June 13, 2008

From the Front: 06/13/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
One Marine's View: NSN (No Shit News) RESULTS - I could of guessed the results would have turned out like this. It’s kinda NOSHIT obvious that Iraq has gotten better so let’s talk about those votes last and why the rest of the window lickers voted the way they did! My poor Bambi, Disney World voters that voted “Iraq is worse off” (3.5%) For the love of all that is good, do you live under a rock? Do you not know any servicemembers? Ohh I know you watch CNN. I get it. Of course you would vote Iraq is worse off. Because that’s what the Communist News Network want you to believe. Sure the infidels have occupied the land that doesn’t want help. Sure, we haven’t rid the country of thousands of insurgent scumbags, sure we haven’t restored democracy where a higher arch wants you to do what they say or you die. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: MAIL CALL! - CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (June 10, 2008) – For those who just couldn’t express their support through the words “I support the troops”; who have made the extra effort in showing their gratitude in a more tangible way; care packages have become the embodiment of “Thank you for your service” for Americans all over. The sight of red, white and blue boxes, with the words ‘priority mail’ printed across it, is an instant morale boost. Every week, Regimental Combat Team 1 receives dozens upon dozens of care packages, which are distributed among the Marines and sailors. Here we’ve added a few pictures of Marines receiving their ‘morale in a box’, giving you the chance to see the response and results of your hard work, time and care that is happening every day. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Employment and long term U.S. presence key to defeating insurgency, says influencial mayor - Osman Abel Karim Hussein, 36, of the Abudall tribe is typical guy in some ways- he’s married with three boys and one girl and he graduated from the University of Baghdad. He also drives a Mercedes with bullet-proof glass and is mostly unapologetic for the old regime. Before he was mayor of Ad Dwar, the town where Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a spider hole, his father was chief of the tribe and his oldest son, Osman Abel was voted by the tribe to the city council. Now he is mayor of Ad Dwar and is positioning himself to run for provincial level government in the fall elections. Under Saddam, Ad Dwar was once a city of farmers and home to sons of officers of the Iraqi Army and Police. But when the old regime collapsed, most people were without work. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: More than 500 insurgents have laid down their weapons in Balad - Since May 22, a total of 506 suspected insurgents in Balad, a mixed Sunni-Shia area of over a 100,000 about an hour north of Baghdad, have reconciled with U.S. forces. On May 22, and the following two days, there was a mass surrender of over 200 men to coalition forces at Patrol Base Palawoda. The U.S. and Iraqi forces were taken by surprise at the amount of once wanted men turning themselves in at the heed of several key tribal leaders. The new number of 506 has sparked interest on the blogsphere and satellite TV. What are the conditions that have prompted these men to lay down their arms? The commander of 1st Squad/32nd Cavalry Regiment of 1st/101st ABN, who control security around Balad, had previously set deadlines for known insurgents to reconcile by. Reconciliation is a process in which insurgents meet with US and Iraqi forces to officially lay down their arms in exchange for some amnesty. (READ MORE)

The Satirist at War: A candid assessment of our situation - Popped down to the bazaar yesterday for one of my last patrols (if not the last patrol), and when I got back, the FOB was abuzz with rumors of an impending visit from G1, to inspect living conditions. This on the heels of a visit from IG that had been prompted by someone who, according to rumor, had described living conditions on various FOBs and COPs in our AO as "deplorable," or something like that. The first thing I'd like to point out is that I've seen deplorable living conditions a few times during my sojourn in the Army, and those instances have all had the following in common: 1) outside in the sand or mud 2) heavy precipitation 3) stinging / biting insects 4) lack of food and/or water. Our FOBs have beds, or at least cots, air conditioning, and well-prepared food. Who goes to Afghanistan and expects a four-star hotel??? There's no pleasing some people, I suppose. (READ MORE)

Cheese's Milblog: Back on the injured reserve... - Well, my spine is acting up again. For those that don't know, I messed my back up pretty bad in Iraq. The main injury was from falling in a mud pit while carrying a stretcher, and I've been on a pretty even rotation of dull aches and back strains since. I had been doing pretty well, but a combination of dead-lifts and rocky roads in body armor have benched me once again. It's not all that bad, the docs say that the muscles around my sciatic nerve are spasming. Thankfully, the diet of painkillers and Flexorall that they put me on seems to be working. I'm really looking forward to heading home for leave...I think a couple of weeks without body armor will do me some good. Everything else is going pretty well. I wish I had something different to report, but we've slipped into such a routine that my posts are gonna start being pretty repetitive. We do everything we can to mix it up and keep ourselves on our toes, but there's only so much you can do in Kabul. (READ MORE)

