June 8, 2009

From the Front: 06/08/2009

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


Sour Swinger: Random Videos From Camp Taji & Liberty - More videos for the showing. Thanx again to my stpe-mom for uploading these. Just some random vids. First one is from Camp Taji, the rest are from Liberty. Getting closer to the videos I’ve taken out in sector. (Visit Site for Videos)

Sour Swinger: Videos From Camp Taji Range - Another quick round of videos courtesy of my step-mom. These 3 are when we went to the firing range in Camp Taji. All the veterans kept talking about how range’s in country were awesome. They never had to wear any body armor or eye-pro. Came as no surprise that our company decided to run the range just like they do back in the states. Even the Kuwaiti range didn’t feel this garrison like. Oh well. At night is when it finally started getting fun. (Visit Site for Videos)

A Major's Perspective: Females Are A Key Component In GWOT - A Classmate who's opinion I respect a great deal wrote this the other day, and I think it hit the nail on the head. His name is Commander Curtis M. Lesher, United States Navy, and I think this is important for all of us to understand. Let me know what you think. “Females are a vital component to solving the problems posed by Islamic fundamentalists. I will to use the word “females” rather then “women”, because I believe young girls are as important as mature women in changing the radical views of the Muslim faith. In the following few paragraphs I will describe how important an impact females could have on how Islam treats females and how that could potentially change Muslim ideology, especially in regard to the concept of jihad. In addition, I will discuss how this might be accomplished. I want to alert the reader to one large assumption I am making in discussing this strategy and that is that females of the Muslim faith would in deed like to see a change in the way they are treated. I believe my assumption is correct.” (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Vindication - Anyone that has read this blog for a while knows that for the last three years I have been spouting off about how each year for the last three years is going to be the worse yet. I said it in 2007 and it came true, I said it in 2008 and it came true, and I said it in 2009 and so far we are right on track. I have usually made these statements in the first 2 months of the year based on the number of fatalities during those first two “quiet” months as just one factor. CJCS Mullen and GEN Petraeus have also stated that they believe this will be the worst year yet also. Yesterday it was announced that IED attacks are up 80% over last year and we just entered the month of June. The real heavy duty fighting has not even started yet. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Yakdand Mission – Back Safely - Today’s Mission: Escort humanitarian assistance (HA) to a staging area and then the next morning deliver it to the awaiting villages in the Yakdand Mountains. This time we weren’t taking any unnecessary chances and enlisted some additional firepower from the ANA. The ANA lead the convoy up through the mountains and valleys to our first staging area. As the convoy thundered up the mountains it created blinding clouds of dust. At times visibility was limited to a foot and you had to trust your senses that the HMMVW’s tires remained on the road. Otherwise certain death would follow if you slipped off the edge. We finally arrived at the staging area which was a remote Combat Outpost (COP). My teammates and I constructed some shelter by fastening tarps to the HMMVWs. It would provide us shade during the day and protection from rain at night. After our shelters were assembled we ate our preferred choice of MRE for lunch and dinner. (READ MORE)

Castra Praetoria: Birthday After Action Report… - Okay, so I suspected that Hope might pull a highjack on me, but the depths that her subversive acts would reach were probably beyond even her reckoning. My day began with the aforementioned hostile takeover of Castra Praetoria coupled with a lot of eye rolling and head shaking. Soldier’s Angels were raining down like meteors, pictures of me stealthily taken by Hope and other “friends” were plastered across the page. This prompted queries like; “Why are you wearing a dress in that picture?” For the record, it is a hakama gi and if anyone ever wants to know how feminine it is feel free to meet me in the parking lot. Shortly after my Battalion SgtMaj slyly e-mailed everyone in the battalion with the below e-mail: (READ MORE)

SPC Autumn Hope: This is my routine - "This is my routine. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My routine is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. My routine, without me, is useless. Without my routine, I am useless…My routine is human, even as I, because it is my life.” A friend of mine told me there are only three days of importance in Iraq: the day you arrived, the day you leave, and Monday because every day is Monday. Today is actually Friday and it is our 180th day of being officially mobilized. It is hard to believe it has already been six months and we are half way done. Sometimes if feels like it was just yesterday we arrived to the Middle East (it’s crazy even writing that) yet when I think about all that has happened in my life since that time it feels like a life time ago. (READ MORE)

