May 27, 2009

From the Front: 05/27/2009

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

A Year In The Sandbox: Quick Update - Everything’s going good here, we’re in the home stretch now. My shop got reorganized and I don’t have an office anymore since all I really do is the convoys. Unfortunately that means I don’t have internet access on my laptop anymore so it’s a little tougher to update now. I’m going to try tomorrow to get some videos that I’ve taken uploaded, there are some good ones. We spent a day out in the middle of nowhere last week just blowing stuff up. Nine months from today I’ll be out of the Air Force! A couple weeks short of 11 years in the service and I’m punching out. I’m really excited about it, I’ll be going to school full time and hopefully not working at all for a couple years. I’m looking forward to being a bum. (READ MORE)

A.L.L. = Afghan Lessons Learned for Soldiers: Chapter 3: Culture (Lesson 3A: Chai and the Pashtunwali) - Here is a description, in detail, the uniquely Afghan experience of having chai. A leadership recently in Afghanistan was telling its Soldiers not to drink chai. Don't listen to stuff like that; it will have you insulting people left and right. One of the key tenets of the Pushtunwali, the code of conduct of the Pashtuns, is hospitality. Hospitality is not just a Pashtun value, though. It is an Afghan value. It is shame to be considered inhospitable, and as O and I discussed over the weekend, we have both been offered chai by families whose khalats we were either searching or had just searched. We have both had chai served to us by Taliban, as well. A Talib will not kill you while offering you hospitality. It just isn't done. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: From Iraq? - Seeing the recent reports of the bad guys in Afghanistan using US supplied ammo really isn’t a surprise. With the ANA always at the ready to sell their gear and equipment at the local bazaar, this is basically old news to the people who have served in Afghanistan. Every 30-60 days I would receive a new group of ANA soldiers and there would always be a couple without any equipment. After realizing what some of these soldiers were doing, I would recommend to their commander that those individuals must still go on the missions without weapons and ammo. To my surprise the ANA commander agreed with me and forced a couple of the soldiers who had sold their gear to go on the missions. It didn’t take long for word to trickle back to the rear as all ANA soldiers began showing up with all of their gear and issued equipment. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Driving Afghan style - It started out for what seemed would be a great day for a convoy mission. The heavy-armored beasts (HMMVW) were loaded with our overnight packs; guns mounted accompanied by a ton of ammunition, radios checked, plenty of water and MREs to feast on. The convoy commander gave the mission brief and we rolled out of the gate in single file. The local villagers always gape as we pass by. But I suppose after years of Soviet occupation and now the temporary presence of coalition forces, they are accustomed to seeing these metal goliaths with their mounted weapons of destruction. Today our patrol would take us through a local pass. As you can see from the pictures, it’s rather scenic with a river located parallel to the highway snaking down through the canyon. However, it seemed rather bizarre that traffic would be parked 2 rows wide on the side of the road for over a mile long and throngs of people, children, etc. were sitting on the side. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Shrugged: A Farewell to Arms - Memorial Day 2009 will be one that I remember for the rest of my life. By my own admission I’ve not treated Memorial Day with the appropriate gravitas. Like many Americans, I’m embarrassed to say, I understood why we celebrated it but failed to completely embrace it. It tended to be another day off to barbeque and spend time at home. It is humbling to stand in a war zone and see your country’s flag flown at half mast in honor of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice on her behalf. I think back to others in my family that glimpsed a similar site. My father in Vietnam, with the Sky Soldiers, and his father before him with the Tough Hombres at Normandy; I’m just the next in line to pick up the family trade; the profession of arms. This year is different though. I lost one of my soldiers several nights ago during a mortar attack. (READ MORE)

Alex Strick van Linschoten: On Bruce Riedel - By now Bruce Riedel is pretty well-known, so I’ll spare you the CV: intimately involved in US foreign affairs in this general area (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia etc) he helped run one of the reviews of Afghan policy that Obama requested at the beginning of the year. Nowadays he’s still quite active; writing, advising and so on. He’s also the author of In Search of Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future (pub. Brookings, 2008). I put together some thoughts on his book, and some final thoughts on a recent essay he wrote for CTC Sentinel, the journal of the ‘Combating Terrorism Center’ at West Point. Occasionally I’ll quote from the book and respond to things that he says. In Search of Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future was published in late 2008 and offers an outline of the author’s views on the threat posed by ‘Al Qaeda’ in the past, as well as possible ways to engage with the situation and “how to defeat al Qaeda”. (READ MORE)