Jake's Life: Pictures From the 'Stan - Jake sent us some pictures and I asked him if I could post them, so here they are. Jake has also said he has received many packages from friends known and unknown and he and the platoon are grateful. The competition- set up 2 sets of six Coke cans a couple hundred yards out. Each member of each six man team gets one 7.62 round. Then, 10 pushups at the start, a 100 yard sprint to the gun, 20 jumping jacks, get down, load your round, get your breathing and heart under control, shoot a can, run back and tag the next guy. Team Revolution won. Cytosport was kind enough to send Jake's team two boxes of protein for free...so props to them. (READ MORE)

1st Marine Logistics Group: Deployed Marine holds onto 'Big League' dream - AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq (June 3, 2008) – Chasing a lifelong dream for a career in professional baseball … It’s a story as distinctly American as apple pie. Now add a dramatic twist: the pitching prospect is a U.S. Marine deployed to Iraq. He has his ball, glove and an intense desire to overcome a past elbow injury. Peers are cheering him on, pushing him to new levels in the gym and putting themselves on the receiving end of increasingly faster pitches. The desert has become his sandlot. “In a lot of ways, I’ve always rooted for the underdog,” said Lance Cpl. Scott “Ski” Halisky, a 30-year-old from Clearwater, Fla. The 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound Marine started to smile. “Given my age and former injury, I would think I’m an underdog.” Halisky is a mortuary affairs specialist with Personnel Retrieval and Processing Detachment, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group. (READ MORE)

Courage Without Fear: I Can See Clearly Now The Sand is Gone.... - After almost a steady week of blinding sandstorms, the weather has finally quieted down here. Sandstorms bring us all kinds of pain and misery. First of all, they effect the mission. When the sandstorms are so bad that aircraft can't fly, the roads get shut down. Thats actually a good thing. The powers that be don't want us out running the roads unless they can get a MEDEVAC chopper or a couple APaches gun ships to us if we need them. So in a way, I'm okay with that. On the other hand, it's frustrating as hell. When the roads aren's open, we can't do our job of escorting convoys. They troops get all geared up, inspect their convoys, prep their vehicles.....then sit and wait. Everyone knows hat the Army is all about hurry-up and wait. But it's still an ass kicker. (READ MORE)

Third Time's A Charm!: Why we are here... - There was nothing I wanted to do more than to somehow be involved again in a humanitarian effort here in Afghanistan. I was involved some with TAO Project (http://www.taoproject.org/) and more recently, I was able to participate in a humanitarian program we have locally here in Kabul. Having been a part of similar programs in past deployments, I was excited to get to do this again, if time allowed. Things have been so hectic throughout this deployment that I began to wonder if I was going to miss my opportunity, but finally a few days ago, I was able to get approval from my commander to travel with a local group and hand out humanitarian goods to a Koocha Camp on the outskirts of Kabul. A Koocha Camp is an area comprised mainly of refugees, or desert nomads, who have migrated to the city to find work and earn a living for their family. (READ MORE)

A Major's Perspective: Diplomacy, Information, Economics and Iran - I have received a number of emails in the last two days asking about my thoughts on Iran. The main question being whether or not I think that we can effectively change the course of action that Iran has taken in regards to nuclear development and supporting terrorists both in Iraq and in other countries. My answer is a resounding yes, and it does not have to depend on military power. Every nation controls numerous means of asserting its National Strategy. The top four categories of these being Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economics. I do believe that in utilizing the diplomatic, information, and economic tools we can achieve containment and regime change. As I talked about in the first article about Iran, the country has a youth population that is enormous. Well over 50% of their country is under the age of 30. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Report: Iraqi security forces preparing operation against Mahdi Army in Maysan - The Iraqi government is expanding its operations in the South into the Sadrist and Mahdi Army stronghold in Maysan province, according to reports. "Maysan witnessed on Thursday the arrival of large numbers of national police forces from Baghdad and Iraqi army troops from Basrah," a source in the province told Voices of Iraq. "The operation includes pursuing person wanted for judiciary authorities, removing all excesses, searching for medium and heavy weapons and evacuating government buildings" illegally occupied by political parties and movements. Iraqi forces are said to be massing at the military airport outside of Amarah, the provincial capital. Police are said to establishing checkpoints along the roads entering the province. (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Bouhammer: My old backyard - Check the news lately and you will see it. Afghanistan is a war zone in case anyone did not realize it. The man himself, The Chairman of the JCS whom I met with back in December is asking and looking for more embedded trainers to be with the Afghan Army and Police. You can read the story at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2004468688_apusafghanistan.html. In addition to that, there are now daily reports of all types of actions going on. From my experience only 1 in 75 TICs (aka firefights) between Coalition Forces and the enemy is reported in the news. If you head over to http://www.afghanistansun.com you will see the a better scope of all that is happening in country right now. One of the latest stories to come out is this one, http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/211642,us-airstrikes-kill-33-civilians-says-afghan-lawmaker–summary.html which talks about a US airstrike that killed 33 people. (READ MORE)