Doc H: CAPSTONE Finale and the End of Training - CAPSTONE is the final exercise in the training here at Ft Riley. It is meant as a final verification of all the things we have learned here. It was technically a 2 day event, but one day was spent in preparation and one on execution of the plan. The key leaders of our team nominated me to continue as tactical commander for this last exercise. We had to meet up with our 'ANA' counterparts, meet them and plan through an interpreter to visit at least 2 villages in order to meet with the elders, police, and mayors of each of these cities. The standard warning order and then Op Order were given the day prior. We left at 0630 after our Pre Combat checks and inspections. My truck commanders came with me to meet the 'ANA' Colonel. I had just time to give frag (fragmentary) orders to modify our plan and how we were to assist the ASA by providing external security of each area. It was a hectic morning. In the first village I met with 9 leaders of the various surrounding villages in Dari and the obligatory chai. (READ MORE)

Flit: Wanker watch: Paul Koring - Exhibit A: "But Afghan civilian deaths, mainly caused by allied warplanes dropping bombs at the behest of beleaguered ground troops, also reached record levels and fomented bitter resentment among ordinary Afghans against foreign troops." As has already been pointed out in the Globe's letters pages and elsewhere, this isn't close to a true statement (ie, 20% does not equal "mainly"). The impression from his frequent missteps such as this is that Koring has a clear bias against the Afghan mission, and possibly the Canadian military generally, which he seems to regard as primarily a waste of public funds that might be better used on hair products for elderly men, or something. For the record: I was in Kandahar Province 7.5 months. While I was there I heard of exactly one incident in the province of the death of a group of civilians by aerial attack. (READ MORE)

The Gun Line MkIII: Running with Kings… - I hate running… I would rather heft a 70 pound pack on my back and “ruck” or “hump” 12 miles over hilly terrain than put on t-shirt, running shorts, and “go-fasters” and run 2 miles on a flat course… When I was a young Marine infantryman, I did run, but only because I had to. I never go into the groove of running. I got bored with it, and it hurt! Towards the end of my Marine career, I was fortunate to have SSGT Tony Molino as a leader. He recognized that it took a greater degree of motivation to get me psyched up to run that the average bear. Because he knew me well, he came up with a plan that turned my sense of the romantic into an effective weapon. “Imagine,” he said one day, as we were slogging through our daily five mile jog through the back streets and wildlands of Camp Margarita (aboard Camp Pendleton), “That you are running with the Scottish kings of old…” (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Choir Update--Home in a Week - To the list of choirs I wrote of earlier, I have to add the choir at today's contemporary service at Adder Chapel (from Anthrax to Adder--what's next?). Actually, it's no a choir, but a rock group in camouflage. The two lead singers play amplified acoustic guitars, they are backed up by an electric guitar, an electric bass and a full drum set. These guys really rocked too, they are from units all over the base. One of the singers is an infantry captain, the other is an engineer sergeant. All but the bass player are big guys, over six feet tall and 200 pounds. These are not skinny teenagers with a garage band. They sang contemporary hymns then a completely rock arrangement of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" that had me singing along at the top of my lungs. The Chaplain, whom I met the day before at the DFAC, is a very straightforward evangelical who admires Billy Graham and has an altar call at the end of the service. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: Chili Mac - The last conversation I had online with Pokey was mostly about his R&R. He was due to come home for 2 weeks in May. One of the other guys had just gotten back and Pokey was worried we were going to have some huge party for him. He didn't want anyone to know when he was coming home. Wanted to decompress for a couple of days with just the family. I had no problem with the idea of not sharing him with the world for a few days. One of the things he asked was for me to cook chili mac. Now chili mac is poor mans food. macaroni noodles with chili dumped in and stir. Of all the things I have ever cooked I was amused he wanted chili mac. But he asked for it so I was gonna make it. Well I have not been able to cook chili mac since he was killed. I still can't. it's a stupid thing but I had planned to make it for him and knowing he won't be here to eat it is just too hard for me. It's weird the little things that get to me. Like cooking the meal he asked for. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Tora Bora Front leader captured in Peshawar - Pakistani police reportedly have captured a senior Afghan Taliban leader behind attacks in eastern Afghanistan. Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the commander of the Tora Bora Military Front, was detained during a raid in Peshawar, according to reports in The News and Pajhwok Afghan News. Mujahid was reportedly detained with his two cousins, Shumsul Islam and Dr. Qalandar, while he was in Peshawar for medical treatment. The Pakistani police, military, and government have not made an official announcement of Mujahid's arrest. Mujahid is the son of Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis, a senior mujahedeen leader based in the eastern province of Nangarhar who was famous for battling the Soviet Union during the occupation from 1979-1989. Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of the deadly Haqqani Network, served as a commander under Khan. (READ MORE)

