Thursday, January 31, 2008

Iraqi Countryside Diyala near Iranian border (FOB Caldwell/Mandali)

Klika Photo of chicken dinner on the foot (left)

The one striking fact about Iraq and other places around the globe is the dependence of man on goats, there must have been three goats for every Iraqi. They obviously can live eating the little green you see in these photos and the ones below.

The canal arrays made quite extensive agricultural efforts possible but were the bain of manuevering for US forces. Like thoughts from Korea our obsession with staying on the roads hurt us. In Korea the terrain channelized us onto the roads in Iraq they became the place to kill us too only from the fact that we presented ourselves on them daily and operated from FOBS instead of just plopping down in the towns and cities. FOBs represent the infrastructure that we think we need, but there were literally millions of Iraqis living someplace else, bad sewers or not.

When factoring in the commuting time back and forth, the different units and sections repeating each others footsteps because each had to learn the AO, and the defacto relationship with our emplaced people (town Mayors/IP) often not representive of the total populace it all added up to problems of one nature or another. In the end either we have to walk the towns and stay in them or the Iraqis have to do it. General Petraus may have been the impetus but he surely was not the first to figure that aspect out.

Iraq was barren except for around canals and the two big rivers. It had a tremendous amount of agricultural capacity that was not being used in 2005. I always watched Vietnam movies and wondered why in the heck would they walk across open fields into an ambush, well this is how we approached houses/farm compounds etc. and everytime I did I thought someone was going to shoot one of us meandering up to the house, we did not really do bounding overwatch but did have vehicle gunners overwatching us. Of course that is not going to do you any good after a 7.62mm machinegun burst to the chest from an insurgent shooting from cover if you are the guy on point. It is hard on the first guy to recover from something like that.

Railhead in Kuwait City Iraq

This was the railhead in Kuwait all the soldiers have been detailed out to drive vehicles to Camp Buerhing for staging then the convoy to FOB Caldwell/KMTB.

Camp Shelby MS photos

Camp Shelby, MS, the place had a unique history as both WWI and WWII armies trained here. It is big, wooded, and hot. The humidity was horrible and although it looks like camping out it was miserable. Better than being frozen is all I can say about it. I met an old preacher that stopped to visit the museum and he said he had not been back since he trained in WWII as an Infantryman. I aske dif they had heat problems and he said heck yeah, had guys passing out all the time. Some things do not change. The 442nd Infantry trained here, the Japanese American Regiment of WWII fame.
The connex training villages were not my favorite trainng aids to put it mildly. The 278th RCT had a natural persona for dealing with people in a common sense and proper manner that served us well in Iraq. Thank God for COL Adam's, the WI guard could not even leave the post, Hattiesburg was a life saver, the people great and lots of the usual restaurants to go relax at when you had the chance. COL Adam's told the upper echelons that we were going to town and not beig stupid and sitting on Camp Shelby for months in the heat.
About half of these train ups are useless. No matter how hard they try they never match the reality of the actual mission. Mostly because the stupid evaluation process is so skewed and standardized, meaning the trainers just have to have an answer they were told to have. All of the infantry training was vastly substandard to what one did at the 82nd/101st/10th MTN etc. and I think The Infantry has an idea of what infantry training is. It is toughness and a coordinated response honed in miserable conditions on long field training exercises with multiple live fires in several different conditions (day/night).
Huge money is spent on this stuff (good for the Sate of MS) and not the most efficiently it could be spent, like going to the units going to Iraq instead. The reality was you road around with the unit you were replacing a few days once you arrived in Iraq and learned it the hard way, as usual, mixing with the population and doing a recon of the AO. You have to see it first hand to know it in these things. You could not really appreciate what the leaving soldiers were trying to say until you had the experience. All that interaction (cultural indoctrination) crap can be done in a classroom talking with an Iraqi instead of hanging out in some hokey village in MS doing scenarios that never approach reality. Combat arms soldiers can shoot back just fine and they know if a leg is blown off to turn the bloodflow off, even if they have to do it themselves. You want real transition then leave a unit in theater for the duration and send replacements to it instead of new units that would end the coming and going in masse.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Never ending tank maintenance/FOB maintenance stuff

Some FOB Caldwell maintenance stuff, these are what we called working fobbits, limited scenery was the order of their day.

ye olde shipping container

Can I get another engine and some more track.

They do not show this in the recruiting video but it is where a tanker spends the majority of his time, M1A1 tanks are the number one expenditure in maintenance in Iraq, like 600 million dollars worth.

However, if in a fight it is the machine you want to be riding into it, broken or a dog, it can
get r done.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

about me photos

Son roller blading past PT HHC 2nd BDE, 101st ABN, everyone is humping the ground, must have done a bunch of PUs.

Dad and Uncles, Grandad & USAF Security Forces School photo, Lackland AFB.

