War on Terrorism

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan 27 in Taji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during convoy operations. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:
Cpl. Timothy A. Swanson, 21, of San Antonio, Texas.
Pfc. Jon B. St. John II, 25, of Neenah, Wis.
Pfc. David T. Toomalatai, 19, of Long Beach, Calif.


For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Iraqi, U.S. Troops Find Bombs, Other Weapons During Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2007 – American
military engineers in Iraq discovered and detonated an anti-tank mine; Iraqi police were attacked by an improvised explosive device; and Iraqi soldiers nabbed an insurgent during operations in Iraq over the past few days, officials said. During a route clearance mission east of Baqubah yesterday, soldiers from the 72nd Engineer Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, discovered an anti-tank mine after receiving a tip.

The convoy was about to leave a village when a local citizen stopped the soldiers and gave them a "boom" signal,
Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Thomas, of 72nd Engineer Company, said. After talking with the townsperson, the soldiers realized there was an anti-tank mine in the area.

"This means a lot to us," Thomas said. "It means they trust us and know that we are not there to bring them harm. We are there to protect them. To me, they don't want the terrorists around. They disrupt their business and their day-to-day lives."

The engineers blew up the bomb with no damage or injuries to the forces or the local population.

In other news, Iraqi emergency response personnel, Iraqi
police and civilians in northwestern Ramadi were attacked by a suicide truck-bomber early Jan. 28. Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 37th Infantry Brigade, worked together to provide medical assistance and evacuate the casualties. Along with the suicide bomber, 16 people were killed in the attack.

Also on Jan. 28, Iraqi soldiers arrested a local citizen implicated in a drive-by shooting incident near Taji. Iraqi troops from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), were on a patrol when the suspect, riding in a car, allegedly opened fire on their T-72 tanks. The troops detained the man and confiscated an AK-47 assault rifle. The suspect is being held for further questioning.

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Bush Lauds Iraqi Performance in Najaf Fight, Warns Iran

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2007 – Early reports that credit Iraqi troops for taking the initiative during a Jan. 28 battle with insurgents near Najaf are heartening news, President Bush said during an interview with National Public Radio here yesterday. Bush also told NPR's Juan Williams that the Iranian government shouldn't be taking
military actions in Iraq that endanger the lives of U.S. servicemembers deployed there.

The Najaf battle "is an indication of what is taking place, and that is the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead," Bush said. The fight involved Iraqi soldiers with
U.S. military support engaging some 600 militants. Reports say more than 200 insurgents were killed in the engagement. A U.S. helicopter crashed during the battle, killing two crewmembers.

As part of the new strategy being implemented to stabilize Iraq, Bush expects the Iraqis to "show the American people that they're willing to (do) the hard work necessary to secure their democracy, and our job is to help them."

It's in the United States' national interest to assist the Iraqi government in defeating extremists, Bush emphasized.

Sectarian violence and criminality experienced in Baghdad and other parts of the country must be dealt with to achieve the political reconciliation that's necessary for uniting Iraq, Bush said. That's why more than 21,000 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines are being deployed to Baghdad and western Iraq, he added.

"And so I made a tough decision, and that is to reinforce our troops there and put a new commander there in the hopes of breaking the sectarian violence or helping the Iraqis break it," the president said.

The two-pronged strategy to secure Baghdad and other areas first involves U.S. troops training Iraqi forces and then accompanying them and providing support if necessary, Bush said.

He added that the democratic Iraqi government must achieve a reconciliation of the country's many sectarian and tribal groups, including Sunni and Shiite.

Failure in Iraq "would be a disaster for the Iraqi people and for the American people," Bush emphasized.

Williams passed along a question from a Minnesota National Guardsman deployed in Iraq, who asked the president what he'd do if the troop surge strategy doesn't work. Bush replied that he places great faith in his civilian and military advisors who recommended the surge plan. The U.S. strategy in Iraq also is flexible, Bush assured the soldier, noting it is "constantly adjusting to conditions on the ground" there.

Regarding conditions in Iraq, Bush warned the Iranian government against fomenting violence in Iraq or putting U.S. servicemembers' lives at risk. Some U.S. intelligence reports describe Iranian agents providing assistance to insurgents in Iraq.

"If Iran escalates its
military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly," Bush said. "It makes sense for the commander in chief to say to our troops and the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government that we will help you defend yourself from people that want to sow discord and harm.

"And so we will do what it takes to protect our troops," he added.

However, Bush stressed, the United States is not planning to invade Iran. The United States has no hostility toward the Iranian people, he said, noting U.S. governmental concern is solely focused on the present Iranian government.

The United States and its allies want to employ diplomatic means to dissuade the Iranian government from acquiring nuclear power that could be used to develop atomic bombs, Bush said.

"However, if your government continues to insist upon a nuclear weapon, there will be a lost opportunity for the Iranian people; they won't be able to realize their full potential," the president said.

America will protect its interests in Iraq, Bush reiterated.

"That's what the American people expect us to do; that's definitely what our troops want to do; and that's what the families of our troops want us to do," the president said.

"And if we find the Iranians are moving weapons that will end up harming American troops, we'll deal with it," Bush said.

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Joint Center Prepares Deploying Troops to Confront IED Threat

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2007 – As a full-time member of the opposing force at the National Training Center here,
Army Spc. Tim Lawson is accustomed to putting troops preparing to deploy through rigors like they'll confront in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now that Lawson and his fellow 1st Platoon, 58th Combat Engineer Company, troops have orders to Iraq, they're getting put through the same paces themselves. And with the shoe on the other foot, they're realizing just how difficult the challenges -- especially those posed by improvised explosive devices -- are.

Not long into a route-clearing training mission with his mock Buffalo mine clearing vehicle, Lawson got a taste of what it's like to come up against what's become the No. 1 killer of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Once you get into the zone, everything looks suspicious," Lawson said after his "Buffalo" -- actually a heavily modified 5-ton truck -- and four other vehicles got "ambushed" by "snipers" and two vehicles got hit with simulated IEDs.

The training, offered by NTC's Operations Group in cooperation with the new Joint IED Center of Excellence, is helping arm Lawson's unit with the most up-to-date ways to confront roadside bombs, vehicle bombs and even
terrorists laden with suicide vests.
The Joint IED Center of Excellence opened its doors here in summer 2006 to share the latest counter-IED tactics, techniques and procedures with deploying troops, explained Air Force Lt. Col. Rodney Taylor, the center's chief of integration.

