Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Iraqi Army Detains 16 Suspects; Insurgents Kill 15 Civilians

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2007 – Special Iraqi
army forces detained 16 suspected militiamen during operations today with coalition advisors in Sadr City, and insurgents killed 15 Iraqis and wounded nine in a car-bomb attack in Ramadi yesterday. The operations in Sadr City were targeting the leadership of several rogue militia cells operating against Iraqi civilians, officials said.

Iraqi forces targeted several individuals who allegedly control multiple illegal militia cells and direct and perpetrate sectarian murder, torture and kidnapping, officials said. The wanted individuals are reported to operate out of Sadr City and are linked to attacks on coalition forces and the supply of weapons and munitions that support continued violence.

Iraqi forces entered several secondary objectives during the operations, but caused only minimal damage, officials said.

In Ramadi, insurgents killed 15 Iraqis, including women, children and two
police officers in a car-bomb attack near a mosque in a residential neighborhood yesterday. The attack, which also wounded nine people, occurred at about 6 p.m.

"I am mortified at the absolute lack of regard for the lives of the Iraqi people which has been displayed by al Qaeda in Iraq," said Col. John Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. "The murder of any Iraqi citizen is tragic, but to intentionally kill innocent children is proof positive that now more than ever, Iraqi citizens need to stand together with us in support of their local Iraqi security forces to stamp out this
terrorist threat."

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Soldiers, Marine Killed in Iraq; DoD Identifies Previous Casualties

Feb. 27, 2007 – A roadside bomb killed three Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers today, and a Marine assigned to Multinational Force West was killed yesterday, military officials reported.
The soldiers died during a clearing mission south of Baghdad, and the Marine was killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. Another soldier was wounded in the roadside-bomb attack. Officials provided no information on the wounded soldier's condition. The servicemembers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department released the identities of six soldiers killed recently supporting the war on terror.

-- Army Sgt. Jeremy D. Barnett, 27, of Mineral City, Ohio, died Feb. 24 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds suffered from a land mine detonation in Dujayl, Iraq, on Feb. 21. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

-- Army Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Hager, 29, of Broomfield, Colo.; Army Pfc. Travis W. Buford, 23, of Galveston, Texas; and Army Pfc. Rowan D. Walter, 25, of Winnetka, Calif., died Feb. 23 of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 22. All three soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

-- Army Spc. Louis G. Kim, 19, of West Covina, Calif., died Feb. 20 in Ramadi, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small-arms fire. Kim was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

-- Army Sgt. Buddy J. Hughie, 25, of Poteau, Okla., died Feb. 19 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Hughie was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry, Oklahoma Army National Guard, Ada, Okla.

Britain to Send 1,400 More Troops to Afghanistan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2007 – Great Britain will deploy an additional 1,400 troops to Afghanistan this summer, British Secretary of State for Defense Desmond Browne told the country's Parliament yesterday. Most of the troops will be based in Helmand province, bringing Britain's force in Afghanistan to about 7,700, he said.

Browne said the additional troops are needed to continue progress already made, and he expressed disappointment that other NATO countries haven't stepped forward to provide sufficient forces, particularly in light of an anticipated Taliban offensive this spring.

"I have lobbied our partners consistently for more help in those regions, and I will continue to do so," he said. "But it is increasingly clear that at present, when it comes to the most demanding tasks in the more challenging parts of Afghanistan, only we and a small number of key allies are prepared to set forward. That is why we have decided to commit additional forces to Afghanistan.

"It is undoubtedly correct to say that if we were able to do more as an alliance, especially in the south and east of Afghanistan, we would have more effect," he said.

The defense secretary outlined British efforts in Afghanistan, including a U.K.-led provincial reconstruction team in Helmand that is implementing projects "aimed at improving the lines of ordinary Afghans."

These include digging wells, distributing food, providing a generator to a hospital in Lashkar Gah, repairing schools, building classrooms and a midwifery hospital, reinforcing river banks and flood defenses, and refurbishing tractor plows to encourage legitimate agriculture.

"There is no question but that the reconstruction work, when completed, will make a significant and life-changing difference to more than 1.8 million people in Helmand province and throughout the south of Afghanistan," he said. "The reason for that is that the development will not only generate electricity for people and communities who have never had it before, but add substantially to the agriculture potential of the Helmand River Valley by doubling the area that can be tilled."

Browne's announcement regarding Afghanistan comes less than a week after British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that 1,600 British troops will withdraw from Iraq in the coming months.

Blair said British forces will begin leaving Iraq, particularly Basra, where Iraqi security forces have taken primary responsibility for operations. He emphasized that the United Kingdom's combat capability in Iraq won't be diminished and that the remaining British forces will focus on training Iraqi forces and securing the Iranian border and supply routes.

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Iraqis Make Strides in Support of Baghdad Security Plan

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2007 – Iraqi soldiers and police are doing their part to help secure Baghdad against terrorists as additional U.S. and Iraqi troops flow into the capital city, a senior
U.S. military officer told reporters today. "The Iraqi security forces are making significant strides" in support of Operation Law and Order, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad.

Odierno cited a weekend operation in which Iraqi planes airlifted fresh Iraqi troops into Baghdad. That mission showcased "a high level of coordination and planning," he said. In addition, Iraqi police and coalition troops teamed up in another weekend operation that netted "a very large cache of enemy weapons that are designed to kill both soldiers and civilians, alike," the general said.

American and Iraqi forces also have been busy establishing 10 security districts across Baghdad as part of plans to institute an around-the-clock presence to deter insurgent violence, Odierno said.

President Bush directed the deployment of more than 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines to Baghdad and restive areas of western Iraq. However, the new security plan was conceived and is being led by the Iraqis, Odierno said.

Additional Iraqi security forces, under the command of Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar, continue to flow into Baghdad, Odierno said, with four more battalions expected to arrive over the next two weeks. Right now, about 14 brigades of Iraqi soldiers and police are deployed in Baghdad, he said.

Gambar's headquarters in Baghdad is expected to become fully operational by March 1, Odierno said. Everyone involved expects that Operation Law and Order will take some time to accomplish, he added.

"The bottom line is we will stay at this until we think the people feel safe in their neighborhoods," Odierno said. "And, it's going to take months."

Meanwhile, additional U.S. forces Bush called for have yet to arrive, Odierno said, noting he expects American forces to "flow in through May."

The new security plan launched at mid-month appears to have achieved a dampening effect on insurgent activity in Baghdad so far, Odierno said. "We have seen a decrease (in violence) in the last three weeks, a pretty radical decrease, actually," Odierno said.

Yet, it's too early in the operation to draw any hard conclusions, he added.

Ongoing U.S.-Iraqi security operations in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq "are targeting anyone who is acting against the government of Iraq," Odierno said. "Whether it be Sunni or Shiia, whether they live in Sadr City or Ramadi, whether they live in Mansour, they will be targeted if they're working against the goals of the government of Iraq, which is providing stability to its citizens."

