Dear Interested Reader,
"Red Dragons" reward hard working IP. Gen. Odierno says that Al-Qaida can't sidetrack progress. Govt. leaders reach out to Kirkuk's children. New Provincial leadership tours Joint Coordination Center. The "Eye in the Sky" keeps soldiers out of harm's way. "Dark Horse" medics deliver a baby!
In Afghanistan, 6-4 medic saves a baby's life. The 53rd delivers mail, supplies across Afghanistan. USO visits troops at FOB Fenty.
April 30, 2009
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs RSS
Honoring Their Devotion: 'Red Dragons' Reward Hard Working IP
Story by Pfc. Justin Naylor
Lt. Col. Terry Cook, the cmdr of 3rd Bn honors an IP. with a U.S. Army Achievement Medal, April 8, during an award ceremony in Kirkuk city. The policemen were awarded the medals for their excellence in duty and their hard work at improving security in Kirkuk city, where they partner with 3rd Bn., 82nd FA.
FOB WARRIOR, Kirkuk — A U.S. Army Soldier who has served in the Army for some time has probably received an award. These awards are presented for various reasons from exemplary performance in their job, or perhaps for an act of valor during a combat mission. But for IP in Kirkuk, however, awards are much less common.
For 21 IP in Kirkuk, a symbol of recognition for their hard work and dedication came in the form of Army Achievement Medals presented by "Red Dragon."
According to Army regulation, the AAM can be awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the U.S., or to any member of the Armed Forces of a friendly foreign nation, who while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguishes himself by meritorious service or achievement.
"This was an opportunity to recognize the IP that operate in Kirkuk city, who go above and beyond their duties," said Lt. Col. Terry Cook, the cmdr of 3rd Bn. "They've answered the call to defend the freedoms and liberties of their country, and in so doing, have provided security to the Soldiers of the 'Red Dragon' Bn."
This was the first time that the "Red Dragon" Bn. has presented awards to the IP since they began working alongside them in Kirkuk nearly 3 months ago. There's a good reason we've had only 2 U.S. military service members injured in Kirkuk city since we arrived here, and that's the policemen who work on the streets to ensure the safety of their city, said Cook.
"I love all of my work," said Commissioner Mahdi Wakmash, an IP from Kirkuk. It's an honor for us to receive an award for serving and protecting our country; it's a big motivation for us, said Wakmash.
They [IP] help keep the streets clean, serve warrants, find IEDs and take part in joint ops with 3rd Bn., among other things, said 2nd Lt. Robert Haynes, personnel officer with 3rd Bn.
For the 21 honored police officers, this was a reward for the hours of work they put in making Kirkuk city a better.
Both IP officers and 3rd Bn Soldiers honored 21 IPs.
American Forces Press Service
Al-Qaida Cannot Sidetrack Progress, Odierno Says
By Jim Garamone
NBC's Ann Curry interviews Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comm. gen., MNF-I, at Camp Victory, Baghdad, April 24, 2009.
(DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)
BAGHDAD, April 24, 2009 – While al-Qaida is succeeding in launching a few spectacular attacks in Iraq, it cannot succeed in stopping progress, the cmdr of MNF-I said today.
“Obviously, anything that kills a lot of innocent civilians is something we are very concerned about,” Army Gen. Raymond Odierno said. “But I would tell you that the people of Iraq are resilient. They continue to reject al-Qaida. The people abhor the killing of innocent civilians, pilgrims who are here to pray.”
Despite a few spectacular attacks, the number of attacks remains low, MNF-I officials said, though they do raise some concerns about the fragility of security in Iraq. Attacks yesterday hit people who were collecting food for needy families. “They're going after very innocent civilians, and frankly, the Iraqi people won’t accept it,” Odierno said. MNF will continue to work with the GoI to go after the groups who conduct these attacks, he added.
Suicide-vest attacks are among the most difficult to detect and stop. Yesterday, a woman was holding the hand of a young child as she detonated herself. Today, 2 more women detonated their vests as they were leaving worship. “Because the security has improved so much, the Iraqis are trying to make it easier to have freedom of movement in Baghdad,” Odierno said. “Terrorists take advantage of that.”
