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June 21, 2008

Life returning to Ramadi

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, ME, security — Rosemary Welch @ 12:25 am

by Lance Cpl. Casey Jones

RAMADI, Iraq (June 17, 2008) – In a small, granite-floored room, a group of Marines eagerly wait alongside a squad of Iraqi police for their foot patrol to begin. Lt. Col. Brett A. Bourne, battalion commander of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, enters the room full of confidence and asks, “Are we ready to go out?” Without delay, he receives a resounding “Yes” from both groups.

The Marines and Iraqi police, decked out in full gear, began the patrol in a dust storm towards the marketplace, or as the local Iraqis call it—the souk. Upon arriving at the vibrantly colored shopping area, the Marines and Iraqi police immediately received smiles, hand shakes and greetings of “Al salaam a’alaykum’s,” which is a term of endearment and greetings meaning “God be with you.” The two forces have made their presence known in the souk, they are here for one thing: the people. Their mission is to intermingle with the locals and hear their valued opinion of the rebuilding of their city.

“We went on the patrol to accompany the battalion commander, check out the souk, interact with the locals and view all of the progress in the area,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Giovanni Lozano, hospitalman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. This patrol would’ve been out of the question nearly two years ago when the souk and Ramadi was the tip of the spear for the insurgency. The city’s market area was widely considered by most as a “no go” zone. Within seconds of entering the area, Marines would often encounter small-arms and sniper fire, along with rocket propelled grenade attacks. But since then, the locals have rebelled against the insurgency and embraced the presence of coalition forces, in turn launching the rebuilding of the bullet-riddled city.

“The people got sick of having their wives and children blown up by people who just want to cause trouble,” said Cpl. Chris Sarlo, an anti-tank assaultman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. “They saw that the Marines were trying to get the terrorists out of the province, so they decided to help us out with the Awakening.” Nowadays, Ramadi is much safer and the vivacious souk is visited almost daily by Marines and Iraqi policemen.

In a 2006 New York Times article, when the region was in chaos, then-Governor Awad of al-Anbar province said, “The performance of the police and national guard is very weak in all of central Iraq.” In a startling contrast to those comments, the policemen have made an incredible improvement since the area was deemed secure. Now, the policemen are operating independently with coalition forces only serving in an overwatch role to mentor and assist the budding force. “The Iraqi police are doing well,” said Sgt. Nicholas V. Rojas, a forward observer with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, currently on his second deployment to al-Anbar province. “Compared to my first deployment in 2005 at Camp Hit just northwest of Ramadi, I’ve noticed a considerable change in how the Iraqi police conduct themselves and with their tactics. The Iraqi police show more of a desire to take over, for instance, if they see an improvised explosive device, they know what to do, they no longer come to us with questions. They come to us with the finished product. They’re definitely doing a great job.”

The Marines and Iraqi police receive a positive response from the locals every time they patrol through the marketplace. “The souk is usually pretty busy, a lot of hustle and bustle,” Sarlo said. “For the most part the people are really friendly, if you say hello to them they’ll smile and say hello back. The area is 100 percent better than what it used to be.” The new found trust between the Marines and the locals has allowed both sides to realize, despite their differences, we are all looking for the same thing, for Iraq to be a success story. “Once I got here, I realized they’re pretty good. I’ve gained a lot more respect for the Iraqi people – they’re awesome,” said Lance Cpl. Cody A. Collins, rifleman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, currently on his second deployment to Iraq.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Giovanni Lozano, a corpsman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, patrols with an Iraqi police officer through the market area of Ramadi June 9. The Iraqi police are continuing to make tremendous progress since the area became stable.

Source: CENTCOM.


June 4, 2008

Wednesday Hero: Sgt. Crystal C. Johnson

Filed under: bombs, defenselink, Heroes, medics, otb, Women — Rosemary Welch @ 8:35 pm

Today’s Wednesday Hero is a young lady whose life was changed forever on that September 12, 2006, night in Iraq. Her convoy of 17, she was driving in the lead, was somewhere in the quiet of an Iraqi night. Suddenly they were under ambush in all directions, and her truck took the brunt of an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) – the most dangerous kind of improvised explosive device.

After realizing her Commanding Officer, Lt. Emily Perez, was killed in the blast, she realized it was up to her to take charge. She quickly turned to the gunner who had first pulled her from the truck, Specialist Truesdell, to rescue their translator from inside the Humvee. Shortly after they rescued him through the flames, the ammunition caught fire and started firing in every which direction.