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Enlarged SOCOM Will Better Answer Global Needs, Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2007 – Special Operations forces will grow by 17,000 active-duty members over the next six years, a senior
military official said today at the 18th annual Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Symposium here. "We are fielding ... the largest growth in special operations history without sacrificing quality along the way," Navy Vice Adm. Eric T. Olson, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said.

The admiral said SOCOM's role has been enlarged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In 2003, "the secretary of defense said, 'I hereby designate special operations the lead combatant commander for planning, synchronizing and, as directed, conducting defense activities against
terrorists and their networks,'" Olson said. "This was a huge charter for us."

Military planners are using a carefully vetted threat model to develop direct and indirect strategies in combating
terrorism, he said.

"The direct approach is the one that gets the headlines," he said. "It's often kinetic and sometimes violent; it's about finding terrorists and engaging them directly in order to render their networks less effective.

"Most importantly," he said, "the direct approach buys us time for the other, longer-term, indirect approach."

The indirect approach changes the environment by building U.S. partners' capabilities, reducing local support to prevent terrorist safe havens, and eroding underlying conditions that contribute to terrorism, he said.

Olson cited the Jan. 28 battle in Najaf, Iraq, that reportedly killed 200 insurgents, to illustrate special operations' direct and indirect approaches. "The Iraqi military forces attacked on their own and fought for 45 minutes before the arrival of the first U.S. forces, which was the Special Forces A-Team," he said.

"That A-Team commander took charge of his piece of it and contributed as best as he could," Olson said. "He posted snipers, called in fixed-wing air support (and) began to turn the tide of what had been sort of an inconclusive fight."

Snipers picked off targets, a quick-reaction force arrived, and the A-Team coordinated what became a more complex fight that "ultimately became a significant victory," Olson said.

"The Iraqi forces provided most of the manpower and most of the fighting forces," he said. "It was Iraqi forces that had been trained by U.S. forces; (they) responded quickly, took initiative to launch their own assault; ... and they were there as the victors.

"The beauty of this is that it all worked," Olson said. "That is a complex international incident that we would not have thought possible not too long ago."

Efforts to deny
terrorists safe havens in Iraq and Afghanistan are important, Olson said, but the global threat is not limited to those two countries.

"Direct and indirect activities must be carefully synchronized to be most effective," he said. "To help synchronize these efforts, SOCOM, other agencies in departments of our government and our partner nations are beginning to build a global combative terror network."

The admiral cited the 2002 U.S.-Philippine combined action against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group as an example of the international cooperation needed to effectively combat the common threat.

"Terrorists in the southern Philippines associated with the al Qaeda network (were) an intimidating presence for many years until the arrival of American forces led by Army Special Forces," he said.

U.S. Special Operations Forces there trained and assisted Filipino forces, Olson said. "At the end of the day, through persistent military
training and local humanitarian efforts, Abu Sayyaf was essentially run off Basilan Island, and they're struggling now to make their presence known in other areas of the Philippines."

The struggle there continues, but it was "a great local success of a different flavor and another powerful demonstration of how this is coming together as a synchronized global effort," he said.

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'Surge' Units to be Fully Trained, Equipped, Leaders Say

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2007 – The
Army and Marine Corps units that will make up the 21,500-troop surge to Iraq will meet the same standards of training as every unit that deploys and have all the equipment they need to accomplish the mission, leaders from the two services said here today. The Army is deploying five brigade combat teams and a division headquarters to Iraq, in addition to extending one National Guard BCT already in theater. None of the five BCTs will deploy with less than a year between deployments, and each will meet the Army's pre-deployment training regimen, Army Maj. Gen. Richard Formica, director of force management, told reporters at a Pentagon media roundtable.

"The secretary of the Army and chief of staff of the Army remain committed to providing to the combatant commander the best-trained, best-equipped and best-led force in the world," Formica said. "With the plus-up, that commitment will not change. Our deploying units will be manned, trained and equipped, and they will be ready for their specified missions."

Army has deployed more than 60 BCTs to Iraq over the past four years, Formica said. As lessons are learned in theater, they are applied to the pre-deployment training regimen to make it more effective. Commanders at every level have assessed the readiness of their units and, at this point, have determined that they are or will be ready for their assigned mission, he said. He added that commanders have the full support of the chain of command to ensure that any additional resources that are required will be provided.

"We're committed to sending trained and ready units to the fight," he said.

Army Brig. Gen. Charles Anderson, director of force modernization, challenged recent media reports stating that the units that will be part of the surge have severe equipment shortages. That is simply not true, he said, emphasizing that the Army does not compromise its force-protection standards for deploying units.

The units involved in the surge were already scheduled to deploy, so they have received most of their equipment needs, Anderson said. Army leaders have worked with the commanders in the theater and those ready to deploy to ensure equipment needs are met, he said. Army leaders have a weekly teleconference with commanders in the theater, and equipping liaisons go with deploying units.

Anderson said the units deploying as part of the surge will have the same force protection equipment all
Army units deploy with, including unmanned aerial vehicles, unit tracking devices, satellite communications, vehicular radios, handheld radios, and active aerial sensors to improve situational awareness. They also have night-vision devices, long-range thermal sensors, thermal weapons sites, sniper rifles, and long-range munitions to avoid detection. Also, the units have route-clearance equipment, helicopters equipped with aircraft survivability equipment, counter-improvised explosive device equipment, tank and Bradley survivability kits, armored gun shields, and comprehensive vehicle and body armor.

"The Army's No. 1 priority is the protection of the soldier," Anderson said. "We achieve protection from a holistic perspective and, contrary to recent print, the plus-up of forces will have the equipment they need."

The troop surge involves about 4,000 Marines, Marine Brig. Gen. Joseph Dunford, director of the service's operations division, said. Two battalions in Anbar province have been extended for 45 to 60 days, and a Marine expeditionary unit has been extended for 60 days. To relieve those extended units, two units that were previously scheduled to deploy in the summer will now deploy in late spring, he said. All of these units have been fully trained to Marine Corps standards and will have the equipment they need to perform their missions, he said.

"There's no difference between the units that are part of the plus-up and the units that are forward deployed right now," he said.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Suspected al Qaeda Leader, Others Captured; Weapons Cache Found

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2007 – Coalition forces detained 15 suspected
terrorists, including a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq emir, in raids throughout Iraq today; Iraqi forces found a large weapons cache Feb. 24; and Iraqi and coalition forces announced the casualty toll from yesterday's car-bomb attack in Habbaniyah, military officials reported. During an operation in Baghdad, coalition forces captured a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq emir and one of his associates.

Three suspected foreign
terrorist facilitators were captured in operations northeast of Samarra, and eight more were captured in a foreign fighter safe house west of Mahmudiyah.

