July 14, 2008

From the Front: 07/14/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

In their own words:
48th Combat Support Hospital FOB Salerno / Khowst, Afghanistan: I'm back!!!!! - For those of you that may be wondering, there is a very good reason why I haven't posted in a while. I WAS AT HOME ON MY MID-TOUR R&R WITH MY FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was such a wonderful experience to see them all again. My wife and daughters were there to greet me at the airport. Each had some kind of "soldier dad"/"soldier husband" shirt on. We all had such a great time. I got back a couple of weeks ago but we have been really busy AND I forgot the password to the site. Luckily I had saved the email that had it...lol. Things are pretty much the same here. Its still hot, its still stinks, and its still a war zone. Things have been fairly busy the past couple of weeks. It comes in spurts. I must say that it is nice knowing that our time here is getting shorter and shorter. (READ MORE)

A Battlefield Tourist: Militant Confederacy Behind Deadly Assault in Kunar - The former governor of Nuristan, Tammim Nuristani, says that a confederation of militants including Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami as well as members of Pakistan’s outlawed Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, were behind the attack that nearly overran a US/Afghan military base, killing nine Americans and wounding 15 others. Nuristani, fired as governor of Nuristan last week for criticizing a US air attack that may have killed 22 civilians, said the militants gave civilians in nearby Wanat the opportunity to leave before the assault. Many left, but many stayed and helped the fighters. “They all came together for this one.” said Nuristani. (READ MORE)

Brad's Excellent Vacation: Not Going Home Just Yet - I am leaving Kuwait, but I am not yet going home. I have volunteered for another overseas tour. “Volunteered” is a bit of a stretch in this context, since in a way I don’t really have a choice. It’s a long story, but it boils down to this: if I want to stay in the Army at all, I have to stay deployed until some outstanding issues are settled with my security clearance. The Defense Investigative Service did a crappy job of assembling the “facts” from their investigation. I had some tax disputes with the IRS a few years ago, which have since been resolved (mostly in my favor). But the investigator painted a totally inaccurate picture, and made it look like I owe hundreds of thousands of dollars (which, from a security standpoint, would make me a bribery or espionage case just waiting to happen). As a result I had to document a bunch of stuff to prove they got it all wrong. Now I am waiting for the final adjudication. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Obama's plan to switch off the war - Let's see. Iran pressures Iraq's prime minister to push the Americans for a timetable for withdrawal. President Bush resists. And what does presidential candidate Barack Obama do? He writes an op-ed in the NYTimes that calls for abandoning Iraq's civilians, and he makes no mention of Iran's involvement in the region. Obama thinks Nouri Al Maliki's request for a timetable for withdrawal dovetails with the candidate's own position on Iraq. "That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war." Like that can be done with immediate withdrawal as his Web site indicates. And the region would be just fine at the mercy of Iran and al-Qaeda. Okay, the U.S. troops will follow the orders of the American Commander in Chief. They'd pack their stuff. But what about the Iran-backed Shiite militias? (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Stay fired up! - FALLUJAH, Iraq (June 25, 2008) – For those who accept the challenge to become a U.S. Marine, most never consider that one day they may again cross paths with their drill instructor. A person they once feared, and one who challenged them with constant mental frustration and pushed their physical abilities to the limit. That day came for Cpl. John Williams, a section leader with Mobile Section, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, when he reunited with his senior drill instructor from Platoon 1012, Company B, 1st Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. At the unit’s home station, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Williams was on duty the day Staff Sgt. William Willis checked in as the platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, Company I. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Bad Day in Mosul - (An Iraqi soldier describes the attack to Capt. Harper and his interpreter.) We heard the "Boom" from one of Mosul’s main roads. Then the ricochet of gunfire. Sergeant First Class Ronald Corella of Salinas, CA yelled- “Go ,Go” into his headset. Spc. Robert Hubbard stepped on the accelerator. Our Humvee sped through an intersection and weaved around an Iraqi Humvee partially blocking the road. The flames and gunfire pulled us to a stop. SFC Corella jumped out the passenger side, his soldiers from "Killer Troop" 3/3 ACR followed. A well-dress woman came limping toward us bleeding heavily from her face. She was followed by two companions leaning against each other. SFC Corella yelled for the medic as the women passed us. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban launch deadly attack on a combat outpost in Afghanistan's Kunar province - The Taliban launched a complex attack against a newly established combat outpost in the Pech district in Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar. Heavy fighting is currently underway, and US forces have taken multiple casualties in the attack. Nine US soldiers have been killed during the battle. The Taliban launched the attack early this morning at approximately 4:30 AM according to a press release from the International Security Assistance Force. The Taliban initiated the battle "with small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars using homes, shops and the mosque in the village of Wanat for cover." Afghan and US forces based at the outpost have fought back and called in artillery and helicopter support and airstrikes. (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: Life is Good - Below - back again in the USA for a couple weeks. This is the airport bus. I am back in the U.S. on my last R&R. I can easily see that my country that is prosperous, peaceful, clean and full of opportunity – and very green in Virginia. Yet all I hear on the news is how tough everything is. Maybe all those whiners should check out some other places. You really have to wonder about the points of reference. My point of reference is the 1970s, when I started to pay attention to things like jobs, the economy and the environment. Then like now, I was very concerned about the environment; it was a lot worse back then. Lest we forget, Lake Eire was declared dead. You couldn’t safely breathe the air in major cities. Many people seem unaware of that, and perhaps most think the opposite. In my economic courses back in college, I learned that unemployment of around 5% was “full employment” and almost impossible to sustain. (READ MORE)