SGT Emily Anderson: Now what? - Where do I go from here? Imagine my surprise when I come off of leave and I’m told I will no longer doing the job that I’ve been doing for the past five months. Several emotions came flooding through…anger, resentment, and fear. I’ve never realized how much I dislike change until recently. I know there’s always going to be change in life but the uncertainty of it is what I have learned that really causes people including myself to fear change. I have always thought of myself as a positive person but as more time passes during this deployment I realize that may not be necessarily true. Maybe I’ve always considered myself a positive person because I’ve always been in situations that I’ve controlled. The Army is definitely not a situation that I can control. (READ MORE)

SGM Troy Falardeau: Memorial Day Tribute in Baghdad - The Army Reserve Soldiers of the 314th Public Affairs Operations Center and the 222nd Broadcast Operations Detachment and their U.S. contracted translators took time from their busy schedules today to honor the memory of those who gave their lives serving our country. For some of the Soldiers, it was a very personal occasion. They knew friends, neighbors and family members who had made that ultimate sacrifice. For instance, SFC Adam Daley knew of a young man from his hometown of Rome, GA, who was killed in Iraq. Desite the grief of the loss (or perhaps because of it), the Soldier’s mother led an effort to make vehicles safer for servicemembers. (READ MORE)

Doc H's International Adventure: SRM-Reflex Shooting Range - Today was another productive day at the Range. Since most shots are fired at less than 50 meters in our current conflicts, the Army has instituted training to accomplish this Short Range Marksmanship. Since repetition builds reflexes. To the credit of the Army instructors and safety coaches, there was plenty of explanation and dry drills prior to actually putting rounds in the chambers. All shots were in the double tap- or controlled pair- mode. The first set of firing was at the ready position with the M-4. On command we fired at targets from 5 to 25 meters away. We fired from facing full on, but started in many different facing positions: facing full- on, facing sideways right, facing sideways left, and facing backwards positions. There was also firing on the move while closing with targets. (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: A Small World - I was in bed and the call came in. The FST had a patient enroute. I jumped up, got dressed, and was in the FST before I could blink. The patient had burned his hands and face during an artillery fire. The docs were evaluating him and the ER at the FST was hopping. I asked the Officer in Charge for a status. He gave me the quick down and dirty on the patient. I stood there watching as the doctors determined the patient did not require urgent medevac and we were stood down. Way out here at remote FOB Sandflea, we only cover Urgent, Urgent surgical, and Point of Injury calls because we are here all by ourselves. No back up birds for coverage when we are gone. We live in 4x6 cubicles in a tent also housing our operations, dining area, and dayroom. Think Vietnam fire base and you get the idea. I was winding down and had just removed all 70 pounds of flight gear when we received a confirmed mission at a nearby FOB. If our FOB is fire base small, this FOB is basically a ring of HESCOs with a landing strip outside. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: The Dutch Boy Dilemma - I have been victimized this week by a crashed internet system and one false start on this post. In addition when I do get a little net time I am engaged in several email conversations with FRI readers – some of these are so good I may post them as standalone articles. Chris Chivers of the New York Times has been one of the readers I have been chatting with and it is his piece here which is the start point for this week’s post. This post will be unreasonably massive – at times confusing but stick with it and I’ll tie all it all together in the end, inshallah. Bonus feature alert: this post includes a photo story board covering last Monday’s assassination attempt on President Karzai’s brother. I was on the road that day too with my faithful finance officer Misael, who hails from the island of Mindanao but claims to be a Catholic and not a Abu Sayef member. When we turned a corner in the Tangi Valley and saw all the expended brass in the road, he ignored his collateral duty as photographers mate and wedged himself firmly under the dash board. (READ MORE)

(NEW) Housefly: May I Ask Who is Calling? - May 2009 Qalat, Afghanistan - Last week we sized up a new contract with a security company by accompanying them for a little night work. The mission involved a convoy of 40 tractor-trailers, carrying shipping containers, new armored vehicles, and loaded fuel tankers on an overnight run to Kandahar and back. Convoys on this route get hit every night with rockets, roadside bombs and machine guns, sometimes in well-organized ambushes. Few of their vehicles are armored, and most have a few holes in them. The military is still stretched too thin to offer air or medical support, so the security companies are on their own to fight through and deliver these high-value targets every time. It is a hugely lucrative contact, but it comes at a steady cost. (READ MORE)