By quickly incorporating lessons learned on the battlefield into training scenarios -- sometimes within 24 hours after an event -- and exposing troops to the IED-defeating technology they'll use in the theater, it's giving them a critical leg up on their adversaries, he said.

"The enemy is continuing to evolve in its approach and its tactics, so we have to stay ahead of the game," Taylor said. "We have to be proactive."

The Joint IED Center of Excellence is part of the Joint IED Defeat Organization, a Washington-based group focused specifically on the IED threat. The center works hand in hand with four service IED centers of excellence to ensure the most comprehensive approach to countering IEDs, explained Christine DeVries, spokeswoman for the Joint IED Defeat Organization. The Army's center is here at Fort Irwin; the
Marine Corps' at its Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.; the Air Force's is at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; and the Navy's at Indianhead Naval Base, Md.

The Joint Center of Excellence builds on training the services are conducting, she said, gathering lessons learned throughout the
military and ensuring they're shared with the widest possible audience.

It also recognizes that every service has a stake in the IED fight and a variety of skills sets to lend, Taylor said. The
Army, for example, contributes combat arms and military intelligence troops. The Marines provide reconnaissance specialists and communications capabilities. The Air Force provides electronic warfare officers and military working dog specialists. The Navy contributes explosive ordnance disposal specialists and cryptologists.

"There are a lot of specialties, and although it may not be intuitive, they all bring something to the table in terms of the IED threat," Taylor said.

The Joint Center of Excellence focuses on helping prepare deploying troops for their own role in the IED fight, but also ensures they know what capabilities the other services can contribute. "What people get here is an understanding of the large number of assets that can be brought to bear in the IED problem," Taylor said. "When they come here to a joint environment, they learn a lot (about those capabilities). And that's important, because when they show up in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are going to be in a joint environment there."

Here at the home of the Army's Center of Excellence, the training scenarios are designed to give troops a basic foundation in the most up-to-date counter-IED tactics and exposure to some of the specialized equipment they wouldn't otherwise see until they arrived in the combat theater

"When they leave here, they will be trained to where they understand what it is to operate in an IED response sequence," said Army Capt. Sean Patrick, an observer-controller here.

That means incorporating what Patrick called the "five Cs" of IED response: "call" or identify a potential IED, "confirm" that it's an IED, then "cordon," "clear" and "control" the area.

Detecting IEDs can be particularly difficult because they can be hidden almost anywhere, and every pile of rubble or garbage is suspect, he explained, so the training focuses on situational awareness. "We're training soldiers to be keen, to be acute and to be paying attention," Patrick said. "Our goal is to impart our experience so when it comes down to them being able to execute, it's second nature."

Army Sgt. Edgar Huezo, a member of the 58th Combat Engineer Co., welcomed the training he's receiving as the clock ticks toward his unit's deployment. "Going through this training basically prepares the mind to be confident in what you are doing over there," he said. "And if you make a mistake, this is the place to do it, because you can improve it before you go."

Army Sgt. Marcus Williams, a member of the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, is preparing for his third deployment to Iraq and understands firsthand the damage IEDs can do.

But despite a lot of experience under his belt and limited time stateside before his unit deploys, Williams said he recognizes the value of the training the troops are getting here. "This is getting us prepared for what we are going to face over there in Iraq," he said. "This is the place where the new guys are getting a chance to work out the kinks, and the veterans are getting to work out their (standard operating procedures). So it's very worthwhile for us."

Encountering a real-life IED forces everyone involved to focus on the situation and respond quickly, Williams said. "That's when you have to snap out of a panic mode and react," he said. "And that's when you fall back on your training."

In addition to providing troops the specialized training they need to identify and clear IEDs before they explode, the Joint Center of Excellence serves as a focal point for developing and testing new technologies to defeat them and better ways to foil the networks responsible for emplacing them, DeVries said.

Toward that end, the scenarios are focused not just at the individual and small-unit level, but also at the battalion and brigade level. As ground troops scan their patrol routes for hidden IEDs and equipment operators get experience in detonating the devices with equipment like they'll use in the theater, headquarters staffs focus on intelligence operations designed to track down the terrorists who emplaced IEDs.

"We want to find and defeat the devices before they hurt people, and when we find an IED, we want to explore the forensics of it," DeVries said. "But you can't stop at defeating the devices. You have to attack the network and take out the guys who are using them."

The tactics used to conduct these far-ranging operations require flexibility and adaptability, Taylor said.

"The enemy we face today appears to be a decentralized type of enemy, a headless enemy. If you cut off a portion of it, it still is able to operate," he said. "So we have to think outside the box in our approach, to be sure we are on the leading edge of technology and capability so we can effectively defeat the enemy."

Ultimately, countering IEDs has huge implications for
U.S. military operations in the war on terror, Taylor said. Although IEDs may be relatively simple weapons, he said, they have the impact of strategic weapons. "If IEDs kill enough Americans, that may change the will of the American public, which is what we require in order to stay in Iraq and get the job done," he said.

As American troops focus on getting the job done, Patrick said, the training being offered here is going a long way toward preparing them to face IEDs. "Every minute we spend training these guys can effectively help ensure we're able to bring them home," he said.

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33 Detained in Iraq; Insurgent Training Site Destroyed

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2007 – Coalition forces detained 33 insurgents and destroyed a
terrorist training facility this week in operations across Iraq.
In raids in Iraq yesterday:

-- Coalition forces in Karmah captured 11 suspected
terrorists, including a high-level al Qaeda courier with ties to senior al Qaeda in Iraq personnel.

-- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, with Iraqi
army troops, detained seven suspected insurgents near Baghdad. The insurgents are allegedly responsible for acts of terrorism in the region.

-- Coalition forces detained four suspects responsible for facilitating foreign fighter movement in Bayji.

-- Coalition forces in Baghdad captured three individuals with ties to senior al Qaeda in Iraq
leadership.

-- Coalition forces detained three suspected
terrorists, including the leader of an IED cell, in Ramadi.

Also this week in Iraq, soldiers from Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and Iraqi
army soldiers found and destroyed a suspected insurgent training site Jan. 27 while patrolling northwest of Samarra.

At the site, combined forces found 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, one 82 mm mortar tube with a base plate, four 60 mm mortar tubes with base plates, a car battery and more than 7,000 large caliber machine gun rounds. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the weapons and buildings.

In Baghdad on Jan. 27:

-- Paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), with Iraqi
police, discovered two large weapons caches, containing 669 57 mm mortar rounds.

