23 May 2008

Purchase Green Beans coffee on May 26 and support TAPS and Soldiers' Angels

May 22, 2008 Pasadena, CA - Green Beans Coffee Company (GBCC) announces the “Memorial Day Green Beans Coffee Special.”

For every purchase made on May 26, 2008 at any location worldwide or online, Green Beans Coffee will donate $1 from your order to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and Soldier’s Angels.

Green Beans Coffee has made a name for itself providing top-of-the-line coffee for U.S. troops stationed in war zones across the globe. They have more than 55 frontline locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Africa and other overseas locales. They have won the hearts and minds of the troops with quality coffee drinks and baked goods. Their cafés provide a safe, inviting respite for soldiers in dangerous lands.

Jason and Jon Araghi founded Green Beans Coffee in 1996. Its first store, Art Nouveau Café, was located in Saudi Arabia. The café became popular with local U.S. soldiers, who asked the brothers to open a café on a nearby military base. Green Beans Coffee grew with the U.S. military as its footprint expanded in Southwest Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Today, there are more than 55 Green Beans cafés worldwide. Green Beans Coffee Company believes in giving back to its customers that serve in the United States military.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides a wonderful support network for the surviving families of those who have died in service to America. For more information visit www.taps.org.

Soldiers’ Angels is a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit comprised of 200,000 volunteers in over twenty different teams and programs with unique and effective ways to support members of the U.S. military. Soldiers’ Angels operates internationally to provide letters, care packages, and comfort items to the deployed, and support for their families at home. They also provide assistance to the wounded, continuing support for veterans, remembrances and comfort for families of the fallen and immediate response to unique situations. For more information, see www.soldiersangels.org or call (615) 676-0239.

For more information, visit www.greenbeanscoffee.com
Contact: info@greenbeanscoffee.com
Phone: US (415) 461-4023
Phone: Intl: +965-697-2223

17 May 2008

Crazy Horse Soldiers Conduct Route Clearance Mission

Soldiers of the Mortar Platoon, Company C, "Crazy Horse", 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, attached to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, enter the final leg of their route clearance mission May 2, conducting a dismounted patrol operation from their Combat Outpost in Baghdad al-Jidida along a major highway that runs to Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah.

The Soldiers conduct the route clearance mission from the COP daily to ensure that it remains free of improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles. The 1st Bn., 66th Armor Regt. is part of the 1st BCT, 4th Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Brent Williams)

15 May 2008


Girl, 8, used as bomber kills Iraqi captain

Spokesmen for both the US and Iraqi military have confirmed that a girl strapped with explosives was the cause of a blast that killed an Iraqi captain and injured four soldiers south of Baghdad.

Iraqi Army Lt Ahmad Ali said the explosives were detonated yesterday as the girl approached the Iraqi commander in Youssifiyah.

Ali said from the scene that "the bomb was detonated by remote control, killing Capt Wassem Al Maamouri and injuring four soldiers."

And killing the girl, too, of course. Who was, I repeat, 8 years old.

This is why we fight.

h/t Bill at the Castle

NPR radio interview with DJ Emery

Marine Sgt. David Emery, shown with his daughter, Carlee, was injured in an explosion in Iraq. The highly drug-resistant bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii complicated his recovery. Photo Cynthia Berger.

The story focuses on the infection which nearly cost DJ his life after being wounded in February 2007. The infection which caused his doctors and his mom to be faced with the gut-wrenching choice between life or limb almost 6 weeks after his injury.

Going back to the beginning, DJ also tells about getting blown up. "I was trying to get up, find my rifle and stuff... but I couldn't move. I couldn't see anything, either."

DJ was given nearly 300 units of blood in Iraq and in Germany during the days after the explosion, incredibly changing his blood type to O.

His mom Connie discusses some of their experiences dealing with the infection during DJ's hospitalization and they both talk about their new daily routine back home with Carlee, whose favorite activity is riding in daddy's wheelchair.

Read the article and listen to the interview at NPR here.

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

24th MEU in South Helmand province

B-roll of Marines of A Company, BLT 1/6, 24th MEU in the South Helmand province of Afghanistan. Scenes include them surveying an area behind a wall, firing their weapons, footage of aircraft dropping a missile, Marines patrolling along the wall and the Marines lying down resting.

