December 8, 2008

From the Front: 12/08/2008

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

In their own words:
Michael Yon: Afghanistan: The War Grows - Zabul Province, Afghanistan - While Americans sleep tight in their beds, this time of year U.S. soldiers sit shivering through the frigid, crystal clear nights at remote outposts in places most of us have never heard of and will never see. Often they head out into the enveloping darkness, to hunt down and destroy terrorists, who continue to kill innocent Afghans, Americans, Aussies, Balinese, Brits, Indians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Spanish….in short, anyone who opposes their violent tyranny. Their greatest weapons are ignorance and terror. Witness the latest unprovoked attack on our friends in India. These enemies have no wish to reconcile with their fellow countrymen, or compromise in any way that would diminish their control of the lives of the ordinary Afghans who don't share their feral vision of life. They throw acid in the faces of little girls whose only crime is that they go to school. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Shrugged: One of these now exist Tooth Fairy or Mail?? - Well, power of the people does exist! Last night at 2200 our mail arrived, at least a large portion did. It was glorious! Christmas in December, wait Christmas does come in December. All of the sugar that I ingested last night may be causing some mental issues for me. We ran around like 4 year olds on a sugar high and it was awesome, most of them are still passed out right now from the hyperactivity. I have taken shower on the half hour every hour, with a cup of coffee and homemade cookie, since the mail came. CPT W's box did arrive 30 days after being mailed from Kabul. Many of you emailed or commented on the blog that you would be contacting your government representatives regarding our not so little problem. It worked. Mail never gets here this late in the evening and the bird that got here was packed with just mail for the team. An HIP helicopter can hold a ton of mail and it was packed. (READ MORE)

Back on the Homefront: He's back in the US!!! - So its 3:25 am and I just HAD to post before trying to go back to sleep. I just got a phone call from my husband...and this time his phone number actually didn't show up as "unknown"!! It was SOOO nice to get a call from him on his own cell phone. I had actually had a hint last night that he was probably in Germany and actually started crying just at that this morning I hear the phone ringing and just knew he would be the only one calling me at this time in the morning. And can you guess that I didn't care what time it was?!? We still won't see him for a few days since he has to go through debriefing, etc but it is awesome to know the process has begun!! I can't wait to tell Evan that soon he gets to rip off the last remaining chain exciting! More later, I need sleep...if I can sleep! (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: Small victories - It's been dull here. Until this afternoon. After returning from another trip to look at Things That Weren't There, the boss and I were sitting out on the porch. I was having a cup of coffee and a cigarette, he was enjoying a phenomenally stinky cigar. "You've got a mouse," he said, gesturing at a crack in the boards by our door. I whipped out a trap, grabbed my trusty chocolate Rice Krispie Treat, set it up, and...SNAP! Less than ten minutes, and it became Abby 12, Mousies 1. And folks, that wasn't the end. I got three more. I'm at 15. I occasionally wonder if we're accomplishing anything worthwhile out here. At least, if nothing else, I am putting a hurting on the north-central Iraq mouse population. I wonder if there's a medal for that? (READ MORE)

Brad's Excellent Adventure: Network Upgrade - Friday 5 December 2008 1845 - Since the last entry I made was called “Computer Down”, I guess it’s appropriate that this is the next one. Today we got our internet access upgraded to a commercial high-speed gateway, and it’s awesome! Backtracking a little, my own computer problems were solved within a couple of days after that last entry. The scariest part of the whole process was when I got an error message after running CHKDSK – it told me that I had a corrupted file entry that had been removed: “Pictures”. My entire pictures directory was toast, and was completely gone. Fortunately I had a backup and didn’t lose any photos. I actually had to restore the entire system from backup, and then spend some time tinkering with it to get the settings back the way I wanted them. But in the end I didn’t lose anything, which is either a miracle or a validation of my paranoid multiple-backup mentality. Probably a bit of both. (READ MORE)

Dena Yllescas: So Proud - I have to say: It's hard to be sad when you're so proud. Rob arrived in Nebraska around 1:30 yesterday afternoon. Rob was escorted by his Troop XO who happened to be on deployment break (R&R) when Rob passed away. I know that Rob would want Kaine to escort him and am very honored that he was able to do this. When they took the casket off the plane, it was draped in an American Flag and received by the Honor Guard. Once he was placed in the vehicle, we were escorted by a police car and several members of the Patriot Guards on their motorcycles. These guys are so amazing. It is 35 degrees and the wind is blowing like crazy and they still rode on their bikes 75 miles with American Flags waving behind them. As we left the airport, there was a line all the way out of soldiers saluting us. (READ MORE)

