War on Terrorism

Friday, June 30, 2006

Investigation Under Way in Iraqi Family's Deaths

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2006 – The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is looking into allegations that coalition soldiers killed an Iraqi family of four in their home near Mahmudiyah, Iraq, military officials here announced today. A written statement issued by Multinational Division Baghdad said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, the division's commanding general, requested a criminal probe into the allegations after the division's own preliminary investigation found sufficient information existed to recommend a criminal investigation.

The incident that led to the allegations reportedly occurred in March, but the military's written statement did not provide a time frame. The statement said two soldiers on June 23 reported alleged coalition force involvement in the family's deaths. The criminal investigation began the next day, and is ongoing, officials said. Officials did not provide the identity or nationality of the accused soldiers or those who came forward with the allegations. A command spokesman told American Forces Press Service he was not yet releasing any information beyond that contained in today's written statement

Iraqi Forces 'Getting Better Every Day,' U.S. Officer Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2006 – Iraq's soldiers and police are steadily gaining in capability so they can one day take charge of their country's security, a senior U.S. military officer said from Baghdad today. "The Iraqi security forces are getting better every day," Army Col. Jeffrey J. Snow, commander of the 1st Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, told reporters at a satellite teleconference at the Pentagon.

Snow's unit patrols western Baghdad and outlying areas in tandem with two Iraqi army brigades. The 1st Brigade is preparing to return to its home base at Fort Drum, N.Y., after a year's deployment to Iraq. The new Iraqi army has "growing pains like any new army," the colonel acknowledged. Yet, the Iraqi troops, he said, have demonstrated "a strong will to fight and protect the Iraqi people."

Iraqi security force capabilities "will only get better with time," Snow said. The 1st Brigade's area of responsibility encompasses 300 square kilometers and contains about 1.3 million Iraqis, Snow said. Baghdad International Airport is part of the brigade's AOR.

The colonel said his unit is also tasked with providing maintenance and logistics training for new Iraqi security forces, noting he's pleased with their progress. "We have trained two Iraqi army brigades and one national police brigade that to a certain extent can plan, execute and sustain counterinsurgency operations with limited coalition support," Snow said.

Snow said the 1st Brigade had controlled two-thirds of the battlespace within its AOR when it arrived in Iraq. Today, "Iraqi security forces are in the lead in two-thirds of the battlespace," the colonel said, freeing U.S. and other Iraqi forces to engage the enemy outside of Baghdad. "Because of the growing effectiveness of Iraqi security forces, we were able to expand coalition efforts to the west of Baghdad," Snow explained. "We have been able to disrupt insurgent networks and the route lines they used to travel into Baghdad by denying insurgents crucial support zones and destroying their caches."

This increased pressure has forced the enemy "to adopt new tactics as our combined offensive operations have continually disrupted insurgent activities," Snow said. Any increases in the number of terrorist attacks within his sector are likely caused by stepped-up U.S. and Iraqi offensive operations, Snow said.

More and more Iraqis are informing on terrorists living in their area, Snow said, noting, "Iraqis want to see the enemies of freedom and oppression defeated as much as we do." The colonel said $150 million has been spent to improve the quality of life for Iraqi citizens living within his area. Brigade troops, he said, have provided medical care, built water treatment and sewage facilities, repaired electric generating stations and renovated 35 schools.

The 1st Brigade's accomplishments in Iraq have come at a cost. Eleven 10th Mountain soldiers "will not return with us when we go home," Snow said. "They are gone, but not forgotten, and I assure you they will never be forgotten," the colonel vowed. Yet, the soldiers' morale remains high, Snow said, noting the 1st Brigade has met its annual unit re-enlistment goal in just seven months. "These soldiers understand the mission, and they're willing to continue the fight," Snow said.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Michael J. Potocki, 21, of Baltimore, Md., died on June 26, of injuries sustained in Al Asad, Iraq, when his unit came in contact with enemy force’s small arms fire during combat operations. Potocki was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office at 011-49-611-337-4862

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Rex A. Page, 21, of Kirksville, Mo., died June 28 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about this Marine can call the Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. 1st Class Terry O.P. Wallace, 33, of Winnsboro, La., died on June 27, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations in Taji, Iraq. Wallace was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office at (254) 287-7013.

Mosque Bombing Co-Conspirator Nabbed in May, Officials Reveal

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2006 – A key al Qaeda operative implicated in the February bombing of a prominent Iraqi mosque was captured last month, a senior U.S. military officer said in Baghdad today. Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie announced yesterday that terrorist Abu Qudama had been seized by Kurdish pershmerga troops after a May 20 firefight north of Baghdad, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell told reporters at a news briefing. Abu Qudama, a Tunisian, is an admitted participant of the Feb. 22 bombing of the Golden Dome, a holy Shiite mosque in Samarra, Caldwell said. The bombing set off sectarian violence across Iraq. The terrorist's capture wasn't announced earlier, Caldwell speculated, because Iraqi and coalition authorities probably wanted more time to extract intelligence.

Abu Qudama is also known as Yousri Fakher Mohammed Ali. His compatriot and the ringleader of the Golden Dome bombing, Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri, remains at large. Lately, al Qaeda has experienced several reversals of fortune in Iraq. Previous al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed June 7 in an air strike by U.S. F-16 jets. Now, U.S. and coalition forces have set their sights on getting Zarqawi's successor, Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

"There is no question that if we can take him down," Caldwell said, "that will just disrupt the organization to the point to where it would be ineffective for a long period of time." Zarqawi's death, Abu Qudama's capture and other recent setbacks have disrupted al Qaeda's operations in Iraq, Caldwell said. And, "that has given us to opportunity to find and track down" more al Qaeda terrorists, the general said.

Iraqi and coalition security forces remain focused on pressuring the terrorists, said Caldwell, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, noting that 57 foreign terrorists have been killed or captured in Iraq this month. Caldwell cited the exploits of U.S. 173rd Stryker Brigade soldiers who surprised a group of insurgents last week during an operation near Mosul. The brigade employed an unmanned aerial vehicle, he said, to pinpoint insurgents who'd fired a mortar round at a nearby U.S. base.

The Americans used the Global Positioning System to track the terrorists to their lair and captured nine -- including five Syrians, Caldwell recalled. The GIs also freed a kidnapping victim, the general said, and seized a large cache of enemy ordnance. Another recent operation conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces uncovered four large weapons caches hidden in and around a soccer stadium in Ramadi, Caldwell said. Materials used for making improvised explosive devices, anti-personnel mines, and numerous weapons were seized, he said. "Iraqi and coalition forces are working side by side," Caldwell said, "to eliminate these foreign terrorists who attempt to hijack the development and building of a stable, peaceful Iraq."

Officials Study Implications of Supreme Court Ruling on Tribunals

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2006 – Today's Supreme Court decision specifically invites the administration to work with Congress to change the law so it can try some detainees through military tribunals, senior officials from the Departments of Justice and Defense said today. The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 this morning that military commissions for detainees charged with war crimes would violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as four Geneva Conventions.

While ruling against military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as they currently stand, the court's decision notes that "nothing prevents the administration from going to Congress to seek the authorities it feels are necessary," an official told reporters via teleconference. In fact, Justice Stephen Breyer offered "an implicit invitation" encouraging the administration to do so, he noted.

President Bush said this morning he would explore this option in hopes of determining a way forward. Defense and Justice officials called the Supreme Court ruling "a very significant decision" and said they are studying it to assess its full implications. "The Supreme Court has spoken," an official said. "We are carefully reviewing that decision."

In the meantime, "all options are on the table" regarding the next course of action, an official said. Today's decision directly affects only 14 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Ten of them were already facing commissions on charges of violating the laws of war. Charges had been prepared for another four detainees, but they had not yet been arraigned, a defense official said.

However, officials said today the decision could ultimately affect 40 to 80 detainees who are expected to be charged in the future. Nothing in the decision takes issue with the detention of some 450 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, officials emphasized. "The court recognizes that this is a unique conflict against a unique enemy and in fact a dangerous one," an official said.

"The court was not questioning" the right to detainee these enemy combatants during hostilities, he said. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow issued a similar sentiment during today's White House briefing. "Nobody gets a 'get out of jail free card,'" he said of the decision. Snow acknowledged that the war on terror poses new considerations. "This is a different kind of war and I think it creates a different kind of legal atmosphere," he said.