My favorite line: "Hey, get me an AT-4!"

And from JHD, this AP story about how happy the Marines are to meet what the article characterizes as "stiff resistance."

"The number of fighters that stood and fought is kind of surprising to me, but obviously they're fighting for something," [Maj. Tom] Clinton said, alluding to poppies. "They're flowing in, guys are going south and picking up arms. We have an opportunity to really clear them out, cripple them, so I think we're exploiting the success we're finding."
The next day, at a meeting of Marines and Afghan elders, the bearded, turban-wearing men told Marine Capt. Charles O'Neill that the two sides could "join together" to fight the Taliban. "When you protect us, we will be able to protect you," the leader of the elders said.

Despite uncertainties over how secure Garmser, O'Neill liked what he heard.

"We have something here we can really exploit, if we can get some Afghan national police here," he said. "The Marines can definitely do the job, but we're not a permanent presence. With their own people providing their own security they can really get something done."

14 May 2008

Don't mess with Soldiers' Angels!

Just sayin'.

Thanks to Smith for being a good sport about this. All the best for a speedy recovery!

Interview with MG Rick Lynch at the Castle

FbL has posted the final installment of her three-part interview with Major General Rick Lynch, Commanding General, 3rd Infantry Division (MND-C, Iraq).

In closing, I asked MG Lynch if there was anything I hadn't mentioned that he feels is not being heard back home. He replied with intensity, "I continue to find myself frustrated by the idea that the American army is at the breaking point!"

He referenced 3ID's record-breaking rate of reenlistment, with fiscal year goals met in March despite having deployed 3 times since 2003 and currently finishing up a 15-month deployment. "But [they are] reenlisting because they believe that what they are doing is important--protecting our freedoms and way of life--in their souls. They believe in the mission, as I do."

Go read about the mission of 3rd ID and the accomplishments made in the areas of security, reconstruction, and economic development. It's not all about fighting by any means - MG Lynch has apparently learned a lot more about fish and poultry farms than he anticipated, in spite of the COIN nature of the 3rd ID's mission.

And so MG Lynch and the rest of 3ID HQ will be home by about June 3, after 15 long months at "war..." Or at something that no longer resembles war for them, so much as it resembles a cross between the later stages of a disaster recovery operation or the typical Peace Corps project.

Make sure to read Part I and Part II of the interview, too.

Marine Corps demolishes recruiting goals

Marine Corps Meets 142 Percent of Recruiting Goal in April

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month and could eventually be more than a year ahead of schedule in its plan to grow the force to 202,000 members.

All military services met or exceeded their monthly recruiting goals in April, with the Marine Corps signing 142 percent of the number it was looking for, the Pentagon said.

The Army signed 101 percent of its goal, recruiting 5,681 against a goal of 5,650. The Navy and Air Force met their goals — 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen.

The Marine Corps enlisted 2,233 recruits against a goal of 1,577.

Relief Mission to Burma

Senior Airman Daniel L. Mortensen, a loadmaster with the 36th Airlift Squadron, 374th Airlift Wing, 5th Air Force, pushes a pallet of disaster relief supplies bound for Burma May 12 onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft. The flight was the first Cyclone Nargis aid distribution mission for the U.S. military, which was requested by the Burma governing authority to distribute needed humanitarian aid. Photo Cpl. Eric Arndt, III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs.

An Air Force C-130 Hercules prepares to take off May 12 to conduct a humanitarian assistance mission to Burma. The flight was the first Cyclone Nargis aid distribution mission for the U.S. military, which was requested by the Burma governing authority. Photo Cpl. Eric Arndt, III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs.

13 May 2008

Quote of the Day

John Fernandez plays lacrosse at an Army-Navy alumni game at Madison Square Garden on April 26. Photo AP.

"Change of direction is a little bit more difficult just because I don't have ankles."

Former Army 1LT John Fernandez, injured in a friendly-fire incident April 3, 2003.

Patrolling in Baghdad's Shorja Market with the Sons of Iraq

Bill Ardolino reporting from Baghdad for The Long War Journal.

