September 16, 2008

From the Front: 09/16/2008

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

In their own words:
Bouhammer: Coming to Light - The word is out and there is no denying it, This is exactly what I and many that I know whom were ETTs have been saying. This is not a fast and clean war. The President said this back in 2001. He told the American people and the world that this would be a fight like no other. He knew, along with his top advisers that fighting a war against an idealogy, a terrorist group, a people with no country and no conscience was not going to be an easy fight or a fast one. How soon people forgot this in the years that have passed. I am glad to see senior leadership saying the hard things, but the right things. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Halfway home - The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the New York Army National Guard has past the midpoint of its mission as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII. Col. Brian K. Balfe, commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, took command April 26 at Camp Phoenix, Kabul. The task force is comprised of nearly 9,500 service men and women from all U.S. branches, including Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, coalition partners and civilian professionals spread over nearly 260 forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan. Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix is part of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan with the mission to mentor and train the Afghan National Army and Police, and provide assistance to the government of Afghanistan and its people. (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: Blood Red Sky - Yesterday the sky was blood red. I never saw anything like it. I thought of taking a picture, but I figured the camera couldn't capture it. I would just look like I shot a picture through some kind of red filter. The red dust comes all the way from Syria. A person who knew enough about dust could probably tell you exactly where every storm started. I cleaned out my can yesterday. In anticipation of my imminent departure from Iraq, I swept out the whole place and mopped the floor with Pine Sol. The red dust storm negated all that effort. You can shut the door and all the windows and you still cannot keep it out. This would have bothered me a couple of months ago, but no more. I have gotten used to it and now that I will not have to experience it much longer, the various textures and types of dust merely amuse me. (READ MORE)

Up Country Iraq: Bucca - Hello everyone, I am back at Speicher for a little while after spending a couple of weeks down in the southern reaches of Iraq. Although the trip to and from Bucca was somewhat grueling, it was nothing compared to getting back in time to watch the Ohio State football team embarrass itself on national TV once again. I suppose that this is as good a year as any to miss the opportunity to watch much football. As for that Army football team, when the head coach has to apologize to the Army for the performance of his team, you know something isn’t right over on the Hudson River. I spent the past couple of weeks presiding over a Multi-National Force Release Committee (MNFRC) down at a place called Camp Bucca. Bucca is a Theater Internment Facility (TIF). (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Michael Fumento: "Remembering" When al-Anbar Was "Lost" - How strange! I spent all three of my Iraqi embeds in western Al Anbar because that’s where the war was worst. Birthplace of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and cradle of the Sunni insurgency, graffiti declared it “Graveyard of the Americans.” Indeed, I was in combat with the first two SEALs to die in Iraq, including the first to win the Medal of Honor (posthumously). I talked strategy with Army Cpt. Travis Patriquin, designer of “The Awakening” that turned enemy Sunni tribes into allies against AQI, while none of this was possible without tremendous help from chief Anbar Marine Public Affairs Officer Maj. Megan McClung. An IED blast killed them both. So how can it be that last year AQI fled the province and now we’ve handed military control of a pacified al Anbar to Iraqi forces, in what the AP properly called “a stunning reversal of fortune?” Further, how could this have occurred just two years after the Marines themselves: (READ MORE)

CAPT Ben Tupper: VANDY - Recently my friend Vandy came to visit me for a weekend reunion. When I picked him up at the train station I saw that his arms were covered in cuts and scabs. He was wearing a knee brace. His swollen and bruised knuckles suggested many punches thrown and landed. He told me all these injuries were the results of bar fights, some more successful than others. From previous phone calls, I wasn't surprised to see these physical signs of a rough transition home. A few months ago, Vandy had called me excitedly after totaling his car in a drag race on a city street. I knew all this was not out of the ordinary for recently returned combat veterans. Vandy's attitude at home now was much like his approach to war: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." He had had the closest life and death call of his tour just days before he left Afghanistan. This mission was one he didn't need to be on, but Vandy was the type who would volunteer to go. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Sudanese refugees 'waiting to die' - For hopelessness, it may be hard to top the 200-plus Sudanese refugees living in a makeshift camp in a remote desert part of Anbar province. Four years ago, the Sudanese fled Baghdad, targeted for death by roving militias. Their tent city next to a highway is without running water or electricity. There are no jobs. The landscape is sun scorched and windblown. (READ MORE)

