Dear Interested Readers,
We have such positive stories tonight; spreading good will to the Iraqi people; the disruption of al Qaeda networks; opening up rail lines, and windmills to deliver clean water.
Soldiers Strengthen Relationships with Hamiyah City Council, Residents
By 1st Lt. William Perdue, 3rd ID
Saturday, 08 March 2008
Spc. Gregory Touzani, and Pfc. Troy Buford, both with Co A, 3rd Bn, 7th Inf Regt, 4th BCT, 3rd ID, pose for a picture with children in Hamiya, March 1.
FOB KALSU — There were no doors being kicked in and no shots being fired in Hamiyah during the March 1 patrol. Soldiers were geared up and prepared for anything. They had pockets full of toys and candy for children who approached them as adults greeted them with smiles.
“You can really see how much it means to the locals when we give out the humanitarian aid bags,” said 1st Lt. Chris Blom, exec. officer for Co A. “They are so grateful and appreciative of what we are doing for them and they can see that we are really here to help them.”
Soldiers on the ground know every action has a reaction. Everything they do brings about some kind of response from local residents they pass throughout the day, said 1st Lt. Ryan Daly, 2nd Plt leader, Co. A. The purpose of this patrol was to strengthen relations with the Hamiyah City Council and local residents, Daly said. Soldiers discussed improving ties between the Hamiyah City Council and the Jurf Nahia Council. They also discussed the progress of new and existing projects to improve local infrastructure and the importance of maintaining security.
It is a necessary step to cement the framework of the Iraqi govt beyond the presence of CF, Daly said.
Projects to benefit area children were also discussed. Rasoul, an engineer and a council member, is working with 2nd Plt to make improvements to the Mustaffa Secondary School. The town is also working on larger projects, including future construction of a school and repairs to the water distribution system.
On the last two hours of the patrol, Soldiers worked with the Iraqi Org. for Motherhood, Childhood and the Handicapped. They met with Kasim, a council member and main spokesperson for the group. Soldiers heard the group’s needs and plan to make frequent trips to deliver food, school supplies and basic medical supplies to aid area residents, Daly said.
Friday, 07 March 2008
Al-Qaeda networks in central Iraq disrupted; eight killed, 17 detained
BAGHDAD – CF killed 8 terrorists and detained 17 suspects Thursday and Friday during ops to disrupt al-Qaeda networks operating in central Iraq.
Northeast of Samarra near the Hamrin Mountains today, CF conducted an op targeting the alleged al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader for the Kanan village. The targeted individual is reportedly associated with numerous AQI members in the region. During the op, the ground force called for the occupants of several target buildings to come out and observed them attempting to engage the ground force. CF responded to the threat, killing 4 terrorists, including the wanted individual. The ground force secured the building where the wanted individual was located and discovered a cache of Urea, a common precursor for homemade explosive materials.
As CF continued to clear additional buildings in the target area, they encountered armed enemy personnel attempting to maneuver on their position. Responding to the perceived threat, the ground force engaged, killing another 4 terrorists. Once the target area was secure, CF safely destroyed 2 buildings which contained the Urea and a cache of weapons, to prevent further use for terrorist attacks. Seven suspected terrorists were also detained during the op.
During 2 additional coordinated ops in Samarra this morning, CF detained 3 suspected terrorists, including 2 wanted individuals. One of the suspects is an alleged leader for the Samarra AQI network and close associate to the senior leader, providing his residence as a bed down location for the leader’s family. Also, the suspect’s son is reportedly involved in VBIED attacks and part of the cell in the region. The other wanted individual, detained nearby, is reportedly a direct associate of AQI senior leadership, including members of the senior leader’s inner circle.
North of Tarmiyah today, CF captured an alleged associate of the AQI northern belt network. The network is responsible for the majority of IED attacks in the area, and is involved in extortion, intimidation, weapons trafficking and the facilitation of foreign terrorists. The suspected terrorist is reportedly responsible for providing info on Coalition ops in the area for use in planning attacks. In addition to the wanted individual, the ground force detained 2 suspected terrorists on site.
CF captured another alleged associate of the northern belt AQI network during an op in Baghdad today. Reports indicate the suspect has direct ties to the senior leader of the network and to numerous terrorists involved in the VBIED network in Karkh. The suspect is also allegedly responsible for forging identification documents for numerous AQI members in the region.
On Thursday, CF detained 3 suspected terrorist during an op east of Tikrit, near the Hamrin Mountains, targeting an alleged AQI weapons facilitator involved in smuggling and kidnapping ops.
"Al-Qaeda in Iraq's attacks only strengthen our resolve to support the courage of the Iraq people," said Lt. Michael Street, MNF-I spokesman. "Iraqi and CF are committed to ending the terrorists' campaign of indiscriminate violence and creating a safer country for all Iraqis."