-- Fifteen Iraqis died when two car bombs detonated in a New Baghdad commercial district.

-- A Sunni mosque was damaged during heavy fighting between insurgents and neighborhood residents in a southwestern section of the city.

In a separate operation that day, paratroopers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, with Iraqi army soldiers, found and secured an IED west of Iskandariyah.

The day before, paratroopers from Companies A and C, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division had detained five suspected insurgents attempting to emplace an IED in a town 20 miles south of Baghdad.

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Army Casualty

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

Spc. Carla J. Stewart, 37, of Sun Valley, Calif., died Jan. 28 in Tallil, Iraq, of injuries suffered when her convoy vehicle rolled over. Stewart was assigned to the 250th Transportation Company, El Monte, Calif. The incident is under investigation.

For further information on this soldier the media can contact the Army Reserve 63rd Regional Readiness Command public affairs office at (562) 795-2356; after hours call (562) 343-3354.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan 28 in Najaf, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their helicopter crashed during combat operations. They were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:
Capt. Mark T. Resh, 28, of Pittsburgh.
Chief Warrant Officer Cornell C. Chao, 36, of California.


The incident is under investigation.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254)287-9993; after hours (254)291-2591.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Mickel D. Garrigus, 24, of Elma, Wash., died Jan. 27 in Taji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat patrol. Garrigus was assigned to the 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-8286.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Commander Guardedly Optimistic About Progress in Anbar

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2007 – Fed up with al Qaeda's murderous rampage in the region, local tribes in the Iraq's Anbar province have endorsed and joined local government efforts to drive out insurgents and establish security in the area, the commander of Multinational Force West said today. The newfound support has given Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer "guarded optimism" about the progress made in that region in the past year, and he said the extra Marines earmarked for that area in the president's planned troop increase will help secure that progress.

The past year has been a fight for the Anbar province, but troops have secured the area and are laying the bedrock for growth in the region, Zilmer said in a satellite news conference from Iraq.

Zilmer commands the 30,000 joint forces in that province -- Iraq's largest and also home to some of the toughest insurgent fighting in the country. His forces are partnered with 14,000 Iraqi troops in the 1st and 7th Iraqi
Army Divisions operating in the region.

Zilmer's optimism comes after a year of what he called "tremendous change" that saw the densely populated and embattled region under siege by sectarian violence, and an al Qaeda murder and intimidation campaign aimed at killing locals and tribal leaders who supported the election or who did not resist the new government. Some reports estimate as many as 8,000 Iraqis were killed. This angered local tribes, who struck back by aligning themselves with the local governments.

Zilmer's hopes for the province are rooted in that support and the infusion of 2,000 local men into the
police force, he said.

"They (locals) want to clear their neighborhoods of the disbelievers, the 'Takfiri,' the criminals, who offer no hope, no opportunity, no vision for a peaceful future," Zilmer said. "We think the security climate has shifted in a positive manner.

"It is this growing cooperation with the local community, this common interest in a better life for its citizens, so that they can again prosper, that gives me guarded optimism in the future of Anbar," Zilmer said.

This positive response comes after yearlong efforts by the U.S. and coalition forces to secure the area and turn around the economic devastation that left nearly half of the adult men in that area unemployed. U.S. and coalition forces have completed more than 300 projects worth about $51 million there in the past year, Zilmer said.

Also, U.S. and coalition forces have partnered with local police to secure the cities. They increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the cities by adding checkpoints and screening for terrorists. They built forward operating bases in Ramadi's worst neighborhoods to establish a full-time dismounted presence in the city.

Zilmer's formula for reconstruction is straightforward, albeit not simple:

-- Clear the city of insurgents in partnership with the Iraqi army,

-- Hold the city by controlling population movement in and out of the city,

-- Build internal security to the city so that the
police department can grow, and

-- Partner with local civic leaders to further develop the
police and the economy.

"We are beginning to see the signs of shopkeepers returning back to their shops. The growing
police presence in Ramadi is a very positive element. We see efforts to begin the reconstruction," Zilmer said.

The majority of projects are aimed at rebuilding infrastructure and boosting employment. Concentration has been on fundamentals, such as restoring water and electricity services, reopening local factories and restoring the railroad, Zilmer said.

Progress also has been made in rebuilding the neglected agriculture market in the region, he said.

"Anbar province probably operates at something less than 20 percent of its capacity for agriculture products here. So this is a ripe area for development," Zilmer said.

But, although the number of insurgent attacks in the provincial capital of Ramadi has decreased, the road to security and economic recovery in Anbar has not been easy, Zilmer said.

"Make no mistake about it, we've been involved in a fight out here for the last year. This is a very active, a very vibrant insurgency that exists out here. We've been very successful in our operations over the course of the last year," Zilmer said.

And, despite a surge of support by tribal leaders, local security forces still suffer shortages. The Iraq
army has "many slots available," Zilmer said, and the local police force is still about 3,500 short of being fully manned.

Zilmer said it all boils down to needing more time to allow reconstruction to develop in the region. "All these pieces are beginning to take a hold now. And again, going back to the guarded optimism, I think that's what's important to destroy the reason for the insurgency out here," he said.

The general said he believes it's important to "give these people some hope and prospect for a bright future."

"I think we're on the right foot, but it's going to take some time to develop that," Zilmer said.

Additional troops earmarked for that region under President Bush's planned increase will buy the region the time it desperately needs, Zilmer said.

"What these additional Marines provide to us is an ability to reinforce the success that we've seen in the last couple of months," he said. "It allows us to get to some of the areas that we haven't been able to establish the presence we would have liked.
"But at the end of the day, it's still about providing that time, and that's what these 4,000 Marines will give us. They will provide that additional time for us to develop the Iraqi army and the Iraqi
police, which at the end of the day, are essential to the long-term security and stability in Anbar province."

Multinational Force West is organized around the California-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward. Zilmer said most of the work on the ground in the past year was accomplished by the Army's 1st Brigade, 1st Armor Division, and the 5th and 7th Marine Regiments organized into combat teams, with additional capability such as tanks, combat engineers, and other enhancements.

Recently, the 6th
Marines replaced the 5th Marines and are responsible for the greater Fallujah area, and the 2nd Marines replaced the 7th Marines and are responsible for the vast northern area. The Army's 2nd Brigade, 28th Infantry Division, followed by the 1st Brigade, 1st Armor Division, is also part of the team and is responsible for operations in Ramadi.

