Dear Interested Reader,
"Crazy Troop" gains new home at FOB Minden. HMLA-167 "Warriors" tackle missions on 2 fronts. Suicide bomber network crippled. Economic projects planned for Ghazaliyah.
In Afghanistan, successful ops continue in Marjah, an insurgent stronghold, seizing weapons and drugs. Czech PRT trains ANSF in Logar.
May 31, 2009
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs RSS
Crazy Troop Gains New Home at FOB Minden
Story by Staff Sgt. Carlos Burger
Soldiers from C Troop, 1st Sqdrn, 10th Cav Regt, 2nd BCT, 4th ID, live in a/c, hard-floored tents on FOB Minden.
FOB MINDEN – Recently, the Soldiers of 'Crazy' Troop, relocated to their new home, FOB Minden in Basra province.
The troop will have the opportunity to work with the Border Transition Team (BTT), which assesses border security, and the Port of Entry Transition Team (POETT) who provides security to the port located near FOB Minden.
"The Crazy troop Soldiers' mission is to provide security to the BTT and the POETT teams," said 1st Sgt. Rob Ferguson, C Troop 1st sgt. In addition, C Troop provides life support areas for not only themselves, but for the BTT and POETT as well. FOB Minden accommodates all these needs with a/c, hard-floored tents, a dining facility, a morale, welfare and recreation tent and a gym facility.
For the Soldiers of C troop, they have lived on small, outlying patrol bases for most of their deployment. "Everywhere we've gone, we've had to build or improve a patrol base in order to partner with our ISF," said 1st. Lt. Andrew Prunty, fire support officer for Crazy troop. Although the FOB doesn't have some of the luxuries of some other camps, the Soldiers here are happy with the facilities that are now available.
"Since we got here, there's been a lot of expansion on what the British troops left us," said Staff Sgt. Javier Antonsanti, C Troop chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear NCO. Antonsanti added that plans are in place to continue to make FOB Minden comfortable for all living there. "We're working hard on improving quality of life for all Soldiers," Antonsanti said.
"Life here is much better than you would expect. Outlying areas can be as nice as any FOB, all it really takes is a little hard work to make them as nice as possible," added Cpl. Nicholas Long, a cavalryman in the troop. "Overall, I wouldn't trade any of the experiences I've had this year for anything," Long continued.
Spc. Ricardo Rhoads, a cook with C Troop, preps the kitchen in the dining facility.
Sgt. Chris Tetreault, C Troop, puts on his gear before conducting a border patrol.
Multi National Force - West PAO
HMLA-167 'Warriors' simultaneously tackle missions in Iraq and Afghanistan
Cpl. Michael Mannella prepares an engine for an engine wash at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Sqdrn 167, currently based out of Camp Al Taqaddum, sent a detachment of Marines to support missions in OEF from February through April 2009.
(Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Joseph Castellana)
CAMP AL TAQADDUM - The 'Warriors' of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 call Camp Al Taqaddum their home for now, but they've also been busy on another front. From February through April, the squadron sent a detachment of 55 Marines to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Despite already being committed to the mission in Iraq, the Marines of HMLA-167 were excited at the opportunity to spread their wings and support the ISAF.
Capt. Jessica Hawkins, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, has served with the sqdrn for 2 years and was enthused to participate in the deployment to Afghanistan. "It gave us the opportunity to provide close air support for troops on the ground who were in harm's way, and it gave us the chance to do what we train for," she said.
A typical day for the Marines was spent preparing for and flying missions that involved anything from escorting convoys to providing overhead support for troops on the ground.
Capt. Andrew Wimsatt, also a Cobra pilot with the sqdrn, said deploying to Afghanistan as part of this detachment was a good experience for him. "It was an opportunity to be in a different theater and experience new things and that was pretty cool. It's a completely different front on the war on terror and was a lot more kinetic," he said.
Although the activity level might have been higher, the living conditions were not as developed as they're in places throughout Iraq. "The conditions were austere," explained Wimsatt. "We worked in 4 or 5 general purpose tents at FOB Bastion."
Hawkins said although the terrain was different operating in Afghanistan, and resources were sometimes scarce, the challenges were nothing the Marines couldn't overcome.
"Our mission was to support 3rd Bn, 8th Marines, by providing offensive air support, and that's what we did." Wimsatt echoed Hawkins' sentiment, saying everyone came together to get the job done, and did whatever it took to ensure that was the case. 1st Lt. Scott Mayberry, the detachment's maintenance control officer, said their British allies were willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed. "They held a belief that we were on the same team." Mayberry added that the British units were essential to mission accomplishment. If the sqdrn needed nuts, screws, bolts or tools, the British units had no issues with giving the Marines anything they had in order to get the aircraft back to a flyable status.