In downtown Ramadi, coalition forces captured two suspects in a foreign fighter safe house. Intelligence reports indicated members of the cell were planning suicide operations against coalition or Iraqi forces.

"Coalition forces are making progress dismantling the foreign fighter and al Qaeda
terrorist networks inside Iraq," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "These operations send a message to terrorists that they will be caught and prosecuted for their crimes under the Iraqi justice system."

Separately, Iraqi
police and coalition military officials placed the number of those killed in yesterday's suicide truck bomb attack in Habbaniyah at about 31 Iraqis killed and 75 wounded. The attack occurred at about 4 p.m. in a busy intersection as citizens were exiting a mosque after evening prayer. The blast affected a nearby school and an Iraqi police station.

The target of this latest al Qaeda in Iraq-led attack is not known, officials said. Iraqi
police established triage for the victims of the attack, and coalition medical personnel assisted in the treatment and evacuation of the wounded civilians.

In Baqubah, information provided by a concerned citizen led Iraqi
police officers from Judidah and coalition forces from the 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, to a large improvised explosive device cache Feb. 24.

The cache consisted of two explosively formed projectiles, a completed improvised mine, more than two dozen mortar rounds and 15 rockets, six rocket launchers, five anti-aircraft rounds, more than two dozen RPG warheads, more than 400 plastic and steel containers in various stages of fabrication for IED construction, and large quantities of IED-making material.

"The vigilance of the Iraqi police and the willingness of the people of Diyala to end the cycle of violence led to this discovery," said Col. David W. Sutherland, 3-1 Cav. commander and senior
U.S. Army officer in the Diyala province.

A coalition forces explosive ordnance disposal unit safely disposed of some of the munitions with the majority of the cache being transferred to Forward Operating Base Warhorse.

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Military Playing Down Long Runs, Adopting More Diverse Fitness Programs

If a little bit of running is good for keeping warfighters in top form, then a lot of running is better, right? "Wrong!" say officials here at the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine

read more | digg story

Iraqi Tips Lead to Bomb Factory Discovery

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2007 – Tips that led to the discovery of a bomb-making factory in western Iraq demonstrate that the Iraqi people are fed up with
terrorists operating in their midst and stepping forward to help remove them, military officials in Baghdad told reporters today. Officials from 3rd Brigade, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, briefed reporters about a search for weapons caches that ultimately led to the bomb factory Feb. 20 in Gharmah, about 10 miles east of Fallujah.

Army Capt. Matt Gregory, commander of Company A, described the materials uncovered during the raid: blasting caps, ballistic glass used in up-armored Humvees, and five vehicles, one full of propane tanks and initiation devices.

But only when the team continued its mission and found a chemical workshop and metal workshop did they realize the significance of their find, Gregory said. They found homemade explosives and "quite a sizable selection of chemicals," including canisters of chlorine, several 55-gallon barrels of nitric acid and several bags of fertilizer, as well as a Russian bomb.

"At that point, we realized that this objective was a lot bigger than what we had planned for and what we had ever hoped to find," he said.

The team returned after daylight to continue the search, he said, finding mortar and artillery rounds, rockets and enemy documents.

Army Lt. Col. Valery Keaveny, the brigade's commander, called the cooperation that led to the find proof that the Iraqi people don't like living under the intimidation campaign al Qaeda has imposed on them.

When the brigade first arrived at Camp Fallujah in the fall, "we quickly found the local civilians were terrorized and were threatened, and they did not like life under al Qaeda. They wanted a way out," Keaveny said. "And we found very quickly that, once we showed our compassion and our professionalism, they would be willing to work with us."

Over time, relationships built between the troops and the local Iraqis led to tips and information about al Qaeda that led to actionable intelligence. The effort began to have a domino effect as one raid led to more intelligence that led to even more raids -- most recently, the bomb-making factory.

"We continue to conduct more raids, recovery more documentation, more IED-making materials, more sniper capabilities," Keaveny said.

Iraqis are demonstrating that they want to be a part of this effort and help clear their communities of
terrorists, he said. "We are seeing the locals stand up more and more, working with us, working with the Iraqi security forces, police and army, for their road ahead," he said. "The Iraqi people are standing up for their own freedom (and) ... so that their kids can grow up without ... oppression from al Qaeda."

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Building Global Network, Denying Safe Havens Essential in War on Terror

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2007 – In the long
war on terrorism, it takes a network to defeat a network, a senior Defense Department official said today at the 18th annual Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Symposium here. Mark Kimmitt, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Near East and South Asian affairs, said al Qaeda and its associates operate within a "full-spectrum network" that extends beyond the physical battlefield into the virtual and financial worlds.

"It has the ability to use the virtual and physical network, all tied together in this center of gravity of this radical Islamist ideology," he said. "The fact that it uses the most advanced methods of communications to get what it needs to be done is truly remarkable."

The al Qaeda network poses the greatest threat to the U.S. and other Western democracies, Kimmitt said.

"It has truly got its stuff together in terms of fighting as a network," he said. "Those (improvised explosive devices) ... going off in Afghanistan weren't sent over there by books, they were sent over by information directly available on the Internet."
Terrorists, who seek to obtain chemical and biological weapons, and fissile material for dirty bombs, use communication networks to recruit, wire money, and transfer tactics, techniques and procedures, Kimmitt said.

"As a result, we have got to be able to develop that same network ourselves," he said. "The
military does its job pretty well, but (a formidable network) is going to take the United States Treasury Department; it's going to take the Department of State; it's going to take all of our organizations to attack all of its nodes simultaneously."

Kimmitt said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., were not the only exhibition of terrorists' talent. He cited strikes in Bali, Indonesia; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Madrid, Spain, to underscore the war's global scale.

To dismantle this global network, eliminating
terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens is imperative, he said.

"It's clear that (Osama) bin Laden and his associates take advantage of failed states, nations in strife, nations that aren't able to ... get the rule of law transmitted," he said. "In our area of operation in the Middle East, we've got to reduce the number of safe havens and sanctuaries."

In Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, efforts to deny such breeding grounds for terrorism represent a key principal of defeating al Qaeda and its associated movements, Kimmitt said.

"Bin Laden is looking for the next place to operate, and you can bet that he's taking a look around this world where he can transfer his operations," he said. "He's going to be looking for a country or a land that doesn't have a lot of control."

Kimmitt said countries engaged in the
global war on terror should posture themselves for "the long war," emphasizing the lengthy duration required to defeat this uniquely organized enemy.

"(These) organizations don't come together in a conventional hierarchy: one guy at the top, organizations at the bottom; they're organizations that are highly networked together," he said. "We're talking about a significant number of organizations that transcend simply al Qaeda being at the base.

"It is a generational fight; it's not one that we'll see completed any time soon," he said. "We would expect those attacks to go on and on until (the network) is defeated.

"This enemy is ingenious, but it is not 10 feet tall," he said. "He can be, he must be, and he will be defeated."