Heading Out:
Big Tobacco: Porn Packing List - I smoked a La Gloria Cubana Robusto Gordo Maduro while composing this. Warning: if you are the kind of person who thinks that most soldiers spend their off-duty hours reading their bible and corresponding with Mrs. Thistletwat’s 5th grade class to thank them for their patriotic cards, stop reading now. Really. Stop. I mean it. [OPSEC] Gigantor : “This job has me so stressed, I need some relief.” Me: “Don’t get caught.” I’m having a conversation via text message with a soldier who is in her advanced training class at Ft. Lee. After four weeks without sex she is so frustrated that she is nearing the point of doing something stupid. I trained this soldier once, and her ability and skill got her a job as platoon guide. Unfortunately, platoon guide is a stressful position in a training environment and her typical mode of relieving tension, that is wild sex, is not a viable option considering it could garner an Article 15 and some pretty severe non-judicial punishment. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Bombing network disabled - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 18 suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists throughout Iraq Thursday and Friday, further degrading terrorist networks that organize and execute terrorist attacks. Coalition forces continued to target the al-Qaeda in Iraq foreign terrorist networks across northern Iraq and in the Tigris River Valley Friday. A wanted man and an associate were captured near Bi’aj, about 130 kilometers southwest of Mosul. Coalition forces also detained one suspected AQI terrorist near Lake Thar Thar and three alleged foreign terrorist facilitators in Bayji, about 100 kilometers south of Mosul. (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B Soldiers seize weapons in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized a number of weapons in Baghdad June 12. Iraqi Army soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, seized three 82mm mortar rounds, two 130mm mortar rounds, a 120mm rocket, a 155mm mortar round, a 60mm mortar round, 10 AK-47s, three sniper rifles, 13 rocket fuses, 100 main gun rounds, 50 PKC rounds, 150 9mm rounds and a roll of wire at approximately 8 a.m. in Sadr City. (READ MORE)

Residents of Basra receive medical care, health education - BASRA – A team of Iraqi medical personnel completed a two-day consultation for the residents of the Hayyaniah and Az Zubayr areas of Basra, Iraq June 12. More than 1,000 patients came to both locations seeking attention from the clinic, where doctors from the National Iraqi Assistance Centre provided medical aid and health education.on preventative health an child health care. The medical staff also brought several boxes of medication and other supplies for the clinic. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces kill five gunmen, capture two suspected Special Groups criminals near al-Hillah - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed five gunmen and captured two suspected Special Groups criminals near al-Hillah, approximately 70 km south of Baghdad. Acting on intelligence information from Special Groups members already detained, Coalition forces conducted a raid on the residence of a suspected Special Groups leader in al-Hillah. The suspect is wanted for running a criminal enterprise in the area. According to previously captured outlaws, the suspect stayed at multiple locations in order to avoid capture. (READ MORE)

Raider Soldiers detain three suspected criminals - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers detained three suspected Special Groups criminals, associated with attacks against Iraqi civilians and Coalition force troops, in Baghdad’s Rashid District June 12. At approximately 5 a.m., Soldiers from the 64th Armor Regiment, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained two Special Groups criminals in the Saydiyah neighborhood. (READ MORE)

IA, MND-B Soldiers seize caches throughout Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers uncovered several caches throughout Baghdad June 12. Soldiers with the 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, seized a weapons cache in the Kadhamiyah district of Baghdad at approximately 6 a.m. The munitions included two improvised explosive devices, two rocket propelled grenade launchers, three rockets, two AK-47s, mortar fuses and detonation wire. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers seize weapons - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized several weapons during a search operation in the New Baghdad security district of eastern Baghdad, June 11. Soldiers with the 66th Armor Regiment, attached to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, MND-B, confiscated illegal weapons while searching for a possible cache within Muhalla 731. The Soldiers seized 15 AK-47 assault rifles, two rifles of undetermined make and model, and two pistols. (READ MORE)

