September 3, 2008

From the Front: 09/03/2008

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

In their own words:
A Battlefield Tourist: Convoy Clearance Through Helmand Largest Op Since WWII - The heavy fighting that erupted in northern Helmand Province during the last week in August was touched off by a bold move by allied forces to haul turbine equipment, weighing some 150 tons, up the Helmand River Valley and through Taliban held territory. The BBC reports the clearing operation for the 100 vehicle convoy was the largest British operation of its kind since World War II and was one of the largest operations in the current war in Afghanistan. The destination of the convoy: The Kajaki Dam. When finished, the dam project will bring power to more than a million people. The project has been a goal of the British Army for the past three years and has been under repair since 2004. British troops stationed at the dam continue to fend off attacks, and have for years. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: The information fight - There has been a lot going on the last few weeks. We have had constant reminders of both war and hope as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix continues its training and mentoring mission while we also reach out with humanitarian assistance operations. Tragically, there have been civilian deaths in a number of incidents that involve Afghan, U.S. and coalition forces over the last several weeks. These occurances are setbacks for coalition efforts to improve conditions for the people and build confidence in their elected government. Recent headlines coming out of Afghanistan have mostly focused on the alleged killing of innocent civilians during an operation in which Afghan National Army commandos supported by U.S. special forces called for air support in response to an ambush. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistanis claim US helicopter-borne forces assaulted village in South Waziristan - The US military, with the possible cooperation of the Afghan military, may have conducted a special operations air assault across the border into Taliban-controlled South Waziristan, according to unconfirmed reports from Pakistan. The initial report from a Geo TV correspondent indicated the casualties were taken after US helicopters launched missiles at three homes in the Barmal area of Angorada late at night. The report later changed when the correspondent claimed the helicopters landed and troops dismounted, who then began searching homes. One witness told The Associated Press that "American and Afghan soldiers starting firing" on one family outside of their home. (READ MORE)

Matt Dupee: Saudi al Qaeda commander killed in Afghan clash - Commander Abu Gharib al Makki, a senior al Qaeda field commander from Saudi Arabia, has been killed in recent fighting with US forces in southwestern Afghanistan. The slain commander was lionized in a statement penned by al Qaeda in Afghanistan’s overall commander, Mustafa Muhammad Abu Yazid, who sent the letter to Pajhwok Afghan News. The statement lacked many details but indicated Commander Abu Gharib, whose real name is Kamal Saleem Atiya Fazli al Fazli, was killed “48 hours ago” in the southwestern province of Farah. Two separate clashes were reported during that time span in Farah province. In one incident, eight Taliban insurgents were killed after ambushing a logistics company’s fuel convoy in the Farahrod district, according to Farah’s provincial governor. Two fuel tanker trucks were destroyed during the ambush and at least one security guard was seriously injured. (READ MORE)

Notes from Tommie: Stuck in Iraq… - Sorry to all those that try and keep updated on my blog, the last little bit of time has been increasingly busy and what with power difficulties and a few other things that urch my nerves I’ve just been really well pressed and not able to find enough time to sit down and post: so here I go. First update is that my R&R may POSSIBLY be pushed back to october due to certain events that have come up. I still have no definite time frame and am playing anything and everything to do with leave by ear. So far as I’m concerned untill I’m already over halfway home, before then they can just turn around and still save on expenses, I’m not going to say that I’ll actually have it… Still no word on IF and/or when I may or may not get that promotion to specialist. (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: Stuff... - Hello all! And once again, thank you for your support! My brother and I REALLY appreciate it! We just can't say that enough! Well, I got some awsome feedback on my last post. Thank you to whoever you are! I really appreciate the support and uplifting words. It may seem that when I put things on here, I look a little weak, or beatdown....Well, a few things aside, I'm doing really well. Work is slow, and lately it's been VERY boring....leaving too much time to do absolutely nothing. Most of the time I feel pain and heartache for those directly affected by the unfortunate things that happen to them. I feel deep deep sorrow for their families, friends, and the Soldier himself. I try to put things in perspective and think "that could be me"....I don't let it get me down, it just brings me back to a harsh harsh reality of this war we are fighting. I know I blab on about things I've seen over here... (READ MORE)

Zen Traveller: Ramadan Restrictions; "Don't Feed The Bears" - We're in the month of Ramadan now and its interesting to watch the Iraqis as they struggle with the various restrictions, most notably the practice of fasting. While observing the holy month Muslims are not permitted to eat during the daylight hours. They wake before dawn, eat, pray and then thats it for food until evening prayers. Honestly, very few of the people that I work with faithfully keep to the strict regime throughout the entire month, but they all give it a good try. One of the guys that I was speaking to yesterday told me that he had never fasted for Ramadan before, but thought that he would give it a try this year. He said, "It's hard and I did it for one day. That's all I'm doing. One day of fasting and I will be in Paradise for one day. That's good enough for me." (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
IA brigade conducts combined medical assessment in Mubarak - MUBARAK, Iraq – Iraqi Army soldiers from the 14th Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division, conducted a combined medical assessment in the village of Mubarak in the Uzaym River Valley Aug. 27. The division’s surgeon and battalion medics, alongside doctors and nurses from the Tikrit Teaching Hospital, saw and treated more than 200 patients, including about 130 women and children. IA medical personnel also handed out prescriptions to identified patients. (READ MORE)