SPC Alperin - My Point of View: Oh, ... the Irony--and some History - Military trivia just isn't like sports trivia for me. My knowledge of military history is still in its infancy stage. I'm learning new, intrinsic, idiosyncratic notes of linguistic, military terminology each and every day. I have just figured out that 'Live the Legend' does exist. Now, I'm not sure if Sgt. Logue also knew that this is 1st Cavalry's motto when she replied that day that she was living the legend when I passed her and asked how her day was going. Actually, I'm not sure how many people from my unit, the 211th MPAD, which is attached to 1st Cav, know of the motto 'Live the Legend.' It could be I'm the only one who didn't know. I have no idea, but neither does it matter. I just saw it recently imprinted lightly into some colorful, propaganda posters made up to illuminate the wonders of the Cavalry. (READ MORE)

Diary of an Airman: 7 Jun 09 - ok, so I guess I’ll start writing again …it’s been a long time, but now I am gearing up to head back to Afghanistan again this fall–this time it’s a 6 month tour….another month of Army training at Ft. Dix, NJ….basically the same stuff I went thru at Ft. Bragg back in 07–I guess they cut out a lot of the BS and are focusing on the main skills needed for combat….I found out I will be sent out to a Fire Base–kinda like a FOB but smaller, and I will be working with Special Forces teams…of course, my main mission is to be a mechanic…from what I am hearing I will be working on Humm-vees and ATVs(all terrain vehicles) like 4-wheelers…this trip should be very interesting as well…more “in the thick of it” type duty…although, I am told we do not go out on missions unless we volunteer: (READ MORE)

C. J. CHIVERS: Erratic Afghan Forces Pose Challenge to U.S. Goals - The Afghan foot patrol descended a mountain and slipped through a canyon. Then things went wrong. One Afghan soldier insulted another. And there, exposed on dangerous ground, a scuffle erupted. The soldiers turned on each other with shoves, punches and kicks. One swung an ammunition can in a slow-motion haymaker. The patrol had already been hapless: a display of errant marksmanship, dud ammunition and lackluster technique. “For months I’ve been telling everyone how proud I am of you,” seethed an American captain, yanking the Afghans apart. “Today you embarrassed me.” (READ MORE)

Fightin' 6th Marines: Children of Anbar receive new “Arabic Libraries” - KARMAH, Iraq – As children stood peering over short walls and massing in front of Al Khaloud School in Karmah, Iraq, Marines dismounted their vehicles and unloaded 68 sets of Arabic books to provide the children with a new Arabic library, May 24, 2009. Designed to inspire an appreciation for literature in Iraqi society, Scholastic’s “My Arabic Library” is a reading program that focuses on students at the elementary level. The library includes classroom sets of reading material for the students as well as training materials for instructors. This program supports many schools across the Al Anbar province and approximately 4,000 schools throughout Iraq. Recently, the Anbar Provincial Reconstruction Team arranged to supply major cities in the province, to include Karmah and Fallujah, with these libraries. After receiving the shipment, Marines loaded their vehicles and hit the road. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Late Night - I’m editing the newscast with SPC Angelo. He’s been working on the podcasts a lot lately, so I’ve got all the elements for the news on my computer. I cut him loose around 10 Thursday night, because there is no sense in keeping him here when it’s really a one-person job at this point. After all the rendering and re-rendering and re-re-rendering, I left at 4 am. Apparently we have buses that run 24 hours a day. But, on the mile long walk back to my tent I saw none. So there I was, walking alone at 4 am thinking surely a bus will come or someone will offer me a ride. 5 vehicles passed this damsel in distress (I often forget I’m a soldier) and no one stopped. I saw the first part of the sunrise as I walked to the shower and it was bright outside when I walked back to my tent. I climbed into bed at 5Am and after waking up at 6 to the sound of the firing range, I fell back asleep. I didn’t get to work until 1400 and now I’m still rendering. (READ MORE)

