War on Terrorism

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Coalition Troops Kill 4 Terrorists; Iraqis Detain 21 in Recent Raids

American Forces Press Service

Dec. 31, 2006 – Coalition forces killed four
terrorists and detained six others, while Iraqi army soldiers detained 21 suspects as the result of a series of operations conducted in Iraq yesterday. Coalition forces killed four terrorists and detained six other suspected terrorists during a morning raid in Thar Thar. Intelligence reports indicated known al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists with links to foreign fighters were operating at the targeted building. As coalition troops approached the building, armed terrorists appeared to maneuver against them in a threatening manner. A firefight left three terrorists dead and another injured. One armed terrorist attempted to fire at the coalition troops and was killed inside the structure.

Inside the building, coalition forces discovered a weapons cache consisting of multiple grenades, machine guns and pistols, which was destroyed on site to prevent future use by terrorists. This operation was part of ongoing efforts to eliminate al Qaeda terrorists and disrupt their operations in the Thar Thar area.

Elsewhere yesterday, 1st Iraqi
Army Division forces with coalition advisors detained 15 suspected insurgents during operations near Habbaniyah. The target was an insurgent network responsible for improvised-explosive-device and small-arms attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces. The insurgents are tied to al Qaeda in Iraq and are suspected of involvement in small-arms and IED attacks against convoys in the Habbaniyah and Fallujah areas.

In another operation, 1st Iraqi
Army Division forces with coalition advisors detained five suspects during operations in Fallujah yesterday. The Iraqi forces were looking for a suspected insurgent allegedly linked to improvised-explosive-device attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces. The insurgent also is believed to have been selling IEDs to other insurgents and al Qaeda in Iraq as well as smuggling foreign fighters into the country to facilitate attacks in the Fallujah area.

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Army Casualty

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

Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, died Dec. 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds received from small arms fire while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

For more information on this soldier, contact the U.S. Army, Alaska, public affairs office at (907) 389-6666.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.They died Dec. 27 in Baghdad of wounds received from an improvised explosive device that detonated near them while on dismounted patrol. Both soldiers were assigned to 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Killed were:

Sgt. Christopher P. Messer, 28, of Petersburg, Fla.Pfc.
Nathaniel A. Given, 21, of Dickinson, Texas.

For more information on these soldiers, contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-5461.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 23, of Mont Alto, Pa., died Dec. 27 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, of injuries sustained on Nov. 13 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated nearby. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

For more information on this soldier, contact the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office at 011-49-611-705-4859.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Army Casualty

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

Pvt. Clinton T. McCormick, 20, of Jacksonville, Fla., died Dec. 27 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations. McCormick was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-3420.

Marine Casualties

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

Cpl. Christopher E. Esckelson, 22, of Vassar, Mich.
Lance Cpl. Nicholas A. Miller, 20, of Silverwood, Mich.
Lance Cpl. William D. Spencer, 20, of Paris, Tenn.


All three died on December 28 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Esckelson and Miller were assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Lansing, Mich. Spencer was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Nashville, Tenn.

For further information in regard to these Marines the media can contact the Marine Forces Reserve public affairs office at (504) 678-4177.

Six Terrorists Killed, 32 Captured; Insurgents Kill Iraqi Civilian

American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2006 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed six
terrorists and captured 32 suspected terrorists today, military officials reported. Coalition forces killed two terrorists and detained two others during a raid against al Qaeda terrorists today in Baghdad. While moving toward the targeted building, coalition forces encountered two armed men who had exited nearby buildings. Coalition forces assessed the two armed men as an immediate threat and engaged them. Both men were wounded.

Coalition forces immediately rendered first aid and transported the two men to a nearby medical facility. Upon further investigation, coalition forces determined the men were local nationals. The men are in stable condition.

Additional forces performing security outside the targeted building were confronted by two armed terrorists during the raid. The terrorists began maneuvering toward coalition forces despite the ground troops' repeated attempts to halt the men. The terrorists were noncompliant and continued to maneuver toward the coalition forces who engaged, killing the two armed terrorists.

Ground forces entered the targeted building and found a weapons cache consisting of AK-47s, which was seized. Two suspected terrorists were also detained during the raid.

Elsewhere, coalition forces killed four terrorists and destroyed two buildings along with nearby cache sites containing improvised explosive device equipment during a raid today in Thar Thar.

Intelligence reports indicated roadside bombs were being produced in the targeted buildings. Upon entering the first building, coalition forces were engaged by armed terrorists. Coalition forces returned fire, killing four terrorists.

While searching the targeted buildings and surrounding area, ground forces found a significant cache consisting a large amount of IED-making material, including 16 pounds of homemade explosives, one 60-pound and one 80-pound bomb.

Also found on the site were multiple batteries, blasting caps, a rocket-propelled grenade,100 feet of detonation cord, suicide vests, grenades and machine guns.

Coalition forces coordinated an air strike that destroyed the buildings containing the weapons cache.

In another operation, special Iraqi
police forces, with coalition advisers, captured two suspected insurgent cell leaders during operations today in Bahbahani, near Iskandariyah. The suspected insurgents are allegedly responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi civilians in the area.

The insurgent cell leaders, who are tied to al Qaeda in Iraq, are also implicated in numerous roadside bomb attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces in the Babil and Karbala provinces.

In other developments, coalition forces detained two suspects during operations today in the Ad Dawrah area of southern Baghdad to capture a suspected member of al Qaeda in Iraq who allegedly plans and participates in the kidnapping of Iraqi civilians. He is also alleged to advise on and facilitates violent activities, kidnappings and murders perpetuated by other insurgents.

Additionally, special Iraqi army forces detained 13 suspects during operations today in Salman Pak, southeast of Baghdad, to capture the alleged commander of illegal armed group elements responsible for sectarian violence and attacks against Iraqi civilians in the area.

The Iraqi-led operation, with coalition advisers, involved entry into the Salman Pak mosque. The mosque was reportedly used as a base of operations for planning and conducting attacks, kidnappings and murder. Credible intelligence also indicated the mosque was being used by illegal armed groups as a place to store and traffic weapons.

Iraqi forces entered the mosque and confiscated a large weapons cache consisting of 21 armored vests, two rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, three heavy machine guns, 10 assault rifles and 12 grenades.

