May 7, 2009

From the Front: 05/07/2009

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

111 Infantry Recon: MISSION;”SAVE THE MRAPS” - Visit Site For Pictures

A Major's Perspective: Afghan Culture 101 Part Two - Last night, we discussed the tribal structure within Afghanistan. Tonight we are going to talk about the Taliban. The Taliban were the ruling government of Afghanistan until 2001 when we overthrew them. At that time, they became very splintered and many returned to the FATA and North West Frontier Provinces of Pakistan. In 2005 though, they started to become resurgent within Afghanistan. How they did it was very interesting. The Taliban realized that their extreme beliefs would not sit well with everyone, so they toned down their rhetoric. They also realized that they needed help if they were going to try to take on ISAF. So they began forging alliances. The first place that they went was their original home within southern Afghanistan. If you remember from yesterday, this is the home of the Durrani Tribe. (READ MORE)

1st Marine Logistics Group: CLB-7 Daggers stay busy, support distant units - TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - - Combat Logistics Battalion 7 is made up of highly skilled Marines who stand ready to support any task or mission bestowed upon them. They symbolize flexibility, timeliness and proficiency. They plan to never let this image waver, even if they have to support three units at the same time with a small crew of Marines who remain behind while the rest of their unit deployed to Afghanistan. The Marines of CLB-7 are assisting the 11th Marine Regiment during their 25 day field exercise, Desert Fire, starting April 21. A large convoy of more than 50 Marines go to the training areas every couple of days to provide them with food, fuel and water. Smaller convoys are sent out to drop off ice or ammunition when needed. (READ MORE)

1st Marine Logistics Group: Afghanistan CAOCL course held at Base Chapel - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – In Afghanistan, kissing a man can mean the difference between destroying a social connection and gathering good information. Marines who attended the Afghanistan Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning course at the Base Chapel here April 29 learned about the culture of the country to which they will soon deploy. Counterinsurgency, or COIN, operations are as dependent on helping the citizens as they are taking out the enemies. The Corps has known this for years, ever since Chesty Puller earned his first Navy Cross in the Banana Wars. (READ MORE)

A Battlefield Tourist: Missing Soldier Found in Kunar - The body of a soldier missing since a May 1 attack in Kunar Province has been found. SSgt. William Vile of Philidelphia was killed with two other Americans and two Latvian soldiers when their small outpost was attacked by an overwhelming Taliban force in Nishagam, Ghaziabad district. Three Afghan soldiers also died and as many as 14 remain missing. The men were part of an international mentoring team assigned to train the Afghan National Army. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban and Pakistani military battle in Swat - The Pakistani military and the Taliban are battling in the Taliban-controlled districts of Swat and Buner. The Pakistani military claimed 37 Taliban fighters and four security personnel were killed in Swat and 27 more Taliban fighters were killed neighboring Buner. The Taliban took over the town of Saidu Sharif late last night and occupied government offices and the homes of political figures, including the home of Swat's District Coordination Officer. Mingora, the main town in Swat, was also overrun by the Taliban. “Armed Taliban are patrolling the roads of Mingora and other areas,” the Pakistani military said. The military is attacking Taliban positions with helicopter gunships, Dawn reported. The Taliban have come down from their bases in the surrounding mountains and began attacking police stations and checkpoints on Sunday after saying the peace agreement signed in February was dead. (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker - My Point of View: Too Much Fun! - We've been experiencing a horrible dust storm the past few days and it's not going anywhere until at least the weekend. The good thing is that the helicopters aren't flying so it's quiet above our building. The bad thing is that we stay dirty, we're sucking in dust by the lungful and our eyes hurt. I head out to the office in the morning all fresh and clean...but by the time I get to the office I am gritty and dirty. Yuck. We've also been experiencing a different type of storm...fun! For the past three days and for the next two days we have to radio hosts, Zack and Jim, from WACO 100 in, well, Waco, Texas, that have been broadcasting their morning show live right here in my studio. Well, the first day they didn't because we experienced technical difficulties and they had to move to another office. But Tuesday we had the problems sorted out (for the most part) and the fun has just snowballed from there. (READ MORE)