Today's decision was based on the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, filed on behalf of Salim Ahmed Hamdan. A former driver and bodyguard for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Hamden was picked up in Afghanistan in late 2001 and turned over to U.S. officials. He has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.

Hamdan challenged the legality of the U.S. government trying him for alleged war crimes before a military commission under a presidential order. Hamdan argued that he was entitled to a court-martial convened under the U.S. Code of Military Justice or a civilian trial before a federal judge.

WMD in Iraq

Munitions Found in Iraq Meet WMD Criteria, Official Says
By Samantha L. Quigley

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2006 – The 500 munitions discovered throughout Iraq since 2003 and discussed in a National Ground Intelligence Center report meet the criteria of weapons of mass destruction, the center's commander said here today. "These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and yes ... they do constitute weapons of mass destruction," Army Col. John Chu told the House Armed Services Committee.

The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It was signed in 1993 and entered into force in 1997.
The munitions found contain sarin and mustard gases, Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said. Sarin attacks the neurological system and is potentially lethal. "Mustard is a blister agent (that) actually produces burning of any area (where) an individual may come in contact with the agent," he said. It also is potentially fatal if it gets into a person's lungs.

The munitions addressed in the report were produced in the 1980s, Maples said. Badly corroded, they could not currently be used as originally intended, Chu added. While that's reassuring, the agent remaining in the weapons would be very valuable to terrorists and insurgents, Maples said. "We're talking chemical agents here that could be packaged in a different format and have a great effect," he said, referencing the sarin-gas attack on a Japanese subway in the mid-1990s.

This is true even considering any degradation of the chemical agents that may have occurred, Chu said. It's not known exactly how sarin breaks down, but no matter how degraded the agent is, it's still toxic. "Regardless of (how much material in the weapon is actually chemical agent), any remaining agent is toxic," he said. "Anything above zero (percent agent) would prove to be toxic, and if you were exposed to it long enough, lethal."

Though about 500 chemical weapons - the exact number has not been released publicly - have been found, Maples said he doesn't believe Iraq is a "WMD-free zone." "I do believe the former regime did a very poor job of accountability of munitions, and certainly did not document the destruction of munitions," he said. "The recovery program goes on, and I do not believe we have found all the weapons." The Defense Intelligence Agency director said locating and disposing of chemical weapons in Iraq is one of the most important tasks servicemembers in the country perform.

Maples added searches are ongoing for chemical weapons beyond those being conducted solely for force protection. There has been a call for a complete declassification of the National Ground Intelligence Center's report on WMD in Iraq. Maples said he believes the director of national intelligence is still considering this option, and has asked Maples to look into producing an unclassified paper addressing the subject matter in the center's report. Much of the classified matter was slated for discussion in a closed forum after the open hearings this morning

border security plan

Senators face trade offs to fund border security plan

“Senate appropriators announced funding cuts Tuesday for several major homeland security programs to cover costs associated with the high-priced Republican-driven plan to boost personnel and infrastructure to secure the nation's borders. The Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee agreed unanimously to provide about $31.7 billion in discretionary spending in its version of the fiscal 2007 Homeland Security spending bill. But appropriators were unable to fill gaps in the budget, leaving the spending plan about $515 million below what the White House requested, and about $350 million less than the amount approved by the House, aides said. As a result of the budget shortfall, Gregg said the subcommittee was unable to provide funding for an acceleration of the Coast Guard Integrated Deepwater System program; could not fully fund the Homeland Security Department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and reduced funding for first-responder grants. The subcommittee took $200 million from the department's Science and Technology Directorate to help fund the nuclear detection office. But funding for the office is $442 million in the bill -- about $100 million less than the White House requested.”

(GovExec.com; 28Jun06; Chris Strohm, Congress Daily)

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Preparing for Terrorism

Idaho health districts prepare for terrorists

“Fire, police and HAZMAT crews tested their ability Monday to respond to an attack of bioterrorism, by learning to work together to contain potential acts of terrorism. The training is just part of a full-scale exercise designed to help emergency workers get medication and treatment to the public, if there ever was a big health emergency in Idaho. The seven health districts across the state simultaneously conducted these exercises. In Central District Health's scenario, dozens of people were affected, and emergency crews had to practice their ability to prevent the disaster from spreading. The group of about 120 emergency, military and health officials responded to a fake report of mysterious white powder at the old K-mart building in Mountain Home, with the hazardous material spread among about 40 shoppers inside.” (KTVB.com, 27Jun06, Adam Atchison)

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Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Fuerst, III, 26 of Tampa Fla., died in Panjway District, Afghanistan, on June 24, when his HMMWV came in contact with enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire during combat operations. Fuerst was assigned to the Army National Guard's 53rd Infantry Brigade, Pinellas Park Fla.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the Florida National Guard Public Affairs Office at (904) 823-0168

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Progress in Afghanistan Is 'Truly Significant,' General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 – Life has improved for Afghanistan's people since the days of Taliban rule, a senior U.S. military commander told U.S. legislators here today. Progress made in Afghanistan "is truly significant," Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry told House Armed Services Committee members at a Capitol Hill hearing. Afghanistan today boasts a democratically elected president and parliament, a confirmed cabinet, a functioning constitution, a growing security force and ongoing reconstruction projects, Eikenberry said.

That wasn't the case when the Taliban seized power in 1996 and governed Afghanistan with an iron fist. They also allowed al Qaeda to run terrorist training camps in the country. U.S. and coalition military forces defeated the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Yet, today the country remains a target of terrorism groups, narco-traffickers, and other criminals, Eikenberry said. Afghanistan's political, social and economic institutions were severely battered as the result of the 1979 Soviet invasion and ongoing civil wars.

Consequently, "the enemy we face is not particularly strong, but the institutions of the Afghan state remain relatively weak," Eikenberry explained. "This situation is enabling the enemy to operate in the absence of government presence in some areas of Afghanistan." One of those enemies is the Taliban, who persecuted anyone who didn't conform to their radical interpretation of Islam. Women were whipped by the Taliban's "religious police" if they didn't cover themselves, and public beheadings were employed to keep the population in check.

Now, the Taliban appear to be making a comeback.

"Since being removed as a regime, they have reconstituted elsewhere," Eikenberry said. The Taliban, he added, are operating in groups of 40 to 50 fighters in some areas of the country. "They're demonstrating better command and control, and they are fighting hard," Eikenberry said. Operation Mountain Thrust, he said, was recently launched in southern Afghanistan to disrupt Taliban operations. "The combat phase of this operation is only the precursor to our longer-term goal of strengthening good governance, the rule of law, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance, and economic development," Eikenberry said.

"This emphasis on government and development is indicative of our overall approach to the Afghan campaign," the general said. Provincial reconstruction teams are actively engaging local and district leaders to assist the establishment of good governance, Eikenberry said. Roving medical assistance teams, he said, are treating thousands of Afghans who would otherwise likely not receive such assistance. Ongoing road building projects are crucial to Afghanistan's future economic development, Eikenberry said, noting U.S. and coalition engineers are assisting Afghan road construction crews.

"We are building hundreds of miles of roads," Eikenberry said. Road projects help extend the influence of the central government, he said, while sparking the local, regional and national economies.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Terry M. Lisk, 26, of Fox Lake, Ill., died on June 26 of injuries sustained in Ar Ramadi, Iraq when his unit received indirect fire from enemy forces during combat operations. Lisk was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office at (011) 49-611-705-4862

Land Mine Kills Soldier

Afghanistan Land Mine Kills Soldier; Troops Kill Taliban Fighters

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 – A coalition soldier was killed and three others were injured today when their vehicle struck a land mine in Afghanistan's Helmand province, and Afghan and coalition forces today killed 12 terrorists at a Taliban compound, military officials reported. The dead and wounded soldiers' uparmored vehicle struck a land mine likely left behind from 25 years of war, according to Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials.

"We sincerely regret the loss of our fellow soldier today; his sacrifice will not be forgotten," Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force -76, said. "Our thoughts and prayers extend to the family of our lost soldier and to the families and comrades of our wounded soldiers. We hope for a full and speedy recovery." The command's policy is to withhold the nationality and identity of casualties until their families are notified.
Millions of land mines lay unmarked across Afghanistan, remnants of a quarter century of conflict, officials said, adding that this incident does not appear to be related to extremist activity.