Al-Qaida still is attempting to turn back the clock and incite sectarian violence, the general said. “The important thing is that the Iraqis aren't talking about sectarian violence. They're talking about rejecting the individuals who are conducting the attacks. Al-Qaida is not getting the response they want.”
On the operational side, CF are out of the centers of the cities except for Baghdad, where the process continues, and Mosul, where al-Qaida continues to be a problem. “We continue to execute the strategy,” Odierno said. “We still will have transition teams with the Iraqis. We still have liaison teams at the JSSs. We'll be there to support them with enablers if they need them. We'll be available if they ask for our assistance. We will focus on the outskirts of Baghdad and the belts around the big cities.”
In Mosul, the remnants of al-Qaida still operate. Coalition and Iraqi forces conducted ops in Mosul aimed at al-Qaida and, “we’ve had quite a bit of success, but we’re not finished yet,” Odierno said.
Al-Qaida has been broken into very small cells – in Mosul, a few in Diyala and a couple in Baghdad, Odierno said. “But they're small and decentralized, and that's what we have to continue to go after,” he added.
Mosul now has a Sunni-led govt, and this will make it more difficult for al-Qaida to have the passive support of the people of Mosul, the gen. said. In addition, Iraqi and CF are operating in and around Mosul, and they are clearing the city.
U.S. troops and leaders are doing very well, the general said. “Our leaders are incredibly adaptable,” he said. “The morale of the soldiers is very good, because they see progress on the ground.”
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342
Government leaders reach out to Kirkuk's children
The Qoria Chief of Police, Col. Taha, visited a Kirkuk hospital to comfort children injured during a bombing in Kirkuk city on March 11. The bombing took place next to a primary school at a time of day that children were on their way home.
FOB WARRIOR, Kirkuk- April 20 marked the start of a 4-day exhibition at the Kirkuk Govt Building, Kirkuk city, where photographs and info gathered from the youth of Kirkuk province were publicly displayed. More than 1,200 teenagers provided info for the display by filling out questionnaires, which asked about their dreams, hopes and plans for the future. Participants were also given cameras to visually record their daily activities, so that govt officials could understand what interests the city's youths.
Govt leaders in Iraq have also begun to reach out to school-age children of the province in the form of book drops. The Iraqi Ministry of Education, with help from the U.S. State Dept, delivered more than 250,000 books to Kirkuk province April 16. Upon arriving in the province, the books were distributed to over 900 schools by CF and Iraqi SF in Kirkuk.
"The best way to keep children from becoming terrorists is by educating them," said Fawzia Awanis, Kirkuk's dep. dir. gen. of education.
According to Maj. Gen. Abdul Ameer, Iraqi cmdr. in Kirkuk province, the use of children to carry out attacks "is the method of someone losing the war...Their infrastructure is being destroyed and their leaders are being arrested and killed. They're sending a message that, 'we're still here, but we have to rely on every method to carry out our terrorist ops.'"
According to U.S. officials, overall violence in Kirkuk province is declining despite a recent spike in attacks. Govt orgs. are now able to devote more resources to programs aimed at helping the Kirkuk youth population.
Maj. Gen Ameer is responsible for the security of rural Kirkuk in partnership with city police.
Multi-National Division - North PAO
New Provincial leadership tours Joint Coordination Center
Mutashar Hussain, the new gov of Salah ad Din province, listens to an interpreter during an orientation tour of the PJCC.
(Army photo by Maj. Cathy Wilkinson)
COB SPEICHER, TIKRIT - The incoming gov of Salah ad Din province brought the provincial leadership to an orientation tour of the Provincial Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) in Tikrit, April 23.
One of the most critical components to reposition forces per the Security Agreement, is the joint coordination centers. The center brings local Iraqi SF, govt officials, emergency response mgrs, and U.S. Army Soldiers together to coordinate emergency response functions from a consolidated HQ. There are a series of coordination centers spread across the major cities in Salah ad Din province.
Retired IA Staff Brig Gen Issa, the PJCC dir., gave the new leaders an orientation of the JCC concept, and briefed them on the functions and locations of each of the centers. They discussed intel partnerships and the importance of unified coordination. The briefing was followed by a tour of the facility and an extended discussion on the new leadership's vision for the future and how the JCCs fit into the security posture and economic revitalization plans for the province.