(NEW) Afghani Kush: Missions - Hey folks. Well, as per the norm we had another mission today. Went out and went looking for the 'bad guys' out in a valley that's actually pretty near the base. But with the river being as high as it as and the terrain being as difficult as it is, it took us a couple of hours to get out there. Taliban likes to use motorcycles to get around, and we saw a couple of those out there today. They're fast and they can get through the terrain that our trucks can't. So usually when we roll up on a village and you see a whole bunch of guys in bikes squirt out of it, they're bad guys. Needless to say we did some shooting today, but I don't think we did much damage, but every day that all of our guys come home safe is a good day in my book. Plus I think we got who we were looking for in the area, so not a bad mission all in all. (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: Odd things - So we are in Iraq, right? Iraq is a desert. The part of Iraq we are in is, in fact, experiencing a drought. Drought in a desert is, of course, dry. Even away from the rivers, occasionally you will see grass here. It's a status symbol. You'd see small (like 4-fooy-square) patches in the front of the occasional house, that sort of thing. We were out trooping around yesterday, and I ran across an odd one. That's a lawn - okay - but that's also a sprinkler. A sprinkler that is running. Did I mention that was no-kidding 95 degree in the shade at 1000 yesterday? Hooah, basic conservation skills. (READ MORE)

The Gun Line MkIII: Memorial Day 2009… - Memorial Day… A day to remember those who have gone before. Particularly poignant here in Iraq. It’s never too far from my mind, the fact that we have lost brothers and sisters on this very post. Having been here for the better part of a year, and being the curious soul that I am, I know most of the place where, in times past, a lucky rocket or mortar round impacted, snuffing out the life of American warriors. The scars of the shrapnel still pock the walls, despite the best efforts of the Facilities Maintenance workers to hide the damage. I walk by one such place every day. We carry on, however, and try to push the awareness out of our minds, and continue about the day’s business, ignoring the fact that we still face the same dangers, although our ability to defend against such things has increased considerably. We do remember, however… (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Start Your Day with an Enormous Breakfast - The saying here goes that soldiers return from deployment fit or fat. At the major bases like Tallil Ali Air Base, our new home, the proverb is likely to be true because of the facilities. Within a quarter mile of my CHU is a 24-hour gym. Another gym is less than a mile away. Across the street from the gym is the “Grab and Go” Dining Facility--sandwiches and cereal from 0630 to 0900, sandwiches, fruit and snacks from 1100 to 1400. Less than a mile from my CHU and just a few hundred yards from the Living Area where most Echo soldiers live is the largest DFAC (dining facility) on base. Inside are seats for hundreds of soldiers and airmen and four lines with grills serving both main meal and snack food. After the main lines, there are two salad bars with dozens of choices. In addition there is a cold sandwich bar, a hot sandwich bar, a healthy line with Caesar salads and fresh cut fruit. (READ MORE)