Meanwhile, Afghan soldiers assigned to 1st Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, and coalition forces raided a Taliban compound in Uruzgan province this morning. They killed 12 Taliban extremists during a firefight with insurgents who were hiding in a Taliban compound. Two Afghan National Army soldiers suffered superficial wounds from the battle and were treated at their base camp, officials said. No civilian injuries were reported.

Officials said Taliban insurgents frequently used the targeted compound as a meeting place to plan and facilitate attacks against innocent Afghan civilians and soldiers and coalition forces. "ANA and coalition forces are rooting out Taliban insurgents in Uruzgan province and throughout southern Afghanistan," said a Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. "Taliban extremists have clearly demonstrated they seek only to terrorize, kill and oppress the Afghan people. ANA and coalition forces are committed to ridding Afghanistan of this menace to peace, reconstruction and stability."

Terrorist Captured

Coalition Forces Capture Terrorist; 450 Detainees Released

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 – Coalition forces today captured an al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist in a raid at his home, one day after the Iraqi government and the coalition released 450 detainees from internment facilities, military officials reported. A noncombatant who coalition troops perceived as an imminent threat was killed. The targeted terrorist had ties to senior al Qaeda leaders throughout the region, officials said. The ground forces secured his house and detained him without incident. At the home, troops found small-arms weapons, hidden ammunition, and $4,000 in sequentially numbered U.S. $100 bills.

While securing the target, officials said, coalition forces noticed an individual acting suspiciously at a nearby house. They assessed him as an imminent threat, engaged and killed him. He was later determined to be a non-combatant. Several women and children were present at the raid sites. None were harmed, officials said, and all were returned to their homes once the troops ensured the area was secure.

"Coalition forces take every precaution to mitigate risks to civilians while in pursuit of terrorists, and deeply regret any injury or death to non-combatants," a Multinational Force Iraq statement issued after the incident said. In other news, in what military officials called "the spirit of unity and reconciliation," the Iraqi government and Multinational Force Iraq released about 450 security detainees yesterday from coalition-run theater internment facilities.

Iraq's national security adviser, Muwafaq al-Rubai, addressed the detainees at the Abu Ghraib theater internment facility and asked them to return to their jobs and share in the wealth of their country. He said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared a reconciliation program for all those who are not tied to terrorism, and that there is no room for terrorists in Iraq.
This release is part of a plan to release 2,500 security detainees in June, being accomplished through a series of 200- to 500-person releases throughout the month.

The Iraqi government has approved the release of those not guilty of serious, violent crimes such as bombing, torture, kidnapping and murder. The detainees must renounce violence and pledge to be good citizens of Iraq. The decision to release is an acknowledgment by the government and coalition military leaders of the importance of progress toward democratic governance and the rule of law in a new Iraq, officials said.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Jason W. Morrow, 27, of Riverside, Calif., died June 27 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on June 26. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about this Marine can call the Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.

Training for Iraqi Forces Progressing Steadily, General Says

By John D. Banusiewicz

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 – The U.S. general in charge of training Iraqi security forces told reporters here yesterday that effort has made significant progress and remains on track.
Army Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said defense establishment systems are in place and the Iraqis are learning how to work within them. "There is a pay system, there is a promotion system, there is a personnel accountability system, there is a contracting system -- and I could go on and on. In any ministry-level endeavor, there's probably 18 or so processes that have to be functioning in order for the institution to be supportive of what's in the field.

"All those systems are in place today," he continued, "but they're immature; I mean, they haven't been at it for that long. And so it comes down to taking them through cycles of things -- cycles of pay, cycles of promotions, cycles of procurement, budgeting cycles. And so some of them will come on board faster than others." He noted that while the Iraqis still are learning the ropes, they've already come a long way. "If we were having this conversation 18 months ago, there were still U.S. personnel helping Iraq figure out how to pay its soldiers and policemen," he said. "That entire process has been transitioned over to Iraqis. We have no part in their pay process right now.

"Life support -- just four or five months ago, we were providing a ... percentage of their life support, and today we provide none of their life support," Dempsey noted. "We assist them 'in extremis' if something they've put in place fails -- like a food service contract or a fuel distribution problem. But life support has been transitioned over to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense." The Interior Ministry, he added, is lagging by about 90 days. Dempsey said he expects that a close partnership with the ministries will be needed for at least two years to get the Iraqis where they'll need to be.

The general wouldn't speculate on when Iraq's security forces might become independent because, he said, so many factors go into the equation. "It's just not appropriate yet to be thinking in terms of 'independent' anything in Iraq," he said. "This, remember, is a nation at war, and although they have taken responsibility for battle space and large swaths of it, (and) they have taken responsibility for processes at the national level, they are not independent at this point in time. Dempsey used a weightlifting analogy to answer a reporter's question about whether the Iraqi forces might be fully mature by the end of 2007.

"If you were a weightlifter, I'd say, 'How many repetitions is it going to take you at 120 pounds before you're going to be able to lift 150?'" the general said. "If you can answer that question, I'll tell you how long it's going to take the army to be ready to go." Dempsey said that with the recent appointment of Iraq's defense and interior ministers, the greatest amount of effort is going into the defense establishment's systems, processes and institutions.

"Until they have these institutions and these institutional processes in place ... (such as) life support, contracting, distribution of fuel (and) provision of supplies and ammunition, then it'll be some time before they're absolutely independent," Dempsey said. "Certain parts of the country, though, are stable enough to where those systems are actually moving ahead of other parts of the country." Most notably, he said, things are difficult to do in Iraq's Anbar province, which he described as Iraq's "most contested area."

He said the Iraqi forces will become independent as the new government takes on issues related areas such as national reconciliation, which could reduce the threat, leading to more independence in military operations. Dempsey used the acronym "DIME" to describe the factors affecting Iraqi security -- diplomatic, information, military and economic issues - which he said are "inextricably interwoven." But as far as the army is concerned, he said, he fully expects all the pieces to be in place by the end of the year. After that, he said, it's a matter of the Iraqi forces, their processes and their institutions maturing. And as for the quality of Iraqi forces now in the field, Dempsey said he's encouraged.

"The performance of the Iraqi units in the field, given what they're facing, has actually been quite remarkable in my view," he said. "I mean, this is an army that's being built while in contact with the enemy and has been in some horrific fights, has taken some significant casualties and has demonstrated a certain courage and resilience that, frankly, having been in the region for four or five years, I was very encouraged to see."

Soldier Killed in Iraq; DoD Identifies Previous Casualties

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 – A soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died June 26 from wounds suffered due to enemy action in Iraq's Anbar province, military officials reported yesterday. The soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department has identified three Marines killed in action in Anbar province recently:

Cpl. Jason W. Morrow, 27, of Riverside, Calif., died June 27 from wounds suffered June 26. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Cpl. Paul N. King, 23, of Tyngsboro, Mass., died June 25. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Ayer, Mass.

Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, of Lake Orion, Mich., died June 26. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How Dirty Bombs Work

Top training Carlsbad becoming ‘dirty bomb’ resource for nation

“Carlsbad is on the way to becoming the nation's leading resource center for training rescue workers to deal with dirty bombs. Last month, James Conca, director of New Mexico State University's Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, and Carlsbad Fire Chief Mike Reynolds, published an article in Homeland Protection Professional, a trade magazine for rescue workers. The article, the month's cover story, was titled ‘Dirty bombs, practical plans,’ and noted that solid plans and proper training would make the rescue process related to a dirty bomb manageable."

READ ON

(Carlsbad Current-Argus, 21Jun06, Kyle Marksteiner)

Al-Qaida has had persistent interest in cyanide

“Al-Qaida has had a persistent interest in using cyanide as a weapon - plotting to unleash it in subway cars, swimming pools and nightclubs - but so far its only cyanide victims have been dogs. The latest evidence of al-Qaida's fascination with cyanide came in November 2005 when an Eritrean terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay was charged with helping Jose Padilla plot terror attacks inside the United States."