Inside the New Green Zone - BAGHDAD — “You’ll need badges.” It was one of the first bits of advice I got, flying in, from the guy sitting next to me, Sam, an Iraqi still managing to pursue business interests here. American badges, laminates, passes: without one of these, the right one of these, he said, you weren’t going anywhere. (READ MORE)

Forward Operating Base Bucca Welcomes New Commander - CAMP BUCCA, Iraq—The Forward Operating Base Bucca commander relinquished command on Sept. 8 in a change of command ceremony in the new gym complex at Camp Bucca, Iraq. Marine Col. Clyde T. Burton succeeded Navy Capt. Bruce Derenski, who recently redeployed to the States. Derenski was reassigned from the New London Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn. and arrived here on Christmas Day of last year. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers detained criminals in Baghdad’s Rashid district - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division –Baghdad Soldiers detained two known criminals in Baghdad’s Rashid district Sept. 14. At approximately 12:50 a.m. Sept. 14, a local Sons of Iraq leader provided a tip to Iraqi National Police from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, about the location of two reputed Sunni criminals known to use al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist tactics, living in the Masafee community. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers detain 2 suspected Special Groups criminals in Baghdad - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division –Baghdad Soldiers detain two suspected Special Groups criminals in Baghdad’s Rashid district Sep. 14-15. At approximately 2:30 p.m. Sep. 14, Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B, detained a suspected special groups criminal in the Shurta community. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers, GOI work to improve quality of life for Baghdad citizens - BAGHDAD – For citizens of a war-torn city, often the smallest things that help make life easier are the most welcome of sights. Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers are working hand in hand with Government of Iraq officials to help the local Baghdad citizens return to a more normal way of life by improving essential services throughout the region with a program focusing on sewer, water, electricity, agriculture, trash and health. (READ MORE)

Two provincial-level al-Qaeda leaders removed from networks - BAGHDAD – One terrorist who was killed and one suspected terrorist who was captured have been identified as key players in the al-Qaeda in Iraq network in northeast Iraq. Hadi Muhammad Husayn Darwish, also known as Abu Jassim, was killed Sep. 9 during an operation near Kirkuk. Coalition forces asses that Abu Jassim was the overall AQI leader of Tamim province. Using information from one of Abu Jassim’s alleged associates already in Iraqi custody, Iraqi and Coalition forces established a vehicle checkpoint to intercept the terrorist. (READ MORE)

Q-West leaders promote Iraqi economic opportunity, self-reliance - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq – Coalition forces are working to help Iraqi entrepreneurs learn the skills needed to earn the money to remain successful after Coalition forces leave. The Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone initiative is currently helping 14 Iraqi owned businesses, six industrial and eight retail, operating on Q-West. The businesses were awarded land-use agreements to operate on the contingency operating base, and sell goods and services to Soldiers, contractors, local nationals and foreign nationals. (READ MORE)

Operation nets 63 suspected AQI (Ninewah) - NINEWAH, Iraq – Sixty-three suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq members were detained during an Iraqi Security Force led operation in the Ninewah Province, Sept. 14. The operation was conducted in response to the kidnapping of one Iraqi journalist and murder of four Iraqi journalists, Sept. 13. “Random acts of violence in public places are the only plan these savages have for the future of Iraq and Iraq Security Forces will conduct these operation to ensure the safety of their citizens,” (READ MORE)

