August 21, 2008

From the Front: 08/21/2008

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

In their own words:
Cheese's Milblog: bad decisions - If you're ever considering parking your gaudy SUV in an infantry company's already meager parking lot while their out on mission, remember this: (Click to View Photos)

Armed and Curious: Failed myths and those who sell them - Sometimes the truth comes out and nobody notices because a myth has been sold for so long. The truth about the Mehdi Army, or Jaesh Al Mehdi (JAM) as we soldiers call them, is finally coming out but it seems everyone is too busy to care now. The Olympics are in full swing, Georgia is fighting for its survival and the clock has moved on it seems. I thought of this because I caught a gut wrenching story on CNN from a terrific reporter named Arwa Damon yesterday. She is one of a crop of young journalists who have truly figured out Iraq and work hard to tell the stories no one else is telling. Not a story she has put out hasn’t been educational for me. Yesterday Arwa revealed the horrors found in the Adib al-Jumaili mosque in southwest Baghdad after it was abandoned by the JAM in May. She reports: (READ MORE)

Collabman's Thoughts: Sweet Dreams... – Evening: A quick blog tonight as the info hounds came up fairly empty on any news worthy info. Enjoy the photos and continue to pray for our warriors as they push on through the month of August... Say, when our warriors dream...what do they dream about? A newborn child they haven't held or even seen, their spouse they long to see, that special girl or guy they have leaned on and looked to for support during this deployment? Birthday celebrations they missed? Maybe, just maybe...the number of days left until they don't have to dream these dreams on a cot in the middle of Iraq? I can only imagine... Chris, I love you son and I remember your courage every day! Never stop dreaming... (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Al Qaeda safe house targeted in South Waziristan strike - An attack on an al Qaeda safe house in Pakistan's lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan killed at least eight, including foreign terrorists, security officials in Pakistan told AFP. Reports indicate two missiles struck home that served as "a known hideout for militants" in the town of Wana. The home was owned by a tribesman named Haji Yaqub. "Arabs often stayed with him," a resident in Wana told AFP. Yaqub was reported wounded in the strike. There have been no reports of senior al Qaeda leaders killed in the attack. The Pakistani military was unable to confirm the details of the attack. "What report we have received is that there is an explosion in a house in Wana," Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. "There are also casualties, but we do not have any confirmation. It is also not confirmed whether it was a missile." (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: A record turnout - SUBYHAT, Iraq – Marines and Sailors with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, conducted a cooperative medical engagement in the Karma and Subyhat areas to assist the local population in receiving medical care August 11th and 12th. Approximately 1,000 Iraqi men, women and children were evaluated and treated throughout the CME by Navy medical personnel and Iraqi doctors. If needed, the sailors also provided them with medicine. "This has been a record number of people that (have shown up to a CME we’ve conducted),” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael A. S. Cannova, hospital corpsman, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “This really shows the progress in this area. People trust us, and they come to us so we can help them with their needs.” Medical staff at the CME treated Iraqi citizens for illnesses ranging from cold and flu symptoms to more severe cases such as melanoma, diabetes and cancer. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Educating tomorrow’s leaders - RAMADI, Iraq– 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, Iraq, 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. In a November 2006 Washington Post article, Abdul Sattar Jawad, the former dean of the College of Arts at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, wrote, “The mass (violence in the country) underscores the chilling fact that the most dangerous place in Iraq is not the mosque, the marketplace or the military checkpoint, but the classroom.” In sharp contrast to Jawad’s dim description of the country, the region is now rebuilding. Restorations and reopening of schools are taking place daily in Iraq, with Ramadi seemingly leading the way. (READ MORE)

Bill Murray: Bungled raid in Diyala threatens political developments, military operations - BAQUBAH, IRAQ: Recent political progress in Diyala may unravel after a botched attempt to capture a provincial official at the main governmental center in Baqubah killed an assistant to the provincial governor. An attempt to arrest a Sunni member of the provincial parliament, Husain al Zubsidy, by a special division of the Iraqi Army went foul early on Aug. 19, causing a 30-minute firefight between the Iraqi army and local police. A special assistant to the governor of Diyala was killed in the shootout. The assistant, al Tamimi, was also a close relative of the governor of Diyala, Ra’ad Rashid al Tamini, and the killing has threatened to unhinge gains made in recent weeks. Some of the participants in the raid claimed they were part of a dirty division' that operates at the Prime Minister's behest. (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: ePRT & Friends & Cetera - I like the idea of leverage. Our ePRT is small, but we can do a lot by working with partners. More and more we are using our money and expertise as "pump priming*" that gets other efforts going and funds flowing. The ePRT money is reckoned in the thousands. Our partners spend more money, but sometimes our involvement helps lead the way. The biggest USG player in Western Anbar is the military with its CERP (commanders emergency response program). In the last year, we have also seen I-CERP, which is the same program but using money allocated by the Iraqi government. CERP is used mostly for reconstruction after war damage. Since there is less of this left to be done and as our forces come home, there will be less and less CERP needed or available. (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: News of FOB Salerno - Almost every day the following thought crosses my mind; "I wish I was back in Afghanistan." This is particularly true when FOB Salerno is in the news, as it is again this week. For those of you who follow the news out of Afghanistan, you know FOB Salerno was hit twice in two days with suicide bombers, rockets, mortars, small arms fire and finally insurgents planning to infiltrate the FOB and kill as many Soldiers as possible. Suicide bombers killed at least 12 Afghans in the first day's attack; That night, in an attack lasting all night, at least 10 suicide bombers attacked the base with the intention of infiltrating the base and blowing themselves up, undoubtedly in key areas such as the dining facility, hospital and airfield. Here are just a few of the many stories about the incidents: (READ MORE)