She started applying life-saving first aid on this man, and when back-up came, she continued her work. When the back-up did arrive, then Corporal Johnson refused medical attention until everyone else attended to, and she also helped in this area. She had received shrapnel and burns from the VFP.

While they were out there alone, Specialist Truesdell stood fighting the terrorists that were still threatening them. They had only one gun, and as you know, the other ammo had already gone off in the fire.

This was a turning point for then-Colornal Johnson. She discovered something deep within her. She had found her calling. She extended her deployment to become to a full fledged Army Medic! For her actions that day, she earned a Purple Heart and the Army’s Commendation Medal with “V”.

I thank God everyday for special people such as Sgt. Crystal C. Johnson. What an Honor it is to have people like her in our midst.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Here is some more information:

Hometown: Glendale, CA
Awarded: Army Commendation Medal
External Links: Sgt. Crystal Johnson – Remembers Lt. Emily Perez.
Download this hero’s story: Right click and “Save Target As…” to download.

You may also hear her interview on The Martha Zoller Show.

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See-Dubya has a terrific video comparison between John Kerry and Barack Obama with a great Shirley Bassey sound-track behind it. Not as dynamite as the Goldfinger theme, but better than any Bond theme since Diamonds are Forever. The combo is reeeeeal n…
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Habiba Kouider used to be a Muslim. Then she converted to Christianity and was baptized. Recently she was pulled off a bus by police who interrogated her in public, rifled through her purse, examining her bibles and other literature, and even performed…

May 30, 2008

stuff and links

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, jihad/ists, life, ME, News — Rosemary Welch @ 1:31 pm

More on the FARC Documents.
More on the FARC Documents Come to Light. By Douglas Farah
Serial bomb blasts leave 60 dead in India.

Kennedy Talked, Khrushchev Triumphed.

Published: May 22, 2008

IN his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy expressed in two eloquent sentences, often invoked by Barack Obama, a policy that turned out to be one of his presidency’s — indeed one of the cold war’s — most consequential: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy’s special assistant, called those sentences “the distinctive note” of the inaugural.

They have also been a distinctive note in Senator Obama’s campaign, and were made even more prominent last week when President Bush, in a speech to Israel’s Parliament, disparaged a willingness to negotiate with America’s adversaries as appeasement. Senator Obama defended his position by again enlisting Kennedy’s legacy: “If George Bush and John McCain have a problem with direct diplomacy led by the president of the United States, then they can explain why they have a problem with John F. Kennedy, because that’s what he did with Khrushchev.”

But Kennedy’s one presidential meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, suggests that there are legitimate reasons to fear negotiating with one’s adversaries. Although Kennedy was keenly aware of some of the risks of such meetings — his Harvard thesis was titled “Appeasement at Munich” — he embarked on a summit meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961, a move that would be recorded as one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.

Senior American statesmen like George Kennan advised Kennedy not to rush into a high-level meeting, arguing that Khrushchev had engaged in anti-American propaganda and that the issues at hand could as well be addressed by lower-level diplomats. Kennedy’s own secretary of state, Dean Rusk, had argued much the same in a Foreign Affairs article the previous year: “Is it wise to gamble so heavily? Are not these two men who should be kept apart until others have found a sure meeting ground of accommodation between them?”

But Kennedy went ahead, and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.” Khrushchev used the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to warn Kennedy that his country could not be intimidated and that it was “very unwise” for the United States to surround the Soviet Union with military bases.

Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.

Kennedy’s assessment of his own performance was no less severe. Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the “roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.

If Barack Obama wants to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps, he should heed the lesson that Kennedy learned in his first year in office: sometimes there is good reason to fear to negotiate.

Nathan Thrall is a journalist. Jesse James Wilkins is a doctoral candidate in political science at Columbia.
Small Steps in Talks on Kashmir.

Published: May 22, 2008

India and Pakistan agreed to give consular access to each other’s prisoners and increase cross-border bus service in the disputed region of Kashmir during talks between the countries’ foreign ministers. The small concessions were considered a sign of progress between the nuclear powers. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign minister of Pakistan, said talks were “very frank,” while India’s foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said the two countries “have to cover a long distance.” The governments plan to meet again in July.
Bring On the Foreign Policy Debate.

May 19, 2008; Page A15.

President Bush’s speech to Israel’s Knesset, where he equated “negotiat[ing] with the terrorists and radicals” to “the false comfort of appeasement,” drew harsh criticism from Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders. They apparently thought the president was talking about them, and perhaps he was.

Wittingly or not, the president may well have created a defining moment in the 2008 campaign. And Mr. Obama stepped right into the vortex by saying he was willing to debate John McCain on national security “any time, any place.” Mr. McCain should accept that challenge today.