Sons of Iraq repel second attack in Salah ad-Din province - TIKRIT, Iraq – The homes of several Sons of Iraq members were attacked by al-Qaeda fighters, near the town of Ishaki in the Salah ad-Din province June 11, The SOI members successfully defended their homes in the ensuing firefight, which left four enemy fighters dead and three SOI injured. Three suicide vests laden with explosives, and a vehicle laden with explosives were found on the scene and later destroyed by explosive ordnance disposal technicians. (READ MORE)

NPs, local residents, MND-B Soldiers continue to rid Baghdad of weapons - BAGHDAD – Iraqi National Policemen, Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers and local Iraqis all pitched in to help rid the streets in Baghdad of weapons June 11. At approximately 10:40 a.m., a local Iraqi resident turned in 30 57 mm anti-aircraft projectiles to a combat outpost northwest of Baghdad. Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division seized an improvised explosive device and three Iraqi Army body armor vests at approximately 1:45 p.m. in Sadr City. (READ MORE)

Barriers Removed, Bridge Opens Road to Market District - BAGHDAD — Packed cars, meandering pedestrians and the occasional donkey pulling a cart fill the busy streets of Baghdad daily. Couple this with roads blocked off by Iraqi security and coalition forces to lessen special groups militants and extremists ability to prey on citizens and you have the makings of a traffic jam in Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Hundreds of Former Iraqi Insurgents Reconcile With Government - BALAD — Since May 22, more than 500 former insurgents in the Balad area have reconciled with the Iraqi government, choosing a different path for their lives. Operation Balad Musalahah is a combined effort between the qada-level government of Iraq - a qada is roughly equivalent to a U.S. county - and the leadership of the Iraqi police, 4th Iraqi Army Division, and the 101st Airborne Division’s 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. (READ MORE)

Improved Iraqi Security Leads to Reconstruction, Jobs - BAGHDAD — Improvements in overall security incidents and Iraqi forces continued to rise during the past week, enabling the central government and coalition forces to begin progress in other areas vital to Iraq’s growth and sovereignty, a senior U.S. military official in Iraq said June 11. The country began to see a reduction in security incidents four weeks ago, marking the lowest levels since March 2004, Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference. The Iraqi government is undertaking broader efforts to provide services that were not possible a year ago, such as reconstruction in Sadr City and the Shola neighborhoods as well as agricultural initiatives across the country, he said. (READ MORE)

Basra Votech Center Renovated - BASRA — Students in Basra are now attending a newly refurbished vocational technical school as they acquire important job skills. The school’s headmaster, Mohammed Hassan Al Hassani, said he is very pleased with the $1.24 million rehabilitation of the Al Khaseeb Votech Center that included major roof repairs, new electrical and plumbing, plastering, interior renovations and a new perimeter wall. (READ MORE)

Calm comfort in Basra's British hospital - There is a bunch of non-uniformed, true professionals who voluntarily risk the dangers of front-line operations to care for injured and sick Servicemen and women confined to hospital. Patients can turn to them for a sympathetic ear and practical help knowing that their worries are completely confidential and won't be passed up the chain of command. (READ MORE)

Teachers prepare to return to South Baghdad schools - For schoolchildren in the south Baghdad area, getting an education has become a difficult, even dangerous prospect in recent years. In some cases, supplies were short and facilities were in disrepair. Sometimes the teachers weren’t there. In a few cases, the schools themselves were all but gone. The area where the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division arrived in June 2007 had long been an insurgent stronghold, with many villages controlled by al-Qaeda terrorists who kept children, especially girls, from attending school. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces repel militant attack in Afghanistan ends in Pakistan - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 11, 2008) – Coalition forces were engaged by anti-Afghan forces in Konar province on Tuesday during an operation that had been previously coordinated with Pakistan. Coalition forces began receiving small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from an unknown number of anti-Afghan forces approximately 200 meters inside Konar province. Coalition forces returned fire in self-defense. (READ MORE)

Militants killed, detained in Paktika province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 11, 2008) – Several militants were killed and 12 were detained Tuesday during a Coalition forces operation to disrupt militant operations in Paktika province. The operation also resulted in four civilian deaths and one civilian injury. Coalition forces searched compounds in Mata Khan District targeting two militant leaders. One targeted militant is known to have facilitated IED attacks against Afghan government and Coalition forces, and the other is involved in foreign fighter operations. (READ MORE)

TA mark their territory - Territorial Army troops from Northern Ireland have taken over the key role of ensuring the security of Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. One hundred and forty soldiers from Imjin Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, will be working in and around the large base for the next six months as part of Bastion's force protection company. (READ MORE)

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