October 7, 2008

From the Front: 10/07/2008

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

In their own words:
Michael Yon: Life Before Death - I left embed with British forces in Kandahar, and flew to Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand Province. Helmand is the biggest opium source of the world today. I write these words from Nangarhar, where bin Laden had made his home. Lashkar Gah: Western attitudes about the Afghans are interesting. There seems to be a general feeling of affection towards most Afghans, and I find the Afghans approachable and easy to get along with. The food I’ve eaten in different provinces is excellent, and I also enjoy talking with Afghanis. Many soldiers, journalists and foreign workers have expressed similar experiences here. Tom Ricks, the outstanding American journalist who authored Fiasco (a very important book about the Iraq war), spent some of his childhood years in Afghanistan. Tom emailed me about Afghanistan, saying: “I love the country…” On another occasion, Tom wrote to me about his childhood here: (READ MORE)

Back on the Homefront: The Chains - When Micah first left, I made some paper chains to hang on the wall. Each "link" represented one week that Micah was supposed to be gone. I couldn't have standed seeing days (or to make them), and of course I added a few so we wouldn't be disappointed if he got home later than expected. This was the best way I could find to help Evan understand how long daddy would be gone. Each Sunday or "church day", Evan gets to break off a link and see how close we are to daddy coming home. Sometimes Evan would forget, so I would let it go until he could break off a few to make a more dramatic impact. We're finally down to being under 20 links left, so the wall looks much better now....just one problem...the anticipation is getting worse for all of us....Now that Evan can tell its getting colder, and he sees the chain links disappearing, he's getting very eager for daddy to just be home. Its easy to tell when he's missing daddy as nothing makes him happy. (READ MORE)

Brad's Excellent Adventure: Qatari Five-O - Monday 6 Oct. 2008 - 2000 - Well, today is my birthday. “The big five oh”, as they say, hence the title. I guess I should be feeling introspective and waxing philosophical, but I’m not. I’m just tired. :-) I have been getting settled in pretty well and getting myself more or less un-jet lagged. Last night was the first night that I actually slept through most of the night. I’ll post some photos and a description of my room later on, but for now I just want to get a few things done while I have the internet connection. I will say that I have nearly twice as much room as I had in Kuwait, which is very nice indeed. Camp As Sayliyah has a lot of positive things, but one huge disappointment – the internet service here really sucks. I thought that being a rear-area base and also the R&R post, it would have great services, but it doesn’t. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Donations from home help with Afghan mentoring and support mission - Donations of school supplies and children’s clothing from military families and friends at home are helping deployed New York Army National Guard soldiers in their mission to mentor and train Afghan national security Forces and support the Afghan people. Hundreds of pounds of schools supplies, children’s clothing and shoes sent over from New York communities were delivered to boys and girls of the Afshar School in the suburbs of Kabul on 4 October by members of the Afghan National Police. Humanitarian assistance missions help ordinary Afghan families and build bonds of trust for the nation’s developing army and police forces. Trainers and mentors from Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, part of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, guide and support Afghan National Police and Army units as they conduct local efforts. (READ MORE)