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Top Priority Behind War Funding: Ensure U.S. Troops Succeed

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2006 – The highest priority in funding the global war on terror is to ensure that the military members fighting it have all they need to win, a senior defense official told Pentagon reporters today. "This country is committed to making sure the men and women that are out there fighting this war are going to have the resources they need to be successful," said Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

The Defense Department has obligated $295 billion for the war on terror from Sept. 11, 2001, through March 2006, Whitman said. Those costs can be broken down into three major operations, he explained. The bulk of the expenditure, $210 billion, has funded Operation Iraqi Freedom. Another $57 billion has gone to Operation Enduring Freedom, most of it for activities in Afghanistan; and $28 billion for Operation Noble Eagle, the homeland defense mission.

Current costs for these efforts amount to about $7 billion a month. Of this monthly cost, activities in Iraq are costing about $6 billion and in Afghanistan and in other locations that make up Operation Enduring Freedom, about $1 billion, he said. Whitman noted that the cost of activities in Afghanistan is up slightly, from $900 million a month, due to the increased pace of operations there.

Costs in funding the terror war are "somewhat unpredictable," because they are based not only on the pace of operations, but also on conditions on the ground, he said. "It's a dynamic and evolving environment," he said. Warfighting costs are largely misunderstood by the American people, many of whom don't realize that there's no way to fund contingency operations within the normal defense budget, Army Lt. Col. Brian Maka, a Pentagon spokesman, explained.

"That means that every time we fight a war, we have to have a supplemental (budget request)," he said. But as the United States fights its first protracted war since Vietnam, the public tends to perceive supplemental budget requests as "out of the ordinary," Maka said. Congress approved $66.6 billion in supplemental appropriations June 15 to cover the incremental costs of fighting the global war on terror. The amount was about $100 million less than what President Bush requested through the fiscal 2006 supplemental budget request.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in urging Congress in mid-May to pass both the supplemental measure and the fiscal 2007 budget requests, noted that U.S. troops serving in the war on terror are giving their all and deserve everything the country can give them to help them succeed. "The troops have done everything that's been asked of them, and they've done so with courage," Rumsfeld told members of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee during his May 17 testimony. "And we owe it to them and to the country that they have sworn to protect to see that we provide the resources and the capabilities that will not only win today's wars, but also best assure peace in the decades ahead."

Whitman offered his comments as Congress debates Bush's fiscal 2006 supplemental budget request that includes $72.4 billion for the ongoing military, diplomatic and intelligence operations in the global war on terrorism.

Marine Corps Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Paul N. King, 23, of Tyngsboro, Mass.
Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, of Lake Orion, Mich.


King died June 25 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Ayer, Mass.

Plouhar died June 26 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about King can call the 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment Public Affairs representative at (978) 796-2839. Media with questions about Plouhar can call the Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.

Afghan, Coalition Forces Raid Extremist Compound

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, June 22, 2006 – Afghan and coalition forces today raided a known enemy compound northwest of Tarin Kowt in the Shahidi Hass district of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, military officials reported. Elements of the 1st Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Afghan National Army Corps, supported by coalition forces, raided a compound in the Bagh-e Yosof Village, killing eight extremists and capturing six others, officials said.

A search of the enemy compound -- a cave complex -- turned up AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and two machine guns. The compound had been used as a meeting place and sanctuary for Taliban bomb makers and facilitators to conduct operations against local Afghans, government officials and coalition forces, officials said.

Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Christopher D. Leon, 20, of Lancaster, Calif.

Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Webb, 20, of Swartz Creek, Mich.

Pfc. Christopher N. White, 23, of Southport, N.C.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin D. Williams, 30, of Orange, Texas


Leon died June 20 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

Webb, White, and Williams all died June 20 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. They were all assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about Leon can call the Okinawa Public Affairs Office at 011-81-611-745-0790. Media with questions about Webb, White, and Williams can call the Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.

Coalition Troops to Leave Muthanna Province in Iraq

By Jim Garamone

SAMAWAH, Iraq, June 22, 2006 – All coalition troops will leave Iraq's Muthanna province by the end of July, making it the country's first province to be responsible for its own security since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi officials said here today.

U. S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Rudy Wright, the director of strategic communications for the coalition, congratulated the province's governor and his people on their accomplishment during a trip to the province's capital. "Your promise and the promise of the people who live in this province represent the vision of unity, security and prosperity for which not only the people of Iraq are with you, but the people of the world are behind you," Wright said during a news conference at the governor's house.

"On this occasion, I'd like to thank God for this gift and our people in this province -- all our families, all our tribes, all our sheikhs, all our educated people and all our young people who stood with us, ... and the people who sacrifice -- the police and the army -- for us," Gov. Mohammed-Ali Hassan Abbas al-Hassani said. "This is what we've been striving for since we got here," said British Army Col. Giles Vosper-Brown, the commander of coalition troops in the province. Iraqi police and soldiers have been handling all the security and emergency calls in the province for the last four months.

On June 19, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the withdrawal of all coalition troops from the province. This includes British, Australian and Japanese troops. Japanese Self-Defense Force engineers will redeploy home. British and Australian troops will redeploy out of the province to other areas in Iraq. Vosper-Brown said the coalition will maintain close communications with Iraqi security forces in the province and, if needed, can help. But, he said, he believes the Iraqis can handle any eventuality.

Under Saddam Hussein, the province was totally ignored. Since arriving in March 2003, the coalition has had an active civil-military outreach program. The Japanese have donated more than $400 million to the effort in the province. Other coalition members have donated more than $40 million. All this is in a province with just over 500,000 people, mostly gathered in the northern third of the province, around the Euphrates River. The British led in helping to refurbish or build more than 600 kilometers of roads in the province. The British and Japanese replaced seven major bridges.

The Japanese built three new water treatment plants and refurbished nine water purification plants. The coalition also replaced water and sewage mains in Samawah and constructed two large pumping stations. The coalition built a major powerhouse, and Japanese engineers have let contracts for a 60-megawatt generator. The coalition rehabilitated 35 schools in the province, 32 primary health centers, rebuilt and stocked hospitals, and built the As Samawah Justice Building.

And the projects don't end because coalition troops leave. Plans call for replacing the main bridges over the Euphrates, building a footbridge over the river at Samawah and installing power lines to isolated areas. The police at the governor's house are proud of their accomplishments. Officers said they run their own police stations and handle all "115" calls -- their version of 911. Through a translator, they said they had all been trained at the police academies in Basra or in Amman, Jordan. They said they have all the equipment they were promised and the vehicles they need. And they said they are paid in full and on time. British and Australian troops are also proud of the accomplishments. "This really is Sleepy Hollow," said Alan Lawson, the British political adviser in the province. "But it took a lot of work to get it that way."

Vosper-Brown said the Iraqis still face tremendous challenges. "There are some very bad men in the city," he said. "They would turn back the clock if they could, but the Iraqi security forces can handle them." Economically, the province needs to find jobs for its young men, and encourage outside investment. Both Wright and the governor said the province can be an example to the rest of Iraq. Officials traveling with the general said Iraqis in other provinces in the south could assume their security responsibility soon. Others, in the north, could see the example and move forward also.

Loosely Interpreted Arabic Terms Can Promote Enemy Ideology

By Jim Garamone

BAGHDAD, June 22, 2006 – The pen is mightier than the sword, and sometimes in the war of words we unwittingly give the advantage to the enemy. In dealing with Islamic extremists, the West may be giving them the advantage due to cultural ignorance, maintain Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and Army Lt. Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV. The men work at the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.

The two believe the right words can help fight the global war on terror. "American leaders misuse language to such a degree that they unintentionally wind up promoting the ideology of the groups the United States is fighting," the men wrote in an article titled "Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism." A case in point is the term "jihadist." Many leaders use the term jihadist or jihadi as a synonym for Islamic extremist. Jihad has been commonly adapted in English as meaning "holy war." But to Muslims it means much more. In their article, Steusand and Tunnell said in Arabic - the language of the Koran - jihad "literally means striving and generally occurs as part of the expression 'jihad fi sabil illah,' striving in the path of God."

This is a good thing for all Muslims. "Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad thus indicates that we recognize their doctrines and actions as being in the path of God and, for Muslims, legitimate," they wrote. By countering jihadis, the West and moderate Muslims are enemies of true Islam. The men asked Muslim scholars what the correct term for Islamic extremists would be and they came up with "hirabah." This word specifically refers to those engaged in sinful warfare, warfare contrary to Islamic law. "We should describe the Islamic totalitarian movement as the global hirabah, not the global jihad," they wrote.