"Overall, the mindset was geared toward mission accomplishment," said Wimsatt. "Whether it was maintenance on aircraft or supporting ground troops outside the wire, there was definitely a sense of unity." According to Wimsatt, the most rewarding part of deploying to Afghanistan was being able to effectively support the ground Marines with close air support. It was also interesting to Wimsatt to see other countries' forces working alongside U.S. forces. The team effort was apparent everywhere you looked. "For instance, once, we were taking a rotor-head off of an aircraft in phase, and that requires a crane, but we didn't have one. The Brits came over and brought in their crane, and so we traded with them ... we gave them our sqdrn shirts and coins."
According to Wimsatt, it didn't matter what unit was there or who they were working with. Everyone was there to take the fight to the enemy and provide responsive, accurate support for the ground troops. Cpl. Kevin Escalante, an ordnance tech with the sqdrn, said he made sure the weapons systems on the aircraft were working properly. "I made sure everything from rocket and jet checks were accomplished every 72 hours, and made sure the Hellfire missile system was working properly," said Escalante, of his duties aboard Bastion. "I liked the smaller group of Marines we had out there. We had limited resources, but it wasn't a problem." Escalante attributed the good experience he had to the teamwork he saw every day. "We were short-handed at times, but we still accomplished what we had to. Our main goal was trying to do our jobs in a timely manner. There's a lot going on over there, but everyone is working together, and we hardly had any problems with the aircraft."
Another Marine from HMLA-167, Cpl. Michael Mannella, who has spent nearly his entire career with the sqdrn, volunteered to deploy to support OEF. The UH-1N Huey and Super Cobra mechanic said he wanted to see what operating in Afghanistan was like. "I wanted to see what was going on at the beginning of our ops there." This is Mannella's 3rd deployment with the sqdrn. He said he's been afforded so many unique experiences, he feels very lucky. "I've gotten the best opportunities from this squadron. I've been on a
MEU, visiting different countries, served in OIF and OEF." During his time at Bastion, Mannella was responsible for supporting flight schedules, prepping the aircraft for missions, overseeing and participating with getting the aircraft out of phase maintenance in a timely manner.
With the detachment's mission aboard Bastion behind them, Hawkins said the deployment was a great success with everyone working hard. "It was great to work for ground guys, knowing there were real threats out there, and that we played a part in keeping them safe," Hawkins added.
An AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter hovers on the line after returning from a mission escorting CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters in Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342
Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces cripple suicide bomber network
BAGHDAD - In an effort to prevent future high-profile attacks, the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces (ICTF) arrested the suspected leader of a suicide bomber network operating in the Iraqi capital during an op May 23.
Operating under the authority of a warrant issued by the Central Investigation Court, the ICTF arrested the suspected leader of a cell responsible for recruiting and preparing females for attacks as suicide bombers.
During the early-morning mission, according to military reports, the suspect was apprehended by a security element of the ICTF as she attempted to flee from a building. As a result of tactical questioning, the suspect confirmed her identity and was taken into custody.
Multi-National Corps - Iraq PAO
Joint operation in Diyala Province results in arrest of two suspected murderers
TIKRIT - During a joint op in the Bani Zaid region of the Diyala Province, Baqubah ERF 2 and the 18th IA, with CF advisors, arrested 2 suspected members of a deadly terrorist cell, May 17.
The suspected terrorists are believed to be responsible for violent attacks against citizens and ISF in the area. The attacks involved kidnappings, emplacing roadside bombs and small-arms fire attacks.
Multi-National Division Baghdad RSS
Economic Concerns Overshadow Security in Ghazaliyah
Story by Staff Sgt. Peter Ford
Lt. Col. John Richardson gives a speech during a Ghazaliyah improvement ceremony, May 20. "Today we honor the efforts of the leaders of Iraq for improving their community," said Richardson. "The combined efforts of the ISF, the GoI and the CF made these improvements happen, and will continue to be the driving force for the return to normalcy in Baghdad."
BAGHDAD — "Over the next month, CF will be moving from the cities, leaving the responsibility of security totally to the ISF," said Lt. Col. John Richardson, cmdr of 5th Sqdrn, 4th Cav Regt, 2nd BCT, 1st ID. "Although the transition has not technically transpired, I must say the ISF are performing admirably."