Fobbits Need Ice Cream Too: SarahCuda and other clever things - So I finally watched the VP debate today at lunch, a few days late. We are on a new schedule that I suggested in an AAR and I think they (the brass) read, which frightens me, because a Joe's #1 priority is to stay off the radar. I think Palin smiles too much; people who smile too much are suspicious. What's up their sleeve? However, she is extremely hot and is a deployment +5000 at this stage in the game. I loathe the Obama/Biden campaign; a bunch of old, rich guys telling me how they are just like me and telling everyone that they need to button down and prepare to sacrifice for their country. Let's see some DD214's, fellas. Anyways, I found out that you can go to the post office and bypass the Army bullshit and send in a ballot yourself, which I did. So I've already cast my vote, and I think I made the right choice. We got a new driver, hopefully permanently. His callsign is The Postman because he is our unit mail clerk. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Marine, corpsman pay homage to fallen brother - FALLUJAH, Iraq (September 19, 2008) – Four years ago in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of this city, Marines were attacked within minutes of beginning routine foot patrols. The locals here were strongly opposed to the presence of Coalition forces and a vicious insurgency devastated the city. In 2004, Lance Cpl. James Swain, an intelligence specialist with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, was fatally wounded by a gunshot in one of the cities’ neighborhoods. On Sept. 20, the brother of the fallen Marine, Petty Officer 3rd Class Benjamin Swain, a corpsman with Battery M, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, from Kokomo, Ind., visited the site where his brother gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Obama Gets His Iraq Spin Ready - I think it's time to get used to President Obama. All the polls indicate that Barack Obama is way ahead of John McCain. So let's look to the future, Obama certainly is. An Obama win will mean the U.S. withdrawal a year and a half early, which leaves Iraq's civilians to the terrorists. He already has hinted at how he will address the genocides that will surely take place after the Americans leave. The Democrats disregard the facts when Obama says the killings are already underway, and his deputy Joe Biden says Iraqis have been killing each other for the past 700 years. So withdrawing U.S. troops will not alter anything, according to them. Obama says the Iraqis have plenty of money to fix their own country. He says it is not the responsiblity of the United States. Obama's take on Iraq is more than just nonsense. It's dangerous. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban rebuild children’s suicide camp in South Waziristan - The Taliban have rebuilt a camp in South Waziristan that trains children to be suicide bombers, a video from Pakistan shows. Children as young as seven years old are indoctrinated to wage jihad in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The video, obtained by AfPax Insider, was shot in August in Spinkai Ragzai, South Waziristan, a tribal area run by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. The Taliban are seen "training dozens of boys ranging in age from seven to 14," the news service reported. "The video attempts to justify suicide bombings as a legitimate means of attack against "infidels.'" The images shows the children reading from the Quran and an adult Taliban training the children. One slide shows a poster board with the words “Killing a Spy” written in English. (READ MORE)

Photography, Software, and Sand: Recommended reading - One of the things that I had hoped to accomplish, and so far have managed to do, is to get more reading done. I've always been a fan of reading - I had almost all of the Hardy Boys books when I was younger - and in the last 5 years I've been reading more political and historical books. I just finished Bob Woodward's new book called The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008 that just recently came out. Its a long book, but if history and politics is your thing, or if you're interested in the decision-making behind events here in Iraq, I highly recommend picking it up. Two things that I took away from the book that I definitely don't like is the way President Bush runs his National Security Council (NSC) and his delegation of Iraq-related decision-making to his National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley. I always thought that the NSC was a place of debate among advisors to the president, which is depicted quite well in the movie "Thirteen Days" about the Cuban missile crisis. (READ MORE)

Rocinante's Burdens: Day 108. Stuff - Just another day in Iraq. Ramadan is over. The 4-day holiday after Ramadan is over. Everyone is back at work (or at least back at their places of work). Crowded streets and markets are an indicator of national wellness. I found this little guy outside my hut. He would normally be blending in with his environment so as to go completely unnoticed by me, but this time, his environment was the freezer. He is the first of his kind I have seen in Iraq so I thought it worthy of a picture. This is what happens when your Donkeys are worth more than your sons. This kid should be in school. They have already started back after the summer break, but child labor is an important part of the local economy. There are plenty of much younger children at most major intersections selling fruit and tissue paper. I can't imagine they make enough doing that to make it worth being there all day. (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: The Sandbox 2: Electric Boogaloo - Well golly, I’m back on line. I’d like to call this a hiatus, but that sounds like a dirty word, so let’s just say that I had to deal with a few things after Megan broke up with me. She finally sent me back my “As I Lay Dying” CDs, my Tori Amos T-shirt and my promise ring. Other than that, things have been going well. They finally gave me live rounds! Maybe now they’ll let me go outside the wire? Oh, and I got my brand new job today! I get to stand in the door at the DEFAC and make sure that everybody is washing their hands before they come inside for chow! This is really important. I must have been picked for the job because my sergeant knows I’m reliable. No word on finding Big Tobacco. He’s a slippery one, that’s for sure. I’ve been looking for him in the smoking areas. I thought I had found him yesterday. (READ MORE)

