April 1, 2009

From the Front: 04/01/2009

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

Far From Perfect: A Quick Synopsis - I haven’t been saying a lot about what I have been actually doing since getting here. I am not really sure why exactly. Last time I reported from Iraq it was full of little stories and narratives about what I was experiencing. Maybe its because the experience is so different this time compared to last time? Maybe I don’t think its as interesting or report worthy, I don’t really know. Anyway, I am going to give it a shot now and run down some of the things we have been doing. So what is it like to do a MEDEVAC? You rush out to the helicopter after receiving a 9-line and get i the air within 15 minutes. Depending on the situation, you are either going to a hospital or out to the point of injury. The mission doesn’t really matter, you still have to be in the air in 15 minutes, and depending on weather, you might be flying through some less than ideal conditions. When we land, we get out, all out gear on and disconnect the intercom from the bird. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Baitullah Mehsud takes credit for Pakistan attacks, threatens US - Baitullah Mehsud, the Leader of Pakistan's unified Taliban movement, threatened to attack the US and took credit for three recent attacks in Pakistan, including yesterday's deadly military assault on a police training center in Lahore. During interviews with Pakistani news outlets and international wire services, Baitullah claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack attack as well as for suicide attacks against security forces in Islamabad and Bannu. "One attack was carried out just yesterday, the one carried out on the training center [in Lahore]," Baitullah told Aaj News. "The second attack that was carried out on the special branch of police .... near a hotel in the Sitara Market [in Islamabad] was also carried out by us. And the suicide attack in Bannu yesterday was also carried out by us." More than 30 police recruits and officers were killed in yesterday's military assault on the Lahore police training facility. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: Hezbollah Doesn't Have Wings - A few weeks ago Britain decided to unfreeze “diplomatic relations” with Hezbollah, and the nonsensical phrases “political wing” and “military wing” have been used to describe the Iranian-backed militia ever since. Britain now says it’s okay to meet with members of Hezbollah’s “political wing” while maintaining the blacklisting of its “military wing,” but these “wings” don’t exist in any meaningful sense. If Hezbollah were actually two distinct entities with separate policies it might make sense for British diplomats to do business with one and not the other, but that’s not how Hezbollah is structured. Of course Hezbollah’s fighters and members of parliament aren’t the same individuals, but Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of the entire organization. The Obama Administration knows better. One U.S. official wants Britain to explain “the difference between the political, social and military wings of Hezbollah because we don’t see the difference between the integrated leadership that they see.” (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: Iraqi Army Reacts to Suicide - Recently, the Iraqi Army suffered a loss, and my team gained cultural insight. One of the Iraqi Soldiers in the brigade that my team advises suffered a fatal shot to the head. The investigating officer scrambled to determine what happened. The situation unfolded when investigators discovered that the Soldier had left a voice recording on his cell phone. The Soldier had taken his own life. An Iraqi officer played the recording for my team. Naturally, the tearful message was saddening to hear, even though it was in another language. With a basic knowledge of the language, key phrases painted a picture of what was on the Soldier's mind--no car, hard life, no money, no wife. After the recording, our interpreters loosely translated the message. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Three arrested, explosive cache found north of Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Three suspected insurgents are behind bars and deadly weapons are off the street after joint Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division—Baghdad force’s operations March 27 and 28 in Tarmiya. The 4th Battalion, 36th Brigade of the Iraqi Army, in conjunction with 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, raided two homes north of Baghdad in the early morning, netting suspected members of an RKG-3 anti-armor grenade cell. (READ MORE)

MND-C, MND-SE combine to create MND-South - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq – The Multi-National Division – Center absorbed MND-Southeast into its operating area, forming MND-South, during a transfer of responsibility ceremony today at Basra International Airport. Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, MND-S commander, accepted responsibility from the commander of MND-SE, British Maj. Gen. Andy Salmon. Oates and MND-S now support Iraqi Security Forces operations over nine provinces in southern Iraq. (READ MORE)

Commemorative Items returned to GoI - BAGHDAD – Members of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq J4 Logistics conducted a joint inventory and returned commemorative items back to the Government of Iraq on March 27. Commemorative items have been in coalition custody since 2003 for safeguard. They were stored at the Taji National Depot and recently shipped to Abu Ghraib Warehouse complex. Items where inventoried, catalogued, and cleaned to make ready for the transfer. It was decided it was the right time to transfer the custody of these historical weapons to the people of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Graduation highlights MoI advances in warehouse management - BAGHDAD – The Ministry of Interior graduated its second class, totaling 29 students, from the Repair Parts Directorate, from a Vehicle Repair Parts Warehouse Management Course on Mar. 28. “The students, all from the Baghdad area, were taught the basic and advanced principles of receiving, accounting for and issuing equipment for vehicle sustainment,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jon Sabado, MoI Transitional Team logistics, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq team member. (READ MORE)

Trauma training prepares Iraqis for medical service - BAGHDAD – Fourteen members of the Iraqi Army under the Ministry of Defense graduated from the Ibn Sina Trauma Training Class sponsored by the 10th Combat Support Hospital and the Surgeon General of Iraq here on Monday, March 30, 2009. Speaking to the new graduates first in Arabic and then in English, Iraqi Army Maj. Gen. Samir, the surgeon general of Iraq, thanked everyone for their efforts in the course and stressed the importance of taking care of and respecting all patients regardless of ethnicity and nationality. (READ MORE)

IA, U.S. Forces Patrol Together, Develop Skills for Future Success - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK — Iraqi Security Force patrols, with the U.S. Army in a supporting role, are becoming routine since the Security Agreement was signed by Iraq and the United States in January. Recently, Soldiers from the 15th Iraqi Army Battalion and U.S. 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted a routine combined patrol in Noafla, Iraq. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces Work With Coalition Forces in Legion Pursuit II - DIYALA — Before the sun rose the morning of March 26, Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, were already on the move, heading for the villages of Abu Bakr and Abu Awad. The Soldiers, commanded by Capt. Matthew D. Mackey, were beginning Operation Legion Pursuit II. (READ MORE)

Mullen Cites High Priority of Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy - WASHINGTON, March 31, 2009 – Executing President Barack Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan is the U.S. military's top priority, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told defense leaders from Central Asia who met here today. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to defense leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan at a conference sponsored by U.S. Central Command. (READ MORE)

President’s Plan Signals U.S. Commitment to Bolster Afghan Security - WASHINGTON, March 31, 2009 – President Barack Obama’s decision to send 4,000 extra U.S. military trainers to Afghanistan to mentor that country’s soldiers and police signals the United States’ commitment to bolster security there, a senior U.S. military officer said today. "The decision to send 4,000 U.S. trainers is a demonstrable and significant commitment to the development of the Afghan national security forces,” Army Maj. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commander of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, told Pentagon reporters today. (READ MORE)

One Killed, 12 Detained in Afghanistan Operations - KABUL, March 31, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces killed one person and detained four known militants and eight suspected militants during pre-dawn operations in Afghanistan’s Khowst province today. In the Besmil district, a combined assault force targeted a compound housing a militant with the Islamic Jihad Union, a group known to traffic foreign fighters through the Khowst-Gardez pass. (READ MORE)

Clinton Calls for Renewed, Patient International Commitment to Afghanistan - WASHINGTON, March 31, 2009 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened the first day of talks at the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan today calling for renewed, but patient international support for the country, emphasizing that success or failure there will have far-reaching impacts across the globe. “The range of countries and institutions represented here is a universal recognition that what happens in Afghanistan matters to us all,” Clinton said. (READ MORE)

Combat Outpost Serves as Front Line in Afghanistan Fight - WASHINGTON, March 31, 2009 – Next to a small village in Afghanistan’s fertile Jalrez Valley, a platoon of U.S. soldiers busy themselves fortifying a fighting position, stringing concertina wire, aiming mortars, and filling lots and lots of sand bags. "Apache,” a U.S. military combat outpost, is housed in an abandoned former district agricultural building. It is flanked by a school and medical clinic on its east. Villagers tend to an orchard that runs along its west side, and to the north a handful of farmers care for cattle and crops. (READ MORE)

Suspected US drone strike in Pakistan kills 12 - A suspected US missile strike killed 12 Taliban militants Wednesday in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said. Two missiles believed to have been fired by a US drone hit a compound in Khadezai village of the Orakzai Agency, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts known to serve as sanctuaries for Al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels. (READ MORE)

Four suicide bombers attack Afghan government building, kill 8 - Kabul - Four suicide bombers equipped with automatic rifles attacked a provincial council office in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing one policeman and seven civilians, an interior ministry spokesman said. One attacker detonated his explosive-laden vehicle in front of the provincial council office in southern Kandahar city, capital of the Kandahar province, Wednesday morning. A policeman guarding the compound died, spokesman Zemarai Bashary said. (READ MORE)

Afghan police: 31 militants killed in area controlled by Taliban - KABUL (AP) — Afghan police and coalition forces killed 31 militants in a Taliban controlled region of the country's opium poppy-growing belt, the second large battle in the Afghan south in two days, officials said Wednesday. Elsewhere, a large explosion near the provincial council's office in Kandahar on Wednesday shook Afghanistan's largest southern city. The explosion was followed by bursts of gunfire, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said. (READ MORE)

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