Twenty RPG rounds were also found, but destroyed near the objective after explosive ordnance disposal personnel determined their condition prevented transport. The rounds were destroyed in a location that minimized any damage to the mosque.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bush Notes Progress on Iraq Plan, Praises Troops, Families

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 28, 2006 – After a three-hour meeting with his national security team today, President Bush noted progress in defining the way forward in Iraq and praised servicemembers and their families for their sacrifices. Bush said input provided by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace are important parts in his deliberations in making a new strategy for Iraq.

Gates and Pace, the
U.S. military's most senior civilian and military officials, respectively, traveled together during a recent trip to Iraq and provided their impressions to the president last weekend.

"They reported firsthand what they saw, what they found," Bush said. "It's an important part of coming to closure on a way forward in Iraq that'll help us achieve our objective, which is a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself."

Other members of the National Security Council who attended the meeting in Crawford, Texas, today included Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and his deputy, J.D. Crouch II.

Bush told reporters that he had more consultations to make before he announces his decision on a new strategy for Iraq sometime in January. The president also said he'll continue to work with the Iraqi government, noting the key to success in Iraq is for that government to be willing to confront extremists that want to tear it down.

"The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding," he said.

The president said he'd also consult on Iraq with both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Congress.

"Not only will I continue to reach out to Congress, but members of my team will do so as well," Bush said. "I fully understand it's important to have both Republicans and Democrats understanding the importance of this mission."

It's important that Americans know that success in Iraq is vital to the nation's security interests, Bush said.

"If we were to not succeed in Iraq, the enemy, the extremists, the radicals would have safe haven from which to launch further attacks," Bush said. "They would be emboldened. They would be in a position to threaten the United States of America."

Iraq, therefore, "is an important part of the
war on terror," the president said.

Bush said he's making good progress formulating a new strategy that will help the United States and its allies achieve desired goals in Iraq.

The commander in chief praised the thousands of men and women in the
U.S. military who are deployed far from home during the holidays to defend America.

"There's nobody more important in this global war on terror than the men and women who wear the uniform and their families," Bush said. "As we head into a new year, my thoughts are with them. My thoughts are with the families who have just gone through a holiday season with their loved ones overseas."

The troops' welfare is always on his mind, the president said. And, the safety of U.S. servicemembers and success in Iraq, he said, are among his wishes for the coming year.

"My thoughts are with the troops as we head into 2007," Bush said, noting his New Year's resolution "is that they'll be safe and that we'll come closer to our objective, that we'll be able to help this young democracy survive and thrive, and therefore we'll be writing a chapter of peace."

"I can't thank our families enough for supporting their loved one who wears the uniform," Bush said, adding he also can't thank enough the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coastguardsmen who wear the uniform.

"May God continue to bless them," Bush said.

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Combined Forces Capture 60 Insurgents, Kill Cell Leader

American Forces Press Service

Dec. 28, 2006 – Combined forces captured 60 suspected insurgents and killed one cell leader over the past four days in Iraq.

-- Soldiers from the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi
Army Division, detained 30 suspected insurgents Dec. 26 southwest of Mahmudiayh. The detainees are being held for questioning.

-- 5th Iraqi
Army Division forces, with coalition advisors, raided a suspected terrorist training camp today during operations near Baqubah. Combined forces detained 13 insurgents suspected of attacks against coalition forces and civilians.

-- Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, killed one suspected insurgent and captured 13 more during a four-day operation in Baghdad that ended today.

-- 7th Iraqi
Army Division forces, with coalition advisors, detained three suspected insurgents today during operations near Tameem. The detained are responsible for multiple roadside-bomb and car-bomb attacks against coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and civilians.

-- Special Iraqi
army forces, with coalition advisors, captured an al Qaeda in Iraqi terror cell leader Dec. 26 during operations in Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad. The terrorist is believed responsible for the June kidnapping two U.S. Army soldiers who were later found tortured and murdered.

-- Iraqi soldiers responded to a car-bomb detonation yesterday in northeastern Baghdad that killed 15 people and wounded 20 others. Iraqi soldiers transported the injured to a hospital for medical treatment.

--
U.S. Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, rescued two kidnapping victims yesterday who were being held captive by insurgents in Hit, Iraq.

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Army Casualty

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

Capt. Hayes Clayton, 29, of Georgia, died Dec. 25 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was conducting combat operations. Clayton was assigned to the 842nd Military Training and Transition team, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-2253.

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Army Casualty

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

Spc. Michael J. Crutchfield, 21, of Stockton, Calif., died Dec. 23 in Balad, Iraq, of a non-combat related injury. Crutchfield was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Crutchfield's death is under investigation.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Bragg public affairs office at (910) 303-0617.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died of injuries suffered when the vehicle they were in was involved in a rollover incident on Dec. 26 in Baghdad, Iraq. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Killed were:
Spc. Joseph A. Strong, 21, of Lebanon, Ind.
Spc. Douglas L. Tinsley, 21, of Chester, S.C.


The incident is under investigation.

For further information on these soldiers the media can contact the U.S. Army Alaska public affairs office at (907) 389-6666.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. 1st Class Dexter E. Wheelous, 37, of Winder, Ga., died Dec. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Wheelous was assigned to the 842nd Military Training and Transition team, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-2253.

Marine Casualties

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

Cpl. Joshua M. Schmitz, 21, of Spencer, Wis.
Lance Cpl. William C. Koprince Jr., 24, of Lenoir City, Tenn.


Schmitz died December 26 and Koprince on December 27 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Both Marines were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For further information in regard to these Marines the media can contact the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at (910) 450-6575.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Iraqi Forces Prove Eager to Help, Become More Capable

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 27, 2006 – Iraqi military and police forces are eager to help find solutions for the challenges facing their country, and they are becoming more capable of assuming increased responsibility for security, a senior
U.S. military officer said in Baghdad today. As President Bush deliberates the way ahead in Iraq, the Iraqi people and their security forces will ultimately have the responsibility to quell violence and effect peace across the country, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters.

"Ultimately, Iraqis have to step up and develop solutions to their country's problems," Caldwell said. "Yet, in the face of persistently high levels of violence, the Iraqi people are demonstrating that they are eager to do just that."

More than 1,100 Iraqis recently signed up for the
police forces in troubled Anbar province, , Caldwell said, a place where there'd been no previous demonstration of such civic resolve.

More Iraqi citizens are also stepping forward to provide information about extremist and criminal activities to authorities, Caldwell said. From January to September 2006, he said, Iraqis provided an average of 4,500 tips monthly to authorities about possible terrorist or criminal activity in their areas.

