Dear Interested Reader,
The New Year promises more success for Iraq, and hopefully the troop surge in Afghanistan will bring the same results as it did in Iraq. The GoI will be taking control of most of the SoI members from CF in an important step to national reconciliation and sovereignty. Combined patrols enhance Iraqi SF capabilities, while the 10th IA Div. coordinates major training events for the coming months. 82nd Paratroopers prepare to take over Iraq mission from the 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div. Large weapons cache seized, and terrorists captured. In Afghanistan, plans are underway to expand beekeeping in Konar province, which makes a very interesting read, while CF maintain pressure on terrorists in Kabul and Paktika provinces.
Dec. 31, 2008
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342
Diyala Sons of Iraq transfer underway
BAGHDAD - Along with a new year, Iraq is ringing in an important step toward national reconciliation and sovereignty on Jan. 1, 2009. On that date, the nation's govt will take over control of 76% of the nation's SoI members from CF in 4 key provinces across the country -- including Diyala, one of the most diverse provinces, where AQI once terrorized and intimidated local residents.
The transfer marks a dramatic turnaround in Diyala province in particular. "Diyala is a small Iraq," said IA Maj. Gen. al-Mawla, vice chairman of the Iraqi Follow-Up Committee for National Reconciliation. Home to Kurds as well as Sunni and Shi'a Iraqis, the region is more varied than Baghdad, where SoI members have already been successfully transferred to Iraqi control. 20% are slated to join the IA or IP; the rest will enter public or private employment in a variety of roles, from civil engineering to electrical maintenance to working in the govt's multiple ministries.
"The goal of this program is to eventually hire these people into meaningful jobs," said Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, comm. gen. of MNC-I. "While many of them are working in security positions right now, ultimately they'll transition and go into other meaningful jobs, and that's the goal. The SoI feel as if they're being taken care of," Austin said. "They're apprehensive, but that's to be expected. This is new and building trust takes time."
Civil Service Corps projects continue to be the main focus of non-security job efforts, with more than 4,100 SoI currently enrolled in various apprentice programs. Iraqi-led jobs programs for the SoI, such as CSC and public works projects, remain in development. The GoI is also looking at opening a number of job-training centers around the country to address the needs of unskilled SoI members. "Those results have come about because of determined leadership," Austin said.
Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter, left, dep. comm. gen., MNC - Iraq, and other CF leaders meet with IA Lt. Gen. Kareem, right, Diyala Ops Center cmdr., on FOB Gabe in Diyala province.
(Army photos by Spc. Eric J. Martinez)
Brig. Gen. James C. Nixon, left, dep. comm. gen., MND - North, speaks with IA Brig. Gen. Khalid, cmdr., 5th IA Div.
Combined patrols enhance ISF capabilities
An IA sgt, alongside Sgt. 1st Class Michael Webb (left) and Pfc. Robert Taylor, both of Co B, 1st CAB, 18th Inf Regt, 2nd HBCT, 1st ID, conduct a vehicle search during a combined patrol, intended to locate hidden weapon caches in Baghdad's Jawadeen area, Dec. 27.
An IA soldier speaks with an Iraqi citizen as 2nd Lt. Chris Miles (center), 1st CAB, watches on during a combined patrol Dec. 27 in Baghdad's Kadhamiyah district. Combined patrols are being conducted to provide security and enhance the relationship with local Iraqi citizens and Iraqi SF.
10th Iraqi Army Division prepares for the coming months
COB ADDER - 10th IA Div staff officers attended a planning session on COB Adder, Dec. 27 to coordinate major training events scheduled from January to March.
Brig. Gen. Jabbar, 10th IA Div. dep. cmdr., and Col. Philip Battaglia, 4th BCT, 1st Cav Div cmdr., steered the meeting, received briefings from subordinates and provided guidance on the future training. "We have a saying that if you teach a mother, you will teach a family," said Jabbar. "For our division, it is better for us to teach a leader right now who can then go teach their Soldiers."
The 10th IA Div. planned key events during the first 3 months of 2009, including an IA Day in early January, establishing security for the provincial elections taking place at the end of January, and a live fire exercise in the south-eastern Maysan province for February.
"We're all very impressed with how the 10th IA has stepped up with this planning session," said Battaglia. "My units are in strict compliance with the security agreement and accordingly, the IA will be increasingly operating completely independent of any U.S. involvement."
The planning session included Iraqi staff officers coordinating with their 4 BCT staff counterpart on areas such as intel, logistics and ops. The 10th IA staff plans to hold these meetings every 2 to 3 months in order to plan key events throughout 2009.
Brig. Gen. Jabbar, and Col. Philip Battaglia, share a light moment during the division's quarterly training conference.
(Army photos by Maj. Chad Carroll)
Brig. Gen. Jabbar, provides guidance to his staff. Col. Philip Battaglia.and his staff attended the meeting with their IA counterparts.
82nd Paratroopers prepare take over Iraq mission
FOB LOYALTY - Soldiers assigned to the 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn Div, continue to transition with their 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div, counterparts in Baghdad; they will partner with the Iraqi SF and local govt officials during its 12-month deployment to Iraq.
For the Soldiers of the 5th Sqdrn, 73rd Cav Regt, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn Div., the transition began to take shape by assisting local Iraqi officials during a reopening ceremony Dec 23, for the Motasum Elementary School in eastern Baghdad.
