Thursday, August 23, 2007

Surge, surge, surge, surge is the word...

I have been waaaaay behind on posting the good news from the battlefield lately. CENTCOM has kept up with all the news and continues to send it my way though. The news according to the facts I'm getting has been overwhelmingly good ever since the actual surge date hit! Heck, it's actually been good enough to warrant notice even from the truth-dodgers (read "Lefties") in this country. Shocking, isn't it? ;-)

Big congratulations are in order for our troops and the multi-national forces (MNF) in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for the good people of Iraq and Afghanistan who are helping to take their freedom back from terrorists.

I don't know about you all but I certainly haven't seen much (if any) of this news broadcast in the mainstream media... so, allow me to send some of it your way now! I know you'll enjoy hearing about these successes in our current surge strategy on the Iraqi front...

CITIZEN SACRIFICES LIFE TO THWART SUICIDE BOMBER

Release Date: 8/21/2007

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq - An Iraqi man saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians when he intercepted a suicide bomber during a Concerned Citizens meeting in the town of al-Arafia Aug.18.

The incident occurred while Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were talking with members of the al-Arafia Concerned Citizens, a volunteer community group, at a member's house.

"I was about 12 feet away when the bomber came around the corner," said Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, of Los Altos, Calif., acting platoon sergeant of Troop B, 3-1 Cav. "I was about to engage when he jumped in front of us and intercepted the bomber as he ran toward us. As he pushed him away, the bomb went off."

The citizen's actions saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians. Kane felt the loss personally because he had met and interacted with his rescuer many times before the incident.

"He was high-spirited and really believed what the group (Concerned Citizens) was doing," Kane said. "I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American Soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn't intercepted him, there is no telling how bad it could have been."

Kane believes the citizen is a hero.

"He could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone. Having talked with his father, I was told that even if he would have known the outcome before hand, he wouldn't have acted differently."
Capt. Brian Gilbert, of Boise, Idaho, the commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to 3-1 Cavalry, echoed Kane's sentiment.

"I spoke with the father," Gilbert said. "He said he has no remorse in his son's death because he died saving American Soldiers."

Later that night, the Concerned Citizens group contacted the local National Police director, Lt. Col. Samir, with the location of the al-Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. The National Police immediately conducted a raid that resulted in four arrests.

Despite the citizen's death, Gilbert is encouraged by the cooperation between citizens and the Iraqi National Police.

"The effort of the Concerned Citizens group has made the area much safer," he said. "They are proud of who they are and their area, and want to get rid of the terrorists in their area."

Gilbert also praised the Iraqi National Police's role in eliminating insurgents in the area.

"The cooperation between them and the Concerned Citizens has been key," Gilbert said. "The NP has done a great job of responding to the tips they have been given by the group."

Gilbert said he believes the area is improving because of the efforts of local citizens. The death, while unfortunate, demonstrated how close many in the area have become with the American Soldiers operating there.

"I consider many in the town friends, and I know they feel the same," Gilbert said. "This is a tough situation, but we'll move on and try to prevent things like this from happening again. I've talked with his family and told them how brave their son was. This is a huge loss for everyone involved."

RESIDENTS CAPTURE, TURN OVER 11 SUSPECTED TERRORISTS

Release Date: 8/20/2007

BAGHDAD - Acting on a tip, Multi-National Division-Baghdad troops took into custody 11 alleged insurgents being held by a neighborhood watch in the Mechaniks area of the Rashid District Aug. 19.

Soldiers from Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4thh Cavalry Regiment "Raiders," 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, received a tip that the suspected Al Qaeda members were being held for allegedly terrorizing local residents.

"Tomahawks," from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, attached the 4th IBCT, investigated the site before the Raiders came and took the suspects into custody.

Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have been encouraging neighborhoods to form watch programs to help provide a safe, secure area to help spur economic and infrastructure growth.

All detainees were transferred to a Coalition detention facility for further questioning.

CITIZENS TURN IN 4 CACHES

Release Date: 8/20/2007

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Iraqi concerned citizens led Coalition Forces to four caches located in the southern belts around Baghdad Aug. 19.

Troops of Company B, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, were alerted Aug. 19 there were two caches near a highway in the Mahmudiyah area.

The call came after a contractor hired to clean out canals in the North Hargawi area found two caches along the Mulla Fayyad Highway that contained a DShKa heavy machine-gun barrel, receiver, mount, seat and tripod, 133 green flares and 54 red flares.

A local citizen took Soldiers of Co. D, 4-31st Inf. Regt. to another cache, north of al-Taqa. It contained eight 57mm and nine 150mm canisters and two 50-pound bags of homemade explosives.

Northwest, at Patrol Base Warrior Keep, near Sadr al-Yusufiyah, a concerned citizen brought a cache containing a 155mm round, 10 pounds of homemade explosive, and a pressure-bar trigger for an improvised explosive device to troops of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT.