Between October and November, such citizen-supplied tips increased by 66 percent to more than 7,600 tips per month. As of Dec. 22, the pace of tips received was anticipated to yield more than 8,700 this month, Caldwell said.

"This would indicate to us that the Iraqi people are tired of the violence perpetrated upon them by terrorist and criminal elements, and they want to be part of the solution," Caldwell said.

Consequently, U.S. and coalition officials are accelerating plans to transfer more security responsibilities to the government of Iraq and its security forces, Caldwell said.

The Iraqi army and police now have overall responsibility for all security and law enforcement activities in Najaf province. It is the third Iraqi province, he said, that provides for its own security and
law enforcement.

"This transfer of responsibility comes as the Iraqi security forces continue to demonstrate increasingly tactical capabilities," Caldwell said, noting that 87 percent of operations conducted so far this month have been conducted by Iraqi security forces operating either independently or jointly with coalition forces.

Recent Iraqi-conducted operations in Baghdad, he said, uncovered 18 significant enemy weapons caches.

The situation still isn't perfect, however. Iraqi security forces still have to improve their logistics systems and leadership, and some soldiers and
police have proven disloyal to the government, Caldwell said.

"That is why the multinational force is consistently and continuously reassessing and strengthening how we train, advise and assist the Iraqi forces," Caldwell said. "We are seeing signs that the Iraqi forces are beginning to address some of these problems themselves."

For example, Iraqi
police and British forces two days ago raided a rogue Iraqi police unit in Basra that had been infiltrated by extremists, Caldwell said. That operation rescued more than 120 hostages, most of whom had been tortured.

"While infiltration of some (Iraqi) units persists, this operation demonstrates that the government of Iraq takes it seriously and understands and is initiating steps to mitigate this infiltration within the police units," Caldwell said.

Although significant challenges remain in Iraq and violence there is likely to remain high in the near term, Caldwell said there's hope for the future.

"Iraqi forces are making progress to provide their own security and the Iraqi people are demonstrating great resolve to defeat these terrorists and criminals plaguing Iraq," he said.

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Gates Approves 82nd Airborne Division Deployment to Kuwait

American Forces Press Service


Dec. 27, 2006 – The 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team received orders today to deploy to Kuwait in early January to become the theater command's "call forward" force, Defense Department officials announced today. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved the request from
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.

About 3,500 members of the "Falcon Brigade" headquarters will replace the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit as CENTCOM's forward-deployed on-call force, ready to respond quickly to a full range of contingencies, he said.

The Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 15th MEU moved forward into Iraq's Anbar province in November, Whitman said, and Abizaid requested that the on-call force be reconstituted to provide additional capability and flexibility within the theater.

The 82nd Division served as the U.S. strategic response force and is always on a high state of alert, Army Maj. Tom Earnhardt, the division's public affairs officer, told American Forces Press Service. "Within 18 hours, we can have the first elements out the door," he said.

The troops were recalled to Fort Bragg today, cutting their holiday leave short to prepare for the deployment. "Everybody left with the understanding that something like this could happen," Earnhardt said.

The Falcon Brigade is slated to leave Fort Bragg early in the new year for a deployment expected to last up to 240 days, through September, Whitman said. Once in Kuwait, they will be prepared to respond to contingencies, not just in Iraq, but throughout the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

Officials emphasized that the deployment announcement does not indicate a surge and is not tied to any particular event.

Fifteen combat brigades are currently serving in Iraq. Officials said those numbers, like those throughout the CENTCOM region, will be adjusted as necessary depending on conditions on the ground.

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Five Iranians Detained in Recent Baghdad Raids

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 27, 2006 – Several Iranian nationals were detained in recent coalition raids conducted in Iraq's capital city, a senior
U.S. military officer said in Baghdad today. Two Iranians were among eight other suspects detained during a coalition raid at a Baghdad site Dec. 21, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters.

The early-morning operation was based on intelligence information, Caldwell said, noting documents, maps, photographs, and videos were also confiscated.

"Debriefings of these detainees and investigation of the seized materials have yielded intelligence that link perhaps some of them to some illegal activities that have occurred," Caldwell said. The investigation is still ongoing, he said.

The 10 detainees are still in the custody of Multinational Force Iraq, Caldwell said, noting U.S. officials remain in contact with the Iraqi government regarding the matter.

In another operation, three Iranian nationals and one Iraqi were detained during a vehicle search by coalition forces that took place in the early evening in Baghdad Dec. 20, Caldwell said.

The four detainees have since been transferred to the custody of the Iraqi government, Caldwell said.

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Cell Leader Killed in Iraq, Weapons Cache Found

American Forces Press Service

Dec. 27, 2006 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed an insurgent cell leader today and discovered a weapons cache yesterday in Iraq: In operations in Abu Sukhayr, near Najaf, 8th Iraqi
Army Division forces, with coalition advisors, killed a terrorist cell leader who was implicated in an October roadside bomb attack on a police chief in Najaf, military officials said.

Soldiers from the scout platoon, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, discovered a weapons cache yesterday near the Euphrates River village of Abu Farris.

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Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Jae S. Moon, 21, of Levittown, Pa., died Dec. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while on patrol Dec. 14 in Baghdad. Moon was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For more information in regard to this soldier the media can contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-1264 or (719) 526-5500.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Elias Elias, 27, of Glendora, Calif., died Dec. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while on patrol. Elias was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For further information in regard to this soldier the media can contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-1264 or (719) 526-5500.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations Dec. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq. They were assigned to the 9th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

Killed were:

Sgt. John T. Bubeck, 25, of Collegeville, Pa. He later died Dec. 26.
Spc. Aaron L. Preston, 29, of Dallas.
Pfc. Andrew H. Nelson, 19, of Saint Johns, Mich.

For further information on these soldiers the media can contact the 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-4859.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Dec. 23 in Salman Pak, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry, Big Rapids, Mich.

Killed were:
Spc. Chad J. Vollmer, 24, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Pfc. Wilson A. Algrim, 21, of Howell, Mich.
Pvt. Bobby Mejia II, Saginaw, Mich.


