March 17, 2009

From the Front: 03/17/2009

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

Bouhammer: Bouhammer review of At War - This review is based on my thoughts and feelings, the feedback I heard from people in my home the first night and the almost hour of questions and answers we had the 2nd night at the University at Buffalo. Well it has taken me a week to come up with the thoughts and words to describe the Scott Kesterson/David Leeson film, At War. I watched it with Scott, my family (to include my son who just got back from Afghanistan himself), and a couple of members of my ETT team in my house last Sunday night. On Monday night this website, along with the University at Buffalo’s Department of Media Study sponsored a screening of the movie in their private theatre. The first night was an emotional roller coaster as I watched the 113 minutes of the movie. I laughed, I cried, and I was quickly taken back to being in Afghanistan again. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Upbeat Iraqis - Who could have guessed that Iraq would have a chance of turning out well? Expert after expert told us that the country was not worth anything because it was beyond repair. Iraqis, who were always at odds with the talking heads, knew the country would survive. And though the so-called experts insist Iraq's a disaster, a new survey says they're just plain wrong. A survey conducted in February says Iraqis are much more hopeful about the future and are increasingly pre-occupied with more conventional worries like the economy and jobs. Violence and insecurity are no longer the main concern of most Iraqis, for the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Note how different Juan Cole's description is today of Iraq. It's basically fold up the flag and forget it. No, his take is actually Cheney's wrong. What do the Iraqis know about their own lives? Cheney's wrong! (READ MORE)

Blogs Over Baghdad: Congratulations — another promotion! - BG Rudescheim from Multi-National Division - Baghdad finished his press conference on Sunday, March 15, and exited the stage and slipped out through the door. He spent a few minutes talking to his advisers and then left the Combined Press Information Center for one of the many other appointments he had in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq that day. LTC Perez told the staff to go eat lunch but be back at 1 p.m. for an all-hands review of the previous press conference. We all assembled at the appointed time and began the review. After a 15 minutes of discussion, LTC Perez asked SPC Brad Richardson what he thought of the day’s press conference, and asked him what he did to make sure it went off without a hitch. “I was responsibile for the dais. I made sure the table was clean and the glasses were filled with with for the guest speakers, sir,” he said. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban attacks NATO trucking terminal in Peshawar - The Taliban attacked a NATO trucking terminal in Peshawar early Monday morning, destroying more than 30 vehicles and containers. The attack on a terminal used by NATO forces is the second in two days. A Taliban force of about 50 to 60 fighters entered the Al Faisal Terminal after midnight, overpowered the guards, and rampaged throughout the terminal for an hour before security forces reached the attack site. "About 50 gunmen attacked us .... They first disarmed us and then began setting fire to bulldozers and Humvees," one of the depot’s guards told Reuters. "A police team arrived after about an hour and an exchange of fire took place for an hour." (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: Women Searchers' Payday - The Iraqi Army planned and executed all aspects of the security for the 31JAN09 elections. As the elections approached, the Iraqis examined possible threats to the election process. Women being used as suicide bombers was among the threats, because, for cultural reasons, Iraqi Soldiers could not search women voters. Therefore, the Government of Iraq hired enough women searchers to adequately cover each polling site. Six weeks later, the women searchers received payment for their work. The women went to nearby Iraqi Army bases to receive payment. Their manager received payment for the group and then paid each individual woman approximately $50 for roughly three days of work and training. The average working man receives approximately $300 a month in wages. (READ MORE)

Fightin' 6th Marines: Faraj IPs and 2/9 go on hunt for weapons cache - JAZEERA, Iraq – Iraqi policemen proceeded inside the gated and walled Al Qud mosque in Faraj, Iraq, March 11, 2009, while Marines from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, provided perimeter security outside the compound. Since their arrival in October 2008, Marines with Company G, 1st Battalion, have always swept and searched for ordnance using organic resources. After a brief period of instruction on the use of metal detectors, Marines handed the reins over to their Iraqi Police counterparts. For the first time, Marines did not conduct the search; rather, they maintained security while Iraqi Police put their recent training to use. (READ MORE)

The Stone Report: Our Special Day - Today is the wedding anniversary of Leslie and myself. It was a beautiful spring day at the Robert Carr Chapel on the campus of Texas Christian University. The sun was out, the temperature couldn’t have been over 75 and we had the weekend where the TCU tulips were in full bloom. It was the perfect day. The first month of the deployment was pretty rough for Leslie and me. I find it hard to describe how alone I felt and how much I missed her. Leslie says that’s because boys have trouble assigning names to their feelings. She told me that in a different context, but it still applies. I missed her so much in January it hurt. She felt the same way. I know from the emails I received. My time away in Maryland last April and New Jersey this winter was a nice dry run, but we always had the prospect of seeing each other in a month or less. When I got on the plane, we didn’t know when we’d see each other again. We knew it would be months, just not how many. It was the unknown that made it worse. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Iraqi girl dies in escalation-of-force incident - MOSUL, Iraq — A 12-year-old girl died as a result of wounds she suffered as a bystander to an escalation-of-force incident involving Coalition forces and a high-speed vehicle today in Hurriyah, Ninewah province. A vehicle accelerated on approach to the Hurriyah Iraqi Police station, where Coalition forces and Iraqi Police were conducting security operations. The Coalition forces and Iraqi Police waved and yelled for the vehicle to stop. (READ MORE)

Iraqi security forces take helm of JSS 2 in Diwaniya - CAMP ECHO, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces and the local government assumed full responsibility for manning and operating the Joint Security Station 2 in Diwaniya during a ceremony March 14. The 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, transferred full authority to the ISF, offering the symbolic JSS 2 key to Col. Abed al Jalil Abdul Amir, chief of staff for the Diwaniya Provincial Department of Police. (READ MORE)

Washington Times journalists train Diyala journalists - Baqubah, Iraq – Addressing complex issues ranging from journalistic license to the independence of the press, Mr. Richard Tomkins recently gave a media class to local journalists at the Diyala Governance Center in downtown Baqubah, the capital city of Diyala province, March 11. A veteran journalist currently writing for the Washington Times, United Press International, and the Middle East Times, Tomkins has a career that spans more than 36 years, four continents, and a multitude of different publications across the globe. (READ MORE)

Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers give joint aid to Musharah - FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUNTER, Iraq – Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers conducted a joint humanitarian mission to provide medical attention and essential supplies to the citizens of Musharah near Forward Operating Base Hunter March 8. The 1st and 3rd battalions, of the 41st Iraqi Army Brigade, led the effort with assistance from Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Approximately 210 Iraqi children from the Musharah community in Iraq’s Maysan province benefited from the mission. (READ MORE)

Hundreds Graduate Iraqi Warfighter Course - KIRKUK — More than 600 Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers completed an intense, month-long Warfighter Training Course at the K1 Regional Training Center here, March 12. According to IA Staff Lt. Gen. Husayn Jasim Dohi, deputy chief of staff for training, the Soldiers were instructed on small and intermediate weapons, IED awareness and prevention, and checkpoint procedures. (READ MORE)

Engineer Partnership a Resounding Success - BAGHDAD — The 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade began a partnership with the 10th Iraqi Army (IA) Field Engineer Regiment (FER) in southern Iraq only a few short months ago. Since the partnership began, great strides have been made in assisting the IA in becoming a self-sustaining force. The cornerstone of this has been the Logistical Training and Assistance Team (LTAT) which has been recently added to the battalion’s advisory mission in support of IA engineer units. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Transportation Regiment Conducts First Port to Depot Delivery Convoy - UMM QUASAR — The Iraq Army General Transportation Regiment (GTR) achieved a major milestone by completing its first port to depot mission here, March 9. The GTR transported Serbian equipment, consisting of body armor and plates, from the Port of Umm Quasar to Taji National Depot. This is the first time the GTR has utilized elements from three or more companies. The convoy of 42 vehicles signaled the completion of one of the two main missions required of the GTR. (READ MORE)

Extreme Makeover, Mosul Edition - MOSUL — In the past, this city had often been referred to as the last haven of insurgent activity in Iraq. However, as security has improved, the residents are working to beautify the city they love so much. Col. Greg Maxton, the deputy commanding officer of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, has been sitting “shotgun” with the residential, military and government leaders of Mosul since mid-February, coordinating projects to clean the city’s streets of trash. (READ MORE)

Coalition, Afghan Forces Kill 11 Militants in Afghanistan - WASHINGTON, March 16, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces killed 11 militants, detained suspected militants, and netted drugs and weapons in operations over the past week in Afghanistan, military officials reported. In Lowgar province’s Baraki district today, Afghan and coalition forces conducted a raid to find and detain a suspected Taliban weapons smuggler. The suspect is believed to be tied to a commander responsible for attacks on Afghan civilians. (READ MORE)

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