Down Range 46: Combat Lifesavers All - Look out medical professionals everywhere - the Soldiers of the 211th are certified Combat Lifesavers! Several years back, the Army revamped their policies and curriculum regarding the teaching of the Army first aid program (called, buddy aid at the time). What they determined is that teaching Soldiers a few advanced lifesaving techniques and providing them the medical equipment to go with it, would increase the mortality rate of Soldiers injured on the battlefield. Hence, the Combat Lifesaver Certification Program. I don't know the statistics of its success, but I have heard that an increase in life expectancy for injured Soldiers has gone up. Good news for us all. So, that has been the focus for us this week. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Help from home - Soldiers from the New York National Guard delivered supplies family and friends had sent them to an Afghan school located in a Kabul province village east of the nation’s capital. Members of SECFOR Charlie comprising mostly members of Company B, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry from Bayshore, Long Island, delivered more than 500 pounds of donations to the Pol-e-charki high school on 17 November. The supplies were organized into student packs that included paper, notebooks, pens and pencils, crayons and markers that were assembled by the SECFOR soldiers from the many shipments they received. Candy, bookmarks, stuffed animals, some adult clothing for the teachers, soccer and volleyballs were also handed out. The donations were shipped to the soldiers based at Camp Blackhorse, which is co-located with the Afghan National Army’s Pol-e-charki garrison nearby. (READ MORE)

Embrace the Suck: R.I.P. Cheena, And Is The Pen Mightier Than The Sword? - Friday, December 5, 2008 2330 hrs. - Yeah, Cheena got shot the other day. Unfortunately for her it was probably entirely too easy for the bastard that did it because of the fact that she had no fear of man. She probably walked with the fucker while he took her out to do it. I can't say anything about it either because Army regulations state some shit about we can't have any kind of mascots or animals on military installations in a combat zone. Kind of funny how a little bit of ink on a piece of paper can hurt so badly. What is really unfortunate is the fact that I cannot really voice my true opinions on the subject because if the wrong person reads this I could get myself into some hot water with good ole' Uncle Sam because we aren't allowed to say what we actually think of those appointed over us. Disrespect and all that shit. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: WaPo Misses Another Story - If we are to believe the Washington Post, Iraqi women were doing just fine under Saddam Hussein's Baathist rule. In a story today, a reporter writes about a woman, "[Muna] Saud remembered when Iraqi women didn't need wasta -- connections -- to find a job. In the late 1970s, thousands of Iraqi women, then among the most liberated in the Arab world, worked as doctors, engineers and civil servants." As always, the WaPo's Sudarsan Raghavan contradicts the same story. The next paragraph says, "The daughter of a tailor, Saud wanted to become an accountant. But she soon realized that only women who joined Hussein's Baath Party could succeed in such a profession, so she left the university and found work in a pharmacy. There she held secret meetings of the Women's League." Trust me, being a Baathist opened all sorts of doors -- much like the definition of connections. (READ MORE)

Omar: Debating Iran's Nuclear Program - Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is not a new source for concern. Dating as far back as the 1950s, several countries in the region have sought to build nuclear programs and ultimately, to acquire nuclear weapons. As is the tradition in the Middle East, countries are suspicious about their neighbors’ power potential, particularly when it comes to achieving a nuclear breakthrough, even if that means just a few weapons could be produced. This suspicion is logical. Nations in the region are relatively small and only have a limited number of urban centers and no vast or redundant industrial infrastructure. In my country for instance, an attack on Baghdad and Basra with one nuclear warhead each would incinerate or irradiate a third of the population and simultaneously strip Iraq of 90% of its national income. This is one reason why we tend to be wary of nuclear weapons in the hands of neighbors, perhaps more so than people elsewhere. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: One I wrote a while back... - He’s a hero now.. When Micheal was killed one of the things people said to us often, to comfort us, was that he was a hero now. They are right, he is, but I want to ask them why did he have to die for them to realize he was a hero. To me to walk into a recruiting station and join the military (any branch) during war time takes courage and honor that is sadly rare these days. My son became my hero the day he signed the papers. I remember that day clearly. Sgt. Markham his recruiter would not let him sign at first. He stated quite clearly and honestly that we are at war and by joining he would be deployed to an active war zone in either Iraq or Afghanistan. My son understood where his job would take him. And for reasons so few people understand he had to go and do the job he choose. You see Micheal scored pretty darn well on the ASVAB and we encouraged him to go to linguist school. He had a nature ability to pick up languages. But no he wanted infantry. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban destroy 50 NATO supply trucks in third attack in Peshawar - Taliban raiders destroyed another NATO supply column at a shipping terminal in the insurgency-wracked Northwest Frontier Province. The latest attack has caused Pakistan to shut down the NATO supply route through Peshawar. The Taliban launched an attack on the Bilal Terminal on Peshawar's Ring Road early Monday morning Pakistan time. More than 50 vehicles laden with supplies destined for NATO were destroyed after a Taliban force stormed the compound and burned the vehicles, a senior US intelligence source told The Long War Journal. The size of the Taliban unit is unknown. (READ MORE)