For further information on these soldiers the media can contact the Michigan National Guard public affairs office at (517) 481-8140.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Myles C. Sebastien, 21, of Opelousas, La., died Dec. 20 from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Sebastien was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at (910) 450-6575.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Stephen L. Morris, 21, of Lake Jackson, Texas, died Dec. 24 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Morris was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Marine Corps Base Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8870.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Iraqi Forces Kill at Least Four Attacking Insurgents

Dec. 24, 2006 – Iraqi forces working with coalition on advisors killed at least four insurgents after being attacked during operations yesterday and Dec. 22, and a high-ranking terrorist has been confirmed as killed in an operation earlier this month, military officials reported. After searching for an insurgent cell leader south of Baqubah yesterday, 5th Iraqi Army Division forces with coalition advisors came under heavy fire from several groups of street insurgents. As they left the area, the soldiers repelled the heavy automatic-weapons and machine-gun fire, killing and wounding several insurgents.

The coalition forces were unsuccessful in their search for the cell leader, who is suspected of leading a group responsible for the death of an Iraqi army colonel and for roadside bomb attacks.

Damage to the area from gunfire was reported. At least four insurgents were confirmed dead. There were no reports of injuries to civilians or Iraqi or coalition forces.

The attack on 5th Iraqi
Army Division and coalition forces came just one day after they were surprised by sniper and several small-arms-fire attacks while on patrol Dec. 22, also in Baqubah.

After the sniper attack, Iraqi forces searched several buildings for the shooter, but only found spent ammunition casings at a location overlooking the area where they had been fired upon.

As they continued on patrol, the Iraqi and coalition forces were then attacked with small-arms fire. Forces returned fire on suspected insurgents in two vehicles who maneuvered on the patrol at street intersections, and were observed moving with the patrol on a parallel street. Several insurgents engaged patrol vehicles and were fired upon by Iraqi and coalition forces.

Several insurgents were killed and wounded. The coalition was unable to confirm exact insurgent casualty numbers due to security considerations. There were no reports of civilian casualties following the incident. There were no Iraqi or coalition casualties. Damage caused by Iraqi and Coalition Forces was limited, officials said.

In other news from Iraq, coalition forces today positively identified a terrorist killed in an operation Dec. 7.

Fahd Hilal Awidh al Salifi al Maqati al Utaybi, also known as Numan and as Fahd al-Saudi, was an Iraq-based Saudi foreign fighter facilitator and a member of an al Qaeda in Iraq operations cell in the Ramadi area, officials said.

During the operation, coalition forces attempted to stop a vehicle and detain its four occupants. The terrorists resisted, forcing coalition forces to fire into the vehicle. None of the occupants in the vehicle
survived. Coalition forces recovered an AK-47 and three pistols from the vehicle.

Fahd al-Saudi previously operated in Yemen as a facilitator responsible for sending foreign fighters to Iraq, officials said. He fled Yemen after Saudi and Yemeni authorities initiated investigations on his family and close associates due to indications he and his Yemeni-based group were planning external
terrorist operations.

Intelligence reports also indicate he assisted Malaz Prison escapees by arranging their travel and safe haven in Jeddah.

Coalition forces yesterday detained four suspects in central Baghdad during an operation designed to capture an alleged insurgent leader aiding foreign fighters. The insurgent is wanted for facilitating and providing transportation and financial support to terrorists and foreign fighters conducting attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi security forces. Coalition forces detained the suspects without incident and caused minimal damage during the mission. There were no Iraqi civilian, Iraqi forces or coalition forces casualties.

Finally, an Iraqi
Army patrol rescued 16 kidnap victims in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood Dec. 22, officials announced today. Members of the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, received information from a tip line, and an Iraqi army patrol moved to the specified location. After searching a home, Iraqi troops found two men, four women and 10 children identified as hostages. All 16 victims were returned safely to their homes later that evening, officials said.

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Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Jason C. Denfrund, 24, of Cattaraugus, N.Y., died Dec. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit while on patrol. Denfrund was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

For more information on this soldier the media can contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-5461.

Three Insurgents Killed, 10 Detained in Iraq

Dec. 26, 2006 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed three insurgents and detained 10 in Iraq over the past three days:

-- Coalition forces used precision munitions today to destroy a vehicle insurgents were using to emplace improvised explosive devices in Haqlaniyah.

-- Iraqi
Police and coalition forces responded to multiple vehicle-borne IEDs that detonated today in southwestern Baghdad.

-- Coalition forces killed three insurgents yesterday in Samsiyah during operations to capture terrorists responsible for IED attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

-- Coalition forces captured a suspected murder- and kidnapping-cell leader during operations yesterday near Baghdad. Coalition forces detained four additional suspects for questioning during the operation.

-- Special Iraqi
police forces with coalition advisors detained five suspected insurgents Dec. 24 during operations southeast of Mosul. The suspects were members of an insurgent cell responsible for attacks against Iraqi security forces in the area, military officials said.

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Navy Casualty

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

Hospitalman Kyle A. Nolen, 21, of Ennis, Texas, died Dec. 21 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, as a result of enemy action. Nolen was assigned to H Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Regimental Combat Team 7, I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, 29 Palms, Calif.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Navy public affairs office at (703) 697-5342.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Fernando S. Tamayo, 19, of Fontana, Calif., died December 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Tamayo was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Twentynine Palms public affairs office at (760) 830-3760.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Jacob G. McMillan, 25, of Lafayette, La., died Dec. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle and was followed by enemy small arms fire. McMillan was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the U.S. Army Alaska public affairs office at (907) 384-6666.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Iraqi, Coalition Forces Capture 48 Suspected Terrorists in Two Days

Dec. 23, 2006 – During the past two days, coalition and Iraqi forces detained 48 suspected terrorists and disabled three vehicles used to transport explosives, Multinational Corps Iraq officials reported today. Targeting an al Qaeda terror cell, special Iraqi security forces with coalition advisors captured seven suspected terrorists today during a raid in the Ghazaliya area of Baghdad.

The cell is responsible for kidnappings, roadside bomb attacks and killings in the Mansour district. The suspects allegedly belong to a group which openly claims responsibility for killing Iraqi civilians and
police. They also are suspected of harboring foreign fighters and facilitating attacks against coalition forces.

During the operation, Iraqi forces disabled three vehicles suspected of being used by the group to move explosives, officials said.

In other news from Iraq, 1st Iraqi
Army Division forces with coalition advisors yesterday detained 27 suspected insurgents during simultaneous operations at multiple locations west of Fallujah. Officials say they believe the insurgent network is responsible for roadside bomb and small-arms attacks in the area. Officials also allege the suspects are involved in weapons trafficking and other criminal activity supporting their terrorist activities against Iraqi and coalition forces.

