June 4, 2009

From the Front: 06/04/2009

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA’S FIRST SERGEANT

111 Infantry Recon: (PICTURES) SOCCER, UGANDAN/MECEDONIAN vs RECON, loss - good effort (Visit Site for Pics)

A Year in the Sandbox: (VIDEO) Range Videos - We went out in the middle of nowhere a few weeks ago to get rid of some old ammo. Here are a few videos I took that day. (VISIT SITE FOR VIDEOS)

Afghani Kush: Leading From The Rear - Hey Folks. Now I don't like to criti
cize my chain of command on this thing. I don't really like to reveal too much about what's going on around here with all the fighting, because as far as I know, it may compromise something that's on going. But then an article like this comes across and really pisses me off, so here you go. As some of you know we've been doing a fair bit of fighting lately. Both on our home turf and also in another FOB. FOB Baylough is north of us a good bit on a route filled with IED's. It's a pretty big hotspot and we go up there from time to time to help them out or conduct a big operation. Now the fight that made the news above is just one of the six firefights we got into while we were up there last time. None of our guys got hurt and we kicked the shit out of them. But I've been holding back on writing about it until things had calmed down a little bit just because I didn't know what exactly we could talk about. (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: Look what I saw - On the way to the green closet in the small hours of the night, I shined my light over near where the kittens hang out - you know, to see if they were doing anything impossibly cute (as kittens are wont to do). And I spotted something snuffling around a pile of meat scraps...[Pic on Site] That, folks, is a long-eared hedgehog. And it's cute. Way too cute to be hanging out in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: There Is A Word In English For Being Compelled By Fear - Michael Cohen is at it again, trying to tear away at the War in Afghanistan, selecting seemingly random information and using it out of context to support his fear-driven position. He is afraid that if we succeed in COIN in Afghanistan, it will become a cornerstone of American foreign policy. We have a word for actions that are driven primarily by fear: cowardice. Michael Cohen's writings concerning Afghanistan and counterinsurgency are the most cowardly things you are likely to find in print this week. “First of all, we don't all agree that we're engaged in a counter-insurgency in Afghanistan. Indeed, I'm pretty sure President Obama would not agree that we are engaged in a full-fledged counter-insurgency campaign. (Perhaps COIN-lite or Skim COIN).” Huh? We are fighting against insurgents in Afghanistan. That means that we are countering insurgents. That means counterinsurgency. (READ MORE)

Castra Praetoria: Night fighting! Well sort of… - Kharma, Iraq. August 2007. Yeah, it was sucky. My first night patrol last deployment was not a history making event; no pivotal battles were fought; we didn’t even detain anyone. That patrol will never even amount to a footnote in the annals of military lore. As a matter of fact I would have to say that on any given day a combat patrol through our part of the town more closely resembled a steeple chase than anything else. Imagine, if you will, temperatures more suitable for the baking of cookies than human life. Then strap on 100 pounds of miscellaneous objects including body armor, ammunition, water, first aid kits, communication gear, and any other number of items of interest. There is always one more clown out there with a brilliant new piece of gear that we just “gotta” carry with us. (READ MORE)

Flit: Fake Stars: yes, they're wrong - Author Max Boot has some curious notions about many things. Military honour, for instance, viz the Tillman cover-up. So why does it take civvies like Josh Foust or Tom Ricks to point this out? Note to Boot: in my experience soldiers don't generally appreciate fake medals. They'd probably appreciate even less giving out medals for the giving of fake medals. (READ MORE)

Made A Difference For That One: A Surgeon's Letters Home From Iraq: Wheelers for the Wounded, Texas - Well, I’ve been in absentia a bit, but here’s a report that is long overdue. A few weeks back, B. and I participated in the Wheelers for the Wounded event at Hidden Falls Ranch. For those of you who don’t know, Wheelers for the Wounded was created by Jason Havlik, who plans to cross the United States hosting injured service members on off-road vehicle trail rides. The Texas event was hosted by Midnight Four Wheelers, a really amazing club here in San Antonio. For the event, wounded warriors and their families were bused in from Ft. Sam Houston and Ft. Hood. Food was provided from an old fashioned chuck wagon that stewed up beans and grilled ribs. There were about 100 rigs taking families out on trail rides. Some took gentle trips on dirt paths while others chose to tackle aggressive climbs up rock faces or through water holes. Our group had a blast. (READ MORE)

Sgt Danger: Looking Past What Sucks - Mobilizing sucks. You’ll spend months at some military post in Texas, New Jersey, or Mississippi standing in formation, shooting at plastic, driving soft-shelled HMMWVs, doing paperwork, and training for what seems to be every mission but your own. All based on lessons-learned that seem like they were outdated in 2004. Your pay will probably be wrong for the first few weeks, and the new boots they issued you hurt. So there’s a lot a mob’ing soldier can find to complain about. But it occurred to me that maybe this time is more valuable than I’d thought. Maybe the value isn’t in what we do hour-to-hour, but in just the fact that we’re here doing something. I’m a soldier again. I spent the three years since my tour in Iraq studying chemistry, delivering pizzas, raising a family, getting depressed, getting better with therapy and drugs, and doing the "one-weekend-a-month Army." It’s been a hell of a time. (READ MORE)

Navy Gal-Home From Iraq and finally getting on with life: Life - Life is finally resembling something of a more normal pattern. Work, eat, sleep, school, repeat. I like this routine. Routine is good, it's what keeps me sane. I love driving to work and passing the trees and the green grass with the dew glistening off the blades. I like looking at the mountains in the distance as the clouds roll gently down their slopes. I like my life again. I no longer feel that nagging anxiety at what may come next. I don't know and that's ok. Life is an adventure and I'm just along for the ride. I like riding the light rail and passing the abandoned buildings and wondering what great things used to be made in there. (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a Painter: A Cast of Characters - What kind of person would you expect to find working in Iraq? Soulless military guys who say "hooah" and salute everything that moves? Mysterious guys wearing aviator sunglasses who have no sense of humor? A little guy with an unplaceable accent who's selling AK47's by the truckload? An overcoiffed news reporter trying desperately to make a name for him/her self? Well, no doubt those people are out there somewhere, but I sure haven't met them. Let me give you an idea of the people I interact with on a daily basis. First, there's the Army Lieutenant Colonel who is really your favorite absent-minded professor. Except he wears a uniform. He's very smart and very easily distracted by things like birds and rocks (he's got a PhD in geochemistry). When we're walking anywhere, we're forever having to go back and corral the guy because he's wandered off to take a picture of a pigeon perched on some concertina wire, or pick up interesting pebbles out of the gravel parking lot. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: There are Two in Iraq - A few months ago a Marine, Brad Durkin, was assigned the project of tracking two blogs for his final paper. He chose mine and a nineteen year-old boy in Baghdad. Here it is, published as he sent it to me. “Journalism and the Iraq War - There Are Two In Iraq - Bloggers throughout the world offer different perspectives about life around them and circumstances that might not be understandable to people who live completely different lives. The Blogs of SSgt. Kristen King of the U.S. Army in Basra, and Mohammed, a teenage boy living in Baghdad, offer two different perspectives of life in Iraq. One story is that of a young sorority girl turned Army journalist and veteran of the War in Iraq. The other story is that of a young man finding his place in the city of Baghdad, where bombings and gunfire are but a part of daily life.” (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): In Chapel Choirs Men are the Majority - At first glance, chapel choirs look and sound like their civilian counterparts—except they are several octaves lower. Women are the majority in churches and choirs everywhere reflect that. But in the chapel choirs, we see all the variety of the civilian world, with men doing most of the singing. At Fort Sill, the choir in the Anthrax Chapel for the protestant service was one young lieutenant with a guitar who sang a solo every week and provided the music for the hymns. In Tallil, every faith community has a choir and they are as different as the denominations they represent. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:

Iraqi Commandos arrest suspected terrorist leader and assistants - TIKRIT, Iraq – Pursuant to warrants issued by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, the 7th Regional Commando Battalion, with Coalition forces, arrested a suspected terrorist cell leader and his two assistants May 29 in Ninewa Province. The suspects were arrested in Qayyara and are believed to be in charge of coordinating and financing the criminal activities conducted by the cell throughout Northern Iraq. Those acts include carrying out roadside and vehicle bomb attacks against Iraqi Security Forces. (READ MORE)

Baqubah Emergency Response Force 2 mission results in 11 arrests - TIKRIT, Iraq – Baqubah Emergency Response Force 2, with Coalition forces, arrested 11 suspected criminals during an Iraqi-planned, led and executed operation in the Diyala Province, May 28. Acting under Central Criminal Court of Iraq issued warrants, Baqubah ERF 2 arrested the suspects and confiscated items of interest. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces take down three terrorists in the Diyala Province - TIKRIT, Iraq – The Baqubah Emergency Response Force 2, with Coalition forces advisors, arrested a suspected high-level terrorist cell leader on a warrant issued by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. In addition, the team detained two additional associates May 26 during an operation in the Diyala Province. The detained individuals are suspected of leading a violent terrorist cell responsible for funding anti-Iraqi operations and carrying out indirect fire attacks against Iraqi Security Forces in an effort to intimidate Iraqis residing in and around Diyala Province. (READ MORE)

Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers deliver food in Kirkuk province - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq—Iraqi Police and Coalition forces helped the residents of Qushquaya, Iraq, May 29, by distributing more than 100 bags of food. Iraqi Police from Dibbis, a town south of Kirkuk city, and Soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, handed out tomatoes, beans and lentils in the village. (READ MORE)

MoJ officials tour Camp Taji TIFRC; assess detainee living conditions - CAMP TAJI, Iraq — The Iraqi Minister and Deputy Minister of Justice toured the Camp Taji Theater Internment Reconciliation Center June 3 to survey facilities and review programs for detainees. Minister Dara Noor al-Deen Baha' al-Deen and deputy Posho Ibrahim Ali spoke with numerous detainees to assess their quality of life as the officials visited where the detainees eat, sleep, learn and recreate. The visit was the first trip to Taji for both MoJ members. (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B arrest seven during Baghdad operations - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces Soldiers arrested seven criminals in three different operations in northwest Baghdad and Abu Ghraib May 30 – June 1. At approximately 11 p.m., May 30, Soldiers serving with the 2nd Stryker Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division—Baghdad, arrested four individuals while conducting combined patrol operations with Iraqi Security Forces in the Abu Ghraib district west of Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Forces Capture 45 Suspected Militants - WASHINGTON — Iraqi and Coalition forces captured 45 suspected militants and killed one during operations May 31 in Kirkuk, military officials said. Combined forces killed the suspected terrorist and wounded another while attempting to arrest them during an operation in Kirkuk. Both of the men were believed to be terrorist cell leaders involved in multiple kidnappings, murders and car bombings targeting Iraqi forces in Kirkuk province. (READ MORE)

Iraqis Open Night Vision Repair Shop - BAGHDAD — The premiere fighting element known as the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) may not be considered textbook superheroes, but may be considered somewhat superhuman. With most of their tactical operations conducted under the blanket of darkness beneath the Iraqi capital's night sky, these elite Soldiers are equipped to see even in the complete absence of light. One support battalion is making sure their fellow brothers-in-arms see things a little more clearly during their critical combat operations. (READ MORE)

Air Force Leaders Honor Iraqi Firefighters - KIRKUK — Ten Iraqi firefighters assigned to this city's unexploded ordnance (UXO) facility received certificates of appreciation for their "outstanding support" to the 506th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Flight and Weapons Intelligence Team 11 mission, and words of honor from the U.S. base commander, at a ceremony here Sunday. Coalition forces EOD technicians are training Iraqi firefighters charged with the responsibility of identifying and handling UXOs on what to look for, how to handle what they find, reporting procedures, and when to just call for help. (READ MORE)

JSS Hurriyah Transferred to Iraqi Army - BAGHDAD — An historic event took place here when Coalition forces (CF) transferred Joint Security Station Hurriyah to the Iraqi Army (IA), May 30. "The transfer of JSS Hurriyah from Coalition forces to Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is one more step in the process of relinquishing control of security to the Government of Iraq (GoI)," said Lt. Col. John Vermeesch, commander, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment. "This event is symbolic of the increased security in the Hurriyah area." (READ MORE)

Iraqi Children’s Hospital Nears Completion in Basra - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, June 3, 2009 – Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team visited and surveyed the progress of the children’s hospital in Basra, Iraq, May 28. The 94-bed facility will be the first state-of-the-art pediatric specialty hospital in Iraq and is nearing completion, with outpatient services slated to start in September. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
82nd Airborne Assumes Command in Eastern Afghanistan - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, June 3, 2009 – Fifteen months after transferring authority of Regional Command East in Afghanistan to the 101st Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division reassumed command during a ceremony here today. The ceremony marks the official transition from Combined Joint Task Force 101 to Combined Joint Task Force 82, with the new unit assuming responsibility for 14 provinces in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. (READ MORE)

Portable USO Center Brings ‘Piece of Home’ to Soldiers - LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, June 3, 2009 – Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Shank here gathered May 27 for the dedication of the first “USO in a Box.” The facility was dedicated to the soldiers who serve, have served and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Task Force Spartan soldiers from the 710th Brigade Support Battalion hosted a formal ceremony for the grand opening. (READ MORE)

General Cites Importance of Air Power for Afghanistan - KABUL, June 3, 2009 – The Afghan National Army Air Corps is a vital and rapidly growing component of Afghanistan’s security forces and is building air power to deny terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan, a U.S. Air Force general here said. Afghanistan’s vast and forbidding terrain, the threat posed by roadside bombs and the country’s nearly total lack of rail transportation make air power essential, Brig. Gen. Walter D. Givhan told online journalists and bloggers May 26 during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Coalition Forces Clash With Enemy Fighters, Detain Suspects - WASHINGTON, June 3, 2009 – Afghan army commandos, assisted by coalition forces, were attacked today during a clearing operation in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province, and a combined force in Khost province detained three suspected militants yesterday. In the Kapisa operation, the combined element was searching an area known for enemy activity in the province’s Yakdan Valley region when it came under heavy small-arms fire from a nearby compound. The forces used small-arms and mortar fire to help neutralize the enemy. (READ MORE)

Police Make Progress in Southern Afghanistan, U.S. Advisor Says - WASHINGTON, June 3, 2009 – Though the Afghan National Police still face many challenges, they continue to make progress on a daily basis, a senior U.S. advisor said. “The police officers that I see and deal with on a daily basis are very dedicated to their cause and to their nation,” Army Col. Dave Harris, commander of Regional Police Advisory Command South, said during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable May 29. (READ MORE)

British soldier among 27 killed in Afghanistan - KABUL: A suicide bomb tore through a southern Afghan town killing six security guards Wednesday while a British soldier and 20 militants died in fighting linked to a growing insurgency. The bomber, who was riding a motorbike, blew himself up alongside guards from a private Afghan company escorting a convoy of logistics for international troops, police said.“Six private Afghan guards were killed,” said the southern Afghanistan border police commander, General Saifullah. (READ MORE)

AP source: US broke bombing rules in Afghanistan - WASHINGTON (AP) -- American troops made substantial errors and did not strictly follow rules for avoiding casualties during an air assault on Taliban fighters last month, a U.S. defense official said, underscoring a central quandary for President Barack Obama's new Afghan counterinsurgency campaign. The defense official said Wednesday that a military investigation faulted some of the actions of American troops in air strikes May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians in Farah province. (READ MORE)

Corruption Undermines Afghan Self-Governance - In Afghanistan, corruption is a daily plague. It comes in many forms: a piece of land for a warlord with connections to the national government, a bribe to a customs agent to look the other way as a shipment of heroin passes through. Corruption takes other forms, too, such as kidnappings, ransom demands and bodies left out in the hills — all with the help of Afghan officials. (READ MORE)

Pakistan aims to kill Taliban leaders in Swat Valley - MINGORA: Pakistani authorities are preparing for the return of residents to Swat's main town but decisive victory will only be won when Taliban leaders are dead, an army commander said on Wednesday. The army began battling Taliban in the region in late April, after a militant thrust into a district 100 kilometers northwest of the capital raised fear at home and abroad that the nuclear-armed country could slowly slip into militant hands. (READ MORE)

US general vows to minimize Afghan civilian casualties - WASHINGTON: The US general nominated to take charge of the war in Afghanistan pledged on Tuesday to try to minimize civilian casualties even as US-led forces step up operations against insurgents. Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal told US senators that the war could still be won, but not easily, and US casualties would likely rise. Civilian Afghan casualties are a major source of tension between US forces and Afghans and their leaders. (READ MORE)

Some 12,000 households hit by floods in northern Afghanistan, UN reports - 3 June 2009 – Some 12,000 households in nine provinces in northern and north-eastern Afghanistan have been affected by floods since April, according to the latest United Nations-backed assessments. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that another round of flooding is expected to hit the South Asian nation’s north-east, as the snow remaining on the mountains of the Kunduz sub-basin begins to melt in the coming weeks, exacerbating the situation. (READ MORE)

Afghan police confiscate over 3,000 kg of narcotics, destroy 12 heroin labs - The Afghan National Police (ANP) found a big cache of narcotics in an operation on Tuesday and destroyed over a dozen of heroin producing laboratories in Taliban strong-hold Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, said a statement of the Interior Ministry issued here on Wednesday. "Some 3,318 kg of opium, 60 kg of hashish, and 750 kg of opium seeds as well as over 4,700 kg of precursor chemical substances were found in an operation in Sarwan Qala area of Sangin district," the statement added. (READ MORE)

UK soldiers survive Afghan blast - Four Oxfordshire-based soldiers walked away unscathed after their vehicle set off a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The servicemen, from Bicester-based 206 Squadron, were in an armoured vehicle on patrol in northern Helmand. Capt Fletcher, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was the vehicle commander. (READ MORE)

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Linked by: H&I FIRES 4June 2009 at Castle Argghhh!

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