December 12, 2008

From the Front: 12/12/2008

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

In their own words:
48th Combat Support Hospital - FOB Salerno / Khowst, Afghanistan: Back home and back to work... - I have been putting it off for weeks now and enjoying my time at home with my family, but I wanted to update the blog and just say that everything is fine back home. There hasn't been much going on other than enjoying my family, catching up on work, getting back to work, and already having to drive to Fort Meade and back. I enjoyed hunting season and killed 2 deer this year. It was so nice and peaceful to be carrying a gun and not having the worries associated with It has been much cooler/colder here than I had suspected. I'm already enrolled back into school to finish out my BSN. I can't wait to get that bachelor's degree. (READ MORE)

Back In the Army Now (at 54): Non-Deployable (for now) - Today we went through another round of medical screening. We got more shots and another dental x-ray. For most of us, the visit with the doctor took about two minutes. Mine was longer. I had to explain the surgery, the rehab and my projected time for recovery. The doctor marked my processing folder "No Go" and sent me down the hill to my "Non-Deployable Soldier" counselor. She went through all the steps I need to get myself declared fit for deployment and gave me the form my surgeon will have to fill out to say I am healthy again. Given the rehab schedule, it looks like I will be very close to my deployment date when the surgeon says yes or no. (READ MORE)

Fobbits need ice cream too: So close yet so far - Our entire battalion has now arrived and is in the process of outprocessing. I'm not sure what outprocessing consists of, although I'm fairly confident it means buying all the dip and cigarettes at the PX. Our BC and CSM have ordered us that we can no longer wear civilian clothes and as of today, can no longer wear PTs. I'm not sure how we're supposed to accomplish our required daily PT session, I know I'm sure as shit not running in boots. I enjoy having functioning knees. We basically have to be in uniform 24/7 now because, well because the BC and CSM say so. I really didn't miss these guys for the past year; they are pogues in diguise of senior infantry leaders. My pay and supply issues are still unresolved but these guys can issue policy memorandums regarding uniforms the same day they arrive on the base. Retarded. (READ MORE)

Big Country: Back To Baghdad - OK. Been a few weeks since I last posted, but what the hell, it's been a busy few weeks. Work continues with me putting in about 14 hours a day (I contracted 40 a week) but shit, I'm supporting Joe, and because of that I'm good. I mean it's not always about the money. (waitaminute, did I say that? There goes my 'mercenary street cred!') Currently, my gig is doing the logistical side (mainly tracking and issue) of the new VSAT terminals the Military has bought. It’s something that the Army needs, and if my small contribution helps to keep the mission up, and people alive, then hell, I can't ask for better than that. Most of the guys that we are dealing with are people who are far out on the edge of nowheresville. Essentially the idea is that we're providing Sat Equipment that allows them to communicate with higher. Any more info would be dangerous, so I'll leave it as that... (READ MORE)

The Left Captain: I must be losing my mind - One of my latest “projects” is recording the best of the graffiti on the men's bathroom walls. I know it sounds strange, but I wondered what you could tell about a place and it's people by reading what folks write while they sit on the toilet. Maybe if I record enough of it there will be some pattern that will rise out of the chaos? That's anthropology right? I guess this all started when I first got here. One of the resident Sergeant Majors decided that there was too much graffiti on the bathroom walls so he had all the bathroom stall doors removed. On the surface, the rationale was that people won't write graffiti if they are sitting on a toilet exposed to the world. But I'm sure he just did it to screw with everybody. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US strike in South Waziristan kills 7 - The US has attacked a Taliban safe house in the lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan, killing seven, including three "foreigners," on Thursday. An unmanned Predator aircraft fired at least one Hellfire missile at a Taliban safe house adjacent to a religious school in the town of Azam Warzak. "The missile hit a house adjacent to a madrassa (Islamic seminary)," a Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters. "Seven people are killed. Most of those killed are Punjabis," Pakistanis from the eastern province of Punjab. No senior leaders have been reported killed in the strike. (READ MORE)

Long Warrior: From the jaws of victory - Afghanistan is not going well. Despite the conventional wisdom that is mouthed by all, it is not an unwinnable theater. The Soviets did not fail because this country is a meat grinder that is so inhospitable to foreigners that none could be successful. They failed because they prosecuted it poorly. We are on the same path, and can either choose victory, or the slow humiliating defeat that will come with declaring the nation a losing proposition for modernity. What follows are a few enumerated frustrations that my comrades and I voice daily over coffee, cigars, and cup after cup of steaming chai tea. The Taliban are not terrorists or bandits. They are a movement that is rooted deep in the consciousness and reality of the Afghan people. (READ MORE)

1LT Sarratt - My Point of View: I'm a GUY - I was sitting at my desk today doing some busy work during lunch and started playing some of the music I have stored in I-Tunes. The very first lyrics in the song came out loud and clear to me: "Everybody needs a little time away..." by the mellow group Chicago. This is true for most couples as we all need a little time away from each other to re-energize, but when you've been away almost four years into a five-year marriage, I think the title of this song is more apropos: "Hard to say I'm sorry." Staying at the "EZ" is not the most appealing place to be away from home, alone and trying to keep a relationship interesting. Especially when you're a GUY! If I don't have much to say on the phone when my wife calls (probably because I'm watching football), it's still "Hard to say I'm sorry." Why? Because I'm a GUY! (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: What's up!! - I can't say how much I appreciate all of the care packages that I've gotten in the last two weeks or so. People are so amazing! We've gotten everything from a Christmas Tree, and yes it's a CHRISTMAS tree, lights, decorations, ornaments, garling, and various other "stuff" to help put us in the CHRISTMAS spirit. I can't say how much we appreciate the items we've gotten. We were sent stockings...both empty and filled! We may be in Iraq away from our families this year, but we have had such an amazing amount of blessings from people we don't even know that have sent us things. THANK YOU! I called the states the other day and was put on was awesome! The CHRISTMAS music was playing and it reminded me of being home and walking into Wal-Mart or somewhere else and hearing the Christmas music playing. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Iraqi SWAT destroy cache, arrests 6 in separate operations - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics, detained three suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists, three suspected Jaysh al Mahdi Special Groups criminals and recovered a weapons cache during separate operations throughout Iraq Dec. 6-8. In an operation Dec. 8, Tikrit SWAT recovered a weapons cache that was later destroyed. The cache consisted of 200 grenades and fuses, 110 mortar rounds 10 rocket-propelled grenades with boosters, 100 20 mm rockets and 2,500 DSHKA rounds. (READ MORE)