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Cheney: Too Early to Judge Iraq Stability Plan

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2007 – It's too early to judge the new stability plan for Iraq, Vice President Richard B. Cheney told a "Newsweek" reporter here yesterday. "People are trying to make a judgment on whether or not this plan is going to work I think far too early," Cheney told journalist Richard Wolffe during a White House interview in the vice president's West Wing office.

"And, I think in fairness to the Iraqis, they need to be given an opportunity to follow through on their commitments," Cheney said.

The U.S. and Iraqi governments are implementing a new strategy to dampen sectarian violence. President Bush is sending more than 21,000 additional soldiers and
Marines to Baghdad and Anbar province, in western Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has vowed to fully engage his nation's security forces in the fight against insurgents and to crack down on all militia groups that have helped escalate the violence experienced in Iraq's capital city and other parts of the country.

Maliki has pledged "to go after those who are responsible for the violence, whoever they may be -- whether they're Baathist or former regime elements or militia, Shiia militia or
criminal elements," Cheney told Wolffe. "And I think at this stage, we don't have any reason to doubt him."

It's dangerous and unrealistic to think that the United States could withdraw its military forces from Iraq without incurring dire repercussions, Cheney said. Senior leaders in the Arab world and other allies acknowledge that the United States is critical to ensuring political stability in the Middle East and the adjacent region.

Withdrawal of
U.S. military forces from Iraq now "would have a direct negative impact" on efforts to combat extremism in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Cheney said.

"All of a sudden, the United States, which is the bulwark of security in that part of the world, ... could no longer be counted on by our friends and allies that have put so much into this struggle," Cheney said.

If U.S. forces depart Iraq prematurely, Cheney said, the aftermath there could mirror what occurred in Afghanistan a decade ago when Taliban Islamic radicals seized the government and allowed al Qaeda terrorists to establish training camps in the country. Five years later, those
terrorists attacked the United States, he said.

The actions of Iran also are of concern to the United States and its Middle East allies, Cheney said. He said the Iranian government is thumbing its nose at the United Nations while trying to obtain nuclear power that could also be used to develop atomic bombs. That government, under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also is suspected of fomenting violence in Iraq and Lebanon, the vice president said.

"I think there's widespread concern throughout the region about Iran and, in particular, Iran under Ahmadinejad," Cheney said. Many Middle Eastern leaders feel threatened by Iran's apparent attempts to establish itself as the dominant regional power, he said.

Cheney said diplomacy is being employed to engage the Iranians. However, the U.S. also has bolstered its naval presence in the Persian Gulf, including sending another carrier to the region, he said.

"That sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat," Cheney said.

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Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Killed were:
Sgt. Alexander H. Fuller, 21, of Centerville, Mass.
Pfc. Michael C. Balsley, 23, of Hayward, Calif.


For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-3420; after hours (719) 526-5500.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Anthony C. Melia, 20, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., died Jan. 27 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

For further information related to this release, contact the Camp Pendleton public affairs office at (760) 725-5044.

Army Casualty

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

Maj. Alan R. Johnson, 44, of Yakima, Wash., died Jan. 26 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee at Muqdadiyah, Iraq, the same day. He was assigned to the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Tonawanda, N.Y.

For further information on this soldier, contact the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 824-4628.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Two Soldiers Killed in Iraq Helicopter Crash

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Jan. 28, 2007 – Two U.S. soldiers were killed today when a Multinational Division Baghdad helicopter crashed north of Najaf, Iraq, military officials reported.

Officials said the helicopter was involved in operations to assist Iraqi security forces who had been attacked. A news release announcing the crash did not report the type of helicopter and did not say whether it went down as a result of enemy action. Officials said operations continue in the area, the soldiers' bodies have been recovered, and that the incident is under investigation.

The soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Nathan P. Fairlie, 21, of Candor, N.Y., died of injuries suffered in Baqubah on Jan. 26 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations. Fairlie was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information related to this release, contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Karbala Attackers Used U.S. Army-Styled Uniforms to Gain Access

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2007 – Insurgents who attacked the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, Iraq, were dressed in
U.S. Army-styled combat uniforms and carried U.S.-type weapons, convincing Iraqi checkpoints to allow them passage, military officials released today. During the Jan. 20 attack, the enemy fighters captured and killed four U.S. soldiers. Another soldier was also killed and three others wounded in the attack on the center, located about 30 miles south of Baghdad.

Local officials and Iraqi and coalition security forces meet at the center to address security needs.

"The precision of the attack, the equipment used and the possible use of explosives to destroy the
military vehicles in the compound suggests that the attack was well rehearsed prior to execution," said Army Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for Multinational Division Baghdad. "The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound."

At about 5 p.m. that day, a convoy consisting of at least five sport utility vehicles entered the Karbala compound and about 12 armed militants attacked the American troops with rifle fire and hand grenades, officials said.

One soldier was killed and three others wounded by a hand grenade thrown into the center's main office. Other explosions within the compound destroyed three Humvees.

The attackers withdrew with four captured U.S. soldiers and drove out of the Karbala province into the neighboring Babil province. Iraqi police began trailing the assailants after they drew suspicion at a checkpoint.

Three soldiers were found dead and one fatally wounded, along with five abandoned vehicles, near the town of Mahawil. Two were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the vehicles. The other two were found nearby on the ground. One soldier was found alive but died en route to a nearby hospital. All suffered from gunshot wounds.

Also recovered at the site were
U.S. Army-type combat uniforms, boots, radios and a non-U.S. made rifle, officials said.

Officials are investigating the breach in security at the center. "We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault," Bleichwehl said. "Our hearts go out to the families of the fallen warriors from Karbala. They were true heroes who fought to the last."

The names of four of the soldiers have been released. The fifth name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Killed were:

-- Army 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Neb.;

-- Army Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, La.;

-- Army Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, N.Y.; and

-- Army Pvt. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Ala.


The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

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Iraqi Police Learn Rule of Law, Concept of Tolerance

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2007 – A
U.S. military police brigade deployed in Baghdad is teaching Iraqi police about democratic principles such as tolerance in addition to law enforcement skills, the unit's commander said today. "Our fundamental role here is to support the Iraqi security forces as the Iraqi government moves forward towards securing the populace," Army Col. Michael S. Galloucis, commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade, told Pentagon reporters during a satellite-telecast news conference.

Galloucis said his unit is focused on training local Iraqi
police and not the national police, which are instructed by other coalition forces.