The shift of the 2 bdes is a great process between the orgs, said 1st Lt. Bradley Wilson, the asst fire support officer for the 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt. "It has been a smooth transition between us and (10th Mtn. Div). They have been very helpful in advising us on what is going on in the area," he said. "We look forward to continuing what the 10th Mtn. Div. did here and assist the ISF if needed."
The shift is also helping the new Soldiers adjust to life in a combat environment. For many this is their first deployment, and they are looking forward to helping the ISF, said Sgt. Steven Keller, a member of the personnel security detachment for the 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt. "They are very excited and eager to help, and they are starting to feel more relaxed in their surroundings," he said.
Soldiers assigned to 5th Sqdrn, 73rd Cav Regt, assist Iraqi officials during the opening of the Motasum Elementary School. Paratroopers are transitioning with the Soldiers of 4th BCT.
(Army photos by Staff Sgt. Alex Licea)
Col. Craig Collier (left), cmdr. of the 3rd Sqdrn, 89th Cav Regt, introduces Lt. Col. Dave Buckingham, cmdr. of 5th Sqdrn, 73rd Cav Regt, to local district and school officials.
Iraqi Army finds large weapons cache
FOB KALSU - In the Jurf region during a patrol Dec. 28, IA Soldiers reported to CF the location of a cache consisting of 657 37 mm anti-armor munitions with cartridge cases.
Members of the 760th EOD responded, cleared the area and disposed of all ordnance in place by controlled detonation.
ISF capture 5 terrorists during separate operations throughout Iraq
BALAD - During an op Dec. 27, Baqubah SWAT team arrested 2 suspected terrorists while serving warrants. These individuals are allegedly responsible for IED and rocket attacks against Coalition and Iraqi SF.
In a separate op Dec. 26 in Rabiah, elements from the 3rd IA captured 3 suspected terrorists. The individuals are believed to be extorting money from civilian and commercial traffic then transferring it to other local terrorists' cells.
U.S. Forces - Afghanistan
Afghanistan Dept of Agriculture, PRT work to expand beekeeping in Konar province
KABUL, Afghanistan – Surviving primarily on subsistence farming, many Afghans teeter on the edge of malnutrition and starvation every year. In Konar province, one of the most violent provinces in the country, an American PRT is working with the Afghan govt on a unique solution to help feed its people: bees.
The Konar Dept of Agriculture has a number of small beehives throughout Konar Valley, and has been working to expand the reach of the pollinators. Not only do they hope to breed more bees, they also hope to build more beehives to be distributed among more farmers. This is where sugar comes into play. With the help of PRT Konar and the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, the Afghan govt has been distributing sugar to existing beehives to increase their population. More than 300 pounds of sugar have been provided by the Afghan Govt to local beekeepers and farmers. They expect that the bees should be ready to help with the spring pollination of crops. With the help of the bees, they hope to increase the yields of crops in the immediate area by at least 10%.
The idea is not as far fetched as it may sound. Bees are a booming business in North America. According to the Univ. of Georgia’s website, beekeeping is a $9 billion industry in the U.S. Bee hives are bought, sold, and rented out across the country.
In Canada if a blueberry farmer hopes to increase profit he can get a return of $41 per every dollar spent on renting bees for pollination, and an apple farmer can get upwards of $192 per dollar. The Konar Government hopes to get a similar return for their investments.
Bees also produce raw materials for the Afghan people to trade and barter. Honey is an obvious product of successful hives and is especially valuable in this environment because it is one of the few agricultural products that do not have to be stored in cold temperatures. Honey can be easily consumed, sold, or possibly exported to nearby provinces.
Beeswax is also a valuable commodity. Commercially, it is a primary component in candles, cosmetics, polishes and pharmaceuticals. It is the hope of the Afghan beekeepers to one day export these goods to other countries.
U.S. Forces - Afghanistan
Coalition forces maintain pressure in Kabul and Paktika provinces
KABUL, Afghanistan – CF killed 5 armed militants and detained 6 suspected militants during ops targeting Taliban facilitators and a Haqqani cmdr. in Kabul and Paktika provinces, Dec. 27.
The op in Sorubi District, approx. 60 km northeast of Kabul City, targeted a Taliban militant known to facilitate terrorist activities throughout the Uzbin and Tagab Valleys in Kabul and Kapisa provinces. The targeted militant is also assessed to traffic foreign fighters, weapons and munitions into the region. Suspected of meeting in the remote mountains to plan future attacks, the Taliban militants were tracked to the isolated location during the early morning hours by CF. As the force approached the militants, they were engaged by small-arms fire. CF engaged the militants with small-arms fire and precision munitions, and killed 4 militants. A search of the militants following the op revealed multiple AK-47s, RPGs, hand grenades and other military equipment.
In Gyan District, approx. 175 km southeast of Kabul City and just 10 km west of the Pakistan border, CF killed one militant and detained 6 suspected militants during an op targeting a Haqqani cmdr. believed to plan and execute attacks against CF in Paktika. The wanted Haqqani cmdr. is also responsible for roadside bomb attacks that indiscriminately kill innocent civilians and CF. During the op, one militant assaulted the force as they attempted to search the compound. Realizing the threat, the force engaged the militant with small-arms fire and killed him.
The force searched the other compounds without incident and detained 6 suspected militants while protecting 18 women and 45 children.
Col. Jerry O’Hara, a U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesperson, said “They (insurgents) do nothing to help the Afghan people. In 2008, Coalition medical teams treated over 100,000 Afghans in the eastern regions alone. It’s a shame these actions never get reported.”