September 12, 2008

From the Front: 09/12/2008

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

In their own words:
48th Combat Support Hospital FOB Salerno / Khowst, Afghanistan: Busy, busy, busy... - I'm sure you have all been reading about the happenings at FOB Salerno the past few weeks, so I won't go into those. SSG Jeffries and all the people at FOB Salerno hospital have been very busy, CARING FOR THE BEST. But he wants everyone to know they are taking care of business, and staying strong. He sent pictures of the cutest little thing, and wanted to share them with you: "I have attached some pics of me with the little baby that I was caring for the other night. She was adorable and just loved me. [don't we all] She would smile and laugh at me and I held her most of the night. I worked over 20 hours, slept for three, then worked 15 the next day. I just couldn't let her go. Finally, the next day we sent them home." Thank God for Eric Jeffries, and the rest of our warriors. (READ MORE)

Paul McLeary: Biometric databases in Iraq being debated - After years of keeping scattered—and incomplete—records of those suspected of being connected to the Iraqi insurgency, American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan finally started to fingerprint, photograph and make relatively widespread use of theBiometrics Automated Toolset(BATS) system, which performs a biometric iris scan and facial recognition tasks, in 2007 and 2008. Anyone arrested by the coalition, and as many military-age males that could be rounded up and scanned into the system have been included, (counterinsurgency experts will tell you that conducting a census of the population is a necessary step in isolating them from the insurgents, but failing that, the BATS system works as a stopgap.) (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: The Sandbox - I wrote this while smoking a CAO Brazilia. July 9th Welcome to my brand new Blog everybody! I really hope I can help the American public understand the true sufferings of an American soldier in Iraq! July 11th. Well, golly folks, I just got off the plane in Kuwait and boy it sure is hot here. But the chow hall here at the FOB is so totally rad. They have ice cream any time you want, and even a Starbucks too. We spent most of the day acclimating ourselves to the heat. But at dusk…WOW! You should have seen the sunset. It reminded me of back home. Then, when it got dark, I wished upon that same star that Megan said we would both look at night. It made me feel really at home again. Megan, I really love you. I can’t wait to see you again. I know you’ll be true to me. (READ MORE)

Chese's Milblog: It keeps me warm... - Due to the current state of the GWOT, especially here in Kabul, we tend to forget that this is war. Don't get me wrong, I believe in helping the Afghan people as much as possible, but our (and by "our" I mean the military's) primary mission here is to seek out and kill the people responsible for the attacks that occurred seven years ago, and those that would aid them. We have a saying here that helps a lot of people through their tour: "embrace the hate." Now, you can say whatever you want about hate not being an adaquate motivator, but it is best way for me to make sense of my role here. Even in Iraq, when American troops were killed you had two choices. You could listen to the combat stress briefings, talk about how senseless their deaths were and just check out for a few days, or you could embrace the hate that burned in your stomach, get back on your truck and go find and kill those responsible. (READ MORE)

From the 'Stan: 2/7 comm platoon - HELMAND PROVINCE, Camp Barber, Afghanistan – “Eighty ones, we are receiving small arms fire. Request air support!” the radioman shouts. This life-saving call for fire support wouldn’t happen without the Communications Platoon of Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix. “We were providing security for a fire support team and they started to get hit with small arms and R.P.G. (rocket propelled grenade) fire,” said Sgt. Dan R. Coon, a TF 2/7 ground sensor operator and Thousand Oaks, Calif., native. “Without ‘comm,’ we wouldn’t have been able to coordinate an air strike to destroy the Taliban building where the rounds were coming from.” The Communications Platoon keeps the front lines connected through various means, but the primary source of communicating around the headquarters camp and within areas surrounding the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) is through the use of hand-held radios similar to walkie-talkies. (READ MORE)

Collabman's Thoughts: Vivid Memories... - Evening...It has been a while since I blogged, eh? Well, there just hasn't been much to write home about...and a call from Chris today confirmed what I suspected - it is quiet for the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. So quiet that Chris is pretty bored...Yes, he is doing well and ready to wrap it get on the road...Chris is ready to head home. I expect your warrior has similar feelings. I am just as ready. The days are crawling by now but we can handle it...we've been through worse. The photos and articles on the net today tell the story of other units working the neighborhoods of Baghdad, Mosul and elsewhere. I am thankful for their service and that they are getting the attention they deserve. The 2nd SCR had their time in the spotlight and our warriors performed superbly. It is almost time to move on. Our warriors have earned it...(READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Soldiers remember victims of 9/11 attacks - Victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were remembered in an emotional ceremony Thursday at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan. The ceremony officially began at 5:16 p.m. local time with the sounding of a siren from the Camp Phoenix firetruck to match the time in New York City when the first plane struck the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The formation of troops in Patriot Square included soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and the Camp Phoenix-based French and Romanian detachments of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix. The task force is led by the New York National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which saw many of its soldiers serve at Ground Zero immediately following the attacks and has since deployed hundreds of troops for homeland defense missions and for combat service in Iraq. They are now serving in Afghanistan as trainers and mentors for the Afghan National Security Forces. (READ MORE)