The Civilian
Police Assistance Training Team is another U.S. military organization that trains Iraqis attending the Baghdad Police College, the Jordanian Police Training Center in Amman, Jordan, and another training academy in Numaniyah, located south of Baghdad, he said.

"We work very closely with CPATT all the time, and the training that we do at the local station level builds upon their efforts," Galloucis said, noting his brigade includes airmen as well as soldiers.

Galloucis said his people serve as instructors, coaches and mentors. They assist the Iraqi police as they develop organizations, procedures and skills necessary to serve and protect the people of Iraq under the rule of law.

Iraqi
police learn concepts of freedom and democracy in addition to policing skills, Galloucis said. Instructors discuss the importance of free speech, the value of diversity, the sanctity of human life, and the notions of tolerance, restraint and forgiveness, he said.

Iraqi
police also learn "that nothing good ever comes out of hatred and murder," Galloucis said, noting Iraq's citizens acknowledge the importance of establishing a constabulary that operates according to principles of fairness and justice.

The Iraqi police are improving rapidly as they work side by side with their American counterparts across Baghdad, Galloucis said.

"They are making tremendous strides over here and are out there every day putting it all on the line to help turn the tide and stem the flow of violence that has been so prevalent here," the colonel said.

Yet, dampening the level of violence in Iraq's capital city won't occur overnight, Galloucis warned, pointing to Iraq's complex social and political environment. "We see here gradual movement, gradual progress, and it just is going to take time," the colonel said, noting Iraq was run by a brutal dictator for 30 years.

"There are a lot of people in this country that have responsibilities for trying to stop the violence that we see," Galloucis said. "The Iraqi police are one part of that."

The colonel described the current climate in Baghdad as "dynamic and dangerous." However, senior Iraqi officials are determined to rebuild Iraq and protect its citizens, he said.

"By enhancing the capabilities of the Iraqi police, we are helping set the conditions for more Iraqi self reliance," Galloucis explained.

Iraqis are tired of violence and are eager to embrace a system of accountability and justice that treats all citizens with dignity and respect, the colonel said.

The colonel cited the "superb" courage and commitment demonstrated by his soldiers and airmen. He also praised the contributions of
U.S. military members in Iraq. Their selfless service benefits Americans at home as well as Iraqis, he said.

U.S. servicemembers "truly are making a difference here in Iraq," Galloucis said.

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Nine Insurgents Killed in Iraq, 21 Detained; Weapons Caches Discovered

American Forces Press Service

, Jan. 26, 2007 – Coalition forces killed nine insurgents and detained 21 more this week in operations across Iraq.
U.S Army soldiers observed six insurgents unloading AK 47 assault rifles into a building Jan. 23 near a gas station in central Ramadi. Soldiers attacked the insurgents with grenades and gunfire, killing three and wounding the three others. Later that morning, soldiers from an adjacent coalition post in Ramadi observed insurgents distributing hand grenades at the same building. Coalition forces killed six more insurgents who attacked the coalition outpost.

Elsewhere that day, Iraqi
police, with U.S. Marines and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 6 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, completed Operation Three Swords in Fallujah. During the operation, combined forces detained 21 suspects responsible for coordinating attacks against Iraqi security forces and coalition forces, military officials said.

In addition, combined forces rescued and treated three hostages inside a "torture house" and found a weapons caches containing two 14.5 mm anti-aircraft guns, high explosive mortar sights, rocket-propelled-grenade materials, a sniper rifle with a scope, and four assault rifles.

"This operation was successful in the fact that coalition forces were able to free three hostages and seize weapons used for murder and intimidation away from insurgents,"
Army Capt. Chip R. Rankin, commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, said. "The Iraqi police led this mission with confidence, and it demonstrated their desire to provide a more secure mindset for the civilians within these areas."

Nearby, in Fuhaylat, Iraqi
police and coalition advisors detained six suspected insurgent cell members. The insurgent cell is responsible for carrying out improvised-explosive-device attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, and it is linked to al Qaeda in Iraq, military officials said.

In Baghdad this week:

U.S. Army soldiers from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division discovered three large caches Jan. 24 in the Jihad neighborhood. The caches contained seven rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, two mortar tubes, more than 80 mortar rounds, two 30 mm rockets, two heavy machine guns, two roadside bombs, one block of plastic explosive, and nearly 2000 rounds of small arms ammunition.

Insurgents detonated a car bomb Jan. 24 near an Iraqi
police patrol in western Baghdad, killing four Iraqi policemen and one civilian bystander.

Insurgents detonated a motorcycle-borne IED yesterday in central Baghdad's Shoula market, injuring 13 Iraqi civilians and damaging two vehicles

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Friday, January 26, 2007

43 Insurgents Detained, Weapons Found, Captives Freed

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 25, 2007 – In a string of operations across Iraq over the past four days, Iraqi and coalition forces detained 43 suspected terrorists, found several weapons caches, stopped an illegal checkpoint, and freed three captives, military officials reported.

-- In Karmah, Iraq, coalition forces detained 12 suspected terrorists today. Intelligence reports indicate the detainees have key logistical ties to the al Qaeda in Iraq network and to improvised explosive device production. Reports indicate that they are responsible for the recent increase in IED attacks in the Karmah area. During the raid, coalition forces found several AK-47s and ammunition.

-- In Mosul, coalition forces captured a foreign fighter facilitator with ties to a senior al Qaeda leader responsible for bringing large numbers of suicide bombers into Iraq.

-- Special Iraqi police forces captured five members of an illegally armed militia and detained seven others during operations with coalition advisors yesterday near Kawam, south of Baghdad. The suspects are allegedly responsible for coordinating and carrying out numerous IED and other attacks against Iraqi police, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces in the Babil province.

-- A tip from a local citizen to an Iraqi army unit enabled soldiers to stop an illegal checkpoint in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliyah yesterday. Shortly after noon, an unidentified Iraqi phoned Company C, 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, stating that a number of men had set up an illegal checkpoint in a southern Ghazaliyah neighborhood. A patrol was dispatched to the area and upon arrival was engaged by AK-47 and pistol fire. The patrol returned fire but was unable to prevent the escape of the terrorists.