Ramadan Detainee Releases Update (Baghdad) - Baghdad – Multi-National Forces Iraq’s Task Force 134, the organization responsible for all detainee operations in Iraq, reported an aggregate release of 734 detainees during the second week of Ramadan, bringing the total aggregate detainee releases so far during the month to 1,167. The number of internee releases during this first week averaged 75 individuals per day, while an average of 20 individuals per day where in-processed. (READ MORE)

Prime Minister al-Maliki opens Justice Palace in Rusafa (Baghdad) - FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Justice and the institution of law in Iraq took a large step forward when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki officially opened a new courthouse in the Rusafa district of eastern Baghdad Sept. 10. Iraqi Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud, along with Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of Multi-National Forces – Iraq, joined al-Maliki and other distinguished visitors for the courthouse grand opening. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Soldiers Lead Humanitarian Drop, Aid People of Shulla - BAGHDAD — Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers partnered with Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers conducted a humanitarian assistance (HA) drop in the northwestern Baghdad neighborhood of Shulla, Sept. 10. Iraqi security forces (ISF) and Coalition forces (CF) have conducted numerous HA drops throughout Shulla, but this one was unique because it was planned and executed by the IA with minimal CF oversight. (READ MORE)

3/8 Marines head for a deteriorating Afghanistan - It may look like 3rd Battalion 8th Marines is already in Afghanistan -- but this is California. 3/8 is training at Twentynine Palms for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in November. They may be going just in time, as the Taliban appear to be widening the pockets of instability and insecurity around Kabul, Kandahar and other key districts. The attacks there constitute a third front in the Afghan war, along with the fighting in eastern Afghanistan on the Pakistan border, and in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Province where the 24th MEU and 2/7 Marines are finishing up operations. (READ MORE)

Militant activities disrupted in Helmand province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 15, 2008) – Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces disrupted militant activities Sunday during an engagement in Nar Surkh District, Helmand. Militants fired on ANSF and Coalition forces with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenades. ANSF and Coalition forces returned fire with small-arms fire, killing at least one militant. No ANSF, Coalition forces or civilian casualties were reported. (READ MORE)

Haqqani network targeted in Khowst, eight militants detained - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 15, 2008) – Coalition forces detained eight suspected militants during multiple operations to disrupt and dismantle the Haqqani terrorist network in Khowst province, Sunday. In Qalandar District, Coalition Forces detained three suspected militants during an operation targeting a Haqqani subcommander suspected of financing and directing attacks, as well as, facilitating the movement of foreign fighters into the region. (READ MORE)

101st CAB packing for return home - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 15, 2008) – ‘Nothing happens until something moves,’ is one of the Army Transportation Corps’ mottos. Things are starting to move at Camp Albert at Bagram Air Field; namely large metal shipping containers called tricons, as the first customs inspections of shipping containers recently took place. (READ MORE)

After Sept 3 raid, Pak retaliated and blocked supplies to US, NATO forces in Afghanistan - Washington, Sept 16 : In a "retaliatory action" after the Sept 3 on-the-ground raid by US forces killing 20 people at a suspected militant target near Angor Adda, Pakistan blocked supplies to US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said an American media report. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan frees son of alleged ally of Al Qaeda - ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Afghanistan freed a 12-year-old boy and sent him to his family in Pakistan, two months after it says he was detained with his mother, who is suspected of links to Al Qaeda and faces charges in New York. (READ MORE)

Pentagon denies Pak firing turned back US choppers over Angoor Adda - Washington, Sept 16 : The Pentagon has refuted yesterday's media reports that US-led coalition helicopters based in Afghanistan were fired at in Pakistan and forced to turn back. "The incident did not happen," The News quoted Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman as saying. (READ MORE)

Taliban welcomes Canadian decision on Afghanistan pullout - The Taliban has welcomed the Canadian announcement to pull troops out of Afghanistan by 2011, saying the insurgents will easily rout the Afghan government army which is 'made of plastic'. Canada, which joined the US-led coalition in Afghanistan in 2002, has 2,500 troops fighting the Taliban in Kandahar province and training the Afghan army and the police. (READ MORE)

No comments: