Air Base. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers find multiple weapons caches - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized criminal weapons caches in Baghdad June 4. Solders from 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, discovered 20 grenade fuses, a box of grenade parts, and 300 ammunition rounds at approximately 12:20 p.m. northwest of Baghdad. Soldiers from 2nd SBCT, 25th Inf. Div., found a 120mm mortar round, a rocket, an 81mm mortar round, 86 empty 107mm rocket casings, a base plate, timer fuses and detonation cord at approximately an hour later northwest of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

IA Soldiers find IEDs, IED-making materials, weapons caches in Sadr City - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army Soldiers seized and disposed of improvised-explosive devices, IED-making materials and weapons caches in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, June 4. Iraqi Army Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, seized a pressure plate and various IED-making components around 5:30 a.m. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers find weapons caches in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized weapons caches during security operations in Baghdad June 4. Soldiers serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, seized 180 pounds of a conventional plastic explosive, in the West Rashid district of Baghdad at approximately 6 a.m. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces attacked during humanitarian-assistance mission - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 4, 2008) – Coalition forces killed more than a dozen insurgents after they came under attack during a humanitarian assistance mission Tuesday near Putay, Helmand province. While approaching the town, a vehicle in the convoy struck an IED. Coalition forces immediately began vehicle-recovery operations, but the convoy was ambushed by insurgents using small-arms fire. During the fight, another Coalition vehicle struck a mine. (READ MORE)

Militants detained in Ghazni province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 04, 2008) – Two militants were detained Tuesday during a Coalition forces operation to disrupt militant activities in Ghazni province. Coalition forces searched several compounds in Andar District targeting a Taliban militant who facilitated foreign fighters in the area. Two motorcycles used by militants were also confiscated in the operation. (READ MORE)

Militants detained in Helmand province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 04, 2008) – Six militants, including a targeted Taliban leader, were detained Tuesday during a Coalition forces operation to disrupt Taliban operations in Helmand province. Coalition forces searched several compounds in Nahri Sarraj District targeting the mid-level Taliban leader. Coalition forces discovered numerous rocket-propelled grenades, IED materials, AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition vests and ammunition hidden in multiple buildings. (READ MORE)

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