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Iraq Key to Defense of U.S., Bush Tells Governors

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2007 – If the United States leaves Iraq before the job is done, the enemy will strike in America, President Bush told the National Governors Association at the White House today. Bush told the governors, who are in Washington for their annual meeting, that his main priority is protecting the homeland.

Bush, a former Texas governor, explained his current strategy in the
war on terrorism to the governors. "We've got a two-pronged strategy in dealing with (enemies)," he said. "One is to stay on the offense and bring them to justice, and two, spread the conditions necessary to defeat an ideology of hatred."

He said the ideological war against extremists will be a long one. "That's the basis on which I'm making decisions to protect the country," the president said.

Governors are commanders in chief for their states' National Guard units. Bush praised the contributions of Guard units in the
war on terror. He also thanked the governors for visiting their troops deployed to hotspots around the world. "It matters to those troops that you take time, as a commander in chief, to thank them," Bush said. "And it matters to their families that people are paying attention to them."

Bush told the governors that Afghanistan and Iraq are the most visible theaters in the struggle against terror. He said he understands that people disagree with his course in Iraq and respects their opinions, but he will continue forward. "The main reason why is because I understand the consequences of failure in Iraq," he said. "If we leave before that country can govern itself and sustain itself and defend itself, there will be chaos. And out of chaos will come vacuums, and out of vacuums will come an emboldened enemy that would like to do us harm."

To protect America, it is important to "get it right" in Iraq, Bush said. "And so I made a decision that I think is more likely to succeed than any of the alternatives that were presented to me," he said.

Bush said that funding for the National Guard in his fiscal 2008 budget request is strong, and he hopes it stays that way. "I know you're concerned about the funding for your troops. So am I," Bush said.

He said people can honestly disagree, and that debate is healthy. "On the other hand, I think it's important for people to understand the consequences of not giving our troops the resources necessary to do the job," he said. "So I'm looking forward to a healthy debate. I'm also looking forward to defending - strongly defending -- the budgets we send up to Congress, to make sure those troops who are in harm's way have the resources ... and our commanders have the flexibility necessary to execute the plan we've laid out."

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Forces Conduct Humanitarian Operations in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2007 – U.S. troops conducted a medical support operation at a school and Polish soldiers handed out humanitarian supplies in two separate operations over the past three days in Iraq. U.S. soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, and the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, both part of the, 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, conducted a medical support operation at the Ahmed Suhel School in Al Taraq, Iraq, Feb. 22.

Although the school offered a comfortable atmosphere, terrorists tried to disrupt the day's activities with small arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade attack. But the medical support operation continued and Iraqis still received care.

Local residents nationals were seen from everything from coughs to burns, but some cases could not be treated with basic medical care. Seventy-five received treatment. No one was injured during the
terrorist attack.

"If we shut this down, then the terrorist would have won," said Capt. Shane Finn, the commander of Company C, 4-31st and native of Clinton, N.Y. "All they are trying to do is stop the operation - and they are not going to do that."

In a separate operation, Polish soldiers from Headquarters Battalion in Ad Diwaniya handed out gifts they had collected for humanitarian aid for the poorest people in Al Qadisiyah province, Feb. 23.

"The soldiers have initiated this assistance. They provided hygiene products and cleaning agents. We brought a lot of this stuff from Poland with us, and we bought more here with our own money," said Polish Maj. Miroslaw Marcinuk.

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Forces Kill, Capture Terrorists During Operations in Iraq
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2007 – Over the past three days in Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi forces killed
terrorists, captured suspects, confiscated weapons and responded to bombings. In Mosul, Coalition Forces killed two terrorists and captured a suspected senior al-Qaida leader during a raid today. While approaching the first targeted building, Coalition Forces began receiving enemy fire from an adjacent building. Coalition Forces fired back, killing one terrorist.

Upon entering the adjacent building, ground forces were confronted by an armed
terrorist who began maneuvering on the ground forces. Ground forces took proper self-defense measures and killed the armed terrorist. During the raid, Coalition Forces detained six suspected terrorists, including the targeted individual who is believed to be a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader operating a terrorist cell in Mosul.

In other operations throughout Iraq, coalition forces detained 12 suspected
terrorists during raids Saturday morning targeting foreign fighter facilitators and the al-Qaeda in Iraq network.

In Fallujah, Coalition Forces detained three suspected terrorists with alleged ties to a foreign fighter facilitation cell. Intelligence reports indicated the suspected terrorists were associated with senior-level foreign fighter facilitators in the local area.

In Mosul, Coalition Forces captured the suspected leader of an al-Qaeda in Iraq cell. The al-Qaeda cell in Mosul reportedly facilitates financial transactions in Iraq and neighboring countries. Four others were detained during the raid.

Another raid in Mosul netted a suspected
terrorist with financial ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq. During the raid Coalition Forces discovered a large amount of Egyptian and Syrian money and false passports and identification cards.

North of Amiriyah, three suspected
terrorists were detained including the alleged leader of a local vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cell.

"Successful Coalition operations continue to disrupt al-Qaida in Iraq operations, restrict the flow of foreign fighters and reduce the terrorist organization's ability to finance terrorist operations," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Iraqi civilian and coalition medical personnel responded to a suicide car bomb attack yesterday in Habbaniyah 65 km west of Baghdad.

There are no reports of U.S. casualties, though there were civilian dead and wounded. Coalition forces arrived shortly after the blast to provide security and began helping local citizens transport the injured to nearby medical facilities. The most life threatening injuries were evacuated to Coalition Force medical facilities.

In a separate operation yesterday, Special Iraqi Army forces detained five suspected rogue Jaysh Al-Mahdi militiamen during operations with Coalition in Husayniyah, east of Taji.

The suspects are believed to be part of a rogue JAM network responsible for kidnapping, murders and improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi Security Forces. The suspects are implicated in several IED attacks against Coalition Forces in northern Baghdad and Taji.

In another operation near the village of Tall Abtah, outside of Tall Afar, members of the Iraqi Ninewa Special Weapons and Tactics Team yesterday detained a suspected member of a foreign fighter smuggling network during air assault operations with Coalition advisors.

The suspect is believed to be part of a network facilitating the movement of foreign fighters, arms and money into Iraq that support insurgent attacks targeting Iraqi civilians and Iraqi Security Forces.

Meanwhile, Iraqi national
police killed at least two terrorists during a coordinated attack on a national police checkpoint along an Iraqi highway two miles south of the Baghdad International Airport at noon yesterday. Eight national police officers were killed in the defense of the checkpoint.

Witnesses described the attack as two vehicles driving from the east towards the checkpoint at a high rate of speed. Eight to ten gunmen exited the lead vehicle, firing assault rifles and throwing hand grenades at the
police officers. A firefight ensued, and the second vehicle was forced into a ditch, where it was cordoned off as a possible vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

Elements of a military transition team of the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, responded to the sound of the attack, attempting to intervene. Upon receiving gunfire from the attackers, the Soldiers called in aviation support.