The Obama view of negotiations as the alpha and the omega of U.S. foreign policy highlights a fundamental conceptual divide between the major parties and their putative presidential nominees. This divide also opened in 2004, when John Kerry insisted that our foreign policy pass a “global test” to be considered legitimate.

At first glance, the idea of sitting down with adversaries seems hard to quarrel with. In our daily lives, we meet with competitors, opponents and unpleasant people all the time. Mr. Obama hopes to characterize the debate about international negotiations as one between his reasonableness and the hard-line attitude of a group of unilateralist GOP cowboys.

The real debate is radically different. On one side are those who believe that negotiations should be used to resolve international disputes 99% of the time. That is where I am, and where I think Mr. McCain is. On the other side are those like Mr. Obama, who apparently want to use negotiations 100% of the time. It is the 100%-ers who suffer from an obsession that is naïve and dangerous.

Negotiation is not a policy. It is a technique. Saying that one favors negotiation with, say, Iran, has no more intellectual content than saying one favors using a spoon. For what? Under what circumstances? With what objectives? On these specifics, Mr. Obama has been consistently sketchy.

Like all human activity, negotiation has costs and benefits. If only benefits were involved, then it would be hard to quarrel with the “what can we lose?” mantra one hears so often. In fact, the costs and potential downsides are real, and not to be ignored.

When the U.S. negotiates with “terrorists and radicals,” it gives them legitimacy, a precious and tangible political asset. Thus, even Mr. Obama criticized former President Jimmy Carter for his recent meetings with Hamas leaders. Meeting with leaders of state sponsors of terrorism such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il is also a mistake. State sponsors use others as surrogates, but they are just as much terrorists as those who actually carry out the dastardly acts. Legitimacy and international acceptability are qualities terrorists crave, and should therefore not be conferred casually, if at all.

Moreover, negotiations – especially those “without precondition” as Mr. Obama has specifically advocated – consume time, another precious asset that terrorists and rogue leaders prize. Here, President Bush’s reference to Hitler was particularly apt: While the diplomats of European democracies played with their umbrellas, the Nazis were rearming and expanding their industrial power.

In today’s world of weapons of mass destruction, time is again a precious asset, one almost invariably on the side of the would-be proliferators. Time allows them to perfect the complex science and technology necessary to sustain nuclear weapons and missile programs, and provides far greater opportunity for concealing their activities from our ability to detect and, if necessary, destroy them.

Iran has conclusively proven how to use negotiations to this end. After five years of negotiations with the Europeans, with the Bush administration’s approbation throughout, the only result is that Iran is five years closer to having nuclear weapons. North Korea has also used the Six-Party Talks to gain time, testing its first nuclear weapon in 2006, all the while cloning its Yongbyon reactor in the Syrian desert.

Finally, negotiations entail opportunity costs, consuming scarce presidential time and attention. Those resources cannot be applied everywhere, and engaging in true discussions, as opposed to political charades, does divert time and attention from other priorities. No better example can be found than the Bush administration’s pursuit of the Annapolis Process between Arabs and Israelis, which has gone and will go nowhere. While Annapolis has been burning up U.S. time and effort, Lebanon has been burning, as Hezbollah strengthens its position there. This is an opportunity cost for the U.S., and a tragedy for the people of Lebanon.

President Bush is not running this November, no matter how hard Mr. Obama wishes it were so. Mr. McCain will have the chance to set out his own views on when and where diplomacy is appropriate, and where more fortitude is required. In any event, from the American voter’s perspective, this debate on the role of negotiations in foreign policy will be critically, perhaps mortally, important. Bring it on.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations” (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

See all of today’s editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
Orwell Lives in Burma Today.

May 19, 2008


The ruling military junta here is trying hard to pretend it has the country under control in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. On Saturday, the regime flew foreign diplomats to neatly-configured aid camps. State-run radio is optimistic. The regime’s state newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, ran articles last week claiming the national relief operation is officially over. Photographs showed soldiers loading or unloading neatly-packed trucks filled with sacks of rice. Generals are seen handing blankets to grateful survivors who kneel at their feet.

Welcome to the Orwellian world of life in Burma today, where the media portrays a reality unknown to most residents. The real story is far more horrifying.

On the ground here in an Irrawaddy Delta village called Kungyangon, near Rangoon, aid workers report that the muddy, washed-out road is lined with thousands of desperate people who have no place to live and no food to feed themselves. A businessman who just returned from the worst-hit south-western reaches of the Delta showed me film footage recorded in one village over ten days after the cyclone hit. Blank-faced survivors said they had not yet received aid of any kind. The camera captured bloated bodies floating in ponds and flooded paddy fields.

