January 2, 2009

From the Front: 01/02/2009

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

In their own words:
Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: Afghan Conundrum - In the last few posts I have reviewed a posting by "Afghanistan Shrugged" and the latest report on the ANP by the International Crisis Group. One notes how a higher commander can derail an honest effort by a subordinate in a dangerous situation, bringing failure to an operation on the verge of success, and the other details the current state of one of the two main pillars of Afghan security; the ANP (and with it the Ministry of Interior.) The second also touches on the Afghan Judiciary; the shadowy realm where criminal prosecution and corruption blend into a tie-dye of injustice that threatens the very viability of the Afghan government. These are not just my perceptions, but a thread that runs through the actions and decisions of hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, especially leaders. (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: Oh boy [hack hack]...it's 2009 - [blinks away dust] Yipee. Here's hoping y'all are enjoying a day on the couch, recovering from much fun and watching football. Of course, I understand that Bad Dog readers are much too wise to get wild and crazy on New Year's Eve...but if you did, I hope you had one for those of us who were wishing we could! (READ MORE)

Embrace the Suck: 27 Hours In A Sardine Can... - Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2139 hrs. - Yep, that's right 27 mother fucking hours. I wish I could come up with a better way of putting it, but in this case I do think that the profanity is warranted. So why don't I tell you all about my New Year's Eve this year. Now I am departing from the random bitching and moaning and the romantic sentiments expressed in my recent posts and I am getting back to my bread and butter of finding the humor in the most ridiculously fucked up situations that the Army can put together for me. Mostly because if I did not, I would promptly lose my mind. I mean more so than I already have. So we had a mission today. Obviously, I cannot share the particulars, but I can share the generalities. So suffice it to say that a shit ton of vehicles were moving from one place to another and we had to make sure that they got from point A to point B safely. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: What Green Zone Transfer? - The U.S. formally transferred control of the Green Zone to Iraqi authorities today. So how do the media deal with this milestone? Call it insignificant and dismiss Iraq. Never mind this step towards sovereignty. Never mind the upcoming elections. This isn't a country of 20-something million people. They're savages who are being administered by Americans. And it's all Bush's fault. WaPo makes it sound like it's all talk: "Speaking privately, U.S. officials said they will try to make their presence in the Green Zone less conspicuous in coming days. But they will remain in charge of issuing badges that grant varying levels of access into the area. They said they will not immediately dismantle a vast security apparatus that includes hundreds of Peruvian and Ugandan guards, body-scanning machines, bomb-sniffing dogs and surveillance cameras." (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: The State of Jihad: 2008 - The past year has seen significant developments in the Long War. Pakistan teeters on a civil war and a potential war with India after Taliban gains and an attack launched on Mumbai from within Pakistan. India has emerged as a central battlefield in the war. Iraq has dealt major defeats to al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army, and is moving towards reconciliation. Afghanistan experienced the worst year since the US invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001. A “surge” in Afghanistan will take place this year. Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon, and the West has no plan to avert the crisis. Al Qaeda is poised to retake control of Somalia. Yemen remains an al Qaeda sanctuary. The battles continue in lesser known theaters. (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: Negligent Discharge Tragedy - A few days ago, an Iraqi Soldier was entering a HMMWV, leading with his rifle. He negligently discharged with weapon, shooting himself in the head and resulting in his death. Overall, our experience with the Iraqi Army tells us that they are not particularly concerned with muzzle or trigger discipline. These are the practices of keeping your finger off the trigger when not actively engaging a target and not pointing the muzzle of your weapon at yourself or others. Preferably, a weapon is kept at the 'low ready,' where it is pointed down to the ground with your finger beside the trigger well. Also, when Americans enter a base, we clear our weapons at clearing barrels. (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: 31DEC08--New Year's Celebration in Iraq - After getting back from mentoring the Iraqi Army, the team got together for some New Year's Eve Festivities. Sergeant Colon fired up the grill, and Lieutenant Jay Alaniz had our foosball table moved to the level spot near the grill. We ate steaks, burgers and ribs. Our new dog, Scarface ate well. We had both a darts and a spades tournament. The night was not all games, as the Iraqi Army planned how they would react to a recent attack. We all gathered a few minutes before the new year and counted down the seconds. Being away from our families and having no one to kiss is tough. For now we have each other. In the meantime, we know that at the close of 2009 that we will be with our loved ones. (READ MORE)

Pink's War: Another Damn New Year - So its another new year. In a way it feels like just yesterday I was writing my blog on New Year's 2008. This time last year I was exactly halfway through Basic Training, home for Christmas Exodus. This year I'm sitting in Iraq, miles upon miles away from home. Looking back on 2008, its amazing how much things can change and yet still stay the same. Its amazing how much you can accomplish in a year if you set your mind to it. And its even more amazing how much you can grow as a person in just a year. This time last year I wasn't in a very good spot, I still had some issues I had to work out with myself. I was still trying to figure out exactly who I was after getting away from the ex's control over me. (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Happy New Year - Happy New Year to you! I sincerely hope this next year turns out better than the last. What a strange, tough year it's been. During this past week, we've been sorta getting stuff done. We gradually got settled into our new office spaces, getting our stuff out of boxes and squirreled away on our desks, getting our computers to work, trying to find out where all the offices for our key contacts are, that sort of thing. I've still got some issues. Every other day, for example, my computer loses all my old email files and I have to spend some time chasing them down. They're supposed to be saved to the network, but my computer doesn't understand that. A bit annoying. Another thing: the Network Gods don't want me to change my computer's desktop image. They want me to keep the really boring State Department logo. I keep trying to change it over to pictures of my grandson, my wife, or my dogs - you know, things I care about - but NOOOoooooo ... (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Leaving Home - It’s my last night in Shreveport, and the night I have to admit I’m leaving. Actually, last night was the night I really had to admit I’m going to be gone for a year - I said good-bye to Craig. He got on the road around 8:30 heading to Dallas to catch a plane to Colorado for a ski trip he’s had planned with his friends. We were at his parents house when he left and I stood outside crying a good 20 minutes, holding onto him and not wanting to watch him drive away. Today I’ve been lazy. My best friend, Amanda, spent the night and this morning we layed around with my mom and brothers watching home videos. After watching a span of about 5 years crammed into two VHS tapes, we concluded the following: I was starved for attention after my brother, Cade, came along AND I was born to be a journalist, evidenced by the constant interviews of relatives and anyone who would talk to my hand holding the invisible microphone. (READ MORE)

The Angry American: 2008 in Review - 2008 is behind us now. I started 2008 at FOB Rustamiyah, and if memory serves me well shortly after midnight there Garrison burst through my door in a thong that said "I love my Soldier" and jumped into my bed. The rest of the men were gathered outside snapping pictures. I don't know where those pictures went but they will probably resurface if any of those guys read this post. I was there for the first snow fall in Baghdad in roughly over 60 years. That was the same day we escorted a bunch of nuclear waste, that was a fun day let me tell you. A good man's body succumbed to injuries he had sustained 4 months earlier the day before his 20th birthday. Duncan Crookston the resident Charlie Company Genius will never be forgotten. (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! - Well, I apologize...I haven't written on here in some time. I could make excuses and give some good reasons...but..it wouldn't change much. I'm sorry. SO I'll try to make up for some lost time and tell what's been going on in my world.... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Christmas this year is one that I will probably never forget. I would love to tell you I won't forget it because I was 9,000 miles-ish away from home and being in Iraq was significant enough....well...I really wish that was the only reason why it will stick in my head for a very long time. Christmas morning was ok....Christmas evening my group and I enjoyed a nice dinner together at the DFAC and got our picture with Santa. Then we came back to the office and opened presents. I had some stockings made for everyone and they really enjoyed them. We all got the biggest kick out of it because they knew I had wrapped some small toys and put in the stockings...well...what I didn't know is that they wrapped a few gifts themselves and put in one stocking in particular. (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: Talking Straight in a World So Queer - I wrote this while smoking a CAO Brazilia. It’s freezing cold, yet I am outside finishing a La Gloria Cubana. I’m not addicted, I just don’t want a $10 cigar to go to waste. As I huddle and puff, I see Staff Sergeant Goldie walk past the smoking area. SSG Goldie and I have met a couple times in the smoking area over cigars, but our schedules never seemed to jibe for an official off-the-FOB date. “Hey, Goldie!” I shout. She looks very happy to see me. She runs her fingers through her short blonde hair and grins, “Hey, BT! It’s your day off today right?” “Have you been stalking me?” I ask. She giggles like she is 14 again, “Naaaaaa.” “Is it my day off? What day is it?” “It’s Friday, BT. I’m off too.” I put on the phony Brooklyn accent. “Oy gavolt! They want me to work on Shabbas!” I’ve never even been to Brooklyn. She laughs. “Do you want to get together today?” This is the key. Always make it seem like it’s their idea. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Citizen’s tip leads IA, MND-B Soldiers to Baghdad weapons cache - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army soldiers and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized weapons caches throughout the Baghdad area Dec. 31. While searching a house, Iraqi Army soldiers with 4th Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, found a cache that contained a small amount of home-made explosives, detonation cord and a blasting cap at approximately 2 p.m. in Baghdad’s Ameriyah neighborhood. (READ MORE)

Airport transitions to civil authority in southern Iraqi province - BASRA – Iraqi authorities took control of the Basrah International Airport from Coalition supervision today in a ceremony in the southern city of Basra. This transfer of authority comes after four years of operation since it closed after the start of the war in 2003. On hand for the event was Basrah Governor Mohamad El Wa'ili, Basrah International Airport Director Abdul Ameer, Director General of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Administration Sebeeh Al Shebany and Multi-National Division-South East Commander British Maj. Gen. Andy Salmon, as well as other officials, members of Iraqi Security forces and Iraqi media. (READ MORE)

IA detains 5 after IDF attack near Kut - FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces detained five individuals after an indirect fire attack southwest of al Kut in Wasit province Dec. 31. The attack occurred between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Iraqi Army scouts from the 32nd Iraqi Army Brigade immediately investigated reports of suspicious individuals entering two separate houses. The detained individuals were found at those locations and were taken into custody by Iraqi forces. (READ MORE)

IA, MND-B Soldiers find weapons caches west of Baghdad - BAGHDAD – At approximately 10:46 a.m., IA Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 36th Brigade, 9th IA Division, along with Soldiers with Company C, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, seized a large cache including 177 73 mm heat rockets, 19 73 mm projectiles, 119 rocket mortars, a 106 mm illumination mortar, an 82 mm mortar, three 40 mm projectile grenades, 20 120 mm mortar primers, six mortar fuses, 40 rocket point detonating fuses, 200 14.5 mm cartridges, a partially constructed improvised-explosive device, and a variety of bomb-making materials. (READ MORE)

ISF secure warrants, arrest 13 suspected criminals - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces captured 13 suspected criminals Dec. 28-29 during separate operations throughout Iraq. During an operation Dec. 28 in central Iraq, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a suspected criminal Amir of the Andalus neighborhood of Baghdad. The individual is believed to have constructed vehicle-borne IEDs and conducted attacks targeting Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

ISF detain suspected criminals responsible for roadside bombing (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces detained two suspected criminals Dec. 30 who were allegedly responsible for attacking a Sons of Iraq checkpoint in Baghdad’s Rashid district. At approximately 11:45 a.m., Iraqi National Police from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd NP Div., supported by Coalition forces, detained two suspected criminals in the Aamel community. Both detainees were allegedly involved in a recent roadside bomb attack against a Sons of Iraq checkpoint. (READ MORE)

Leaders meet to discuss SoI transition to GoI control - CAMP ECHO, Iraq – A spokesman for the government’s Sons of Iraq transition plan said during a meeting in Diwaniyah last month that approximately 20 percent of the SoI members are slotted to join the Iraqi Security Forces. Muzhir al-Mawla, a retired Iraqi Army general, spoke on the future structure of the SoI program at the 8th IA Division headquarters Dec. 24. (READ MORE)

82nd Paratroopers Prepare for Iraq Mission - FOB LOYALTY — Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, continue to transition with their 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division counterparts in Baghdad. The Soldiers will partner with the Iraqi Security Forces and local government officials during their 12-month deployment here. (READ MORE)

Camp Liberty Soldiers Ring in the New Year - CAMP LIBERTY — U.S. Soldiers gathered together inside the Stadium here to celebrate the arrival of the new year, Dec. 31. Being away from home doesn’t mean that Soldiers need to also be away from holiday celebration, and with the help of the Quarterback Club and the 4th Infantry Division Band, they didn’t miss a beat. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Commandos Learn Border Security - FOB DELTA — Iraqi commandos graduated a two-week training course on mounted and dismounted techniques, urban and close quarter combat, medical training and snap traffic control points at the Karmashiyah Border Fort, Dec. 29. “The training was really great, and my Soldiers were very grateful to get the experience and training from the American Soldiers,” said Maj. Satar Ebraheem Obed, Border Security Force battalion commander, Department of Border Enforcement. (READ MORE)

Air Force Surgeons Rotate Through Iraq - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE — Optimally managing the unique head and neck injury patterns seen in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to a successful initiative at Wilford Hall Medical Center here. Hospital officials have developed a program – the first for a military medical facility -- to send surgical fellows to a war zone for a surgical rotation. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Firefighter Apprentice Training Course Moved, Expanded - BAGHDAD — Iraqi firefighters are more than half-way through the firefighter apprentice course being taught for the first time in Baghdad’s International Zone. The class was previously conducted at Taji Military Base just north of Baghdad but the location lacked advanced live fire trainers and had a very limited capacity for students. (READ MORE)

A river, a bridge and a hope - Uruzgon Province in southern Afghanistan has been one of the most troublesome for U.S. and NATO troops. It's smack in the middle of the heroin-poppy region. Taliban leader Mullah Omar is from the province. U.S., Australian and Dutch troops have fought the Taliban here -- with much of the battle being to win support of the local populace. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces target road side bombers in Zabul - KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed eight armed Taliban militants and detained one suspected militant during an operation to disrupt the foreign fighter and roadside bomb network in Zabul Province, Wednesday. In Arghandad District, approximately 120km northeast of Kandahar City, Coalition forces targeted a Taliban sub-commander wanted for his ties to the roadside bombing network along Highway One and recent attacks against Coalition forces in Zabul Province. (READ MORE)

Afghan forces stop attack on Coalition airfield - KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan Security Guards (ASG) thwarted a daytime insurgent attack on Shindand airfield, Dec 29. The airfield is located in Herat province in the western area of Afghan. It is suspected that the insurgents were preparing to ambush incoming aircraft. The insurgents attacked the guards with small arms weapons. ASG successfully repelled the attack with the help of Afghan National Police (ANP). (READ MORE)

Coalition forces target terrorist network in Kabul - KABUL, Afghanistan – After the conclusion of the operation in Sorubi District, an allegation of civilian casualties was brought to the attention of Coalition forces. An initial review of the operational reports indicate only enemy forces were engaged during the operation. “Coalition forces deeply regrets when any harm comes to civilians,” said Col. Jerry O’Hara, a U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesperson. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces target Haqqani network in Paktiya - KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces detained eight suspected Haqqani militants, including the two targeted individuals, during an operation to disrupt the Haqqani foreign fighter and roadside bomb network in Paktiya province, Monday. In Shamul District, approximately 135 km south of Kabul City, Coalition forces apprehended two wanted Haqqani militants believed to traffic foreign fighters into Paktiya to conduct terrorist activities. (READ MORE)

16 Afghans dead, 58 Afghans wounded in Khowst province suicide attack Sunday - KABUL, Afghanistan – One of Public Affairs’ primary responsibilities is to ensure factual reporting of events to the public and to counter enemy propaganda. Sunday, Zabihollah Mojahed, a Taliban spokesperson, reported a martyrdom attack carried out in Khowst province. Mojahed claimed the attack killed 20 foreign soldiers, wounded dozens and destroyed an unknown number of tanks. (READ MORE)

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