Last Friday, soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division conducted a night patrol through Shorja Market, the most famous market in Iraq, with the Al Sadria Sons of Iraq, or neighborhood watch.

Vendors and shoppers pack Shorja’s streets during the day, and a vibrant nightlife continues well past dusk. The market is located in the heart of downtown Baghdad, and was the scene of some of the war’s worst spectacular bombings and sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

Security has vastly improved in the last seven months. The positive change is credited to the “surge” of American forces, the development of the Iraqi security forces, and especially the efforts of the Sons of Iraq.

Church helps Iraqi family in Kentucky

The couple decided to leave Iraq after Haithem's friend was shot dead while they were driving home from work together one evening. Haithem had worked as an interpreter with Iraqi and US security forces.

Although Ethar was born in London and holds a British passport, they were not granted permission to go to the UK. But after a 2-year application process they are now living in Lexington, Kentucky.

Haithem and Ethar.

When they first arrived, they slept on the carpeted floor of a completely empty apartment with blankets lent by a friend.

Haithem imagined he would get support from the local mosque in Lexington. They never returned his calls.

The family have now moved to a two-bedroom apartment, which is fully furnished and decorated with gifts from the local ecumenical church.

They have even provided toys and crayons and colouring books for the two children.

And they've been accepted by a local programme for refugees - which is paying their first three months' rent.

Four-year-old Farah.

Haithem is currently earning $6 an hour working at a burger bar, but it won't be enough to make ends meet. So he has applied for a high-paid job with a military defense contractor - back in Baghdad. Ethar and their two children will remain "home" in the US.

Afghan National Army Conducts First MEDEVAC Mission in Nangarhar Province

U.S. service members prepare to move casualties from an Afghan national Air Corps MEDEVAC helicopter, April 29, at Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. This MEDEVAC mission followed a suicide bomber attack at in Nangarhar's Koghyani District. It is the first point-of-injury MEDEVAC conducted by the ANAC's 377th Helicopter Kandak. (Photo/Army Staff Sgt. Roberto Perez)

12 May 2008

Congratulations, Patti!


Patti Patton Bader Named “America’s Favorite Mom”

PASADENA, CA May 11, 2008 – Soldiers’ Angels founder Patti Patton Bader was named “America’s Favorite Mom” in a primetime television show Sunday night on NBC. Sponsored by Teleflora and hosted by Donnie and Marie Osmond, the show highlighted fifteen outstanding mothers who had distinguished themselves in categories ranging from Working Moms to Military Moms and “Non-Mom” Moms.

Humbled by the honor, Bader is thrilled to be able to use it to continue the Soldiers’ Angels mission of “May No Soldier Go Unloved.” As the grand prize winner, she will receive $250,000, a set of household appliances, and other valuable items. Bader hopes to apply the winnings to her plans for a small ranch that will allow newly returned soldiers to relax with their families after deployments.

“I really am lucky to know so many heroes in my life,” said Bader, who herself has two sons in the Army, one currently deployed to Iraq. “Whether they are the troops who serve our country or the amazing mothers here on this America’s Favorite Mom program, I am honored to be in the presence of such inspirational people and also am humbled to know that America thinks the same of me.”

Bader is also excited about the opportunities this platform gives her to help people learn more about America’s military heroes and options for supporting them and their families. The attention she has received through the America’s Favorite Mom events has already drawn a number of new volunteers who want to use their talents and connections to help support the troops.

In a nationwide online poll last March, Bader was voted “America’s Most Inspirational Mom” after having been nominated by her eldest son for founding and leading Soldiers’ Angels. On May 5 she appeared on the Today show as one of three selected finalists in the “Favorite Military Mom” category. A nationwide online poll was again conducted, and the results were announced on May 11, with Bader being named winner in both the “Favorite Military Mom” and “America’s Favorite Mom” categories. More information is available at America's Favorite Mom.

Soldiers’ Angels is a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit comprised of around 200,000 volunteers in over twenty different teams and programs with unique and effective ways to support members of the U.S. military. Soldiers’ Angels operates internationally to provide letters, care packages, and comfort items to the deployed, and support for their families at home. They also provide assistance to the wounded, continuing support for veterans, remembrances and comfort for families of the fallen, and immediate response to unique difficulties. For more information, see the Soldiers' Angels website or call (615) 676-0239.