Major John: So I'm on my way to the IZ... - And I am sitting in the terminal at the military side of Baghdad International Airport. A civilian fellow sitting next to me turns and asks if my first name is _____. He has it exactly right. He then introduces himeself... his work was featured here. We had exchanged some very pleasant e-mails, and he had come here to Iraq quite some time back. It's a small world out there for bloggers sometimes. (READ MORE)

Somethingonthestaff: The Heat - I don’t know how to explain how hot Iraq is. There is just no equivalent that I’ve ever experienced in the United States. I’ve lived in Arizona and El Paso, Texas, so the desert is nothing new for me. The temperature skyrockets from 90 to 125 every morning around 9 A.M. We spend the rest of the day avoiding sunlight and un-conditioned air. Riding around in humvees, walking, breathing and thinking are all undesirable activities in the Iraqi heat. The temperature will dip at night into the high 80s if we’re lucky. Leaving any place air conditioned is a hard decision. Do I really have to go to the bathroom? The port-a-potties are stinky saunas. Nothing like doing one’s business in a cloud of poop steam and melting plastic walls. (READ MORE)

Tragically Famous: This is war. I'll make it my very own... - I'm standing on the edge of what I cannot escape. A tragic battle has risen within me. Sooner or later the vast fears of billions of individuals will concern me as well. Heaven versus Hell is a constant reminder of the consequences of our actions taken in this plane. The echoes of an eternity... wait inside of me. We are, without a doubt, the unwitting products of our environments. As we grow up, certain events mold and shape who we are. Our personalities are sculpted by religion, class of society, places we live, and the many people involved in our daily lives. Morals are created by the inevitability that you will inherently choose to do what is viewed as wrong. However minor these actions may be, there will still be judgment passed upon you. You, the defendant in these actions, will be found... lacking. Guilt, remorse - these are born within you as a failsafe of the soul. They keep you on track, and continue to guide your actions until you one day return to the earth. (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Bouhammer: Have I failed? - Where are the colonels, generals and other people that that were spouting things like ” there is no war…you are just going to hand out candy and pat kids on the head”? Where are they now? The four things that need to happen to turn the tide in Afghanistan 1. Replace the supposed peace-dreaming optimist leadership at Eggers and Baghram with real war-fighters. 2. Put 10,000 more troops in there now (2 full spectrum brigades and 1 more brigade for Task Force Phoenix to train police). 3. Quit acting like Afghanistan is an easy tour and get everyone to the lowest private and all military branches to realize they are in a asymmetrical battlefield where you can die every time you are outside the wire, much less in the FOB itself. 4. Put the Americans back in charge of 207th and 205th Corp AOs. (NATO had their chance, but this is not a fight for the weak at heart). (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
MND-B Soldiers detain known criminal, locate mortar cache (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers detained a known criminal and located a mortar cache July 14 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained the criminal, who was known for roadside bomb attacks against Coalition forces, at approximately 2 a.m. in the Zubaida neighborhood,. The patrol brought the suspect to a CF base for processing. (READ MORE)

Istaqlal IPs graduate, join force - BAGHDAD – More than 750 members officially joined the Iraqi Police force in the northern Baghdad district of Istaqlal during a ceremony July 13. Once the ceremony in Boob al-Sham was complete, the new members of the Iraqi Security Forces began operations in the Istaqlal district’s Husseiniya, Boob al-Sham and Sheik Sa’ad. “Obviously, it puts more security personnel on the street, which always helps us because we partner with the Iraqi Security Forces in everything we do,” said Capt. Matthew Jensen. (READ MORE)

2 IPs killed, 9 injured in Karkh district blast - BAGHDAD – Two Iraqi Police were killed and nine IPs were injured when a homemade explosive device was thrown and detonated under an overpass in the Karkh district of Baghdad at approximately at 12 p.m. July 14. The nine wounded were taken to the Karkh hospital and treated for their injuries. “This is a despicable act and we will work in partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces to determine who was responsible,” said Maj. J. Frank Garcia. (READ MORE)