AOBC M1A1 NBC training/OCS JUN 1992, TMA and USAF KAB Okinawa Japan (missile shop)

Fork Union Military Academy 1974/KMTB 2005 IA guntruck Platoon Sergeant Adnan

Air Assault School 1994, Fort Campbell, and Howard AFB Panama, Operation Safe Haven with Bro. HHC 2BDE 101st/HHC 505th 82nd.

COL Catalanotti 98th DIV

link to interviews with commanders this one is COL in charge of MiTT/ASTs in 2005 see previous blog post below. There is an access this document propmt at the middle of this Bio/webpage to access interviews. This oe is very generic overview and does not get to KMTB in any detail.

• Col. Robert G. Catalanotti, chief of staff (TPU), 98th Division, Rochester, N.Y., to deputy commander (TPU), 81st Regional Readiness Sustainment Command, Fort Jackson, S.C.

command and general staff college link

Stephen Clay, Iroquois in Iraq 98th DIV MiTT good pdf file has APR 4th Described from MiTT Cadre view

I am trying to get the exact MiTT team Cadres designations that the 278th RCT worked with at FOB Caldwell/KMTB side. This is a lenghty PDF written by the guy listed in the title block of this blog post. Link included. They were ASTs at BN level at KMTB, page 118 on pdf link. I have yet to figure out where the Iraqi and MiTT/BN ASTs unit designations split, for example 6th BN for the BN or 2BN AST at KMTB/FOB Caldwell, the sign in our group photo said 2BN? The Iraqi Army was the 1BDE of 5th DIV, I thought our IA company was designated, 4Co/2BN/1BDE/5th DIV but really do not know to this day other than the Company and Battalion of course, 2th BN for the AST does not tell BDE/DIV designation so is confusing. They also renamed Iraqi Army units while we were there.

Page 127 in the document describes the organization of the Iraqi 5th Division KMTB/FOB Caldwell AO. Major Curwen had the AST at KMTB when we, 1/278th RCT, began MiTTs. Page 149 in the actual document lists the name of a Navy Corpsman, which may have been the guy who was with the MiTT/BN ASTs at KMTB, standing out as the only Navy guy around on FOB Caldwell/KMTB. They describe fighting around a water treatment plant, the ASTs/MiTTs worked with the USMC in other AOs so I sure there was more than one corpsman, but not at KMTB, there was just one. This is probably a different water treatment plant than the one in Balad ruz where we had a gunfight of some sort. Reading on you can see that the 278th RCT and the MiTT cadre did not see eye to eye on 278th security measures. Major Curwen is quoted on page 151, he changed his attitude some once he got a dose of us, 1/278th Troopers page 153. I remember Major Curwen also left early due to an injury or something, SFC Porier made the best impression on me personally but I had little to do with the MiTT cadre other than SFC Leach, who was pissed after APR 4th when SSG Dill was killed (the firefight is decribed in this pdf and I inserted the link on the APR 4th account below, LT Hancock's). Getting my ass chewed by their TOP for shooting M203 rounds at one of the big ranges was about the only other interaction I had other than with SFC Leach, who also chewed our asses regularly. I usually signed the range out but did not one time and it was on a normal day, we always went on Fridays at 2PM when it was 120 degrees out and prayer day for the Iraqi army, but this day did not, I had gotten to cocky and forgot I was a SPC, TOP made it clear what my exact rank was and standing in relation to my duties, a least he did not bitch slap me like Major Ali (ING) would have one of his men. The 7.62mm machinegun range was in operation and Teed into the RPG range so we hugged the big berm behind an M1114 and shot the M203 rounds. Safe in reality but not real smart when everyone was out and about and shooting, protocol/proceedures not cowboy Bob at the ok corral was the method when people were watching.

Anyone that has read anything in military history knows when you put a bunch of locals into the mix there are "spys", it happened in Korea/Vietnam extensively, and also is well documented. So of course we did not trust anyone if our asses were on the line in any way. The security was crazy as any Iraqi that wanted to walk over to our side could easily do so, but all of them knew not to and had more sense than to. The intent was exactly as Major Curwen perceived, stay the hell out of our AO without permission or invitation. That message was received and had nothing to do with our future relations with the Iraqi Army once on MiTTs. Then we could build trust and actually knew who we were dealing with. Did SF let anyone in their compound during Vietnam at Fort Campbell? It was their turf and everyone knew it. Our AO was our turf and within the overall AO you had your own Company/Platoon/Sections turf. They had guys (Iraqis) living in the buildings that were not used when we went through them with the 101st ABN to inspect them and nobody knew it. It was smart to let the IA know that it was off limits to come mingle. The same applied to us we did not mingle with them, heck you cannot even put the 101st and 82nd together in our own army if in garrison. MiTTs were the exceptions.