Sgt B: Training break anyone? - Having successfully made it through my first simulated COB (Combat Operations Base), with the simulated mortar attacks, perimeter probes, and hadji shenanigans inside of the wire, we returned to cantonement and immediately began a three day block of instruction that included Close Range Marksmanship, Military Operations in an Urban Terrain (MOUT), and finishing with a version of “the Infantry Squad In The Assault”. I was attached to our Scout Platoon (they are a bit egotistical, being Scouts, but no more than your average Marine, and professionals when it comes to infantry tactics), and gave a good showing of myself. I like these guys, and I think that I earned their respect. All is well here in Wisconsin, and we are in good health and spirits. There is one fly in the ointment in the not so distant future… The command is going to grant the company a four day pass, beginning on 0001 03 October, and I seem to be stuck aboard this Training base with nothing to do. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: McCain Gets It - My relatives in Baghdad say the security situation is dramatically better, but they still worry about the future. They know if the U.S. withdraws too soon, chaos will return. Gen. David Petraeus, has said that he will never declare victory in Iraq, because Iraq is a lot more complicated than a simple battle. In a BBC interview, Gen. Petraeus said that recent security gains were "not irreversible" and that the U.S. still faced a "long struggle." The long struggle ahead in Iraq tells us that we must be really careful in choosing the next president of the United States. Since the gains in Iraq are fragile, would it be good to elect Barack Obama who just wants to get out and leave Iraqi civilians to the mercy of the murderers? He clearly neither cares nor understands the ramifications. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Letters from Al Qaeda leaders show Iraqi effort is in disarray - Al Qaeda's senior leadership has lost confidence in its commander in Iraq and views the situation in the country as dire, according to a series of letters intercepted by Multinational Forces Iraq earlier this year. The letters, which have been sent exclusively to The Long War Journal by Multinational Forces Iraq, are a series of communications between Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq. These letters were intercepted by Coalition forces in Baghdad on April 24, 2008. One of the letters written by Zawahiri is dated March 6, 2008. Coalition forces found the letters in the possession of a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader called Abu Nizar, whose real name is Ali Hamid Ardeny al Essawi. He was killed after he stopped at a checkpoint in Baghdad and later identified by al Qaeda operatives in custody. (READ MORE)

Playing in the Sandbox: Variations on a Theme - Just over the wall that separates our little outpost from the surrounding village there is a man. This man has a megaphone. Nearly every day this man picks up his megaphone and begins to sing, loudly and in Arabic: ALLLLAAAAAAAHU AKBARRRRRRR ALLLLAAAH SHIGGITY SHIGGITY SHWAAAAH! {Note: It is slightly possible that I added the "shiggity shiggity shwah" part.} What's worse is that before he even starts he always tests the megaphone, usually by blowing a quick burst of air into it, amplifying an annoyingly static whoosh, warning us of his impending monotonic vocal sonata. Sometimes I wish I could have a competing megaphone, and for every "Allahu Akbar" I hear, I can retort with an "I'm trying to sleeeeeep!!!" Especially now during Ramadan when they like to wake everyone up at 3AM to eat before the sunrise so they can manage the day's fast. But maybe that's a bit insensitive. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: Origins Of A Deployment, Origins Of A Blog - I had tried to deploy to Iraq twice with units from my home state of Ohio, but neither worked out. After my second go-round with the sons of Ohio, a fellow senior NCO, who had also volunteered, called me the day after we had both been told that there was no room for us with the deploying unit and gave me some information. He told me to go and check out the NGB (National Guard Bureau) website and check the "Deployment Opportunities" page. I did, and found a spreadsheet with the projected needs for soldiers of all levels and many different MOS's listed. He also gave me the phone number of the SGM (Sergeant Major) at the deployment branch. The spreadsheet didn't show any needs for someone with my rank and skill set, and so I called the SGM and asked him what he had projected. After a brief conversation about my skills and experiences, he told me that I should consider becoming an ETT in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Iraqi Police training for the future (Basra) - BASRA – Iraqi Police instructors graduated their first leadership training course Sept. 11. in Basra, Iraq The seven instructors took part in a two-week course designed to increase their training and leadership skills as part of a “Train the Trainer” program conducted with British Police. The course, an advanced trainer development course, is focused on developing student-centered facilitation skills. While the instructors actually lead the course, the students bring their own expertise into shaping the course. (READ MORE)