"The IP and IA have a great working relationship with the provincial govt," said Col. Walt Piatt, cmdr, 3rd IBCT, 25th ID. "They are in control of the security for the province; we're in support of them. The work done at the JCC's is the way ahead for Salah ad Din. It's how we're building strong partnerships," he added.
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs RSS
The 'eye in the Sky' Keeps Soldiers Out of Harm's Way
Story by Pfc. Justin Naylor
FOB WARRIOR, Kirkuk — A group of insurgents wait in the dark to ambush a convoy. They sit patiently, eager, having planned the attack and thinking they know what to expect. A few minutes pass and then—suddenly—they are inexplicably blinded by spotlights as Soldiers seemingly from nowhere take advantage of their disorientation and safely disarm them.
There was one thing that the attackers did not consider; the "eye in sky" that can see in the dark. "Our mission here is to provide route recon, counter-IED watch, counter-indirect fire support, and look for suspicious activity," said Spc. Mark Mushen, UAV Operator for Co A, 2nd STB, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav Div. The UAV is piloted without an onboard crew and can fly autonomously, or be remotely operated.
"We've a good field of view because we fly at a pretty high altitude," said Sgt. Travis Nunn, UAV operator for Co A. "We can see things that they can't always see." According to Mushen, the UAV offers Soldiers near real-time imagery of an area, and can scout areas days in advance to give Soldiers an idea of what to expect. This is especially true at night, because the UAVs have infrared cameras that allow us to see really clearly, said Nunn. UAVs are versatile and can be used to support nearly any op. "If there's anything that happens, we get redirected to cover it," said Nunn. We see small-arms fire most commonly, but we've also uncovered IED sights and enemy activity, said Nunn. We're also able to be the first ones on the scene if the FOB receives incoming fire, said Nunn.
For the Soldiers who operate the UAVs, there's a direct relationship to the chance of mission success. "The biggest reward is helping save lives on the ground," said Nunn.
The UAVs and their crews provide us a heads up without being detected, said 2nd. Lt. Gen. Mui, battle captain for 4th Sqdrn, 9th Cav Regt, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. "They've directly helped our unit in the past," said Mui.
"It's a good feeling to be able to help troops out," said Mushen. "You've made their job easier. You're an extra set of eyes." Although operating and maintaining a UAV might not always be exciting, it has its moments. According to Mushen, many people believe flying a UAV is like a movie: lots of action. In reality, there's actually a lot of time spent just flying around, or making repairs to the vehicle on the ground. We have to go through a lot of checks before we put it in the air, explained Nunn. We have to ensure that everything is working like it should. From the headings to the engine, we have to double check it all.
When you finally find something, it makes it all worthwhile, said Mushen.
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs RSS
'Dark Horse' Medics Make Good on Delivery
Story by SSgt. Jason Douglas
FOB WARRIOR, Kirkuk — Doing more with less. Be ready to do things that are not in your Military Occupational Specialty. Soldiers are prepared for a wide range of contingencies while conducting ops in Iraq, but delivering a baby is a task most would not expect.
Soldiers from C Troop, 4th Sqdrn, 9th Cav Regt, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav Div, did exactly that while en route to a combined security patrol with Iraqi SF in the village of Dalish, April 21.
As the patrol pulled to the side of the road to investigate a possible weapons cache hiding spot, 1st Lt. Jacob Lopez, plt leader in C Troop, spotted a vehicle racing toward his convoy. "The first thing I thought was why is this vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed towards my convoy," Lopez asked himself.
As the vehicle came to a halt in front of Lopez's convoy, he stepped out of his vehicle prepared for what might come next. An Iraqi woman got out of the white truck and began yelling. According to Lopez, he could not understand what the woman was saying, and at this point he heard his gunner—who was in a higher vantage point and could see a 2nd woman in the back of the vehicle, a pickup truck—yell down "I think the other woman is having a baby!"
"Baby...Baby!" the woman exclaimed in English.
Lopez understood what that meant and called forward his medics. Spc. Nicholas Martin, medic with C Troop ran towards his plt leader. "I didn't know what to expect," Martin said. "But, as I arrived at the vehicle I could see a woman, obviously in labor, lying down in the bed of the truck with blankets wrapped around her, and the baby's head beginning to crown."