The Stone Report: Back to Kalsu - After spending a fun filled week with the 34th ID, I traveled back to FOB Kalsu, Iraq. A quaint little military outpost South of Baghdad. The 172nd Infantry Brigade Public Affairs shop lacks a broadcaster in theater. The office I work for, Multi-National Division — South grants CPT Jim Gaffigan the use of a broadcasting asset. This time around it’s me. It’s been a pretty eventful week so far. I traveled to Diawania to cover a ribbon cutting. The US State Department Provential Reconstruction Team gave the Agricultural High School about $20,000 to purchase bee hives. Previously they only had around five hives. Their grant gave them more than 50. These hives should produce around $50,000 - $60,000 of revenue per year while giving high school aged ag students valuable experience with bees. Then I was at the biggest truck stop in Iraq. Convoy Support Center (CSC) Scania is about an hour-and-a-half south of Baghdad. They have mechanics who can fix vehicles traveling on the major road from Kuwait to Baghdad. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Operation shift efforts to outreach in Diyala Province - Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Diyala, Iraq – Residents throughout Diyala province have been receiving humanitarian aid from Iraqi Security Forces along with members of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division as part of operation “Glad Tidings of Benevolence II,” which began May 1. Thus far 23 areas have received humanitarian aid distributions while 19 more are planned for the near future. Distribution of aid is conducted as part of a combined venture to help those most in need in the province. (READ MORE)

Coalition Forces move out of Outpost in southeastern Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq — The closing of Combat Outpost Rock located in southeastern Mosul marked a significant milestone for U.S Coalition forces serving in the capital of Ninewa Province. COP Rock was formally returned to the land owner during a small ceremony in late May after U.S forces removed any trace of their operations. (READ MORE)

Interior Ministry graduates 27 warehouse inventory professionals - BAGHDAD –Twenty-seven students from the Ministry of Interior graduated from a warehouse certification course here June 6, fulfilling a key provision of the US-Iraq Security Agreement. Article Four of the agreement calls for the United States and Iraq to continue their “efforts to strengthen Iraq’s security,” by supporting establishment and upgrading of logistical systems and procedures for Iraqi Security Forces. (READ MORE)

AF flight surgeons hand over training mission to Iraqis - NEW AL MUTHANA AIR BASE, Iraq – As U.S. forces withdraw over the next year, the Iraqi Air Force will assume new missions and responsibilities in accordance with the Security Agreement. One such mission is the Aero-Medical training of flight medical technicians, also known as “flight medics”. The four-week training course is now taught by Iraqi flight medics with Coalition oversight. Soon, the Iraqi instructors will have complete oversight of the course. (READ MORE)

Special Ops Forces Open Regional Commando Battalion - BAGHDAD – Senior Iraqi and U.S. Army leaders cut ribbons at a June 2 ceremony opening a new home for Iraqi commandos. Training and operations for Iraqi counter-terrorism missions will originate from the 9th Regional Commando Battalion, based in Anbar province. Since the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement became effective on Jan. 1, U.S. Special Operations Forces have relinquished operational control to Iraq for counter-terrorism missions, while retaining an advisory capacity. (READ MORE)

East Mosul COP to transfer to Iraqi Security Forces - MOSUL, Iraq — Across all of Iraq, Coalition forces are working toward their departure from major cities and turning over their combat outposts and installations to Iraqi Security Forces, the Iraqi Government or previous property owners in accordance with the Security Agreement requiring all combat troops out of Iraq’s cities by June 30. Command Outpost Courage, located in eastern Mosul, is no different. It is being prepared for transition to the Iraqi Army prior to June 30. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Special Operations Forces arrest terrorist support cell leader - TIKRIT, Iraq – The Iraqi 8th Regional Commando Battalion arrested a high level terrorist during Operation Glad Tidings of Benevolence II May 30 in Diyala province, pursuant to a warrant issued by Central Investigative Court of Al-Kharkh. Operation Glad Tidings of Benevolence II is an Iraqi operation supported by Coalition forces to root out terrorist and criminal elements in rural areas of Diyala province. (READ MORE)

IA and U.S. forces destroy large cache in Hor al-Bosh - TAJI, Iraq – Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division—Baghdad Soldiers uncovered a large weapons cache June 5 during a cordon and knock mission southwest of Taji. Members of the 2nd Battalion, 37th Iraqi Army Brigade and U.S. Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, seized a cache consisting of 281 82mm mortar rounds and 350 50mm mortar rounds in the vicinity of Hor al-Bosh, Iraq. (READ MORE)

Children used to carry out attacks - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq—A teenage boy was seen throwing a grenade at a combined patrol of Iraqi police and U.S. Soldiers, Thursday in the town of Hawijah, approximately 30 kilometers west of Kirkuk city in northern Iraq. The grenade failed to detonate, and the suspect fled into the mix of local shops, but the incident is part of a growing trend of children carrying out attacks on Iraqi security and U.S. forces in the province. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Commander Receives Coveted Award - BESMIYAH — Iraqi Army Col. Abbas Fadhil Abdul Sahib, commander, Besmiyah Combat Training Center, was recently inducted here into the Order of Saint Maurice. The Order of St. Maurice is awarded by the National Infantry Association and the Chief of Infantry of the United States Army. The award is named after Saint Maurice, the leader of the Roman Theban Legion in the 3rd century. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Firefighters Hone First Aid Skills - BASRAH — Fifteen members of the Basrah International Airport fire department conducted Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training last week at the Baghdad International Airport in an effort to have the two airports certified by the International Civil Aviation Organization. "The ICAO requires the departments have certain standards; response times, the quality of training, and what their capabilities are," said Lt. Col. Christine M. Nichols, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade. (READ MORE)

Afghan, Coalition Forces Seize Weapons, Drugs, Suspects - WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 – Afghan and coalition security forces seized weapons and drugs and captured seven suspected militants during two operations in southern Afghanistan yesterday. Afghan forces, advised and assisted by coalition forces, uncovered a significant drug and weapons cache during operations in Oruzgan province’s Shahidi Hasas district. (READ MORE)

Unseen Eye Keeps Watch Over Soldiers in Afghanistan - FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan, June 5, 2009 – An unseen 14-foot guardian patrols eastern Afghanistan day and night, searching for enemies who would wreak havoc on the country. The Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, has cameras that function as aerial eyes for the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team. (READ MORE)

Engineers Apply D-Day-like Focus to Afghanistan Buildup - CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, June 5, 2009 – The last time the 25th Naval Construction Regiment had a mission even remotely approaching the scope of its task in Afghanistan, was during its last deployment, preparing for the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. So 65 years later, Navy Capt. Jeff Borowy recognizes the symbolism as he borrows words from Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to tell the Seabees he commands, “The eyes of the world are upon you.” (READ MORE)

Olson Says Success in Afghanistan, Pakistan Requires Knowledge of Region - WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 – Success in Afghanistan and Pakistan will require an intimate local knowledge of the tribal culture and a small coalition footprint, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said here yesterday. Navy Adm. Eric Olson told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities that the United States stands ready to do whatever it can to help Pakistan combat extremists, but “I think that we can't help Pakistan more than they want to be helped,” he added. (READ MORE)

Pakistan tribesmen battle Taliban - Hundreds of tribesmen are continuing an offensive against Taliban militants in north-west Pakistan, officials say. At least 11 Taleban are said to have been killed in the three-day offensive. It follows the bombing of a mosque on Friday which killed 38 people in Upper Dir district. Villagers blamed the bombing on Taliban fighters. (READ MORE)

20 Rebels, One Policeman Killed In Afghan Violence - KABUL (AFP)--Twenty Taliban-linked insurgents were killed in an intense day- long battle with police in restive southern Afghanistan at the weekend, authorities said Monday. The fighting erupted after militants attacked the police soon after a roadside bomb struck a police patrol in Zabul province Sunday, killing one officer, the interior ministry said in a statement. (READ MORE)

U.S.-Afghan operation kills around 30 - KABUL -- A joint Afghan and U.S.-led coalition operation against insurgents in southern Afghanistan killed more than 20 Taliban fighters Sunday, while a militant ambush in the northwest killed four policemen, officials said. The joint operation in Zabul province included ground forces and airstrikes. The battle killed more than 20 Taliban, said provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjung. After the operation, a roadside bomb exploded and killed one Afghan policeman as the forces were returning to base, he said. (READ MORE)

Taliban hold government, army responsible for TNSM leaders' assassination - Peshawar, June 8 : Furious over the death of TNSM leaders, Maulana Mohammad Alam and Amir Izzat Khan, the Taliban has blamed the NWFP government and the Pakistan Army for the killings. The Taliban rejected the government's version that the leaders were killed in an ambush with the militants. (READ MORE)

Villagers fight Taliban after mosque blast - ISLAMABAD: Villagers in northwest Pakistan have attacked Taliban militants killing seven of them in revenge for a bomb attack on a mosque that killed at least 40 people, a top government official and residents said yesterday. It was the latest in a series of instances of people turning their guns on the Taliban in recent weeks and trying to force them out of their areas and will encourage the Pakistani government which needs public support to defeat the militants. (READ MORE)

Linked by: H&I FIRES 8 June 2009 at Castle Argghhh!

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