Dear Interested Reader,
IP receive forensic evidence processing kits at COB Speicher. Sanitation trucks turned over to GoI. New Basra Regional Courthouse ready to serve justice. "Independence Brigade" assumes mission at Camp Taji, replacing 2nd SBCT 25th ID. IA assumes full control of JSS Sheikh Marouf. The 321st AEAS teach Iraqis aircraft maintenance. First Iraqi-taught Waterborne Ops Course students graduate. In Afghanistan, combined forces kill 16 militants in Helmand.
Feb. 28, 2009
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342
IP receive tools for investigating crime scenes
Leaders of the Salah ad-Din province Iraqi Evidence Police Dept stand by the 16 forensic evidence processing kits.
(Army photo by Spc. Jazz Burney)
COB SPEICHER, TIKRIT - Iraqi crime scene investigators in Salah ad-Din Province evidence sections received 16 forensic evidence processing kits, Feb. 25 to enhance their crime scene evaluations throughout the region.
The kits were presented by the 733rd MP Bn and other MND-N personnel at the Joint Expeditionary Forensic Facility on COB Speicher.
"These kits will be very helpful for our crime scene investigators to find fingerprints within a crime scene," said Col. Hameed, Salah ad-Din crime scene investigator chief. "We have a shortage of helpful materials to use in our efforts to protect our people, but with the additional equipment we have now, we will be able to find the truth at the crime scene, and apply the law in a better way."
The investigation kits are part of a province-wide initiative known as IP Primacy. The initiative's goal is to establish a unified and capable IP force that has the sole authority to maintain security through law enforcement and civil order actions in accordance with Rule of Law.
"The contents in the investigation kits are the same materials you could find in a patrol car back in the U.S. - different sized paper, plastic bags to collect evidence, digital cameras to document a crime scene, pens and pencils for diagram purposes, fingerprint powder and brushes, and crime scene tape to mark off a crime scene -- the basic elements for the IP to perform their job," said Special Agent Dave Elkins, 733rd MP Bn., Criminal Investigation Div, who works at the JEFF lab.
Truck handover brings hope of clean future
Conrad Tribble answers questions from Iraqi media. The new sewage trucks are a symbol of the U.S. and Iraq's dynamic relationship, said Tribble.
(Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell)
FOB LOYALTY - Twenty waste sanitation trucks were turned over to the GoI during a ceremony at FOB Loyalty, Feb. 25.
The new trucks, used for sewage maintenance and repair, give the Iraqis additional capacity to work out sanitation problems in eastern Baghdad, said Conrad Tribble, chief of the ePRT with the 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn Div. "It's a tangible sign of what the U.S. govt is doing to help Baghdad really address concrete needs. We're not doing this to make ourselves look good, but to make their country better," explained Tribble.
"Ultimately, the goal is to increase the capacity of the municipal govt and govt legitimacy," said Maj. Brad Hofmann, civil military ops chief, 401st CAB, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.
"The trucks are going to fix the sewage and people are going to love it," said Abel Al Fetlawi, the chief engr of the New Baghdad province. "This is a pretty good thing."
Basra regional courthouse ready to serve justice
An Iraqi Soldier stands at the entrance to the new Union of Basra Court of Appeals.
(Army photo by SSgt. Aaron Thacker)
BASRA - Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the dedication of a new 6-court regional courthouse of justice in Basra, Feb. 26.
The Union of Basra Court of Appeals was welcomed by Basra Gov. El Wa'eli, Iraqi Judiciary Commission Chairman Medhatt Al Mahmoud, MND - SE Cmdr. Maj. Gen. Andy Salmon, members of the Iraqi legal community, Iraqi SF, other Coalition members and local media.
"This courthouse will be a monument of justice," Mahmoud said. "Iraqi justice is very strong. It will not allow outside influences to keep it from serving justice." The regional courthouse is expected to be operational in about 10 days. It is the highest court in the province and is expected to handle civil and criminal cases.
"I think this building is a reflection of the progress that the Coalition and the Iraqis have made," said Capt. Charles Bronowski, MNC - Iraq Judge Advocate. "Rule of law is one of the most important aspects of self governance."
The building took about one year to complete by Iraqi contractors with oversight by the USACE. In addition to courtrooms, the facility includes investigation rooms, legal offices, a conference room and training facilities for staff.
"This is a symbol of the establishment of the rule of law and an increase in the judicial capacity," Salmon said. "This is exactly what is required at this stage on the road from where we've been to where we've got to get to, which is a stable and peaceful Basra."
