August 20, 2008

From the Front: 08/20/2008

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

In their own words:
A Major's Perspective: Combat Medics and SSG Matt Sims - I have been remiss in not talking about a crucial element of our Military, and that is the Combat Medic. Within the Navy and Marine Corps they are called Corpsman or Independent Corpsman and within the Army they are Combat Medics. These young men, in every war that our nation has fought, have been on the frontline beside our Infantrymen taking care of them, and saving their lives. Within the Infantry they reside in our Rifle Platoons, Companies and Battalions, and the Marine Corps is quite similar. They are friends and brothers to their fellow, "grunts", but they are also saving angels on the battlefield. They put aside their personal safety under enemy fire to save the lives of our young men on the battlefield, and many times are the one that holds their hand as they die. (READ MORE)

Back on the Homefront: That's not that long.... - So, I headed back to work yesterday. I'm a high school math teacher, but the first two days were just teacher meeting/work days. I can't tell you how many times people would ask me where my husband was now...hmmm...we've been out of school for three months and he was supposed to be gone for a year...yep, he's still in Kuwait. Being a math teacher, this question really got to me!!! So then when they found out he was still gone, they would ask when he'll be home. I tell them maybe the end of Dec/beginning of Jan. Then I get the number two most annoying comment of the day. "That's not that long." (READ MORE)

Collabman's Thoughts: Stubbornly Violent... - Evening... The 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, in partnership with the Iraqi forces, continues operations in the Diyala province as they track, find and apprehend insurgents. More and more U.S. commanders are putting the onus on the Iraqi military to take the lead... Give the following story a read for insight on how the 2nd SCR is working...umm, pushing the Iraqis to step up and lead on the battlefield. I like what I see in this article and trust more of this will continue. Tell me what you think... Also, ever wonder why our warriors are working long hours? Note this quote from U.S. Army LTC Bob McAleer of Fires Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment: (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: New Special Groups splinter emerges on Iraqi scene - In the wake of Muqtada al Sadr’s defeat at the hands of the Iraqi and Coalition forces this spring and fall, Iran has increased its backing of splinter Shia terror groups operating in Iraq. A previously unknown group, known as the Asaib al Haq, or League of the Righteous, has recently appeared on Multinational Forces Iraq’s radar. On Aug. 19, the US military issued its first press release on the group, announcing the capture of four operatives in Diyala province. Multinational Forces Iraq provided exclusive details on the Shia terror group to The Long War Journal. Yesterday’s raid and subsequent press release was the first official mention of the League of the Righteous at Multinational Forces Iraq’s website. Coalition forces, likely members of Task Force 88, the special operations hunter-killer teams assigned to track al Qaeda and Shia terror groups in Iraq, targeted an operative from the League of the Righteous in the town of Qasarin: (READ MORE)

Paul Fanning: How to help us help the Afghans - The American people are just great. One of the side effects of the shift of news media attention from Iraq towards Afghanistan seems to be that more folks back home are looking into our situation here. Newspaper coverage of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, including coverage in The Daily Gazette, also seems to be helping to inform people at home what is happening and what we are doing. And, increasingly, they want to help. That is so American. Over here, we have soldiers who can't wait to participate in the next humanitarian support mission. That includes our hard-charging infantry troops assigned to our Security Force Battalion as well as members of the support team and the various headquarters sections. (READ MORE)

Matt Dupee: FOB Salerno withstands 2-day Taliban onslaught - Nearly 30 Taliban fighters attempted to storm a major US base in eastern Afghanistan a day after a double car bombing attack was attempted on the same base. Forward Operation Base Salerno, the biggest Coalition base in southeastern Afghanistan, withstood Monday’s failed car bombing attempt, but one of the bomber’s managed to detonate his vehicle at the base’s perimeter, killing 10 Afghans and injuring 13 others, according to a US military press statement condemning the attack. Afghan security personnel were quick to spot a second would-be suicide bomber and shot and killed the driver before he could detonate his car stuffed with explosives. A second man found inside the vehicle was detained by security forces. (READ MORE)

