January 15, 2009

From the Front: 01/15/2009

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

In their own words:
Bouhammer: AT WAR Raw Footage - The three clips below are raw footage that were quickly put together by Scott Kesterson in order to help provide the public with some glimpses into the type of visuals you will see when watching AT WAR. All three are awesome and may require that you watch them a couple of time so you don’t miss anything. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Shrugged: Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Ever seen what it’s like when a child gets their first...winter coat? taste of chocolate? coloring book? I have. A child whose been exposed to rockets, artillery, gunfights and IEDs. Little girls who have violence visited upon them by their own families and neighbors for the crime of going to school or learning to read. Small boys who in very short years are recruited by the ACM to carry Kalashnikovs and launch suicide attacks; not valued as people but as tools of warfare. Children here aren’t treated much different than adults. I’m not talking about how they’re treated by the CF, this is their own countrymen. Much of the time it’s not a pretty picture, but every once and a while there’s a ray of sunshine and an opportunity to just be a kid. To see wonder and amazement in their eyes... explain that a packet of hot chocolate their tasting was sent by an American child half a world away... (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure: Sincerity And The Blessing Of A True Reflection - A goodly portion of the American population are very concerned with how the rest of the world sees us. We see ourselves in a funhouse mirror reflection through the press and through anecdotal evidence reflecting the personal views of the teller. We find what we are looking for. This was forwarded to me today. The blogosphere is large, and sometimes it takes a while to become aware of such things. A bullcrap story about a CIA agent plying a village elder with Viagra can go 'round the 'net in short order, but something like this takes weeks, apparently. It is out there, though; and it's destined to be a classic because it shows us something rarely seen. It shows us a glimpse of ourselves through someone else's eyes. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Fab Lab Surge and ABC News - The Fab Lab team has arrived and is now hard at work. The logistics involved supporting their aggressive schedule is keeping me on the road for good bit of the New Year which helps explain the lack of activity on this blog. However things are calming down as Team Fab Lab hit its stride which is going to allow me the time to blog over the next few days which is good because I have a few things that I’d like to address. To start I want to plug the Jalalabad Fab Lab crew who have come here from around the world, on their own dime, because they feel that they have a very special project which could a model of how to bring the latest technology into the Stability Operations battle using education and technology. They are blogging daily and you can monitor their progress here. (READ MORE)

Fraser from Iraq: Sticky Mud - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - Well, it’s still freaking freezing here. It rained and the temperature was just above freezing, which means that everywhere you go it’s mud. Everything you wear becomes muddy: the back of the helicopters are covered with mud, inside the trucks we drive is mud, and on the chow hall floors it’s mud. Plus, it’s not like the good mud, if there is such a thing. It’s a sticky crappy mud. It sticks to everything and doesn’t wash out. So now everyone is wet, cold, and muddy. The other night I flew with those disposable hand warmers in the toes of my boots. I shouldn’t bitch, because the door gunners in the back are hanging out of the aircraft in the slip stream dressed like Eskimos, but are still freezing their asses off. We have a heater in the aircraft, but with the doors and windows open at 130 knots, it doesn’t work very well. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Bin Laden's Message - Osama Bin Laden today calls for a jihad to stop Israel's campaign against Gaza. In his audiotape he asks: "The question is, can America continue the war against us for several more decades? The reports and signs show us otherwise," he said. He said Bush had left his successor "with a heavy inheritance," forcing Obama to choose between withdrawing from the wars or continuing." According to the Associated Press, Bin Laden says: "If he withdraws from the war, it is a military defeat. If he continues, he drowns in economic crisis." Bin Laden also vowed that the terror network would open "new fronts" against the United States and its allies beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

SFC Burke - My Point of View: Freezing Cold, Hard Irony - Hmmm...it's almost 10pm and I was winding down from a hectic day in the Public Affairs office by watching American Idol. I like watching people do crazy/stupid things to get on the show, those who have no chance at all, and those who really blow you away with their talent. We've been working a 24hr operation (day and night shifts) called an MRE (not one you eat). A media readiness exercise. It's a welcome break from the normal mobilization stuff we normally deal with as a deploying unit (you should've seen the command staff dancing up a storm to 1SG's Spanish music in the office!). We get to finally do our jobs. For me, it's a lot of my normal stuff like: helping my Soldiers with their writing, working on a layout for a newsletter, processing photos, helping the command with a press brief....I was also tasked to go interview the commander of Fort Dix for the base newspaper. It also gives me some indication my Soldiers' strengths and weaknesses for future training. (READ MORE)

Pocket Rockets: Irrelevant Ramblings - Having been in Kuwait for a bit over a day now, I have come to one conclusion…It absolutely does not suck here. All I’ve heard from people is how lousy the living conditions are. We live in GP Medium tents, but we are not sharing with anyone else and only have 7-9 troops per tent, instead of 16, which is the normal capacity for these things. Most have a decent amount of room, if not a bit extra. Another complaint often heard was sleeping on the ol’ green Army cots. My opinion? Grow a set and get the f*ck over it. I slept on a cot for 7 months in Bosnia 12 years ago and Im sure that those who served earlier in this conflict have dealt with worse. These “kids” today have been spoiled rotten in Basic and AIT, and especially by the entire Army Reserve system, usually staying in hotels for Annual Training and never actually staying out in the field for a full drill weekend. (READ MORE)