Blackanthem Military News
'Independence Brigade' assumes mission north of Baghdad
By Sgt. Doug Roles
Col. Marc Ferraro (right), cmdr of 56th Stryker BCT, 28th ID, watches fellow "Keystone" Soldiers raise the colors of the "Independence Brigade." The Pennsylvania National Guard unit, headquartered in Philadelphia, officially assumed responsibility for a province northwest of Baghdad during a ceremony, Feb. 24.
(Army photo by Sgt. Doug Roles)
CAMP TAJI - The Pa. National Guard bde assumed responsibility for assisting Iraqi SF in securing an area around Taji, northwest of Baghdad. The TOA marks an end of mission for Soldiers of the 2nd Stryker BCT, 25th ID, based in Hawaii.
"The Soldiers of the "Independence Bde" stand ready to serve side by side with their Iraqi counterparts to support their endeavor to build a safe and prosperous Iraq," said Col. Marc Ferraro, the 56th SBCT cmdr.
Ferraro acknowledged the sacrifices the Soldiers of 2nd Bde., 25th ID made. He pledged to build upon their success. "Eleven "Warrior" Soldiers will return to Hawaii only in spirit today," he said, also noting the nearly 100 additional 2-25th Soldiers who were wounded during the deployment.
"The challenges that lay ahead we will face head on with tenacity and iron will, just as our founding fathers did," Ferraro said.
A number of Iraqi officials attended the ceremony to say goodbye to the outgoing unit, and welcome the new unit. One Iraqi military official said the region saw an increase in security and infrastructure rebuilding, while Iraqi forces worked together with the Hawaii-based 2nd Bde., 25th ID.
The 56th SBCT, headquartered in Philadelphia, mobilized about 4,100 Soldiers from armories across Pennsylvania. Through the 1st Bn, 111th Inf, the brigade traces its lineage back to the "Associator" force raised by Ben Franklin to defend Philadelphia from French privateers.
Col. Marc Ferraro (left, at podium) speaking through an interpreter, addresses visiting Iraqi military leaders.
Iraqi Army Assumes Full Control of JSS
By Spc. Dustin Roberts
Lt. Col. Robert Kirby (left), and Maj. Hussein sign the official paperwork confirming the hand-off of JSS Sheikh Marouf from Coalition to Iraqi control, Feb. 23.
BAGHDAD — “Many may remember the darker days when a combined U.S. and Iraqi security station was necessary,” said Lt. Col. Robert Kirby, cmdr, 4th Bn, 42nd FAR. “The Iraqi SF, the local leaders, and more importantly, the people decided there had been enough violence and it needed to stop.”
“Terrorists will never again take over, because of the hard work and sacrifice of Iraqi SF and CF,” said Iraqi Maj. Hussein, cmdr. “We will never forget those who lost their lives to help secure this area.” After the partnered warriors neutralized their enemy in the Sheik Marouf area, Hussein said the neighborhood, district councils, govt, religious leaders and citizens of Karkh came together to ensure peace thrived through the area. “I’m so thankful for the dedication of the people here,” he said. “We removed the terrorist elements from here and we are here to stay.”
“Today’s transfer is truly another step forward for the Iraqi people. It shows the capabilities of the IA and IP to protect the people,” Kirby said. “While CF no longer operates from this site, our commitment to share its goals does not change. We will continue to operate in partnership with the ISF, to enable the bright future that lies ahead for the people of Karkh.” He also said Karkh’s citizens are beginning to reap the benefits of safety in their neighborhoods.
“From this site, IA, IP and CF, in concert with local govt, civic leaders, and the people, planned and conducted ops to rid the area of the violence that plagued it. Families are seen shopping in the markets or in the parks, and children attend school without fear,” Kirby said. “Now the concrete walls are coming down and the people are living peaceful together without the threat of attacks and violence.”
Airmen Teach Iraqis Aircraft Maintenance
By Staff Sgt. Tim Beckham
SATHER AIR BASE — Imagine trying to teach someone how to perform a very complex task when they have no formal training. Now picture accomplishing this when you don’t even speak the same language. This is the task at hand for many aircraft structural maintenance Airmen from the 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Sqdrn, but for them it’s not just about teaching, it’s also about learning.