Martin's medical training kicked into action, and he immediately began providing assistance. "I started supporting the baby by placing my hands under the baby's head," Martin explained. At this moment, Pfc. Michael Guerrero, also a medic with C Troop arrived to assess what was going on. "I saw that he [Martin] was supporting the baby and needed assistance," Guerrero said.
With the baby completely out by now, Guerrero took out a hemostat, which is a surgical tool that resembles a pair of needle-nosed pliers with a locking clamp, and gave it to Martin in order to clamp the umbilical cord to complete the delivery of the brand-new baby boy. "At this point, I heard the baby cry," Guerrero said. The 2 medics finished wrapping the baby in a blanket before handing him to an exhausted mother.
Martin and Guerrero received medical training on how to deliver a baby while at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. "In order to be a U.S. Army medic, you have to be an emergency medical technician, which instructs students on how to deliver a baby," Martin explained.
According to Lopez, the entire ordeal only took approx. 30 minutes. "It all happened in a snap of a finger," Martin said. The new father, Khaled Naser, thanked the medics for their assistance, and continued the drive to a nearby hospital in Daquq, while the Soldiers prepared to continue on with the mission.
"I relayed to Command we had a baby born and are continuing on the mission," Lopez reported.
CJTF-101 in Afghanistan, Bagram Media Center
6-4 medic saves baby's life in bazaar
By Army SSgt. David Hopkins
JALALABAD AIR FIELD (April 26, 2009) - When a man with blood-soaked hands emerged from a small shop in the Nishgam bazaar in northeastern Afghanistan in mid-March and approached a troop of Soldiers, he had one request for their medic-to save a baby's life.
Soldiers from Charlie Troop, 6th Sqdrn, 4th Cav Regt, were on patrol through the bazaar to show a presence in the area, when a local Afghan nurse burst into the street seeking help from the American
"I wasn't sure what he wanted at first," said Army Spc. Anthony Janda, C Troop medic, "but I followed him into the little shop. Inside there was an 8-year-old boy holding a baby who was wrapped in gauze and had blood all over him."
The baby was victim to a circumcision that went wrong in a village across the border in Pakistan and was brought to the nurse to help, but his knowledge and supplies were limited and the baby was in shock.
Janda knew immediately the injury was serious judging by the amount of blood on the floor. Acting quickly, the medic began to remove the gauze from the child and for the first time realized just how bad the injury was.
"When I started to pull the gauze away blood squirted at me," Janda said. "I didn't really think about it at that point. It was all instinctive." He had never worked on a baby, and was not trained in any medical techniques to save babies, but Janda, a father of a 3 year old, knew he had to save the child.
He tried to control the bleeding by applying gauze to the wound. While he was doing this, he sent another Soldier back to get his NCO in-charge, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Carswell, so he could request an evacuation. However, before the senior NCO arrived the baby's heart stopped beating.
"I've never done CPR on a baby before," Janda said. "Normally I just work on the guys, making sure they are healthy and mission capable. This was completely new."
He performed CPR on the baby and in a couple minutes detected a pulse, but the baby still wasn't out of the water. The child had lost a lot of blood and the medic had none to replenish his supply. The medic and Carswell, who had arrived and was working on getting the baby evacuated, decided to try an IV solution called HEXTAND, which adheres to blood cells and adds more volume to the blood supply. Janda found a small needle in his aid bag and found the baby's tiny vein on the first attempt, but when doing so the baby's heart stopped beating again, and again he managed to bring the baby back with CPR.
The baby wouldn't make it if they didn't get him to surgery, so Carswell ran out into the street to hire a cab.
"I found a local and had our interpreter get him to find a cab," Carswell said. "It's a 30 minute drive, but it was the only way to get him back to the FOB."
Before the cab arrived the baby's heart stopped a third time and again Janda brought him back. When the child was stable again, the nurse from the shop went along with him on the rough, gravel roads to FOB Bostick. The intravenous solution was working by the time they arrived and the baby was responsive and crying. With the help of a large medical team and a pediatrician on the phone they managed to stitch up the baby and save him.
"The cut was deep," said Army Sgt. Shay Wilson, FOB Bostick's Aid Station NCO in-charge. "When the surgery was performed, just over the border in Pakistan, the surgeon, or whoever did the surgery, cut too deep. The baby lost a lot of blood, but Janda did the right things to stabilize him and get him to us."
