June 16, 2008

From the Front: 06/16/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
James Aalan Bernsen: Iraqi Soccer, cheerleaders and the Civil War - It's been very quiet in recent days. So quiet, in fact, that one would hardly think there's a war on. At least around these parts. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean the place has gotten entirely safe. Forget the insurgency, an entirely new danger faces us: Iraqi Soccer. Last night, the Iraqi national Soccer team faced its biggest challenge yet. The team, whose dramatic rise to greatness despite the war and violence, faced a team that on paper should have destroyed them: China. And as they have done so often before, the Iraqi team rose to the challenge and defeated the Chinese in a stunning upset. I was at work at the time this happened, and the first I knew was when an Army Sergeant came into the office. "I nearly got shot this morning," he said. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: European Interlude I - “Dude, for the love of God, if you remember anything while you’re in Poland, remember this – don’t drink the Windex.” Those were MadBeard’s first words to me as I stepped off the plane; express shipment sent straight from Iraq. What two kids from the American West were doing in Warsaw was as much a mystery to us as anyone else, yet there we were. Him, the wandering freelancing computer programmer, too brilliant for traditional pathways, me, a very confused soldier in need of a break. What better place for a break than passing out on top of the Iron Curtain. I think Churchill said that once. Maybe not. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Ramadi market streets vibrant with life - RAMADI, Iraq (June 10, 2008) – In a small, granite-floored room, a group of Marines eagerly wait alongside a squad of Iraqi Police for their foot patrol to begin. Lt. Col. Brett A. Bourne, battalion commander of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, enters the room full of confidence and asks “Are we ready to go out?” Without delay, he receives a resounding “Yes” from both groups. The Marines and Iraqi Police, decked out in full gear, began the patrol in a dust storm towards the marketplace, or as the local Iraqis call it—the souk. Upon arriving at the vibrantly colored shopping area, the Marines and Iraqi Police immediately received smiles, hand shakes and greetings of “Al salaam a’alaykum’s,” which is a term of endearment and greetings meaning “God be with you.” The two forces have made their presence known in the souk, they are here for one thing: the people. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Lowered violence in Iraq gives hope to Marines, Iraqis - HABBANIYAH, Iraq (June 11, 2008) – Two years ago, al-Anbar was said to be the most violent province in Iraq. It was a place where the insurgency in Iraq had begun and where the bloodiest battles took place. Today, thanks to the hard work and sacrifices made by the Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen who served in the area, it has become a model for the rest of Iraq. Marines of 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, have put in countless hours and have risked their lives every day to ensure their area of operations within al-Anbar Province stays that way until they leave Iraq and beyond. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Marriages suffer over 15-month deployments - In the phone room on any base in Iraq you can hear the strain, the distance burning through a soldier's voice. For some the months of missing each other have reduced a relationship to numb conversations. For others, the conversation steers towards the kids. The saddest ones revolve around where the money is going, and even suspicions that a wife or girlfriend is messing around. Soldiers come to me with “home front” issues more than any other, Specialist Patrick Ory, 25, of Vallejo, CA said. Ory is a behavioral health specialist for the 426th Brigade Support Battalion of the 1st/101st ABN. Martial problems are the most common, he said. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Strike targets Baitullah Mehsud's hideout in Pakistan - The US military may have targeted Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud Several in an airstrike on June 14, according to several reports from Pakistan. Baitullah's hideout in the town of Makeen in South Waziristan was hit with three missiles, according to Geo TV and the Daily Times. Only one person was confirmed killed in the strike. Baitullah is not believed to have been killed. Baitullah, the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, sheltered in a safe house in Makeen run by Anwar Shah at the end of December 2008 after claiming credit for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination. (READ MORE)