THIS WE'LL DEFEND: What I Did Today - Yesterday one of the Shurta in one of the companies we advise killed his friend in the same company. He fired four rounds point blank. One round was stopped by his armor vest, and another was stopped by his helmet. The other two were stopped by his, well, between his vest and helmet. It speaks very well for the armor capabilities of the vest and helmet he was wearing, unfortunately, no armor on the face. That much is the truth. The rest of the story is kind of sketchy. The shurta who shot the guy panicked and ran away. Apparently (depending on which Iraqi you talk to), he made a telephone call to his unit to say he would turn himself in today. Which, reliable reports say he did do just that. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Greyhawk: Reds (Part One) - This post is about 2008. More importantly it's also about 2009 and all the years thereafter. But we're going to drop back in time just a bit first - please bear with me. We're heading for Baghdad, late 2003 and early 2004. Steven Vincent is our tour guide - there is no better. He is dead, of course, but because of that he's frozen in time via his writing. Our vehicle for this trip is In The Red Zone: A Journey Into The Soul Of Iraq, his chronicle of his journeys in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. To read it now is to be reminded of things forgotten - or nearly so. He titled chapter two "An image of Hadeel" - after a picture of an Iraqi girl he had seen on a wall in Baghdad... “The photo - actually a color Xerox - showed a pretty, rather plump , reddish-haired Iraqi woman smiling at the camera, a Santa Claus cap perched on her head. Her name, according to an inscription printed beneath her image, was Hadeel...” (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
United Nations looks to solve Kirkuk problem - Baghdad -- The United Nations is pressing ahead with its mission to find a solution for Iraq's troubled northern region, where Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen are in a fight for land and power. Nothing is more prized than the mixed-city of Kirkuk and its province, which sits atop oil reserves. (READ MORE)

Pressure continues to expel al-Qaeda in Iraq (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 15 suspected terrorists Wednesday and Thursday during continuing operations targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq’s influence around the country. In Baghdad on Thursday, Coalition forces captured a man assessed to be plotting an attack against a Sons of Iraq group that protects Iraqi civilians. He is suspected of associating with an alleged AQI cell leader captured Jul. 2. (READ MORE)

MND-N Soldiers, ISF apprehend six terrorists - TIKRIT, Iraq – An air insertion of Multi-National Division – North Soldiers and Baqubah Special Weapons and Tactics team members near the town of Abu Alapa Village in the Bani Sayd region Aug. 17 resulted in the apprehension of six terrorists. Shortly after their insertion by six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters belonging to 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, the ground forces were attacked by four terrorists with small-arms fire and hand grenades. (READ MORE)

Kindergarten school in Ghazaliyah reopens after refurbishments - BAGHDAD – Following months of refurbishments, the Al Yasmeen Kindergarten School in the northwest Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliyah reopened during a ceremony Aug. 17. The school was previously closed due to extensive damage throughout the facility. “A year ago, I could not even enter this school. There was a lot of damage and nothing worked,” said Mrs. Naneey of the Al Yasmeen Kindergarten School. “Now we have a brand new school.” (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B Soldiers seize weapons in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi National Police and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized several weapons caches during operations to increase security throughout Baghdad Aug. 20. At approximately 4 a.m., Iraqi Police with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st National Police Division, seized 10 60 mm mortar rounds, nine rocket-propelled boosters, a rocket-propelled grenade warhead and an anti-personnel grenade north of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Oil Police receive motorcycles thru Iraqi Security Forces Fund - Baghdad – The Ministry of Interior’s Oil Police received 20 motorcycles Aug. 18, which will aid in increased protection of Iraq’s vital oil pipeline. The shipment is the first of 40, custom-made cross-country, Suzuki motorcycles ordered for the Oil Police through the Iraqi Security Forces Fund, managed by the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. The motorcycles are made for operating across desert terrain. (READ MORE)

