January 20, 2009

From the Front: 01/20/2009

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

In their own words:
Afghanistan Shrugged: Danica Patrick Hates Me! - “Oh yes; faster, harder” she says to me in a low sultry voice. A whisper. “Yeah; faster, harder” another feminine voice chimes. Inviting, sexy. This is getting interesting now. I’m starting to sweat and my breathing is getting heavier. The siren song continues. “Oh God, don’t stop, faster, harder; I love it” a totally different voice this time. Insistent more commanding than pleading. Wow, three women at one time! But, now the beautiful siren song has risen to a much higher level and the pleasant overtone is being shed for something along the lines of demanding. More caustic and sarcasm laden. “Go faster or I’ll make you pay”. The second one tells me in a more assertive manner. My breathing is labored and I’m sweating profusely. The enjoyment I was once having is slowly slipping away; being replaced by a sense of dread and concern. Three may be too many, more than I originally thought I could handle. (READ MORE)

Back in the Army at 54: Surgeon Says OK!!! - This morning, the surgeon who operated on my shoulder checked every box "Yes" and signed the form that clears me for duty. After he signed the forms, one of the office assistants faxed the signed forms to my "No-Go Counselor" at Fort Indiantown Gap. If all goes well I should hear officially today or tomorrow that I am now a "Go." If the answer is Yes I can breathe easier and concentrate on enjoying today's inaugural celebration. Just 9 days and a wake up till I go. I was up most of the night last night, I suppose from thinking about the shoulder evaluation. (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: Thoughts on helicopters - The LZ (landing zone) here on FOB McSleepy is right behind our CHU. The birds come in, the birds go out. We get the Kiowas of the Scout Weapons Teams, small birds that land for fuel. We get the Blackhawks, running troops around, ferrying Them Who Be Important, doing all the miscellaneous aerial labor of a battlefield where ground travel is still problematic. And we get the CH-47 Chinooks (more affectionately called the Shithook). The ’47 is the biggest bird that flies in here (the Army does not stock any variant of the CH-53, my favorite Marine Corps bird, in its Big Army inventory), and we can tell when they come in – our quarters vibrate noticeably. Although the birds come and go all day and all night, we still look when it’s light (my roomie, in fact, loves the helicopters and will occasionally throw on her night vision and go watch them in the dark. Strange woman). We glance up, throw the flight into a mental classification (the bird bringing the colonel to visit, the bird bringing the guys back from leave, the regular bird to Big Brigade Base, etc) and move on. (READ MORE)

Blogs Over Baghdad: R&R leave: game theory and BATNA - Over the past few days, the soldiers of the 314th PAOC have been very busy. We have been learning new skills quickly, preparing for the day later this week when the soldiers of the 126th PAOC finally depart for Michigan. However, something else has been on their minds of our soldiers: R&R leave. The U.S. Central Command’s Rest and Recuperation Leave Program (R&R leave) is designed to offer an “opportunity for rest and recuperation as well as aid with temporary family reintegration,” according to the program’s website at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/randr/default.asp. Even though our unit has just arrived, all of us are thinking about the many things we want to fit into those 15 days of leave. (READ MORE)