Sustainment Brigades transfer authority at Joint Base Balad - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – The 55th Sustainment Brigade, commanded by Col. Therese O’Brien, transferred authority to the 304th Sustainment Brigade, commanded by Lt. Col. Norman Green, during a ceremony at Joint Base Balad Dec. 11. The 55th Sust. Bde., a reserve-component unit from Fort Belvoir, Va., provided logistical oversight of key commodities, distribution of all classes of supply and key maintenance services during their combat tour in support of Multi-National Divisions-North and Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army soldiers find IED in northwest Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army soldiers from the 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division discovered an improvised-explosive device in the Kadhamiyah district of northwest Baghdad Dec. 11. At approximately 1 p.m., IA soldiers reported finding an IED attached underneath a vehicle at an Iraqi Army checkpoint. The vehicle belonged to an Iraqi Judge. (READ MORE)

IA, MND-B Soldiers find caches in greater Baghdad area - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers found weapons caches in the greater Baghdad area Dec. 11. At approximately 8:20 a.m., Iraq Army soldiers serving with 3rd Battalion, 43rd Brigade, 11th IA Division, found an empty 105 mm shell and an empty illumination shell west of Baghdad in the Abu Ghuraib area. (READ MORE)

Central Iraq AQ networks targeted; 10 suspects detained - BAGHDAD – Ten suspected terrorists, including two wanted men, were removed from al-Qaeda in Iraq networks Thursday and Friday, as Coalition forces targeted the terrorist organization in central Iraq. Coalition forces continued operations to dismantle AQI bombing networks Thursday. In Baghdad, forces captured an alleged AQI cell leader who reports suggest is responsible for improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces and Iraqi police. (READ MORE)

Ukrainians complete mission in Iraq - BAGHDAD – The Ukrainian Army hosted an end of mission ceremony at Camp Echo Dec. 9. More than 5,000 Ukrainian service members served in Iraq during Ukraine’s five years of service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Ukrainians served as the third largest Coalition forces contingent in Iraq, with approximately 1,700 soldiers from 2003 to 2005. (READ MORE)

Al Kareme School opens in Baghdad - CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – The Iskan community of Baghdad witnessed a good day when its largest intermediate school reopened Dec. 4 after an extensive renovation project. Only a decade old, the heavy neglect and abuse of the Al Kareme schoolhouse had left it unusable. Under these conditions, students attending the school house had to be transported to another location.“The school was so bad that they couldn’t study there, so they transferred 1,200 students to another school." (READ MORE)

Desert Oasis: Water Facility Produces 40,000 Bottles for Soldiers Daily - CAMP VICTORY — Fresh, clean drinking water is a necessity of life; one which can easily be taken for granted when not in a desert. Soldiers and civilians of Victory Base Complex and surrounding areas depend on the availability of clean water to complete their missions. The Soldiers and civilians working at the Al Morrell Oasis International Water Development facility do not take this responsibility lightly, which is reflected through its daily distribution averaging nearly 40,000 cases of bottled water. (READ MORE)

Art Show Shares Iraqi Culture - CAMP ECHO — An art show here featuring works by Iraqi artists allowed Soldiers and contractors to learn about local culture, purchase gifts and help support local artisans, Dec. 6. One portrait of an old woman captured a passer-by; he was arrested by the soulful eyes staring back at him. Admitting he doesn’t know why, and has little knowledge of art, he liked the portrait. (READ MORE)

Post Exchange provided at remote bases - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (December 10, 2008) – The Army and Air Force Exchange Service provided a unique opportunity for deployed service members to get supplies they need with a mobile post exchange air lifted into remote Combat Outpost Malekshay in eastern Afghanistan November 28th. Soldiers of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, used Eagle Cash cards to make purchases. (READ MORE)

Connecting with the people - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 06, 2008) – There are many villages within Afghanistan that are spread out among vast mountains and dusty valleys. Locating these villages is simple, yet conducting searches and talking with the residents that live there is complicated due to the harsh terrain. Soldiers need to be flown into these areas, into and through highly hostile environments to secure, search and talk with people in these villages. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces disrupt Haqqani network in Paktia - KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces detained nine suspected militants during an operation to disrupt the Haqqani terrorist network in Khost province, Thursday. The operation in Zadran District, located approximately 135 km south of Kabul, targeted a Haqqani militant believed to assist with the movement of Islamic Jihadist Union (IJU) and other foreign fighters into Paktia. Intelligence also suggests the militant is in direct contact with other senior Haqqani leaders who plan and coordinate roadside bomb and other malicious attacks against innocent civilians, GIRoA and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Roadside bomb network disrupted in Khost - KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan National Police and Coalition forces detained five suspected militants during a combined operation to disrupt the Haqqani terrorist network in Khost province, Wednesday. The combined operation in Khost District, approximately 150 km southeast of Kabul, targeted a Haqqani commander, known to facilitate roadside bomb attacks which indiscriminately kill and injure innocent civilians and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

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