SFC Burke - My Point of View: Getting Back Into the Swing of Things... - After six accountability formations and two roll call formations (one where we were about to get on the bus to head to the flight line), I was finally able to make it out of the heat of Kuwait and back to the dust in Baghdad. I guess I can say that the hassle of getting back here wasn't THAT bad...considering one group got on a bird, was in the air...and had to turn around and come BACK to Ali al Salem Air Base. There wasn't an empty seat on my plane...and there are still hundreds who are trying to get back to Baghdad. Anyhow, I walk into our building and there are two guys in the broadcast studio doing a radio show. They were from a radio station in Waco (that's the biggest city closest to Fort Hood) called WACO 100, My Country. (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: 'Battle Buddy' Easter Egg Hunt - Since a Soldier's first day at basic training, the idea of a 'battle buddy' etched in the Soldier's mind. One does not go anywhere without his battle buddy or Ranger buddy. A Soldier will go through many different battle buddies or 'battles,' through his career, and I am lucky enough to have an awesome Battle presently in Sergeant Kevin "KC" Connaughton of Sulphur Springs, Texas. Recently, he returned from mid-tour leave to the U.S. He took his leave rather late in our deployment, as we have less than three months left, and daily life was not the same without him around. No one with whom to share my jokes or random conversations to keep everyone going in the truck for the day. However, he did leave the key to his room with me to check on our leaky roof when it rains. (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Laundry Day - So this morning, I dumped all my laundry on the bed. It was about time: the bag was full and starting to get fragrant. I sorted it into piles: the light stuff over here, the dark stuff over there, and the in-between stuff in the middle, where I could dole it out to the light and dark piles to even things out. (Hey, you have your way of sorting laundry, I have mine). That task done, I scurried out the door to work. I'll wash later. Later, I came in the door and couldn't believe my eyes. Today the cleaning lady came through. (Yes, we have cleaning ladies here ... they come irregularly, empty the trash, do a quick dusting, probably say "gaack" when they come in my room, and that's normally about it). And there, on my bed, were all my dirty clothes. Except they'd all been neatly and carefully folded and arranged. Even my skivvies and socks. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:

ISF, MND-B Soldiers arrest suspected criminals - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces with Coalition forces Soldiers conducted combined operations in the Mansour and Abu Ghraib districts of northwest Baghdad May 4. At approximately 4:45 a.m., Iraqi Police from the Abu Ghraib Police Station and Soldiers serving with the 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, operationally attached to the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, detained a suspected member of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was suspected of planning future attacks on Coalition and Iraqi forces. (READ MORE)

ISF, Longknife Soldiers discover Grenade - BAGHDAD – During joint operations Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces discovered an RKG-3 armor piercing grenade in the Mansour district of northwest Baghdad, May 3. At approximately 2:05 p.m. Troopers from the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, MND-B working with Iraqi Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division discovered the RKG-3 while conducting a combined area reconnaissance. (READ MORE)

Large cache uncovered, more than 300 munitions found - BAGHDAD – CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq – Members of the Amarah Tactical Swat Unit Fusion Cell and the Special Weapons and Tactics team, discovered a large weapons cache in southern Iraq’s Maysan province May 5. According to Iraqi Security Force officials, approximately 150 explosively formed penetrator plates, 70 passive infra-red devices, 50 rocket rails, 49 hand grenades, 36 60mm HE mortar rounds, 16 rocket propelled grenade warheads, four 107mm rockets, three rifles, two aiming stakes, one mortar with leveling sights, various lengths of wire, documents and communication devices were found in a house located in the city of Amarah during an operation conducted by the ISF. (READ MORE)

Recon Platoon, ERF taking RKG-3 cell members off the street - TIKRIT, Iraq – Recon Platoon, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division specializes in time-sensitive-targeting (TST) in Baqubah. The roughly 30-man platoon must be ready around the clock for the moment when they are given the order to move out. These TST missions are often source-driven operations and can range from key insurgents to targets that pose an imminent threat to the population or to security forces. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police arming NCOs with skills to lead their own - TIKRIT, Iraq – As Iraqi Security Forces take on more responsibility, Coalition forces advisors are encouraging the use of non-commissioned officers to fill in the gap between the senior leaders and the “boots on the ground” Soldier. Thirteen Baqubah Special Missions Unit junior NCOs recently concluded two weeks of training with U.S. Special Forces at Forward Operating Base Gabe in Baqubah, Iraq, to increase leadership abilities within the SMU. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
Sikhs continue protests against atrocities on their community by Taliban - Amritsar, May 7 : Sikhs continued protests across Punjab against the atrocities being committed on their brethren by the Taliban in Pakistan. Scores of activists took to the streets in Amritsar to express their anguish against the treatment meted out to Sikhs in Pakistan's North West Front Province (NWFP). (READ MORE)