The 98th DIV (institutional) were great at training basic trainees, laying out an overall plan, and at institutional approaches but as far as the operational Infantry companies went were not doing what was needed, lack of resources, the Iraqis themselves, and time constraints played into this problem. They had no battle handover where they passed them on to operational American units to combine patrols with and associate with. Conversely a small number of Americans stuck into their units would be seen as "tattle tales" to our superiors by some. So in the end the Iraqis will be declared ready and let go in charge of themselves more or less. They did not get the point, it is about kicking ass in the Infantry during training, hard training, I personally thought we needed to be looking foward in time when the IA would have to take down a militia element in a real fight that would be rifle on rifle, man on man, not just the AIF/insurgents scattered about, that fight has not occurred yet either in their defense so I may be wrong, but not on the issue of tough training, it is always good. They sure did nothing in Fallujah, we did and got killed for them doing it. Look at Fallujah satellite photo below and tell me how many Iraqi Army boundries you see in the graphic, none, now there were Iraqis around but they did not do the actual beat down.
definition of CMATT/article

MNSTC-I defined/official website is my ebook and has my opinon on the matters of training an operational Iraqi Company/Platoon.

Memorial Hwy in honor of 3/278th RCT member SPC Tucker

2006 Public Acts Chapter
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML... 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee Army National. Guard, who was killed in the line of duty on October 13, 2005, while serving in Iraq; and -

Asbury F. Hawn II KIA Iraq 3/278th RCT

Fallen heros link

Sunday, January 20, 2008

278th RCT NTC rotation 2004 Old Bill Chips Newsletter

OBCs has plenty of photos in each issue

Old Bills Chips
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTMLPhotos of NTC Rotation. 278th Regimental Combat Team. Inside this issue:. The 278 RCT. completes a rotation. at the National Train-. ing Center, - Similar pages

HTML link to newsletter it can be downloaded as a PDF too.

Old newsletter from rotation before mobilization, not the Iraq OIF III one.

278 VS 2
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTMLThe bottom line...the 278th ACR is a much more. ready unit now because of the NTC experience. The Tennessee rotation was the largest Army ... - Similar pages

Chaplain Jones annoucement (Church of God)

Chaplain Jones (on left) was on this Tomb mission and it was the worst day of the year (coldest), wet miserable and riding in a tin can M113A3. When we returned to FOB Caldwell he tripped and feel out of the hatch in the ramp onto the wet muddy ground and smiling said "what a perfect way to end this day", then walked off still smiling. Here we are eating the MREs, I think the only one I ate all year actually.

Chaplain (LT) Aaron R. Jones, a Church of God ordained minister, has been recently assigned as a chaplain with the 278th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), 1st Squadron. His Unit is a Tennessee-based National Guard Ground Reconnaissance Squadron, with heavy ties to personnel deployed who live in Cleveland and Bradley County, Tennessee, the headquarters city of the Church of God.
The Unit of which Chaplain Jones will be assisting is equipped with Abrams tanks, Bradley Cavalry Fighting vehicles, mortar carriers and howitzers. Chaplain Jones joined the 278th RCT at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, from his Maryland Army National Guard unit. He is an associate pastor of the Washington National Church of God, near Washington, DC. At the Church, he also serves as Vice President of the National Bible College and Seminary. Chaplain Jones is married and his wife Sharon serves on the staff of the Washington National Church and High School.
Chaplain Jones enlisted in the Army in 1988 and served on active duty and with the Army National Guard for 15 years prior to being endorsed by the Church of God Chaplains Commission for the Army Chaplaincy. Upon graduation from Army Chaplains School in April, 2004, Chaplain Jones returned to his Maryland Guard Unit and his responsibilities at the National Bible College and Seminary. While serving with his Maryland unit, he was notified of his recent selection to deploy with the 278th RCT.
Chaplain Jones has already begun providing ministry, through regular worship services and pastoral counseling. These are important days for Chaplain Jones, as he begins the long process of getting to know each soldier and becoming a part of their lives and the mission ahead.
"I am really proud to be serving with the men and women of the 278th and I look forward to providing ministry to these fine soldiers," states Chaplain Jones. He added, "They have been assigned a vital mission in defense of our country and it is my responsibility to provide them with the spiritual support that will strengthen and sustain them in the weeks and months ahead."
Dr. Robert D. Crick, Director of the Church of God Chaplains Commission, states, "I am well aware of the outstanding history and tradition of the 278th RCT. These National Guard soldiers are a part of America's finest and the Church of God is proud of being able to send one of our own Chaplains to serve along side our sons and daughters.”

Paladin 155mm firing Jisr-Naft Iraq (Klika photo)(great photo link)

Another Klika Photo
Jisr-Naft was my favorite named place, it was a little desolate village east of FOB Caldwell.
This photo won an award, not sure about the shooting, just kidding FA. Great photos on the link.


