March 18, 2009

From the Front: 03/18/2009

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

Afghanistan Shrugged: For Wounds Suffered, Purple Heart and a Bill! - It bothers me greatly to think that the US Government who sent me here to fight would think about charging me or my insurance company for wounds and service related disabilities suffered in the defense of my country. The very idea that we’re willing to bail out people who bought homes, knowing well, that they could not afford them and then charge warriors wounded or injured serving their country is unconscionable. $540 million is minuscule in comparison to the billions used to bail out banks and Wall Street. We pay for a woman that has 14 children and no job, but hand a bill to someone disabled in an IED attack. The current paradigm where those that do the work and are responsible; support those that are irresponsible has to stop; and the very idea to generate revenue off of soldiers wounds is morally repugnant. (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: Open to interpretation - My team consists of a major, a staff sergeant and two buck sergeants. We have, collectively, nine tours in Irakistan, and about fifty years of service. We would be entirely useless, however, without our interpreters. I shall refer to them by their "terp names," since we do not use their real names for anything other than pay purposes. We (my team) have three, two of whom are on the FOB with us at any given time. They are Tim, Ronoldo and Ali. Two are guys from the local community, and the other is from Baghdad. All ours are Arabs. That's a good thing, since several of the groups here have been assigned Kurdish terps. The Kurdish terps tend to have decent English, but their Arabic often leaves something to be desired and, occasionally, the presence of a Kurd is less than helpful. (READ MORE)

Down Range 46: What You Hear In A War Zone - Many years ago, while living in Portsmouth, Ohio, I had an apartment located no more than 150 feet from a rail yard. My first few weeks living there were difficult. I had a hard time sleeping through the screeches, bangs, bumps and grumbles in the night as rail workers prepared trains for their departures across the country. Over time, my mind and ears seemed to filter out the once annoying sounds and I was able to sleep peacefully. It seems that those sounds became so common place that I was able to tune them out. The situation had changed so drastically, that even if a mouse or mosquito moved or buzzed in the night I could hear it and respond accordingly, even over the industrial sounds emanating from the rail yard just outside my front door. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Swedish citizen senior leader of Somali terror alliance - A Swedish citizen released by the government last year is currently a senior leader of a Somali Islamist terror alliance currently fighting against the newly formed government. Swedish police arrested three Swedish citizens in February 2008 on charges of funneling money to Al Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group with close links to al Qaeda. One of the men was released shortly afterward, and the remaining two men were released in June 2008 because “the evidence was insufficient” to prove the men had made the transfer, SvD Online reported. The suspects were put on parole, banned from travel, and ordered not to hamper the investigation or destroy evidence. In September 2008 the investigation against the three men was dropped. (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker - My Point of View: Breakfast and a movie - We have a system now for meals. Myself, 1SG Martinez, and 1LT Sarratt meet for breakfast at 0730 at the gazebo right outside of our CHU. At the dining facility (DFAC) we greet the guards who check our ID cards, wash our hands and then grab our tray and head to the serving line. We each have our own separate ideas of what constitutes a nutritious breakfast so we go our own ways to get our food. But we always sit in the same the annex. For breakfast we sit in the first row of tables, for lunch and dinner we sit in the last row of tables. That way each of us always knows where the other two are. The three of us have eaten our meals together since we first went to RTC at Ft. Dix in October/November 2008 and since our mob in January 2009. Occasionally we allow other Soldiers to join us. I'm sure that they are surprised to find out that we actually don't talk shop at these meals. (READ MORE)

SFC Burke - My Point of View: I Was Running... - Forrest Gump: "That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road, and when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama..." This part in the movie, "Forrest Gump", was running through my head this morning. Reason being we arrived at the base of the hill at 0530 for some crack-of-the-dawn PT courtesy of SSG Burrell. I'm waiting around and members of our illustrious unit amble over and SSG Burrell exclaims, "We're going to run around Z Lake!" Thoughts start sauntering through my head..."Oh man...that's a big lake...I did PT last night in the gym...I wanna crawl back into my warm bed...etc." (READ MORE)

The Torch: Why we laugh when someone talks about "unbiased journalism" - As I've said before, and undoubtedly will say countless times again, there's no such thing. "Unbiased journalism" is a fairy tale told to children and developmentally challenged adults. It does not exist in real life. Case in point number...geez, I've lost count. Well, regardless, I give you Mike Blanchfield of the Canwest tribe of ink-stained wretches, who seems to be just aching for the CF and the Canadian government to admit we've screwed up in Kandahar by the numbers. Why, look at what the Dutch have done: “The Dutch military's battle for the Baluchi Valley, a strategic territory in the heart of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, began close to a year before the first shot was fired, with a round of stealth diplomacy. By the time it ended, in late 2008, the Netherlands had done something that Canada had failed to do after some of its earlier military victories in neighbouring Kandahar province -- hold on to the land they had won.” (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Fighting for Hearts and Minds - One of the Middle East's struggles got some press this week. We have known for a while that there's a fight for the support of the Arab people for different ideologies. Recently, it reached a new level when the head of the Arab leaders and the head of the terrorists made their arguments. Arab League chief Amr Moussa is visiting Iraq to improve relations among member countries. During a visit to Baghdad, he promised to hold the 2010 meeting of the Arab countries in Baghdad under an Iraqi chairmanship. Improving relations among the countries would open up all sorts of economic opportunities for the region. That means jobs. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Court upholds dismissal of charges against Marine colonel in Haditha killings - A military appeals court today upheld the dismissal of war crimes charges against Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the highest-ranking Marine charged in the 2005 killing of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq. The court agreed with a military judge at Camp Pendleton who ruled in June that there was the appearance of “undue command influence” because a Marine lawyer who investigated the case sat in on meetings where the Haditha killings were discussed with the general who made the decision to charge Chessani and seven other Marines. (READ MORE)

7th Iraqi Army EOD destroys munitions from five-day cache sweep - AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – The 7th Iraqi Army Division Field Engineering Regiment conducted a five-day cache sweep northeast of Rutbah supported by Marines from Regimental Combat Team 8, March 12 - 16. During the sweep, the 7th IA found two cache sites yielding 53 125mm high explosive anti-tank projectiles, 20 strands of fuses, 15 explosive bomblets, and 10 mortar rounds. (READ MORE)

Cleaning Kirkuk, one street at a time - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq – Once thought to be one of the most beautiful, cleanest cities in Iraq, Kirkuk is another step closer to regaining that reputation each week. Iraqi policemen, firefighters and members of the Kirkuk city council participated in a new program aimed at cleaning up one street each week in downtown Kirkuk, March 8. (READ MORE)

Iraqi primary school renovations renew learning environment - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq – The Al Athabiah Primary School in Riyadh, Iraq, recently completed a much needed makeover that was celebrated March 2. The successful renovation of the school culminated in a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by city council members, Riyadh Civil Service Corps contractors, and Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army using humanitarian aid to help secure South Balad Ruz - Diyala, Iraq – Iraqi Army Soldiers conducted a humanitarian aid distribution in South Balad Ruz on March 14 to help improve the quality of life for residents there. The distribution aided approximately 700 people of the area, by delivering 4,250 kilograms of rice, 4,250 Kg of flour, 3,000 Kg of sugar and 700 liters of cooking oil. (READ MORE)

PWSS handover brings bright, clean future - BAGHDAD – Four public works sub-stations funded by Coalition forces were turned over to the Government of Iraq March 16, during a ceremony in the Yarmouk neighborhood of the Mansour district in Baghdad. “This is a great day in Baghdad,” said Naeem Abaob al-Kaabi, deputy mayor of Baghdad. “The main purpose is to serve the citizens of this country.” (READ MORE)

Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers Provide Aid to Musharah - FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUNTER — 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 on 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)

Communication Key to Helping Iraqi Doctors in Wasit Province - FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — In an effort to provide sustainable health projects in the Wasit province and maintain a clear line of communication, local Iraqi doctors met with the medical team from the 41st Fires Brigade at the Al Abbas Hospital March 12. The visit was part of Operation Gunner Med, a joint medical civil-military operation between the Wasit Director General of Health and the 41st Fires Brigade, designed to restore the medical capacity in Wasit and improve the level of patient care. (READ MORE)

Troops Aid Afghans With Security, Supplies - WASHINGTON, March 17, 2009 – As the Afghan people work to develop their infrastructure, U.S. forces are offering their assistance on a number of fronts. In recent days, U.S. soldiers provided security for the opening of a new district center in eastern Afghanistan and delivered humanitarian aid to villagers in the south. (READ MORE)

Coalition, Afghan Forces Kill Seven in Bomb-making Bust - KABUL, Afghanistan, March 17, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces killed seven Taliban militants and detained three others during operations today to disrupt a bomb-making cell in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, military officials reported. In the province’s Khakriz district, north of Kandahar, a combined force raided a compound known to house Taliban bomb makers. Two armed militants engaged the force with grenades. Both militants were killed in the firefight. (READ MORE)

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