Elsewhere yesterday, 5th Iraqi
Army Division forces with coalition advisors detained 13 suspects during operations near Muqdadiyah. Officials say they believe the suspects are responsible for kidnapping, murder and other sectarian attacks against Iraqi civilians.

Meanwhile, near Ramadi, 7th Iraqi
Army Division forces with coalition advisors captured a suspect who allegedly belongs to an insurgent cell responsible for attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces in that area. One other person was detained for further questioning, officials reported.

Minimal damage was caused to the objectives and surrounding areas, and there were no reports of civilian casualties. There were no Iraqi or coalition forces casualties.

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Coalition Forces Kill Senior Taliban Leader

Dec. 23, 2006 – A coalition air strike Dec. 19 in Afghanistan's Helmand province killed a senior member of the Taliban's inner circle, military officials reported today. Credible intelligence led coalition forces to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani's location near the border with Pakistan, officials said. His vehicle, traveling in a deserted area, was destroyed by the air strike, instantly killing him and two unidentified associates.

"Osmani was in the top ring of the Taliban leadership and he was also a close associate of Osama bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyr," said Army Col. Tom Collins, a coalition spokesman. "His death is a major achievement in the fight against extremists and their terrorist networks."

Osmani was the Taliban's chief of
military operations in the provinces of Uruzgan, Nimroz, Kandahar, Farah, Herat and Helmand. He played a central role in facilitating terrorist operations involving Taliban, al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, including roadside bomb and suicide attacks, kidnappings, numerous atrocities against innocent civilians, and direct attacks on coalition, NATO and Afghan forces, Collins said.

In other news from Afghanistan, Afghan security forces with coalition forces captured five suspected terrorists today during an operation in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, east of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Credible information led to the capture of the primary suspect, a known roadside bomb facilitator with ties to al Qaeda and other militant groups operating against the Afghan government and international forces, officials said.

There were no reported injuries to civilians, Afghan or coalition forces.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Marine Casualties

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

Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Burgess, 21, of Sanford, Mich.
Lance Cpl. Ryan L. Mayhan, 25, of Hawthorne, Calif.


Burgess and Mayhan died Dec. 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. They were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

For further information about these Marines, please call the Twentynine Palms public affairs office at (760) 830-3760.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Scott D. Dykman, 27, of Helena, Mont., died Dec. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

For further information related to this release, contact the Alaska U.S. Army public affairs office at (907) 384-6666.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Robert J. Volker, 21, of Big Spring, Texas, died Dec. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information related to this release, contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 289-3883.

Marines Charge Eight in Connection With Haditha Deaths

By Jim Garamone

Dec. 21, 2006 – Four
Marines have been charged in connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians in Haditha Nov. 19, 2005, and another four Marines have been charged with failure to properly report and/or investigate the deaths of the Iraqi civilians. Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff of Marine Corps Installations West, announced the charges and specifications during a news conference on Camp Pendleton, Calif., today. All of those charged were members of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"The Marine Corps takes allegations of wrong-doing by Marines very seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating such allegations," Navarre said. "The Marine Corps also prides itself on holding its members accountable for their actions.

"We are absolutely committed to holding fair and impartial proceedings in full compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said. Navarre said the charges stem from an incident that occurred after an attack on a four-vehicle Marine convoy from the battalion's Kilo Company. The convoy was moving through Haditha when it was ambushed by insurgents employing an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, Navarre said.

"One Marine was killed and two were wounded by the explosion," the colonel said. "Over the next several hours, 24 Iraqi men, women and children died in the vicinity of the IED explosion."

The next day, 2nd Marine Division issued a press release stating that 15 Iraqi civilians were killed in an IED explosion, and Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers killed eight insurgents in a follow-on firefight. "We now know with certainty the press release was incorrect, and that none of the civilians were killed by the IED explosion," Navarre said.

In February,
Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, initiated an investigation. "This investigation focused on the circumstances of the attack and whether the Marines involved followed the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict," Navarre said.

In March, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, commander of coalition forces in Al Anbar province, initiated a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation, to determine if there was any criminal responsibility for the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Later that month Chiarelli ordered Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell to conduct another investigation to look at three aspects of the incident: official reporting of the events and follow-on actions by the chain of command; training of Marines in the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict; and whether the command climate in 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, encouraged the disciplined application of the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict.

"In May 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service also began a criminal investigation into the follow-on actions of the chain of command," Navarre said.

Bargewell ended his inquiry June 15, 2006. He concluded that the Marines were adequately trained on the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict but that reporting of the incident up the chain of command was inaccurate and untimely. The report went to Chiarelli, Army Gen. George Casey, the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, and finally to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command for appropriate action, Navarre said.

Those charged are:

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich is charged with unpremeditated murder, soliciting another to commit an offense and making a false official statement.

Marine Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz was charged with five counts of murder and one charge of a false official statement.

Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum is charged with murder, negligent homicide and assault.

Marine Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt is charged with three counts of murder.

Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, was charged with three counts of violation of a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Lucas M. McConnell has been charged with dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Randy W. Stone was charged with failure to follow a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

Marine 1st Lt. Andrew A. Grayson is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false official statement and obstructing justice.

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Embedded Trainers Tell Gates They're Pleased With Iraqi Army Progress

By Kathleen T. Rhem

Dec. 22, 2006 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today learned from a
U.S. Army officer working closely with Iraqi forces that Iraqi units are gaining confidence in their abilities and are doing more to empower noncommissioned officers. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bob Morschauser, commander of Task Force 2-15 in the Mahmudiyah area, along with a half dozen soldiers in his unit, ate breakfast with Gates and U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, here this morning.

In a news conference a few hours later, Gates told reporters he was impressed and encouraged by what he heard from the soldiers. He said he was particularly encouraged by the trust the soldiers described developing between American and Iraqi troops.

"Their admiration for the Iraqi soldiers that they're working with and their belief that this partnering -- where the Iraqis take the lead and where the Iraqis significantly outnumber the American soldiers ... -- they're being very successful," Gates said.

The U.S. soldiers "described these Iraqi soldiers as being very brave and very willing to be aggressive," Gates said.

"I found all of that very encouraging, in terms of the overall strategy as we move forward, of the Iraqis taking the lead with us in a support role," he said.

Gates touted the value of having larger units working closely with Iraqis rather than the smaller teams that have been the norm until recently. "It's a unit that brings all kinds of resources to help the Iraqis, not just the training, but intelligence and so on, and (the U.S. soldiers of TF 2-15) seem to think that that's really the way to go," he said.