Meanwhile, the few international aid agencies already on the ground here, such as Save the Children and the World Food Programme, have been prevented by the authorities from accessing affected areas. Most foreign aid workers are confined to their offices in Rangoon, supported by small teams of local Burmese staff who have been granted travel permission to affected areas. Unable to travel down to the Delta — the road is now blocked by military checkpoints and foreigners who are caught are turned back — international disaster relief experts are holding secret meetings to train local Burmese volunteers in the basic of emergency response management. It’s hardly enough when the junta itself admitted Friday that 78,000 have died from the Cyclone. This number is likely to increase as disease and hunger kicks in.

The disconnect between what’s happening here and what the state media reports is nothing new. After the nationwide uprising of 1988, when an estimated 3,000 people were killed by government soldiers, the regime began a massive cover-up campaign, arresting dissidents and relocating neighborhoods that had been considered hotbeds of political opposition. After the demonstrations led by Buddhist monks in September last year, when soldiers killed a still unconfirmed number of peaceful protestors, the Burmese regime shut down Internet connections and limited the amount of outside assistance allowed into the country.

The generals are well-practiced in hiding the truth of events, distorting the news, and rewriting history in their own favor. When the international community erupts in protest, they hunker down and wait for the international attention to fade away.

Most Burmese seem resigned to this fate. This is the way the generals have always acted and always will act, they say — no matter what happens. They are occupied with rebuilding damaged homes, coping with rising food and fuel prices, and mobilizing whatever aid they can acquire to help people in the Delta.

Barring a split in the regime, it is difficult to think that any kind of immediate change or opening up can come from this. The generals are, after all, using tried and tested methods of self-protection and displaying a determination to hold on to power against all odds, and at any cost. The epic proportion of this disaster only makes their actions more unbelievable, and reprehensible.

Ms. Larkin is the pen name of an American writer based in Bangkok, Thailand. She is the author of “Finding George Orwell in Burma” (Penguin, 2005).

See all of today’s editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
Father of Potential Euthanasia Victim Lauren Richardson Asks Gov for Help
by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 7, 2008


Dover, DE ( — The family of Lauren Richardson continues to press her case and is now calling on the governor of Delaware for help to save her life. Richardson has become the next Terri Schiavo as her parents engage in a massive legal and philosophical debate about whether she should live or die.

Richardson is a 23-year-old woman who overdosed on heroin in August 2006 while she was three months pregnant with a baby girl.

Doctors kept Lauren on life support until she delivered her baby in February 2007. Shortly thereafter, her parents began a fight that is reminiscent of the battle over Terri’s life and death.

Edith Towers, Lauren’s mother, wants to remove her feeding tube and starve and dehydrate her to death in the same manner that Michael Schiavo subjected Terri.

On the other side is Randy Richardson, Lauren’s father, who is fighting to save her life and wants to be appointed as her guardian to ensure she receives appropriate medical care and treatment.

Richardson recently said the fight to save Lauren continues and that he is “totally committed to a path that includes rehabilitative treatment and therapy with the hope that Lauren can recover significantly from her disability.”

He hope that, one day, Lauren may be able to “participate in the raising of her daughter that she gave birth to while in her current condition.”

Randy Richardson says, “Lauren’s mother, after convincing one Delaware judge to declare that she should be Lauren’s guardian, remains resolute in her assertion that Lauren is vegetative and cannot recover.”

“Her mother has withheld authorization for any rehabilitative medical treatment and therapy for Lauren, and intends to have Lauren’s feeding tube halted” if his efforts to save her fail.

“We cannot understand her reasoning in refusing a path of hope, healing, and restoration for Lauren, and insisting on causing her death by withholding food and water from her,” he added.

“The issue in Lauren’s case is the eternal truth that all people, no matter what their medical condition, bear the image of God and deserve basic care and an opportunity to be restored to health,” he said.

Richardson’s family is calling on Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to intervene and save Lauren from an expected court order dictating her euthanasia death.

As in the Terri Schiavo case, physicians have been quick to label Lauren as having a persistent vegetative state — something Terri’s family called dehumanizing and medically inaccurate as patients have recovered from it.

Noted attorney and author Wesley Smith has written about Lauren’s case and he says he viewed a video Richardson’s father released and he says she seems reactive particularly when her father attempts to interact with her.

“Whether she is conscious or not is irrelevant to her equal moral worth as a human being,” Smith adds.

