Saturday, December 5, 2009
You know these guys were bored to death this place had a whole Iraqi Army Division operational by 2007. The town is probably looking great by now though it was booming before we left it in 2005, lots of construction and people were out on the stoop at night, traffic etc. Dee-ja-jay for everyone!
Area swept of al-Qaida in grueling battle
European edition, Friday, December 4, 2009
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Members of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment found themselves in a hard-fought battle against dug-in insurgents after the battalion split from the rest of the 172nd Infantry Brigade to fight in Diyala province, Iraq.
Lt. Col. Lou Rago, the 3-66 commander, said his men were assigned to forward operating bases Hammer and Caldwell and fell under 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division during the yearlong deployment to Diyala.
“Our mission was to clear an area in South Balad Ruz that had been an al-Qaida safe haven for about six years,” he said.
Since the U.S. invasion in 2003, American coalition forces had operated in the area for only a few weeks at a time. Al-Qaida fighters had run off Shiite farmers, who once made up half of the population, and destroyed irrigation systems to stop the farmers from coming back. The insurgents fortified villages with double- and triple-stacked anti-tank mines and resisted strongly from late January until May, Rago said.
“We were there to clean that area up once and for all,” he said. “We were probably the last unit to do a battalion-sized fight in Iraq. We were doing combat operations akin to what was seen in 2004 using Bradleys and tanks, firing artillery and using close air support to get after al-Qaida, who were in bunker complexes.”
Equipment such as heavily armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles allowed engineers to break through insurgents’ defenses and the infantry to spot the enemy and kill him with close air support, Rago said.
“We killed at least 60 al-Qaida in the area and effectively cleared South Balad Ruz,” he said.
The victory came at a cost. On April 5, Spc. Israel Candelaria Mejias, 28, of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, was killed when he stepped on the pressure plate of a homemade explosive booby trap in a house. Several other members of the unit were injured by roadside bombs, Rago said.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Rogers, 29, of Charlotte, N.C., a squad leader with 3-66 in Iraq, found himself in the thick of the fight during a foot patrol outside Wawhilla patrol base in April.
“About 500 meters down the road, an Iraqi army Humvee got hit with an anti-tank mine,” Rogers said. “The vehicle was totally destroyed, but we medevaced the Iraqi soldiers from the Humvee with minor cuts and a broken shin.”
Rogers said his unit was hit by several anti-tank mines but armored vehicles protected soldiers from injury, except for concussions.
In March, 3-66 broke the back of al-Qaida in Balad Ruz during a 12-hour engagement in which 16 to 20 insurgents were killed after an unmanned aerial vehicle spotted them attempting to load ammunition from a bunker into a truck, Rago said.
“We were able to engage them with close air support and helicopters and then go in and clear with the infantry,” he said. “Based on the exploitation of the scene, we knew we had really taken out the entire
middle management and leadership of the operational cells in South Balad Ruz. From that point on, all our engagements were with al-Qaida ex-filtrating the area. We had no IED (improvised explosive device) emplacements or snipers after that.”
The low point of the deployment came May 11 when two 3-66 soldiers — Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr., 19 — were shot dead, allegedly by another U.S. soldier, during a visit to a combat stress clinic at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.
“Whenever we have soldiers injured or killed in action, that is obviously a bad day and affects the organization, but guys accept that a lot more because that is one of the unfortunate consequences of the job we have,” Rago said. “Losing Bueno and Yates at the mental health clinic was probably the worst day we had. It was just not what you expect. It took everybody from me down to the junior privates by surprise.”
From May, the task force focused on the same things that most other units were doing in Iraq this year — making sure Iraqis in their area of operations received essential services and supporting local government, he said.
Capt. Dritan Xhakolli, 29, of Queens, N.Y., and a platoon leader with 3-66 in Iraq, said he was impressed by the progress of Iraqi security forces during the mission. That was hammered home during a mission to clear the town of Shannanah alongside an Iraqi company, he said.
“We didn’t find anything, but they (the Iraqis) searched every house,” Xhakolli said. “It was good seeing them in action, doing what they were supposed to do, not us telling them what to do.”
By the end of the deployment, 3-66 had conducted every aspect of the Army’s counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, Rago said.
“We did COIN doctrine from soup to nuts, starting with the clear (clearing the enemy from the area), positioning the Iraqis to properly hold villages in that area and prevent re-entry of al-Qaida, and we transitioned to assisting local government with provision of essential services,” he said.
