September 26, 2008

From the Front: 09/26/2008

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

In their own words:
Armed and Curious: Local elections and moving goal posts - Lost in the lunacy that is the economic train wreck unfolding yesterday was the news that the Iraqi parliament overwhelmingly passed the provincial elections law after finding a compromise on the issue of how to handle Kirkuk. With the law finally passing they have set the stage for elections to occur at the local and provincial level in late January. This is a very important event in a number of ways. Most importantly is, as Tip O'Neil famously stated, "all politics is local" and frankly it hasn't been in Iraq. The national parliament was elected based on party slates so the people voted for a party and not a person. With a certain percentage of the vote the parties got that many seats and there is no answering to a constituency or angry voters. Many of them haven't visited their home towns since returning from exile in the last five years. (READ MORE)

...feeling of absurdity...: Silence - There is an odd state of silence after an operation in which more than 10 Al Qaeda insurgents and supporters were detained in our little section of central Diyala Province. The local nationals no longer ignore the Strykers as they drive by, but now look on with fear, respect, hatred, or appreciation. Either way, they look at us knowing that we can directly effect their lives in either a positive or negetive way - depending on whose side they are on. While Counter Insurgency is indeed a battle for the hearts and minds, those hearts and minds must also be constantly reminded of what can happen if you support the bad guys... (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Mechanics keep Marines on their wheels - CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq – Arguably having one of the toughest jobs within Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, motor transport mechanics are putting in extra hours to keep the battalion on it’s wheels. The battalion has a total of 10 mechanics with a minimum of one assigned to every company, and four who are providing higher echelon maintenance for the battalion when needed. If a mechanic with one of the companies is unable to repair a vehicle, it is brought to the battalion mechanics who have the ability to make more complex repairs. Averaging 16-hour days, the mechanics work on a constant flow of disabled vehicles coming into their shop. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Al Qaeda-linked suspects emerge in Islamabad Marriott attacks - Two senior al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Pakistani terrorists are suspected of being behind the Sept. 20 bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. The deadly attack killed more than 50 Pakistanis and foreigners and wounded more than 270, and destroyed the once-popular hotel. In recent press reports, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, have both been implicated as being the mastermind of the Marriott bombing. Both men have extensive ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and have been in Pakistani custody until recently. (READ MORE)

Hillas' Histories: Rebuilding Iraq: Babil Province - SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS PALPABLE BUT FRAGILE - I arrived in Al-Hillah in the beginning of March 2008, and the changes since then have been notable. The gains in security during that time are reflected in an improved quality of life for the province's citizens. Babil -- the most populous (1.6 million) province in the south central region -- is the keystone for the south central region. The U.S. maintains a Regional Embassy Office (REO ) in Al-Hillah, one of four in Iraq (together with Basrah, Kirkuk and Erbil). Babil is largely located between the Tirgris and Euphrates and has been Iraq's breadbasket as well as an industrial center. The northern part of the province lies within the so-called "Triangle of Death," south of Baghdad. This was a Sunni area lying on the Sunni/Shia fault line and the stage in which active fighting was still taking place until early 2008. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

MND-B Soldiers find IED thanks to Iraqi citizen tip (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers discovered an emplaced improvised explosive device Sept. 25 in the Hadar community of southern Baghdad. At approximately 11:15 a.m., Soldiers from Troop A, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, discovered the IED next to a community school after receiving a tip from a concerned Iraqi citizen. (READ MORE)

Local citizen leads IA to large weapons cache (Balad, al Kut) - BALAD, Iraq – Information from a local Iraqi citizen lead the 8th Iraqi Army Division to a large weapons cache in al Kut Sept. 23. The cache consisted of more than 500 57 mm high explosive projectiles, five other types of projectiles, and two mortars. “This operation was planned and coordinated unilaterally by the Iraqi Army scouts and is a reinforcement of their professionalism and legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi population,” said Lt. Col. Neil Harper, spokesperson for Multi-National Corps – Iraq. (READ MORE)

MNF-W Marines discover munitions stockpile - CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – Multi-National Force –West Marines discovered an explosive-remnants-of-war stockpile near Haditha Sept. 23. The Marines with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, currently assigned to Camp Pendleton-based Regimental Combat Team 5, discovered the munitions while on patrol approximately 20 miles west of the city. (READ MORE)

Combined operation nets 22 in Siniyah - SINIYAH, Iraq – Two days after a Sons of Iraq checkpoint was attacked in the northern city of Siniyah, a combined operation by Coalition forces and Iraqi Police resulted in the detainment of 22 wanted individuals Sept. 25. The operation was aimed at finding individuals who did not choose to clear their names during the reconciliation period over past few months in the adjacent city of Bayji. (READ MORE)

Tip leads IA, MND-B Soldiers to weapons cache - BAGHDAD – A tip from a local resident led Multi-National Division – Baghdad and Iraqi Army soldiers to a weapons cache in the Sadr city district of Baghdad Sept. 24. After receiving information from a concerned citizen, soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 42nd Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, and MND-B Soldiers with Task Force 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division seized a cache at a approximately 11 a.m. (READ MORE)

Corps of Engineers hands over regional courthouse (Basra) - Basra, Iraq – The Gulf Region South Corps of Engineers Basra Area Office handed over a new regional courthouse in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 23. At a cost of over 11 million dollars, the Basra Regional Courthouse is one of the largest projects undertaken by GRS. U. S. Army Lt. Col. Humberto Ramirez represented the Corps of Engineers at the ceremony signing the building over to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice. Judge Layth represented the Government of Iraq and cut the ribbon signifying the transfer of control of the site. (READ MORE)

