August 19, 2008

From the Front: 08/19/2008

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

In their own words:
Collabman's Thoughts: Thinking... - Evening...The embedded photographers accompanying the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in the Diyala province continue to provide insight into the work of our warriors. Patrol, search and hunt...then repeat the cycle - every day. Some of the days turn into extended nights. We have noticed in our last few conversations with Chris that he has been thinking a lot about what he wants to do next after this deployment. What should his future look like? Where should he be in a couple of years from today? Does he reenlist? Does he leave the military and take advantage of the GI Bill and go to college? If he stays in, does he cross train or stay with the 2nd SCR? Decisions, many decisions. (READ MORE)

Nathan Webster: Sons of Iraq patrol recon – building relationships one night at a time - For the $300 a month the US pays the Sons of Iraq members in the Tarmiyah area, and across Iraq, there does come accountability. Nightly post-curfew recon patrols by American soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division make sure the Sons of Iraq checkpoints are being manned as they are paid to be. “It’s their town. They can sit at these checkpoints,” said Staff Sergeant Christopher Wessling, one of Alpha Company’s platoon sergeants. “That’s the one thing they can do.” (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: A Lot Changes in a Year - I did a telephone interview today and some of the journalist’s questions made me think – again – about this year has meant. A lot happens in a year. As I think about what I have accomplished and what I still can do in my last month here, I understand that the inquiry is meaningless unless it is put into context. I need to think about what WE - my team, the Marines, the people of Anbar and our country generally - have accomplished. Below is a rock drill, used to figure out where vehicles or assets should go. They usually no longer use actual rocks, but it is nice to occassionally see the old ways. We accomplished a lot. We have created options. At the end of 2006, it was hard to believe success in Iraq was possible. Some thought that our only option was to get out as soon as possible – to end the war by accepting defeat. (READ MORE)

Inner Prop: Khost, ISAF? - This report this morning says that a base near Khost, Afghanistan was attacked by suicide bombers. There are two bases (or at least there were when I left) near Khost, but they were both US bases. The good news is the suicide bombers got their wish and there were no ISAF casualities. Unfortunately there were civilian casualities and that is very sad. Their families have my sympathy. If this was FOB Salerno, then given that the attackers were engaged 1000 yards from the base with small arms indicates to me that the Afghans actually did the direct fighting until the helicopters got there. There is a defensive ring manned by Afghans about 400 yards beyond the actual base wire (I'm not giving any secrets away here, the towers are plainly visable). (READ MORE)

Rocinante's Burdens: Day 59. Pomposity - Shamania is over. The walkers have all gone home. Nothing bad happened. We expected some women suicide bombers to disrupt things. This is no secret, they were interviewed on the news. They were a no show. I have been here for almost 2 months now. In that time, I have not heard a shot fired, a bomb explode or anyone being attacked. Granted all that may change at any time. I just say so so that you will know the current conditions here. This guy sent me an e-mail, unsolicited, asking me to add him to my blogroll. He said he has seen my site. If he had, he would know that I don't have a blogroll. So I sent him a reply e-mail to tell him so. (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: A Tale of Two Titties - I wrote this while smoking a CAO Brazilia. I’m sitting on my porch, astounded at the earthy complexity of this fabulous cigar. Everything from the packaging to the leaf wrapper is flawless. The fact that this CAO Brazilia was sent to me by an intelligent, sophisticated, and glorious blonde only adds to its pleasure. Life is good when you have good friends. I check my e-mail, hoping for some more fan mail to winnow away the time until bed. I have some, but it’s not exactly fan mail. I notice that it is from my brother-in-law, a New York Jew who has never grasped why I wear the uniform. Now in order to tell you that story, I have to tell you this one: (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Lt Nixon: Diyala Province Update - Iraq Vet and VFF member, David Bellavia, offers this dispatch available on popular milblog BlackFive from an embed in Diyala province. Good to see that COIN-doctrine is being utilized successfully and that the Chief of Diyala police, whose sectarian allegiance has been extremely questionable, was recently replaced by the governor of the province. But, Diyala has been a hotbed of insurgent activity after the Anbar Awakening in 2006 and the initial surge in Baghdad in 2007 pushed many militants into the province. To complicate problems, the police force is primarily Shi'ite while the majority of the population is Sunni, and it borders Iran. This allows for exportation of weapons across the porous border, including donkeys smuggling munitions into the province. (READ MORE)

Welcome Home:
ManryMission: When Daddy Comes Marching Home Again - Dale arrived in Virginia to the accompaniment of the Manry Family Band: Josiah on Baritone, Abby on Flute, Gabe on Tambourine, and Zeke on Bongos. They played a rousing rendition of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” with a slight variation of the wording. It took Dale by surprise and gave him a good laugh. Although the kids were all mortified that their mother had made them do it, they received a round of applause from everyone in baggage claim. We celebrated with a dinner of burgers and fries at 5 Guys and ice cream sundaes at Jo Jos. The long, long, terribly long year is finally over. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Can civilian jurors understand combat decisions? - Former Marine Sgt. Jose Nazario goes on trial Tuesday in U.S. federal court for the alleged killing of four Iraqi prisoners during the battle for Fallouja in November 2004. It marks the first time a federal law has been used to prosecute a former Marine or soldier for actions taken during combat. Nazario's supporters doubt that civilians can possibly understand the mayhem and trauma of combat to render a fair verdict. (READ MORE)