Another word constantly misused in the West is mujahdeen. Again, in American dictionaries this word refers to a holy warrior - again a good thing. So calling an al Qaeda terrorist a mujahid legitimizes him. The correct term for these killers is "mufsidun," Streusand and Tunnell say. This refers to an evil or corrupt person. "There is no moral ambiguity and the specific denotation of corruption carries enormous weight in most of the Islamic world," they wrote.
People can apply other words instead. "Fitna/fattan: fitna literally means temptation or trial, but has come to refer to discord and strife among Muslims; a fattan is a tempter or subversive," they wrote. "Applying these terms to our enemies and their works condemns their current activities as divisive and harmful."

The men also want officials to stop using the term "caliphate" as the goal of al Qaeda and associated groups. The Caliphate came to refer to the successors of the Prophet Mohammed as the political leaders of the Muslim community. "Sunni Muslims traditionally regard the era of the first four caliphs (A.D. 632-661) as an era of just rule," the men wrote. "Accepting our enemies' description of their goal as the restoration of a historical caliphate again validates an aspect of their ideology."

The men point out that an al Qaeda caliphate would not mean the establishment of just rule, but rather a global totalitarian state where women would be treated as chattel, music banned and any kind of difference severely punished. "Anyone who needs a preview of how such a state would act merely has to review the conduct of the Taliban in Afghanistan before Sept. 11, 2001," they wrote. The correct term for the al Qaeda goal is global totalitarian state - something no one in the world wants.

Finally, the men urge Westerners to translate Allah into God. Using Allah to refer to God would be like using Jehovah to refer to a Hebrew God. In fact, Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the God of Abraham. Using different names exaggerates the divisions among the religions, the authors say. The men have launched an education effort. "Our work is an attempt to educate the interagency community about the challenges of communication with Islamic audiences," they wrote in answer to written questions. "Our particular effort is in its infancy, but is showing some level of success."

Scholars at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College use the essay in class, and the Marines are using an earlier version of the essay as part of their lessons-learned Web site. The final version of the essay is on the National Defense University's Center for Strategic Communications Web site

Abducted Soldiers' Bodies Identified; Military Working to Avoid Repeat

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2006 – Military officials have positively identified two bodies discovered June 18 as those of two 101st Airborne Division soldiers kidnapped at gunpoint two days earlier by masked gunmen in Iraq. Defense Department officials today announced the deaths of Army Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.; and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of San Marcos, Texas. Both had been previously listed as "duty status-whereabouts unknown" after their abduction June 16.

The soldiers were manning a checkpoint in Iraq when their unit, from the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, came under enemy small-arms fire, defense officials said. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, expressed condolences during a press briefing today to the families of Menchaca, Tucker and Army Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., who was killed during the attack. He declined, however, to give details about how Menchaca and Tucker had been treated by their abductors. "That's something we're leaving to the families," who Casey said will be notified of the autopsy results as they are completed.

"I just don't think it's my business to be out talking about that," the general said. "That's up to them." Casey did, however, say the deaths serve as "an indicator of the type of enemy that we are fighting." "It's why we're there," he said. "And it's why we're fighting terrorism in Iraq, so we don't have to fight it here."

The full circumstances of the incident that led to the soldiers' abduction is under investigation. "We're going to let the investigation run its course, and then we'll give you a full accounting when it's completed," he said. In the meantime, units in Iraq are already taking action to ensure the incident isn't repeated. "I know commanders at every level have already gone back and revisited their procedures and reemphasized the operating procedures that they have in place to ensure that this doesn't happen," he said. "And I'm sure we'll be informed further when the investigation is completed. We routinely go back and do that across the board."

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, on June 21, when they encountered enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, 30, of Raynham, Mass.

Staff Sgt. Patrick L. Lybert, 28, of Ladysmith, Wis
.


Media with questions about these soldiers can call the 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs Office at (315) 772-7634.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Whyte, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., died June 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions on this Marine can call the 2nd Marine Division Public Affairs Office at (910) 451-9033.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Jason J. Buzzard, 31, of Constantinople, Calif., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 21 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HEMTT cargo truck during combat operations. Buzzard was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office at (912) 767-5671 or (912) 257-1433.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Sirlou C. Cuaresma, 25, of Chicago, Ill., died in Baghdad, Iraq on June 21, from a non-combat related cause. Cuaresma was assigned to the 68th Engineer Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 13th Containment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood, Texas.

This incident is under investigation. Media with questions about this soldier can call the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office at (912) 767-5671 or (912) 257-1433

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died on June 21 in Naray, Afghanistan.

Killed were:

Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, 22, of Saint Joseph, Mo., died in the vicinity of Naray, Afghanistan, when he encountered enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades during combat operations. Bradbury was assigned to the 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig, 28, of Severn, Md., died when his UH-60 helicopter hoist malfunctioned while attempting to evacuate Pfc. Bradbury during combat operations. Craig was assigned to the 159th Air Ambulance Medical Company, Wiesbaden, Germany.

The incident is under investigation. Media with questions about Bradbury can contact the 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs Office at (315) 772-7634. Media with questions about Craig can contact the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office at 011-49-611-705-4862/4859.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Riley E. Baker, 22, of Pacific, Mo., died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions about this Marine can call the 2nd Marine Division Public Affairs Office at (910) 451-9033.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on June 23 in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Killed were:
Staff Sgt. Mario J. Bievre, 34, of Constantinople, Ill.
Pfc. Paul A. Beyer, 21, of Jamestown, N.D.


Media with questions about these Soldiers can call the 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office at (270) 798-9966.

Military Continues Investigation to Find Killers of U.S. Soldiers

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2006 – The U.S. military is conducting an aggressive investigation to find those responsible for the deaths this month of three U.S. soldiers - one of whom died in an initial attack on the checkpoint the soldiers were manning, and two of whom were found dead four days later not far from the checkpoint, a top general in Iraq said today. The attack occurred June 16 at a traffic control checkpoint about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. Army Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, was killed in the attack, and Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Army Pfc. Thomas Tucker went missing.

After days of search operations involving about 8,000 coalition and Iraqi security forces, Menchaca and Tucker's remains were recovered June 20 alongside a road near the village of Mufaraji, northwest of Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, Army Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, said in a news conference from Iraq.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of these great soldiers," Thurman said. "We will remember their sacrifice; their commitment and contribution will never be forgotten. These soldiers represent the human dimension of war."

The recovery efforts to find the two soldiers began immediately after the attack and lasted until June 20, when the two soldiers' remains were discovered, Thurman said. U.S. Army and Marine units, Iraqi army units and Iraqi Special Forces conducted 25 combat operations and 11 air assaults, he said. "This was a true combined and joint effort that we put forth to go find our missing soldiers," Thurman said. "We pulled out the stops to go find these two soldiers."

U.S. and Iraqi forces analyzed evidence found at the site of the attack and several other sites and used tips from local Iraqis to guide them to the soldiers' bodies, Thurman said. The site containing the soldiers' remains had to be cleared before the remains were recovered, because it contained improvised explosive devices, he said. Thurman has directed a formal investigation into the events surrounding the deaths of Menchaca and Tucker, but he said he believes al Qaeda was involved. "These events demonstrate what a ruthless and brutal enemy we face and the tough nature of this fight that we're in today, as the terrorists continue to try to disrupt the formation of this government," he said. "We will continue to target these elements and we will bring them to justice, because they're operating outside the rule of law, and that will not stand."

U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 36 people during the recovery operations, 20 of whom are directly or indirectly linked to the attack, Thurman said. Of those detained, 13 people continue to provide valuable intelligence to U.S. and Iraqi forces and are still being questioned, he said. The operations also yielded more than 300 documents, CDs and videotapes, which are being included in the investigation, he said. "We'll continue to target the personnel responsible for and linked to this attack," he said. "We'll be very relentless in finding out who did this act." Thurman lauded the Iraqi forces for their quick response, and the Iraqi citizens for coming forward with information. He stressed that U.S. and Iraqi forces will continue to work to prevent further violence in and around Baghdad.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on June 23 in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Killed were:
Staff Sgt. Mario J. Bievre, 34, of Constantinople, Ill.
Pfc. Paul A. Beyer, 21, of Jamestown, N.D.

