September 9, 2008

From the Front: 09/09/2008

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

In their own words:
Another Adventure: Home - I'm home on leave for 2 weeks. The weather has been great, loved the rain. Took Lance for a hack down the road. Of course he was fabulous. I finished up my first class the end of August and started another Sept 1st. Thank goodness for insomnia. I'm able to get my school work done while everyone else is still asleep. No one would get up and entertain me at 3 a.m., might as well do my homework. I'll keep you all posted. I leave the states Sept 21st. (READ MORE)

Fobbits need ice cream too: It rained today - It was 63% humidity all day @ 142 degrees around midday. It's been humid lately at night, but not during the day; it was pretty brutal. We sat at the staging lot for 5 hours; it turns out we were not supposed to push all along, something about a Ramadan ritual with a boy who walks through the streets beating a drum. It's holy to Muslims and we are respecting the day; the word never got down to us. Whatever, we roll back to the conex's and lock our trucks back up. The bravo team leader, SGT Gunshow, my TL and I sit outside on the porch smoking cigars. It starts to cool down rapidly; thunder and lightning occur. And then it rains for about 30 seconds. It was awesome. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: The Troop Withdrawal - While Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and others go on and on about how badly things are going in Iraq, reality is overtaking events on the ground. Security has improved significantly, Iraqi civilians who had fled to neighbouring countries are returning, and more U.S. combat troops are set to be withdrawn by February. It's not just the Democrats, of course, who are calling the U.S. a loser. So-called expert Juan Cole said on his blog that it isn't right that Iraq's prime minister is pushing civilians to return home. The professor insists that few are caving to Nouri Al Maliki's pressure. Actually, Cole says and the whole matter is just rubbish. "Since Iraqis are still leaving Iraq for Jordan and Syria in some numbers, the whole thing is a publicity stunt," said the Iraq expert who has never set foot in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Kaboom!: Attention Please - The time has come: CPT G has left the Gravediggers. They said their good byes and held a farewell party on Saturday night. He got to drive a stryker around and they had a chem-light party on the roof of the outpost. There were near beers and there were real tears (poetic, right?). In all seriousness, he has already expressed to me how much he misses the guys and the rush that comes with being on the line. Mama G and I can breath a sigh of relief because he is now in a much safer place, stationed at the FOB (Forward Operating Base) and is in charge of Information Operations. I have no idea what that means, but he has an office and can shower as many times a day as he would like. CPT G knew this was how his tour would eventually end, but it is with great dismay that he has had to leave his guys. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Haqqani's main madrassa hit in North Waziristan attack - The Sept. 8 air attack in North Waziristan hit the main madrassa run by the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani family in North Waziristan, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. The Predator attack, the latest in a series of strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan’s lawless tribal agencies, was designed to "send a message" to the Haqqani Network. The US launched several missiles at the notorious Manbaul Ulom madrassa and an adjacent home in the town of Danda Darpa Khel on the outskirts of Miramshah in North Waziristan. More than 20 were killed in the attack, but Jalaluddin Haqqani, the patriarch of the Haqqani family, and Siraj, his son, were not at the madrassa. Reports from Pakistan indicate nine Arab al Qaeda operatives and six Taliban fighters were killed in the strike, along with a sister of Jalaluddin. (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: To Protect & Serve - We made an office call to the IP chief in Hadithah, and were fortunate to also meet the IP chief from Baghdadi, who was visiting his colleague. This is the third IP office I have visited recently. In all cases, the facilities were clean and well ordered and the individual IP officers in uniform, neat and professional looking. Although they both chiefs maintained that they would need the Marines to help secure Anbar for a long time, it is clear that the IP in Western Anbar have become much more confident and competent. They are developing leads, doing investigations and catching bad guys mostly on their own with significant success. The chief told us that we should feel completely safe in Hadithah and that secure conditions stretched generally from Al Qaim in the far west to Hit in the eastern part of the province. They were less sanguine about Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah. (READ MORE)

