Monday, February 11, 2008

Military News: Iraq

CentCom has a nice format I would like you to check out, so I am going to give the links to some articles for the Iraq news. I hope you like it.

Virginian troops train Kuwaiti National Guardsmen.
by Spc. Jason C. Kemp
3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment

KUWAIT CITY (Jan. 21, 2008) - Training is not anything new to Soldiers. It’s something they do almost everyday, but when you are training a whole other army, that’s totally different than your average grenade throwing, rifle marksmanship, driving your Humvee day. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 166th Infantry Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard is working with Military Professional Resources Inc. to train the 7,000 members of the Kuwait National Guard on the latest soldier tactical skills.

Using riot control tactics, less lethal munitions, pressure holds and the latest vehicle search tactics, MPRI and National Guard Soldiers are making sure the KNG have the experience and training they need to combat terrorism in Kuwait.

Guarding gates and vehicle inspection is one of the most important jobs on an installation. According to 1st Lt. Jude C. Lau, 1st Platoon leader, Company F, learning procedures like entry control points allows the Kuwaitis to get a good prospective on how important it for everyone from the officer in charge down to the lowest ranking personnel. “It’s a good experience,” said Sgt. Anthony R. Tippins, a team leader in 1st Platoon. “You get to learn one end and see what your counterparts know and they get to see what you know as well. ”The Kuwaiti’s are pretty adept at what they have been training on with MPRI and with the 3-116th,” he said.

Helping MPRI teach the Kuwaitis tactical skills not only helps give the battalion National Guard Soldiers extra training, but also builds upon the already growing relationship between the U.S. military and the Kuwaiti forces. This training builds future opportunities to train together to defeat terrorist threats both in Kuwait and abroad.

Kuwaiti National Guardsmen practice riot control during training. (U.S. Army photo).

Source: CENTCOM.

Al-Qaeda operations in northern Iraq disrupted; two killed, 17 detained.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Jan. 16, 2008) — Coalition forces killed two terrorists and detained 17 suspects today during operations targeting al-Qaeda networks in northern Iraq.

In Bi'aj, Coalition forces conducted an operation targeting an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader for the network in the western region of Mosul. Reports indicate the wanted individual is a direct associate of numerous terrorist leaders, to include the al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri. The suspect allegedly has a history of terrorist activity that originated in Baghdad, and is believed to have been recently appointed to a leadership position in the region after the previous terrorist leader was killed.

As Coalition forces arrived in the target area, an armed terrorist ran at their position and was repeatedly directed to stop, but did not comply. Perceiving hostile intent, the ground force engaged the man and killed him. As Coalition forces continued to clear the area, they were engaged by small arms fire north of their position. A supporting aircraft was called to suppress enemy fire, killing the armed terrorist.

Three suspected terrorists were also detained during the operation without further incident. During two coordinated operations in Mosul, Coalition forces targeted senior leaders involved in the al-Qaeda network operating in the city.

In one location, Coalition forces captured a suspected terrorist who was allegedly operating as a judge of a terrorist illegal court system.

Reports indicate the suspect is involved in the interrogation of individuals who have been kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Iraq networks and is responsible for the facilitation and maintenance of weapons caches in the area. The individual is also allegedly a subordinate of an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader for the Mosul network, who was detained Jan. 6 for his role in terrorist attacks, abductions and executions (see MNF-I press release A080107a, "Coalition forces target al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership; six suspects detained," dated Jan. 7, 2008).

Intelligence reports led Coalition forces to a follow-on operation where they detained five suspected terrorists while targeting the al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader for Mosul.

Coalition forces conducted an operation northeast of Samarra targeting associates of the al-Qaeda network in the city. Information gained from previous operations in the area led the ground force to a location where al-Qaeda in Iraq members were believed to be operating. Eight suspected terrorists were detained.

"The results of these operations represent another step forward in disrupting the al-Qaeda networks operating in northern Iraq," said Maj. Winfield Danielson, MNF-I spokesman. "As the terrorists try to re-establish themselves in new locations, we will follow and drive them from their hiding places."

Source: CENTCOM.

Troops connect children with medical program.
by Sgt. Jerome Bishop

NASR WA SALAM (Feb. 3, 2008) — As reconciliation efforts decrease sectarian violence here between Sunnis and Shi’ites, other challenges still exist, such as connecting the Ministry of Health with Iraqi children in need of specialized medical care.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 21st Stryker Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, along with their battalion surgeon, recently took one more step in connecting the Iraqi people with their new government at a public health clinic in the small village of Nasr Wa Salam, west of Baghdad, by introducing the people to one of the government’s new programs.

"The overall intent of reconciliation with physicians is to work with the Ministry of Health," said Maj. Jason Davis, a Killeen, Texas, native, who serves as the 1-21 Inf. Battalion’s surgeon. "One of the programs is the National Iraqi Assistance Center (NIAC).

"(The NIAC) is a non-profit organization run by the Iraqi government," Davis said. "It basically sponsors Iraqi children under the age of 16 who have severe medical problems and can’t get care here, so they can go out to other countries to get the care for free."