Since security is no longer the primary concern of the local residents of Ghazaliyah, the people are now more concerned with a better quality of life. "I don't hear people of Ghazaliyah express much concern about security anymore, but they are more concerned with the economy," said Richardson. "That means we're taking another step in the right direction to help build a better Iraq."
"The CF have been instrumental in many of the improvements in the area. They've provided the community with solar lights along the streets and 4 pump stations for sewer," said Sheik Razak, a local leader of Ghazaliyah. "They've done more than help make improvements to the area; they've provided over 450 people with jobs," he added.
These jobs allow workers to provide for their families and to further stimulate local businesses. With the development of new businesses, improvements will continue to be made in Ghazaliyah.
"We're not just fixing the broken infrastructure, we're implementing real sustainable improvements and helping the GoI to build its capacity to support the population," said Richardson. "As the GoI continues to build capacity to support the local population, the CF will step aside, and the GoI will take full responsibility for the population."
Col. Joseph Martin, cmdr of 2nd BCT, 1st ID, greets local leaders before the Ghazaliyah improvement ceremony.
Blackanthem Military News
Intense fighting in Marjah, Afghanistan
KABUL - Marjah is known to be an insurgent stronghold, and recent events suggest there is an ongoing and concerted effort to build up the number of militants in the region. These militants include foreign fighters particularly from Balochistan, Pakistan. It's expected that this build-up will result in a rise in violence.
Violence in this region is often associated with the illegal narcotics industry. Across Afghanistan the narcotics industry has a negative influence on all aspects of society.
This is particularly true in the Marjah area, where there is a clear link between the narcotics trade, corruption and the financing of the insurgency. Funds gathered from the narcotics trade pay for the weapons, explosives and suicide bombers that insurgents use to kill innocent civilians, ANSF, ISAF and CF.
Recent ISAF ops against the insurgents in the Marjah area have been successful, which may have provoked this increase in militant activity. ASF, supported by ISAF, have recently seized a significant quantity of narcotics in the Marjah region. Importantly, the influx of foreign insurgents, and the end of the poppy harvest always contributes to an annual increase in the number of incidents in this region.
ANSF and ISAF troops operate throughout the year, and are fully prepared for any rise in seasonal violence, especially given the increase in US forces moving into the area. In order to prevent civilian casualties, it's vital that innocent civilians separate themselves from the militant population. In doing so they will not be mistaken for insurgents or caught up amongst insurgents, whose cowardly tactics see them hiding in the civilian population, thereby causing the loss of innocent lives.
American Forces Press Service
Troops in Afghanistan Kill Dozens of Insurgents, Seize Weapons, Drugs
WASHINGTON – Coalition and Afghan troops have killed nearly 50 militants, detained 3 and seized drugs in ongoing ops in Afghanistan this week.
In an update published today, military officials reported that Afghan commandos and CF have killed 47 militants, including 13 in air strikes this morning, during ongoing ops in Helmand province.
The combined forces launched the joint op in the city of Marjeh in the province’s Nad Ali district on May 19, to disrupt activities in a key militant stronghold and narcotics hub. Over the past 4 days, troops have seized bomb-making materials, weapons and hundreds of thousands of pounds of narcotics, military officials said.
“This'll have a significant financial and logistical impact on the insurgency in southern Afghanistan,” said U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman Army Col. Greg Julian. “The commandos have done a phenomenal job and far exceeded the expectation for this op.”
Combined forces killed one person and detained 3 others in an op in Helmand province.
During a raid on a compound in Lashkar Gah, where intel indicated militants were located, troops encountered a man attempting to flee. Military officials said he ignored repeated warnings and maneuvered on troops, who killed him. Forces detained 3 suspects in the op.
ISAF HQ Public Affairs RSS
Czech Reconstruction Trains Afghanis in Logar
KABUL – The Czech PRT is continuing to assist ANSF in Logar province by training members of the ANP in basic policing skills and knowledge. The training will aid the Afghan police, who are committed to protecting the public and providing security in the area. "I appreciate the chance to participate in the training very much," said Muhammad, one of 15 ANP participants. "For us, such a high-quality course is really useful."
According to the Czech trainers, the ANP they assist often lack experience in using weapons and survival techniques. The training is focused on basic skills such as shooting, vehicle and personnel searches, and self-defense. Physical training, first aid, and explosive ordnance disposal are also included in the course.
"Some of our comrades already went through similar training organized by the Czechs, and they've gained very important experience," said Emahudin, another Afghan policeman receiving training.
The Czech PRT, consisting of 9 civilians and 275 soldiers, has been assisting the people of Logar since March 2008. The PRT's priorities in the region include: education, healthcare, infrastructure, security, agriculture, irrigation and independent journalism.