After the baby and nurse left the bazaar, Janda and the others went back to work without knowing the baby's fate. "I had a heavy heart," Janda said. "I was really worried about the kid, and wasn't really talking to any of the guys. I was depressed because I really didn't know if he was going to make it."
Several hours later the word was passed to the troop that the baby had survived and was doing fine. The entire troop breathed a sigh of relief, and gained even more confidence in their medic.
"To have a medic of that caliber with you is priceless," said Army SSgt. Eric Winn, C Troop squad leader.
"Knowing you have a medic that good with you when you go out lets you focus more on the mission at hand. I wouldn't want anyone else working on me out there."
Janda and his team have visited the baby since saving his life, and he has recovered and is doing well.
"It was great to see him healthy," Janda said. "I'm just happy I was able to figure out the right things to do, and am happy he gets to live a healthy life."
CJTF-101 in Afghanistan, Bagram Media Center
USO Spring troop visit brings celebrities to Afghanistan
Photos by Army SSgt. Adora Medina
NANGARHAR PROVINCE - Actor Dennis Haysbert, of the television series, The Unit, watches as retired San Antonio Spurs basketball player David Robinson signs a sketched drawing of himself for a 3rd BCT, 1st Inf Div Soldier, during a USO Spring visit at FOB Fenty, April 23.
Army Spc. Francisco Rivera, 3rd BCT, 1st ID Soldier, watches as Tommy Lasorda, retired L.A. Dodgers mgr, autographs a baseball. Lasorda was one of 5 guests to visit with Soldiers.
Actors Robert Patrick and Max Martini, of the television series, The Unit, pose for a photo with a TF Duke Soldier.
Actor Dennis Haysbert, of the television series, The Unit, poses for a photo with Army Warrant Officer Levar Gillie, 3rd BCT, 1st ID.
CJTF-101 in Afghanistan, Bagram Media Center
53rd MCB delivers mail, supplies across Afghanistan
By Army Pvt. Cody A. Thompson
AF Senior Airman Jack Blackwell, 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Sqdrn, unloads passengers' luggage off of a Casa 212. The Casa 212 is a small civilian made, AF owned airplane that transports passengers, mail and equipment across Afghanistan.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD (April 26, 2009) - Using a fleet of specialized aircraft, members of the 53rd Movement Control Battalion (MCB) ensure that mail, equipment, passengers and supplies make it to their destinations across Afghanistan.
The 53rd MCB specializes in scheduling, coordinating and executing flights, and can move their numerous airplanes on short notice to most forward and COBs within the borders of Afghanistan.
The bn is comprised of active duty and reserve Airmen from Little Rock AFB, Ark., McGuire AFB, N.J., and Dover AFB, Del. The pilots who fly the airplanes for the 53rd MCB are all contractors with prior
military experience. "Our number-one mission is delivering mail to FOBs in Afghanistan," said AF SSgt. Corydon Thomas, a flight ops specialist with the 53rd MCB, deployed from Dover.
Every piece of mail is flown and delivered by the bn short-take-off and landing airplanes. STOL airplanes have short runway take off requirements, and are easier to land in smaller spaces than most aircraft. Equipment transported consists of ammo, medical supplies, passengers, food, water and parts for disabled aircraft.
The 53rd MCB has the ability to reach more locations quicker than the passenger terminal's aircraft. The MCB can land on anything from a large runway to a small dirt strip, thus increasing its travel and
transportation effectiveness. This helps them fly passengers abroad by creating flights from scratch. "We're a logistics enabler that creates flights and moves equipment, but 90% of our air drops are water," said Thomas.
During supply drops the aircraft flies low enough to drop multiple pallets to the service members or CF waiting to secure them below. From start to finish, the bn is able to locate, load, take off and deliver equipment between 3 to 24 hours after the initial e-mail is sent.
Across Afghanistan the 53rd MCB supplies troops with essential aircraft parts, life sustaining material, and ammo. "What we do here is important because we save lives," said Thomas.
AF SSgt. Corydon Thomas load mail onto a Casa 212. The 53rd MCB owns and operates 3 different types of aircraft: the Casa 212, Metro C26 and the Casa 235.