October 28, 2008

From the Front: 10/28/2008

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

In their own words:
Bill Roggio: US strike in Syria "decapitated" al Qaeda's facilitation network - Al Qaeda leader Abu Ghadiya was killed in yesterday's strike inside Syria, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. But US special operations forces also inflicted a major blow to al Qaeda's foreign fighter network based in Syria. The entire senior leadership of Ghadiya's network was also killed in the raid, the official stated. Ghadiya was the leader of al Qaeda extensive network that funnels foreign fighters, weapons, and cash from Syria into Iraq along the entire length of the Syrian border. Ghadiya was first identified as the target of the raid inside Syria late last night here at The Long War Journal. The Associated Press reported Ghadiya was killed in the raid earlier today. Several US helicopters entered the town of town of Sukkariya near Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, just five miles from the Iraqi border. US commandos from the hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88 clear the buildings sheltering Ghadiya and his staff. (READ MORE)

Annex B: Rough Men Stand Ready - "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." ---George Orwell - Everybody has an image of themselves. Think about it. You may see yourself as a smart, educated person…a poindexter type. Maybe you are the rough outdoorsy type. You may be the soft, cuddly ‘kitten’ type. Or you may just look in the mirror and see something else. We (the Army) see ourselves in many different ways. Usually those ways are a little rough around the edges, it involves a weapon of some sort and, in many cases, we see a scary creature. After all, an effective Army isn’t made up of kittens, puppys and little chickens. We think an effective army is better staffed by Knights, Monsters, muscled up masked thingys and other scary sorts. We call ourselves ‘Commandos,’ ‘Copperheads,’ ‘Banditos’ and ‘Berserkers.’ Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Ramadi meetings key to city’s success - RAMADI, Iraq (Oct. 21, 2008) – Ensuring community wellness is an essential component to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1’s success during their current deployment to Ramadi, Iraq. Maj. James B. “J.B.” Runyon, the battalion’s executive officer, along with other members of the battalion and its subordinate Marine and Army units, attended a weekly meeting between Ramadi Mayor Latif Obaid Ayadah and local civic leaders at the Ramadi Government Center, Oct. 20. “The secure environment that we hope to provide the people of Ramadi will allow the community to participate more fully in what direction the community is going,” said Runyon, a native of Albemarle, N.C. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Troops deliver donations from home to Kabul orphanage - An Afghan boys orphanage received almost 5,000 pounds of school supplies, clothing, personal hygiene items and medical supplies last Thursday from New York National Guard troops serving in Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, Operation Enduring Freedom. The donations come from the soldiers’ families, schools and civic groups back in New York who sent the items over to service members to help them as they perform their support mission for the Afghan people and their government. More than 30 members of Bravo Company, Logistics Task Force convoyed in up-armored humvees and an armored cargo truck from Camp Phoenix across town to the Tahai Maskan Orphanage in Kabul. The unit is comprised of mechanics whose job is to repair and maintain task force vehicles and equipment. They brought with them 15 pallet-size containers of donations to be distributed to the nearly 350 boys who live at the orphanage. The residents range in age from 7 to 17. (READ MORE)

Playing in the Sandbox: Stranger in a Strange Land - The United States Army came into existence on June 14, 1775. Large scale conflict and troop movements date thousands of years before that. So you'd think someone, somewhere would have this figured out by now. Nope. Despite still being relatively new at this little game, I've always maintained that the Army operates - and maybe even depends - on the assumption that somebody somewhere knows what the hell is going on. Quite often, that assumption is almost laughably incorrect, and it leads to various minor inconveniences (which is a wonderful euphemism for a number of words oft repeated by soldiers, my favorite of which begins with the word "cluster.") (READ MORE)

David Botti: Revisiting the Iraq-Syria Border - It's hard to believe much of anything happens along most of Iraq's border with Syria. For hundreds of miles a modest sand berm that marks the dividing line between the two countries snakes through flat desert, with occasional villages or Iraqi Border Police forts providing the only human contact. When I traveled to the border in August to cover U.S. Army troops advising border police units, it seemed these soldiers had a thankless task. They lived at a small outpost with few creature comforts, executing a mission that often involved day-long humvee drives along the border that could be tedious, exhausting, and sometimes downright boring. The nearest city, Mosul, was a roughly 40-minute helicopter ride to the west. The Army combat outpost's close proximity to the border was underscored by the fact that helicopters had to immediately bank left upon takeoff; otherwise, in mere seconds, they would have crossed into Syrian airspace. (READ MORE)

JD Johannes: JAM Boss Reinvented - Look at this man. All the picture will tell you is that he is an Arab. But the man, Firas, is much more. He is an Iraqi, a Shia Muslim. He was a leader in Jaish Al Mahdi--the Shia insurgent group. Even more, Firas as JAM Special Groups. In the photo he is sitting on the back patio of Combat Outpost Attack in Baghdad's West Rashid District. He is not under arrest or being detained, but he was recently questioned at length by TIME Magazine writer Brian Bennett and LTC Steve Russell (USA--Ret.) He was being questioned because Firas, the former JAM Boss and Special Groups member is now leading a 300+ contingent of the Sons of Iraq in Hayy Aamel--a Baghdad neighborhood that was notorious for violence,kidnappings and assassinations in 2006 and early 2007. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