America's Favorite Mom was presented by NBC Television and Teleflora, America's leading source of hand-arranged floral bouquets, plants, and gift baskets. For more information, see America's Favorite Mom.

11 May 2008

New patient transporter operational at Bagram

An Air Force high deck patient loading platform aligns with a KC-135 Stratotanker to load patients to be flown to Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center, Germany, here April 9. The new HDPLP, a special-purpose vehicle which limits the time a patient is exposed to outside elements, is one of three vehicles in the Air Force inventory. U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester.

Bagram Airmen operate new transporter

by Capt. Toni Tones, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/17/2008 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- The Air Force high deck patient loading platform was designated operational with the transfer of five patients during a KC-135 Stratotanker channel mission from Afghanistan to Germany April 9.

The HDPLP is a special-purpose vehicle with an enclosed lighted and climate-controlled cabin designed to access high deck platform airframes, such as KC-135, Civil Reserve Air Fleet B-767 and KC-10 Extender, for servicing and enplaning/deplaning patients. The platform has various configurations, but the most common is for mixed capacity which holds up to six litters and 10 ambulatory patients or staff.

There are only three of these vehicles in Air Force inventory; two at operational locations -- Bagram Air Base and Ramstein AB, Germany -- and one for testing at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. ...

Anywhere from 125-150 patients are transported per month from the Craig Joint Theater Hospital here to Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Facility in Germany via semiweekly medical evacuation missions. These patients require specialized medical care unavailable at the forward deployed locations. ...

The responsibility of getting the patients safely to the aircraft rests on the shoulders of 12 Airmen and Soldiers, assigned to the patient administration section, who operate and maintain the vehicle. The Soldiers, assigned from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, serve anywhere from eight to 15-month tours, while Air Force members serve six to eight-month rotations.

Getting the vehicle here and operational required multiple agencies support -- Air Mobility Command , U.S. Air Forces Central, 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, Task Force Lifeliner, and a three-person training team from 435th CASF.

More About Medical Evacuations to Germany.

25 Reasons I Owe My Mother

In my mailbox yesterday from... my Mom ;-)

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL .
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
'Because I said so, that's why.'

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'

7. My mother taught me IRONY
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
'Stop acting like your father!'

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
'There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
'Just wait until we get home.'

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING .
'You are going to get it when you get home!'

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.'

19. My mother taught me ESP.
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
'When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
'You're just like your father.'

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
'Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?'

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'

25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE
'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.'

Happy Mother's Day!

10 May 2008

"Bronx Girl" Drives 120 Convoys in Afghanistan

Senior Airman Vanessa Velez, a convoy driver with the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team, poses for a photo in front of the humvee she will be driving just before her next mission outside the wire here Feb. 10. Velez, who is a vehicle maintenance controller with the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., has driven at least 120 convoys during her 365-day deployment in Afghanistan.

As a member of the most elite Air Force in history, today’s Airmen often get the news that Senior Airman Vanessa Velez received when she was first notified of her 365-day deployment.

“I was told, ‘you won’t be working vehicle maintenance; you will be a driver,’” said Airman Velez, who took the news in stride. “At Fort Bragg, I found out I wouldn’t be driving shuttles, distinguished visitors, or commanders around in a car or bus like I was mistakenly told at my duty station. I would be driving a fully-loaded Humvee outside the wire in enemy territory at least five times a week.”

Airman Velez recalls Lt. Col. Bobby Robinson, who would end up being her Provincial Reconstruction Team commander, telling the team they would be living in tents and riding outside the wire.

“That’s when reality set in. At first, I was shocked and couldn’t believe that a girl from the Bronx, N.Y., was about to be a driver in a hostile situation,” said Airman Velez. ...

When she’s outside the wire, Airman Velez is somewhat of a celebrity with the Afghan children. “They get excited because they see a female Airman. They want to touch my hair and earrings,” she said. “The Afghans want to learn and have a lot of questions. They want to work and take care of their families like most ordinary people do.”

This is Airman Velez’s third deployment in three years, but she has no regrets.