The Intrepid Reporter: ...and Back in Baghdad... - OK friends and neighbors. Back again. This time with a legit update on casual observations I’ve made here in the Land of The Baghdad Café. Ye Olde Intrepid Reporter had a tough one, what with his Dad getting a bad case of the “deads” and all, but seeing that I’ll be home shortly to celebrate his life and see my wife and kids, that about evens the score. So, as the late great Paul Harvey used to say…”Stand by…for NEWS!” One observation in the ‘supposed’ drawdown is the uptick in Iraqi military activity. I’m not giving any secrets away because even the bloody insurgents can tell the difference between the US troops (grey-digital ACU uniforms) and the Iraqis, (desert tan old style US camo) Seems that the Iraqis, from my observations, are getting more ‘hot n heavy.’ A few weeks ago I was on Route Irish, formerly known by Newsweek magazine as “The SINGLE most DANGEROUS section of highway in the known Universe” (quick aside: my how things have changed!) and as I rolled down the pockmarked pavement, what should I see but a convoy of Iraqis. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Al Qaeda Shadow Army camps located in northern Helmand - As Afghan and US forces complete an operation that targeted a Taliban stronghold in northern Helmand province, another area is identified as a Taliban safe haven that hosts al Qaeda training camps. The Baghran district in northern Helmand hosts several camps run by al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army, several military and civilian sources told The Long War Journal. Hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have rotated through the Baghran camps. The Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil, is al Qaeda’s paramilitary force that closely operates with the Taliban and other jihadi groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda's paramilitary 'Shadow Army']. The trained fighters are then sent to conduct operations against Afghan and Coalition forces in Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces. "Some relatively well-trained Talibs come out of these camps," an intelligence official said. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: The Future of Iraq, Part II - The first time I visited Baghdad, I only stayed for a week. The place stressed me out. The surge was only just then beginning, and though I never was shot at personally, I often heard the sound of gunfire in the background. One night, shadowy militiamen stalked me and a U.S. Army unit I was out on patrol with. Car bombs exploded miles away, but sounded as though they were detonated just a few blocks away. You have no idea, really, how terrifyingly loud those things are until you hear one yourself. I left Baghdad and headed out to Anbar Province – which just months earlier was one of the most dangerous places on earth – because I wanted to relax. That part of Iraq had just quieted down for the first time since Fallujah exploded in 2004. The big question on everyone’s mind in 2007 was whether or not it was possible to export the Anbar Awakening – the reconciliation between Iraqi tribes and Americans who forged a united front against terrorism – to a gigantic and hypercomplex city like Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Misuchan's Milblog: He said, She said and Assclowns - It always boils down to the he said she said drama in the Army. Some days I wish I could just quit. We have two TOCs on our fire base, one where we pull shift every day with the French, and the other has another American team in it, but all of our equipment is there. Our team “owns” both TOCs. So I go over there to fix some ISAF computers back in our back room. As I am writing down the mac and IP addresses, some assclown (a new guy) in the back room on the opposite end of the TOC yells out “HELLOooo, what are you doing in here?” This being my TOC and my equipment, and him being on the new team, I ignore him until I finish writing. Then I walk back to his room and say “Hey, what’s up?” fairly politely. He says “what are you doing in here?” “I had to come work on some network stuff, thats my equipment back there.” He says “Well you have to clear it through [name] before you can come over here.” Oh ho ho ho. I say “Uhh I don’t have to clear anything through him, that’s my equipment.” (READ MORE)

Misuchan's Milblog: Deployment Princesses - I am seriously getting tired of hearing this term. I even have female friends that when they see a female soldier and she’s obviously prettier than them, they label them “deployment princess.” Who cares if they saved the lives of fellow comrades with their medical expertise during an IED hit, or successfully sent intel out to patrols on the ground leading to them discovering dozens of IEDs and ACM before they hit someone… or were the first women to ever be permanently stationed at their respective fire bases. There are some amazing women in the Army out here today. Thankfully most of us women know what heroes we are and that’s all the pats on the back we need. God knows we aren’t going to get it from anyone else.. because we’re “deployment princesses.” (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker - My Point of View: Happy Anniversary, baby... - My, how time flies when you're, ahem, having fun. Makes me think of a framed piece of craftwork that my friend Suz sent me when I was in...Bosnia? Kosovo? I don't remember. It's a drawing of a frog sitting on a lilypad with one of those grins on it's face. Around the top are the words "Time's Fun When You're Having Flies". The frame is green. And I think there are other flies around the frog. I forget exactly what the thing looks like. Why? Because this week is my 1-year anniversary. If I'm going to spend my time in Baghdad marking off time, I'm starting a year ago. I started this overseas deployment odyssey this time last year. I had mentally started preparing myself for this as early as December 2007, when I looked around at my Christmas tree and other decorations and told myself that I wouldn't see them again until December...2010? Although I spent a better part of March and April planning things, it was the end of May that really set things off. (READ MORE)

SPC Alperin - My Point of View: "The Editor" - I made a decision to write one blog per month. I feel this is the minimum acceptable for this kind of blog. This month's blog must be focused on my current responsibities here at Camp Liberty, as they have changed from reporter to editor of our internet newspaper, The Daily Charge. I am enjoying my time at night and the early morning hours in the 1st Cav. Div. main building, getting the paper prepared for the next day's viewing. There is some artistic thought required as each paper must be designed individually and laid out for the viewer to read at their leisure. The paper should be aesthetically pleasing to the eye and catchy for the reader. I start out with the press releases and decide which should be on the front page and from there I edit the rest of the paper, including the weather, the Pvt. Murphy comic, quotes of the day, military history of the day and games. (READ MORE)