Media with questions about these Soldiers can call the 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office at (270) 798-9966.

Detainee Transfer Announced

The Department of Defense announced today that it transferred 14 Saudi detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Saudi Arabia. This movement included one detainee found to no longer be an enemy combatant by the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The other thirteen detainees were approved for transfer by an Administrative Review Board (ARB) decision at Guantanamo.

With today’s transfer, approximately 120 detainees remain at Guantanamo who the U.S. government has determined eligible for transfer or release through a comprehensive series of review processes. Departure of these remaining detainees approved for transfer or release is subject to ongoing discussions between the United States and other nations. The United States does not desire to hold detainees for any longer than necessary. The department expects that there will continue to be other transfers or releases of detainees.

There are ongoing processes to review the status of detainees held at Guantanamo. A determination about the continued detention or transfer of a detainee is based on the best information and evidence available at the time, both classified and unclassified. With this transfer, approximately 310 detainees have departed Guantanamo to other governments, including Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden and Uganda.

Approximately 450 detainees remain at Guantanamo.

Terrorist Killed, 16 Detained During Iraq Raids

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2006 – Coalition forces killed one terrorist and detained 16 others as the result of two separate raids conducted across Iraq today. One terrorist was killed and five were detained in a sweep in southern Baghdad. Intelligence uncovered by the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi led coalition forces to the insurgents' lair, officials said.

The coalition troops searched several buildings during the raid. Several women and children were present but none were harmed during the operation. The other raid was conducted east of Ramadi and yielded 11 terrorist captives. Two enemy weapons caches bearing small arms, suicide-bomber vests, body armor, grenades and instructions on how to build an improvised explosive device were secured during the action. Several women and children were also present during the Ramadi raid, which included searches of several buildings. None of the women or children were harmed and all were returned to their homes

Guardsmen Charged in Connection With Iraqi's Death

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2006 – Two Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers have been charged in connection with the death of an Iraqi citizen, U.S. officials announced today. Spec. Nathan B. Lynn is charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter and a count of obstructing justice involving the Feb. 15 death of an unarmed male Iraqi. Lynn allegedly shot the man during a security sweep his unit was conducting near Baghdad.

Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr. is also charged with obstructing justice as part of the Feb. 15 shooting. Ortiz is also charged with one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat on March 8 during a separate incident where he allegedly placed an unloaded weapon to the head of an Iraqi male and told him he was going to be sent to prison. Lynn and Ortiz are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry (Mechanized) of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

They've been transferred to a military base in Baghdad and are awaiting an Article 32 hearing to see if sufficient evidence exists for a trial. Both soldiers are presumed innocent until proven guilty, officials emphasized. Another soldier believed to have placed an AK-47 assault rifle near the mortally wounded Iraqi during the Feb. 15 incident has since left Iraq and was demobilized before criminal proceedings were initiated.

IEDs Kill Three U.S. Troops, Raids Net Bomb-making Cell

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2006 – Three American soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices while on patrol in Iraq in recent days, officials in Iraq said today. Separate IED explosions in Baghdad and Tikrit June 24 each claimed the life of one U.S. soldier. A roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad on June 23 killed another U.S. soldier.

Another U.S. soldier in Baghdad died of a non-combat incident June 23. Names of the deceased are being withheld until their families are notified. Coalition forces in Iraq are continuing operations to thwart enemy IED attacks, officials said. Iraqi forces captured three members of an IED construction cell during a June 23 raid in western Baghdad.

The captured cell members are believed to have conducted two IED attacks on coalition forces in the Baghdad area in March, and an April rocket attack on Baghdad International Airport. Five other suspected insurgents were caught up in the dragnet. No Iraqi or coalition forces were harmed during the operation.

Kill Two Terrorists

Coalition Raids in Iraq Kill Two Terrorists, Detain Six

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2006 – Two terrorists were killed and six were detained during two separate coalition operations conducted in Tikrit and Yusifiyan yesterday, military officials announced. Coalition troops killed two terrorists and detained another during a raid north of Yusifiyan June 24. The terrorists were at a foreign-fighter safe house where recent intelligence indicated that they were holding meetings to plan terrorist acts, officials said.

One woman was injured in the action. She received medical care and was taken to a nearby military facility for further treatment. The same house had been targeted in early May to disrupt a terrorist cell that was building vehicle-borne- and regular improvised explosive devices. The June 24 raid in Tikrit yielded five detainees. Information provided as a result of the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was used to plan and conduct the coalition operation, officials said.

Early during the Tikrit raid, coalition forces came under small-arms fire by two insurgents, who they quickly overpowered and captured. An enemy weapons cache was discovered that yielded five AK-47 rifles, 13 loaded magazines, and two pistols. The captured enemy ordnance was destroyed on site. A senior Sheik who was present in the area during the raid was detained and then released.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl Ryan J. Buckley, 21, of Nokomis, Ill., died in Baghdad, Iraq on June 23 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Buckley was assigned to the Army's 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Media with questions about these Soldiers can call the 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office at (270) 798-9966.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Virrueta A. Sanchez, 33, of Houston, Texas, died in Balad, Iraq on June 24 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Sanchez was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Caron, Colo.

Media with questions about this Soldier can call the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office at (719) 526-1269 or (719) 526-3420

Dirty Bomb

Islamists will set off dirty bomb, spy bosses believe

“Spy chiefs fear that it is a case of ‘when, not if’ Islamist terrorists launch a ‘dirty bomb’ attack against London or another western capital, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. Security sources have disclosed that the belief amongst most intelligence agencies is that a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attack, using a so-called dirty bomb, is now inevitable"

READ ON

(Telegraph.co.uk, 25Jun06, Sean Rayment)

Al-Aksa claims chemical capabilities

“The Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced on Sunday that its members have succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons. In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group, which belongs to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party, said the weapons were the result of a three-year effort. According to the statement, the first of its kind, the group has managed to manufacture and develop at least 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons. "

READ ON

(The Jerusalem Post, 25Jun06, Khaled Abu Toameh)

Cyanide Gas Device ‘Probably Didn’t Work’

“The device reportedly developed by al-Qaida to disperse deadly cyanide gas in subway cars and other confined spaces has never been used in a terrorist attack and probably would not be very effective, say experts.‘What you would get, in all probability, is a big bang, a big splash, but very little gas,’ Milton Leitenberg, of the University of Maryland, told United Press International. "

READ ON

(The Post Chronicle, 26Jun06, Shaun Waterman)

Raid Kills 10 Extremists

Afghanistan Raid Kills 10 Extremists; Makeshift Bomb RecoveredAmerican

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2006 – Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition forces killed 10 extremists yesterday in a raid on a Taliban compound belonging to a known weapons and bomb distributor, U.S. military officials reported. No injuries to civilians were observed during the operation, which was conducted in Uruzgan province, officials said.

"We will continue to intensify our pursuit of extremists hiding in southern Afghanistan," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. "We call on the extremists to reconcile with the government of Afghanistan. Our efforts are to improve security, economic development and stable governance for the Afghan people." Also, Afghan National Police discovered an unarmed bomb June 23 in Khowst province. Immediately after finding the device, the police notified coalition forces, according to coalition reports.

Task Force Wolf Pack, which consists of the 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Drum, N.Y., as well as attached personnel, arrived shortly after the Afghan police reported their find and discovered the area was already secure. "It's significant that the Afghan National Police were able to spot the device and secure the perimeter before coalition forces arrived," Army Maj. Eric Zenk, a U.S. military spokesman, said. "This shows that the security forces of Afghanistan are making progress and their training is paying off."

Coalition Forces Detain 14 Terrorists in Iraq

BAGHDAD, June 27, 2006 – Coalition forces detained 14 terrorists yesterday during raids north of Yusifiyah, Iraq, U.S. military officials reported. Two of the captured terrorists are known leaders of the Tawhid Waal Jihad and Jaysh al-Islami terrorist insurgent groups operating in the Yusifiyah area, officials said. Both groups have consistently launched joint attacks against Iraqi and coalition security forces throughout the region.