The Marching Camp: Posting, Interruptus - I began this post about a week ago. However, with a sporadic network connection and a lack of the touch of the Lady Muse, I haven't had time to bother finishing it up. So, let me say: I had eye surgery. The eye is healing rather nicely at this point. I'm going back to work with my unit's Rear Detachment until I am cleared to go back to Iraq where I belong. I was going to write about Georgia. What is there to say that hasn't been said already by smarter people than I? Not bloody much. Here's how my post of a week ago began: (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: Making a Life In Iraq - Few comments, just pictures. These are some of the daily life scenes from where our Marines live and work. You can make a home almost anywhere. (READ MORE)

Playing in the Sandbox: Balance - Reading through the various musings I've written over the last several months, I've noticed that a good majority of them have dealt with the darker side of this life under the unrelenting sun. Eternal optimist that I am, there is - of course - a sprinkling of more comedic observations that I've managed to dig out of the sand (e.g., suicidal donkeys and Mohammed Cobain). Today I caught myself wondering if the pervading darkness in my writing is more a reflection of the author or the environment. I have a preference, but the thought remains. The history and culture of the people I see on an almost daily basis is beyond any scope of understanding possible for anyone fortunate enough to have avoided birth into a land of such war and violence. Nearly every one of them has a relative who was killed or kidnapped or captured or one of any number of horrible fates that may befall a person. (READ MORE)

James Allen Bernsen: GRAVEYARD OF OLD T-WALLS - Among the most ubiquitous things on a U.S. base overseas are security barriers. They range from the lowly sandbag wall, to the low but more stout Jersey Barrier, to the massive T-Wall. They're used on our bases, out in town to protect Iraqi neighborhoods -- everywhere. In fact, the concrete wall-building industry is one of the biggest industries in Iraq right now. Hesco barriers. A frame of wire and cardboard filled with sand. These are portable, easy to put up, and you just add sand. They're better than nothing, but certainly not ideal. Over in a far corner of our base -- so close to the edge that you can look over the wall into a Baghdad neighborhood -- is a place where T-walls go to die. Or at least to wait. (READ MORE)

Soldier's Mom: Phone Call from Byron - I finally received a phone call from Byron - longest 4 weeks! He sounded really upbeat said they have been pretty busy but things have been relatively quiet. Can you believe that it is exactly one year ago this month that they arrived in Iraq? Such a long long time - but they are definitely coming close to the end of this deployment. He told me that he was playing basketball a few weeks ago when a female photographer (Maya Alleruzzo I believe from the AP) came up to introduce herself and to tell him that she had seen this Blog and how wonderful she thought it was. Needless to say I was amazed at this. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Coalition strikes al-Qaeda facilitation networks (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 13 suspected terrorists in central Iraq Wednesday while targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives who facilitate terrorist operations, including bringing foreigners into Iraq for attacks. In Anbar province, Coalition forces captured a wanted man and two additional suspects when they raided a tent camp in a remote area. The wanted man is suspected of involvement with AQI’s facilitation network, moving foreign terrorists into Iraq. (READ MORE)

United and Prosperous II kicks off today (Irbil) - IRBIL, Iraq – United and Prosperous II, a provincial budget conference aimed at resolving economic barriers and identifying action steps to exploit economic opportunities within the northern provinces of Iraq, will start Aug. 20 in Irbil. U&P II is the second conference of its kind. The conference is a venue for the provincial leadership to engage with the various ministries within the Government of Iraq on economic and budgetary issues from within their provinces. (READ MORE)

ISF discovers munitions cache in Rashid - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Policemen from the Iraqi National Police discovered a munitions cache Aug. 19 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. At approximately 12:45 a.m. policemen from 1st Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd NP Division, discovered seven 107 mm rockets, three 107 mm mortar rounds, 17 90 mm mortar rounds, 13 60 mm mortar rounds, six anti-armor grenades, one anti-personnel rocket propelled grenade, one homemade bomb, 100 explosive fuses, approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, and a two-way radio charger in the Risalah community. (READ MORE)