IPs receive hands-on training from CF (FOB Iskan) - FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Coalition forces teamed up with Iraqi Police to conduct training on the proper techniques of searching and questioning detainees and witnesses Sept. 18 at Forward Operating Base Iskan. Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and military police attached to the battalion brought in IPs from Jurf as Sahkr, Hillah, Iskandariyah, Musayyib and Tahir to teach them several different techniques. (READ MORE)

Strong Iraqi, U.S. Partnership Provides Path to Productive Future - WASHINGTON — The partnership between the Coalition and the Iraqi government has been enormously productive and is continuing to pay dividends, Brig. Gen. David Perkins, a Coalition spokesman in Baghdad, said. Perkins and Iraqi Army Maj. Gen. Qasim Atta spoke about a range of subjects during a news conference yesterday. Atta, the spokesman for the Iraqi Army’s Baghdad Operations Center, said that as the holy month of Ramadan closes and Iraqis begin to celebrate the Feast of Eid on Oct. 1, security forces will take extra precautions, such as not allowing vehicles to enter parks where the feasting will take place. (READ MORE)

Kirkuk Police Force Grows by 3,000 - KIRKUK — More than 3,000 Iraqis, including 58 women, joined the ranks of the Kirkuk province’s police force during a graduation ceremony held Tuesday at the Kirkuk Police Academy. Referring to the unprecedented number of graduates, Maj. Gen. Jamal Thaker Baker, the Kirkuk provincial police chief, hailed the moment as “an historic event for the people of the Kirkuk province.” “This is the direct result of the combined efforts of our Coalition friends and the Ministry of the Interior,” Baker said. (READ MORE)

3-103rd Deploys - WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Duty, honor, country, family. The words known so well to local Soldiers of the 3/103rd Regiment echoed across the parade field at the Grove Street armory Thursday afternoon as the community gathered with friends and families to wish luck to the unit as they deploy to Iraq on a year-long mission as part of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division. Duty, honor and country are the easy parts of deploying, say most Soldiers. Leaving family behind, they agree, is much harder for them. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces detain two in Ghazni province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 25, 2008) – Coalition forces detained two suspected militants during an operation in Ghazni province, Wednesday. The two militants were detained for their suspected ties to a Taliban terrorist network and foreign fighter facilitation in Andar District. (READ MORE)

Haqqani network militants detained in Khowst province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 26, 2008) – Coalition forces detained two suspected militants during operations targeting a Haqqani terrorist network in Khowst province, Thursday. The operation targeted a suspected Haqqani militant in Sabari District, suspected to be in direct contact with Haqqani commanders. The targeted militant is also suspected to be an active participant in the intertwined financial, IED and foreign terrorist facilitation network. (READ MORE)

Face-to-face visits for detainees - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 23, 2008) – The United States military now provides routine face-to-face visits between detainees held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and their families. “We understand the positive impact these types of programs can have on the mission here in Afghanistan, particularly in terms of detainee behavior,” Brig. Gen. James McConville, deputy commanding general of support for Combined Joint Task Force-101, said. (READ MORE)

U.S. troops assist in turbine movement - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 22, 2008) – Those who reside in the smaller villages of southern Afghanistan have limited or no electricity. Even though rows of power lines stretch for miles across the desolate sands of the region, major cities are the only ones to actually benefit from these sources. U.S. forces joined with Afghan National Security Forces and the International Security Assistance Force late last month to participate in an operation that would lead to the eventual establishment of power for the smaller communities. (READ MORE)

Soldiers give the gift of blood in Afghanistan - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 25, 2008) – Soldiers from the 440th Blood Supply Detachment held a blood-screening Sept. 25 in the Combined Joint Task Force-101 Joint Operations Center at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, drawing almost double the donors as during an average day. This particular screening is in addition to a regular screening which takes place Wednesdays at Craig Joint Theatre Hospital at Bagram. (READ MORE)

Pak troops fire at intruding US choppers along Afghan border - Washington, Sept 26 : The US and Pakistani troops exchanged fire along the Pak-Afghan border last evening, after Pakistanis reportedly fired shots at two American helicopters which, Pakistan claimed, had crossed into its border. A top American military official said that the two American "OH-58 Kiowa" reconnaissance helicopters were not damaged and no casualties were reported. (READ MORE)

Pakistani troops fire on US helicopters at Afghan border; US demands explanation - KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Pakistani soldiers fired at American reconnaissance helicopters that were escorting Afghan and U.S. ground troops along the volatile border Thursday, sparking a five-minute ground battle between the countries which have been allies in the war on terrorism, officials said. Attempting to play down the incident — the first serious exchange with Pakistani forces acknowledged by the U.S. (READ MORE)

Kerry Healey on mission to recruit female Afghan judges - Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey is heading to Afghanistan to recruit female judges as part of a federal effort to wipe out institutional discrimination against women in the Muslim nation. “We’ll try and convince them that we should be allowed to invite women to come to the United States to train as judges and lawyers,” Healey told the Herald. “We want to encourage (women) to have the courage.” (READ MORE)

Pak military backs Taleban, alleges US official - WASHINGTON: Recently retired American military officials and respected US defense analysts have accused the Pakistan government of supporting insurgents fighting NATO forces operating in Afghanistan. This week, that accusation became official with the publication of a front-page story in Defense News — a respected daily newspaper that tracks Pentagon policies and doctrine — which an active-duty Marine Corps officer claims that Pakistani forces crossed the border into the Nangarhar Province to resupply weapons, fuel, ammunition, and other materiel to a “base camp occupied by Taleban, Al-Qaeda and the Hezb-e-Islami faction led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.” (READ MORE)

No comments: