April 3, 2009

From the Front: 04/03/2009

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

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: What Would You Expect? - The latest news is that the Taliban have referred to as, "Lunatic" the latest overture to reconcile with "moderate" Taliban. Our old buddy Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman-ever-at-an-undisclosed-location released the latest critical evaluation of the plan to offer reconciliation to "moderate" Taliban. What would you expect the "official" Taliban position on this to be? Would anyone expect them to hold referendums at their union meetings on who wanted to reconcile? More like the first one who brings it up will get a knife to the throat for his visit from the good idea fairy. Now, the reasonable question to ask is, "Just what the hell is a moderate Taliban?" Remember, not all insurgents are deeply committed Taliban. One thing we noted was that a lot of criminal elements with business interests to protect sided with the Taliban and used the brand name to strike terror and cloak themselves in religious legitimacy while still pursuing their criminal enterprises. (READ MORE)

Castra Praetoria: Herding Cats with Baseball Bats - This week is a painful endurance of pre-deployment madness. Not that the things that have to get done are non-sense. It just feels like non-sense. For me this takes the form of cornering young Marines and explaining through clenched teeth the importance of getting their service record book audits completed before deployment and why doesn't he have his family care plan turned in to the Family Readiness Officer? Next, my fists begin to transform into jackhammers as I describe to the errant youngster my unfathomable satisfaction after ripping a person's arm off and beating them with the sticky end. Not surprisingly enlisted men are not the major violators at this stage. It's usually the odd Lieutenant that I have to hold down by his throat and groin while one of my Corpsmen administers a host of vaccinations that he had been brushing off. (READ MORE)

The Gun Line MkIII: Mexico..? - When I joined the Armed Forces of the United States, I swore an oath… An oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” Now, I can see how individual Mexicans (and others) might want to enter the United States to try to find their fortune, even if it’s done illegally. I don’t condone it, but I understand it… But when the government of Mexico, and its military and police forces come over our borders on missions of drug running and people smuggling, the balance changes, and if there is a single Mexican soldier stepping over our southern border illegally, then there should be a few American soldiers (or Marines) waiting for him… … And not with flowers… (READ MORE)

Jennifer Hlad: Military police train for Afghanistan deployment - Sgt. Andrew Schlake deployed to Afghanistan for about eight months last year. But as soon as he got off the bus at Camp Lejeune, he knew he wanted to go back. His reason: 1st Sgt. Luke Mercardante and Cpl. Kyle Wilks, both killed last April in a roadside bomb explosion. Both men, like Schlake, were military police. When the improvised explosive device went off, Schlake said, it was overwhelming, but the Marines reverted to their training - doing what they had learned to defend the convoy, treat the injured and leave no one behind. Since then, more than 25 Marines have died while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, many in IED blasts. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: The Rush Limbaugh of Iraq Coverage - The media are sort of the Rush Limbaugh of Iraq coverage. Limbaugh said that he wants President Obama to fail because he disagrees with the president. Who cares about the United States? Rush is more important. Limbaugh doesn't pay attention to how stupid he sounds, he just wants to be thought of the as the one who knows what's best. And the media don't care how idiotic they sound, they just want Iraq to fail because they want to be known as the ones who have been right all along. The AP reports today that the "Iraqi government will start paying Sunni paramilitary groups in the Baghdad area next week despite weekend clashes with one of the units, an Iraqi military spokesman said Thursday." See how foolish the Iraqi government is? They pay the very same groups who fight them. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Lashkar-e-Taiba leader said to be in Pakistani custody directs operations in Kashmir - A senior Lashkar-e-Taiba military commander behind the Mumbai terror assault and thought to be in Pakistani custody is directing complex military operations into India-held Kashmir, according to intelligence intercepts by Indian intelligence agencies. Yusuf Muzammil, the senior operations director for the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, has been overheard by Indian intelligence requesting Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Syed Sallahuddin "to push a large number of militant cadres into the state" of Kashmir and Jammu, The Times of India reported. Muzammil is said to have planned the winter infiltration operations, which requires elite forces from the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and other allied terrorist groups to push through the treacherous snow-covered winter passages along the northern end Line of Control into Indian-held Kashmir. (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: 02APR09--Experience of Influence - Today, my team was called to an Iraqi base, where the Iraqis stored a recently-captured suicide vest. Apparently, the Iraqi Army had declined to allow an US explosive ordinance team to dispose of the item. Our task was to uncover more information about the vest and to approach the topic of its disposal. After taking a look at the vest, we went to go see the Iraqi officer in charge. Within a few minutes, the Iraqi officer agreed that the vest was dangerous, requesting that the US explosive ordinance come to retrieve it at once. At first, we considering what possible manner or technique the explosive team utilized it talking to the Iraqis. How in the world we got such a different response? (READ MORE)

Sarge: Managing Expectations, or "The Mail Room Problem" - The mail room here does not have posted hours. Though I am sure that they are actually open for quite a liberal period when compared to conventional post offices, many people are somewhat upset with the service. For our workgroup, we are generally gone by around 6 in the morning and back around 8 at night. Other workgroups have similar or differing schedules, and it is hard to accomodate all of these. Every day I see people go up to the mail room, at a time when it was open the day before, only to be turned away in frustration by a locked door, lamenting vocally about how the mail room is "never open." On the other hand, last night I got into a van that left our work area around 1900, instead of taking the usual 1915 bus. Since everyone on the van had expected to ride home on the relatively slow bus, 15 minutes later, the feelings of happiness were quite noticeable in the van. The difference in emotion between these two groups was not due to a difference in actual experience. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

First Iraqi Air Force Fire Official Conference a Success - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Air Force fire officials and Iraqi Air Staff representatives met for the first time during a two-day conference here on March 31 and April 1, to develop a foundational and sustainable fire fighting force for Iraq’s Air Force bases. U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. John Smith, CAFTT Fire Service Advisor, moderated the conference that was designed to assist the Iraqi Air Force fire departments to identify requirements, training needs, administration and organizational priorities. (READ MORE)

New Iraqi mortar men graduate with a bang - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – Approximately 120 Soldiers from the Iraqi Army 39th Brigade completed advanced indirect fire training at the Camp Ur Regional Training Center March 26. Iraqi Staff Brig. Gen. Arif, the training center’s commanding general, watched his troops launch high explosive rounds before the sunset, and then watched as they lit up the night sky with illumination rounds during the new troops’ final training exercise, which was to shoot an average of two 60mm mortars per soldier. (READ MORE)

Special Operations Task Force lays ground work for new partnership with local ISOF - AL ASAD, Iraq – U.S. Special Operations Forces visited the Al Anbar Iraqi Special Operations Forces training compound in Al Asad, Iraq, March 26 to initiate training efforts and build on a relationship which began weeks in advance. The common goal of protecting Iraqi people and ensuring the safety and security of Iraq was evident as the foundation of this newly forming partnership and the mutual spirit of camaraderie aided the flow of conversations. (READ MORE)

Sustainers deploy to OEF from Iraq - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq- The 100th Brigade Support Battalion here was repositioned to southern Afghanistan on March 28, where they will provide sustainment and distribution support to Coalition forces. The 100th BSB, an active component unit from Fort Sill, Okla., has the distinction of being among the first Army units to deploy to Afghanistan from Iraq. The move comes as a result of the increased capabilities of Iraqi Security Forces. (READ MORE)

First U.S. and Iraqi non-commissioned officer induction ceremony makes history - DIYALA, Iraq – History was made as the first joint U.S. and Iraqi Army Non-Commissioned Officer ceremony was held at Forward Operation Base Faylok in Diyala province March 27. Soldiers from 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division joined with Soldiers of the 20th Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division to officially induct their newest members into the NCO Corps. Of the 27 Soldiers inducted in the ceremony, 18 were members of the 21st Inf. Regt. and nine were members of the 20th IA Brigade. (READ MORE)

Iraqi-led operations bring terrorist secrecy from behind closed doors - TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces, with Coalition forces advisors, arrested three suspected terrorists on Iraqi-issued warrants March 25 to 27 during separate operations in northern Iraq. Iraqi Army Soldiers arrested a suspected insurgent facilitator who provided fake identification cards to violent cell leaders in the As Sa’diyah area during an operation March 27. Following the detention, IA discovered materials linking the suspect to other known violent extremists. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Brigade Receives Sensitive Site Exploitation, Tactical Training - FORWARD OPERATING BASE CEDAR — Iraqi Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 40th Iraqi Army Brigade received three days of intense training by instructors from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here recently. The Iraqis were trained on various tactical formations, including entering and clearing a room and sensitive site exploitation. The training was followed by a practical exercise in which the IA Soldiers executed those scenarios. (READ MORE)

Soldiers Create Special-tactics Teams in Afghan Military Police - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, April 2, 2009 – Three U.S. military police officers are tasked with mentoring Afghan National Police in an area larger than the state of Delaware -- a situation that calls for some creativity. "We were on a ‘soft-knock’ [operation] in Nishagam, and we noticed that it might be good to have a specially trained team," Army Sgt. Nathan Byrd, the team's leader, recalled. (READ MORE)

Joint Forces Kill 20 Militants, Destroy Bomb Plant in Afghanistan - WASHINGTON, April 2, 2009 – Afghan soldiers, aided by coalition forces, killed 20 armed insurgents in a firefight in southern Afghanistan today, near where they destroyed a bomb-making facility yesterday, military officials reported. Afghan soldiers, advised by coalition forces, have been on reconnaissance patrols for two days in Helmand province’s Kajaki district where insurgents are known to operate. (READ MORE)

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