SFC Burke - My Point of View: To My Seniors... - After what has seemed like forever to many of you, you’re about to graduate from high school. Think back to the great times you’ve had with your friends. Back to when you thought you’d die because a certain class or a certain assignment was blowing your mind. All the challenges you’ve had to face up to now. Feels good doesn’t it? I remember when I graduated high school…and no, it wasn’t THAT long ago. I went with friends. Parents didn’t go. I didn’t even realize what was going to hit me in the face three months later. I was happy to take that walk across the stage…because a couple years before that, I almost quit high school. When I attended Sam Rayburn as a student, I was a punk. (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Memorial Day - Memorial Day in Baghdad is not like it is in the States. Okay, so we got a full day off. Our little group was sitting around dinner in the DFAC last night discussing what our options were. Go to the beach? Nah - the drive down to Basrah is too long. To the mall? No, that's out ... too many teenyboppers. Ball games, car races, and casinos were all ruled out for various nitnoid reasons. Instead it was supposed to be a day of doing pretty much nothing. A rarity, here. We work six and a half days a week, so having a full day off is a bit jarring. I tried to sleep late but woke up at my regular time, anyway. After chatting with Janis on Skype, I crawled back in the pit for an extra glorious hour. Breakfast was a fresh-brewed cappuccino from the Green Bean and a newly-nuked Cinnabon that I picked up from Camp Liberty yesterday. Ahh, bliss. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Week 1 of the Red Bulls - The boss is titling each week and I believe this is week 1 of 41. I’m already exhausted. I had DOC duty yesterday which means I sat on the DOC in front of a secret computer, looking for Significant Actions and documenting them. Thankfully, it was a slow day in MND-South so I watched American Psycho and most of Slumdog Millionaire plus planed a little bit of the Europe vacation coming up in August. I’m in need of a travel agent, because I’m stressing out about where to stay. I need someone to take my hand and say “You’ll check into the London Hilton on August 12 and stay there until the 18. Then you’ll get on the EuroRail to Paris where you’ll walk across the street to the C’est La Vie hotel and enjoy 5 days and nights in the City of Love. You’ll return to London by EuroRail and have 4 more days to take in the royal city before departing back to the beach… without the ocean… or cabana boy.” I can’t wait! (READ MORE)

The Stone Report: Catchpenny - We had a great band come to Camp Basrah last night, Catchpenny. They are a band based out of Minneapolis. Prince is from Minnesota, and he made Purple Rain. I figured how bad can they be? Actually, when I was told they are the 2009 Armed Services Entertainer of the Year, I stole a line from They Might be Giants, “That’s like being the tallest midget in the room.” I still have no idea what being an Armed Services Entertainer of the Year means. I do know that they put on a real good show. They also go to a bunch of small bases in the middle of nowhere. This was the last stop on their fifth trip to Iraq since last August. They’re pretty damn awesome, they put on a good show. Look them up on their site, catchpenny.com, myspace, on iTunes, or our coverage in the Red Bull Report on page 4. (READ MORE)

War is Boring: Afghan Super-Bases Undermine U.S. Strategy? - Before General David Petraeus’ “surge” strategy spread U.S. forces in Iraq into the communities they were supposed to be protecting, American troops had a bad habit of concentrating in “super” Forward Operating Bases. This isolated them from the local population — a big no-no in accepted counter-insurgency thinking. The Brits in southern Iraq never did break that “bunker” mentality, and paid for it by losing control of Basra, Iraq’s second city. Is the U.S. Army in Afghanistan repeating that error? One blogger thinks so. Babatim at Free Range International is a contractor with years of experience in Afghanistan. “We have hamstrung our efforts by placing our maneuver forces in ‘big box’ FOBs,” he writes. “Afghanistan as viewed from behind the wire of a big box is not the Afghanistan I know and see daily. It can’t be — that is nature of an isolated, high security FOB — it completely removes you from meaningful interaction with the local people.” (READ MORE)

Dena Yllescas: Memorial Day - Wow. Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning for me this year. I am so blessed to have amazing, supportive friends who came to Nebraska to spend Memorial Weekend with me. When I turned 30, my friend Karen said that we needed to do something special for my 30th birthday sometime during this year. I thought about it and decided that Memorial Weekend would be a great time. Not only could we have a 30th birthday bash but I would also have my military friends by my side for what I knew would be a very emotional day. Those who flew arrived Thursday and the others drove in Friday. Friday evening we got a limo and went to a local winery in Lincoln. It was an absolute blast! Saturday we went to a club and Sunday we went to the movies and then came back to my house and played Charades. I don't think I have laughed so hard in ages! My trampoline was also a popular favorite. :) Monday we drove to Osceola for the Memorial Service held at the cemetery. (READ MORE)