Raiders detain two, find weapons in separate operations - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers arrested two criminals and discovered weapons Aug. 18 – 19 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. At approximately noon Aug. 18 in the Saha neighborhood, policemen from the 1st Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division detained a suspected Special Groups leader and turned him over to soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, attached to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Takes Lead in Security for Shabaniyah Pilgrimage - FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAHMUDIYAH — Iraqi Army Soldiers and Coalition forces provided security, food and water to Iraqis on a pilgrimage to Karbala, Aug. 11-18. “The Iraqi Army is providing security with assistance from the coalition,” said Pvt. Esam Hussein Fleih, 1st Battalion, 23rd Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division. “People have been happy with the way we have been doing the security, and it shows with nothing bad happening during the pilgrimage.” (READ MORE)

IP Station a Sign of Hope for Amin Citizens - BAGHDAD — “You shouldn’t build a station here, it will probably get blown up,” said an Amin resident to a U.S. military policeman while conducting police transition team operations at the Amin station build site recently. The Amin area, in Baghdad’s Rashid district, has a large number of special group members that negatively influence the civilian population living in the area, said Maj. Lawrence Clossum, commander 340th Military Police Company. The military police Soldiers conduct daily PTT operations with Rashid’s Iraqi Police. (READ MORE)

Dairy Factory Sees Better Days Ahead - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — Ahmed Adnan Hashim is passionate about yogurt. He’s passionate about cheese and cream and the other products produced at the Nu-Nu factory in Bada, a small town in northern Babil province. With his brother, Qahetan, managing the factory, Nu-Nu produces what Ahmed said is the best yogurt in Iraq. “One of the reasons local citizens depend on our products is that we deal in high quality,” Ahmed said. (READ MORE)

A Return to Normalcy in Kirkuk - KIRKUK — In the southern Rishad valley of Kirkuk province lies the remote village of Gaydah, located several miles off the nearest main road and even further from the nearest substantial city or district. Already accustomed to seclusion, the village residents were surprised when Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division showed up in their community in February. The residents were more surprised when they announced that they would set up operations there; living and working with the residents for the next two months. (READ MORE)

Afghan leader calls for more attention to extremism - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed sadness over the killing of 10 French soldiers, saying after talks with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy that the fight against extremists needed more attention. Karzai met President Sarkozy in his palace just before the French leader left Afghanistan after a quick visit to support French soldiers following the deadly Taliban ambush and clashes on Monday and Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Karzai urges fight against extremists - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed sadness over the killing of 10 French soldiers after meeting his French counterpart in Kabul. Mr Karzai said that the fight against extremists needed more attention. He met President Nicolas Sarkozy in his palace just before the French leader left Afghanistan after a quick visit to support French soldiers following the deadly Taliban ambush and clashes yesterday and on Monday. (READ MORE)

Sarkozy has no regrets after Afghan deaths - President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday he did not regret sending 700 more troops to Afghanistan this year, after insurgents killed 10 French soldiers, the biggest single loss for foreign forces in Afghan combat since 2001. The soldiers were killed in a major battle that erupted when Taliban insurgents ambushed a French patrol just 60 km (40 miles) east of the Afghan capital on Monday. (READ MORE)

War in Afghanistan: The battle of Surobi - Ten French soldiers were killed and 21 injured in an "extremely violent" ambush near Kabul as Afghan insurgents staged attacks across the country yesterday. Officials said 10 paratroopers died when their patrol was ambushed in Surobi, 30 miles east of the capital. Nato said they were attacked by more than 100 militants, while further east at least six suicide bombers tried to storm an American army base close to the Pakistan border. (READ MORE)

Afghan, coalition forces kill over 20 Taliban - Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed more than 20 militants, including foreign fighters, in two incidents in southeast Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday. Taliban militants attacked construction company workers Wednesday in the Alishir district of Khost province, provincial Governor Arsala Jamal said. 'Ten Taliban militants were killed when Afghan and US military forces arrived at the scene and clashed with the attackers,' he said. (READ MORE)

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