The secretary said he would seek further advice from senior commanders, "but certainly this unit felt the way they were doing it was working, and they seem very content with it."

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said he was encouraged by progress among Iraqi military leaders. "I was impressed this time with the growing confidence in the Iraqi leaders in themselves and in each other," Pace said during the news conference.

Morschauser said he briefed Gates on "the importance of continued training and support of the Iraqi army, and the definite improvements that we have seen over the past three months."

Morschauser's 400-man task force is embedded with the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division. The American soldiers are spread throughout the brigade and in each battalion. They live and work with their Iraqi counterparts.

"They do everything together basically," he said. "We support everything they do. We'll do training, and then when we're doing operations, we'll be there to support them during planning phase, preparation, and then we're out there during execution; we're side by side with them.

"And we'll slowly step back over the next five or six months and let them continue to take the lead," he added.

The commander said he believes Task Force 2-15 is the largest embedded training team assigned to an Iraqi unit and that other teams will soon follow this lead. He said he'd like to see continued partnering on this level. "So far it's working pretty well," he said.

Since his unit has been embedded with this Iraqi unit, Morschauser said, he has seen significant improvements in how well they execute military "tactics, techniques and procedures."

More importantly, the Iraqi unit is gaining confidence in their abilities. "They're gaining confidence rapidly, Morschauser said. "When we first came in, we were doing a lot of their planning for operations, ... now they're starting to take the lead in their planning and preparation.

"It's a great thing to see," he added. "It really is."

Morschauser said he believes the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, will be able to handle all their own missions within a year.

One challenge in bringing Iraqi units up to speed is in getting them to properly use noncommissioned officers. "It's a very officer-centric army, and what we're trying to do is to push them to get them to use their noncommissioned officers more," Morschauser said. "They've got some great noncommissioned officers, the just don't utilize them as well as we do."

He said many older officers resist such a change, "but there are definitely moderates," he added. "You see some enlightened officers."

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Five Servicemembers Killed in Iraq; Iraqi Forces Take Fight to Enemy

Dec. 22, 2006 – Three Marines, a soldier and a sailor were killed in Iraq, Multinational Forces Iraq officials announced today. Three Marines and one sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province, and a Multinational Division Baghdad soldier was killed west of the Iraqi capital Dec. 22. Another soldier in the same patrol was wounded.

Iraqi forces backed up by coalition advisers took the fight to the enemy in many areas of the country.

Soldiers of the 4th Iraqi
Army Division captured a suspected leader of an insurgent cell and detained two other suspects during operations Dec. 21 in Taji. The cell leader is allegedly responsible for coordinating small arms, car bombing and improvised explosive device attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces convoys in the Taji and Tarmiyah areas.

Iraqi special operations forces detained four suspects during operations Dec. 21 in the Rashid area of Baghdad. The four men were part of an al Qaeda in Iraq cell and were responsible for the deaths of Iraqi civilians and security forces in the area. The cell uses improvised explosive devices and coordinated small arms attacks to help facilitate violence in southern Baghdad and threaten the local populace.

Soldiers of the 5th Iraqi Army Division captured two suspected leaders of an al Qaeda in Iraq cell and detained a suspect during operations Dec. 21 east of Baqubah. The cell leaders are allegedly responsible for multiple bombing and small arms attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces in the area.

They are suspected of being involved in an IED attack on the Mandali courthouse. The cell leaders are also implicated in an assassination attempt against a senior Iraqi
police officer.

Iraqi
police discovered and dismantled a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device Dec. 21 in Mahmudiyah. The Iraqi police reacted to the car bomb after local residents reported a suspicious vehicle near the market. The police responded, disarming the bomb and dismantling the components to render the bomb safe.

The car bomb was composed of ten 57 mm anti-aircraft artillery rounds wired into the doors and trunk.

An Iraqi teenager died from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device attack in Haqlaniyah, Dec. 20. The IED exploded underneath the tractor the teenager was driving.

Paratroopers from Troop A, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, found a large amount of bomb-making material while patrolling near Muhammad Al Ali Dec. 21.

The cache consisted of 50 pounds of nitro-cellulose material and two copper plates. The material was secured and taken to an explosive ordnance detachment.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Suspects Detained in Afghanistan; Police Center Opens

Dec. 20, 2006 – Afghan and coalition forces captured 10 suspected terrorists, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai participated in the National Police Command Center's opening ceremony this week in Afghanistan.

-- Afghan and coalition forces captured 10 suspected terrorists during a combined operation Dec. 18 near the village of Qazian in Kunar province. The captured suspects are known weapons and explosives transporters. Officials said they are linked to foreign fighter movements in the region and to suicide and improvised explosive device attacks against the combined forces.

-- Karzai attended the Dec. 16 opening ceremony of Afghanistan's new National
Police Command Center in Kabul. The facility is a $3.4 million U.S.-funded project, which establishes a direct link to the five Afghan National Police Regional Command centers. Officials say it will improve government response capability to disasters or counterinsurgency operations.

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Forces Capture Suspects; Terrorist Detonate Car Bombs

Dec. 20, 2006 – Coalition and Iraqi forces captured suspected terrorists and contraband during operations in Iraq over the past three days, and terrorists continued killing and wounding civilians with car bombs.

-- Iraqi troops and U.S. soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team today captured three men attempting to set up a mortar tube east of al Qasim. Combined forces found a mortar tube, five 81mm rounds, and a mortar bipod and sight. The three suspects are being held for questioning.

-- A car bomb detonated near an Iraqi police escort unit today at an intersection in Karadah. Police forces from an Iraqi 1st National
Police Division were escorting buses filled with Iraqis headed to Baghdad International Airport when a car bomb detonated near one of the buses, killing six and wounding 28.

-- Iraqi police raided a power plant facility yesterday in Baghdad's Jazeera neighborhood and detained 12 suspected terrorists. The suspects are connected with sectarian murders and they are being held for further questioning.

-- Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers of the 501st Infantry Regiment discovered a weapons cache yesterday near the Iraqi Police Station in the southern Baghdad town Hamiyah. The weapons cache included 60mm mortar rounds, 120mm rounds and rockets.

-- Iraqi police found a roadside bomb yesterday morning. Police forces cordoned off the area and an ordnance team detonated the bomb without incident.

--Two car bombs detonated in Baghdad Dec. 18, killing 10 civilians and wounding more than 40. Iraqi National Police responded immediately, cordoning off the area and transporting the wounded to a local hospital.