Navy Gal in Iraq: Decisions, decisions... - As I am fast approaching the mid-point of this helacious deployment I am facing many decisions as to what I will do once this is over. I am in a very unique situation that all my crap is in storage back home, I have no bills, I have no debts, I have nothing holding me back. For the first time in my life, I have no responsibilities except to figure out where I want to land and that feels awesome!!! The past 7 years have been a prison and I was trapped, well I'm finally breaking free. I am about to embark on the greatest journey of my life and I'm ready to grab it by the horns and enjoy the ride. I can't wait to see New York City on New Year's Eve and then maybe it will be off to the slopes in Colorado for some kick-ass skiing. Or maybe it will be sunny Southern Cali for a swim in the ocean or it could be a sourdough bread bowl with some yummy, warm clam chowder in San Fran. Decisions, decisions...... (READ MORE)

1st Marine Logistics Group: 2nd LAAD Battalion meritoriously promotes 7 NCOs - AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq (June 4, 2008) – They are focused, determined, proud and humble. These are the words a sergeant major uses to describe his Marines. 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group 28, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, serving directly for 1st Marine Logistics Group, has meritoriously promoted five corporals and two sergeants to their ranks within the two month time period of May and June. “When a Marine gets promoted in a combat zone, it’s a big deal,” said Sgt. Major Todd M. Parisi, battalion sergeant major for 2nd LAAD Bn., as he spoke to the newly promoted noncommissioned officers in his office. “You have put yourselves in that top percentage that separates you from your peers.” Some of the Marines attained their new ranks after a promotion board and others due to exceptional actions while serving here in Iraq. (READ MORE)

A Major's Perspective: What Makes Afghanistan Different? - As a Nation we are fighting a large campaign across the entire globe, that has many different facets to it. Iraq and Afghanistan are two of those facets and quite correctly the two main ones. But just because they are the two main areas, does not mean that they are anything like each other. One of the first things that a buddy told me when I was preparing to go on my second tour overseas to Afghanistan, was forget Iraq in general; remember how to fight, but do not make Afghanistan into Iraq in your head. He was right. They are nothing like each other. Some tactics carry over between the two areas, and leadership never changes, but the countries are vastly different and the fight in each is different. Afghanistan is comprised of many different ethnic groups of people. The largest of these being the Pashtun, and followed by the Uzbek's, the Tajik's, the Turkomen, the Hazara, the Nuristani, the Balochi, and the Pashai. The challenge is worse then just that though. (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Iraq: The Purgatorium: "Home" - We're back now. Back in the states. Back to the booze. Back to the insanity of normal living. Fresh introduction to ridiculous gas prices. Great guys coming home to disastrous situations. The most unexpected, failed marriaged, and thankya very much Uncle Sam. Seeing as ol' Unc gives such a shit about fixing these quiet problems. Cheating wives. And who can blame who? Gone for over a year, what is a human being to do? Just don't discredit the army, and everything is ok. Fuck you, Joe. Figure it out. The Army cares about families. Really, it does. And that's why the happiest couples are in such an interesting state. That's why a married guy is crashing in the extra space in my room. Because we're all such heroes, we're all supported oh so much. (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure: First Conop To Bagram; Meeting LTC SFowski - In mid April of 2007, SFC O, SSG Maniac, and I learned that we were being detached from our team and assigned to the ANP mission. It was a huge disappointment coupled with fear of the unknown; we had trained with our team at Ft Riley to mentor the ANA. Now we were being separated not only from our original mission, but from our team as well. It's funny; you may not like everyone on your team, but you still don't want to be separated from them. That's just fear of the unknown, plain and simple. None of us wanted to be separated from the team. We also didn't want to be on the ANP mission. We had no idea what to expect at all. After the surprise of arriving in Afghanistan, which nothing can adequately prepare you for, now there was even more unknown to deal with. (READ MORE)