-- Coalition and Iraqi army soldiers detained 10 suspects and seized four caches in the Al-Doura district as part of Operation Wolverine Feast yesterday. The operation began as witnesses reported seeing several men load a mortar tube and ammunition into the trunk of a car. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division's Company C, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, were alerted and cordoned off the target area. In the first objective they captured one wanted man with an 82 mm mortar system, two AK-47 assault rifles, a 9 mm pistol and two hand grenades. A sweep of a second targeted area uncovered six men with 10 120 mm mortar rounds. The third cache contained a 60 mm mortar system and various rocket-propelled grenade launchers and RPG rounds. Three men were detained at this location. The last cache contained several RPG rockets and accelerators.

-- Coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists and found weapons during a combat operation in Mahmudiyah Jan. 23. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, worked with troops from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, during Operation Black Eagle II, aimed at denying insurgents sanctuary within the Mahmudiyah area. Two AK-47 bandoleers and two Katusha rocket casings were found during the operation.

-- Four suspected insurgents were detained after a raid on a suspected insurgent safe house south of Baghdad Jan. 23. Iraqi army troops and paratroopers from the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, conducted the raid on the suspected terrorist safe house, which was believed to be used to hide insurgents and store weapons.

-- Coalition forces and Iraq army troops detained eight suspected terrorists and seized weapons during a combat patrol northwest of Lutifiyah Jan. 23. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, and the 6th Iraqi Army Division's 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, were on a combat patrol when they came under small-arms fire attack from a canal. The troops called in for aviation support, and one insurgent died in the aerial attack. The remaining four insurgents tried to escape down a canal and were killed by Iraqi troops. Following the firefight, troops searched the area for more insurgents. They found nine Iraqis hiding in a nearby house. Eight of the nine were detained, all wanted for suspected terrorist acts. The search also turned up a weapons cache consisting of three medium machine guns, two AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun and a sniper rifle with a scope.

-- Coalition forces discovered a building with blood-stained walls southeast of Fallujah on Jan. 22 and rescued three Iraqis found shackled inside. One of the victims was badly beaten and had broken limbs. He was examined and quickly evacuated by coalition forces to receive life-saving medical care. During their patrol, soldiers of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, discovered multiple weapons caches in other nearby houses. The discovery included a mortar targeting system and a sniper rifle with scope, as well as a Bongo truck with a mounted anti-aircraft gun and another vehicle rigged as a car bomb. Once the hostages were rescued from the house, the suspected "torture house" was destroyed by coalition forces.

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Iraqis Celebrate School Reopening, Forces Provide Aid to Citizens

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 25, 2007 – An Iraqi neighborhood north of Ramadi celebrated the reopening of its school Jan. 23, U.S. and Iraqi forces provided aid to citizens in Adhamiyah this week, and students in Tal Afar received cold weather gear from Iraqi forces Jan. 22, military officials reported. Visiting Iraqi army soldiers and coalition forces attended the celebration for the school reopening north of Ramadi. Community leaders asked Maj. Derek Horst, civil affairs team leader with the 4th Civil Affairs Group, to cut the ribbon for the Al Haitham School, which provides classes for the Abu Jassim tribe.

The school was temporarily closed in November for renovations. Tribal leader Sheik Taher, who oversaw the renovations, led a group of community leaders and military personnel on a brief tour of the building after the ribbon cutting.

"We're making progress day after day," said 1st Lt. Stuart Barnes, civil affairs team leader with Company B, 486th Civil Affairs Battalion. Barnes said attendance at the school shows that stability in the area continues to increase.

The school, which began holding classes again earlier this month, hosts an estimated 200 to 300 students, Barnes said.

In other news, residents of the Adhamiyah section of eastern Baghdad picked up needed supplies this week following a visit by soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team and their Iraqi army counterparts.

In coordination with the Adhamiyah district council, U.S. and Iraqi troops delivered clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries to more than 500 residents in a local theater. Especially popular with the youth were soccer balls and comic books. Also, a U.S. medic treated a woman with low blood sugar.

It would have been impossible to deliver the goods without U.S.-Iraqi cooperation, according to Capt. Drew Corbin, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment.

"The Iraqi
police were very helpful today," he said. "They provided security and helped distribute the humanitarian assistance bags."

The humanitarian assistance drop is part of a U.S.-Iraqi effort to reduce sectarian violence and help bring security to Baghdad.

In another operation in Tal Afar, students from the Kawla and Darar Primary schools received an assortment of winter clothing, school supplies, and additional treats from Tal Afar's Mayor Najim, Iraqi
police officers, and soldiers of the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, during Operation Warm-Up Jan. 22.

Mayor Najim and the delegation traveled from classroom to classroom, providing the students with winter clothing and Iraqi flags. In addition, the school headmaster at each location was provided a first-aid kit with instructions for medication.

The total items distributed included 280 items of winter clothing, 650 pencils, 250 pens, 200 erasers, 60 spiral notebooks and 30 folders. Every child received school supplies and candy.

Operation Warm-Up was a targeted mission conducted as part of the ongoing Iraqi
police and coalition humanitarian assistance program Operation Kids.

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Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Mark D. Kidd, 26, of Milford, Mich., died Jan. 25 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Kidd was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Mount Clemens, Mich.

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

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Darrell W. Shipp, 25, of San Antonio, Texas, died Jan. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information on this soldier, contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Marine Casualty

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

Sgt. Michael M. Kashkoush, 24, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, died Jan. 23 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Kashkoush was assigned to 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Okinawa public affairs office at 011-81-611-745-0790.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Jamie D. Wilson, 34, of San Diego, Calif., died Jan. 22 in Fallujah, Iraq, from wounds suffered while conducting security operations in Karmah, Iraq. Wilson was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Richardson public affairs office at (907) 384-1542.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Nicholas P. Brown, 24, of Huber Heights, Ohio, died Jan. 22 in Mosul, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Brown was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

For more information about this soldier the media can contact the Fort Bliss public affairs office at (915) 568-4505.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Hector Leija, 27, of Houston, Texas, died Jan. 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered during combat operations. Leija was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Lewis public affairs office at (253) 967-0152

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. 1st Class Keith A. Callahan, 31, of McClure, Pa., died Jan. 24 of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was conducting a combat patrol south of Baghdad, Iraq. Callahan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Bragg public affairs office at (910) 396-5620.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

U.S. Working With Countries in Horn of Africa to Go After al Qaeda

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 24, 2007 – The United States will track down al Qaeda operatives wherever they try to find safe haven, including in the Horn of Africa, a senior Defense Department official said today. "We have, for some time, been concerned about al Qaeda operating in that region, and that's why we're working with countries throughout that (area of responsibility) to identify track, seek, capture and, if necessary, kill al Qaeda working, taking safe haven, operating in that region," Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant defense secretary for media relations, told reporters today.