I thought NC Guard took it in 2004, guess not, we thought we did in 2005 we did have elections! One tough town for sure seven years to take it.
By Sgt. Armando Monroig
5th Mobile Public Affairs
BALAD RUZ, Iraq, Jan. 31, 2007 — The U.S. Army concluded a massive, nine-day assault Jan. 13, centered on a series of small villages in the Diyala province that for the past 18 months had been used as a safe haven for insurgents.
During the operation, soldiers from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment Reconnaissance, 82nd Airborne Division, killed more than 100 insurgents and detained 54 suspected of involvement with terrorism activities in the area, which is located just south of Balad Ruz.
The unit, located at Forward Operating Base Caldwell, also reported capturing six unnamed leaders of an underground organization thought to have ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups hiding in the villages of Turki, Hamoud, and 30 Tamuz.
In outlying palm groves and canals, soldiers found weapons caches containing more than 1,100 Katushya rockets, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades, 500 mortars and a variety of bomb-making materials.
Sunni insurgents defended the area with small arms fire, anti-tank mines and improvised explosive devices.
“The effects will be felt just outside this area in places like Baghdad, Baqubah and further out to the west,” said Capt. Stephen Dobbins, the commander of Troop B.
Leaders of the 5-73rd Cav. suspected that insurgents were using the area as a training ground for conducting terrorist activities elsewhere. The villages are an hour’s drive from Baghdad.
Last month, the unit raided the area after finding a large weapons cache there. More than 100 insurgents and two U.S. soldiers were killed in the fighting.
This last assault was bolstered by the Iraqi Army and U.S. Army units from forward operating bases in Muqdadiyah and Baqubah. Air Force B-1 bombers and F-16 fighter-bombers dropped bombs on nearby canals and tunnel systems to destroy insurgent defenses before soldiers moved in to secure the area.
Soldiers battled ankle-deep mud as they cleared canals and villages.
The 5-73rd Cav., along with the Iraqi army, is now in the process of setting up a combat outpost in Turki from which to control the area.
“It will be a place where Coalition Forces and the Iraqi army can work jointly to develop intelligence, plan rehearsals, and execute missions out here,” said Dobbins.
The outpost will also be used to facilitate infrastructure improvement projects and strengthen the area’s education system.
“With the outpost, the Iraqi security forces can provide a safe and secure environment for those in the area who want a better opportunity for their families,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas, the commander of the 5-73rd Cav.
Poppas said that his unit has already begun to assist with the repatriation of village residents driven out by a mostly Sunni insurgency.
“The end state is to create a safe and secure region with a continuous Iraqi Security Forces presence,” said Poppas.
“That way, we deny the enemy a safe haven in which they can conduct illegal acts with impunity,” he said. “You can’t let an environment of extremism remain in a free and safe society.”
Sunday, August 30, 2009
BAGHDAD – An Iraqi journalist imprisoned for hurling his shoes at good behavior, his lawyer said Saturday.will be released next month after his sentence was reduced for
Muntadhar al-Zeidi's act of protest during Bush's last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world, as his case became a rallying point for critics who resented the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation.
"Al-Zeidi's shoes were a suitable farewell for Bush's deeds in Iraq," Sunni lawmaker Dhafir al-Ani said in welcoming the early release. "Al-Zeidi's act expressed the real will and feelings of the Iraqi people. His anger against Bush was the result of the suffering of his countrymen."
Can't say I have ever seen a more fitting outburst if looking at it from the Iraqi point of view. Figures he is from Tikrit.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIX4rFvb8vQ&feature=related Bush interview
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rwxIjQZF98&feature=related The incident
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFQdhCBqwLs&feature=related Austin Powers
Friday, August 14, 2009
Speicher was shot down in 1991 on the first night of the Gulf War. For more than 18 years, no one knew if he was killed or being held prisoner in Iraq until his remains were discovered in the desert, west of Baghdad, earlier this month.
"Eighteen years, six months and 11 days, that needs to be a record that is never broken," said Buddy Harris, a former Navy pilot and friend who accompanied Speicher's body home to Jacksonville from Dover, Del. Harris married Speicher's widow, Joanne, and helped raise Speicher's son and daughter, plus two more children with Joanne.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Come on you have to admit it is one cool photo, no accidental discharges that I am of aware of happened during the taking of this commanders photo, SNAP!