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Bush Says Victory in Iraq 'Achievable'

By Jim Garamone

Dec. 20, 2006 – Victory in Iraq is achievable, and retreat from Iraq is not an option, President Bush said today during a White House news conference. "We're going to succeed," he said. "We're not succeeding near as fast as I wanted, and conditions are tough in Iraq, and particularly in Baghdad."

But Bush called the
war on terror "the calling of our generation," and said success is essential for securing peace for future generations.

Achieving this success, however, will require a sustained commitment by the American people and the military, Bush said, including a possible increase in the size of the
Army and Marine Corps.

"We have an obligation to ensure the military is capable of sustaining this war over the long haul, and performing the many tasks that we ask of them," he said. "I'm inclined to believe that we need to increase the permanent size of the
United States Army and the United States Marines."

New Defense Secretary Robert Gates will study how to accomplish this growth, the president said.

Bush said he will work with Congress to determine the best way to grow the force. "I will listen to views from all corners," he said. "We will work with them to ensure this becomes a reality."

The president said 2006 started out on a positive note but proved to be a difficult year for the
U.S. military and the Iraqi people.

"We began the year with optimism after watching 12 million Iraqis go to the polls to vote for a unity government and a free people," he said.

But terrorists and insurgents attacked the process, blowing up the Golden Mosque in Samarra and doing their best to bring on sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiia.
"Throughout the year, they had success," Bush said. "Their success hurt our efforts to help the Iraqis rebuild their country. It set back reconciliation, it kept Iraq's unity government and out coalition from establishing security and stability throughout the country."

Bush said the United States enters 2007 "clear-eyed" about the challenges in Iraq, and steady in its purpose.

"Our goal remains a free and democratic Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself and is an ally in the
war on terror," Bush said.

The president said he would not make predictions about the mission in Iraq in the next year, but he said anything done will require additional choices and sacrifices, because the enemy is merciless and violent.

"I will make you this promise: My administration will work with Republicans and Democrats to fashion a new way forward that will succeed in Iraq," Bush said.

He said the coalition will change its strategy and tactics whenever needed in response to the activities on the ground. He said he will never forget "that on the receiving end of the decisions I make is a private, a sergeant, a young lieutenant or a diplomat who risks his or her life to help the Iraqis realize a dream of a stable country that can defend govern and sustain itself."

Bush said he is looking at a number of options and is listening to the opinions of many people as he fashions a new way forward in Iraq. He said one option is increasing the number of American troops in the country, but emphasized that the troops must have a clear attainable mission before he chooses that option.

Bush said the most painful aspect of his presidency "is that good men and women have died in combat" following his orders.

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Bush Looks to Gates for 'Fresh Perspective' in Charting Way Ahead in Iraq

By Donna Miles

Dec. 20, 2006 – President Bush said today he's counting on new Defense Secretary Robert Gates to bring a fresh perspective to the Pentagon, and he vowed to continue ensuring U.S. troops have what they need to accomplish their mission. Speaking to reporters at a White House news conference, the president said Gates will be "an important voice in the Iraq strategy review that's under way."

Gates arrived in Iraq today to meet with deployed
U.S. military leaders and troops and Iraqi leaders and to assess the situation on the ground.

Bush said he considers the views of commanders on the ground there "very important" and wants their feedback. "They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters a lot to me," he said.

In forging the path ahead, Bush said his top priority will be "to ensure that our men and women wearing the uniform have everything they need to do their jobs."

"We have an obligation to ensure our
military is capable of sustaining this war over the long haul, and performing the many tasks that we ask of them," he said.

Bush acknowledged the challenges the troops face but said the country stands with them and believes in what they are doing.

"I ...want our troops to understand that we support them," he said. "I believe that the tough mission I've asked them to do is going to be accomplished, and that they're doing good and necessary work."

Although some Americans may have wearied of the war on terror, it's critical that the country remain committed for its long-term security, the president said.

"It's been a tough period for the American people," he acknowledged. "They want to see success. And our objective is to put a plan in place that achieves that success."

Regardless of how that plan ultimately emerges, it won't include a rapid retreat from Iraq, the president said.

"I...know it's the right decision for America to stay engaged, and to take the lead, and to deal with these radicals and extremists and to help support young democracies," he said. "It's the calling of our time, and I firmly believe it is necessary."

Retreat from Iraq would dash the hopes of millions to want freedom. But even worse, the president said, it would embolden terrorists and help them establish a new safe haven for plotting future attacks.

"Success is essential for securing a future of peace for our children and grandchildren," he said. "And securing this peaceful future is going to require a sustained commitment from the American people and our
military."

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Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Joshua D. Pickard, 20, of Merced, Calif., died Dec. 19 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 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) 450-6575.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Brian L. Mintzlaff, 34, of Fort Worth, Texas, died Dec. 18 in Taji, Iraq, from injuries suffered when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office at (254) 287-9993.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Andrew P. Daul, 21, of Brighton, Mich., died Dec. 19 in Hit, Iraq, of injuries suffered then an improvised explosive device detonated near his Abrams tank during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

For further information related to this release, contact the 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-4859.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Marine Casualties

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

Lance Cpl. Nicklas J. Palmer, 19, of Leadville, Colo. Capt. Kevin M. Kryst, 27, of West Bend, Wis.Palmer died Dec. 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Kryst died Dec. 18 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about these Marines can call the Camp Pendleton public affairs office at (760) 725-5044.

Army, Marines Release New Counterinsurgency Manual

By Jim Garamone

Dec. 18, 2006 – "Learn" and "adapt" are the key messages of the new
Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which just hit the streets. The Counterinsurgency Field Manual, FM 3-24 and Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-33.5, is a unique joint effort between the Army and Marines to put in place doctrine to help operators as they face the challenges of asymmetric warfare.

You can download the manual at
Counterinsurgency Manual.

The manual codifies an important lesson of insurgencies: it takes more than the
military to win. "There are more than just lethal operations involved in a counterinsurgency campaign," said Conrad Crane, director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, in Carlisle, Pa., and one of the leaders of the effort.

He said the team working on the manual decided early on to emphasize the interagency aspect of counterinsurgency fights. "The military is only one piece of the puzzle," Crane said. "To be successful in a
counterinsurgency, you have to get contributions from a lot of different agencies, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and host-nation organizations. There are so many people involved to make counterinsurgency successful."