After securing the area, 1-89 rendered medical aid to the two wounded national policemen and evacuated them to a nearby combat support hospital. The MiTT members identified two dead attackers. An explosive ordnance disposal team was alerted to render the possible VBIED harmless.

Also yesterday, troops found a weapons cache near the village of Koresh during a security operation. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, found a weapons stockpile consisting of two rocket-propelled grenade warheads, a star-cluster flare, 600 rounds of linked 7.62mm ammunition, an assault rifle, two machine guns, a machine-gun barrel and two bipods for rifles.

The Soldiers detained the owner of the property where the cache was discovered for questioning. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called in and conducted a controlled detonation to destroy the weapons and munitions.

In a separate incident in Ramadi on Feb. 23, Iraqi
Police encountered an improvised explosive device with detonation wires leading into a mosque compound and while cordoning off the area around the roadside bomb, discovered a school nearby being used as a terrorist training facility in Ramadi early Feb. 23.

U.S. Soldiers and Iraqi
Police were on a route clearing mission in southern Ramadi when an IED was spotted. Coalition forces established a security perimeter while Iraqi police entered the mosque compound. Despite the fact that Friday is the traditional day of worship in Islam, Iraqi Police officers found the mosque and the surrounding compound deserted. The IED was disabled and nothing else was discovered in the compound.

Meanwhile, a local Iraqi citizen approached Coalition Forces establishing the outer security cordon around the compound and informed them the school across the street was being used as a
terrorist training facility.

A search of the abandoned school revealed an indoor rifle range and signs of recent use. Spent rounds, silhouette targets and a coalition force Kevlar helmet with multiple rounds through it were discovered in the abandoned school. Classrooms in the school appear to have also been used for planning and training others to carry out attacks on Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces.

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Paratroopers Assume Responsibility in Afghanistan

Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2007 – U.S. paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division assumed responsibility for five provinces in Afghanistan last week from U.S. soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. During a Feb. 21 ceremony, the 10th Mountain's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, operating as Task Force Spartan, transferred authority for Paktika, Paktya, Logar, Ghazni and Khost provinces to the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team, operating as Task Force Fury.

The Task Force Spartan soldiers were extended four months beyond their scheduled redeployment and retain responsibility of the northeastern provinces of Regional Command - East. Along with supporting elements, they will continue to administer Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan Provinces from their new headquarters in Jalalabad.

During the ceremony,
U.S. Army Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of Task Force Fury, praised the Spartans for the progress made in Afghanistan during their tenure.

"The Spartans set the bar for professionalism, integration of Afghan units and represented America with distinction," Schweitzer said. "We will do our best to continue along the path you have set."

U.S. Army Col. John Nicholson, commander, TF Spartan, delivered a message of allied determination and encouragement to the Afghan people.

"Together with the Afghan National Security Forces, and our two brigades, we will defeat the enemy," said Nicholson. "America is sending you its finest Soldiers to fight alongside you."

Schweitzer said his primary goal would be to build on the already dramatic progress achieved by Afghan forces and further the reach of the Afghan government.

Soldiers will integrate Afghan security agencies into their daily operations, allowing for the evolution of those security agencies.

"By doubling the combat formation we will be able to help that significantly," Schweitzer said.

Afghans attending the ceremony said farewell to Task Force Spartan leaders, welcomed incoming Task Force Fury personnel and thanked both brigades for their continued efforts in Afghanistan.

"In the past five years in Afghanistan, and in particular Khost, a lot has been accomplished because of the people and our friends, especially those of America," said Khost Province Governor Arsala Jamal.

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Four U.S. Soldiers Killed, 3 Wounded in Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 23, 2007 – Four U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded during operations in Iraq yesterday. Three of the soldiers were killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. One soldier was killed and three wounded when they were attacked near Diwaniyah. The names of the deceased and wounded are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department released the identities of 12 servicemembers who died recently in Iraq.

--Army Staff Sgt. David R. Berry, 37, of Wichita, Kan., died Feb. 22 in Qasim when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device. Berry was assigned to 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, Dodge City, Kansas.

--Marine Sgt. Clinton W. Ahlquist, 23, of Creede, Colo., died Feb. 20 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
--Army Sgt. Richard L. Ford, 40, of East Hartford, Conn., died Feb. 20 in Baghdad of wounds suffered during combat operations. Ford was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

--Army Sgt. Shawn M. Dunkin, 25, of Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 19 of wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

--Army Pfc. Matthew C. Bowe, 19, of Coraopolis, Pa., died Feb. 19 of wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum.

--Army Pfc. Adare W. Cleveland, 19, of Anchorage, Ala., died Feb. 19 of wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum.

--Army Pvt. Kelly D. Youngblood, 19, of Mesa, Ariz., died Feb. 18 in Ramadi of wounds suffered during combat operations. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

--Marine Pfc. Brett A. Witteveen, 20, of Shelby, Mich., died Feb. 19 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Grand Rapids, Mich.

--Marine Lance Cpl. Blake H. Howey, 20, of Glendora, Calif., died Feb. 18 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

--Marine Lance Cpl. Brian A. Escalante, 25, of Dodge City, Kan., died Feb. 17 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms.

--Army Spc. Christopher K. Boone, 34, of Augusta, Ga., died Feb. 17 in Balad of a non-combat related injury. Boone was assigned to the 121st Infantry (Long Range Surveillance), Georgia Army National Guard, Fort Gillem, Ga.

--Marine Capt. Todd M. Siebert, 34, of Baden, Pa., died Feb. 16 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Defense Department also released the identities of two other servicemembers who died recently supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

--Army Pfc. Jason D. Johns, 19, of Frankton, Ind., died Feb. 21 in Bagram, Afghanistan, of a non-combat related injury. His death is under investigation. Johns was assigned to the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

--Marine Cpl. Timothy D. Lewis, 20, of Lawrenceburg, Ky., died Feb. 15 as a result of non-hostile action in Jolo, Republic of the Philippines. His death is under investigation. Lewis was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

Five Insurgents Killed, 12 Suspects Caught in Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 23, 2007 – Five insurgents were killed, 12
terrorism suspects were captured, and hidden weapons were seized in various operations in Iraq over the last few days, military officials reported. Multinational Division Baghdad troops patrolling along the Euphrates River detained nine suspected terrorists yesterday.

Scouts spotted the suspected
terrorists' vehicles parked on a boat launch site on the river. Nine men were detained and held for questioning. Three others escaped by swimming across the river. The scouts were from the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

In other operations, soldiers from the 4th Iraqi
Army Division captured three suspected terrorists during operations yesterday northwest of Tikrit. The Iraqi-led operation targeted a cell responsible for carrying out bomb attacks in the area.