“When we first arrived there was a huge language barrier, but over time we have made progress in teaching the Iraqis aircraft maintenance,” said Tech. Sgt. Jim Grifasi, 321st AEAS metals technician advisor. “We have also learned a lot about how to teach them.” The advisors concluded that the best way to teach the Iraqis the intricate tasks of aircraft structural maintenance was to let their counterparts do the teaching for them. “We decided to teach the ones who could speak English, the ones we could communicate with, and then let them teach their own,” said Grifasi, who is deployed from Kirtland AF Base, N.M.
The experimental teaching process has been an enormous success, according to Tech. Sgt. Bobby McKenzie, 321st AEAS aircraft structural maintenance advisor. “Not only are the Iraqis learning how to do their job, but they are even using American written technical orders to accomplish tasks,” he said. “I came in one day and one of them noticed a part was missing. So he took it upon himself to interpret the T.O., order the part and use the Iraqi supply system to get the part delivered.”
Not only are the advisors teaching the Iraqis how to perform their day-to-day jobs, but according to McKenzie, they are also teaching them the importance of running a successful shop. “We have an Iraqi major and we are trying to make him realize that he is the boss, and he needs to make decisions that are in the best interest of his shop.”
“We're also promoting pride in the workplace, and the importance of a clean work space,” added Grifasi. The Iraqi maintainers have come full circle since these advisors arrived more than 6 months ago, but they said it was their dedication that impressed them the most. “One of our guys had a baby girl recently, and when we worked it out so he could go and see her for the first time, he said, ‘if you can stay here for a year away from your family to teach me, then I can wait a few more days to see my daughter.’ That’s how dedicated these guys are,” said McKenzie.
The 2 advisors said it has been difficult at times but all in all, they feel like they are making a difference. “It's been a very rewarding experience,” said McKenzie. “I've just focused every bit of energy on teaching the Iraqis as much as possible and making friends.”
“I told my commander that if I don’t do something that truly makes a difference in changing their lives, then I have wasted the last year of mine,” added Grifasi.
Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Phoenix Base
APO AE 09348
First Iraqi-taught Waterborne Ops Course graduates 19
BAGHDAD – Proudly standing in front of their recently-delivered River Patrol Boats, 19 IP proudly accepted their certificates Feb. 26, marking them as the first class to graduate from the Baghdad River Patrol Station and Training Center under the tutelage of all-Iraqi instructors. This modest, but significant, accomplishment represents the handover of responsibility for training all future River Patrol classes to the Iraqis, with Int'l Police Advisors serving as mentors.
“This first class is a step forward in this training academy and supports Interior Minister Bolani’s long-term vision in building a self-sustaining SF for Iraq,” said Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, Comm. Gen., Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq. “These police forces are critical to the security of Iraq because they have to operate in a non-sectarian manner with no political motives and uphold the standards associated with the Rule of Law.”
Graduates of the 6-week Waterborne Ops Course learned not only basic police procedures, but also emergency response skills. The jointly-developed Iraqi/Coalition curriculum will help train waterway police from other Iraqi provinces, as the Baghdad River Patrol Training Center transforms from a station, and endeavors to become a national-level training center.
Iraqi Maj. Gen. Ali al-Yassiri, cmdr, Baghdad Patrol Police, said, “In the future, I want to have a training academy so I can have people from all over Iraq to train, not just those from here in Baghdad. I want to thank the CF for giving us a jump start on this program. This is actually providing us with the opportunities for complete control of not only our streets, but the rivers as well.”
Maj. Mickey Thomas and Capt. Brian McCraine, both with Border Transition Team 4312, reevaluate their course of action while out on mission in Diyala, Feb. 12.
(Photo by Spc. Opal Vaughn)
Iraqi children come out to greet CF checking on the progress of a school being refurbished near the Saadoun neighborhood in the Rusafa District of Baghdad, Feb. 25.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell)
U.S. Forces - Afghanistan
Afghan National Army, Coalition Forces kill 16 militants in Helmand
KABUL - Feb. 23, Afghan NA and CF were conducting a routine patrol when their convoy came under heavy and accurate small-arms fire from numerous militant fighting positions. The combined forces responded with small-arms fire. The militants would not be subdued and began firing mortars and RPGs at the combined forces. As the threat escalated, the combined forces responded with several precision strikes to kill the militants. Prior to the strikes, the combined element assured there were no non-combatants in the area.
Following the strike, the Afghan NA cleared a compound from which the militants had been firing. The combined elements discovered IED-making material, which they destroyed in place.
"This engagement was yet another blow to the militants, who are quickly losing their ability to operate in Helmand Province," said U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Spokesperson, Col. Greg Julian.