Major (P) John: Rain on the Open Belt of Dune?! - OK, not exactly. But we did have a bit of a thunderstorm here in Baghdad today. The first big thunderclap did scare the beejebus out of me. Once I got over it, I went outside to gawk at the first rain I had seen in months. (READ MORE)

Misuchan’s Milblog: what do you say - …when you lose your friends? How do you deal with the anger? Last night they tried to call me. Damn I wish I had answered. It would have been the last time we talked. I sometimes wonder if I had just answered the phone, if it would have changed the course of destiny. But that is just nuts, isn’t it? How do you muster the courage to carry their bodies out to the plane? I just don’t have it. I’m afraid that I would start shaking from remorse and let go… How am I supposed to feel the next time I see a local? What if I can’t control my anger? What if I do something that lowers me down to their level? Where do I get the courage to carry on in their honor? Why can’t I see my friends again… (READ MORE)

Peace and War Times: Broken Pride, Broken Nose - It has been a trial week, full of training non-stop but today’s training really became the top of the cake. It was introduction to Urban Warfare and the most unthinkable happened to me while in this training. The task was to get into this building through a high window using the buddy system. Joining three of my teammates to conquer this window, we ran through a wall of yellow smoke towards the building and throw grenades through the high window. Two soldiers lifted the first soldier who was relative a big man. Next, to be lifting up was a tall master sergeant, for which the remaining soldier and I, had a hard trouble lift him up. The skinny soldier ended up lifting him up by himself after few attempts by two people. Then it came my turn, which it became the most embarrassing and amusing display to other soldiers watching. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Bouhammer: Alive Day, 2nd Anniversary - Well today is the 2nd Anniversary of my first Alive Day. An Alive Day is a day that you cheat death, and have essentially been given a second chance. You can see the definition here, I wrote about this day back in an old post at It was not only an Alive Day anniversary for me, but also for my buddy Scooter. Scoot was up in the gun that day and I can still vividly remember thinking that he was dead and heavily mutilated when I yelled for him but never heard back for those few seconds. I remember being very excited to turn around and see him looking back at me. So I made sure to send him an email today and congrats him and to remind him we were only a few feet and a lot of prayers away between being a memory and still being here today. This day means a lot to me and I have not forgotten it at all, and I am sure I never will. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Terrorism on four feet in Anbar - Allawi Atshan says he was minding his own business at home in a village in Anbar province when the attack began. But rather than insurgents wielding guns or setting off bombs, the predators who terrorized Atshan and his neighbors had long claws, made quick movements, and wore collars. Locals are calling them "sheebs" and describe them as part wolf, part dog, and entirely vicious. The latest alleged sheeb attack occurred Saturday night near Karmah, a town north of Fallouja. (READ MORE)

The Troop Debate: Official Hypocrisy - As an Iraqi journalist, each day I meet dozens of officials, some government ministers, some members of parliament, some advisers to senior ministers. All of them declare in public that they are against the Americans remaining in Iraq. They demand Iraqi liberation. They always raise the same slogan: “Independence for Iraq.” They are against the long-term security agreement, which sets the terms for the continuing presence of American soldiers in Iraq, that has been made public. But... (READ MORE)

Coalition continues to diminish influence of al-Qaeda networks in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces killed one terrorist and detained two suspects during operations targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq’s attack and facilitation networks in the Baghdad area Tuesday. Coalition forces targeted a known terrorist during an operation Tuesday in Abu Ghraib, about 25 km west of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Logistics symposium brings all players to table (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – More than 170 senior logisticians and Iraqi advisors from across Iraq gathered Sept. 4 and 5 at Hope Chapel to discuss the best practices, policies and the way ahead during Multi-National Corps – Iraq’s second quarterly logistics symposium. Military Transition Team commanders and advisors from the battalion, division and brigade levels, and G4s from each division and Multi-National Force – West, briefed on the Iraqi partnership, training, maintenance and issues occurring in their areas of operation. (READ MORE)

