April 15, 2008

From the Front: 04/15/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

In their own words:
Iraq: The Purgatorium: Combat Blue Balls - This expression, in this particular context, is not one that I made up. I read it somewhere, and lemme tell ya, it's a dead-on description. I sat on a cooler up in my tower, miserable and sweating. I'd pull on the neck of my body armor and feel heat steam up from my chest. My Gatorade was piss hot within minutes. Minutes dragged on and I cursed all who were responsible for putting me on this detail. "Hey," my Ugandan counterpart broke the silence, "That ambulance is coming down the wrong side." I looked down the entrance and sure enough, there was an Iraqi ambulance with lights flashing heading down the military lane. I snatched my M4 up and chambered a round (I don't chamber one until I dismount or need to fire) and waited for him to reach a point that justified a warning shot. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: The Importance of Being Chalabi - It's perfectly understandable how an outsider might be taken aback by the sight of Ahmad Chalabi at a funeral gathering in Sadr City. The apparently incongruous vision of the impeccably dressed banker amid the modest people may not add up to the Westerner. But for a reporter to misunderstand that image suggests that the journalist misses one of the most basic elements of Middle Eastern society. It is foolish to underestimate the importance of lineage. Certainly lineage is important in other places. In the United States, for example, Caroline Kennedy's opinion of Barack Obama turns out to carry weight. Some French people are asking whether Nicolas Sarkozy's modest roots might be a reason he's disappointing the proud country. (READ MORE)

LT Nixon: Iraq News (15 Apr) - The Good: British CBS journalist, Richard Butler, has been freed in Basra by Iraqi Security Forces. It's funny how the New York Times headline is "2 Journalist Freed" referring to the amnesty granted to terrorist photographer, Bilal Hussein. Silly New York Times, unlike the AP photographer, Richard Butler was never caught with IED-making materials, providing forged documents to insurgents, etc. I think the distinction is not subtle. The Bad: Damn...a very violent last couple of days. A car bomb has killed dozens at a courthouse in Baquba. (READ MORE)

ETT PA-C: Still Progressing - Solomon wisely said "There's nothing new under the sun." Einstein so brilliantly paralleled the wise leader's words with his own scientific knowledge. (paraphrased) "Energy is neither created nor destroyed, just transformed from one form to another." It's the same here. Nothing new and the energy allotment for this area of the world is low and exists at a minimum from day to day, form to form. Yes, its getting tough to wait it out! (READ MORE)

Fun With Hand Grenades: I always told my Mom I could never work in the medical profession - I can't even watch those shows on surgery without wanting to gag. The other day I discovered I don't really have a problem with seeing the insides of a dude's head pour out the gaping hole in the back of it. I did, however, feel a bit disturbed as I tried to avoid stepping on the chunks of his head that the Iraqis had hosed off the concrete. (READ MORE)

Toby Nunn: "Almost Famous" - The guys and I were talking about what is the criteria for being famous. Looking at what it took Mohammed Ali (Boxer) to become the most famous or recognizable person in the world versus some of the Hollywood Hussies fame is a tough thing to gauge. In the military community it usually takes an act of valor or gallantry to which fame is well deserved. The members of Bad Voodoo are definitely more recognizable now that there is a show about us on TV and the Web. So are we considered famous? No but we are getting pretty close and this is how I know. While sitting in a Porto John on a recent mission I looked at the graffiti to my front and was stunned to see my name. At first there was a quick flash of anger but as I read I realized I am like Cameron Crowe “Almost Famous”. (READ MORE)

StrypGia: ".....In The Order They Were Taken From Us" - Not my fault I've been quiet this time. The wave of violence that Jaiysh al-Mahdi unleashed in Baghdad fell largely on the eastern, Shi'a sections around Sadr City. The areas near us. For the most part, it fell on our neighboring battalions, so we had a couple of days of blackouts when they began taking casualties from the EFPs and RPG ambushes that spread like wildfire. Our long period of grace came to an end 31 March 2008 when one of our route clearance patrols drove into an EFP ambush north of our sector proper. The bolt of molten copper, traveling faster than a bullet and meant to take on the hull of a Main Battle Tank, went right through the thinner skin of the lead truck and SGT D. He was killed instantly. (READ MORE)

StrypGia: Day 401 - Rudely awoken again by a RPG attack on the front gate that happened just enough ahead of when I'd have to get up anyhow that it was impossible to get back to sleep. Oy vey. I'd say "I'm tired of this", but it would be both a multi-layered irony, and wholly inadequate. More than 400 days here. Ye gods....Put my section's M1068 on a trailer tonight. Off it goes, I'll never see it again, good riddance and don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out! (READ MORE)

Voice From the War: First Week In Country - What to say? I'm finally here! I have to admit I'm in awe at everything I look at. The army can train you how to shoot a rifle, start an IV, and live out of a bag but a lot of what I see is people learning to adjust. It isn't as easy as most people would think, getting used to a whole new culture, land and way of acting. I live in the suburbs of Buffalo where I had my SUV parked in my two-car garage with my green lawn where I would get up and go to work at a doctor's office. This morning I looked out of my tent and finally a break from our week of rain, I finally got my first look at the mountains surrounding our camp. Breathtaking. Later on in the day when I went on a convoy, we went outside the wire and all you can say is wow. Never at any moment in life could anybody be more grateful for what you have until you see how some of these people live. (READ MORE)

Back Stateside but still writing:
LTC Rich Phillips: Home, and Reintegrating - Well, I've been home for over a week and I still don't know how to answer the question, "So, are you glad to be home?" Of course I'm glad to be home. But, I also miss the sense of mission and the friends I had in Afghanistan. And even though I spent 15 months in Afghanistan, I sometimes feel guilty being home and safe while others are still serving overseas. I don't ever want to forget that I have friends and colleagues away from home and in harms way, and I'm ready to go back when necessary to do my part again. I've often heard it said that the nation is not at war, only the military is at war. Now that I'm home I have a mixed opinion on that statement. (READ MORE)

Acute Politics @ Long War Journal: When Sons of Iraq grow up - During General David Petraeus' testimony to Congress on the progress of the war in Iraq, he referred to the great security gains of the last year, which largely hold even in the face of clashes between Shia militias and government forces in Sadr City, Basrah, and much of the South. General Petraeus credited a substantial portion of those security gains in many areas of Iraq in the last year to the duel phenomena of Sahawa (Awakening) councils and the formation of local security teams from out-of-work men fed up with violence. The Anbar Awakening started in Ramadi as armed opposition to al Qaeda in Iraq. The movement grew and morphed into a political and military movement that expanded throughout Anbar and swept west, north, and south throughout the largely Sunni areas of Iraq. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Dual VBIED attack wounds 3 police, 15 civilians in Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq – A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in Mosul April 15 was followed by an additional VBIED attack, which wounded three Iraqi Policemen and 15 Iraqi civilians. The first blast occurred at approximately 3:45 p.m. with the second attack striking after first responders arrived on the scene. (READ MORE)

VBIED kills 36, wounds 67 in Baquba - BAQOUBA, Iraq – Thirty-five Iraqi citizens were killed and 66 were wounded in a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in Baquba, Diyala Province, April 15. One Iraqi Policeman was killed and one also wounded in the attack. Three buses were destroyed and 10 local shops were damaged. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces detain 18 suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 18 suspected terrorists Monday and Tuesday during operations targeting the al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network in the Tigris River Valley and northern part of the country. Coalition forces analyzed intelligence from several sources to develop a series of operations targeting key links in the AQI network west of Samarra. Ground forces conducted eight missions there Monday and Tuesday and detained 12 suspected terrorists. (READ MORE)

Iraqi DBE discover anti-tank mines after attack from dismounted insurgents - TIKRIT, Iraq – The Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement discovered a cache of anti-tank mines after taking small arms fire from an unknown number of terrorists, April 14. The Department of Border Enforcement soldiers returned fire in self-defense, driving the terrorists toward the Iranian border. More than 160 anti-tank mines were found after the terrorists broke contact. (READ MORE)

Coalition detains alleged AQI leader, three other suspects in Mosul - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces captured a reported al-Qaeda in Iraq leader and detained three additional suspected terrorists during operations in Mosul Tuesday. In a precision operation in Mosul, Coalition forces captured an alleged AQI leader. The suspect is believed to be in charge of an illegal terrorist court system in the area, and is also suspected of involvement in a local bombing cell. (READ MORE)

Suicide Bomber Solidifies SoI’s Resolve in Hawijah - HAWIJAH — Khalaf Ibrahim Ali had just finished checking up on his fellow Sons of Iraq around the city. It was April 2. The day was turning out to be another hot one in Hawijah, located approximately 60 miles south of Kirkuk City in the Kirkuk province. He had just sat down to cool-off with an ice cream when a young man he did not recognize approached. In a blink-of-an-eye, Ali would be wrestling with a suicide bomber bent on killing him. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Coalition forces kill insurgents in Zabul - Several insurgents on motorcycles were killed, April 12, after they engaged friendly elements with small-arms and machine-gun fire in Zabul province. The combined patrol immediately repelled the attack with small arms fire and close air support, killing the insurgents. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Coalition forces destroy IED-making compound in Oruzgan - While clearing a suspected insurgent compound in Khas Oruzgan, Oruzgan province, Apr. 12, Afghan National Army and Coalition forces discovered a substantial amount of improvised explosive device materials. Coalition forces called in an airstrike to destroy the bomb-making compound after evacuating all civilians from the immediate area. (READ MORE)

Afghan National Army, CF continue to neutralize Taliban insurgents - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Several insurgents were killed by Afghan National Army and Coalition forces during a reconnaissance patrol, April 10, near Aminah Kalay, Zabul province. A group of insurgents attempted to ambush the patrol using small arms. The ANA returned small-arms and heavy machine-gun fire. (READ MORE)

Insurgents target Afghan medical assistance - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Civilians and medical personnel were attacked by insurgents during an Afghan National Army and Coalition forces village medical outreach at Sanguin District, Helmand province, Apr. 12. ANA and Coalition medics were providing medical care to Afghan men, women and children from the surrounding area outside a Coalition base when the insurgents attacked using rocket-propelled grenades. (READ MORE)

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