Dena Yllescas: We found a house - Well, I did find a house that I liked that I'm in the process of buying. Julia was really really excited. Before she saw it, I told her "Julia, you'll have to tell me if you like it." She said "Mommy, I'll like anything as long as I can have my things back." But, she did really like the house. She said her favorite thing was the patio and her least favorite thing was "it needs a walk in pantry." I think it's so funny that she said that considering she's 7! I really think it will be great for the girls and I to get settled into our own place with our own things. It's in a great location close to both of my brothers. I think that Rob would be really proud of me for getting this house. It's perfect for the 3 of us. It still makes me sick, though, to think that Rob will not be living with us in this house. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
ISF arrest seven suspected criminals - BALAD, Iraq –Iraqi Security Forces arrested seven suspected criminals on government of Iraq issued warrants during operations throughout Iraq Jan. 13. One of the individuals was believed to be involved in the kidnapping of a boy rescued by Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces Jan. 7. The other individuals were suspected of activities including weapons trafficking, kidnapping of local civilians and attacks on Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B Soldiers detain 9 suspected criminals in northwest Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers detained nine suspected criminals during combined operations Jan. 13 in Baghdad’s Kadhamiyah and Mansour districts. At approximately 12:15 a.m. Iraqi Army Soldiers serving with the 3rd Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division arrested six individuals for criminal activity in Baghdad’s Mansour district. (READ MORE)

Iraqi, Texas students partners in academics - BAGHDAD – Students from Flowers of the Future school in Salman Pak, Iraq, partnered with students at Rylander Elementary School, in Katy, Texas, during a school supply drop by a team of Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers Jan. 11. The Texas students collected more than 1,000 school supply items, to include glue, scissors, crayons, markers, books, paper and pencils. Katy area businesses donated the money for shipping costs to Iraq. (READ MORE)

Commanders Plan Election Day Security - BAGHDAD — A Coalition commander visited National Police stations in northwest Baghdad Jan. 10 to discuss Iraqi Election Day security. Col. Joseph Martin, commander, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, met Iraqi Police leaders in Kadhamiyah, Mansour and Salhiya. (READ MORE)

Arab Jabour Opens New Police Station - BAGHDAD — The citizens of Arab Jabour may notice more Iraqi Security Forces on the roads and in the community than normal, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Iraq and its dedication to the security of its people. Community leaders, ISF commanders and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers gathered in the rural farming community in southern Baghdad’s Rashid district for the grand opening of a new Iraqi Police station, Jan. 11. (READ MORE)

Coalition, Iraqis Plan Joint Targeting - BAGHDAD — National Police and Multi-National Division – Baghdad leaders gathered for a Joint Targeting Meeting at Combat Outpost Cashe South, southeast of Baghdad, Jan. 9. “The Combined Targeting Meeting helped provide 3-1 NP’s with insight on how (their unit) develops their independent targeting within the operational environment,” said Capt. Joseph Philips, Iraqi Security Force liaison officer. (READ MORE)

Diwaniya Celebrates Iraqi Police Day - CAMP ECHO — The city of Diwaniya held an Iraqi Police Day celebration at the downtown parade field, Jan. 8. The ceremony was hosted by Maj. Gen. Safa Jassim, provincial director of police, with the governor of Diwaniya and provincial council members among the guests of honor in attendance. (READ MORE)

Cold tents for returnees in east - JALALABAD, 15 January 2009 (IRIN) - Mushrooming tents and mud huts built by returnees from Pakistan are turning a desert in Khogyani District, eastern Afghanistan, into a bustling settlement. The Chemtala desert, about 25km to the west of Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar Province, is now home to over 6,000 returnee families, some of whom were expelled from the Jalozai camp in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province in mid-2008. (READ MORE)

Taliban militants shoot dead US spy in Pakistan - Taliban militants on Thursday shot dead a man in one of Pakistan's lawless tribal areas accused of spying for US forces across the border in Afghanistan, officials said. The 30-year-old was abducted from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, a month ago after a suspected US drone attack on a militant hideout in the area, they said. (READ MORE)

Torkham sealed to prevent entry of militants from Afghanistan - LANDI KOTAL: Security forces carrying out an operation against militants in Landi Kotal imposed a day-long curfew and demolished houses of four suspected militants on Wednesday. The Torkham border was sealed to prevent the entry of Afghans into the area. The imposition of curfew and the closure of Torkhum border caused temporary suspension of traffic on the main Peshawar-Torkham highway, briefly disrupting supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghan girl, 14, in critical condition after razor-blade abortion - KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- In a country where many crimes against women are still swept under the rug, the case of a 14-year-old girl whose baby was allegedly aborted by her mother and brother using a razor blade has outraged doctors and human-rights workers. The girl is in critical condition in a hospital at a U.S. military base after, officials said, her brother and mother lured her into a backyard shed, used a razor to cut her abdomen and removed the fetus. (READ MORE)

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