October 17, 2008

From the Front: 10/17/2008

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

In their own words:
Scott Kesterson: Credentials, Part 2 - Getting around Afghanistan is slow and challenging. My destination was ultimately to the east, Gardez, and then further east towards the Pakistan border. To get there from Kabul, you have to fly north to Bagram then fly south and east from there. Being that I had to complete my credentialing process for American forces in Bagram anyway, the trip north worked in well with my final destination. As I arrived back at Camp Phoenix, I was informed that I had three hours to be ready to go to Kabul International Airport. The plan was to move me to the ISAF side of the airport, get a room for the night and then try to secure a flight the next day to Bagram. I called the Public Affairs Office in Bagram to notify them of my forthcoming arrival. I was given a contact number for when I arrived, and was told that they would have someone available to pick me up. (READ MORE)

Cheese's Milblog: Counting down the miliseconds - We're all starting to realize how close we are to getting home. When three months left turned into two, it really woke me up. Benchmarks like "last long range convoy" and "last godd@%* medical drop" are becoming very real...and very awesome. When that last long range takes place, maybe the post PAO will be able to restrain himself from posting dangerous, mission-jeopardizing details about it until after we come back...but probably not (and this is the guy through which I had to register MY blog so he could check up on MY OPSEC...Oy.). But I digress...I've already sent boxes of things home, and I am looking forward to living out of one duffel bag and a rucksack. One more benchmark, I guess. While some are frustrated that they will leave this country untested as far as combat goes, I guess that was sort of the point. The Afghan National Army and Police are doing their jobs, more or less, at least in Kabul. (READ MORE)

Collabman's Thoughts: Coming Home... - Evening: I love to see photos and read stories on the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment - especially when they are about warriors from our support group who are coming home! Welcome home, SPC Garcia and thanks for your sacrifice and service. We are so proud of you! Oh, and enjoy driving a regular car :-) Enjoy the story guys and continue to pray for our warriors... Chris, I love you buddy! Be Safe! (READ MORE)

Cheese's Milblog: Morale... - I never thought it would get this bad. I feel ashamed to even talk about how miserable it is here while people are living in much worse conditions other places. That being said, I've lived on patrol bases before and they were heaven compared to this. There are many things that are hard to explain to people who have never been in the military and the "Joe" mentality is one of the hardest. "Joe" is the nomenclature for the average lower-enlisted soldier. Joes are often Specialists(don't even get me started on the E-4 Mafia...that's a whole 'nother post in itself), but the term can include NCOs and officers, depending on the situation. Joes, however different they may be, have certain basic characteristics...most of which are often attributed to a gang mentality. Joes spread rumors like pros, they are easily whipped into a frenzy, etc. Most importantly, Joes are heavily influenced by morale. Now, morale is a tricky subject. The Army likes to think that morale is affected by things like the availability of Burger King or Salsa Night, but it's not. (READ MORE)