No magazines was a mistake, have to have them in for photo op or everyone knows you are really posing. Now SSG Cooper knows how to do it, magazines in! Finger in trigger well! INFANTRY, what can I say.
278th Reported In Position In Tikrit's Province Of Iraq
By Bill Jones
Lt. Col. Frank McCauley, commander of the 278th Regimental Combat Team's Second Squadron, said via electronic mail on Wednesday that the remainder of his unit will arrive at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Bernstein in northern Iraq "in the next couple of days."
The 278th RCT's Second Squadron, which was based in Kingsport before the Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment was called to active duty earlier this year, includes a number of citizen-soldiers from Greeneville and Greene County.
Augmented by National Guard units from several other states during training at Camp Shelby, Miss., earlier this year, the 278th is now called a regimental combat team.
The unit began moving into Iraq from a base in Kuwait last weekend, driving about 450 miles to its area of operations in northeastern Iraq.
Lt. Col. McCauley reported on Wednesday about the Second Squadron's current activities in response to an electronic mail inquiry from a Greeneville Sun reporter.
He said Second Squadron soldiers had been providing security escorting for the 278th's heavier tracked vehicles, that are being hauled into Iraq from Kuwait on large trucks because of the distance involved.
"The convoy from Kuwait took two full days through some dangerous territory," Lt. Col McCauley wrote. "No incidents occurred, and we were provided air escort by Apache helicopters through the most dangerous areas."
He remarked that Second Squadron troops "are in good spirits and are currently becoming integrated with the outgoing unit," which, he said, is the 120th Infantry Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade, of the North Carolina Army National Guard.
"A Transfer of Authority ceremony will be held at the completion of all the tasks in the transition with the 120th," Lt. Col. McCauley wrote.
"This should occur in the next two to three weeks. That ceremony will signify that 2/278 (has) become totally responsible for our area of operations, which has a total population of about 150,000 Iraqi citizens."
Tuz, the Iraqi city near where Forward Operating Base Bernstein is located, is in the As Sulaymaniyah province of Iraq, Lt. Col. McCauley wrote. "The provincial capital is in Tikrit," the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Lt. Col. McCauley also reported that the remainder of the 278th RCT is in Iraq's Diyala province.
FOB Bernstein, the base where the Second Squadron of the 278th RCT is located, is named in honor of the late U.S. Army 1st Lt. David R. Bernstein, 24, of Phoenixville, Pa.
The GlobalSecurity.Org Web site describes the area where FOB Bernstein is located as "a desolate, flat range of ankle-high shrubbery about 10 miles from the city of Tuz."
Lt. Bernstein was fatally wounded, along with Pfc. John Hart, on Oct. 18, 2003, according to the GlobalSecurity.Org Website.
Bernstein and Hart, both members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade, were killed when their convoy came under attack from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machine gun fire, the Website said.
The two soldiers, according to the Website, were in the last vehicle of a quick-reaction force convoy and were cut off from the rest of their convoy when guerrilla fighters fired an RPG at their vehicle, causing the driver, Spc. Joshua Sams, to lose control.
After the vehicle crashed into a dirt berm (embankment), it came to a stop on top of Sams' arm, the Website stated.
Lt. Bernstein, although mortally wounded by a gunshot wound to the leg, then crawled over to Sams' side under direct fire, and pushed on the gas pedal with his hand, moving the vehicle forward off Sams' arm. Bernstein collapsed shortly afterward and died.
PFC Hart, who was seated in the back of the HUMVEE when the attack took place, had been killed in the initial RPG explosion, according to the Global Security Website.
by Steele, Dennis
The 278th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) patrols the eastern flank of 42nd Infantry Division's Task Force Liberty and a big swath of the Iraq-Iran border. It is an area of operations that is about half the size of the unit's home state of Tennessee, and an area where the flat Iraqi desert slams head-on into the range of craggy mountains that forms the border, concealing a labyrinth of trails that have served smugglers well for centuries.
The 278th RCT patrols a land of, largely, dust and poverty that bears the scars of some of the fiercest battles of the Iran-Iraq War. Today, it is littered with unexploded ordnance, and shifting sands reveal minefields left from the war.
The 278th RCT is built around the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which by maintaining its unit designation in Iraq preserves a proud heritage that stretches back to militia units from Tennessee that marched across the Smoky Mountains to fight in South Carolina, helping to win the Revolutionary War's pivotal Battle of King's Mountain and helping to establish Tennessee as the "Volunteer" state. It continues a National Guard lineage that dates from the late 1800s, with service in two world wars as Infantry formations.