On Feb. 21, Iraqi border
police discovered a large weapons cache in Mandali. The cache consisted of more than 190 anti-personnel mines, several mortar rounds, about 50 133 mm rounds and a rocket-propelled grenade.

On Feb. 20, coalition forces destroyed a large car bomb hidden in a fuel tanker trailer west of Sab Al Bor. The troops called in close air support to destroy the vehicle.

Also that day, coalition aircraft killed five insurgents and destroyed their vehicle near Camp Taji. The insurgents had fired weapons from the vehicle toward the base.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Security Operations Continue; Baqubah Police Official Detained

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 22, 2007 – Iraqi and coalition forces killed or detained numerous
terrorists over the last two days, and soldiers detained an Iraqi police official suspected of involvement in sectarian violence, military officials reported. Coalition forces killed three terrorists and detained 11 others during operations today targeting al Qaeda in Iraq and foreign fighter facilitators near Taji and Samarra.

West of Taji, coalition forces captured six suspected terrorists with alleged ties to al Qaeda and found weapons, including several rocket-propelled grenades, in the targeted building.

As coalition forces started to leave the area with the detainees, they saw three armed men maneuvering toward them. Using what officials called "proper self-defense measures," ground forces called for close air support. A coalition helicopter crew fired on and killed the three armed men.

Near Samarra, coalition forces captured five people suspected of helping foreign fighters enter Iraq.

Special Iraqi army forces, working with coalition advisors, conducted several operations in Baghdad yesterday:

-- In eastern Baghdad, they captured the suspected leader of an improvised-explosive-device cell and two other cell members. The suspects allegedly are responsible for carrying out IED attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces, and inciting sectarian violence in the Baghdad area. The men are suspected of being part of a rogue militia operating against Iraqi civilians and coalition forces, officials said.

-- Two other suspected members of the same rogue militia were captured in Baghdad's Karadah district. The suspects are implicated in the sectarian kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians, officials said, and of the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi soldiers.

-- A suspected weapons trafficker was detained in eastern Baghdad. The man is believed to be a key Baghdad facilitator for networks moving advanced IEDs and components into Iraq. Two other people were detained for questioning.

In Baqubah yesterday, 5th Iraqi Army Division forces and coalition forces detained a senior Iraqi police official.

Officials said credible intelligence indicates the suspect uses his position to provide cover for his alleged involvement in sectarian violence - including murder, torture and kidnapping -- against Iraqi citizens in Diyala province.

The suspect is believed to be a leader within a group operating in Baqubah and Diyala province that allegedly provides information on coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians to illegally armed elements. The
police official was detained in his office building by Iraqi and coalition forces without incident, officials said.

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General Discusses Chlorine Bombs, Helicopter Shoot-downs

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 22, 2007 – The enemy in Iraq is adaptive, and is interested in "catastrophic attacks," the commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq said today. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, met with Pentagon reporters over a satellite link from Baghdad. Insurgents blew up a tanker filled with chlorine yesterday in southern Baghdad. The attack killed at least two people and wounded more than 30. Coalition officials in Baghdad said this could be an escalation in the insurgent attacks.

The attacks are meant to cause fear, and chlorine gas - which was used as a chemical agent in World War I - could be an attempt to cause more fear, officials said.

U.S. soldiers operating 12 miles northwest of Fallujah discovered a car bomb factory Feb. 20, Odierno said. They found numerous artillery rounds, mortar rounds, bombs, rockets, gutted anti-aircraft shells, a pickup truck and three other vehicles that were already in various stages of preparations as car bombs.

"We also found ingredients to be used to devise or enhance explosives such as fertilizer and chlorine cylinders," the general said.

The introduction of chlorine illustrates that the enemy continues to alter its tactics, Odierno said.

"What they're trying to do is try to adapt in such ways where they can continue to create instability, and that's what they're doing, especially with these chlorine (vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices)," he said.

But as the enemy changes its tactics, he noted, so will coalition forces.

The general said eight coalition helicopters have been shot down since Jan. 20. A UH-60 Black Hawk came down yesterday north of Baghdad. The cause of that downing is still being investigated, Odierno said, but initial reports indicate enemy fire brought it down.

"We are aggressively examining the conditions of each incident and adapting tactics and techniques to address the issue."

The helicopters may have run into enemy ambush sites, Odierno said.

"We are studying those intently, and we're trying to learn from those, and we will learn from those and we will adapt our tactics," he said. "I think they've probably been trying to do this for a long time, but my guess is we have a cell out there that's somewhat effective."

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blair Announces British Reduction of Forces in Iraq

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 21, 2007 – British forces will begin to withdraw from Iraq, particularly in the southern city of Basra, where Iraqi security forces have taken primary responsibility for operations, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced today. In an address to the House of Commons, Blair said that 1,600 British troops will come out of Iraq "in the coming months," as Iraqi security forces take on more responsibility.

The United Kingdom's combat capability in Iraq will not be diminished, he said, and the remaining British forces will focus on
training Iraqi forces and securing the Iranian border and supply routes.

Over time and depending on the progress of Iraqi security forces, Britain will be able to draw down further, possibly to below 5,000 troops once the base at Basra Palace has been transferred to the Iraqis in late summer, Blair said.

"The U.K.
military presence will continue into 2008, for as long as we are wanted and have a job to do," he said. "Increasingly our role will be support and training, and our numbers will be able to reduce accordingly."

At the Pentagon, Bryan Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman, said Blair's announcement was expected, and that the decrease in British troops has been planned for some months.

"You know, Basra is not Baghdad, and in Basra, the British have turned over a lot of responsibilities for the region to Iraqi security forces," Whitman said. "Even with their planned drawdown, they will still have a significant presence that will be doing a number of things."

Whitman noted that many countries still support the coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether through providing troops or financial, diplomatic or legal support. It is up to each country to decide what their participation will be, he stressed.

"I think that the world's democracies understand the importance of continuing to take the fight to the
terrorists, and we see that in the participation of many nations in both Afghanistan and Iraq," Whitman said.

In an interview today with Jonathan Karl of ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney said Britain's decision to withdraw forces is proof that operations are succeeding in some areas of Iraq.

"I look at it, and what I see is an affirmation of the fact that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney said. "The focus that we've had, obviously, is Baghdad and the decision the president made to surge troops into Baghdad."
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Breaking America's Will as Road to Victory

"This war is not a matter of finding an opposing army and engaging it, or finding a navy and sinking it," he said. "The terrorist enemies are hidden and dispersed, and they view the entire world as a battlefield. They are determined to commit indiscriminate murder against innocent, unsuspecting men, women, and children. They serve an ideology that

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DoD Identifies Casualties from Chinook Crash

Feb. 21, 2007 – The Defense Department has identified seven soldiers who died Feb. 18 in southeastern Afghanistan when the Chinook helicopter they were in crashed.