From the Home Front:
Courage Without Fear: Nighttime Rambling - We're soon hitting the 6 month mark for having Micah deployed...if you count the time he was gone working in Michigan, its been almost 9 months without him here. Through that time, I've had many ups and downs but no time to write about them...being a full time high school teacher and trying to take care of 2 boys, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 2 gerbils (until they recently died) left me no time for anything other than laundry and dishes just to survive. I am now off for the summer and have a bit of time to write once in awhile. Last night both the boys fell asleep relatively early and I had a chance to start writing thoughts. I sent it to Micah and he thought I should post it....rambling, but still my thoughts for good or bad. I'm sure more will come.... How can you describe what it is really like to have your husband deployed? All I can say is that at times it is more difficult than a divorce or death, as I can imagine it to be. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Iraqi Army Soldiers seize munitions in Sadr City - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, seized a munitions cache while conducting search operations in Sadr City June 14. At approximately 2:30 p.m., the Iraqi Army Soldiers discovered an 82 mm mortar base, two 60 mm mortar rounds, four improvised explosive device initiation devices, three 40 mm mortar round fillings and nine hand grenades. (READ MORE)

IA Soldiers find multiple weapons caches in Sadr City - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, discovered multiple weapon caches in Sadr City June 15. Around 4:30 a.m., 3rd Brigade, 1st IA Soldiers found a weapons cache consisting of three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 250 rounds of ammunition, five RPG charges, eight RPG rounds and 550 meters of wire. (READ MORE)

ISF graduate from National Police Warrior Leader - BAGHDAD – Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are the values instilled into the U.S. Army’s noncommissioned officer corps during their NCO education system courses. The Warrior Leader Course is the first in a series of five to train the NCOs and is designed for Soldiers in the ranks of specialist, corporal and sergeant. (READ MORE)

INPs, MND-B Soldiers confiscate weapons caches throughout Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi National Policemen and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized weapons caches throughout Baghdad June14. Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), found four buried improvised explosive devices at approximately 7 a.m. in the Kadamiya district of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army, MND-B seize four caches throughout Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army seized a huge weapons cache in West Rashid and, along with Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized three additional weapons and munitions caches throughout Baghdad, June 14. Earlier in the day, Iraqi Army soldiers with the 44th Brigade, 11th IA Division, confiscated 14 AK-47 assault rifles, a Siminov sniper rifle, and a heavy machine gun in the Kadhamiyah district of Baghdad at approximately 9 a.m. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army seizes large cache of rockets - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraq Army Division discovered a large weapons cache in the Rashid district of Baghdad, June 15. The cache consisted of 90 122 mm rockets with fuses, more than 10 claymores, components to make several hundred explosively formed projectiles, more than 20 blocks of C-4 explosives, and more than 10 sticks of TNT. (READ MORE)

AQI Bombing Networks disabled - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 33 suspected terrorists Saturday and Sunday during operations targeting al-Qaeda‘s terrorism and facilitation networks around Iraq. A precision operation in Baghdad Saturday netted a man believed to participate in attacks against Coalition and Iraqi security forces. He is also wanted for his ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders and car-bombing cells. During a Sunday operation west of Baghdad, Coalition forces detained two additional AQI suspects. (READ MORE)

Iraqis Take Lead During Combined Medical Assistance Event in Numaniyah - FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — Iraqis took the lead during a medical assistance event at the hospital in Numaniyah last week. Iraqi Soldiers delivered boxes of medical supplies and water to the facility, while seven Iraqi doctors, a doctor and a nurse from the 1st Georgian Infantry Brigade, a dentist from the Salvadoran Cuscatl├ín Battalion and U.S. Army medics treated more than 150 patients. (READ MORE)

Returning Army Engineer Reunited with Iraqi Engineers After Five Years - FOB KALSU — He was among the first helping rebuild key facilities in southern Iraq shortly after Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled. This month, Lt. Col. Michael Darrow returned to Iraq on another U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mission. This time he will be the Officer-in-Charge of the Forat Area Office overseeing 42 construction projects valued at $140 million in Babil, Karbala, Najaf, Al Qadisiyah and Wasit. (READ MORE)