Wesley Morgan: In Mosul, Americans felled by rogue Iraqi soldier - MOSUL, Iraq: It is known as one of western Mosul’s worst neighborhoods. Levels of violence across the city have decreased since the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment arrived here a year ago, yet in Zanjili, it is still common for American and Iraqi patrols to be attacked, whether with small-arms fire or rocket-propelled grenades. But when hostile fire tore through a group of soldiers from the regiment’s 3rd “Thunder Squadron” at an outpost in Zanjili last Wednesday, Nov. 12, it came not from insurgents but from an Iraqi soldier, Private Barazan Muhammad Abdullah al Hadidi. With a squad’s worth of American soldiers clustered in the courtyard of the outpost, which was manned by Iraqi Army and National Police troops, Barazan opened fire at about 11:30 a.m., first firing one shot and then a long automatic burst. By the time Barazan fell to American fire a few seconds later, a cavalry trooper lay dead and seven more had been wounded, one mortally. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: Iraq is still Iraq, but end of al-Qaeda in Iraq puts end truly in sight - I spent the last two weeks of last month as an embedded reporter with the United States Army in Baghdad and was disappointed to see that, despite the overwhelming success of the surge, Iraq is as rundown and dysfunctional as ever. Yes, the country is less violent now than at any time since the U.S. invaded in 2003, but Iraq is still Iraq. Many Americans and Iraqis I spoke to feel a sense of dread and foreboding about what will happen when American forces soon begin to withdraw. Without the presence of American soldiers as peacekeepers, Gen. David Petraeus' brilliant counterinsurgency strategy will be moot. Many believe the remaining terrorists and insurgents will respond with a countersurge of their own, or that Iraqis might slug it out with one another in the power vacuum. (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker - My Point of View: OUCH! - You ever have one of those days you wish would never start? Or would be over with before you got out of bed? Today was a big day for us...a day most of us have been dreading for a while: IV stick day! Since Thursday our unit has been sitting through a Combat Lifesaver Course to learn fun stuff such as sticking needles in people's chests to relieve built up air, carting people from Point A to Point B in a litter, and applying a tourniquet. I have to admit that these classes have upped my appreciation for anyone who is in the medical field, especially those who routinely find themselves up their elbows in blood. Today everyone had to start a saline lock and IV. But not on manikins (not my spelling!!). Oh no...we got to impale, er, start an IV in our own unit members. (READ MORE)

Notes from Iraq: Children Send Cards and Letters to the Team - Today, my team received a stack of letters of appreciation from children of a Texas elementary school. Some were funny, because kids say the darnest things. Most were touching. I am posting just a few. The age of the children is apparent from the letters. The youngest ones send letters with random words or drawings. Maybe the 2nd graders are the ones that sent cards asking, “Do you have a dog? What is your favorite color? What is your favorite food?” The third graders practice their cursive writing, signing their names at the end of the cards, which feature American flags, planes and helicopters. The older kids sent actual letters on loose leaf paper. (READ MORE)

Notes From Tommie: Realization and Returning - In case you didn’t know now is the time to return to good old dusty Iraq as I seem to have run out of R&R days all too quickly; honestly, I really don’t know where they went to so quickly! In any case though I have gotten good news, well rumors really untill I get verification, that my unit may be redeploying - that is going back to the US - much sooner than anticipated. Hopefully this is true and I’ll be back home before you know it. Moving on to the realization part - recently I’ve gone through a great emotional load concerning my brother, one of my bestfriends whom I consider a brother, and a few other people in my little circle. Between watching those two and ensuring they weren’t being too stupid - as males tend to become if not slapped every once in a while - and the rollercoaster called love I’ve come to recognize the value of two songs that have been on my computer forever and a day that I guess I never really listened to until now. (READ MORE)