Over 1,000 displaced citizens return to Diyala - DIYALA, Iraq – Over 1,000 displaced Diyala citizens have returned to their homes after being forced out by sectarian conflicts and intimidation. According to current Coalition force reports, over 1,000 families have returned to their homes in Diyala Province since July 2008. These figures include over 180 families who returned to their homes in the Al Abarra District, over 100 families in the Qualis area, over 40 families in the Ameriyah area, approximately 50 families in the Abu Tamur area, over 300 families in West Baqubah and nearly 300 families in Bezul. (READ MORE)

433 Detainees Released by Coalition forces during Ramadan - Baghdad – The organization responsible for Coalition forces detainee operations in Iraq, TF-134, released 433 detainees during the first week of Ramadan. The number of detainees released during the first week of the four week program outpaced the number of those taken in, averaging 61 released per day while 27 per day where in-processed. TF-134 is planning to release more than 700 detainees during the second week of Ramadan. (READ MORE)

SVBIED attack kills one in Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq – A suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at approximately 11:45 a.m., Sept. 8 in the Al Ba’ath neighborhood in Mosul, Iraq. Reports indicate one Iraqi Policeman was killed and four IPs were wounded. (READ MORE)

INP, IA turn caches over to MND-B Soldiers in Baghdad’s Rashid district - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Iraqi National Police and Iraqi Army turned in a several caches of mortar rounds to Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers Sep. 7 in Baghdad’s Rashid district. Iraqi National Police from 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, found a cache of 10 82 mm mortar rounds at approximately 8:15 p.m. in the Risalah community. They gave the mortars to Soldiers from Company C, 4th Bn., 64th Armor Regiment, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B. (READ MORE)

Parwan medical clinic built and opened - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 8, 2008) - The opening of the Chinaki Uyla Medical Clinic in Sayed Khail District, Parwan province began Sep. 6 with a crowd of 80, including Parwan Province Governor Abdul Jabbar Taqwa and Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team Commander, Lt. Col. William D. Andersen. (READ MORE)

Interfaith prayer breakfast brings people together - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 7, 2008) - A scripture from the Quran was printed on appreciation certificates presented to the Christians who coordinated the first Interfaith Prayer Breakfast held Aug. 27 at Forward Operating Base Gardez. (READ MORE)

New Dragon Dining Facility Grand Opening - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 7, 2008) – The new 1.5 million dollar Dragon Dining Facility grand opening ceremony Saturday began with a ribbon cutting by Brig. Gen. James McConville, Combined Joint Task Force-101 deputy commanding general of support, and Col. Scott A. Spellmon, Task Force Warrior commander. (READ MORE)

General McKiernan requests review of Shindand findings and new evidence - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 7, 2008) - General David McKiernan, senior US officer in Afghanistan, issued a statement today in regards to the recent Shindand incident’s investigation findings and new evidence. "In light of emerging evidence pertaining to civilian casualties in the August 22 counter-insurgency operation in the Shindand District, Herat province, I feel it is prudent to request that US Central Command send a general officer to review the US investigation and its findings with respect to this new evidence. The people of Afghanistan have our commitment to get to the truth." (READ MORE)

Haqqani network disrupted in Khowst province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 7, 2008) – Coalition forces killed more than ten armed militants and detained three additional militants during an operation Saturday in Khowst province. The operation targeted a Haqqani militant wanted for conducting and coordinating direct and suicide attacks in Sabari District. This militant was killed during the operation. (READ MORE)

Haqqani network targeted in Khowst province, four militants detained - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 6, 2008) – Coalition forces detained four suspected militants while targeting Haqqani terrorist networks during multiple operations in Khowst province, Friday. The first operation targeted a suspected Haqqani subcommander wanted for facilitating the movement of foreign fighters into the region and directing attacks against innocent civilians, ISAF and Coalition forces. It is also believed he aids financial operations for the Haqqani network locally. (READ MORE)

Two civilians and several militants killed in Farah province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 5, 2008) – Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition troops were ambushed by several militants during a reconnaissance patrol in Farah province Sept. 5. The insurgents ambushed the patrol from an isolated compound with intense and accurate small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. ANSF and Coalition forces conducted fire and maneuver and engaged with aimed accurate fire, and close air support, killing six militants. (READ MORE)

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