“The fight in this case is over whether she lives as a profoundly disabled woman or is made to die slowly over two weeks by dehydration–as Terri Schiavo did,” Smith explained. “If we did that to a dog, we would go to jail. Do it to a disabled woman who needs a feeding tube and it is called medical ethics.”

ACTION: Contact Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner at and ask her to help Randy Richardson save his daughter’s life.

Related web sites: Life for Lauren.
Iraqi troops seize IEDs in east Mansour

BAGHDAD (May 8, 2008) – Alert Iraqi army soldiers and Iraqi policemen prevented potential improvised explosive device attacks in the East Mansour District of Baghdad when they stopped a vehicle that was being used by criminal forces to transport IEDs in the area at about 1 p.m. May 7.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th Iraqi army division, along with Jamia Iraqi policemen, conducted a traffic stop after noticing a suspicious individual driving down a road.

After stopping the vehicle, the alert soldiers and policemen discovered the deadly weapons in the vehicle. The forces fired at the man and wounded him.

Inside the vehicle, the forces seized three tanks of oxygen that were set up as IEDs.

An explosive ordnance detachment arrived on the scene and detonated the device.

“The Iraqi security forces continue to demonstrate their professionalism every day as the combat the terrorist forces,” said Col. Allen Batschelet, chief of staff, Multi-National Division – Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division. “Their attention to detail prevented what could have been a deadly attack on the innocent people of Iraq.”

Source: CENTCOM.
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May 2, 2008

Iraqi lieutenant gets prosthetic limb

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, CF, civil affairs, ME, medics — Rosemary Welch @ 1:58 pm

by Tami Hillis
4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

FOB KALSU, Iraq (April 25, 2008) – At about 12:46 p.m., Jan. 10, everything changed for one Iraqi Army special forces platoon leader. While on a joint mission with coalition forces, the 8th IA Division Soldier was struck by an improvised explosive device as he crossed a pedestrian footbridge on the east side of Route Minnesota in the Chaka Four Region. First Lt. Mohy Ali lost his right foot and sustained trauma to his right wrist in the attack.

A little more than three months later, Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, are helping the 42-year-old soldier get his life back to normal, one step at a time. Capt. Jacob Turnquist, the 4th BCT surgeon, identified a clinic near the Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, where Mohy was originally treated, that specializes in getting prosthetics for Iraqis. The IA Surgeon General’s Office Prosthetics Clinic is run by Iraqis, with American civil affairs support. Turnquist contacted the clinic and spoke with Chris Cummings, a retired Army medic and a prosthetist in the prosthetics clinic. Cummings, who is also an adviser for Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, assisted the unit with the process.

The next step was linking Mohy up with coalition forces in his area, which was done through Staff Sgt. Alfonza Chatfield, a medic with the 31st Military Transition Team, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, in al-Hillah, Iraq. Mohy was escorted to the Green Zone, Baghdad, on April 21 by Chatfield, an 18-year veteran and Georgia native, to the prosthetics clinic. Cummings checked Mohy’s limb to ensure it had healed properly. Cummings then manually measured different parts of the limb. Next, with the use of a computer-aided design program, he created a three-dimensional view of Mohy’s limb on a computer. Between the manual measurements and the program, Cummings generated a close representation of the limb. With the information gathered from this first trip, Cummings will create a prosthetic foot for Mohy, which will be fitted during the next visit.

“I’m a commander and I want to get back with my soldiers,” Mohy said. “I want to be able to walk and run again.”

Chris Cummings, a prosthetist in the IA surgeon general’s office prosthetics clinic in Baghdad, runs some tests on 1st Lt. Mohy Ali’s limb during an initial visit on April 21. Mohy, an IA soldier, lost his foot during an IED attack on Jan. 10 while on a joint mission with Coalition forces. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis).

Source: CENTCOM.

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Admiral: ISF fight well in Basra, Baghdad battles

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, CF, defenselink, jihad/ists, ME, MNF-I, recon, Violence — Rosemary Welch @ 12:04 pm

by Gerry Gilmore

BAGHDAD (April 28, 2008) – Iraqi security forces fought and performed well during recent battles against insurgents in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Basra, a senior U.S. military officer posted in Iraq said Monday. “We’ve had significant achievements in the fight against criminal groups over the last several weeks,” Navy Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a Multi-National Force – Iraq spokesman, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference. “In Basra and Baghdad, Iraqi security forces have demonstrated bravery and professionalism and have made great strides in securing those areas where Iraqis were held hostage by those who oppose the rule of law and commit acts of violence that endangered innocent Iraqis.”

Iraqi and coalition security forces have cleared hundreds of roadside bombs and other deadly ordnance from the streets and byways of eastern Baghdad’s Sadr City sector, which houses 3 million Iraqi residents, noted Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, an Iraqi military spokesman who accompanied Driscoll at the news conference. The roadside-bomb removal improves safety and security and also “alleviates the traffic jams and also provides more freedom to the citizens to move from one neighborhood to another in Baghdad,” Atta said.

About two weeks ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki directed his security forces to confront illegal militias in the southern city of Basra. The fighting in Basra then spread to eastern Baghdad, primarily in Sadr City, the home to thousands of followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Recent anti-insurgent efforts by Iraqi and coalition forces in Basra and eastern Baghdad have improved security in those two areas, Atta reported. The Iraqi government has earmarked more than $100 million for reconstruction needs in Basra and $150 million for redevelopment in Sadr City, the Iraqi general said.

Security in Basra has “improved dramatically over the last several weeks,” Driscoll observed, noting the Iraqi security forces have driven out criminals and have moved into the city’s neighborhoods to ascertain citizens’ needs. The Iraqi Interior Ministry reports that Basra’s citizens are returning to their marketplaces and the city’s children are going back to school, Driscoll said.

Capacity has been expanded at Basra’s civil military operations center. Basra’s CMOC team manages reconstruction efforts across the city and includes Iraqi, U.S., and other-agency participation, he said. “This will help facilitate the quick delivery of essential services, get business going again, and provide basic aid to the populace,” Driscoll explained. In addition, coalition forces are reprioritizing funding to accelerate Basra reconstruction projects such as sewage services, new street lighting, medical care and business incentives, Driscoll reported. Similar reconstruction operations are taking place in eastern Baghdad, he noted.

“Once again, this is the process we’re hoping for, where security is established, and then that will allow us to bring in the services I’ve mentioned and also let people get back to a normal life,” Driscoll said.

Source: CENTCOM.

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April 8, 2008

15 caches, IED factory discovered in northern Iraq

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, CF, ME, weapons — Rosemary Welch @ 11:01 pm


TIKRIT, Iraq (April 2, 2008) – Iraqi Army and Coalition force Soldiers discovered 15 weapons caches and an improvised explosive device factory in northern Iraq April 1, 2008. The weapons and ammunition discovered included one 155mm and three 120mm rounds, one 122mm Illumination round, 14 107mm rockets, 58 82mm and 12 60mm mortars, along with other small-arms munitions. More than 60 pounds of explosives and improvised explosive device making materials were also discovered among the caches, while the IED factory contained more than 3,500 pounds of additional explosives.

The caches were found in both Diyala and Salah ad Din Provinces, and the IED factory was discovered in Ninewah. “The joint efforts between the Iraqi Army and CF are paying off,” said Maj. Dan Meyers, spokesman for Multi-National Division – North. “These continued finds will no doubt help to keep the people of Iraq safe.”

Source: CentCom.
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March 27, 2008

Afghan citizen turns in IED cache in Oruzgan

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, CF, citizens, SW Asia, weapons — Rosemary Welch @ 10:41 am

Bagram Media Center.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (March 14, 2008) — Afghan National Security Forces, assisted by Coalition forces, conducted a security patrol that found and disarmed an improvised explosive device cache turned in by a local Afghan citizen to Provincial Police Chief Juma Gul in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, March 10, 2008. The Afghan National Police Chief notified the Afghan National Army they had secured an IED cache site in the middle of a heavily travelled road during the operation. The ANA provided the outer cordon while a specially-trained ANP search and disarm team swept the area for additional IED material. One canister was identified, and the ANP began digging it up. The device was deemed too hazardous to recover and was destroyed in place. “The mission was managed and executed by the ANSF,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a Coalition forces spokesperson. “The destruction of the IED cache sends two strong messages; the Afghan civilian trusted the ANP, and the superior training of the ANSF led to saving Afghan lives.”

Source: CentCom.

November 14, 2007

CLC tip leads to massive EFP, explosives cache

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, ME, tip, weapons — Rosemary Welch @ 7:03 pm

Source: US CentCom.

24 October 2007
By Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett
4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division

KHAN BANI SA’AD, Iraq – Working off a tip from a Concerned Local Citizen, Coalition Forces discovered a massive weapons cache Oct. 23 during the raid of a home in Sa’ada village, Iraq.

The cache marks the largest discovery of explosively formed penetrators ever found in Iraq at one location. The cache included 124 fully-assembled EFPs, 159 copper disks of four different sizes used in making EFPS (including 12-inch disks – one of the largest ever discovered in Iraq), 600-plus pounds of C4 and other explosive materials, 100 mortar rounds of various caliber, 31 107mm rockets, two mortar tubes and 20 claymore-type mines.

Soldiers of Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, Wash., detained the cache owner in the raid.

“My first concern was for my Soldiers,” said Capt. Jason Rosenstrauch, B Troop commander. “I was worried that the room was unstable because it smelled like explosives and nitric acid.

“A find like this helps keep my Soldiers morale up because they know they’ve made a difference,” Rosenstrauch continued. “It makes them feel good that they are saving Soldiers lives through their work.”

Sa’ada Village is located approximately five miles south of Khan Bani Sa’ad, a city in Diyala Province with a population of approximately 100,000 – half Sunni and half Shia. Six weeks ago, Iraqi Security Forces planned and executed Operation Justice League, clearing many al-Qaida in Iraq and anti-Coalition militia members out of Khan Bani Sa’ad. Before Justice League, CF, ISF and Iraqi civilians were regularly attacked by enemy insurgents, and local citizens were afraid to work with CF for fear of reprisals.

Rosenstrauch said the citizens of Khan Bani Sa’ad are now working closely with Coalition Forces to keep insurgents out of the city.

“We have a lot of peace in the city center now,” Rosenstrauch said. “We have had a ton of CLCs reporting on enemy activity. The people are turning on the insurgents and telling us where they are.”

Photo – Soldiers carry mortar rounds found in a hidden room in a home in Sa’ada Village, Iraq, Oct. 23. A tip from a concerned local citizen lead Soldiers to a massive weapons cache in the home. (U.S. Air Force phot/Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

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August 29, 2007

Outsiders Deliver Food, Water, After Devastating Blasts

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, dead, humanitarian, jihad/ists, ME, supplies, Troops — Rosemary Welch @ 11:55 pm

28 Aug 07
by Staff Sgt. Paula Taylor
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.

TAL ‘AFAR, Iraq – Soldiers of D Troop, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have a unique mission that requires several trips outside the security of Forward Operating Base Sykes.

The Soldiers, who belong to D Troop’s “Outsider” Platoon, have conducted more than 350 re-supply missions since their operations began in November, said Spc. Joseph Moore, motor transportation operator.

Most recently, the Outsiders completed their 100th mission within the past two months, delivering food and water to local villages that were devastated by vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices that killed hundreds of local citizens.

The explosions, which began the evening of Aug. 14, set in motion a chain of events that would test the fortitude of the Outsiders and keep them on the road and in harm’s way for several days. “We got word that the villages needed emergency supplies around 11 o’ clock Tuesday night,” said Pfc. Mathew Fisher, motor transport operator. “Within an hour, we were loaded up and ready to go.” The next day, the Outsiders drove 10 pallets of water and eight pallets of food and met with the reconnaissance element near the villages of Al Jezeera and Khahtaniya.

“We linked up with B Troop who showed us where we needed to go and drop our supplies,” said Moore, an Albion, Penn., native. “Fisher and Sgt. [Jason] Bedore unloaded the food and water—they were walking around and delivering to people’s doorsteps because there were children and elderly people who couldn’t carry it. They were just helping everyone out as much as possible because the destruction was pretty massive. One of the [blast] holes was about the size of a bus.”

After delivering the emergency supplies to the villages, the platoon returned to Forward Operating Base Sykes, where they had just enough time to eat dinner before loading their trucks for their next supply mission that required a trip to Combat Outpost Nimur the following morning, Aug. 16.

“They went out there to deliver a forward repair system, a field feeding kit, Class I rations such as food and water, and Class III fuel supplies,” explained their Troop commander, Capt. Kenneth McGraw. “The forward repair system is a maintenance system for repairing vehicles. It has tools and a lift for hoisting engines; it’s a mobile garage. Within the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment’s area of operations, wherever there are Soldiers, it’s our job to provide them with necessary supplies, in addition to delivering emergency supplies to locals in times of crisis.”

The platoon continued their emergency deliveries on Aug. 17 where they delivered an additional 16 pallets each of water and food to the Iraqi police stations in the villages, Fisher said. “The [vehicle borne improvised explosive device sites] were pretty sad to see,” explained Spc. Randy Johnson. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. The destruction—the houses were just leveled. There were women and a whole bunch of people crying. The terrorists were cowards for attacking innocent civilians like that; they had no means of defending themselves. They destroyed innocent lives for no reason.”

Although Johnson admits these types of catastrophes are hard to witness, he appreciates the opportunity to help the people when they need it the most. “It’s good to see smiles and watch the little kids running around with the food and water. Hopefully they forgot, at least for a couple seconds, what happened,” the Lindenwold, N.J., native explained. “I enjoy my job—driving to different [combat outposts] where our troops are and supporting them. Even the humanitarian missions are rewarding, just knowing we’re helping people out.”

McGraw shares the platoon’s enthusiasm for helping people and lauds his Soldiers’ tenacity. “I’m so proud of them.” McGraw said. “They work really hard and never complain. It’s been nice to be able to watch them grow and learn every day.”

Photo – Sgt. Marshall Wright, D Troop, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, helps members of his unit and the Iraqi Army distribute water in Al Jezeera, Iraq, Aug. 15, during a humanitarian mission. The mission, which was formulated after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated in the village on Aug. 14, was to deliver 10 pallets of water and eight pallets of food rations to the local people affected by the blast. Photo by Sgt. Paula Taylor.

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August 27, 2007

Operation Lightning Hammer disrupts AQ in Diyala

Filed under: AQ, bombs, CentCom, CF, dead, Gratitude, humanitarian, intel, jihad/ists, ME, MNF-I, security, tip, weapons — Rosemary Welch @ 3:51 pm

26 Aug 07
by Multi-National Division-North
Public Affairs Office

BAGHDAD – Operation Lightning Hammer concluded Wednesday after a 12-day, large-scale operation to disrupt al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements in the Diyala River Valley, a complex area of villages and palm groves in Iraq’s Diyala province.

The operation, which involved approximately 16,000 Iraqi and Coalition forces clearing approximately 50 villages, was a key element in Multi-National Corps-Iraq’s overall operation, Phantom Strike; and resulted in 26 al-Qaeda members killed, 37 suspected terrorists detained and the discovery of 10 weapons caches. “The strength and determination of the fighting men and women from the Iraqi and Coalition forces showed great results during Lightning Hammer,” said U.S. Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of Coalition forces in Diyala province. “We have continued to diminish their supplies and disable al-Qaeda’s abilities to disrupt the population.”

Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, initiated the operation with a late-night air assault into targeted locations on Aug. 13, and conducted an additional three air-assaults during the course of the operation. Residents of most villages welcomed the security forces, providing tips and intelligence about recent activities in their towns, and were interested in joining the Iraqi Security Forces. Following clearing operations, the Iraqi Army provided medical assistance and humanitarian aid to the local citizens, many of whom said their villages were recently influenced by al-Qaeda.

More importantly, more than 80 tribal leaders and representatives, some of whom had not spoken in over a year, met Aug. 19 to discuss their grievances and swore on the Quran to unite in their fight against terrorists and become one tribe of Diyala. “As I conducted my battlefield circulation and talked with many of the citizens, they repeatedly thanked our Soldiers, but more importantly, their security forces, for liberating their towns from the terrorists – specifically al-Qaeda,” Sutherland said. “Because their villages have been cleared, the local and central governments will now be able to provide those essential services al-Qaeda destroyed, and the people feel a sense of security they have not known for some time.”

Throughout the operation, the Task Force Lightning Soldiers also discovered 22 improvised explosive devices, 11 of which were discovered based on tips from a police chief in the river valley, and reduced three house-borne IEDs and six vehicle-borne IEDs, all of which could have been used to harm a large portion of the population or security forces. Additionally, an al-Qaeda command post was discovered in the village of Shadia, and an al-Qaeda medical clinic was located in Qaryat Sunayjiyah.

The command post, which was surrounded by fighting positions, contained bed space for 20 individuals, supply requests, records of munitions, a list of families supporting the element, a list of al-Qaeda members detained by Coalition forces and other terrorist propaganda. “Although we didn’t find many of the terrorists, the operation proved to be a great success because we disrupted al-Qaeda, causing them to run,” Sutherland continued. “Their fear of facing our forces proves that the terrorists know there is no safe haven for them in Diyala.

“And though this specific operation is over, our fight is not over,” he continued. “We will continue to aggressively target al-Qaeda, and ultimately, they will be brought to justice.” The results of Lightning Hammer cleared the Diyala River Valley of al-Qaeda and allowed Iraqi and Coalition forces to maintain a permanent presence in Mukeisha, a village in the heart of the river valley area.

Photo – Spc. Samuel Melendez, Bravo Trop, 5th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, patrols a mrash outside of Qubah, a small village in the Diyala province. The patrol was part of Operation Lightning Hammer, a maneuver to flush insurgents from the area. Photo by Sgt. Patrick Lair, 115th MPAD.

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