The terrorists were captured without incident. Coalition forces are using intelligence gathered from the raids to destroy terrorist activity in the area and restore security and stability to Iraqi citizens, officials said. The other detainees are members of the two groups and have been known to plant makeshift bombs aimed at restricting the safe movement of local citizens and security forces in the area. The raids are indicative of Iraqi and coalition efforts to target all terrorist groups, military officials said. Several women and children were present at the raid sites. None were harmed and all were returned to their homes once the troops ensured the area was secure.

Commander Stresses Non-Lethal Targeting in Eastern Baghdad

By Jim Garamone

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq, June 26, 2006 – As the nature of the war on terror in Iraq has changed, so have the targets sought by coalition and Iraqi forces. When Operation Iraqi Freedom began, typical targets were military formations and vehicles of the former Iraqi army, Republican Guard formations, and state-sponsored terrorists. After Saddam Hussein fell, common targets became Saddamist loyalists and foreign fighters. Since then, Iraq has become a battleground of ideas, as extremists have come to the country to challenge the coalition, and a homegrown insurgency has arisen. Coalition forces are not targeting military hardware, but ideas. Soldiers of the 506th Regimental Combat Team, 4th Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, understand that and have changed accordingly.

The unit, part of Multinational Division Baghdad, has applied military terms to non-lethal engagements. The 506th is based here, between Rusafa and Sadr City in eastern Baghdad. Officials estimate the area is home to about 4.7 million people. The mostly Shiite area was the scene of desperate fighting between Shiite militias and 1st Cavalry Division and 1st Armored Division troops in April 2004. Yet the area has remained comparatively peaceful since. Regiment commander Army Col. Thomas Vail said the effectiveness of non-lethal targeting is part of the reason for the relative calm. "I've always been a big fan of effects-based targeting," the colonel said during an interview June 19. "My intent is always 'effects' and, to my mind, non-lethal and lethal targeting have to be considered together."

By this he means that commanders must determine what effect they want in a certain area and what the best way to get that outcome is. For instance, if a commander can speak to a local sheikh and defuse or prevent a situation from escalating, then that is more effective than a "kinetic" approach, using combat power. The unit is carrying on a plan first formed after the April 2004 fighting between coalition forces and Shitte militias. The 1st Cavalry Division used commander's emergency response funds to target the ills of Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. At the time, the city was a festering slum. Sewage ran in the streets, breaches in pipes mixed the sewage with drinking water, causing water-borne diseases, especially among the young and old. People used barbed wire to hook their homes up to the power grid.

The 1st Cavalry Division, and later the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, attacked these problems. They used local workers to refurbish the sewers and build pumping stations. Other local workers dug trenches for new pipes and built a series of water purification plants. Still others attached homes to the power grid properly. The results have been startling. The streets are clear, pure drinking water is available in every home in the city, and while the electrical grid would never meet code in the United States, it is a vast improvement over what it once was. The number of incidents against coalition troops dropped as the work progressed and the residents began seeing results. Soon, people were calling in tips about insurgents to the Baghdad tips line because they did not want to see progress stopped. Army and police recruiting picked up.

Neighborhood councils met and helped decide where projects were needed and allocated resources against those projects. People began going to the councils for help and with ideas, and the power of the groups to enact the peoples' will grew. Still, Vail said, lethal targeting is not a thing of the past. "There are terrorists out there, and you have to kill or capture them," he said. "But if you only use the lethal tool to impose security, you will soon lose the support of the people. With 4.7 million population in our sector alone, there is no way you are going to continually get away with doing kinetic operations. The people will not tolerate the collateral damage, and there will be a misunderstanding by the population of why you are doing the operation."

In East Baghdad, the Iraqi army is in the lead, and the police presence is growing fast. Military transition teams from the 506th work with the Iraqi units to help them with the targeting procedures. "They understand that intelligence drives operations," Vail said. "And they know that force is often not the preferred solution." Maj. Gen Jawad Romi Aldaini, commander of the Iraqi army's 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, instinctively understands what needs to be done in the area, Vail said. Communication with the people is key, and Jawad is taking advantage of the free press in the city to communicate across the area.

"The last battlefield circulation he made through the area he had, he brought the press with him," Vail said. "That was a huge step for the Iraqi army in reaching out to the people." The colonel said relationships drive progress in the area. Tribal, neighborhood and family ties are at the heart of the culture. He said his unit worked hard before arriving in Iraq in December 2005 and January 2006 to understand the culture. His unit leaders studied with scholars from universities and spoke with soldiers who had been in the region. It also helped that many of the soldiers are veterans of previous deployments to the region, he said.

The soldiers understood the need for engagement as part of the non-lethal targeting process, he said. "If you have to drink tea with the sheikh, then do so," he said. "That's the culture and the way things are done here." Then the unit tried to understand the dynamics of working in a city. The leaders went to Atlanta and spoke to city officials. They toured CNN headquarters there and spoke with embedded reporters. They spoke with agents at the FBI field office and talked about the interagency processes in theater. "Then we went over to the Atlanta police department and spent a whole day with them," Vail said. "All the company commanders got in separate squad cars and did 'battlefield circulation' with the police. The object was to observe how the police see the small nuances of behavior."

Vail said the tour helped the commanders understand the dynamics of a city, and how important personal relationships are to those people providing security. It also helped commanders and staff learn how to use police as an extension of the targeting program. All 24 police stations in Vail's region have police training teams. The teams are a mixture of military experts and civilian international police liaison office personnel. The police work under the tactical control of the 506th, and the process works very well. In East Baghdad, the Iraqis are "completely in the lead," Vail said. "Every area in East Baghdad is a combined battlespace."

In fact, in many sectors progress has been so good that "there is the possibility that you may be able to turn the area directly over to the police, and skip the (Iraqi army) piece altogether," he said. "There are maybe some areas that are mature enough that we can put Iraqi police in the lead, and we can have overwatch by national police or the Iraqi army." The U.S. solders work hard with their Iraqi compatriots to move that day closer. "They are proud of what they do; they see the results in the streets every day," Vail said. "The soldiers are the ones who stare into the eyes of the children in Sadr City, New Baghdad, Salman Pak. They know they are giving these people a chance.

"It's a flat-out honor to serve with these soldiers," he continued. "Anyone who comes and walks with these soldiers will never forget it, because they've never seen such humility and competence in people at such a young age."

Training Transformation Gives Troops Leg Up in Current, Future Ops

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2006 – If the Defense Department's training transformation effort was summed up into a simple bumper-sticker-type slogan, it would read, "Train as you operate," a senior Defense Department told the Pentagon Channel. That's a concept that Paul Mayberry, deputy undersecretary of defense for readiness, said ensures that U.S. troops who deploy into the combat theater are prepared to successfully carry out their missions and return home safely. "We operate as a joint team with our multinational partners and in coalitions, and we operate over tremendous distances and in multiple locations," he said during a June 23 interview.

So that's the way, Mayberry said, the military needs to train. "Trying to take the very essence of the way we operate in theater and making sure our forces are prepared to execute those exact missions is what training transformation is all about," he said. Not surprisingly, combat veterans returning from the Middle East are becoming the biggest advocates of this new training approach, Mayberry said. "They're saying, 'Geez, this is the way we operate. How can we not train that way?'" Mayberry said. "So it has really been the combat veterans - the men and women who have been on the ground - coming back and demanding that we as a department change."

That's a major sea change from the days when the military focused on what Mayberry called "service-centric training." Now, the focus has moved to training troops to conduct joint, integrated and interdependent operations they're using every day in the global war on terror. Mayberry cited the June 7 air strike that took out former al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as an example of that coordination. "That was an operation that actually began much earlier at home station," with the soldiers, Marines and Special Forces troops involved receiving cultural and language training, Mayberry explained. This training enabled them to "establish a true bond with the local Iraqis there" so they could collect critical intelligence information that led to the successful strike, he said.

"Some years ago, it would have been very difficult for our air forces to be able to execute that type of time-sensitive and critical intelligence information," he said. But with major training centers providing true-to-life scenarios that enable servicemembers to work together in a joint environment to collect information, turn it into actionable intelligence, then conduct their joint operations, the troops had the training they needed to target Zarqawi, he said. Mayberry called the operation "an accomplishment that just even a few years ago, our forces were not able to jointly accomplish."