An explosive ordnance team destroyed all contents of the caches during a controlled detonation.

IRAQI SECURITY FORCES, U.S. SPECIAL FORCES DETAIN 31 AT AL-QAEDA IN IRAQ MEETING

Release Date: 8/19/2007

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Security Forces and 8th Iraqi Army Scouts, with U.S. Special Forces as advisers, detained 31 suspected terrorists in Sayafiyah during an alleged meeting of an al-Qaeda in Iraq cell Aug. 17.

Local citizens prompted the operation by reporting that Sayafiyah was a safe haven for many Sunni insurgents. The individuals targeted during this raid have been connected to multiple improvised explosive device attacks, weapons smuggling, kidnapping, extra judicial killings and are believed to be responsible for the displacement of hundreds of Shiites.

Additionally, the suspected terrorists in this cell are alleged to be behind attacks on Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and Coalition Forces; financing their own activities.

No Iraqi or U.S. forces were injured during the operation.


IRAQI FORCES, U.S. SPECIAL FORCES BATTLE INSURGENTS, KILL 8 TERRORISTS

Release Date: 8/19/2007

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Forces, with U.S. Special Forces as advisers, detained 17 rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi militia members during two intelligence driven operations Aug. 19 in the Baghdad area.

During the first operation, Iraqi Special Forces detained 6 members of the splinter JAM militia cell in southwestern Baghdad. As the forces proceeded to the target location, enemy forces engaged them with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. Iraqi forces returned with proportional fire, killing eight insurgents. No civilians were injured during the operation.

The suspected terrorist cell primarily conducts extra-judicial killings in southwestern Baghdad. Additionally, some of the members are alleged to emplace and detonate improvised explosive devices.

In the second operation, the 6th Iraqi Army Scout Platoon detained 11 members of a rogue JAM cell in northwestern Baghdad. This separate terrorist cell is notorious for attacks against Coalition Forces using improvised explosive devices and is believed to conduct extra-judicial killings in the Atafiya area.

Forces confiscated six AK-47s with five loaded magazines, one pistol with three loaded magazines, four computers, two radios, multiple cell phones and other documents.

And, how about a little more good news? This time, from coalition efforts alongside the security forces and people of Afghanistan...

ANSF DISCOVERS MASSIVE CACHE IN KAPISA PROVINCE

Release Date: 8/19/2007

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police units, advised by Coalition forces, confiscated and destroyed several large weapons caches in Uzbin valley, Kapisa province, Aug. 18.

The ANA and ANP team planned and executed this mission without Coalition assistance after receiving credible intelligence that several caches were distributed between multiple compounds in Uzbin valley.

The combined Afghan forces found more than 140 rocket propelled grenades spread over three locations during the search. The RPG rounds were destroyed in an unpopulated area in the vicinity of the find.

“This operation is another example of the ANA and ANP working together to achieve the common goal of creating a peaceful Afghanistan,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a Combined Joint Task Force-82 spokesperson. “Together, they are taking greater control of their operations from Coalition forces and are proving to be a formidable strike force dedicated to ending the insurgents’ efforts in the Kapisa Province."

DESPITE REPORTS, NO COALITION AIRCRAFT DOWNED

Release Date: 8/17/2007

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Despite recent Taliban claims reported in some media outlets, the Taliban have not shot down any Coalition aircraft or destroyed any armored vehicles, as they claimed this week.

According to other inaccurate media reports, U.S. military spokeswoman Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman was misquoted.

“Recent operations in the Tora Bora region are focused on Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who were massing in the isolated mountainous region,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. April Lapetoda, a Combined Joint Task Force-82 spokesperson. “All targets were carefully chosen to pinpoint enemy positions only and eliminate the likelihood of harming non-combatants.”

Bowman’s quote should have read, “This region has provided an ideal environment to conceal enemy support bases and training sites, as well as for the enemies of Afghanistan to plan and launch attacks aimed at terrorizing innocent civilians, both inside and outside the region.”

COALITION TREATS 1,304 PATIENTS IN PAKTIKA PROVINCE

Release Date: 8/19/2007

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition medical personnel, assisted by Afghan National Police, provided medical, veterinary and dental assistance to 1,304 Afghans in Mazari Lgad and Bagyar villages, Paktika province, Aug. 16-18.

Men, women and children lined up outside Coalition and ANP aid stations to receive free treatment during two separate Medical Engagement Programs. In addition to the medical treatment, 2,855 people received humanitarian-assistance packages and 981 animals were treated with vaccinations and de-worming medicine during the operation.

“We appreciate help for the people in this area, most of whom cannot afford medicine or medical care,” said Noor Mohammed, a Bagyar village elder. “We look forward to further cooperation and shared goodwill in the future.”

“The United States and its Coalition partners will continue to support the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in its effort to bring medical and veterinary assistance to all areas of the country,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a Combined Joint Task Force-82 spokesperson. “As security increases in Paktika, more of these types of missions will be possible.”

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