He did not, however, confirm media reports that the United States this week carried out an air strike on an al Qaeda target in Somalia, on Africa's eastern coast.

"The nature of some of our operations are such that I just won't be able to provide you much information (on every occasion)," he said.

A strike by a U.S. AC-130 gunship on Jan. 7 targeted a senior
terrorist leader in Somalia. Officials have not yet released information on that mission's success.

A senior defense official, speaking on background, stressed that some operations are better left unpublicized. "There are operations that we conduct that are of the nature that don't lend themselves to public discourse," the official said. "But I think we all understand that the success of some of these operations is predicated on our ability to conduct them in the ways in which we have to."

The official noted that many
military operations are never discussed in public. "The very nature of our special operations, for example, when we do special operations, are not something that lend themselves to being able to be discussed in a public kind of way, because their success is predicated on their ability to be carried out in a fashion that is not on the front page of every newspaper," he said.

The official also stressed that operations in the Horn of Africa are conducted in cooperation with governments in the region. "We are working very closely with countries in the region because of the fact that there are known terrorists that are seeking to try to take harbor, to plan, and to conduct operations in that region," he said.

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Marine Casualties

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

Lance Cpl. Andrew G. Matus, 19, of Chetek, Wis.
Sgt. Gary S. Johnston, 21, of Windthorst, Texas


Matus died Jan. 21 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Matus was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Johnston died Jan. 23 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Johnston was assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force Okinawa, Japan.

Media with questions about Matus can call Camp Pendleton public affairs office at (760) 725-5044. Media with questions about Johnston can call the Okinawa public affairs office at 011-81-611-745-0790.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Jonathan P. C. Kingman, 21, of Nankin, Ohio, died January 20 near Baji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 41st Engineer Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For further information on this soldier, contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-3410.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Michael J. Wiggins, 26, of Cleveland, Ohio, died January 23 in Balad, Iraq, of a non-combat related injury. He was assigned to the 79th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information on this soldier, contact the Fort Sam Houston public affairs office at (210) 221-1151.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More Texas National Guard Called Up to Protect U.S.-Mexico Border

By Fred W. Baker III

Jan. 24, 2007 – More than 600 Texas National Guardsmen were activated by the state's governor Jan. 22 to support a surge operation targeting crime and international drug and human trafficking along the state's 1,200-mile border with Mexico. The soldiers are activated in support of Operation Wrangler, an interagency
law enforcement operation that involves 6,800 federal, state and local officials, according to a release by Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office.

These soldiers are in addition to the 1,700 Texas Guardsmen federally activated in support Operation Jump Start, a beef-up of National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border aimed at stopping illegal immigrants from entering the U.S.

Airmen from the 204th Security Forces Squadron from Fort Bliss, Texas, will play a major part by supporting with trained and experienced security force airmen and the rest of the forces will be provided by smaller units from throughout the state, said Army Col. Bill Meehan, Texas National Guard's state public affairs officer. The majority of the 604 activated are
Army National Guardsmen. The Guardsmen will remain on state activation for the next several weeks, Meehan said.

The Guardsmen will form 12 armed security platoons and man traffic crossovers along the Rio Grande River. Each platoon will be accompanied by a Border Patrol agent and a local police officer, according to a release by the governor's office. The Guardsmen are issued weapons, but whether they carry them will depend on the mission, Meehan said.

The 204th Security Force Squadron is uniquely qualified for its role of reinforcing local law enforcement as the only heavy weapons security force in the Air National Guard, Meehan said, and troop support is strong for this new mission.

"The National Guard has its roots as a voluntary organization, and all of our soldiers and airmen know this," Meehan said. "We have not seen a problem with recruiting and retaining fine Army and Air guardsmen in any of the years that we have answered the call to respond to the citizens of Texas or the United States.

"Morale continues to be high," Meehan said. "This is reflected in Operation Jump Start. Every (Texas) soldier or airman in Operation Jump Start is a volunteer."
Operation Jump Start Guardsmen work in direct support of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection under a federal activation, Meehan said.

The majority of the soldiers and airmen activated for Operation Wrangler already have seen either state or federal duty, or both, Meehan said.

In the past five years, more than 8,000 Texas Guardsmen have been activated on federal orders, Meehan said. Even more have been activated for state missions, such as hurricane and flood relief, he said.

Just yesterday, 400 Texas Army National Guard soldiers returned home after serving a one-year deployment to the Sinai, in Egypt, Meehan said. The group served as the command cell for Multinational Force and Observers 49. The command cell was led by the 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, out of Waco, Texas.

Some 250 Texas Guardsmen were activated to assist during the winter storm that swept through the state Jan. 15-17. The soldiers were stationed in Abilene, Corsicana, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Waco, Terrell and Tyler to support the Texas Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement in west central Texas.

Also, 1,500 are serving in Baghdad. The 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, from Austin, deployed in August and controls a 2,500-person brigade that represents troops from 44 states.

Texas has 21,000 Army and Air National Guard soldiers and airmen.

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Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Darrel J. Morris, 21, of Spokane, Wash., died Jan. 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Morris was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th 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 a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Emilian D. Sanchez, 20, of Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., died Jan. 21 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about this Marine can call Camp Pendleton public affairs office at (760) 725-5044

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bush Urges Congress to Support Victory Strategy in Iraq

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 23, 2007 – Citing freedom's progress in the Middle East, the ambitions of a thinking and determined enemy and the consequences of failure in Iraq, President Bush tonight urged Congress in his State of the Union Address to support a strategy of victory in Iraq. "On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle," Bush told members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. "So let us find our resolve and turn events toward victory."

Bush cited a thirst for freedom that has grown in the Middle East. "In the last two years, we have seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East, and we have been sobered by the enemy's fierce reaction," he said. "In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature."

Also in 2005, Bush said, the Iraqi people chose a transitional government, adopted the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then elected a government under that constitution. "Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity we should never forget," he said.

Enemies of freedom saw all this and adjusted their tactics, the president said. "In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution," he said. "And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government."

Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have regrouped in Afghanistan and tried to regain power by engaging Afghan and NATO forces, and al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists in Iraq blew up the Golden Mosque of Samarra, one of Shiia Islam's holiest shrines, almost a year ago. The Golden Mosque attack was intended to provoke reprisals, Bush said, and the resulting sectarian violence has continued.