COL Adams accepting VOLs football helmet with Command SGM Pippin, link to article above.
VFW article short write ups of multiple FOBs and AOs
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee College of Engineering (COE) and the UT Athletics Department recently joined forces to show support for the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The regiment, headquartered in Knoxville, has been called to active duty for a rotation in Iraq. Commander of the regiment is Colonel Dennis Adams, a 1978 UT graduate and former Vol football player from 1974 to 1977. James Pippin, the Command Sergeant Major of the regiment, is the director of the COE's Engineering Diversity Programs.
The insignia of the 278th was attached to a UT football helmet, which was then was signed by the current UT Volunteer football team and coaching staff. The helmet was sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where the 278th is preparing for deployment. Adams and Pippin received the helmet on behalf of the regiment on September 22nd, and it will travel with the unit to Iraq in November 2004.

That is the Governor of Tennessee shaking hands with COL Adams, Bredesen.

Tower Seven KMTB side of FOB Caldwell

RPK field of fire confirmation tower seven

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SPC Stephen W. Castner KIA Iraq 127th Infantry, WI

The 2/127th was our Infantry attachment element. SPC Castner was assigned to 121st FA, WI

Major general Taluto, 42ID Commander of Task Force Liberty FOB Danger Iraq 2005

Link to his Bio and current duty status.
Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto was appointed The Adjutant General for the State of New York on January 23, 2006. Prior to this assignment, General Taluto was assigned as the Commander, 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard. Maj. Gen. Taluto commanded the division and Task Force Liberty during its historic deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III from 2004-2005.
Taluto served as the Joint Task Force Commander during the 42nd Infantry Division’s initial emergency response mission to assist the City of New York in its security and recovery operations following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. He directed a force of some 2,000 Soldiers, Airmen, sailors and Marines to assist the city’s Office of Emergency Management.
TF Liberty write up.
Another write up on 42ID deployment as Division HQ for TF Liberty.

Links to video and interviews with MG General Taluto, there are multiple links on the web page above.

British are paying a price with us (a reminder)

If you ever see a British soldier thank them mightily as if they had not been there by our side this would be an American instead, they were the only ally that actually put some troops on the ground in a big way.

General Casey, LTG Vines, President Bush, and Secretary Rumsfeld the COC when we went to Iraq

These were the big boys when we were in Iraq, all roads lead through the 101st/82nd Airborne Divisions, except of course for Secretary Rumsfeld & President Bush.
John R. Vines was my Brigade Commander at Fort Campbell and I worked in the BDE S3 section there HHC 2BDE. Tocroach for sure, only we put ours up out in the field repeatedly and it was a bitch, Infantry.

Mosque call video Balad ruz Iraq

2/A/1/278th RCT Patrol listening to mosque call.

M113A3 Video Balad ruz Iraq east TCP

These things were loud as you might notice when viewing, worse inside one bouncing around.

FOB Knott Hendy Range Video SAW/M4 carbines

This was our first testfire at the range after we built it. We put up knock down targets for the Iraqis who had none and so could not tell if they hit anything or not. Easy fix, cut them out of steel plate and prop them up with sticks. A sample target (shot up) is in previous post below, these were 5/16 inch steel and 1/4 inch steel target made from leftover Hillbilly Armor.

CPT Andrews' MiTT team built the range ( he was also our XO)

The generic Medals we were awarded

Global War On Terroism (L)/Iraq Campaign Medal

Camp Buerhing tents

Not much to say here. We left from here to Iraq in convoys and on aircraft. A big road march.

FOB Caldwell Laundry room1 and Hickory Cafe

A few images of FOB stuff.

Area of Operations (Fallujah boundries between Regiments)

Our area of operations on the left and an interesting satellite photo of Fallujah (not our area). The USMC and Army unleashed six regiments on Fallujah Iraq, Ramadi was on both sides of a river and not near as nicely laid out for an assault and never was cleared like Fallujah was. Here we are talking six regiments walking through and killing any AIF they encountered, much different from what we generally did in our daily misions. We operated in sections most of the most of the time and had little contact, we did have IEDs quite often . This is what we had expected to do. It did not quite work out that way.

Aaron Jagger 1SG KIA Iraq

Aaron lived in Chickamauga, GA and is the only guy that I actually knew (from SFOR 9 Bosnia mission) that has been killed in Iraq, it struck me mightily as what are the odds of it, it is the same with our guys when we had almost 4000 Troopers and only a few were killed, it is very tragic.

278th regimental HQ, Charlie Daniels in quad and the big brass, two general officers and two full bulls, Charlie outranks them all this day

Here is Charlie Daniels posing in the quad of our Regimental HQ FOB Caldwell 2005
Tennesseans love Charlie and Confederate Railroad who came down to Camp Shelby to put on a show for Apache Troop, thanks to both!