July 29, 2008

From the Front: 07/29/2008

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

In their own words:
A Major's Perspective: More Trouble on the Border Part Two - As we saw from yesterdays activity in Afghanistan the problem with the border region is not getting better. The Pakistani Prime Minister was in Washington today, and not much came out of that. What I did find very interesting was what the NATO Secretary General had to offer on his trip to Afghanistan two days ago. “The battle came as NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, warned of critical danger to Afghanistan, with foreign fighters and terrorists trying to destabilize the country. He called for greater international attention to the problem. ‘Those people — and we see too many of them in recent weeks and months — who are coming into Afghanistan to create mischief and havoc, those people who want to destabilize Afghanistan, and those people are killing NATO forces as well, are the same who are after the destabilizing of Pakistan and the destabilizing of other parts of the world,’ he said.” (READ MORE)

A Battlefield Tourist: US Had Warning of Attack in Nuristan - Qourbon had been in the capital of Kabul just a few days when he got a call from relatives telling him things in Nuristan were turning bad. Not only that, but his home village of Want was about to become the epicenter of trouble. As an interpreter for US forces, Qourbon is seen as both a patriot and a traitor. In the mirror, Qourbon sees a man who helps those that are helping his country during some very dark times. Now that war was on the doorstep of his small mountain village, he knew he had to return home. His first thought is to help protect his family. A second thought is to warn the soldiers he’s committed to that a large scale militant attack on their base is imminent. Several email interviews were completed with “Qourbon” for this story, whose name has been changed in an attempt to protect his identity. (READ MORE)

Back on the Homefront: I Miss Daddy...part 2 - So tonight I sit and write about MY dad. Today would have been his 76th birthday and I miss him greatly. You see, my father died almost exactly three years ago, during Micah's first deployment. In fact, Micah was home for his first R & R when my father died. My father was a great man. Its very hard to put into words just how much he meant to me. He was always there to support me in everything I did. I will never forgot his words to me when I decided to change my career path during college. I started out Pre-Med and after two years discovered that I didn't really want to be a doctor, but rather a teacher. Everyone told me I was crazy to switch to a lower paying job...but when I broke the news to my parents, my father gave me the best advice. He said "I don't care if you choose to be a ditch digger. As long as you enjoy what you're doing and it makes you happy, that's all that matters." Somehow, he knew that's exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in time. (READ MORE)

Jake's Life: Update on Jake in Afghanistan - Jake's mom and I were able to talk to Jake Sunday 7/27. He sounded in good spirits. He is currently deployed in an area that is far removed from any western comforts. There is no air conditioning and no internet. When I asked him how long it would be before he got back to a base where he could kick back and enjoy some down time, he replied that he expected to be in his current AO until the end of his deployment. He said he is getting packages ( one his mom had sent took almost 4 weeks) and he asked me to again extend his thank you's. When he does eventually get some internet he will extend thanks personally. The Taliban is very active in the areas he is patrolling and Jake's team is getting outstanding artillery and air support. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Series of suicide bombings mark Shia pilgrimage to Baghdad - At 8 a.m. this morning I was awoken by one of the largest-sounding explosions I've heard. Followed by gunshots. I looked out the hotel window of where I was staying and saw the security detail looking up, probably at the rooftop guards, but no one appeared too concerned. They knew we weren't the ones being attacked. The neighborhood was being rocked by suicide attacks targeting Shias while they marched toward the Kadhimya shrine where one of their important Imans is buried. The BBC story reported twenty five people dead and about 70 wounded in another attack by women suicide bombers who conceal their bombs under dresses (and who must have been extremely hard to pick out in the crowd of pilgrims.) The NYT story reported that the attack was conducted by three women using suicide vests who struck minutes apart. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: New sheik takes stand against AQI - SITCHER, Iraq (July 24, 2008) – Marines and Iraqi tribal and security officials gathered near the Sitcher Iraqi Police Station to celebrate the inauguration of a new local sheik July 24. Amar Abdullah Husain al-Jumaili received his official appointment as a sheik, replacing his uncle, Sheik Ahmed Sarham, who was killed along with 20 other sheiks and three Marines after a suicide bombing at a meeting in Karma. Marines of 2nd Platoon, Company G, Task Force 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, attended the ceremony to pay their respects. “Sheik (Amar) is a great man and a great leader, and I’m confident he’ll do good things here,” said 1st Lt. Hussein Yaghnam, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, Company G, Task Force 2/3. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Operation Omens of Prosperity begins in Diyala - The long awaited offensive to secure Diyala province has begun. Iraqi Army and police forces, backed by the US Army, officially started Operation Omens of Prosperity today. Iraqi sources originally said the operation would begin in the beginning of August. An indefinite curfew has been imposed on the province to restrict the movement of al Qaeda and allied terror groups. The bulk of the offensive is likely to take place in the rural northern regions of the province, where al Qaeda still maintains strongholds. US and Iraqi special operations forces have been hunting al Qaeda in the Hamrin Mountains, which span Diyala, Salahadin, and Tamin provinces. This area is a major fallback position for al Qaeda in Iraq and allied insurgent groups. (READ MORE)

Major John: Oh no, I am "Them" - I have had the most terrible realization in the whole time I have been here in Iraq. Since I moved up to Baghdad and began working for MNSTC-I, I have become one of the people at the "Puzzle Palace". I'm one of the guys at the Head Shed. I'm part of the "they" as in "they @#$%ed things up, back there in Baghdad" as spoken by people in the field (I know, I was one of 'em). Oh no, I might become one of "THEM"! I swear I will do everything I can to not become one of the faceless bureaucrats at the "flagpole". I don't want to be Them. (READ MORE)

Sergeant Grumpy: Justice for Bosnia? - After years on the run, the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, was captured in Serbia last week. This man played a big role in stoking the fires of hatred and genocide in Bosnia Herzegovina. While all sides in this terrible three way civil war descended into the depths of human cruelty, Karadzic's forces led the way and were responsible for some of the most gruesome acts of inhumanity since WWII, and rival the behaviour of Al Qaeda in Iraq. This includes the round up and murder of 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995, and the vicious shelling campaign against Sarajevo (66 people were killed and 200 wounded in just one day, documented here.) It is particularly gratifying for me to see this bastard caught - catching him was one of our major "projects" in Bosnia, as "D" also discusses. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Army of Dude: Enemies With Benefits - Don't tell the pathetic non-serving members of the old media (and new media), but the surge wasn't wholly responsible for the drop in violence seen in Iraq over the last year. I have outlined the three main reasons violence has subsided, but one of the more important aspects is still largely misunderstood and mischaracterized by the punditry across the country. The 'awakening group' movement first appeared in Anbar in late 2005 (or if you're John McCain, it started in a time warp before and after the surge) and has since grown to a large, lethal force that battles elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq. That is usually where the media narrative leaves you, insinuating that these groups are patriotic volunteers casting out the demons of al-Qaeda. What they don't mention is both the original motivations for these groups and their history of battling American soldiers. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Inside Sadr City: Imam Ali Hospital - BAGHDAD — In the first years of the war, reporters would rush to the scene of car bombings. Now the American and Iraqi military block access to bombing sites until the damage can be cleaned up and the victims evacuated. One result of this policy is that the immediate aftermath of attacks in Iraq are no longer seen on television or in newspapers. To be sure, violence is down in Baghdad and many other cities in Iraq, but it has not disappeared. Today, when many reporters and photographers hear a large explosion in the city they head to the nearest hospital to document the dead and wounded as they are brought to morgue or emergency room. In Sadr City, that means traveling to one of four hospitals. (READ MORE)

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