The 278th RCT, headquartered at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Caldwell, is also a family. Soldiers bond through serving long careers together in the regiment, and it is literally a family in some cases, with many fathers, sons, daughters, uncles and cousins scattered in the ranks.
There are many other associations as well. Take the 2nd Platoon, Troop A (Apache), of the 278th RCT's 1st Squadron. The platoon sergeant is SFC Archie McDaniel, an eighth-grade teacher from Cleveland, Tenn. His driver, Spc. Jason Murray, is a former student. SFC McDaniel joined the Tennessee Guard in 1977. Having served in the Regular Army and then finished college, he found that a starting teacher's salary would not make ends meet, but his reasons for staying extended well beyond extra income; he has reenlisted to stay in the same company/troop for the past 28 years.
The 278th RCT commander, Col. Dennis J. Adams, has served in the regiment for his entire military career, starting as a second lieutenant. "The Guard today, however, is not the Guard I came into 27 years ago," Col. Adams said. "There is a lot of professionalism today, both in the job we do and the equipment we have."
"Our state did a great job getting equipment to us before we mobilized," Col. Adams added. "And if we need a replacement, the soldier comes from our home state Guard. So far, the Tennessee National Guard has filled 95 percent of our vacancies."
But home support does not stop there.
"I understand that on the night of the [Iraqi] elections, people all around Tennessee held prayer vigils," the colonel said. "Not a day goes by that I don't receive a letter or e-mail from back home, telling me how proud they are of the regiment, and I feel that support is like having an extra squadron or battalion."
His civilian profession also was teaching. He taught graphic arts and was a football, basketball and track coach. He said that commanding the regiment is much like coaching, "except I get to go on the field and play."
The 278th RCT's 1st Squadron has responsibility for the southern part of the regiment's area of operations; 2nd Squadron has the northern part, and the 3rd Squadron is responsible for the central sector. Vast pools of oil are under the mountains of the north and central sectors.
In the 3rd Squadron's area of responsibility, crumbling hulks of oil drilling and pumping machinery have for many years been left to rust on a hillside that drips oil.
Directly above the derelict gear, broad rivers of oil slowly seep from the hilltop and flow down the hillside. In the distance can be seen the fires atop Iranian wells, burning off gas while they pump oil from the same massive underground deposit.
Oil is one reason the 278th RCT area of responsibility is so important. It is Iraq's economic future.
"These people are sitting on a gold mine," said Lt. Col. Jeffery Holmes, who commands the 3rd Squadron at FOB Cobra.
He thinks that improving the Iraqi economy will be a primary factor in winning the war. "A lot of the anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi government insurgents use the unemployed and the impoverished to work for them, so if we stimulate the economy, it takes away from the AIF (anti-Iraqi forces)," Col. Holmes said.
The first steps toward economic improvement, however, require a more secure environment and a sound government, both of which are ultimately the responsibility of the Iraqis themselves. Col. Holmes said that training Iraqi security forces and working with local Iraqi civil authorities to establish a free and responsive government structure is the perfect job for Guard soldiers.
"It is the right time and the right mission for the National Guard," he noted. He cited the Guard's experience in working daily with state and municipal governments and the wealth of civilian talent in the unit, ranging from detectives and police officers who can help train the Iraqi police to civil engineers who can offer their expertise to rebuild the infrastructure.
Building a local and provincial Iraqi government system practically from scratch, while encouraging cooperation among members of previously competing and antagonistic tribes, has been a priority. "Their conflicts occurred within the last 10 to 15 years, and we ask them to sit at the table with one another," Col. Holmes explained. "We try to understand by putting ourselves in their shoes and seeing how difficult it is for them. [Nevertheless,] we've gotten different tribal organizations to sit down and meet. Two tribes that genuinely hated each other are now talking across the table and seeing what they can accomplish."
According to Col. Holmes, the Iraqi election provided the catalyst for a leap in success. "We've seen a change in the city councils, mayors and local governments since the elections. Up to that point, it was as if they were just taking up seats. Now, it's 'let's get something done/ They are talking about the future," he said. "Through the elections, we've been able to bring to reality what a lot of these people thought they would never achieve, and seeing the people become confident is significant."