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Louisiana Soldiers Show Southern Hospitality to Iraqi Children
By Sgt. Henry Bauer, 769th Engineer Battalion
March 07, 2008
Lt. Col. David Lowe, 35th Eng. Bde, from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., hands out school supplies to children in West Rashid located in western Baghdad, Feb. 11. Lowe took part in the humanitarian mission with Soldiers from the 769th Eng. Bn from Baton Rouge, La.
BAGHDAD — The 769th received items from their home State with the request that they distribute these items to the Iraqi people. So they recently traveled to the neighborhood of West Rashid, located in Baghdad, to present various types of gifts to the local Iraqi children.
“It is a tradition in the 769th to make some sort of donation to the communities that we have worked in around the world,” said Com. Sgt. Maj. Chad Lynch, Command Sgt. Maj. of the 769th Eng. Bn.
“We usually give school supplies to a school, and in this case we found a community in need,” said Lynch, who was sent items such as stuffed animals, Mardi Gras beads, pens, pencils, tablets of paper, crayons, coloring books, various toys, and a variety of hygiene products from several businesses in the Ascension Parish, Louisiana area, near his hometown.
Capt. Patrick Jenkins, a Principal at Zachary Elem. School located in Zachary, La., is currently serving in Iraq with the 769th Eng. Bn as the Bn Personnel Officer. “I miss the students every day. Just getting the opportunity to impact a child’s life in even a small way as giving away school supplies was an honor,” said Jenkins when asked of the similarity with his students at Zachary Elementary school and the local Iraqi children whose lives he helped make brighter. “One of the many purposes of education is to empower each child to become a responsible, respectful, and contributing citizen of their country whether American or Iraqi,” said Jenkins. “One of the greatest impacts to this country will be through the literacy of its children.”
Lt. Col. David Lowe, and a member of the 35th Eng Bde commented, “This was truly a rewarding experience. Thanks to donations from back home, we were able to extend our good will by giving gifts to these children.” Lowe went on further commenting that “the excited children smiled and laughed as our Soldiers worked to ensure each child received ample school supplies and other gifts.”
The 769th Soldiers involved in the humanitarian mission in West Rashid feel as though they have contributed to the overall mission in Iraq to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
The Thunder Rolls: Taji Rail Lines Open for First Time Since 2003
By Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 25th Infantry Division
Thursday, 06 March 2008
Soldiers from A Batt, 2nd Bn, 11th FAR, 2nd Stryker BCT, 25th ID, MND-B pull open the doors of the rail road gate on Camp Taji Mar. 5 as an Iraqi locomotive slowly approaches the gate, marking the first time a train as arrived at the installation since the beginning of Op Iraqi Freedom.
CAMP TAJI — The railroad lines of the Taji Qada, north of Baghdad, have laid dormant since the beginning of Op Iraqi Freedom in 2003, but as a result of the efforts of MND – Baghdad Soldiers, the first train let loose a thunderous blast of its horn March. 5, as it slowly rolled through the gates of Camp Taji.
"This particular train … is part of a proof of principle,” said Cpt. James Kerns, who serves as the asst. ops officer for the Base Defense Ops Command (BDOC), MND – Baghdad. "It's an enduring mission. The Iraqi railroads are being put back in, and it's going to change the face of Taji," said Maj. Henry McNealy, who serves as the ops officer for the BDOC. "It'll become a consistent train; hopefully, over time, the infrastructure of Iraq will be rebuilt."
"Every year, something big usually happens – last year it was getting the oil lines back up – the electric lines running again, and this year it'll probably be getting the rail going all the way from Mosul to Baghdad – being unimpeded by criminal elements, al-Qaeda-in-Iraq or special groups,” he explained.
The leg work, as far as conducting, maintaining and navigating the locomotive to Camp Taji, was performed by the Govt of Iraq with minimal Coalition assistance, said Kern.
"It'll bring business into the area; it's going to bring economic goods into the area, and it’s going to allow the Iraqi Army to facilitate and sustain their own ops in the future,” Kern said. “Hopefully, in the not-so-distant future, improve security ops for the Iraqi Army by allowing them to bring military equipment into the area and more sustainment items to Camp Taji and further north into Iraq.”
Cooperative Medical Engagement Treats Hundreds of Women, Children
By Cpl. Benjamin Eberle, I Marine Logistic Group
March 5, 2008
Children peer over a concrete wall during a Cooperative Medical Engagement (CME) event in as-Saqlawiyah. The event took place at the village schoolhouse and provided free medical care for more than 200 civilians in the community.
SAQLAWIYAH — “Shukran” is the Arabic word for “thank you,” and service members heard it often during a civil affairs event here, Feb. 29. Iraqi personnel – along with Marines, Sailors and Soldiers based at Camp Taqaddum and neighboring Habbaniyah – participated.