Jalalabad Fab Lab blog: A Brief Update (from Day 1) 52409 - May - A Brief Update (from Day 1) (Joe, can you please post on the blog, too?) The fab lab is awesome - I took some photos and sent super low res to Joe Murphy and asked him to post on the blog, look for those in a day or two. (they are posted~joe)It’s super clean and organized, nothing like the small debris and dust laden, box cluttered state in January. Students from Bagrami and other villages nearby have started coming to the lab since a month ago. They’re being taught in 1 hour shifts but in smaller class sizes, between 8 and 16 students per teacher. The topic appears to be “Windows XP” with somewhat confounding skills like changing the caption size of windows and icons or the background image. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:
Iraqi Air Force Graduates Aircrew, Dedicates New Buildings - WASHINGTON, May 26, 2009 – In developments this month, the Iraqi air force graduated its first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircrew members and dedicated three new buildings that will increase its capabilities. The first class of Iraqi Air Force Squadron 87 King Air ISR aircrew members completed their year-long training, which culminated with a graduation ceremony at New Al Muthana Air Base May 17. The Iraqi King Air program, headed up by U.S. Air Force and Navy aircrew instructors, has trained four Iraqi pilots, seven co-pilots and five mission sensor operators. (READ MORE)

Airmen Contribute to the Fight in Iraq, Kuwait - WASHINGTON, May 26, 2009 – The 586th Air Expeditionary Group is one of three Air Force groups organized to complete joint expeditionary taskings and is contributing significantly to operations in Iraq and Kuwait, the group’s commander said. Col. Alan Metzler, 586th AEG commander, spoke with journalists and bloggers during a DODLive Blogger’s roundtable May 20. Metzler is responsible for organizing, training and equipping more than 650 ground combat airmen across four geographically separated locations to fill U.S. Army requirements. (READ MORE)

U.S., Iraqi Forces Detain 4, Find Weapons in Central Iraq - WASHINGTON, May 26, 2009 – Coalition and Iraqi forces detained four suspected insurgents and found weapons in recent operations in central Iraq, U.S. military officials reported. Iraqi and coalition forces yesterday detained a suspect in Baghdad’s Mansour district after discovering an assortment of weapons in his home. The raid was initiated from a tip given to Iraqi forces by a local resident. The search turned up three artillery rounds, two rockets and a bag filled with metal ball bearings, all which may be used to build homemade bombs, military officials said. (READ MORE)

U.S. Soldiers Coordinate Training With Iraqi Forces - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, May 22, 2009 – Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, met with the commanders of the tactical support unit companies in Basra, Iraq, to discuss training May 12. The battalion is planning a training event for the security forces in the area and is assessing each unit’s training needs. “Our plan is to conduct a joint training exercise with all the tactical support units and the emergency response battalions in the area.” said Army 1st Lt. Ray Critchfield, tank platoon leader with the battalion’s Company C. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
U.S., Afghan Forces Kill 84, Detain 14 in Combat Operations - WASHINGTON, May 26, 2009 – Coalition and Afghan forces killed 84 militants and detained 14 more in recent operations throughout Afghanistan, U.S. military officials reported. Afghan and coalition forces killed 13 enemy fighters today in an ongoing operation in Logar province’s Kharwar district. The joint forces were searching a compound when they spotted several groups of armed fighters closing in. An initial coalition airstrike killed four, and a follow-up airstrike killed nine more, military officials said. (READ MORE)

U.S. Looks to New Ways of Applying Resources in Afghanistan-Pakistan Region - WASHINGTON, May 22, 2009 – The next 12 to 18 months are critical to the success of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, a senior military official said today. There will be new ways of applying resources in the region, said the official, who spoke on background and also addressed budget recommendations and the "Don't ask don't tell" policy. The nomination of Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to be the next NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan highlights the “whole of government” approach that must be taken for success in the area. (READ MORE)

Troops in Afghanistan Kill Dozens of Insurgents, Seize Weapons, Drugs - WASHINGTON, May 22, 2009 – Coalition and Afghan troops have killed nearly 50 militants, detained three and seized drugs in ongoing operations in Afghanistan this week. In an update published today, military officials reported that Afghan commandos and coalition forces have killed 47 militants, including 13 in air strikes this morning, during ongoing operations in Helmand province. The combined forces launched the joint operation in the city of Marjeh in the province’s Nad Ali district on May 19 to disrupt activities in a key militant stronghold and narcotics hub. (READ MORE)

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