Col. Holmes added, "The next step is to nurture that enthusiasm and promote patience-wean them off us to their own government ... and not let them give up." The regimental commander explained that the 278th RCT's mission in Iraq basically is to work itself out of a job, training Iraqi security forces to take over and stepping back as they become more able.
"My soldiers feel they are doing something important," Col. Adams said.
The Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment will be a major addition to the regiment's rich history, and the 278th soldiers' loyalty to the unit and each other remains its heritage. A prime example is a former regimental commander, Ronald G. Price, who stepped down as its colonel in 2000. He wanted so much to deploy with the regiment that he rejoined the unit as a staff sergeant.
"'Volunteer' is not just a state slogan," Col. Adams said.
Text and Photographs By Dennis Steele - Senior Staff Writer
Copyright Association of the United States Army Jun 2005. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
Story Copyright to ARMY Magazine
Publication Name: Army
Subject: Military and naval science
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
\RELEASE NUMBER: 050517-02
DATE POSTED: MAY 18, 2005
Civil affairs Soldiers support Balad Ruz MEDCAP
426th Civil Affairs Battalion Public Affairs
BALAD RUZ, Iraq (USASOC News Service, May 18, 2005) – Civil affairs Soldiers assigned to the 426th Civil Affairs Company B visited the Balad Ruz mayor’s office here and assisted with the Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP) May 11.
The 426th CA Co. B is an Army reserve special operations unit based out of Upland, Calif. and is currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. Chris Chang, a civil affairs officer assigned to 426th CA Co. B, was attending a city council meeting when his team’s medic and civil affairs specialist volunteered to assist the 278th Regimental Combat Team’s medical staff with a MEDCAP.
A MEDCAP is a military program that provides basic medical attention to locals in need, said Chang.
“My primary job is as the civil affairs team medic, treating American soldiers, however when I see an opportunity where I can lend my skills to aid the Iraqi people I do,” said Sgt. Kelly Dawson, a civil affairs medic assigned to the 426th CA Co.
“Now I’m assisting the doctor on a regular basis, twice a week," Dawson continued. "We can’t always help everyone, but those we can I feel really good about. We even have sent a handful of Iraqis back to the United States for further treatment”
According to Dawson, approximately 100 people requested medical attention.
“My primary role today was to mingle with those waiting to be screened,” said Sgt. Melia Dewitt, a civil affairs Soldier assigned to the 426th CA Co. “I passed out stuffed animals to the children and tooth brushes and tooth paste to both the parents and children. The patients, especially women and children, are usually fascinated with me because I am female. The interpreters are usually tied up with the medics, so I communicate and answer their questions to the best of my abilities. Some things are universal, such as a smile”
426th CA Co. B is currently attached to the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, an Army reserve special operations unit based out of Danbury, Conn. Both units are currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The units have distributed over 20,000 tons of school supplies, and scheduled over 1.6 billion dollars in reconstruction projects for the provinces of Salah ad Din, Diyala, Kirkuk, and As Sulaymaniyah.
The 411th CA Bn also holds the distinctions of being the first Civil Affairs Battalion to enter Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the first to return for a second rotation.
SSG Kelly on patrol, not sure if the same unit though. No basic load though indicates non-infantry. 210 rounds minimum and some grenades, first aid stuff etc is the norm, you might need it even if you do not want to carry it all.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 203-08
March 13, 2008
DoD Identifies Army CasualtiesThe Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Mar. 10 in Balad Ruz, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.
Sgt. Phillip R. Anderson, 28, of Everett, Wash.
Spc. Donald A. Burkett, 24, of Comanche, Texas.
Capt. Torre R. Mallard, 27, of Oklahoma.
Suicide-Vest attack kills 20, injures 9 (Balad Ruz)
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
UPDATE: The bomber was a male and not a female as previously reported. Also, the attack killed 20 and wounded nine.
Multi-National Corps – Iraq Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory APO AE 09342
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE RELEASE No. 20080917-01 Sept. 17, 2008
Suicide-Vest attack kills 20, injures 9
Multi-National Division – North PAO
BALAD RUZ, Iraq – A suicide vest attack in Balad Ruz, Iraq, was initially reported as a female bomber who killed 17 and wounded eight on Sept. 15, but the attack is now confirmed to have been a male bomber who killed 20 and wounded nine. The attack was conducted at a house near an Iraqi Police Station during the celebratory Iftar dinner in conjunction with the Ramadan holiday.
This one has the whole road, almost. A ride for those who miss it. It is from myspace page of evilmedic.
cut and paste as usual into browser