Far from Beijing, he runs to forget - While runners in Beijing compete for medals, fame and fortune, Mahmoud Kamil Ahmed runs to forget. The Iraqi distance runner, who has represented his country in international competition, lost 27 members of his family a year ago when Sunni Muslim insurgents loyal to Al Qaeda in Iraq attacked their homestead north of Baghdad. Ahmed was not home at the time. He was in Cairo training for future competitions. But his mother, father and two brothers were among the dead. (READ MORE)

Muqdadiyah SWAT detains four suspected terrorists in separate operations (Balad) - BALAD, Iraq – Muqdadiyah Special Weapons and Tactics team detained four suspected terrorists in separate operations in Muqdadiyah Aug. 16-17. Muqdadiyah SWAT detained three suspected members of an al-Qaeda in Iraq improvised explosive device and rocket cell Aug. 17. One of the suspects is said to be the primary leader of the cell consisting of approximately 10 members. (READ MORE)

ISF capture two suspected criminals in separate operations (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces captured four suspected criminals during separate operations in central Iraq Aug. 16. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a suspected criminal and detained two others in the Baghdad area. The suspected criminal is said to be a top financier for criminal elements allegedly extorting money from the local Iraqis to finance weapons. (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B Soldiers seize weapons cache in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division -- Baghdad soldiers seized weapons throughout the Baghdad area Aug. 18. At approximately 10:30 a.m., Soldiers with 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division found a 122 mm rocket and 300 12.7 mm rounds northwest of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Iraqi and Coalition forces nab three wanted men - BAGHDAD – Iraqi and Coalition forces targeted al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders and networks, detaining 12 suspects Monday and Tuesday during operations in central and northern parts of the country. Iraqi and Coalition forces captured a regional AQI leader in Kirkuk Monday. The wanted man reportedly manages a network that provides components for homemade explosives from Basra to Mosul. (READ MORE)

Special Groups suspect turns informant after capture north of Baghdad - BAGHDAD – A Special Groups suspect turned into an informer Tuesday morning during operations in Qasarin, about 30 km north of Baghdad in Diyala Province. Coalition forces were in pursuit of a suspected Special Groups criminal, affiliated with the “Asaib al Haq” criminal ring. “Asaib al Haq,” is the name of the Shi’ite group which broke away from Muqtada al Sadr’s militia. (READ MORE)

National Police seize cache in New Baghdad - BAGHDAD – National Police officers seized a small cache in the New Baghdad district of eastern Baghdad Aug. 18. Police from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, uncovered a cache in the New Baghdad district just south of Sadr City. The cache consisted of a 155 mm artillery round with plastic explosives inside, a 120 mm illumination artillery round and an RPG7 rocket propelled grenade. (READ MORE)

5th IA Div. delivers food, supplies to Iraqi citizens - DIYALA, Iraq – Iraqi Army soldiers with the 5th IADivision, 18th and 21st Brigades, delivered food and other supplies to the villages of Wahid, Soqaha, Mola-Ead, Bani-Sayd and Arab Jabar in South Balad Ruz and Buritz Aug. 11-17. More than 310 bags of rice, flower, sugar, oil, lentils, vitamins and baby formula were distributed. The 5th IA Div. is currently planning more drops in the area. (READ MORE)

INPs find cache in Al Samari Mosque - BAGHDAD – Iraqi National Police seized a munitions cache in the Al Samari mosque in the Karadah district in eastern Baghdad Aug. 18. Police assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st National Police Division, and Soldiers from the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, conducted the combined operation. The NPs entered and searched the mosque as the Coalition forces provided an outer cordon of security. (READ MORE)

IA soldiers find large cache in Anbar (Karmah) - KARMAH, Iraq – Iraqi Army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Quick Reaction Force 2, 1st Iraqi Army discovered a large weapons cache north of Karmah Aug. 17. The soldiers found the cache buried in an underground container during a mounted patrol. The IA soldiers transported the weapons cache to their base for disposal. (READ MORE)

Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders in Ramadi - RAMADI — In most parts of the world a school house stands as a symbol - a symbol of education, of growth, of innocence. But in al-Anbar province, school houses had been used early in the war as a domicile for malicious acts conducted by insurgents against Coalition forces, not for educating the future leaders of tomorrow. (READ MORE)

Leaders in Tarmiyah Reaffirm Their Stand Against Extremists, Militants - BAGHDAD — Sheiks, local government officials and Iraqi Security Forces from the Tarmiyah area banded together to publicly reaffirm their stance against al-Qaida in Iraq at the Bukhari Hall in Tarmiyah, Aug. 14. The reaffirmation was a reaction to a recent attack by AQI forces in the area that killed five people, to include women, children and a Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier. (READ MORE)

Task Force 2/7 raids Taliban headquarters - HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Marines conducted their first major assault on a Taliban headquarters in NowZad, Afghanistan. The Marines’ major accomplishments of the raid were the destruction of several enemy buildings, fighting positions, IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and the capture of a Taliban fighter. (READ MORE)

US may take over Afghan anti-terrorist mission - Washington, Aug.18 : The United States is reportedly planning to take control of all military operations in Afghanistan next year with an Iraq-style troop surge after becoming frustrated with NATO's failure to defeat the Taliban. Plans are being drawn up to send as many as 15,000 extra troops to Afghanistan with a single US general always in command, as in Iraq, The Times quoted defence sources at the Pentagon, as saying. (READ MORE)

Oz troopers kill Taliban commander - Kabul, Aug.19 : Australian troops have killed a Taliban warlord who waged a campaign of intimidation and violence in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province. Mullah Akhtar Mohammed and his armed protection party were spotted in a remote area of Oruzgan last week and were killed with an air strike. (READ MORE)

Six suicide bombers attack US base in Afghanistan - Six suicide attackers were killed after a group of Taliban militants attacked a US military base in southeast Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, officials said Tuesday. The attack late Monday against Camp Salerno, a US military base in Khost province, came hours after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-filled vehicle outside the same base, killing 10 civilians and wounding 13. (READ MORE)

Anaba is named first peaceful district in Panjshir - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 13, 2008) — Government and military leaders, international representatives, and villagers packed into the common area of the new Anaba District Center in Panjshir province, Afghanistan, Aug. 11, to celebrate the naming of their district as ‘peaceful.’ Anaba is the first district in Panjshir to be labeled a peaceful district. (READ MORE)

New Bidding Process Creating Standards Afghanistan Can Grow With - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 13,2008) – The Kapisa and Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team, located on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, introduced a new bidding process which has been used as a basis by the U.N.’s Assistance Mission Afghanistan in proposals for Afghan donors and contributors recently. This new process was created to lessen the appearance of impropriety and to create a group-decision process. (READ MORE)

Tuning in to Kala Gush Radio - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 10, 2008) — With steady hands, Mohibullah, a broadcaster for Kala Gush Radio, held his cell phone up to a microphone to pick up the voice of a local Afghan, who was calling in to make a request. Out his window the purple mountains stood tall against the two small connexes that house the station, but the signal carries far, reaching the entire province of Nuristan. (READ MORE)

Increased security threat in Afghanistan - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Aug 18) – The Commander of the U.S. led Coalition, with guidance from Commander International Security Assistance Forces, has made the decision to inform the Afghan public of a heightened security threat based on credible intelligence reporting. These reports indicate that the enemies of the people of Afghanistan intend to attack civilian, military and government targets during Afghan Independence celebrations. (READ MORE)

ISAF commander condemns militant attack on U.S. base - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 18, 2008) – Militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne IED and attempted to detonate a second one outside a U.S. base in Khowst province this morning, killing ten and wounding another 13 Afghan civilians. "This is another example of the enemies of Afghanistan's complete disregard for the people of Afghanistan and the rule of law. I strongly condemn this callous and heartless attack on the people of Afghanistan on this highly significant day of national celebration,” said Gen. David D. McKiernan. (READ MORE)

Militants kill 10, wound 13 non-combatants in VBIED attack in Khost province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 18, 2008) – Militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne IED and attempted to detonate a second one outside a U.S. base in Khowst province this morning, killing ten and wounding another 13 Afghan civilians. The first explosion detonated outside the front gate of Forward Operating Base Salerno early this morning causing the casualties; however it did not penetrate the perimeter of the base. FOB Salerno is part of the U.S. contribution to ISAF. (READ MORE)

Militants killed in Kapisa province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 18, 2008) – Multiple militants were killed by Coalition forces during an operation to disrupt militant activities in Kapisa province, that also targeted a Taliban commander, Sunday. The force searched a compound in Tag Ab District targeting a Taliban commander responsible for smuggling foreign fighters into Afghanistan, as well as conducting IED attacks against Coalition and ISAF forces. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces detain militant in Khowst province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 18, 2008) – A militant, the target of the operation, was detained during a Coalition forces’ operation to disrupt militant networks in Khowst province, Sunday. The force searched compounds in Khowst District targeting the militant who has facilitated the movement of, and provided support to, foreign fighters coming into Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Several militants killed in Paktika Province - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Several anti-Coalition militants were killed by Afghan and Coalition Forces early this morning in Paktika Province during an operation to disrupt extremist activities in the area. Credible intelligence sources indicated violent extremist forces were hiding in Waza Khawa District. The combined force made their way to compounds in the district to conduct a search of the premises. (READ MORE)

Militants killed and detained, local woman injured - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 9, 2008) – An Afghan woman was medically evacuated after she was injured during a Coalition forces’ operation to disrupt militant activities in Paktika province, Zarghun Shah District, Friday. Coalition medical evacuation standards require that male family members escort female patients to the medical facility whenever possible. There were no male family members in the immediate area. The injured woman’s condition required immediate medical evacuation. (READ MORE)

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