“I am an Airman first, just like all the services have been preaching,” she added. “This shows, in this day and age, you could be tasked to do anything to support the war on terror.

“My job satisfaction comes from constantly thinking about all the people’s lives I have in my hands,” said Airman Velez, who’s primary job is getting people back and forth from a mission safely. “My vehicle is my job. I drive so much that my Humvee is my office. I don’t have a computer, e-mail, or an office. I have a Humvee.”

Read the rest of the story about Airman Velez, the "Bronx Girl" in Afghanistan.

09 May 2008

Kiowa Rocket Launch

An OH-58D Kiowa helicopter from 3-17 Cavalry fires a 2.75-inch rocket at a weapons cache during Operation Patriot Strike in Ubaydi Dec. 29, 2007. Photo: Task Force Marne.

Over 1000 deployed service members waiting for adoption

We might have to close the submissions page if we don't catch up with adoptions.

Please consider standing up and becoming a Soldiers' Angel, or help spread the word.

To adopt a soldier you must commit to sending a card or letter each week and a minimum of 1 or 2 care packages a month. This is one of the most important things we can do to help bring home a healthy hero. It is so very important for each of them to know that we care and support them, and your letters and care packages will do just that.

Click here for more information about adopting a deployed service member.

Thank you.

Badger 6 is home

"Safe in the Arms of Love"

Welcome home, B6!

Walking in the midst of fire

Behold I see four men, walking in the midst of fire.

The fire did not arrest their motion;
they walked in the midst of it.

It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny...

It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day...

I want to know that the shadows of this world
are the shades of an avenue -

- the avenue to the house of my Father.

- Mrs. Charles E. Cowman (Daniel 3:25), Streams in the Desert.

For SGT James Hackemer and family.

Some Iraq War FAQs

From the White House Office of Public Liaison-Military Affairs.

MYTH: The American people are footing the bill for Iraq’s security and reconstruction while Iraqis sit on large windfall oil profits.

FACT: The Iraqi government is taking over the funding of reconstruction. In 2008, Iraq’s budget for large-scale reconstruction projects exceeds that proposed by the U.S. by more than 10 to 1, and the U.S. military expects that Iraq will soon cover 100 percent of such expenses.

FACT: Iraq's security ministries are now spending more on their security forces than the U.S., and Iraq’s 2008 budget provides for more than 75% of the total annual cost for Iraq’s military and police.

FACT: Iraq’s Ambassador to the U.S., Samir Sumaida'ie, says that Iraq still has to import gasoline, and argues that “some people are going a little bit too far looking at the Iraqi surplus and the gigantic American deficit and putting two and two together … The windfall from the oil will not cover a fraction of what we need to provide clean water, electricity and the most rudimentary services for our people.”

MYTH: Iraqis are not defending their country.

FACT: As General David Petraeus testified in April, Iraqis are increasingly in the fight, recently incurring losses three times the level of Coalition losses.

FACT: Iraqi soldiers, police, and volunteers are securing their nation in increasing numbers. According to General Petraeus, more than 540,000 individuals serve in Iraq’s Security Forces, with more than 133,000 soldiers and police added over the past 16 months.

FACT: The military reports that there are now more than 91,000 Sons of Iraq — Shia as well as Sunni — under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect neighborhoods and secure infrastructure.

Read more from Steve Shippert at The Tank.

08 May 2008

Take me to the river

A Soldier raises his hand to reenlist in the Tigris river. Photo: Task Force Marne.

Special LIVE "Talking with Heroes" shows this weekend


Residents of Abilene, Texas Welcome Home Air Force MSGT Craig Colton Recently Returned from Iraq

Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 7, 2008 - Bob Calvert, Host of the internationally listened to Talking with Heroes Talk Show Program announces a special LIVE on the Internet program May 10, 2008 from 10:00 – 11:00 AM (CST) with residents, friends and organizations from Abilene, Texas.

MSgt Colton was deployed to Taji, Iraq as an air advisor/instructor. Training the new Iraqi Air Force, he also served as the unit's First Sergeant. When back in America he is assigned to Dyess AFB. He has spent most of his career as an avionics technician on B-1 and B-2 Bombers. He has served as a military instructor and a recruiter and enjoys being part of the best Air Force in the world.