"We’re trying to bridge the gap between the MOH and the local people, so that’s what we did today," said 1st Lt. Shawn Skinner, a San Diego, Calif., native, who serves as the assistant civil military operations officer for 1-21.

The beginning phase of getting care under the NIAC program is determining if a child is eligible for assistance.

"This morning, I was evaluating the children to make sure they were appropriate for NIAC," Davis said, "and telling the families their role."

While at the clinic in Nasr Wa Salam, Davis took part in examining three children who could possibly benefit from the NIAC program.

The first child, a 5-year-old boy, suffered from a broken leg, which was a result of a rare bone defect that makes his bones much weaker than an average child and thus susceptible to easy fracturing. The other two children, one less than a year old and the other approximately 7 years old, both had congenital heart defects, Davis said.

"They both have heart problems, which would not allow them to live as long as they normally would," he added.

Due to the severity of their conditions, the children’s cases have been documented and prepared for the next step of the program’s process, which will take them to the NIAC office in Baghdad to arrange for travel, Davis said.

"Once the paper work comes through, we’re going to escort the kids to Baghdad for treatment," said Skinner.

While their diagnoses warrant acceptance into the program, conditions must be met. If the conditions are not met, they may not receive the treatment they need.

Part of the conditions for Iraqi families to partake in the program requires them to provide $1,000, or the equivalent in Iraqi Dinar for travel, which is later reimbursed. In addition, only female family members, such as the child’s mother or an adult sister, can escort the child to receive treatment due to international concerns with terrorism, said Davis.

"If the kids get their surgeries, I’ll feel like I contributed a small part to the program," said Davis, "I’ll feel good about that."The frustrating part is it’s only for kids under 16," Davis added. "You can’t help everyone."

The Soldiers who went to the clinic with Davis said they felt the mission of getting a means of treatment to a few children of the village was a success. "It went well," said Skinner. "The (Iraqi) doctor couldn’t come because of traffic, but our doctor was still able to see the patients."

Although only up to three children might see the benefits of the NIAC program as a result of this visit by Davis, Skinner and the Soldiers of the 1-21 Inf., the small connection created between the Iraqi government and its people is just the beginning of a much larger network of medical assistance within Iraq.

A baby girl watches as Maj. Jason Davis, battalion surgeon for 1st Battalion, 21st Stryker Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, discusses treatment options for her heart defect with her parents at a public health clinic in the village of Nasr Wa Salam, west of Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jerome Bishop).

Source: CENTCOM.

Riverine unit patrols Euphrates.

by 1st Lt. Lawton King
1st Marine Division

HADITHA DAM, Iraq (Feb. 1, 2008) — You can never step in the same river twice. The Euphrates River once sluiced through a verdant paradise inhabited by Adam and Eve. Now it flows through an arid desert inhabited by fisherman, and in some cases, insurgents. "There’s still bad guys out there doing bad things," said Cmdr. Glen Leverette, commanding officer of Riverine Squadron 2. "I’m calling the river a seam that the insurgents were exploiting."

The sailors assigned to the squadron, or Riverines, patrol the Euphrates and its islands to deter insurgent activity and to recover buried caches. "[In the past], they would seek haven on the river… or move across it," said Leverette, a Naval Academy graduate from Jacksonville, Fla.

But the Riverines, following in the steps of their predecessors, established a waterborne presence that identifies suspicious movement and curtails interrupts insurgent lines of communication. "I think it lets (the insurgents) know; hey we’re here, and we’re going to be here," said Chief Petty Officer John Schools, a 36-year-old boat captain from Houlton, Maine. "And if we find you, it’s going to be a bad day."

The Riverines also serve as a quick react force to neighboring land units in the event reinforcements are needed.

"We’re a maneuver element very much like a Marine Corps infantry unit," said Lt. Jeff Werby, the 31-year-old commanding officer of Riverine Detachment 3 and a native of Virginia Beach. "We’ve worked with everybody."

Riverine Squadron 2 is the latest incarnation of an American naval tradition that dates back to the Civil War when the Confederate River Defense Fleet and its Union counterpart played integral roles in battles that helped shape the outcome of the war.

Naval Forces again ventured upstream with distinction in the Vietnam War that resulted in the universal acclaim of the swift boats and their versatile crews.

Erected in May 2006 in Little Creek, Va., RIVRON 2 underwent a gauntlet of training evolutions to prepare them for the amphibious operations executed by riverine forces in Iraq.

Officers and enlisted alike completed the School of Infantry course at Camp Lejuene, N.C., as well as the machine-gunner’s course. "I think the Marine training was the best we could have had," said Leverette. "It gives us instant credibility."

Now, after months of training packages, their riverborne flotilla runs daily patrols throughout the reaches of the Euphrates in support of Regimental Combat Team 5.

On a recent expedition through Lake Qadisiyah, a manmade reservoir created by the damming of the Euphrates several kilometers above Haditha, Riverine Detachment 3 inserted several of its Riverines to reconnoiter a small fishing camp that appeared to have materialized out of the barren rock.