"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in," Bush said. "Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned and our own security at risk."

Bush said that while it's the Iraqi government's responsibility to put an end to the sectarian violence, he's sending more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers and
Marines to help Iraqi security forces that aren't yet up to the task. "We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq," he said.

"If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides," Bush said. "We could expect an epic battle between Shiia extremists backed by Iran and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country. And, in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict."

Bush called this a "nightmare scenario" for America and the objective of the enemy.

"Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle," he said. "And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America."

Success in the war on terror often is measured by the things that did not happen, Bush said.

"We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented," he said, "but here is some of what we do know:

"We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast.

"We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States.

"We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America.

"And, just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean."

Bush said every success "is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy."

"The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world," he said. "And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war."

Terrorists have made their intentions clear, he said. "They want to overthrow moderate governments and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country," he said. "By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology."

Bush said the United States is not in the struggle alone, noting international cooperation in various troubled areas of the world.

"In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations, and we are working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq's government," he said. "The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons."

With the U.N., the European Union and Russia, the United States is working to establish a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, Bush said.

"In Afghanistan," he continued, "NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive -- the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, we are pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons."

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Bush Stresses Cooperation, Perseverance in War on Terror

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 23, 2007 – Emphasizing that failure in Iraq would be grievous and far-reaching, President Bush said tonight that American leaders must work together to set the conditions for success in the long war against
terrorism. "The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others," Bush said in his annual State of the Union Address. "That is why it is important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through."

Bush proposed the establishment of a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of members of Congress from both political parties. "We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us," he said. "And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory."

The war in Iraq is part of a broader ideological struggle against extremism, Bush said. Failure in Iraq would embolden terrorists and potentially give them a safe haven from which to attack the U.S. and other countries, he said.

"So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers and brave voices for democracy," he said. "The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must."

One of the first steps America's leaders can take toward success in the long war against terrorism is to increase the size of the
military, Bush said. He asked Congress to authorize an increase in the size of the active-duty Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 over the next five years.

In addition, Bush proposed the creation of a volunteer civilian reserve corps, which would ease the burden on military forces serving overseas. This corps would function much like a
military reserve force, Bush said, and would employ civilians with critical skills who can serve on missions abroad. "It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time," Bush said.

Bush said he worked in close consultation with military commanders in developing the new strategy for the war in Iraq. The
leaders chose the proposed strategy, which includes sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, increased responsibility for the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces, and more diplomatic and economic initiatives, because it was the best way forward, Bush said.

"For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. ... To win the war on terror, we must take the fight to the enemy," he said. "From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense."

The new Iraq strategy demands more commitment from the Iraqi government, but recognizes that the goal of a democratic Iraq cannot be reached until the sectarian violence in Baghdad is quelled, Bush said. Iraqi forces aren't ready to handle security on their own, he said, so the majority of U.S. forces will go to Baghdad, where they will clear and secure neighborhoods and serve as advisors to Iraqi units.

Bush emphasized that the U.S. commitment in Iraq is not open-ended. The Iraqi government must follow through on its promises to deploy more troops to Baghdad, lift restrictions on coalition forces, make visible progress in reconciliation, and take responsibility for security operations, he said.

"The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now is the time for their government to act," Bush said.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, extremists would overrun the Iraqi government, and the ensuing violence would affect the entire region, Bush said. Out of chaos in Iraq would emerge a stronger enemy with new safe havens, recruits and resources, he said.

"Nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq, and to spare the American people from this danger," he said."

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100 Terrorists Killed, 50 Detained in Operation Turki Bowl

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 23, 2007 – U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 100
terrorists, detained 50, and dismantled a large terrorist group in January during Operation Turki Bowl, the senior U.S. Army officer in Iraq's Diyala province said yesterday. The operation, conducted from Jan. 4 to 13, occurred south of Balad Ruz in the Turki Village, Tuwilla and 30 Tamuz areas of the province. During the operation, U.S. Army and Iraqi soldiers isolated and defeated a terrorist group known as "The Council," Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, told reporters via satellite connection from a news conference in Iraq.

"The group, made up of former Baath Regime members, al Qaeda and Sunni extremists, refused to participate in any political dialogue and preferred attacking innocent civilians in the Diyala province," Sutherland said.

The council killed as many as 39 civilians in one kidnapping and mass murder in November, he added.

"The fear of the people and the weapons used by these individuals are used to attack the core of Iraqi values and beliefs," Sutherland said. "They are interested in preventing individual human rights and freedoms that the people of this region want so much."

Leading up to the large-scale operation, coalition forces discovered a large weapons cache in November in the area, resulting in "major combat operations with several large organizations" of terrorists, Sutherland said.

"Upon defeating them, we intentionally moved back to our base of operations so that we could exploit the intelligence that we would ... gather over the next several months," he said.

While developing plans for Operation Turki Bowl,
U.S. military leaders, with the 5th Iraqi Army Division, studied the enemy's early warning systems, their actions, and "how they reacted to our initial contact with them," Sutherland said.

Coalition forces conducted smaller-scale raids in the area prior to Operation Turki Bowl, to give civilians a perceived safe-haven and encourage their cooperation with troops, he said. Through tips and phone calls to coalition forces, civilians provided invaluable information about the enemy, Sutherland added.

"What we wanted to do was isolate (terrorists) from the population so they could not blend in," Sutherland said. "It (was) a counterinsurgency operation, but the difference is we were able separate the terrorists from the people they were living off of.

"Since I've been here, we have not conducted an operation where we have been able to bring to bear against a group of this size that was willing to fight us out in the open," Sutherland said.

In addition to defeating the council, troops found 25 weapons caches containing more than 1,150 Katusha rockets and 1,000 rocket-propelled grenades, 170 anti-tank missiles, anti-tank mines, small- and heavy-arms ammunition and sensitive terrorist documents.

Soldiers are now focused on interacting with the local populous and reinforcing the security and stability of the region, according to a Multinational Force Iraq news release. The Iraqi
army will maintain a permanent presence, while coalition forces are focusing on reconstructing roads, essential services and other basic services to help the people of Turki, the release stated.

"This operation clearly was a significant tactical success for (coalition forces), (Iraq army), and most importantly, the citizens of Turki and surrounding areas," Sutherland said. "The long-term affects we hope to achieve are stability for economic growth, increased political action for all parties and self-reliance for the Iraqi government and security forces."

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