The Intrepid Reporter: Damn I though it was too quiet... - OK Dear Readers, The Intrepid Reporter of Lore and Fame, (if only in my own twisted mind) has been in the nightmare mode that Baghdad has become. Namely the Dirty Fucking Haj (TM) has been getting active again. Yeah.. we went from "Dead and Boring" to "Potentially Dead From Incoming." This sucks man. I've Been There Done That with this shit before. Hell, I took 2 seperate pieces of shrapnel in 04 when I got caught at Logbase Sietz during the "Worst of the Worst" back in the old days... I really DON'T want to relive those days... like when my fucking house got hit in Sept 04. For those of you just joining the IR Report, I was smart enough to go to work on September 14, 2005 fifteen minutes early. Thankfully I did as my house took a DIRECT hit from a chinese 82mm mortar round which, if I had been there, would have reduced the Intrepid Reporter to grape jelly. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: President Obama - The entire world watches today as Barack Hussein Obama gets sworn in as president of the United States. Most of the people watching know what democracy can do and how important it is to vote. Plenty will cheer when Obama takes the oath of office. But some in the audience have the impression that Obama thinks democracy is good for some but not all countries. A WaPo writer's column worried me when he said, "the incoming Obama administration seems to be inclining, in its foreign policy, toward a philosophy that says: Voting matters, but maybe not as much as economic development, or women's rights, or honest judges. Its adoption as U.S. policy would be a terrible mistake, for America's security as well as its moral standing." Many people dismiss Iraq's elections as George Bush's idea, so it can't be good. Iraqi candidates are busy making speeches and asking for votes. Readers yawn and turn away because they dislike Bush. Ayatollah Sistani told Iraqis to vote even if they disagree with the elections. This shows how much Iraq has changed. But few care because democracy is no longer in vogue. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Khyber Pass closed 'indefinitely' after Taliban attacks - The Pakistani government has again shut down the Khyber Pass to NATO supply columns moving into Afghanistan. The closure of NATO's vital link to Afghanistan took place after Taliban forces attacked a military base in Khyber with rocket-propelled grenades, killing one Frontier Corps paramilitary trooper and wounding 10 more. The Pakistani military is planning to launch another operation in an effort to clear the Taliban from the region. "We're preparing for an assault," an official told Geo News. "We have imposed curfew in Landikotal and Jamrud (the two main towns in Khyber). The border is also closed." (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: Where it All Began - I have set foot on the place where civilization began. Where the Sumerians and Babylonian ruled. Where Hammurabi’s Code was written, and where the wheel was invented. The place is known as Ur, and you can even find it in the Bible. I might have mentioned this before, but I love history, especially practical history and anthropology. Screw the dates, show me the how. So you can imagine what a great experience this was for me, even in ACUs. Before we get started I should mention the site is Iraqi Controlled, but actually inside the Coalition “wire” for protection. That way the enemy can’t lob mortars at us from there and force us to retaliate against such a sacred place to all humanity. You have to make a special appointment to see the place as part of a “group tour.” The tour is by donations after the fact, and you can climb on and in most of the ruin. Something you would never be able to do in the U.S. All they ask is that you take nothing and leave nothing behind. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Project to widen Bawi Canal begins - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces, local leaders and Multi-National Division Baghdad Soldiers participated in a ground breaking ceremony marking the widening of the Bawi Canal Jan.18 in the Salman Pak region, southeast of Baghdad. The ceremony is one of a series of ground breaking projects to improve the infrastructure of the Mada’in and Marquez Qadas to improve the quality of live for the citizens. (READ MORE)

Security improvements allow bridge to reopen in Mahmudiyah - BAGHDAD – Leaders from the 55th Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division, local Sheiks and Task Force Thunder, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad participated in a bridge reopening ceremony Jan. 18 in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. The improvement in security and reduction in sectarian violence made it possible to reopen the bridge which had separated a tribal community. The reopening also returns the area to a sense of normalcy. (READ MORE)

IA, SoI, INP, MND-B Soldiers seize weapons caches throughout Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army Soldiers, Iraqi national policemen, Sons of Iraq and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized weapons caches throughout Baghdad Jan. 19. Soldiers serving with the 55th Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division, seized a cache in Baghdad at approximately 8:15 a.m. The munitions included 21 57 mm projectiles, a 60 mm mortar, a 120 mm high explosive mortar, two 82 mm mortars, 25 pounds of urea nitrate and 25 pounds of sulfur powder and diesel fuel. (READ MORE)

IA, Coalition forces team up for HA drop - BAGHDAD – Children in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district were given food packs from Iraqi and U.S. forces as they attended school Jan 19. Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 45th Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division in cooperation with 2nd Platoon, Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad handed out humanitarian aid packages to children attending the Al Karama School for girls in the Suleikh district of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Seminar discusses vision for women’s rights - BAGHDAD – As America celebrates its civil rights progress, Iraqi and Coalition leaders gathered for a Women’s Initiative Seminar on Camp Victory Jan. 17 bringing together agencies from both national and provincial levels for the first time in its movement. “I want to bring forward studies on women and human rights to be able to live in peace in the country and bring change to some aspects of our society’s perspective,” said Dr. Sameera al-Mosawi, president of the board for the Council of Representative of Women, Family and Children Committee. (READ MORE)

New Emergency Room, Youth Center Opens - SEDDAH — Community members and Coalition forces participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of a new emergency room and youth center here, Jan. 13. The facilities, built solely with Iraqi government funds and by Iraqi contractors, serve as an accomplishment and milestone for this community and the people of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Abu Ghraib Hospital Symbol of Success - ABU GHRAIB — The once war-ravished Abu Ghraib Hospital, west of Baghdad, is slowly but surely gaining new life. What was once one crumbling building is now a sprawling complex, boasting new equipment to better care for the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the city. Approximately $3 million was spent by five different sources for approximately 20 different refurbishment and building projects. (READ MORE)

Parade Honors Multaka Sons of Iraq - FOB WARRIOR — More than 400 members of the Multaka Sons of Iraq (SoI) marched in front of a large audience of local political leaders, Iraqi Security Force officials and U.S. military commanders during a parade and ceremony, Jan. 15. “This event was held in honor of the Multaka SoI’s 18 months in service, and to show gratitude toward the Government of Iraq and the Coalition forces for their support in enabling the local people to secure their neighborhoods,” said Nahiyah Shaykh Abu-Saif, Multaka SoI leader. (READ MORE)

Fishing Industry to be Revitalized with Species from Saddam’s Palace Waters - BAGHDAD — In the 1990s, Saddam Hussein drained Marsh Arab wetlands in southern Iraq to punish locals who had provided refuge to rebels. The results devastated entire villages whose economies relied mainly on the fishing industry. Years later, water is flowing back to the wetlands, but the fish population is still depleted. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces Working to Win Hearts, Minds of Baghdad Citizens - BAGHDAD — Some consider building trust in a relationship to be a cornerstone for sustaining through tough times. Another part of a successful relationship is cooperation between both parties to achieve a common goal. For the Iraqi Army Soldiers of the 6th IA Division, Jan. 14 was a chance to lay the foundation for future success with local Iraqi citizens as the combined forces delivered school supplies to students at the Asya school in the Hurriyah neighborhood of northwest Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Citizens Beautify Streets of Abu T’shir - FOB FALCON — Local Iraqi citizens initiated beautification efforts in the communities of Abu T’shir, Hadar and Saha, sweeping up trash and debris and making basic repairs to sidewalks in the neighborhoods of southern Baghdad’s Rashid district during the month of January. The current security situation in Baghdad provides Iraqis in Abu T’shir the opportunity to beautify their neighborhoods and communities, said Khalid, an Iraqi citizen employed by local leaders to sweep and paint the curbs. (READ MORE)

NP to Ensure Election Site Security - BASRAH — Iraqi National Police Officers stand ready to safeguard voters and polling stations during the elections here, Jan. 31. The Iraqi 1st Battalion, Basrah Brigade, 4th Division, will be providing security for 10 schools serving as election sites in the As Sarraji and Al Amtahiya neighborhoods. (READ MORE)

Village Opens New Elementary School - FOB WARRIOR — As the security situation in Iraq continues to improve, the number of infrastructure projects around Kirkuk province are on the rise. Local village leaders, Sons of Iraq members, the school head master, teachers and future students, along with U.S. forces, celebrated one of them - the grand opening of a new elementary school in Atshiyana village, Jan. 12. (READ MORE)

Winter Coats Donated to Karmah Kids - KARMAH — U.S. Marines distributed shoes and cold-weather coats to children here, 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 unit’s chaplain, Navy Lt. Brandon Harding, initiated the effort by contacting various non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. for donations. (READ MORE)

School project brings hope, education to Nangarhar - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Members of the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team demonstrated their commitment to furthering education during a ground-breaking ceremony of the Maliki Surial girls’ school in Behsood District Jan. 11. “The key to success in Afghanistan is education of all children,” said Lt. Col. Steven Cabosky, Nangarhar PRT commander. “While this school project will help, the hard work still exists. It’s up to all of you to make sure your children are able to go to school and receive an education. That is what will build a strong Afghanistan.” (READ MORE)

Nuristan PRT holds shoe-drive for Afghan children - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Every Friday the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team holds a “shoe-drive” at Forward Operating Base Kala Gush, supplying 60 - 70 Afghan children with socks and shoes each week. The project began when 1st Sgt. Terry Pittman, Nuristan PRT, saw two Afghan children leaving the FOB after receiving medical care. He noticed the older child carrying the younger child barefooted. He learned the children had come from miles away, over harsh terrain, so the younger child could be treated for cold symptoms. (READ MORE)

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