On his off duty time MSGT Colton works hard to assist the wounded veterans returning from the War on Terror that struggle every day to overcome life-changing sacrifices such as the loss of a limb, significant burns, and the reality of being in a wheelchair. He believes we should all help the people who have given so much on our behalf overcome these obstacles and resume a productive and fulfilling life through programs targeted to their specific needs.

Listen live to the May 10th program (then click on "Listen Live". You can also log on to the chat room!)

Guest information on the May 10th program.

MSGT Colton will also Co-Host a special Two Hour LIVE Internet Broadcast Sunday evening May 11, 2008 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm (CST).

More Information at Talking with Heroes.

Bob Calvert, Host
EMail Bob

07 May 2008

Marines fight Taliban in Helmand province

An AP journalist embedded with troops in Afghanistan recently filmed U.S. Marines firing at positions where Taliban militants were believed to be in the Hemland Province.

On April 30 the Marines of the 24th MEU, teamed up the UK's 16 Air Assault Brigade, began to push south of Garmsir. In a complex set of maneuvers, they conducted their passage through British lines and across the Helmand River where, but for a few border security police, neither ISAF nor the Afghan Security Forces have a presence.

Other British units provided planning, intelligence, engineering, and artillary support.

"This is what alliances are all about, professionals coming together to achieve the right effect," said Colonel Pete Petrozio, Commanding Officer of 24 MEU.

Via The Long War Journal.

101st Kiowas fly Combat Support for 173rd ABCT

Package of Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot flying with Task Force Outfront in support of 173rd ABCT in Afghanistan.

Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilots are taking the fight to the enemy in Afghanistan. The 101st Aviation Brigade's "Task Force Outfront" aviators have flown over 6000 hours since arriving in January, and Outfront averages over eight missions a day. SSG Pat Malone introduces us to one pilot who's dedicated his life to supporting Soldiers on the ground.

Task Force Outfront provides reconnaissance, lift, and close-combat attack support to Task Force Bayonet's area of operations.

Interviewee: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric Leach, Kiowa Helicopter Pilot

Thoughts from inside the barrier

An Iraqi employee of The New York Times returns to Baghdad after spending over a year in Syria.

[At the checkpoint near my mother's home] I turned my head to the left and I saw the biggest cement wall I have ever seen, which encircles my neighborhood.
[One of the two Iraqi soldiers] inspected my car with an explosive detector device. The other was just looking at us and it seemed that he recognized my mother’s face because he said: “Hi, auntie.”

Now I felt really safe because those people were working properly, not like the security forces in my neighborhood before...

As people say in my neighborhood: “The Americans are now Ansar al Sunna.” Protectors of the Sunni.

Read the whole thing.

h/t The Blog at the Weekly Standard.

06 May 2008

Putting the squeeze on the Mahdi Army in Sadr City

Soldiers detach concrete barriers from a crane in the southern portion of the Sadr City district of Baghdad May 3. The Soldiers from Company A, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National-Division - Baghdad, are transporting the barriers while Soldiers from other units emplace them. Story and photo: Spc. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo.

U.S. Army soldiers from 1-27IN, 25th Infantry Division guard construction of a concrete wall running through the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Baghdad, on Sunday, May 4, 2008. The 12-foot concrete barrier is being built along a main street dividing southern Sadr city from north, where Mahdi army fighters are concentrated. AP Photo/Petr David Josek.

The Long War Journal reports the Mahdi Army is taking a hit in Baghdad:

Clashes between the Mahdi Army and US and Iraqi forces continued in Baghdad over the weekend as efforts to complete the security barriers separating the southern portion of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army-controlled north. The US military has moved another battalion of Strykers into the Sadr City.

US and Iraqi forces have killed 18 Mahdi Army fighters in Sadr City and New Baghdad since the afternoon of May 3. Nine Mahdi Army fighters were killed in Sadr City and northern and eastern Baghdad during the nighttime and early morning hours of May 4-5 after attacking US forces, planting roadside bombs, or preparing to launch mortars and rockets.