Al-Qaeda attack networks impaired (Bayji, Kirkuk) - BAGHDAD – Iraqi and Coalition forces killed two terrorists and detained 13 suspected terrorists during operations to degrade al-Qaeda in Iraq attack capabilities around the country Thursday and Friday. Thursday, Coalition forces captured an alleged AQI leader in Bayji, about 160 km south of Mosul. The alleged leader is believed to oversee all terrorist attacks in Bayji, including an attack Sep. 8 that killed two Iraqi policemen and wounded another four. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces detain two Kata’ib Hezbollah suspects in New Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces struck another blow to the Kata’ib Hezbollah criminal network Friday after capturing two suspected criminals in New Baghdad. After detaining nearly 20 suspected leaders and media personalities in the Kata’ib Hezbollah criminal network over the past two months, Coalition forces targeted a man believed to be involved in the group’s operations in Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Rigger honored with building dedication - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – The 824th Quartermaster Company held a dedication ceremony Sept 11 re-naming building number 8124, the “Eric Burri Rigging Facility,” on Joint Base Balad, Iraq, honoring a fellow rigger who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Burri died when an improvised explosive device detonated near his humvee in Baghdad, Iraq, June 7, 2005 while assigned to the 623rd Quartermaster Company, 1st Corps Support Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. (READ MORE)

IA, MND-B Soldiers seize munitions in Baghdad area - Soldiers serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, MND-B, found a cache northwest of Baghdad at approximately 11:45 a.m. The munitions included 15 120 mm mortars, three 130 mm rounds, five 57 mm rounds, three rocket-propelled grenades, two magnet improvised-explosive devices, four hand grenades, an IED, 50 7.62 ammunition, 30 fuses, and IED-making materials and various communication gear. (READ MORE)

National Police share information in West Rashid - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON – Iraqi National Police and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers used information handbills to engage the residents of Aamel and Bayaa Sept. 11 in an effort to keep criminals on the move in West Rashid. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, has conducted several information dissemination operations in Hayy Aamel and Bayaa in order to remain proactive in the hunt for active criminals. (READ MORE)

Mass grave site found in Ghalibyah - Ghalibyah, Iraq – A mass grave site was found in an open field, south of Ghalibyah by 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Sept. 10. The bodies, two teenage females and two Iraqi Soldiers, appear to have been deceased for about a year and a half. Local Iraqi Police will hand over the remains to respective families for proper burial. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers detain four suspected criminals in Baghdad’s Rashid district - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division –Baghdad Soldiers detained four criminals in Baghdad’s Rashid district Sep. 11. At approximately 3 a.m. Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st, Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B detained four suspected criminals in the Jihad community of Baghdad’s Rashid district. (READ MORE)

INPs report munitions caches to MND-B Soldiers in Baghdad’s Rashid district - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Iraqi National Police seized two munitions caches in Baghdad’s Rashid district Sep. 10. At approximately 6:15 p.m., Iraqi National Police from 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division found three rocket propelled grenade rockets in the Risalah community. (READ MORE)

Family murdered in Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq – A mother, father and son were murdered in their home in Mosul Sept. 11. The three bodies were found in the al Karama neighborhood with gunshot wounds to their heads and chests and were later taken to the al Jamouri Hospital. “The brutality of this act will not deter the people of Mosul from building a stronger city,” said Maj. Peggy Kageleiry, a spokesperson for Coalition Forces north of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Residents Remove Concertina Wire, Clean Streets of Jihad - FOB FALCON — Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, patrolled the streets of Jihad on a September evening not only to secure the streets and community, but also to look for old concertina wire. 1st Lt. Matt Cyr, Platoon Leader for 3rd Platoon, Company C, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Regt., 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., lead a patrol through the streets of Jihad in order to remove abandoned and unused concertina wire in an attempt to beautify the area. The vestiges of war are no longer necessary and the residents of Jihad are anxious to assist in the cleanup efforts. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces target Taliban, Haqqani networks in Ghazni, Khowst provinces - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 11, 2008) – Coalition forces killed several militants and detained three suspected militants during operations in Ghazni and Khowst provinces, Wednesday. Coalition forces targeted a regional terrorist leader in Andar District, Ghazni province, who is suspected of facilitating the movement of foreign fighters into Afghanistan. He is also suspected to have close ties to senior Taliban commanders in the region. (READ MORE)

9/11 remembered during heart-felt ceremony in Afghanistan - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 11, 2008) – Soldiers and civilians from several nations affected by the War on Terror gathered beneath the towering flagpoles today at the Combined Joint Task Force-101 Headquarters at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan to remember September 11, 2001 during a heart-felt ceremony. (READ MORE)

Pakistani Troops Kill More Than 20 Taliban Militants - KHAR (AFP)--Pakistani troops bombed Taliban positions for the second day running Friday in a tribal town near the Afghan border, killing up to 23 militants in the latest action, officials said. Up to 100 Islamic fighters had been killed in bombing on Thursday in different areas of Bajaur district, a hotbed of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants (READ MORE)

100 militants killed in Pakistan - Pakistani security forces, backed by air power, have killed up to 100 militants in fierce clashes near the Afghan border, a media report said Friday. 'Eighty to 100 militants were killed in Bajaur (tribal agency) today (Thursday). Most of them are foreigners,' The News quoted an official as saying. Pakistan Air Force jets and army gunship helicopters provided covering fire as the security forces rained mortar and artillery shells, destroying a big market in the Inayat Killay area that housed a big militant centre. (READ MORE)

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