Ministry of Interior opens its new court system (Baghdad) - Baghdad – The Ministry of Interior started its own court system in accordance with the new Iraqi Security Forces Penal Code. The first court day was Jul. 29, in the Hilla Regional Court. The cases ranged from misdemeanor crimes to major crimes of corruption and terrorism. The new Iraqi Security Forces Penal Code includes penalties often more stringent than the civilian criminal code. (READ MORE)

Displaced Iraqi families return to community (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, joined the Jihad Reconciliation Council and Iraqi Security Forces leaders Aug. 19 to witness the return of 20 families to Hayy Jihad, in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. The event commemorated a return to stability due to the ongoing security efforts of Iraqi Security and Coalition forces and welcomed families previously driven out of the predominately Shia community due to sectarian violence and strife, said Capt. Ryan Gavin, commander of Company C, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Regt. (READ MORE)

IA soldiers detain suspected criminals, confiscate weapons in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army soldiers confiscated weapons and detained two suspected criminals during a search operation in northwest Baghdad Aug. 20. Iraqi Army soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, seized 12 AK-47 assault rifles, two SKS semi-automatic weapons and an RPK light machinegun, and detained two suspected criminals. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers detain key suspected criminal in Rashid (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers detained a highly sought after suspected criminal Aug. 20 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. At approximately 2:30 a.m., Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division detained the suspect, an alleged Special Groups criminal leader, during search operations in the Abu T’shir community. (READ MORE)

IED kills 2 NPs, 1 Iraqi civilian in New Baghdad - BAGHDAD – An improvised explosive device exploded in eastern Baghdad killing two National Police officers and a civilian Aug. 19. Initial reports indicate two NPs were also wounded in the attack. National Police officers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st National Police Division, were leaving a water distribution site when the IED went off. The wounded were transported to a local area medical facility for treatment. (READ MORE)

IA Medical and Dental Clinic Gets It Done - CAMP TAJI — The doors opened up early at the Iraqi Army Troop Medical and Dental Clinic, but not until the clinic workers completed the daily task of picking up around the facility and conducting vehicle maintenance. By then, Iraqi Army Soldiers stationed on Taji start to trickle in - sick call slips in hand - to be seen by one of the military nurses for various medical reasons. (READ MORE)

Operation Iraqi Children Delivers in Baghdad - BAGHDAD — Anxious but appreciative orphan children in the Salhiya District of Baghdad had something to smile about when Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers arrived, Aug. 13, to hand out school supplies as part of an assistance mission named “Operation Iraqi Children.” During the engagement, Soldiers from the 18th MP Brigade lent a hand in the delivering of the school supplies to the local orphanage, as Soldiers from the 42nd Field Artillery Regiment and policemen from the Salhiya Iraqi Police teamed up to help the children prepare for school. (READ MORE)

AFGHANISTAN: Marines ready to go if ordered - When the Pentagon rushed 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan in the spring, the orders were clear: the mission would be for seven months, no longer, and the Marines would not be replaced once their deployment was finished. But with the Taliban, possibly in alliance with Al Qaeda, resurging, plans have changed. (READ MORE)

British premier in Afghanistan on surprise visit - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived Thursday on a surprise visit to Afghanistan and was expected to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. During his one-day visit, Brown visited British soldiers at a base in southern Helmand province where he told them they were in the 'front line in the fight against the Taliban.' (READ MORE)

Three Polish soldiers, 30 militants killed in Afghanistan - Afghan and international troops killed more than 30 militants in a clash near Kabul, military forces said Thursday, confirming that three Polish soldiers had also died in a bomb blast. Troops called for air support after coming under fire Wednesday during a search operation in Laghman province, northeast of Kabul province, the US-led coalition said. (READ MORE)

Afghan battle kills over 30 militants, 4 NATO troops - The Afghan National Army (ANA) backed by the U.S.-led Coalition forces on Wednesday launched a joint operation to disrupt suspected Taliban safe havens in eastern Afghan province of Laghman, killing over 30 militants, said a Coalition statement released here on Thursday. The operation took place in response to information gathered following a recent attack by militants on the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in that area, the statement said. (READ MORE)

Afghan missile strike kills eight in Waziristan Islamabad - Missiles fired from Afghanistan hit a militants hideout in Waziristan on Wednesday, killing at least eight people including some foreign extremists, security officials said. Two missiles hit a house owned by a local tribesman with links to militants in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan the officials said. (READ MORE)

15 Taliban killed in Kurram operation - ISLAMABAD: Around 10 to 15 Taliban were reportedly killed when the Frontier Corps (FC) launched an operation against the warring tribes in the volatile Kurram Agency, sources in the Interior ministry said here on Wednesday. The operation was launched after the 72-hour deadline given by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik to affect a ceasefire and restore calm to the agency lapsed. (READ MORE)

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