Pakistan assaults Taliban bastion - TAKHT BAI, Pakistan Pakistan launched air and ground attacks against up to 7,000 Taliban militants entrenched in a northwestern valley Wednesday, killing dozens holed up at emerald mines and on forested hillsides following urgent U.S. demands to step up the fight against the insurgents. With militants fighting back and weary refugees lining up at camps, the operation will be a test of whether the army has the will, capability and political support to defeat an enemy that had three months under a now-shattered peace deal to rest and regroup. (READ MORE)

US troops in Afghanistan won't be sent to Pakistan - CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - There are no plans to deploy U.S. ground troops to Pakistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, despite concerns over increasing violence between Pakistani troops and Taliban militants. Speaking to about 300 Marines at Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, Gates assured them that they wouldn't be fighting in the neighboring sovereign nation. (READ MORE)

Eight Taliban killed in Afghanistan clashes, bomb blast - Kabul - Afghan army forces killed five Taliban militants in a clash in eastern Afghanistan while three other insurgents were killed by their own bomb, officials said Thursday. Taliban militants attacked an army outpost in Yahyakhel district of the south-eastern Paktia province Wednesday, but the soldiers at the post pushed them back, the Afghan Defence Ministry said in a statement. (READ MORE)

Hundreds protest US-led strike in western Afghanistan - Kabul - Hundreds of people took to the streets Thursday in western Afghanistan to protest deadly airstrikes by US-led forces that allegedly killed more than 100 civilians, a lawmaker and witnesses said. The protestors gathered in the main mosque in Farah, the capital of the province of the same name, Thursday morning and chanted slogans against the US forces in the country and Afghan government. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Holds Seminar On Women's Rights In Islam - A seminar on women and Islam has begun in Kabul that will discuss the rights that are given to women within the Koran, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports. Afghanistan's Women's Affairs Minister Hussunbano Ghazanfar told RFE/RL that the goal of the seminar is to give women in the region greater knowledge about their rights and responsibilities as emphasized in the Koran and to recognize the social problems women face in Islamic countries. (READ MORE)

US Afghan raids mar Pakistan talks - President Barack Obama has called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to cement his new plan for a joint bid to crush the Taliban and al-Qaeda at a Washington meet as violence surges in the two countries. Afghan police alleged that up to 100 civilians had been killed in US air strikes aimed at militants, which took place almost simultaneously with the talks. (READ MORE)

Taliban trap civilians in Pakistani war zone - Mingora: Taliban militants blocked roads with rocks and trees, preventing terrified civilians from fleeing a Pakistani valley on Thursday as the army stepped up a ground and air assault. Officials are bracing for a mass exodus from the Swat Valley, a former tourist destination where fighting has resumed after the breakdown of a controversial peace deal this week. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Coalition Forces Detain Six Suspected Militants - KABUL, May 6, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces detained six suspected militants in Afghanistan’s Logar province during an operation early this morning to disrupt extremist activity in eastern Afghanistan. The combined force, acting on intelligence information, searched several compounds in a village in the province’s Baraki Barak district that is known to be a Taliban sanctuary. (READ MORE)

Construction Crews in Southern Afghanistan Prepare for Troop Increase - KABUL, May 6, 2009 – Expansion efforts are well under way in southern Afghanistan, where most of the 21,000 troops deploying to the country this summer will be concentrated. Leaders at every level are working around the clock to ensure basic infrastructure is in place to continue receiving troops in Kandahar before sending them out to the forward operating bases, which are in various stages of development throughout the region, U.S. Forces Afghanistan officials said. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan, Pakistan Vow to Increase Cooperation - WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 – The presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan vowed to work closely together to defeat the common threat to both countries: a resurgent Taliban. Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari spoke during meetings with U.S. government leaders at the State Department today. They are scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House later this afternoon. (READ MORE)

Joint Investigation Aims to Get to Bottom of Afghanistan Incident - KABUL, May 6, 2009 – U.S. and Afghan officials here have launched an investigation into a May 4 engagement in Afghanistan’s Farah province to determine the validity of claims of high civilian casualties – claims that the senior military officer here said don’t initially appear to add up. Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said the joint investigation team hopes to “have at least the initial truth of what has happened out there” within the next few days. (READ MORE)

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