US soldiers killed four more Mahdi Army fighters in the eastern district of New Baghdad after coming under attack on May 4. And US troops killed five more Mahdi Army fighters in Sadr City as they attempted to stop the barrier from being built late May 3 and early May 4. No US soldiers were reported killed in any of the incidents.

Sadr City has long been the stronghold of the Mahdi Army and they're fighting hard to keep it, as illustrated by these two other articles at The Long War Journal...

Sadr City barrier 'a magnet' for Mahdi Army attacks
US troops kill 28 Mahdi fighters in Sadr City

... as well as these statistics.
US and Iraqi forces have inflicted heavy casualties on the Mahdi Army in Sadr City and surrounding neighborhoods since the fighting broke out in Baghdad on March 25. According to US and Iraqi reports compiled by The Long War Journal, 502 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed in and around Sadr City.

Meanwhile, Muqtada al Sadr is believed to be in Iran.

Sisters of Fallujah: New roles for women in Iraq

Several new Iraqi women are honored during a graduation ceremony as the new Sisters of Fallujah on April 23. The sisters participated in classroom lectures on law enforcement, ethics and first aid, fired weapons on a firing range and learned how to properly search people coming through entry control points.

The sisters are important in breaking the gender barrier in Iraqi culture, which has now acknowledged the need for women to work alongside Iraqi Police in a law enforcement role.

Iraqi women participate in lectures and training on April 19 to become Sisters of Fallujah, a young organization that is breaking a city's gender barrier by allowing women to work alongside their male Iraqi Police counterparts at entry control points throughout the city.

International Police Advisers and Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion, Regimental Combat Team-1, trained the new sisters in their role of searching females and children to prevent illegal weapons and explosive materials from being smuggled into the city. U.S. Marine Corps photo: Cpl. Chris Lyttle.

05 May 2008

Legion Co, 1-503rd PIR builds new Observation Post in Kunar province

Package of Task Force Saber Soldiers establishing an observation post to overwatch a key route through Kunar province. Watching the route and its checkpoint are critical to both regulating traffic and monitoring insurgent activity along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

Unit Involved: Legion Co., 1-503rd PIR, 173rd ABCT

Interviewed are SSG Kyle Seitz and 1LT Seth Parker.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

America's Favorite Mom Contest - Action Item May 5th

Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers’ Angels is one of the fifteen semi-finalists in NBC’s “America’s Favorite Mom” contest. There are five categories, and she is nominated with two other moms in the "military moms" category.

The winner receives a $250,000 cash prize, and Patti will be using all of the prize money for Soldiers' Angels projects.

Patti will be featured the morning of Monday May 5th on NBC’s Today Show, and all day Monday (but ONLY Monday) folks will have the opportunity to vote at America's Favorite Mom in her category.

You can only vote Monday May 5th from 9 AM to 9 PM Eastern time but you can vote up to 10 times (on the 5th) for each valid email address you have.

Patti was nominated for this award by her son, SSG Brandon Varn who adds: "Please help us by voting for my mom Monday and maybe passing on this on to a few of your friends. It's for a good cause and only takes a moment."

The Soldiers’ Angels Sewing Team Announces BLANKETS OF BELIEF

Making sure America's deployed servicemen and women know...

We Believe in You!

Our goal is to send 180,000 HOMEMADE BLANKETS made with “love and belief in you” to our service members spending another holiday season in the war zones.

Will you please make just ONE?

“Blankets of Belief” information and guidelines. At the link there's also a printable flyer to hand out or post at your local fabric store.

Questions/comments? Please email Blankets of Belief

THANK YOU on behalf of the troops we serve and the Soldiers’ Angels Organization!

04 May 2008

1-91 Cav Soldier awarded Bronze Star for Valor

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Milley, CJTF-101 deputy commanding general of operations, presented a coin for excellence to Sgt. Ryan P. Inabnet, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 1-91 Cavalry Squadron, after awarding him the Bronze Star for valor, April 24, at Fire Base Naray, Kunar province.

Inabnet was recognized for saving more than a dozen Soldier’s lives while acting with a Quick Reaction Team re-enforcing International Security Assistance Forces battling insurgents. He provided first aid to several wounded Soldiers and transported numerous casualties to a medevac point. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Christina Sinders.

Full article.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.