All of these organizations bring important weapons to the campaign, "and you've got to bring unity of effort if you can to make it effective," he said.

Lt. Col. Lance McDaniel, a branch head at the
Marine Corps Combat Development Center at Quantico, Va., said the manual is aimed at battalion-level officers and NCOs, but felt that all who read it could gain some insight into the difficulties of a counterinsurgency war. "We see this being part of the pre-deployment training units undergo," McDaniel said. "Once on the ground they can adapt the ideas from the manual to their particular location and enemy."

The
Army and Marine Corps have shared field manuals in the past, but this is the first on which the two services worked closely to write, both Crane and McDaniel said. "This was a real team effort of Army and Marine writers," Crane said. "What I tell people is we had about 20 primary writers on the manual and about 600,000 editors."

Crane said many soldiers and
Marines commented on the manual and provided input to the final product. "We received more than 1,000 comments from people actually doing the mission," he said.

But it didn't stop with military feedback. State Department employees, CIA officials, academic experts and representatives of the international human rights community contributed insights to the manual, McDaniel said. "I hope the publication will make it easier for other agencies and organizations to work with us," he said.

Chapter 4, a discussion on Campaign Design, is a unique aspect of the manual. "The Marines brought that to the manual," Crane said.

Before beginning a campaign, planners must identify the problem that needs solving, then be ready to change the plan as conditions change on the ground, Crane said. "In counterinsurgency, that is so important because it is a complex situation," he said.

A
counterinsurgency campaign is much more complex than a traditional military-on-military conflict. The make-up of the community, the needs of the various groups, the history of the area, traditional allies in the region, and many other things contribute to understanding how to design a counterinsurgency campaign. "It takes a lot more analysis before you jump into it, because if you do the wrong thing, it could have major implications," Crane said. "You have to be sure you are applying the right solution to the right problem."

Crane said the idea of campaign design will probably permeate other Army field manuals.

The new
counterinsurgency manual uses examples from fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also uses examples from the Napoleonic War, the U.S. experience in Vietnam, and counterinsurgency efforts in the Philippines, Malaya (now Malaysia) and South America. Crane and McDaniel agree that insurgencies are the wars of the future. The idea of a nation taking on the United States army to army or navy to navy is remote, given the U.S. conventional expertise. "Enemies will make us fight these kinds of wars until we get them right," Crane said. "Then they'll switch."

The manual is informed by Afghanistan and Iraq, but also informed by history, Crane said. "We tried to glean what was useful from the historical record, but also with the realization that there are a lot of things that are new out there, Crane said. "Trying to grapple with the nature of contemporary
insurgency was one of the toughest parts of writing it."

The manual is not limited to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "If we've created a manual that is just good for Iraq and Afghanistan, we've failed," he said. "This thing has got to be focused on the future and the next time we do this."

The manual is going to be useful in Iraq and Afghanistan, but much of what the manual covers is already being done in those theaters. "The manual is future-focused," Crane said. "The manual gives you the tools to do your analysis and the guidelines to apply it with the understanding that every situation is going to be unique."

It also will be rewritten, as needed, the men said.

Both men said the manual is receiving a good reception. "This is not a doctrine that is being jammed down peoples' throats," Crane said." This is a doctrine that they are demanding."

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Report: Iraqi Government Must Stop Violence for Progress to Continue

By Donna Miles

Dec. 18, 2006 – Increased violence in Iraq threatens, but so far has failed, to stop progress on the political and economic fronts and in building Iraq's security forces, according to the Defense Department's latest quarterly report to Congress, released today.
DoD delivered "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" to Congress today. The report, the sixth report of its kind, evaluates political stability, economic activity, the security environment, and security force training and performance between mid-August and mid-November.

Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told Pentagon reporters today that escalating violence is destabilizing what he said he once considered the "strategic prize in Iraq": momentum in its political process.

All hopes were for 2006 to be the year Iraq's new government would get on its feet, Rodman said. However, he pointed to the Samarra Golden Mosque bombing, and the cycle of sectarian violence it sparked, as giving "partial strategic success" to insurgents that they previously couldn't achieve.

As a result, Iraq's new government, under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is embroiled in a struggle as it strives to be "a rallying point for the moderate center," Rodman said.

"Our job is to help the Maliki government succeed," a process that demands an effective national reconciliation, he said. Rodman cited several recent Maliki initiatives that offer hope, but emphasized that obstacles remain.

While citing challenges confronting the Iraqi government, the Iraq progress report also notes the government's willingness and ability to take over responsibility and deliver essential services, and the Iraqi security forces' assumption of more leadership in counterinsurgency and
law enforcement operations.

This progress is notable, the report recognizes, particularly in light of escalating violence in some of Iraq's most populated regions. Attacks increased 22 percent during the three-month reporting period. Although 68 percent of those attacks were directed at coalition forces, Iraqis suffered most of the casualties, according to the report.

Slightly more than half those attacks occurred in Baghdad and Anbar provinces, and most of Iraq's other provinces remained in relative peace. Outside the "Sunni Triangle," more than 90 percent of Iraqis reported feeling "very safe" in their neighborhoods, the reported noted.

Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff, cited progress in preparing Iraq's security forces to meet their country's security challenges.

Training and equipping of Iraq's security forces is "on course," at 323,000 troops, and will reach the 325,000-person goal by the year's end, he said. The report notes that 45,000 Iraqi soldiers and police completed their initial training and equipping during the last quarter.

Of these troops, about 280,000 are considered "available for duty," Sattler said, noting that 30 percent of the force is on leave at any given time to take their pay to their families. "It's a continuous cycle ... (and) a fact of life."

These troops are increasingly taking the operational lead, despite the challenges they face, the report notes. "The nature of the high has changed dramatically since we started building the Iraqi security forces," Sattler said.

Six division headquarters, 30 brigade headquarters and 91 Iraqi
army battalions are currently in the lead -- up from five divisions, 25 brigades and 85 battalions reported in the last quarterly progress report, released Sept. 1.

In addition, 94 Iraqi army, special operations combat forces and strategic infrastructure battalions are fully independent or in the lead with coalition support. That's up from 24 in June 2005.

The report emphasizes the importance of speeding up training to ensure that Maliki has more capable forces able to fight terrorists and death squads while providing security and stability for the country.

Maliki shares the United States' recognition that escalating sectarian violence "has to be squashed," Sattler said. "To break the cycle of violence, extremists on both sides have to be taken head-on and brought to justice."

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