Basra Children’s Hospital Construction on Schedule - BASRA — The new Basra Children’s Hospital, a 94-bed pediatric cancer treatment facility, is currently under construction and is scheduled to open for patients in February 2009. The Gulf Region South Corps of Engineers Basra Area Office is responsible for over 40 reconstruction sites in the city. Site surveys are an integral part of the process to ensuring that projects are completed on time so Iraqis in the city have the infrastructure they need for every part of their lives. (READ MORE)

South Baghdad Schools Repaired - FOB KALSU — For school children 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 (BCT), 3rd Infantry Division arrived in June 2007, had long been an insurgent strong hold, with many villages controlled by al-Qaida terrorists who kept children, especially girls, from attending school. With no Coalition or Iraqi security force presence, local schools suffered the same fate as many farms and businesses in the area. They were looted and damaged, even becoming battlegrounds. (READ MORE)

Lioness Program Trains, Maintains Female Search Team - HABBINIYAH — As automatic rifles produce repeated pops at the slow-steady, squeeze of their triggers, the desert sun beats intently on the backs of Marines lying in the prone position, protected by a layer of combat gear. After unloading, they remove their helmets revealing a mess of untied hair and smartly sweep it back to regulated perfection. The training excursion, outfitted to prepare them for increasing the security of Iraq’s cities across the region, lasts a week and afterwards the Marines become a part of the Lioness Program. (READ MORE)

Insurgents killed, detained in Kandahar - KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 15, 2008) – More than 15 insurgents were killed by Afghan National Army and Coalition forces in a farming compound west of Rawonay, Kandahar province, Saturday, during a search for escaped prisoners from Kandahar City. A large cache of munitions and IED components were discovered during the search. The combined forces used precision air strikes to destroy the compound after insurgents attacked with small-arms fire. (READ MORE)

Militants killed in Helmand province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 15, 2008) – Several militants were killed during a Coalition forces operation Saturday in Helmand province targeting a Taliban leader and weapon smuggler. The target of the operation was a known militant leader in the Garmser District responsible for smuggling weapons into the area. (READ MORE)

Fallen PRT Gardez members honored at memorial service - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 14, 2008) — Members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Gardez, along with 1/61 Calvary Soldiers and other members of various groups here, gathered at the Raven Landing Zone, June 9, to honor the life and sacrifices of two fallen Soldiers: Army Maj. Scott Alan Hagerty and Spc. Derek David Holland. Army Maj. Scott Alan Hagerty, age 41, a PRT Civil Affairs team leader, was killed June 3, 2008 in the line of duty when the humvee he was riding in hit an Improvised Explosive Device. (READ MORE)

Combined Patrol attacked in Uruzgan province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 13, 2008) –Approximately 17 militants were killed after they attacked an Afghan National Security Force and Coalition force reconnaissance patrol in the Tarin Kowt District, Uruzgan province Thursday. While investigating an area used by militants to attack an ANA checkpoint earlier this week, the combined patrol was ambushed by militants with small-arms and indirect fire. The combined patrol returned small-arms fire and the militants moved into a fortified position near an orchard. (READ MORE)

Coalition precision strike destroys militant compound in Ghazni - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 13, 2008) – Coalition forces conducted an operation Thursday in Ghazni province targeting anti-government command networks in the area. Coalition forces searched a compound in Andar District targeting a militant leader known to have conducted attacks against Afghan government and Coalition forces. During their search, Coalition forces did not encounter any militants or other occupants in the compound. (READ MORE)

Militants killed in Paktya province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 13, 2008) – Several militants were killed Thursday during a Coalition forces operation to disrupt anti-government operations in Paktya province. The operation also resulted in one female civilian casualty. Coalition forces searched several compounds in Zurmat District while targeting two militant leaders known to have facilitated foreign fighter attacks against Afghan government and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

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