Mohammed: Obama’s Meddling Undermines Future U.S.-Iraq Relationship - The status of forces agreement (SOFA) can be regarded as the crown jewel of the U.S.-led change in Iraq. It’s not an overstatement to say that it represents an aspect of victory in this war. By victory I mean that it will mark the beginning of a time in which Iraq is officially a partner of the U.S., as it will join Iraq and the U.S. in a new relationship that serves the national interests of both countries. Above all, it will be a major boost for the effort in the war on terror as it will guarantee that Iraq will not fall prey to extremists. It will ensure that Iraq becomes a barrier against the aspirations of extremists, not a vessel that conveys them. In my opinion this treaty will set the foundations for a new Middle East ripe for transformation and for joining the free world. For these reasons and for others that we’re still trying to understand, this treaty has been receiving fire from virtually all directions. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Al Qaeda in Iraq’s second in command was a Swedish citizen - Abu Qaswarah, al Qaeda in Iraq's second in command who was killed by US forces in Mosul, was a naturalized Swedish citizen who was wanted by United States, according to information obtained by The Long War Journal. Abu Qaswarah al Skani (the Swede), whose real name is Mohamed Moumou, was killed in Mosul during an Oct. 5 raid on an al Qaeda command center. He detonated his vest after being mortally wounded and killed three women and three children. The US military said Abu Qaswarah was a Moroccan who trained in al Qaeda camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1990s. He had close connections with Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the slain leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, and commanded al Qaeda forces in northern Iraq before being appointed second in command. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure: The Promised Ride Through The J-bad Pass Switchbacks - I made the trip through the J-bad Pass a number of times during my deployment. Twice in one day, with one of them at night; which was crazy. It was one of the most dangerous things that I did the whole time in country. One of the drivers later told me that he had started hallucinating from fatigue during the trip. This particular clip was shot on December 15th, 2007. The total trip from Kabul to Jalalabad takes over three hours and is about 90 miles in length. Along the way you lose about 5,000 feet in elevation. This clip is nearly seven minutes in duration, and is the most exciting part of the trip; the switchbacks. It is the most dramatic elevation change, probably around a thousand feet or so. The first time I made the trip there were no retaining walls, which was really interesting as I was driving at the time with O in the turret. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
IP thwart SVBIED - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Police shot a suicide car bomber at a checkpoint outside of an IP station near Balad Oct. 16. The IP received a description of the vehicle which enabled their quick reaction. After IP engaged the vehicle, the driver swerved into a concrete barrier as the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated. Four IP were wounded in the attack. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers seize weapons caches north of Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Acting on a tip from a local shaykh, Soldiers serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, seized six cans of 14.5 mm ammunition, a rocket propelled grenade launcher, an RPG rocket, a 155 mm projectile round, an Iraqi hand grenade, a bag of sulfur and a bag of sodium carbonate near Joint Security Station Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, at approximately 10:30 a.m. (READ MORE)

Sons of Iraq under new command in Salman Pak - SALMAN PAK, IRAQ – Local influential shaykhs and leaders from the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, Coalition forces and local politicians gathered at a ceremony in Salman Pak marking the official transition of the Sons of Iraq program from CF authority to the Government of Iraq Oct. 12.“I am very happy and proud of the IA taking over control of the SoI Mada’in,” said Thaeer Moqsad Salih a member of the SoI. “The SoI helped a lot in contributing to increased security in the Mada’in. Before the SoI terrorists controlled the city (Salman Pak); now it is a lot safer and the people can go out in the streets.” (READ MORE)

Iraqi NPs distribute backpacks, smiles - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces, Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers and community leaders conducted a backpack and school supply hand-out to boys and girls of the Um Al-Bahananh, Al Tahdi, Al Sedjad and Anbad Al Rahman Schools Oct. 12 in the Rashid district in southern Baghdad. The Iraqi National Police of the 7th Brigade., 2nd Naional Police Division, working distributed more than 900 school bags and school supplies to the students at four schools serving seven neighborhoods in Rashid. (READ MORE)

INPs discover weapons cache in Risalah - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers reported the Iraqi National Police discovered munitions while on patrol Oct. 15 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. At approximately 7:15 a.m. in the Risalah community, policemen from the 1st Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, reported finding four explosively formed projectiles during a combat patrol. (READ MORE)

CF Soldiers return fire, kill 2 SG criminals in Oubaidy - BAGHDAD – U.S. Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Multi-National Division – Baghdad, returned fire and killed two Special Groups criminals after they fired upon Joint Security Station Oubaidy, Oct. 14. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment immediately took action after SG criminals fired upon the station. (READ MORE)

Marine Father, Army Son Reunite in Iraq - AL ASAD AIR BASE — In a line of Marines from Team Tank, Regimental Combat Team 1, one man stood out in his gray digital uniform as he participated in a combat-marksmanship program shoot. Army Sgt. Shane M. White, 22, an information systems specialist with 4th Psychological Operations Group, based in Fallujah, was participating in the shoot with the Marines at the invitation of their company first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Joseph C. Gray, who also happens to be White’s father. (READ MORE)

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