Dear Interested Reader,
Many positive stories showing progress in Iraq. Small businesses are receiving microgrants in Sha'ab, while Camp Taji celebrates the progress of IA maintenance soldiers. A Conference of IA leaders and leaders from Task Force Mtn. focuses on future of Iraqi Security Forces. A Special Groups' leader detained, while AQI terrorists captured or killed. Grand Canal upgrades improves traffic flow.
Aug. 28, 2008
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342
Soldiers Offer Microgrants, Security While Patrolling Streets of Sha’ab
By Sgt. Zach Mott
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Maynard shakes hands with a shop worker during a patrol in the Sha'ab neighborhood of northern Baghdad, Aug. 24, 2008.
Photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott.
BAGHDAD — He sees a lot of potential in northern Baghdad. During a routine patrol around the area, he points to several areas that need improvements – a park here, a new store sign there; even SoI checkpoints are on his radar for upgrading.
“(We’re) showing the people that we care about them. We care about the future and trying to put money into the environment – treating them with dignity and respect – trying to get them out of their homes into a safe, secure environment so they feel comfortable with us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Maynard. “Once we do that, they can start living normal lives.”
As the patrol drove around the Sha’ab neighborhood that surrounds FOB Callahan, Maynard pointed to the areas that he sees room for improvement as well as those that have improved in his 3 weeks here. In the 8 months prior to arriving at FOB Callahan, Maynard and the other members of 3rd BCT, 4th ID, were responsible for entry control points in Baghdad’s International Zone.
After an abbreviated relief-in-place of the counter improvised-rocket assisted mortar patrol mission from a 4th ID Scout/Sniper Platoon, Maynard and his Soldiers hit the ground running – and with microgrant applications in hand. In slightly more than 3 weeks, Maynard has processed nearly 30 applications, which he hopes will help to revitalize the small businesses off the heavily traveled roads here. Four previously submitted grants have been approved in that time, and shop owners were quick to put that money to use. “They’ve already put up signs, got generators to help equip themselves. They’ve already hired local people to help them run their shops,” said Maynard, who serves as a plt sgt. “That’s been the biggest improvement so far.”
In addition to microgrant applications, the Soldiers usually come armed with school supplies, stuffed animals, soccer balls and anything else that might serve useful to the residents.
“There’s lots of interaction (here). There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t have kids swarming us,” said Sgt. James Cook, MND-B.
Taji Level III Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance Facility celebrates early progress
CAMP TAJI - IA maintenance soldiers were honored for their recent achievements and progress during a ceremony at the Taji Level III Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Taji, Aug. 26.
The ceremony highlighted the Iraqi's ability to do Level III maintenance, repairing 150 wheeled vehicles and 25 tracked vehicles since the IA took over the facility, June 1.
"This (the repaired vehicles) averages out to about twenty vehicles a week which is great," said Capt.
Brig. Gen. Muniem, the electrical and mechanical engineering officer, the key note speaker for the event, praised the hard work of the officers and soldiers of the Level III facility. "We have done a great job fixing a lot of vehicles during this campaign, so congratulations," said Muniem. "They are very professional and work very hard to support the IA and our country."
In April, a small group of officers and Soldiers of the 1st Sustainment Bde started working with their Iraqi counterparts. "It's exciting. This represents change for the IA," said Chief Warrant Officer Keith Hammitt, the maintenance advisor to Col. Mohommad. "This is a result of their hard work and sacrifice."
Gen. Abadi, the IA dep. chief of staff, congratulates a soldier as he walked the line of nearly 130 wheeled vehicles and 20 track vehicles.
(Army Photo by Staff Sgt Brant Maude)
Brig. Gen. Muniem gives Staff Gen. Nasier Abadi a tour of vehicle parts on display.
Conference Focuses on Future of ISF
By Sgt. David Turner
Maj. Gen. Ali, cmdr. of the 17th IA Div (bottom right), meets with leaders from Task Force Mtn, MNC - Iraq and IA leaders for a conference to discuss the future of Iraqi SF at Camp Victory, Aug. 20, 2008.Photo by Sgt. David Turner.
BAGHDAD — "What we are trying to do is identify force generation needs. We are looking at the way ahead," said Capt. Steven Chadwick, an ISF coordinator with 10th Mtn Div. The conference focused on manning, equipping and training the ISF to be a more effective and self-sustaining force. "We already know where we are going to be in 6 months. We are looking 2 years-plus, trying to figure out what we see the IA looking like, what challenges we are going to encounter in getting to that end state," said Chadwick.
As insurgent attacks have slowed dramatically in the past 10 months, new IA units have stood up at a rapid pace. The coalition troop surge gave the ISF a chance to accelerate their growth, said Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, cmdr. of Multi-National Security Transition Corp - Iraq.
New equipment is also being fielded to IA units in an effort to modernize the force. IA units are now receiving M-16 rifles, up-armored Humvees and sophisticated radios to perform their missions. A whole new generation of military equipment is being purchased by the IA, including helicopters, tanks and equipment to defeat IEDs.
With new equipment comes specialized training. A new program called warfighter training is giving IA bns the chance to conduct exercises that develop team and leadership skills while units gain proficiency with new vehicles and weapons. Soldiers also learn counterinsurgency and other training not necessarily provided by MiTTs.
"Our role is shifting. As the Iraqis get increasingly better at controlling their battlespace ... we are shifting less from advising on ops, intel and fires, where they are not only competent but they are 4 or 5 times better than the bad guys -- and we are helping them more on logistics," said Col. Timothy Deady, whose team works with the 8th IA Div.
Helmick said, "The end goal is for them to increase their security capability and for us to decrease our presence. We know we're not where we need to be; we know we're not where we want to be, but thank goodness we're not where we used to be."
MND-B Soldiers find weapons cache in southwestern Baghdad
FOB FALCON - Aug. 26, at approx. 8 p.m., engineer Soldiers of Co E, 1st Bn, 22nd Inf Regt, 1st BCT, 4th ID, reported finding 100 blasting caps, 20 RPGs, 2 120 mm mortar rounds, a 60 mm mortar round, 2 anti-tank rounds and 35 parachute grenades in the Shurta community.
An EOD team was called in to remove the munitions suspected to be used as IED-making materials.
Coalition forces capture senior Special Groups leader at BIAP
BAGHDAD – August 27, Intel sources report that the captured man is part of the most senior social and operational circles of Special Groups. Most notably, he is believed to be responsible for the planning of the June 24, 2008 bombing of the Sadr City District Advisory Council meeting, where 6 Iraqis, 2 U.S. State Dept employees and 2 U.S. service members were killed. Ten other Iraqis were wounded in the blast. The man has been known to travel in and out of Iraq to neighboring nations including Iran and Lebanon, where it is believed he meets and helps run the Iranian-backed Special Groups in Iraq.
In order to maintain the safety and security of the passengers and patrons of the airport, CFs waited for the wanted man’s plane to land, and in cooperation with airport authorities, detained the man without incident.
Terrorists with suicide vests killed, alleged attack cell leader detained (Baghdad)
BAGHDAD – CF killed 3 terrorists – 2 of whom were wearing suicide vests – and detained 6 suspects, including an alleged AQI leader, during ops in Diyala province, August 27.
CF targeted regional terrorist leaders near Jalula, about 125 km northeast of Baghdad who are believed to have close ties to AQI senior leaders. When forces arrived, several men ran from the target building and hid in nearby fields. CF repeatedly called out for the terrorists to surrender and fired warning shots, but the terrorists refused to comply. CF, who found bomb-making materials and weapons in the target building, perceived hostile intent from the terrorists and engaged them, killing 2. One man who survived the engagement detonated his own suicide vest as a CF element approached him, killing only himself. One dead terrorist was also wearing a suicide vest that did not detonate, while the other was armed and wearing a military-style assault vest and ammo. CF called for supporting aircraft, which destroyed the explosives in the target building and the suicide vest.
Also in Diyala, CF captured an alleged AQI leader who, according to detainees already in custody, is responsible for bombing attacks and assassinations in the Hawijah area. Five additional suspected terrorists were detained in the op near Tuz Khurmartu, about 70 km south of Kirkuk.
Grand Canal Upgrades Ease Traffic Flow
By 1st Lt. Jane Capra
After 12 hours of steady work, the sun rises over the newly completed canal bridge bypass. With jersey barriers emplaced on the side of the road, 3 Soldiers from the 46th Engr Combat Bn ground guide a smooth roller operator as he applies the final touches in making sure the new road can support heavy civilian traffic.
Photo by 2nd Lt. Janeene Yarber
CAMP TAJI — The scene replayed every few minutes, frustrating military and civilian drivers alike near the city of Taji. A steep slope on the on-ramp, coupled with a lack of a hard surface, were making it hard for traffic to travel the road and causing traffic to regularly back up for half a mile.
This is where the Soldiers of the 46th Engr Combat Bn, along with 8 IA engrs, combined their efforts and offered the construction skills to help resolve the confounding issue for the local community. The only catch – the road could only be closed from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. – and the job had to be completed in one night.
Integration of the IA engrs, said Wilkes, allowed them to gain hands-on experience so they can learn the appropriate skills to perform missions such as this in the future.
A man carries a girl to the line for distribution of children's clothing and school supplies delivered by El Salvador's Bn soldiers, X and XI rotations, in a village near Shaikh Sa'd, Aug. 24, 2008.
Photo by Sgt. Daniel West