Peace and War Times: Accidents Happens! - Well, the unthinkable happened last night. I made my mind that I will take a shower no matter what, since I missed my times to use the showers the day before. It was 9:15PM when I arrived to the showers, I started to swept mud and dirty waters from the floor into the drains. I didn't want to take a shower and then walk into the mud. After I finished cleaning the floors, I got naked and ready to take a shower. I open the faucets but both were giving me scorching hot water. I closed them and then the unthinkable happens, a big explosion. I thought, "darn...finally I got attack, but darn I am in the darn shower naked!". Gosh, what a way to be attack, I thought. The whole shower trailer filled with hot steam, cutting off my oxygen. I started to think fast, what should I do first. (READ MORE)

Photography, Software and Sand: I'll be home for Christmas... - So the cat is out of the bag -- I had to confess that I had been planning to come home and surprise everyone for Christmas. Well... surprise! I won't be in town long -- only a few days -- but hope to see everyone while I'm back. Things have been super busy here... we have our backs against the wall and I've been working for sometimes up to 36 hours straight with minimal amounts of sleep while we try to get everything squared away here. My last pay period I billed for 231 hours... way more than I've ever approached at any other job. Needless to say my photography time has declined dramatically. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: New Jersey: Take 2 - I’m sitting in the USO at the Philadelphia airport, waiting to pick up one more new guy before making the trip to Fort Dix, NJ. It’s 30 degrees and we’ve got two 1/2 weeks of training to look forward to… you can imagine my excitement. We had a Christmas party last night since that was the last time we’d be in Arkansas together, then we had a very early wake up call since those brilliant people in Indianapolis decided to have our bus pick us up at 3:30 to take us to an airport that doesn’t open until 5. (It takes about 20 minutes to get to the airport) I slept on the plane rides here and now I’ve got a little bit of energy. I’m faring better than the crowd who decided to stay up all night drinking. It’s times like these I’m so thankful that I don’t have an overwhelming urge to get sloppy drunk. I’m not really sure what to expect over these next two 1/2 weeks. We covered pretty much everything the last time we were here, so I can only imagine this will be a “let’s do it again” experience. (READ MORE)

S4 at War: HESCOs…3 km of them - We’re making some changes to our FOB in anticipation of an eventual turnover to the Iraqi Army. Yesterday I was told that, within 48 hours, we should begin construction of a 3 km HESCO wall. This is no small project, certainly not one that begins 48 hours after conception. It baffles me that higher ups are so out of touch with the way the Army works-maybe constantly fooling yourself into believing its an efficient, well oiled machine is the only way to stay in for so long and not lose your mind. After 3 deployments, however, I would think that people would be more in tune with the pace the Army typically moves at, especially when help is needed from echelons above our own unit. I guess in 48 hours I’ll head out with my e-tool and start digging. I’ll be out of the loop for a few days. In the meantime check out this article about laborers over here. (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: Back in Afganistan - Well, here I am back in Afghanistan. I got here on Saturday after a short stay at Fort Campbell after messing up my ankle. There is not much to write about. I am back and and happy and not happy about it. Luckily I have Tessa (aka Freedom) to help me out while I am gone. We are planning a great wedding for 6June as long as I get home in time. From rumors, I will make it in time. I am pretty excited about that, as is Tessa. We could not be happier. I could tell you stories for days on here about all the wonderful things we did and the great times we had together, but I am not going to bore everyone with the perfect woman and relationship. I start work again tomorrow morning and we will see what will happen. There are a few here that are not happy that was in the states longer than my leave, but there was nothing I could do about that. It is something that I will have to deal for a little while. (READ MORE)

Pink's War: All I Want For Christmas Is... - Everybody keeps asking me what I want for Christmas. Aside from a big fat primo blunt and a bottle of rum, this is what I want: I want to meet a nice, normal, sane man. I have had it with men who don't have time for me, who don't want a relationship, who's freaked out about how many kids I have, who tell me they love me and/or propose to me after knowing me only a few hours. Those kind of men are the reason why I choose to remain happily single. I want someone who will, in time, fall madly in love with me. Someone who will accept me as I am and who won't expect me to change. Someone who will act like a total retard with me and can also carry on an adult conversation that doesn't involve sex every now and then. (READ MORE)

No comments: