January 14, 2009

From the Front: 01/14/2009

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

In their own words:
Back In the Army Now (at 54): Attention K-Mart Shoppers--Fill your DBag - My wife and I are going to K-Mart today to get the last few items recommended on my Army PowerPoint slide: eyeglasses cleaning and repair kits, fitted sheets, handheld mirror, locks for duffle bags, foot powder, talcum powder, surge protector, extension cord, battery-operated alarm clock, etc. All of these items go in the footlocker--the fifth of the five bags that go with me: A backpack, three dufflebags and the footlocker. For whatever reason, the backpack is not counted as a bag and the others are called Bags A, B, C, & D (the footlocker). One of my kids seeing the printed listed noted that the PowerPoint printout for the footlocker started laughing and said, "Dad, this is a DBag?" DBag is a common insult among high school kids. When I was in high school, we used the same insult but didn't abbreviate. (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: Agendas - The response to my posting about the venerable Lizette Alvarez and her attempts to start a meme concerning combat veterans of the Global War On Terror has been tremendous. A quick look at the subjects that Alvarez has written about in the past few years shows a definite trend. Below I have listed the titles and a brief description (taken from the NYT,) of her articles. These articles regard the Army, occasionally the Marine Corps, and trend towards a focus on combat veterans and their misadventures following the their combat experiences. There is also a tendency to focus on violence committed by combat veterans. This is combined with articles which point the finger at the Armed Forces and their apparent mishandling of such issues as PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury.) Among these are articles depicting alcoholism, drug abuse, and felony waivers granted by the Army and Marine Corps. (READ MORE)

Down Range 46: OPTEMPO - Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO). This is a term we use in the Army in reference to "being busy". When we are breakneck busy we say we have a high OPTEMPO, when we are deploying more often we have a high OPTEMPO, when we use up resources quickly because of deployment or assigned mission we have a high OPTEMPO. Presently, the 211th is working at a high OPTEMPO. Since our return from the holiday break, we have been going, going, going. It has been a few weeks since my last entry and so I'll do my best to play catch up here. (READ MORE)

Embrace the Suck: The Friendly Ghost's Monkey With A Typewriter Experiment... - Guest post from a fellow member of my platoon. - If you lock a hundred monkeys in a room with typewriters they will eventually bang out the works of Shakespeare, so by that logic if you lock one monkey in a tower with a pen and a notebook he should be able to write a guest post for his friends blog. So here goes. I will start off this failed experiment of a guest post by telling you a little about me. Since MudPuppy likes to give everyone in this unit a fun pseudonym you can call me Friendly Ghost. I joined the military six years ago in high school and have been faithfully serving my country one weekend a month two weeks a year since then. I get to check the box labeled “some college: no degree” since I spent a few years a Western Illinois University. I have held several jobs in my life the top three are, Working at St. Charles Country club, A loss prevention officer at Kohl’s, and my favorite one Hot Dog Vendor at WIU. (READ MORE)

Embrace the Suck: Who Lost What, Where?... - Ah, Ladies and gentlemen the douche baggery continues unabated. So here is the latest. The other night, somewhere in Afghanistan, excuse me AssCrackIstan. Someone, lost something, somewhere. I don't know what they lost, I don't know where they lost it, and I don't know who lost it. All I know for absolute certain is that no one, I repeat NO ONE on my FOB lost anything, anywhere. That being said how did the powers that be decide was the best way for us to find whatever had been lost? They decided that the entire fucking battalion should account for ALL of their shit by serial number! As I said before I have no idea what was lost because they never tell you. Which seems counterproductive. Am I the only one who thinks I would have a much better chance of finding something if I knew what it was prior to beginning my search for it? It seems rather stupid to just walk around picking shit up and asking your commander, "Is this it?" But I digress. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Generous donations help keep Karmah children warm during winter - KARMAH, Iraq (January 6, 2009) – Marines of Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, distributed shoes and cold-weather jackets to children living in Karmah, Iraq, Jan. 6. During Karmah’s coldest months, ranging from 60 degrees during the day to freezing temperatures after dusk, many children are without winter apparel and some even without shoes on their feet. The battalion’s chaplain, Navy Lt. Brandon Harding, a 38-year-old from Kailua, Hawaii, with 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, initiated the effort to help Karmah’s less fortunate youth, contacting various organizations and non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. to help donate clothing several months ago at the beginning of the winter season. (READ MORE)

June Cleaver After A Six-Pack: Just Hear Me Out... - Okay, so I know you all think that my husband is a great guy and all (I am talking to you mother, Aunt Barb and Cousin Steve), and believe me, there is no one on God's great earth that does not think he is a greater guy than I do (not even his mother!)... but he has been home for a little over a week now and it was bound to happen. I knew this would happen. I have been waiting for this to happen. HE IS DRIVING ME FREAKIN' CRAZY! Okay... I feel better now. Phew. Let me explain. I am an independent woman-he has made me this way with this career path that he chose-but he really likes to think of me as a frail, timid, dependant little woman that needs to be told what to do, how to do it, and if it is being done correctly or not. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Fighting continues in Mohmand - The Pakistani paramilitary Frontier Corps claimed 48 Taliban fighters were killed yesterday during heavy fighting in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of Mohmand. The military fired artillery and conducted helicopter strikes against Taliban positions in the mountains the day after the Taliban launched a major assault on a military compound in Mohmand. Heavy fighting was reported in the regions close to the Afghan border, Frontier Corps told the media. More troops are being rushed to the region, according to reports. “Additional soldiers and equipment, including tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs), arrived at a military camp in Ghalanai,” Daily Times reported. (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: NPR Fresh Air Transcript September 7th, 2009 - Ok, you see, this is what I would call a “Hamas Victory.” Yes, I came in 5th. But look who I was up against: Blackfive and Michael Yon. It’s a miracle that I was even nominated! And I have a number of more readers now… a lot more. Look, it just wasn’t in the cards. Blackfive has a readership of thousands. Michael Yon is a published journalist. Army of Dude has been blogging longer than me and has actually fired a rifle in combat. I just answer a radio and write about jerking off. But I have a gift for all of you who voted for me and the gift is below. Thank you. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Petraeus gets it - Yes GEN Petraeus was hugely successful in Iraq with his strategy and I honestly beleive we would not have won there had it not been for him. However I have been cautious in both this blog and on the You Served Radio show about his approach to Afghanistan now that he is in charge of CENTCOM. This is the first story I have read where he is quoted and expresses the fact that he realizes not everything that worked in Iraq will work in Afghanistan. In fact just last Thursday on the You Served radio show, CJ and I were talking about this exact subject matter and I expressed my concerns that he or others would think what worked in Iraq would work in Afghanistan. The paying off of local militia in Afghanistan is a prime example of something that may not work in Afghanistan as well as it worked in Iraq. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Hurriyah’s senior Sunni shaykh praises reconciliation efforts - BAGHDAD – A senior Sunni Shaykh publicly encouraged by the returns of internally displaced persons wants the people of Iraq to know about it. Leaders with the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad visited with Shaykh Maqmoud al- Falahi at the offices outside the Um al- Qura Mosque Jan. 11. (READ MORE)

Inaugural Meeting of the Iraqi-U.S. Higher Coordination Committee - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chaired the first meeting of the Iraqi-U.S. Higher Coordination Committee on Tuesday, January 13. The purpose of the Higher Coordination Committee is to oversee implementation of the Strategic Framework Agreement between the United States and Iraq, which took effect on January 1, 2009. (READ MORE)

Inaugural JSCPS meeting to continue successful provincial security efforts - Baghdad – Representatives of the Government of Iraq and the United States met today to hold the inaugural meeting of the Joint Sub Committee for Provincial Security (JSCPS). The committee was formed to enhance governance and local Iraqi Security Force capabilities in the provinces as part of the Security Agreement that went into effect on Jan. 1. (READ MORE)

Biden makes Basrah first stop in Iraq visit - BASRAH, Iraq – U.S. Senators Joseph Biden and Lindsay Graham discussed Basrah security and reconstruction efforts with Coalition officials in Basrah Jan. 12. This visit comes on the eve of Biden’s inauguration to the U.S. vice presidential office and the British completing their mission. (READ MORE)

Economic improvements show promise in MND-C - CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – As in many other aspects of the country of Iraq, improvements are visible within its economic structure, and if continued as planned has nowhere to go but up. “The security improvement has made it possible for us to grow the economy and build the skills and capacity of both government officials and Iraqi businessmen,” said Lt. Col. Barry Ross, deputy economics team leader, 445th Civil Affairs Detachment. (READ MORE)

National Police visit local school, give back to community - TAJI, Iraq – Iraqi National Police took a break from their normal routine Jan. 4 to provide school supplies and gifts to students at Abi El-Khasiab Elementary School. Bearing donations, the NPs touched the lives of more than 500 students by providing needed school supplies such as backpacks, pencils, notebooks, paper, protractors and erasers. NPs also brought gifts including soccer balls, T-shirts, beanie babies and comic books. (READ MORE)

ISF, NP’s confiscate weapons throughout Baghdad - BAGHDAD – At approximately 2 p.m., in Baghdad’s Rashid district Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, partnered with Company B, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B, confiscated three AK-47 assault rifles from three different houses while conducting a clearance operation and hauled the weapons to their headquarters Jan. 10. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Forces Rescue Hostages, Bust Kidnapping Ring - BAGHDAD — Two kidnapping victims, an 11- and 23-year-old, were reunited with their families Jan. 7 in Baghdad after Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces rescued them and arrested 12 suspected criminals involved in running a kidnapping ring. The 11-year old boy was taken Dec. 25 in front of his home while playing with a friend. The 23-year-old adult was kidnapped at gun point Dec. 20 while traveling in the city. The victims are not related. (READ MORE)

First Class of Firefighters Graduate from the Iraqi National Fire Academy - BAGHDAD — The first class of apprentice firefighters, designated Class 08-001, graduated in a ceremony at the Iraqi National Fire Academy here Jan. 10. Twenty firefighters, along with one future train-the-trainer instructor, completed the rigorous two-month course of instruction to earn their firefighting certificates. (READ MORE)

Hundreds Graduate Iraqi Military Academy - BAGHDAD — The Basic Officers Commissioning Course at Ar Rustamiyah Military Academy graduated 241 Iraqi Army and 134 Iraqi Air Force cadets, Jan 12. The 12-month commissioning course paid special attention to leadership and ethics training while instilling the values and standards required of the future leaders of the Iraqi military. (READ MORE)

Future Celebrated at Historical Ruins - NINEWA PROVINCE — Sheik Khalid of Jobury and Sheik Ali of Albayati recently hosted a construction project opening celebration at the Assyrian Ruins here. Leaders from the military, police, construction company and surrounding towns were invited to celebrate and discuss issues concerning the new project with the Green Dream Contract Company, said Lt. Col. Chris Johnson, commander, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. (READ MORE)

Women’s Education a Top Priority - BAGHDAD — Not only has the safety and security situation in Iraq improved in the last year, but the educational system, especially for females, is also progressing. For females, there are programs in place and educational centers in planning; and in Karbala alone, there are about 300 women running for office in the upcoming provincial elections. (READ MORE)

Orphanage Receives Blanket Donation - BAGHDAD — Iraqi National Police Officers donated more than 400 blankets to an orphanage in the Kamaliyah neighborhood of New Baghdad, Jan. 3. The donation drive was led by the 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi National Police Division along with neighborhood leaders and the orphanage headmaster. The donation was to help children and widows battle the chilly weather this winter where average temperatures can dip down into the low 40s. (READ MORE)

Newly established COP sees quick progress - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (January 10, 2009) – Members of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, are seeing positive results from their increased presence at the newly built Combat Outpost Terminator in Maywand District, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Within weeks of building a permanent COP, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers reported an increased willingness from local residents to assist, and receive assistance from, Coalition Forces. (READ MORE)

Two Afghans treated at a Coalition medical facility in Farah - KABUL, Afghanistan – Two Afghan men were shot in Farah Province, located in west Afghanistan next to the Iranian border, Wednesday. One received gunshot wounds to the leg, and the other suffered additional shrapnel wounds to the abdomen. Both Afghans were treated by the Herat PRT, are in stable condition, and are expected to make a full recovery. (READ MORE)

ANA and Coalition forces target car bombing networks in Khost and Kandahar - KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army and Coalition forces detained five suspected militants, including the targeted Haqqani commander, during operations to disrupt the Haqqani and Taliban terrorist operations in Khost and Kandahar provinces, Wednesday. ANA and Coalition forces netted four militants in the first operation, including the targeted Haqqani commander. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Coalition forces disrupt IED cell in Farah - KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army Commandos with Coalition forces in support returned fire killing six militants during a raid on a compound in Kakhi Safyed district, Farah province, earlier today. The militants killed included a leader known for supplying weapons to militant forces and conducting attacks on Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces shutdown roadside bomb network in Laghman Province - KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed 32 armed insurgents including one female, detained one suspected militant, and destroyed two large caches of weapons, explosives and roadside bomb materials during an operation to disrupt the Taliban’s roadside bomb network in Laghman Province, Tuesday. In Alishang District, approximately 100 km northeast of Kabul City, Coalition forces targeted a Taliban roadside bomb cell responsible for numerous attacks throughout the region. (READ MORE)

Combined operations target road side bomb networks in Khost and Zabul - KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan National Police and Coalition forces detained four suspected militants during operations targeting the Haqqani and Taliban terrorist networks in Khost and Zabul provinces, Monday. ANP and Coalition forces conducted a combined operation in the Nadir Shah Kot District, approximately 145 km southeast of Kabul City, targeting a Haqqani commander responsible for attacks against innocent civilians and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

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