Sheik’s support strengthens ties with GoI (Kharmar) - KHARMAR, Iraq – The sheik of the the Al Jehaishi tribe publicly declared his support for the Government of Iraq, and the Iraqi Security and Coalition forces during a speech to some of the tribe’s members Aug. 31. Sheik Fares Mohammad Al Taha surrounded by Iraqi and Coalition soldiers, spoke to the tribal members before taking part in a humanitarian campaign to provide food and water to the local villagers. (READ MORE)

Security improves, al-Qaeda in Iraq feels the pressure (Bayji, Mosul) - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained six suspected terrorists during operations in the northern part of the country while targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq network leaders Tuesday. Continuing to destabilize the AQI facilitation network that brings foreign terrorists into the country to attack civilians and security forces, Coalition forces detained two suspects in Bayji. (READ MORE)

Coalition operations strike at middle of al-Qaeda network - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed an al-Qaeda in Iraq weapons facilitator and detained eight suspected terrorists during operations targeting the terrorist network in the Tigris River Valley Wednesday. Coalition forces killed a weapons facilitator in Tikrit during an operation to disrupt the AQI bombing network in the Tigris River Valley. Intelligence reports indicate the man was trafficking rockets and bombing components for a Tikrit-based cell, and may have had ties to the AQI propaganda network. (READ MORE)

Trial Judges Successfully Tackle Terrorism Cases in Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq – Travelling Iraqi judges from Baghdad departed Mosul on Sept. 2 after they heard terrorism cases at the Ninawa Major Crimes Court. During their approximately two-week stay at the NMCC, the judges heard 21 cases involving 26 defendants. They adjudicated two death sentences, six life sentences, three 15-year sentences and two five-year sentences. (READ MORE)

Four Iraqi civilians killed in attack on Mosul checkpoint - MOSUL, Iraq – Four Iraqi civilians were killed and seven injured when an Iraqi Army checkpoint in Mosul was attacked by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device Sept.2. An Iraqi Army soldier was also injured after the VBIED detonated at a checkpoint in the al-Karama neighborhood in eastern Mosul around 9:30 a.m. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers detain SG criminals, terrorists in southern Baghdad - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers detained several suspected criminals and terrorists during a series of search operations in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad Sep. 1 - 2. Soldiers of Company B, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, attached to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B, arrested a known Special Groups criminal at approximately 4:30 p.m., in the Bayaa community in southern Baghdad Sep. 1. (READ MORE)

Bridge opens near Najaf - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – The vice president of Iraq, members of the Iraqi ministry and the governor of Najaf province attended the opening of the North Kufa Bridge near Najaf Aug. 28. The bridge allows traffic to bypass the congested market area in downtown Kufa. It is expected the bridge will allow businesses in the area to grow and provide additional entry points for people visiting the religious sites. (READ MORE)

West Baqubah road reopens - Baqubah, Iraq – A road in a Western Baqubah neighborhood that had been closed to local travelers for more than a year reopened Sept. 1. "This was in the works since early May," said Capt. Kevin P. Ryan, the officer who coordinated the opening. "My idea was to transition this area of operations back to the Iraqi people and to open the roads up, to give something back to the people." (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police in Kut Reach Out to Community with Soccer - FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — A team from the Karamiya District claimed the al-Kut soccer championship, Aug. 28, defeating the Iraqi Police headquarters team 7-6 on penalty kicks. The championship game concluded a city-wide tournament, sponsored by the IPs and involving 12 community teams and eight IP teams. (READ MORE)

32 Taliban killed in Afghan clashes - (IDM) KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan officials say 32 Taliban fighters have been killed in two separate clashes with Afghan and foreign troops in southern Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Troops escort hydro dam turbine through Taliban territory - KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A massive turbine that will help bring reliable power to the people of Kandahar province arrived safely at its new home at a dam in neighbouring Helmand province thanks to thousands of Canadian, British and U.S. troops who guarded it as it passed through some of the country's most dangerous rebel territory. (READ MORE)

NATO gunships attack Taliban stronghold in Pakistan tribal area - DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan: Helicopter gunships manned by NATO soldiers attacked three houses in the Pakistani region of South Waziristan on Wednesday, near a stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. At least 15 people, including women and children, were killed, residents, a Taliban commander and a provincial governor said. (READ MORE)

Jude Law meets Afghan leader - AFGHANISTAN's President Hamid Karzai met British actor Jude Law and flimmaker Jeremy Gilley and praised their efforts to promote peace in his war-torn country, the president's office said today. (READ MORE)

Key terror target in Pak along Afghan border may have been hit in NATO forces air attack - Islamabad, Sept 3 : An important terrorist target in a remote part of Pakistan situated along the Afghanistan border may have been hit in the early morning attack today by the US-led NATO forces, believe top Pakistan security officials. They are searching for clues to confirm whether the "terror target" was hit in the attack, in which at least 15 people were reportedly killed. (READ MORE)

Rudd still committed to Afghanistan despite wounded troops - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has paid tribute to nine soldiers who were wounded in battle, one of whom has life-threatening injuries, and said the Government remains committed to restoring peace in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

US court finds Dr Aafia guilty of attacking US Army - New York, Sept 3 : The US court trying Pakistani-American doctor Aafia Siddiqui has held her guilty on charges to attack US army in Afghanistan as a member of international terror organization Al-Qaeda. (READ MORE)

Nine diggers wounded in Afghan firefight - Nine Australian special forces soldiers have been wounded in a battle against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. One has life-threatening injuries, five have serious wounds, and the other three have slight wounds. (READ MORE)

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