Killed were:
-- Chief Warrant Officer Hershel D. McCants Jr., 33, of Arizona;
-- Chief Warrant Officer John A. Quinlan, 36, of New Jersey;
-- Sgt. Adam A. Wilkinson, 23, of Fort Carson, Colo.;
-- Spc. Travis R. Vaughn, 26, of Reinbeck, Iowa;
-- Spc. Brandon D. Gordon, 21, of Naples, Fla.;
-- Pfc. Ryan C. Garbs, 20, of Edwardsville, Ill,; and
-- Pfc. Kristofer D. S. Thomas, 18, of Roseville, Calif.

McCants, Quinlan, Wilkinson, Vaughn and Gordon were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky. Garbs and Thomas were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.

The Chinook was transporting 22 people, including aircrew, at the time of the crash, DoD reported Feb. 18.

Eight servicemembers were killed. Officials had previously identified Air Force Tech. Sgt. Scott E. Duffman, 32, of Albuquerque, N.M., as being among the casualties. Duffman was assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C. The crash is under investigation.

No Serious Injuries in Helo Crash; Troops Kill, Detain Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 21, 2007 – No one was seriously injured when a
U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter went down near Baghdad today, military officials reported. Meanwhile, coalition forces killed seven terrorists and detained 13 others, and local citizens and Iraqi police denied an al Qaeda convoy entry into a village over the last two days in Iraq. The helicopter went down today north of Baghdad while conducting operations. No serious injuries or fatalities occurred. Nine military personnel were on board, and all were evacuated successfully, officials said.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

In other developments, coalition forces killed seven
terrorists and detained 13 others while performing raids today targeting al Qaeda terrorists and those supporting foreign fighters and car-bomb cells.

Intelligence reports indicated
terrorists involved in foreign fighter facilitation and the manufacturing of car bombs were operating in Ramadi, Fallujah and Baqubah, officials said.

Coalition forces in an area northwest of Ramadi targeted a building believed to house terrorists involved with foreign fighter activities. Ground forces killed two armed terrorists who confronted them and refused to surrender..

Meanwhile, four more terrorists were attempting to flee the area. Coalition forces saw they were armed with AK-47s, hand grenades and vests containing magazines. After multiple failed attempts to get the
terrorists to surrender, coalition forces killed the four terrorists.

Ground forces detained seven suspected terrorists at the site and destroyed the weapons and grenades. Also on the scene were 13 women and 26 children, none of whom were harmed during the raid.

During a raid south of Baqubah, three individuals fled the scene as coalition forces arrived. One individual was detained without incident; however, another individual lunged at ground forces.

Ground forces used what officials called "proper self-defense measures" and killed the terrorist. The third individual crossed the river and escaped. While investigating the scene, coalition forces discovered AK-47s, magazines, body armor and a suicide vest.

Coalition forces targeting terrorists involved with a foreign fighter facilitator network in Fallujah detained four suspected terrorists without incident.

Elsewhere, local citizens and Iraqi police denied an al Qaeda in Iraq convoy entry into Jumaylah, 60 kilometers west of Baghdad, yesterday, firing on the convoy and detonating a suicide truck bomb that injured one Iraqi police officer, one civilian and the bomber.

U.S. Army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne), responded to the attack, where Iraqi police were already on the scene.

An Iraqi officer reported that terrorists seeking a safe haven within the town near Karmah had been threatening the citizens over the past several months. The citizens responded by forming a checkpoint within the town to deny al Qaeda any sanctuary.

At about 4 a.m., an Iraqi
police officer attempted to stop a seven-vehicle convoy from entering the town. When the convoy continued, local civilians manning the checkpoint opened fire and one vehicle equipped as a car bomb exploded.

The injured Iraqi officer was medically evacuated to a coalition hospital. The civilian injured in the attack suffered minor injuries and was treated on the scene by coalition forces.

The driver of the vehicle used as a car bomb survived the incident and was transported by coalition forces to the Joint Coordination Center in Fallujah for questioning, where he was later identified as a Syrian national. Iraqi security forces and coalition forces are attempting to locate the remaining insurgents involved in the incident.

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Cheney Thanks Japan for Support, Praises U.S. Servicemembers

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 21, 2007 – Vice President Dick Cheney today thanked Japan for its support of the United States and praised U.S. troops serving in the Asia-Pacific region during a visit to a naval base shared by U.S. and Japanese forces. Cheney stressed the importance of continued good relations between the two nations during a visit to Yokosuka Naval Base. Following a meeting with top Japanese and
military commanders at the base, Cheney said he noted a positive working relationship is in place.

"The close cooperation among these commanders reflects the character of our alliance," he said. "It's a relationship based on trust, respect and a deep understanding and commitment to facing security challenges together."

The vice president expressed gratitude for Japan's help in the war on terror.

"We especially appreciate Japan's contributions to our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. "Japan is a great friend to the United States. Relations between our countries have never been better, and our alliance has never been more vital."

Cheney pledged America's continued support for Japan and said the two countries need to cooperate further as the relationship helps them confront the threats facing the world.

"The U.S. is firmly committed to the defense of our friends in Japan," he said. "As the security environment changes both regionally and globally, both the
U.S. military and the Japanese Self Defense Forces are determined to remain modern and flexible. At the same time, we're working to enhance our joint capabilities to meet the dangers we both face, whether they involve weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles or terrorist cells."

Later, addressing the crew of the USS Kitty Hawk, which is berthed at the base, Cheney continued the theme of U.S.-Japanese cooperation.

"Our two countries share common values and strategic objectives," he said. "Our forces work closely together, and some of the most important joint exercises are carried out right here at this base. We stand beside each other as allies, but we are more than that. Relations between our two countries have never been better than they are today. The United States of America is proud to call Japan one of our closest allies."

Cheney noted that U.S. and Japanese forces have served together in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that Japan has been one of the largest donors toward the reconstruction effort in those two countries.

"As great democracies, Japan and the United States understand our duties in the world. Sometimes these duties are hard and dangerous, but we accept them. And none is more pressing than the fight against
global terror."

The vice president also underscored the U.S. commitment to maintaining a strong forward presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Throughout this region, our country has interests and treaty obligations and commitments of conscience," he said. "To meet these responsibilities, we need safe and unimpeded movement on the seas, and bases for our ships and personnel.

"From our Pacific bases, we stand ready to defend our allies and our friends," he continued. "We keep the shipping lanes open for trade, which is the economic lifeline for so many countries. We keep an eye out for those who try to move deadly weapons across these waters, and we bring relief to the victims of natural disasters."

The vice president praised the Kitty Hawk's crew for its contributions to stability in the Pacific region.

"As I look at each of you here in the hangar bay, there is no way I could overstate how much your service means to our country," he said. "The Navy knows how to train and prepare for whatever assignment may come, and it takes an incredible amount of work to make an aircraft carrier operational for the next mission -- especially a great ship like this, that I know takes a lot of care and feeding each and every day.