An 18-year-old mother said the medical supplies were greatly needed, but being able to accept them without fearing retaliation is the most significant achievement of Iraqi and CF. “We like the Iraqi Police being around,” she said, through an interpreter. “Before, the insurgents wouldn’t even let us take water from the (nearby) river.”
The CME is part of Iraqi Women’s Engagement (IWE), a State Dept. outreach program providing support to Iraq’s women while respecting local customs. Male-female interaction in public is discouraged, even in medical environments, so female medical personnel worked with female interpreters to assist the Iraqi women. Men were seen in a separate room on the opposite end of the school.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Knuth, a 34-year-old corpsman was the chief medical provider for women. Her job was to ensure Iraqi women and their children received quality medical attention without being 'contained by their culture.' “We usually see a pretty good turnout of women,” said Knuth, a corpsman with Marine Wing Support Sqdrn 272, 2nd Marine Air Wing. She normally treats about 100 during each CME. “It’s nice that they’re able to get female care for female issues.”
Regardless of culture, sharing personal medical info with anyone can be difficult. Facilitating face-to-face dialogue between women is a practical solution that helps ease that apprehension, said Maj. Margaret M. Weitzel, CampTaqaddum’s IWE coordinator. “(Male Marines) can be intimidating,” Weitzel said. So are female Marines, when they need to be. Armed with loaded service rifles, the women had the weighty task of keeping the area safe. They worked alongside their male counterparts, providing security during the medical engagement and searching Iraqi women for contraband.
“I take it very seriously,” said Cpl. Jessica A. Cox, a 24-year-old. She’s deployed to CampTaqaddum as an electrician with MWSS-272 and provided security for the CME event. “There’ve been kids strapped with bombs, and they’ve also had females come in with bombs on them, so it’s very important to check everyone thoroughly.”
Gunnery Sgt. Tammy A. Belleville, co. gunnery sgt for HSC, 1st Marine Logistics Group, led a small team of female Marines responsible for searching women and children before they entered the compound. “You see the Iraqi women interacting with their children, and we’re so much the same,” said Belleville, who has a 10-year-old son. “The maternal instinct is there, no matter what language you speak or what geographic location you come from,” she said. “More and more, I see that we’re more alike than we are different.”
On average, the IWE program connects Camp Taqaddum personnel with the Iraqi public once a week.
A New Plan for Clean Water: One Windmill Pump per Village
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek, 3rd Infantry Division
March 4, 2008
Col. Ryan Kuhn, dep. com. officer for the 3rd HBCT and Maj. Chris Hempel, agricultural officer from the MNC - Iraq Civil-Military Ops Cell, talk to a contractor and local villagers at a windmill-powered ground water pump in Al Zatia village March 1.
FOB HAMMER — The first stop for Col. Kuhn, and Maj. Chris Hempel, was the village of al Zatia, where they met with the head contractor for both windmill projects. Analyzing the windmill-powered pumps’ capability to produce clean water led him to consider using the pumps for irrigation, Hempel said.
After al Zatia, Hempel and Kuhn traveled to the village of Hollandia to check on the unfinished windmill project there. “The windmills are [intended to provide] the majority of the villagers’ drinking water,” Hempel said. “It [drinking water] was being trucked in from vendors. With the windmill-powered ground water pumps, they won’t have to pay for water.”
“This area is unique,” Hempel said. “It’s the only area with these windmills. This is a 3rd HBCT project and we wanted to get eyes-on so we can potentially expand throughout other areas of the country. We will keep monitoring the project’s progress at Corps.”
The idea for a windmill-powered ground water pump came from a joint effort between Kuhn and leaders of the 489th CAB, from Knoxville, Tenn.
Kuhn said he grew up not much differently than the Iraqi villagers he spoke with. “I’m a farm boy from Nebraska,” he said. “If this worked for me in Nebraska where water is hard to come by, there is no reason it wouldn’t work out here.” Kuhn said he has plans to add solar purification systems to the windmills. “It’s a simple idea that has great value,” he said. “This is the first time the wind and sun have been used together to provide clean drinking water anywhere in Iraq. It requires all renewable energy and helps protect the environment. It’s simple technology and it can’t fail.”
The windmills pull water from 30-meter-deep ground wells into 200-gallon holding tanks, Kuhn said. The pump can produce 200 gallons of water every hour and provide water for up to 150 families.
“When we got the first one up, the elders called it a spaceship,” Kuhn said. “I told them, ‘You can call it what you want as long as it provides water for your village.’” Kuhn said, “One of the elders responded with, ‘I know God has not given up on us. We have not had drinking water since 2003.’”
“Insurgents used to be able to control the prices when the water was delivered,” Kuhn said. “Now that the area is secure, they can’t do that anymore. The windmills deliver water for free using the sun and the wind. This puts great pressure on the insurgents. My dream is to be able to produce enough water so no child will ever have to go long periods of time without water,” he said. “Children can play in the streets now and with the windmills, they can come get a drink of water and go right back out and play.”