Better, more innovative training continues to build on this new capability. Mayberry cited Exercise United Endeavor 06-2, which recently wrapped up at Fort Hood, Texas, as an example. U.S. Joint Forces Command sponsored the week-long mission rehearsal exercise to help prepare U.S. Army 3rd Corps troops for their upcoming rotation to Iraq. The exercise brought together troops in multiple locations through a virtual training environment as they tackled joint training problems like those they're likely to encounter in Iraq, Mayberry explained. Participating troops operated from their home stations, including elements of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, the 1st Cavalry Division in Texas, and other players in Germany; Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., among others.

One of the greatest advantages of the training transformation efforts is that forces are increasingly able to remain at their home stations as they train. "We do not need to assemble all the live forces in one central location" when they can interact through a realistic virtual environment, Mayberry said. The new training concept also brings together all the elements U.S. troops would encounter on a real-life operation: active- and reserve-component members, DoD civilians and civilians from other government agencies, among them. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who assumed command of 3rd Corps May 15, raved about the benefits of the training. Odierno called it "something he as a corps commander would never have been able to accomplish" before the joint training capability was developed as part of DoD's training transformation program, Mayberry reported.

The Defense Department is committed to building on this capability and to ensure its forces have the agility and responsiveness they need to counter the threats they face today and into the future, he said. Unlike the early days of the training transformation effort, when its proponents received "tremendous pushback," today the biggest advocates of the program are the troops returning from combat, Mayberry said. Mayberry challenged them to continue to push the department to ensure they're getting both the right training and the right mix of training they need.

He urged them to "make sure we are focused on whatever the current challenges are and being responsive to the lessons learned," while "keeping a vision to the future and what other challenges may be out there."

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Devon J. Gibbons, 19, of Port Orchard, Wash., died on June 23, in the Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained on April 11 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations in Taji, Iraq. Gibbons was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office at (254) 291-2591.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Channing G. Singletary, 30, of Sylvester, Ga., died in Baghdad, Iraq on June 23, from a non-combat-related cause. Singletary was assigned to the Army National Guard's 122nd Support Center, Savannah, Ga.

The incident is under investigation.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the Georgia National Guard Public Affairs Office at (678) 569-6064.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on June 24 in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when they encountered enemy forces small arms fire, and an improvised explosive device which detonated during a dismounted patrol. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Sgt. Benjamin J. Laymon, 22, of Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Sgt. Justin D. Norton, 21, of Rainier, Wash.


Media with questions about these soldiers can call the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office at (254) 291-2591.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Master Sgt. Thomas D. Maholic, 38, of Bradford, Pa., died on June 24 in Ghecko, Afghanistan, when his patrol unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during a cordon and search mission. Maholic was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Media with questions about this soldier can call the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office at (910) 432-3383 / 8650 / 7585

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Marines, Sailor Face Charges in Iraqi Civilian's Death

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2006 – Seven Marines and a sailor were charged today with kidnapping, murder and conspiracy in connection with the death of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania, Iraq, in late April. Officials announced the charges, which also included making false official statements, larceny, assault, housebreaking and obstruction of justice, during a news conference today at Camp Pendleton, Calif
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Marines charged in the incident were: Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, Pfc. John J. Jodka, Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington and Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, a hospital corpsman, was also charged. All eight were assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

Local Iraqis brought the incident to the Marine leadership's attention during a regularly scheduled meeting May 1. Following a preliminary inquiry by Multinational Forces West in Iraq, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service launched an investigation May 7, Marine Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff for Marine Corps Installations West, told reporters today. Ten Marines and the sailor alleged to have been involved were removed from their unit May 12 and reassigned to the battalion headquarters at Camp Fallujah. They were restricted to their living quarters until their redeployment to Camp Pendleton.

Seven of the Marines and the sailor were placed in pre-trial confinement in the Camp Pendleton Brig on May 24. Navarre declined to discuss details about the other four Marines, saying the matter is still under investigation. Navarre said the Marine Corps takes allegations of wrongdoing by Marines seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating them. "The Marine Corps prides itself on holding its members accountable for their actions," he said.
"We are absolutely committed to holding fair and impartial proceedings in full compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said.

In the meantime, Navarre emphasized, the accused are presumed innocent. "I am confident that the military justice system will ensure a fair result in each case," he said. In a related matter, Army officials announced today that a fourth soldier has been charged in connection with the deaths of three male detainees during a May 9 operation near Thar Thar Canal in Iraq's Salah ad Din province. Army Spc. Juston Graber from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was charged with premeditated murder, attempted premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and making a false official statement.

Graber will remain at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, where he is restricted to the brigade's unit area performing administrative duties, officials said. Three other soldiers from the same unit were charged earlier in connection with the incident. They are Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Spc. William B. Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey R. Clagett. A statement released by Multinational Force Iraq officials said the soldiers' unit commander ordered an inquiry to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three detainees on the day the alleged murders occurred. Army Criminal Investigation Command conducted the investigation.

Officials emphasized that the accused are presumed innocent until charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Missing Soldiers Dead

Missing Soldiers Found Dead, Coalition Spokesman Says

By Jim Garamone

BAGHDAD, June 20, 2006 – Coalition forces recovered the bodies of two U.S. soldiers missing since an engagement with insurgents at a traffic checkpoint June 16, a senior Multinational Force Iraq official said here today. Coalition spokesman Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said Iraqi soldiers found the bodies of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker yesterday in Yusufiyah, and recovered them today. The bodies were discovered near the electrical station in the area.

Coalition personnel discovered the bodies last night as darkness was falling, Caldwell said. Coalition forces could not approach then because there was evidence that improvised explosive devices may have been present. "They waited until daylight to bring in the explosive ordnance detachment to pick up what we believe are our two soldiers," he said. "There were IEDs in that location and we did have to dismantle some stuff to get to (the bodies)."

The military will take the bodies to the United States for DNA verification. "Our heartfelt prayers go out to the families and friends of our two soldiers," Caldwell said. "I would ask everybody to remember the families in this time of their great sorrow." The two soldiers had been listed as "duty status and whereabouts unknown." A third soldier - Spc. David J. Babineau - was killed in the original incident.

More than 8,000 coalition and Iraqi soldiers and police participated in the search for the missing Americans. Both men were members of the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The unit serves as part of Multinational Division Baghdad. U.S. Navy and Air Force fighter-attack jets; E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, aircraft; and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles helped in the search. In addition, dive teams and "national assets of varying types" supported the effort, Caldwell said.

"There was a single vehicle with three soldiers in it when they came under attack," Caldwell said. U.S. officials will examine the situation as they would in any situation where coalition forces have been killed. Multinational Corps Iraq officials will come out with a report on the incident soon, Caldwell said. An announcement posted on an extremist Web site claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murders; Caldwell categorically denied the claim.

The general did not describe any of the wounds to the soldiers out of consideration for the families. He also said officials in the United States will perform autopsies on the men. The soldiers were manning a checkpoint at a canal crossing near the Euphrates River. Forces at a nearby traffic-control point heard an explosion and small-arms fire at about 7:55 p.m. on June 16.

A quick-reaction force responded and arrived on the scene within 15 minutes, Caldwell said. They found one soldier killed and the other two missing. Officials launched an immediate search. Commanders notified all traffic-control points to stop civilian traffic and increase security. Coalition officials also dispatched helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles to aid the search. Within an hour, coalition and Iraqi forces established blocking positions throughout the area to focus the search and prevent movement of suspects out of the area, Caldwell said.

Three Soldiers Charged in Detainee Deaths

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2006 – Military officials have charged three soldiers in connection with the deaths of three detainees during a May 9 operation near Thar Thar Canal in Iraq's Salah ad Din province. Charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, communicating a threat and obstructing justice are Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Spc. William B. Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey R. Clagett. All three are assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

A statement released yesterday by Multinational Force Iraq officials said the soldiers' unit commander ordered an inquiry to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three detainees on the day the alleged murders occurred. A Criminal Investigation Command investigation was initiated on May 17 and is ongoing, officials said. The soldiers are in pretrial confinement awaiting an Article 32 hearing - the military justice system's equivalent to a grand jury hearing -- to determine if sufficient evidence exists for the case to be referred to court-martial.