Coalition operations continue pressure on al-Qaeda - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces targeted al-Qaeda in Iraq operations at all levels in Mosul and the Tigris River Valley Monday, detaining five suspected terrorists. In Mosul, Coalition forces detained three suspects while pursuing a close associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders responsible for attacks on security forces protecting civilians within the city. In the target building, Coalition forces found weapons and grenades, which they safely disabled and confiscated. (READ MORE)

Iraqi CSWAT teams capture two suspected Special Groups criminals in separate operations - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Company Special Weapons and Tactics teams captured two Special Groups criminals in separate operations around central Iraq July 12. Hillah CSWAT captured a Special Groups criminal believed to be responsible for weapons smuggling and improvised explosive device, indirect fire and small arms fire attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces. The man is said to be planning future attacks, and is suspected of conducting an IED attack against the Quick Reaction Force from the Hillah U.S. Regional Embassy Office in June 2008. (READ MORE)

IA, MND-C Soldiers provide medical treatment to Juhaysh residents - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Center Soldiers provided medical assistance to residents of Juhaysh in Wasit during a cooperative medical engagement July 9. Soldiers from the 32nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, secured the area along with Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and used a school as a makeshift clinic to offer care to local Iraqis. Village residents poured in from the streets. (READ MORE)

Daughters of Iraq graduate in Diyala Province - DIYALA, Iraq – Iraqi women graduated from a security training course at the Alabarrah Police Station in the Diyala Province of Iraq to become members of the Daughters of Iraq July 13. One-hundred-and-thirty women attended the course and 70 represented them at the graduation. Several Iraqi children celebrated the occasion by joyfully belting out the Iraqi National Anthem to a crowd of women ready to assist with the protection of their nation. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces put spotlight on corruption - Baghdad – Iraqi Inspector Generals from the ministries of Defense and Interior and other senior representatives from the Government of Iraqi met Thursday, to focus on the importance of eliminating corruption as a means of stopping terrorism and increasing public confidence in the government. Hosted by the Ministry of Interior in partnership with the Ministry of Defense, participating organizations included the Prime Minister’s Office, Commission on Integrity, Iraq Council of Representatives, U.S. Embassy, United Nations Development Programme and Multi-National Force-Iraq. (READ MORE)

Terrorist operations thwarted, weapons destroyed - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists and destroyed three weapons caches while disrupting bombing and foreign terrorist networks during operations in central and northern Iraq ending July 12. Intelligence reports indicate an area near Samarra, about 110 kilometers north of Baghdad, is being infiltrated by al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists who impose extremist values on local Iraqis and attack security forces. Terrorists reportedly have used the area to serve as a supply base and safe haven for foreign terrorist and attack cells in the region. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces provide medical care in Helmand - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – (July 14, 2008) – Coalition personnel provided medical care to local citizens in Musa Qaleh District, Helmand province Friday. A Coalition medical team conducted medical screenings and provided routine treatment to more than 200 local citizens including approximately 90 children in Chardeh Village. (READ MORE)

Several insurgents killed in Oruzgan province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (July 13, 2008) – Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces killed several insurgents while conducting a security patrol in Shaheed Hasas District, Oruzgan province, Saturday. ANSF and Coalition forces noticed several armed militants moving into a fighting position. The militants attacked the patrol with small arms fire. The joint forces responded with small arms fire killing several insurgents. (READ MORE)

40 militants killed in Helmand province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (July 13) — Afghan National Security Force and coalition forces have killed at least 40 insurgents in an on-going operation in Helmand province. The fight began when insurgent forces attacked an ANSF and coalition security patrol July 12 in Sangin district. From multiple concealed and fortified positions, the insurgent used small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The ensuing fight led ANSF and coalition forces to return fire and call for precision air strikes. (READ MORE)

Engineers Survey Afghanistans High Ground - COMBAT OUTPOST ZEROK, Afghanistan (July 12, 2008) – It doesn’t seem like much, just a small and rather steep looking hill outside Combat Outpost Zerok. It’s not until you get close to the hill named after a major league baseball team, that you get a true appreciation for just how challenging the grade really is. For the small survey team from Task Force Castle’s 420th Engineer Brigade, the hill was the objective for an early morning topographical survey. (READ MORE)

On her way to recovery: Coalition doctors remove tumor, save Afghan girl - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (July 13, 2008) — On a warm morning in early June, a worried Abdullah Haqim walked with his daughter into the weekly Coalition medical clinic in Farah province, Afghanistan. 6 year-old Gulzana was sick and local Afghan doctors could not diagnose or treat the painful swelling that had engulfed her left eye. The father watched with a worried expression as a U.S. Special Operations Forces doctor examined the tumor that covered her eye. (READ MORE)

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