"The work goes on around the clock, seven days a week," he said. "And every one of you is here for a reason -- you have a job that has to be done well. ... Your service makes a difference for a nation at war and improves the chances that one day we'll be a world at peace."

The Kitty Hawk has played a vigorous role in the war on terror since soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Cheney noted.

"Just weeks after 9/11, she was deployed to the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," he said. "Later, in the campaign to liberate Iraq, the Kitty Hawk traveled 29,000 nautical miles, and more than 5,000 sorties were flown from the deck above us. Since the war began, we've struck major blows against the al Qaeda network that hit America on 9/11. We've removed two dictatorships that sponsored
terror, liberated 50 million people from tyranny and stood by young democracies, as America always does."

Cheney emphasized to the Kitty Hawk's crew the importance of their mission.

"Our country is doing good and honorable work in a messy and a dangerous world," he said. "By defending ourselves and standing with our friends, we're meeting our responsibilities. The cause we serve is freedom. That cause is right. That cause is just. And that cause will prevail."

The vice president is visiting the Pacific region on a trip that also will take him to Guam and Australia.

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Nation Safer Now Than Before 9/11, DoD Official Says

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 21, 2007 – America is safer today than before the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks, the Defense Department's top homeland defense official said today. It is no accident that America has not suffered another terrorist attack on its home soil since 9/11, Acting Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Defense Peter F. Verga said after delivering opening remarks at the department's Homeland Defense Conference here.

"My view is that the only reason we haven't been attacked is the enemy has not been able to do it," Verga said. "They're not waiting for some strategic opportunity. They're going to attack us when they can, however they can do it. The fact that they have not been able to is a direct result of what we've been doing around the world."

Verga warned, however, that although America has made much progress, more can be done, and he said he doubts there will ever be a time that a terrorist threat no longer exists.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we are safer," he said. "I'm not sure that we will ever be safe from this particular threat. This is one of those threats that is so difficult to deal with. You can't protect every place, every time from every conceivable threat."

Verga said DoD wanted to bring together officials who work homeland defense issues from across the services, defense agencies and combatant commands. He said he hopes the conference broadens the understanding of the department, brings to light any issues outside Washington and identifies any needed policy guidance.

"We get ideas ... by talking to people out in the field and seeing what they are doing on a day-to-day basis and what we can do to help," Verga said.

Verga noted that DoD Homeland Defense also responds to natural disasters on behalf of the department. DoD is doing a better job planning for all types of emergencies, Verga said, working with civilian and interagency counterparts such as Department of
Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This will help the agencies work together in the event of major disasters, he said.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bush, Abizaid Recognize Afghans, U.S. Soldiers for Heroism

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 20, 2007 – Two Afghan nationals and five American soldiers received recognition from President Bush and U.S. Central Command's top officer for heroism in preventing a driver from carrying out a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January. In a Feb. 15 address to the nation, Bush pointed to the heroism demonstrated during the Jan. 10 incident as an example of how U.S. and Afghan forces are working together to create a safer, more secure environment for Afghanistan.

The following day,
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, praised the troops during a ceremony at the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan headquarters and presented the Combat Action Badge to the troops involved.

U.S. troops receiving the award were:
Army Staff Sgt. William Strobeck, Sgts. Brian Bailey and Mathew Sisson, and Spcs. Justin Carry and Linza Hampton.

"Through the quick minds and patriotic sense of duty, these brave men were able to stop a bad situation from getting worse," Abizaid said during the award ceremony.

Bush reflected on the incident during an address about progress in Afghanistan and the global war on terror. When a vehicle loaded with explosives attempted to crash through the front gate of Camp Phoenix, a U.S. base in Kabul, two Afghans employed at the camp rushed the vehicle. They helped U.S. soldiers restrain the suspect and drag him from the vehicle as security forces, with assistance from the Afghan National Police and NATO International Security Assistance Force soldiers, cordoned the area. As explosives ordnance disposal team worked to disarm the bomb, it detonated.

The president pointed to the efforts of one of the Afghans involved, nicknamed "Rambo," as an example of how the Afghan people are stepping up to protect their country.

"This fellow did not hesitate," Bush said of Rambo. "He jumped in the car, and he prevented the
terrorist from exploding the device. He saw somebody who was about to harm our citizens, our troops; he then jumps into the car and stops the attack. A U.S. Army sergeant then responded (and) helped him pull the guy out of the car."

Bush went on to quote one of the U.S. soldiers who was at the scene. "He saved our lives," the soldier said. "I promised him I'd name my firstborn son after him." Joking, the president added, "The guy is hoping for a boy."

The president called the incident "a human story" that speaks of courage, alliance and respect for life. "To me, it's a story that says these people in Afghanistan want to do what is necessary to survive and succeed, and it's in our interest to help them," he said.

Abizaid pointed to the incident as an example of hope for Afghanistan's future. "Afghanistan will never be lost, when we work together as we did on that day," he said. "I am proud to be here, and I would like to thank you for what you did."

Bush said he's proud that the United States helped liberate 25 million Afghans. "We should be proud to stand alongside the people of Afghanistan, the newly liberated Afghanistan," he said. "And I know we're all proud of the men and women who have helped liberate that country -- the men and women who wear our uniform who helped liberate that country and continue to make the sacrifices necessary."

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Soldiers Help Bomb Victims; 29 People Injured in Attack

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 20, 2007 – Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers helped victims of a vehicle-bomb attack today near the village of Muhammad Baqir, Iraq, and officials have issued a revised count of soldiers injured in an attack on a military compound yesterday. About 100 Iraqi civilians were injured in today's Baghdad attack, officials said.

An insurgent bomber blew up his truck, which held two chlorine tanks -- a chemical that officials said terrorists use with the intent to take out large numbers of civilians. The tanks containing the chlorine separated from the vehicle. They did not explode, but leaked the gas, officials said.

Soldiers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, provided medical aid to the injured and helped to evacuate them to a medical clinic in the village.

In other news from Iraq, 29 Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers were injured when insurgents attacked a combat outpost yesterday in Tarmiyah. An initial release had reported that 17 troops were wounded and two killed in the attack.

The U.S. soldiers defending the outpost were able to maintain security of the compound and evacuate the wounded, officials said, adding that elements of the unit detained seven suspected insurgents in the wake of the attack.

Of the 29 soldiers wounded in action, 24 suffered minor injuries and have returned to duty, officials said. Five others suffered more serious injuries and are receiving medical treatment.

The initial release from
military officials in Baghdad characterized the attack on the outpost, north of the Iraqi capital, as a coordinated attack, due to the deliberate nature of the operation by insurgents and their use of several weapons systems against the outpost. During the attack, insurgents targeted U.S. troops with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and a single vehicle-borne bomb. The Tarmiyah combat outpost was defended solely by American troops. Iraqi police left the site in December, relocating to the district police headquarters to nearby Mushada, officials said.

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