New, old commands meet with influential local leader - DIYALA, Iraq – The commanders and command sergeants major from both the new Coalition unit entering the Diyala province of Iraq and the unit leaving the province met with Sheik Abu Ikhlaas, an influential local Iraqi leader Oct. 24. The purpose of the meeting was to help bridge the transition with the local Iraqi population and 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. (READ MORE)

Iraq Army benefits by joint planning - CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE ADDER, Iraq – Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, hosted a joint-planning meeting with their Iraqi Army counterparts at Combat Operating Base Adder Oct. 25. Leaders from the 39th and 40th Brigades of the 10th Iraqi Army Division met with 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., Soldiers to cover administration and training for Iraqi units operating inside the Dhi Qar and Muthanna provinces. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Oil Police look to secure Iraq’s critical oil infrastructure - BAGHDAD – The Commander of Iraq’s Oil Police expects to be able to protect Iraq’s oil pipeline infrastructure by 2012 if resources are available to accomplish his strategic plan. Maj. Gen. Hamid, Oil Police commander, presented the key points of his strategic plan to Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander, Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, during an informal meeting on 27 October. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces further dismantle AQI networks, detain seven suspects - BAGHDAD – Seven suspected terrorists were apprehended by Coalition forces Tuesday, as they continued operations to dismantle al-Qaeda in Iraq networks throughout the country’s central and northern regions. Coalition forces operating about 56 km south of Kirkuk captured a wanted man assessed to be a weapons dealer with connections to AQI operatives in the Hamrin Mountains region. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces apprehend Katai’b Hezbollah suspects - BAGHDAD –Coalition forces continue to chip away at the Katai’b Hezbollah terrorist network with the capture of four suspected network criminals early Tuesday in Abd ar Rahman, about 6 km east of Sadr City. Acting on intelligence information, Coalition forces targeted the residence of a Katai’b Hezbollah administrator assessed to have close ties to network leadership. (READ MORE)

Iraqi and Coalition Sustainers partner in first-ever logistics training exercise - TAJI, Iraq – Approximately 300 Iraqi Army Officers and their Coalition counterparts, including over a dozen generals, attended a first-ever training exercise aimed at improving Iraq’s logistical capability through partnership and assistance here Oct. 27. With Iraqi logistical capabilites increasing every day, the symposium is part of a two-day Tactical Exercise Without Troops meant to highlight the critical importance of Iraqi-led and supported sustainment operations. (READ MORE)

ISOF captures 7 suspected terrorists in separate operations - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Special Operations Forces capture seven suspected terrorists in separate operations in Ninawa and Diyala provinces Oct. 24-25. In an operation on Oct. 25 in al Qadussya, Mosul, ISOF arrested three suspected Islamic State of Iraq members on a local warrant. One of the individuals is said to be a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cell leader and financier who facilitates the storage and placement of IEDs in the eastern part of Mosul. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers detain SG criminal in Aamel - BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers detained a reputed Special Groups criminal Oct. 27 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained the Special Groups operative at approximately 1:30 a.m. during a target raid in the Rashid district’s Hayy Aamel community. (READ MORE)

Zafaraniyah residents celebrate school opening - FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Three select schools in Zafarniyah, a suburb in eastern Baghdad, received essential renovations this year. Contractors and Coalition leadership celebrated the completion of those renovations, Oct. 25. Lead contractor Dr. Qais, advisory contractor for the projects, and his daughter Essra coordinated with the non-lethal effects section of 5th Battalion 25th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade 10th Mountain Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, to make repairs to the schools. (READ MORE)

Bagram burning - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Oct. 20, 2008) – A gentle wind swept across the tops of the overgrown stalks of vegetation. Even though this part of Bagram Air Field is beautiful, it is also deceptively deadly. Underneath the stalks of reeds lies a minefield. In the middle of the minefield is a creek that has become a sore point due to its flooding each year. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces kill multiple militants in Ghazni - KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces, patrolling in Ghazni province, killed an unknown number of armed militants after a patrol came under heavy fire, Saturday. The force, conducting a patrol in Qara Bagh District, came into contact with dozens of armed militants firing from fortified fighting positions. Without provocation, the anti Afghan insurgents engaged the Coalition force using a barrage of small-arms, rocket propelled grenades and mortar fire. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces kill three, detain four in Paktika - KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed three armed militants and detained four suspected militants during an operation targeting the Haqqani terrorist network in Paktika province, Thursday. Coalition forces searched a compound in Ziruk District, targeting a Haqqani commander suspected of foreign fighter and weapons facilitation. He is also believed to finance Haqqani terrorist operations throughout eastern Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

2 Taliban leaders, 18 others killed in U.S. drone attack - PESHAWAR, Pakistan — An American drone aircraft hit a militant compound in South Waziristan Sunday night, killing 20 people, including two important local Taliban commanders known for their attacks against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, a senior government official and a local resident said Monday. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Pakistani meeting agrees to Taliban talks - Pakistani and Afghan political and tribal leaders have agreed to establish contacts with the Taliban to end the insurgencies in both countries. Tuesday's declaration came at the end of a two-day meeting or "jirga" that was endorsed by the Pakistan and Afghan governments. (READ MORE)

Taliban announce top commander Mohammad Omar`s death in airstrike - Top Taliban commander Mohammad Omar died in an overnight missile strike in the troubled South Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan, satellite Arabic TV channel Al-Jazeera cited the Pakistan Taliban as saying on Monday. Omar is said to have died shortly after the airstrike, which hit a compound owned by him in Mandatta village, and was reportedly carried out by a pilotless US drone. (READ MORE)

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