"We came out here about four months ago and it was a lot greener," said Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Smith, a 36-year-old intelligence specialist from Oak Park, Mich. The Riverines peppered the fishermen with questions regarding recent happenings in the local area and joked about soccer."They’re hard-working people trying to make ends meet," Werby said.

When the Riverines requested identification, the fisherman quickly produced official cards and could not conceal their satisfaction. "They all seem proud of their badges," Werby said. No sooner had they inspected the area than the Riverines boarded their patrol boats and resumed their patrol on the lake, which they refer to as Lake Quesadilla in jest.

Not long after their timely departure, something in the water seduced the Riverines’ attention: a fishing boat propelled not by an outboard motor, but by manual paddles. The Riverines, who are responsible for enforcing certain fishing regulations legislated by the Iraqi government, quickly noticed the anomaly and pulled alongside the vessel to investigate.

The two occupants, it was discovered, previously forfeited the use of their motor after they violated a fishing ban. The Riverines offered the fisherman some bottled water and then sped away towards a horizon that eventually yielded the Haditha Dam, a massive structure seemingly borrowed from the set of a James Bond film.

Landing on the "North Shore," the crew members returned to their command post and initiated a debrief to review the information gathered during the operation and to critique the unit’s performance.

More apparent than their penchant for self-criticism, though, was the camaraderie that permeates the detachment and manifests itself in the ubiquitous smiles. "We have a real good relationship with each other," said Schools. "It’s a pretty good gig."

Werby, who formerly supervised a detention facility in Northern Iraq, agreed. "These guys really care a lot about what we’re doing." Outside the river’s waters continued to meander toward Haditha, and Riverines prepared for yet another mission.

Navy Lt. Jeff Werby, commanding officer, Riverine Detachment 3, Riverine Squadron 2, interviews several local fishermen on the shores of Lake Qadisiyah. Werby and his Riverines run patrols throughout the Euphrates Valley to deter insurgent activity and to enforce fishing regulations. (Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Lawton King).

Source: CENTCOM.

Salman Pak leaders work to revitalize hospital.
by Natalie Rostek
3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division PAO

FOB HAMMER, Iraq (Feb. 7, 2008) — Work is under way in Salman Pak to revitalize a hospital which has not been fully operational for about five years. On Feb. 4, Soldiers and leaders from 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, and Team 915 of Company A, 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Knoxville, Tenn., currently attached to 1-15 Inf. Regt., visited the hospital.

Maj. John Wolfe, from Scottsboro, Ala., a 489th CA team leader, said the national police had used the facility as a headquarters and barracks since 2005.

“The national police were forced by circumstance to work out of the hospital and other key facilities,” said Maj. Cliff Faulkner, from Silverton, Colo., commander of Co. A, 489th CA. “Now that security has improved, they can give physical possession of key infrastructure back to local residents.”

Wolfe said the first step to revitalizing the hospital was negotiating with the city council to relocate the NP from the building. The next step is establishing community access to the hospital.

Several council leaders, a leader of the Sons of Iraq (Sol) and maintenance representatives led the tour through the hospital’s cold, dark halls.

Wolfe believes coalition forces and Iraqi leaders can restore the hospital to full operation. The facility has 70 patient beds, hematology laboratory, surgical room, birthing center, male and female patient accommodations, a café, laundry facility and emergency and ambulatory services.

If the facility returns to former capacity, jobs will be available for doctors, nurses, pediatricians and other medical professionals.

“Past insecurity and sectarian violence kept many medical professionals away,” Faulkner said. “We are optimistic that the improved security and stability will permit the return of these professionals and essential services.”

According to Capt. Jason Carney, from Knoxville, Tenn., a 489th CA team leader, changes have been made since the NP vacated the facility. The SoI took over security for the hospital and approximately three doctors see patients daily, from morning to early afternoon.

“Doctors and patients are still leery to stay overnight,” Carney said.

Wolfe said the Iraqi ministry of health is helping fund health facility improvements. The hospital in Salman Pak has already used funds to purchase water pipes and porcelain sinks. “Now we just need to get the people to understand that the hospital is open,” Wolfe said.

Lt. Col. Jack Marr, from Minneapolis, 1-15th Inf. Regt. commander; Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, from Waverly Hall, Ga.; Capt. William Clark, from Prairie Du Chien, Wis., Company A, 1-15 Inf. Regt. commander; and other battalion leaders, attended the hospital tour.

The 1-15 Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March, 2007.

Sgt. Warren Cash, from Charlottesville, Va., Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, plays marbles with a young boy after leaders of 1-15 Inf. Regt. and the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion took a tour of the hospital in Salman Pak, Feb. 4.

Source: CENTCOM.

Gee, Salman Pak...where have I heard that name before? Now we hear that things were so bad there that the poor police had to use the hospital for a police station? Do they think we are that stupid? Oh, nevermind. I forgot who I am writing to. Digg! Digg!

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