Tragically Famous: Move along folks. There ain't nothin' here to see. - Evening prayer has come to an end. Darkness falls silent in the rural outskirts of Baghdad tonight. The moon is only a sickle, a sliver of light. The rooftops are barren. The temperature has cooled off enough to sleep inside again; stiff backs and necks - no longer. Slowly but surely the people begin to doze off in the comfort of their beds. The locals enjoyed their Sunday night relaxing as usual, as work beckons in the morning. The stillness of the evening is as deceitful as it is pleasant. Nearby, several military vehicles stop at an intersection for their checks. The lights on the front vehicle materialized; as if to let their presence be acknowledged. It was only moments later that the lights disappeared, and the trucks vanished into the darkness of night. The Iraqi National Police on duty stir restlessly at the intersection, enjoying a content night of cigarettes and sugared hot tea. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: Orion In Shades Of Green - Of all the posts that I have written, only one exceeded the response that Nighttime In Shades Of Green received. People said that they felt that they had been there on that roof in Alingar looking through my AN/PVS-14 NOD (Night Observation Device) with me. Well, I've got a little taste of that for them. Before I left FOB Kalagush, I used my simple little HP digital camera to shoot a few seconds of video of the night sky over Nurguram District, Nuristan. The little camera was challenged by the task, but it didn't come out too badly. The sound in the background is one of the generators at FOB Kalagush. When you look through the NOD it with your eye, it doesn't seem so much like looking through a toilet paper roll. The camera is a little limited that way. It also confuses the auto-focus a bit. You can adjust the focus of the PVS-14 to your eye so that you have a clear image. The result is like a green "black and white" TV image; in one eye. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Marines, politicians fight to bring widow to US - Pressure from the Marine Corps and a U.S. senator has overcome bureaucratic opposition in the State Department to allowing the Japanese widow of a Marine killed in Iraq to enter the U.S. to have their baby, the Marine Corps Times reported Monday. Hotaru Nakama Ferschke, 25, the widow of Sgt. Michael Ferschke Jr., was initially denied a visa because the couple had been married less than two years, the newspaper reported. Ferschke was killed Aug. 18 as Marines stormed an insurgent hide-out. (READ MORE)

Coalition Soldiers detain suspected Special Groups criminal in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Soldiers attached to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Multi-National Division – Baghdad, captured a suspected Special Groups criminal in the New Baghdad security district of eastern Baghdad, Oct. 6. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained the individual who is suspected of attacks on Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces apprehend five Kata’ib Hezbollah suspects - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces dealt another blow to the Kata'ib Hezbollah network as they captured an alleged weapons smuggler early Tuesday in Kut, about 150 km southeast of Baghdad. Acting on intelligence information, Coalition forces targeted a suspected key member of the Kata'ib Hezbollah network assessed to be responsible for Iranian-supplied Explosive Formed Penetrators used against Iraqi and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces capture 16 suspected terrorists - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces struck al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership elements and foreign terrorist facilitators cells Monday and Tuesday, capturing two wanted men and detaining 14 additional suspects. Coalition forces captured one wanted man and detained two suspects Monday during an operation near Qayyarah, about 60 km south of Mosul. Intelligence reports suggest the wanted man has connections to regional AQI leadership and suspected terrorists already in custody. (READ MORE)

Marines Help Iraqis Rebuild Schools Destroyed by Terrorists - SAQLAWAIYAH — It was local Iraqi’s unshakable resolve which stood at the forefront of a project to rebuild two schools destroyed in the wake of two terrorist bombing attacks last year. The Iraqis, with assistance from numerous Coalition Civil Affairs Teams, finished reconstruction of the al Iqitdar and al Churhabil schools here, Sept. 21. (READ MORE)

Millions Make Traditional Ramadan Visit to Zawra Park - BAGHDAD — Iraqi Police and Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers visited Zawra Park in the Karkh District of Baghdad for a firsthand view of the bustling area, Oct. 5. Huge numbers of visitors came to the busy city park as part of Eid al Fitr, the three-day celebration that marks the end of the Ramadan month of fasting. (READ MORE)

No comments: