Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pilots, Equipment to Jump-Start Afghan Air Corps

By David Mays
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 31, 2007 - Highly experienced Afghan
pilots soon will take to the skies in newly acquired aircraft as part of a concerted effort to accelerate progress of Afghanistan's nascent air corps, a coalition commander said today. "When you look at the country of Afghanistan, with the limited road structure -- there is no rail capacity -- just the ability to move logistics by air will be a tremendous enabler capability to the army," Air Force Brig. Gen. Jay Lindell told online journalists and "bloggers" during a conference call from the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Lindell commands the Combined Air Power Transition Force, which is the aviation component of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan overseen by U.S. Central Command. He and 130 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are helping build capability in the Afghan National
Army Air Corps.

"Most of what the Afghan air corps needs are resources: aircraft, spare parts and maintenance support equipment," Lindell said. "The Afghan air corps has ability and desire; they need resources to give them capability. And that's what we are doing; we are boosting their capability rapidly."

For instance, the coalition transition force has arranged to add 16 MI-17 transport helicopters, six MI-35 attack choppers and four Antonov 32 transport turboprop planes to the Afghan flightline over the next six months, the general explained. Additional Western medium-lift aircraft are expected to arrive in 2009, he said.

"As we give them these aircraft, they'll be able to train themselves with their own instructors and quickly generate capability," Lindell said.

The average age of Afghanistan's 165 existing
pilots is 43, the general explained, and each has an average 2,500 hours of flying time, plus superb instructors and training curriculum.

"We're counting on these pilots that we have now to at least jump-start the Afghan air corps," Lindell said, noting that existing experienced pilots are expected to fly five to eight more years. "We've got to grow youth into the Afghan air corps, and we are currently working on a plan to do that."

To that end, the new Afghan National
Military Academy expects to graduate its first class of 90 cadets in 2009. Ten percent of those graduates are slated to join the Afghan air corps, and the hope is that all of those will screen to enter pilot training, Lindell explained. Air corps members also will have a brand new headquarters, opening later this year at Kabul International Airport, from which to operate.

"When they get their new aircraft, or their refurbished aircraft here, then move into their new facilities, they're just going to launch off the ground and take off the capability," Lindell said.

"The Afghans have the desire and motivation to learn, grow and develop, and they want to rid their country of the Taliban," he said. "They want a better life and a better life for their children. With our continued support, the Afghan air corps will develop into a fully capable, self-sustaining and independent air corps capable of meeting the security needs of Afghanistan."

(David Mays works in New Media at American Forces Information Service.)
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 31, 2007 - Coalition forces captured a wanted individual and detained 11 others today during an operation in support of ongoing efforts to stabilize the region. The captured suspect is a "special groups" commander with close ties to several other
criminal organization members. Intelligence reports further indicate the suspect conducted multiple types of criminal operations in the Khalis and Qasirin areas. The suspected criminal appears to be directly linked to providing lethal weapons used against coalition and Iraqi security forces and innocent civilians, officials said.

"Coalition forces will continue to apply pressure to splinter groups that are not honoring (Muqtada al-)Sadr's pledge to cease attacks," said
Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "Groups honoring the pledge have made Iraq a safer place, and criminal elements dishonoring Sadr's pledge cannot be allowed to destabilize Iraq."

In other operations today, coalition forces killed three
terrorists during an operation targeting al Qaeda networks in Kirkuk. The forces were targeting an alleged al Qaeda leader in the Tamim province. The individual allegedly has ties to several terrorist senior leaders operating throughout Iraq and is believed to be involved in a variety of roles within the network, including oversight of assassinations and car-bombing attacks.

Upon arrival to the area, the ground forces called for the target building's occupants to come out. As they were awaiting response, coalition forces observed a group of men maneuvering toward them from the rooftop. The ground force engaged and killed three
terrorists. "We're continuously assaulting al Qaeda in Iraq to bring down the networks conducting vicious attacks against the Iraqi people," Danielson said.

In operations earlier this week:

-- Iraqi special operations soldiers advised by U.S. Special Forces troops conducted a raid Oct. 29 in Khadra, detaining a suspected al Qaeda
terrorist network leader and three others. The commander is believed to lead four insurgent groups who are suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces and terrorizing local civilians. Coalition forces believe he and his network are involved in attacks on Iraqi infrastructure and medical facilities, including the burning of Iraq's main medication storehouse.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers acting on a tip found a large weapons cache in the Doura neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Oct. 29. Soldiers found the cache hidden behind a false wall in a local residence. The cache consisted of an assault rifle, a flak vest, a
military medical bag, an M-249 ammo bag and four M-4 magazines, 30 blasting caps, 69 hand grenades, three anti-armor grenades, two 40 mm grenades, 13 mortar rounds of various sizes and two 60 mm mortar tubes. The unit also found four rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, 13 launcher rounds, three propellant sticks, a bag of detonation cord, 10 AK-47 assault rifles, a machine gun, two sniper rifles with scopes, a rifle, a 9 mm pistol, two machine guns with extra barrels, 63 AK-47 magazines, 2 ammo cans, and 320 linked and 40 loose rounds.

-- Concerned local citizens from Buaytha reported the location of a large weapons cache to coalition forces Oct. 28. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, went with an explosive ordnance disposal team to the location of the cache to assess it. The cache contained several mortar rounds that were rigged with detonation cord, making them ready to be emplaced as IEDs.

-- Operation Rock Hammer III, a joint Iraqi and coalition operation in southwestern Baqouba, resulted in the discovery of six weapons caches and a bomb-making factory Oct. 28, significantly reducing the enemy's supply network. The caches and factory consisted of more than 150 pounds of explosives; 47 fire extinguishers, four of which were already filled with explosives; five rocket-propelled grenades; more than 10 assorted mortar rounds; and a variety of IED materials such as strands of copper wire, initiating devices, batteries and oxygen canisters. Multiple small-arms munitions and terrorist propaganda flyers also were discovered.

"The discovery of these caches continues to limit the
terrorists' ability to conduct acts of disgrace against the population and the security forces," said Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala province. "The Iraqi security forces, in partnership with my soldiers, will continue to aggressively and persistently attack the enemy's perceived safe havens. They are not welcome in Diyala and will not disrupt the progression of the province."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Al Qaeda on the Run in Iraq, Coalition Spokesman Says

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 31, 2007 - Al Qaeda may not yet be defeated in Iraq, but the group's
terrorists are on the run, a senior official in the area said today. "We've taken out a significant part of their leadership. We've gone after their foreign fighter facilitation network. We've gone after their financial networks. And ... we also have gone after very heavily their propaganda network," said Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, via telephone to a group of military analysts.

As much as 80 percent of al Qaeda's media structure has been destroyed, greatly hampering the group's ability to spread propaganda, recruit and gain financing for its operations, Smith said.

Reports in the country have shown a downward trend in violence against coalition forces, civilians and the Iraqi
security forces, Smith said. He added that he remains cautiously optimistic, but he also warned of the lethality that still exists within al Qaeda's network.

"Those are good trends, and we are seeing some very good numbers. But ... obviously we have a lot of work to do, as well," Smith said. "(Al Qaeda is) still very much a threat."

For example, Smith cited a suicide bomber on a motorcycle who killed 27 Iraqi policemen in Baqouba, north of Baghdad, on Oct. 29 in one of the worst attacks on Iraq's security forces in months. "Al Qaeda still has a capacity to kill civilians and certainly go after infrastructure," he said.

Still, Iraqi citizens are continuing to mobilize their local village forces against al Qaeda and other extremist groups, Smith said. So far, nearly 70,000 concerned citizens have formed 120 groups across the country, he said.

"That is making a huge impact on our ability to really understand what's happening at the local level as our commanders in the field partner with these groups. ... We're discovering more and more of the deep-rooted activity in those areas," he said.

This has translated into local commanders finding remaining elements of al Qaeda operatives in communities, as well as record numbers of stockpiles of weapons. By next week, coalition forces in 2007 will have found double the number of weapons caches found in 2006, the admiral said.

"That's ... in large part due to the fact that civilians are becoming extremely more confident in working with local security forces and pointing out where things just aren't right," Smith said.

Most of the trust comes from the fact that surge forces are able to build confidence by working in the communities. In its fourth month, the surge of additional forces into Baghdad and other areas of Iraq has given commanders the numbers of troops needed to embed them in outposts in the communities, instead of having forces commute to the communities from large forward operating bases.

Coalition forces also are focusing on rogue militias who have splintered from the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who ordered a cease-fire in August. Smith said the groups continue to operate much like al Qaeda, kidnapping and intimidating local citizens. He said the rogue groups operate under a
criminal, mafia-like gang structure.

"We're reminding really all Iraqis (to) think about what side they ought to be on. The side that Sadr's asked them to be on, which is a peaceful side, is the right side to be on right now. And if not, we're going to treat you like a
criminal, and we're going to hunt you down, and we're going get you. We're doing that with increasing numbers, as well," Smith said. "I won't say there are two fronts out there, but there sure are two main efforts."

Efforts in Eastern Afghanistan Boost Confidence in Afghan Government

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 31, 2007 - Progress in eastern Afghanistan continues as more Afghan
security forces take the lead in security operations, more reconstruction and development projects provide sorely needed quality-of-life improvements, and the national government extends its reach, a senior military officer in the region said today. Army Brig. Gen. Rodney Anderson, deputy commander for support for Combined Joint Task Force 82 and Regional Command East, said he's seen "many encouraging signs" since the 82nd Airborne Division's arrival in February.

"This will take some time, but in pursuit of the (United Nations') Millennium Development Goals and supporting the Afghan National Development Strategy, we firmly see signs and clear evidence of movement toward a stable Afghanistan," he told Pentagon reporters via video teleconference from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

Anderson said projects being undertaken in Regional Command East -- an area about the size of
South Carolina that includes 14 of the country's 34 provinces -- reflect eight goals the U.N. adopted in 2000 to improve health, education and economic and social lives worldwide by 2015.

They also support aims of the Afghan National Development Strategy, a five-year plan being finalized by the Afghan government to establish milestones in the
security, governance, development and other arenas, he said.

Among the most promising developments in Regional Command East has been the building of about 480 miles of roads that have spurred gas stations, hotels and other commerce. Meanwhile, the NATO International Security Assistance Force is partnering with the Afghan National
Army and Afghan National Police, whose capability is increasing daily, he said.

As development continues and security improves, Anderson said, there's a steady growth in confidence in the Afghan government.

While buoyed by steady progress, Anderson conceded challenges to be overcome. Security remains shaky in some areas, with "harassing attacks" against platoon-sized coalition outposts and Afghan civilians inflicting casualties. But despite a stepped-up Taliban presence in the south, near Kandahar, enemy activity in the east has remained relatively stable since Ramadan.

Corruption, including pay and kickback schemes, is evident throughout the Afghan government. While corruption hinders development progress, Anderson said, it hasn't brought it to a stop. Other challenges include narcotics and limited government capacity at the community and district levels, he said.

Anderson said he credits partnerships between coalition forces, the Afghan National Army and National
Police and international organizations including the U.S. Agency for International Development with addressing these challenges head-on.

"In places we have been able to provide
security ... and deliver reconstruction and development aid, the population has been very supportive of the government," he said.

"That has been our key to success -- to have the Afghans take the lead and to demonstrate to those locations that might have previously had a Taliban presence that reconstruction and development and the security of their own police is definitely in their best interest."

Program Helps to Employ Iraqis, Improve Living Standards

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 31, 2007 - A signing ceremony at the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office here yesterday marked the start of a Multinational Force Iraq initiative to improve the living standards of area citizens through increased employment opportunities. The Iraqi Business, or I-BIZ, program aims to engage local contractors by hiring local Iraqis to perform supervised work on bases throughout the country.

"This is a great effort to employ local Iraqis and support our 'Iraqis First' policy. It combines our desire to appropriately demilitarize and dispose of items that are no longer economically repairable with our intent to put more Iraqis to work," said Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson, deputy chief of staff for resources and sustainment, during the kick-off ceremony.

In partnership with the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, seven soldiers from the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, undertook an intense two-week course to be the first to participate in this effort. With their
supervision and leadership from the DRMO chief, Frank Valdez, Iraqis will demilitarize Humvees and other government property. Iraqi workers will earn money to support their families and ensure expended U.S. military property cannot later be used by insurgents.

"The partnership between DRMS and RSS brought many different parties together and the end result of our cooperation will be Iraqis going to work," said
Navy Capt. Lynn Brantley, officer in charge of DRMS Iraq. "They will learn a skill that benefits them as well as the U.S. with the expansion of demilitarization operations here in Iraq."

Army Lt. Col. Danny Tilzey, Regimental Support Squadron commander, agreed. "Jobs contribute to building a dynamic citizen, which ultimately helps society become more productive," he said. "I believe we think big, start small and move out quickly establishing job opportunities for Iraqis.

"In my opinion, the government of Iraq and its coalition partners need to focus on building an employment foundation to establish economic opportunities, which will ultimately lead to an Iraqi work force that has a sense of achievement," he continued. "Honest, hard work will develop citizens that are proud and are not steered to joining (anti-government) organizations."

Tilzey said he looks forward to watching as the Iraqi workers grow the demilitarization project into a self-sufficient enterprise.

Anxious to get started with the new venture,
Army Cpl. Jeremy Gentile of the RSS said he is looking forward to being able to interact in a work environment with Iraqi tradesmen, who soon will be cutting apart all types of damaged armor, vehicle engines and other property and equipment.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. James D. Bullard, 28, of Marion, S.C., died Oct. 30 in Spearwan Ghar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using RPG rounds, machine gun fire, mortars and small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the South Carolina National Guard's 1st Battalion, 263rd Armor Battalion, in Marion, S.C.

For more information related to this release, the media may contact the South Carolina National Guard public affairs office at (803) 806-4327/4241.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Army Casualty

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

Maj. Jeffrey R. Calero, 34, of Queens Village, N.Y., died Oct. 29 in Kajaki, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Massachusetts National Guard, Springfield, Mass.

For more information related to this release, the media may contact the Massachusetts National Guard public affairs office at (508) 233-6562.

Afghan Troops Plan Operations While Coalition Steps Back

By Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr., USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - Afghan national
security forces, continuing to move from supporting roles to lead roles, recently demonstrated their leadership skills by planning operations in Gardez to secure their country. During a rehearsal operations planning meeting at Camp Thunder, the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police put themselves in lead roles, counting on coalition troops only for support and mentorship.

All the operations planning was briefed and discussed in Dari by Afghan planners. American soldiers present quietly listened in on headphones as an interpreter translated.

The speakers discussed
tactics for securing areas, beating insurgents and meeting logistical needs during a real operation.

American soldiers offered a few pointers in the presentation set-up and methods, but otherwise they stepped back and let the Afghan personnel handle all aspects of the planning meeting.

"There is a good relationship between the ANA, ANP and coalition here," said
Army Col. Barry A. Searle, commander of Regional Corps Advisory Command East. Taking the lead role in planning and conducting operations says a lot about the future of Afghanistan and the country's security forces, Searle said.

"The staff has been empowered," he said. "They are showing depth and capability we have not yet seen in this corps."

Army Maj. Brian P. Sullivan, operations officer with the brigade combat team for Task Force Fury, agreed. "They're growing every day," Sullivan, from Fort Bragg, N.C., said.

The Afghan forces' willingness to take the lead in operations can be attributed to their growing relationship and increased capabilities. The cooperation has helped maintain operational achievements, U.S. officials said.

army Col. Yar Mohammad Saidi, deputy commander for the 203rd ANA Corps, said that since Operation Maiwand last summer, the force has had continuous coordination and good relations with the national police.

"When we work together, we will accomplish the mission," added national
police Maj. Raz Muhammad Wardak, Southeast Police Headquarters regional operations officer.

(Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr. is
assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Free Hostage From al Qaeda

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - A 19-year-old man was rescued from an al Qaeda-in-Iraq prison in the village of Hammadi, 10 miles southwest of Baqouba, by 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, during an air assault Oct. 28. The rescued hostage was found tied to a ceiling with his arms raised behind his back, which caused injuries to both arms. The man was treated at Forward Operating Base Warhorse for dehydration, joint injuries, bruises and abrasions.

The man was kidnapped on Oct. 25 in Baqouba "at a shop by five men in a car, because of my brother who is in the Iraqi army," he said. "They wanted information and for my brother and me to work for al Qaeda."

Nonetheless, the young man did not give al Qaeda in Iraq the information or his allegiance. He said he was slated to stand "trial" held by an al Qaeda leader for refusing to help al Qaeda, for which the punishment is death.

"They beat me with cables while holding a gun to my head, but I would not work for them, because I would not betray my brother," he stated. "These are very bad guys; they do bad things. I would never support them."

"This is an example of al Qaeda attempting to force their own goals and agenda on the Iraqi people," said Lt. Col. Marshall Dougherty, commander of 2nd Battalion, 1st Cavalry Regiment. "They have rejected al Qaeda and all that they represent outright, even under the kind of extreme torture and certain death that this brave young man was facing."

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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Forces Rescue Kidnapped Sheiks in Northern Baghdad

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - Seven sheiks kidnapped in northern Baghdad two days ago were rescued by soldiers from 9th Iraqi
Army Division during a mission yesterday. The mission, supported by U.S. military advisors and soldiers from both 82nd Airborne Division and 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, resulted in the sheiks' rescue, the capture of four abductors and the death of three extremists. The body of an eighth sheik also was discovered at the scene.

The sheiks were taken to a nearby Iraqi army facility, where they received medical attention. Several said they had been beaten with a tire iron. The sheiks also said that they have no doubt that their abductors were Shiite extremists.

"The execution of this mission shows how far Iraqi security forces have come," said
Army Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy commanding general for maneuver for Multinational Division Baghdad. "The 9th Iraqi Army, led by General Riyadh, reacted very quickly to intelligence they received. They planned and then organized their forces, and executed a tough and precise mission with support from the coalition. They are well on their way to being the pre-eminent security force for the people of Iraq."

In other operations in Iraq yesterday:

-- Coalition forces south of Baghdad targeted an alleged
terrorist cell leader believed to be involved in attacks against coalition forces in the Arab Jabour area. As the forces began to clear the target area, they saw four armed men maneuver into a ditch. The soldiers were engaged by enemy fire from two separate locations, then killed one terrorist believed to be the targeted individual. Supporting aircraft killed another armed terrorist. Coalition forces tracking the remaining armed men engaged and killed one. While clearing the area, the ground force killed another hostile individual. They also detained three suspects.

-- Coalition forces in Mosul captured a wanted individual believed to be involved in terrorist activity in the city. The suspect allegedly was attempting to recruit Iraqi
army intelligence officers to gain information on Iraqis working with coalition forces. Reports led the ground force to the wanted individual's exact location, where he and one other suspect, believed to be his brother, were detained.

-- Coalition forces northwest of Tarmiyah detained three suspects while they targeted an alleged
terrorist media cell member involved in mailings, Internet postings and propaganda distribution. Intelligence information indicates the targeted individual is part of a group that records and reports terrorist operations near Tarmiyah. Past reporting indicates that the targeted individual also serves as a courier for the leader of the northern belt terrorist network. The network is believed to be involved in improvised-explosive-device and car-bombing attacks, foreign terrorist facilitation, extortion, intimidation, and weapons trafficking.

-- In two coordinated operations near Kirkuk and in Beiji, coalition forces targeted an individual believed to be the
terrorist leader for the city. The targeted individual reportedly has a long history of involvement in al Qaeda and has numerous connections to senior terrorist leaders. In addition, the individual reportedly makes frequent trips to Mosul, coordinating terrorist operations and attacks in Kirkuk. The ground force detained eight suspects southwest of Kirkuk and one additional suspect in Beiji.

-- Iraqi soldiers with U.S. forces advising conducted two separate raids in Fallujah and Tal Afar, detaining four people. In the first operation near Fallujah, the assault force detained two suspected
terrorists believed to be leaders of an insurgent group responsible for kidnappings and executions in Nasser Wa Salaam. The suspected terrorists also are thought to be responsible for conducting surveillance operations on members of the Iraqi police and local citizens and conducting IED attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces. Two more people were detained by the Iraqi army and Iraqi security forces during a raid in Tal Afar. Besides the detained suspects, a stolen truck and 350 cases of illegally smuggled cigarettes were recovered.

"These operations demonstrate that we're not waiting for al Qaeda to strike; we're going after the
terrorists where they hide," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "We will continue targeting them to diminish their ability to attack the Iraqis people and their elected government."

In operations earlier this week:

-- Based on a resident's tip, Iraqi national
police discovered a weapons cache in the southeastern district of New Baghdad in the Iraqi capital Oct. 28. The tip led the policemen to discover eight 80 mm mortar rockets, seven 60 mm mortar rockets, nine rocket-propelled-grenade rounds with three launchers, one explosively formed projectile, three grenades, one mortar tube with base plate and tripod, 300 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, two sets of body armor, and copper wire. "Tips from local residents demonstrate the ongoing positive relationship between the (national police) and the trust they are gaining from the populace. It is a great day any time a tip leads to a cache," said Army Col. Jeffrey Bannister, commander of 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. "The Iraqis realize by reporting the cache, they are saving Iraqi lives and helping to clean up the streets for their children."

-- Iraqi army soldiers discovered a weapons cache in Hawr Rajab on Oct. 27. The soldiers found the cache independently, working off a tip from coalition forces in the area. A security platoon found 21 60 mm mortars, seven 107 mm rockets, four improvised-explosive-device triggers, four fabricated rocket stands, six mortar fuses, and two Iraqi army uniforms.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Afghan, Coalition Forces Detain Six, Uncover Weapons Cache

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - Afghan and coalition forces detained six suspected insurgents during an operation in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, early this morning. Intelligence reports led the forces to a compound suspected of housing the militants. One of the detainees is suspected of being a Taliban improvised-explosive-device facilitator. Also found in the compound were significant amounts of bomb-making material, weapons and ammunition.

The suspected insurgents were taken to a
military detention facility for processing and subsequently handed over to Afghan authorities. Coalition forces believe this arrest will disrupt the flow of explosive-device materials to other insurgents in Kandahar City.

"Afghan national security forces continue to get stronger and more proficient as they continue to conduct counterinsurgency operations." said
Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

In other operations, coalition forces killed several militants and detained five Oct. 28 in Kunar province in an effort to disrupt al Qaeda foreign fighters and weapons-facilitation networks in the area.

Coalition forces conducted a search of a compound in the Asadabad district where intelligence reports indicated al Qaeda facilitators were operating.

Upon reaching the compound, coalition forces called for the occupants to come out. Several militants fled the compound while an unknown number remained in the buildings, threatening the coalition forces. The coalition forces engaged the militants outside the compound area with small-arms fire and conventional munitions, as well as engaging the hostile militants inside the compound with small arms. Several armed militants were killed during the engagements.

After hostilities ceased, coalition forces searched the buildings on the compound and detained five suspected militants. Coalition forces also recovered several weapons in the compound where they were destroyed in place to prevent further use by militant forces.

"Coalition forces will pursue every avenue to prevent the resurgence of al Qaeda's violent influence on the people of Afghanistan," Belcher said. "No effort will be spared as we continue to dismantle their already faltering extremist networks so the Afghan people can one day be free to choose their own destiny."

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

Children of Fallen Troops Honored at Remembrance Ceremonies

By Gerry J. Gilmore and John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - Ten children of servicemembers killed during the war on
terrorism were honored for their sacrifices on behalf of the nation at ceremonies held here and in Iraq yesterday. At the Russell Senate Office Building last evening, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. were among the luminaries who participated in a recognition ceremony sponsored by the White House Commission on Remembrance.

Each child received a gold medal and a certificate signed by Mullen and Gordon H. Mansfield, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mullen saluted the children, noting that family support of servicemembers engaged in the war on
terrorism is of paramount importance.

"We are indebted to each family who supports the 2.4 million men and women who serve today," the admiral said. "And those that we honor tonight are true heroes."

Mullen acknowledged the difficulty in summoning the appropriate words to salve the children's loss.

The children's medals, Mullen said, are "intended to be a reminder, not just for you, but (also) for us, of the ultimate sacrifice of your fathers."

"May each of you take comfort in the knowledge that our nation will forever honor and cherish and remember the great legacy of valor your parents left us," Mansfield told the children.

Those recognized at last night's Capitol Hill ceremony include:

-- Kelsi Lamberson, 14, and Evan Lamberson, 11. Their father,
Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall L. Lamberson, 36, died on April 10, 2006, from injuries suffered when the truck he was riding in struck a roadside bomb in Ramadi, Iraq. Lamberson also is survived by his wife, Dana.

-- Helena Edge, 9, and Rachel Edge, 4. Their father,
Marine Capt. James C. Edge, 31, was killed by enemy small-arms fire in Ramadi, Iraq, on April 14, 2005. He also is survived by his wife, Krissy.

-- Cali Baldwin, 11. Her father,
Navy Chief Petty Officer Joel E. Baldwin, 37, was one of 14 servicemembers killed in a suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq, on Dec. 21, 2004. He also is survived by his wife, Claudia.

-- Patrick Engeman, 24, and Nicole Engeman, 22. Their father,
Army Chief Warrant Officer John W. Engeman, 45, was killed on May 14, 2006, in Baghdad when the truck he was riding in struck a roadside bomb.

-- Chandler Downs, 13, Elle Downs, 11, and Bailey Downs, 10. Their father,
Air Force Maj. William "Brian" Downs, 40, was killed on May 30, 2005, in eastern Diyala province, Iraq, in a crash of an Iraqi air force plane during a training mission. Downs' wife, Beth, attended the ceremony with her three children.

The evening ceremony "was incredibly moving," Beth Downs said. "We just appreciate it very much."

Her eldest son, Chandler, was equally impressed.

"I'm just really proud of my Dad," he said, "because all these people would take the time out of their day just to remember my Dad. It's cool."

Chandler's younger brother, Bailey, expressed happiness that "all these people are thinking about me."

"I think this ceremony is really very kind and generous, that these people would take their time out to think about us," daughter Elle Downs said. "I think that it is very special."

Recognizing children of fallen servicemembers shows "that their fellow Americans care about their great sacrifice and their parents' great sacrifice," Carmella LaSpada, director of the White House Commission on Remembrance, explained at the Capitol Hill ceremony.

"When they look at that medal, they'll know that it comes from a grateful nation," LaSpada added.

Engeman's daughter and son received their gold medals yesterday during earlier ceremonies. At the Pentagon, Gen. Casey presented a medal to Nicole Engeman. Meanwhile, via video teleconference from Baghdad,
Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, conferred the medal on Army 1st Lt. Patrick Engeman.

Their late father served with 1st Battalion, 312th
Training Support Battalion, 4th Brigade, 78th Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Engleman worked on a transition team that trained Iraqi security forces to assume control from coalition forces. The mission of such trainers is "extremely important to our overall success in Iraq," said Casey, whose father was killed during the Vietnam War.

"I think this is also a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the magnificent work that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and what's at stake here," Casey said at the Pentagon award ceremony.

"Your husband and your dad died to preserve (American) ideals and our way of life," Casey told the widow and two children who survive Engeman. "And we will never forget that."

In Iraq, Odierno placed the medal around the neck of 1st Lt. Engeman, who the general referred to as "a great young leader." Engeman is a platoon leader nearing his fifteenth month of deployment.

"I think it says a lot about his dad that Patrick chose to be in the
Army, too," Odierno said. "I know he's living up to his dad's expectations."

The White House Commission on Remembrance was established by Congress in 2000. In 2006, the group created the gold medal for children of those who have died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The commission aims to present the medal to every child who loses a mother or father in current operations, according to the commission's official Web site.

In the last two years, more than 200 gold medals were presented to children of fallen servicemembers from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Iraqi Police Learn Basics During Prep Course

By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - The Military
Police Platoon from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, has developed a 10-day preparatory class to implement the basics for Iraqi police recruits before they attend the Baghdad Police Academy, which initiates them as official police officers. This course is designed to give police recruits a basic understanding on what their job will consist of, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brinson, the MP Platoon's top sergeant.

The trainees waiting to attend the academy come from various stations in the surrounding area to learn basic
police skills, he added. It's an orientation, ensuring all new police cadets go into the academy with the same level of general knowledge.

training covers basics on ethics, principles, Iraqi law, first aid, basic rifle marksmanship, responding to a crime scene, and search techniques in various scenarios," said Brinson, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native. "The recruits follow a structured daily schedule emphasizing teamwork and discipline."

The 10 days are spent introducing the material in the classroom and then actively applying what they've learned. The last two days consist of practical exercises that incorporate the entirety of the course.

"Everything learned has to be applied during the hands-on scenarios. The situations gradually get harder to test their understanding," Brinson said.

"Everything is a perishable skill; they have to practice it in order to retain it," he continued. "They understand the task; they are definitely learning what they need to know to be successful."

"The trainees get better every day. The course helps them become good IPs and work with the coalition forces to do our job," said Iraqi Police 1st Lt. Hesham Saman Ali Sauba Boor, a course instructor.

Each Iraqi
police station is responsible for sending an academy graduated officer to teach the new recruits. Military personnel rotate through as instructors from the MP Platoon and are assisted by Iraqi army liaison officers.

"Having the IP officers teach them accomplishes a lot; it mainly helps the Iraqi police force become self-sufficient," Brinson said. "It's another step in the progress to make security forces stronger."

As he watched the recruits successfully complete a bounding exercise, Brinson noted, "I see the trainees take more pride in themselves. This course is helping them to become a cohesive unit to accomplish the mission."

Staer Gabar Abedallah, a trainee, said he chose to become an Iraqi
police officer to serve his country, secure his community and stop the terrorists.

training is a great opportunity to concentrate on training and help the Iraqi people move forward in self governance," said Stonington, Ill., native Army Sgt. David Ashbridge, a military police leader.

(Army Spc. Shejal Pulivarti is assigned to 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Common-Sense Recruiting, Cutting-Edge Training Lift Iraq's Air Force

By David Mays
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - Recruiting experienced pilots and implementing unprecedented
training methods are the best ways to fast-track Iraq's infant air force, a coalition commander said today. "In order for the Iraqi air force to get off the ground, we need to bring pilots on board," U.S. Air Force Col. Mike Wobbema said. "The only way we're really going to successfully do that on a timely basis is to re-recruit those pilots who were in the air force prior to (the Gulf War in) '91, because they really haven't had an air force since then."

Wobbema, who commands the "Happy Hooligans" of North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Maintenance Group, 119th Fighter Wing, volunteered to deploy to Iraq earlier this year to help stand up Iraq's
air force from scratch and recently was assigned as chief of staff for the Coalition Air Force Transition Team. He told online journalists and "bloggers" during a conference call from Baghdad's International Zone that recruiting pilots once loyal to Saddam Hussein can be a tough sell.

"The concern of security is one of the biggest things," he said. "That probably is the largest pole in the tent with regard to getting these guys on board."

But after an experienced pilot is vetted and cleared, Wobbema explained, that individual is jump-started for success in the sky.

"Once we get them going, then they are already qualified pilots, they already have wings, and so the timeline to get them mission-capable in their respective airframes will be reduced," he said. "That's the only way we're going to grow the air force to a size and capability on a timely enough basis that we need to have to accomplish the tasks that we have."

Besides common-sense pilot recruiting, coalition trainers are employing education efforts never before attempted, the colonel explained, like taking the basic United States airman course, previously taught only at Lackland
Air Force Base in Texas, overseas.

"I'm really impressed with the airmen we brought in. The guys that we have in Taji are people who don't normally get the opportunity to deploy, per se, in their current career field as instructors," Wobbema explained. "Never before has the
Air Force brought people to a foreign country to do their basic enlisted training program like this, so it's really unique, and it's been really interesting to watch it manifest itself."

U.S. and coalition partners conduct basic airman
training, run a technical school and operate an officer candidate program from sprawling Taji Air Base, just north of Baghdad, the colonel said. Coalition trainers also are embedded with more experienced Iraqi air force teams in Kirkuk, Basra and elsewhere in Iraq, where they can offer continuing field education, primarily in maintenance, he said.

"Keep in mind, we've only been working this Iraqi air force piece strongly since about the first of this year, the actual building and equipping and 'plussing-up' of the personnel," he said.

Iraq's air force continues to grow, Wobbema said. So far, more than 1,280 airmen have been recruited, including 140 pilots whose enthusiasm sometimes has to be curbed, the colonel explained.

"I've been a fighter guy my whole career, and a lot of the Iraqi
air force pilots are all former fighter pilots, and of course if they had an unlimited budget and didn't want to worry about anything else, we'd be buying F-16s, F-18s for them, or they would be buying them for themselves; that's what they'd be wanting to do," the colonel said. "But we have to walk before we can run."

For now, Iraqi pilots successfully are conducting intelligence and surveillance missions with a specially equipped Cessna Caravan turboprop, Wobbema said. Soon they will be flying an armed Caravan and a propeller-driven light attack aircraft to help handle Iraq's most pressing problem: the insurgency taking place within the country's own borders, the colonel explained.

"From there, it will migrate to being able to develop an air-defense capability to protect their borders from outside influence and then from there, who knows?" he mused. "At some point in time, I suspect that they will ultimately migrate to becoming a fully integrated part of the world community."

(David Mays works in New Media at American Forces Information Service.)

Rice, Gates Meet on Private Contractor Control in War Zones

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2007 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met today at the Pentagon to discuss proposals about control and coordination of rivate contractors in Iraq, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. During a news conference, Morrell said the meeting was the first between the two since the return of a Defense Department fact-finding panel from Iraq. The two secretaries have both been traveling and just haven't had a chance to meet until now, Pentagon officials said.

Rice and Gates agreed with the working group recommendation that Multinational Force Iraq needs to be more involved in all contractor operations, Morrell said.

The working group – co-chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte – looked at better ways to supervise and coordinate Defense and State Department contract employees in a war zone.

Morrell said Gates believes the key to whatever the two department
leaders agree upon "must include a common set of standards, common rules for the use of force and ... thorough coordination of all contractor movements well in advance."

Defense officials also want to know what
training private security contractors in Iraq have, Morrell said.

The working group still must flesh out the details of the various recommendations, Morrell said. The members will travel to Baghdad early next month and present their recommendations to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and
Army Gen. David A. Petraeus, Multinational Force Iraq commander.

Gates will not buy into the recommendations unless Petraeus is comfortable with them, Morrell said. "But I don't want to present a problem where there is none," the press secretary said. The working group has made great strides in making some general understandings of the way forward, and "we do not anticipate there being problems down the line."

Both secretaries expect the new recommendations will be in place by Thanksgiving, Morrell said.

Combat Engineers Mentor, Help Afghan Soldiers With Construction Projects

By Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr., USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2007 - Four combat engineers recently traveled from Kabul to Gardez to share their construction experience with Afghans hired to build housing units for
military personnel assigned to Forward Operating Base Lightning. The engineers are assigned to Task Force Phoenix Engineering Company. Their job included teaching methods that will help the Afghans become more efficient in the construction process. The combat engineers said they have traveled to several forward operating bases in Afghanistan over the last few months mentoring and assisting Afghans with construction projects.

"We're just helping," said
Army Staff Sgt. Lonnie L. Russell, from Beaufort, S.C., "trying to get the (concrete) blocks up so they can move everyone in before the snow."

Russell said he and the other combat engineers have had an interesting experience with the Afghans. He has found that the Afghans' methods for constructing "isn't pretty" at times, but the end product is very similar to their own.

"We're trying to teach them how to do four layers (of concrete blocks) at a time instead of one," said
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Michael R. Jenks, who is assigned to Camp Phoenix and deployed from the 1st Civil Engineer Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

This system would make the block-laying process faster than their current method, he said.

(Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr. is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)

Officials Discuss Iraq-Iran Border Issues

By Maj. Michelle Coghill, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2007 - Coalition commanders and Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement
leaders earlier this month held a conference at Wasit Border Headquarters, one kilometer from the Iraqi-Iranian border, to discuss issues involving the Zurbatiya port of entry to Iran. After three helicopters quickly touched down with 3rd Infantry Division Commander Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch; Army Maj. Gen. Michael Jones, commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team; Army Brig. Gen. James Yarbrough, Iraq Assistance Group commander; and Army Brig. Gen. James Huggins, deputy commander of 3rd ID, the visit began with a short convoy to the border.

Maj. Gen. Rasheed Gasdban Thueinv Adbulla, commander of the Iraqi Border Enforcement Department's 3rd Region; Maj. Gen. Ali Hashem Al Baddi, the department's port of entry director; and Brig. Gen. Sami Raheem Wahab Nasvalkh Al Rubajaal, director of the Zurbatiya port of entry, gave the commanders a quick tour of the border site.

Following the tour, the group met to discuss plans for the port of entry, which sits 120 kilometers east of Baghdad. "It is important that all the key players ... meet with the appropriate commanders so we can measure progress and come up with an action plan on how things can be done," Lynch said. "Ultimately, progress is measured in saving lives.

"As a
tactical commander, I want to block the flow of accelerants of violence from the Iranian militia," he said. "This is an exceptional situation, with terrorists challenging us from the left and the right. The (ports of entry) play huge roles in securing safe borders for protection of the people. So the betterment of the POEs is a huge issue."

Of the 19 official ports of entry identified by coalition forces, the Zurbatiya site is the only fully functional site that processes both pedestrians and cargo, with an average of 18,000 travelers and 1,500 trucks weekly. Georgian soldiers with working dogs help with border operations.

"We are here to help General Rasheed focus on this POE. We can make Zurbatiya as the model POE for entrance to Iraq," Lynch said.

Department of Border Enforcement officials hope to have Zurbatiya operating as a fully manned, highly secure, standard-size port of entry with a trained, effective and disciplined armed force. Yarbrough said reinforcing key ports of entry is an important initiative under way by Multinational Corps Iraq and Multinational Force Iraq.

"We're assisting the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement to employ leading technologies and improve procedural policies and techniques," Yarbrough said. "The goal is for the Iraqis to better preserve their sovereignty, protect Iraqi citizens, and shield against foreign fighters, contraband and accelerants to violence."

Rasheed noted that as "time progresses, things are improving and will continue to improve, especially over the next three months."

A tower was recently constructed to observe the Iranian transload area, where trucks load and reload for cargo shipments across the border. Plans include constructing a transload area at the border to allow neutral observation between the two countries. Gates for a newly installed personnel traffic area have also been completed for the scheduled pedestrian area construction project.

A life support area also will be built seven kilometers away in Badra to house U.S. border transition teams, who now have a 1.5-hour convoy ride from their base to visit their Iraqi counterparts on the port of entry.

In addition to the construction projects scheduled to be completed by Jan. 1, additional manning and equipment will be needed to support the existing traffic flow through the port of entry. Lynch said Jan. 1 should be in everyone's minds, and with the government of Iraq's continuing efforts, the vision can become reality.

"Our issue is focus. This is the only one in the area, ... and we need to take care of it," Lynch said.

Air Force Maj. Michelle Coghill is assigned to the Iraq Assistance Group, Multinational Corps Iraq.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Job No. 1 in Northern Iraq: Keep al Qaeda on Ropes

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2007 - Keeping al Qaeda "on the ropes" is job No. 1 for the 1st Armored Division and Multinational Division North, the organization's commander said today.
Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, who took command of Multinational Division North yesterday, said his command is well-positioned for success following the great work done by the men and women of the 25th Infantry Division. He spoke to online journalists and "bloggers" from his base at Forward Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit.

Northern Iraq is a very complex unique and diverse environment, Hertling said, adding that the area is on "the verge of doing some strong things as Iraqis stand up against

Division soldiers discovered a huge explosively formed projectile factory in Diyala province that illustrates progress the area is making. An Iraqi citizen, tired of violence, told an Iraqi
police officer of his suspicions about a house in his neighborhood. The police officer, in turn, went to his higher headquarters and the coalition.

Iraqi and coalition soldiers raided the house and found the largest cache of the killer projectiles, which included 130 pre-made weapons and 170 of the copper plates that form the projectiles themselves. The soldiers also found more than 600 pounds of C-4 explosives, rockets, mortar rounds and mortar tubes.

Hertling said cooperation from all strata of the command made the raid possible. The discovery hurt the enemy -- in this case, Shiite extremist groups most likely allied with Iran -- very badly.

This is Hertling's second tour in Iraq. He was in country in 2004 as the assistant division commander. "Some of the things we're seeing here -- the awakening, the reconciliation, the concerned local citizens -- all those things are a result of the people beginning to see they are, in fact, getting better security," he said. "There is the potential for the government to start standing up."

The Iraqi people appear to have made a decision to support the Iraqi government and the coalition. "This is much different than it was when I was here a couple of years ago, when it seemed the Iraqi people were on the fence and trying to decide which way things were going to go," he said.

The division faces a lot of hard work, and job No. 2 is helping the local and provincial Iraqi governments establish themselves. Under Saddam Hussein, the central government ruled and told the provinces what to do.

Now, it's an emerging federalist system, Hertling said, where each province -- like U.S. states -- has its own special interest. Seven provinces are in Multinational Division North, and each is very different.

"I think we're seeing within the provinces a growing strength of government," he said. "The governors are becoming more independent, like our governors are in the United States. One of the jobs we have in MND North is to help them push their agendas with the central government."

The Iraqi government as an institution is trying to get its processes and procedures established "under some very tough and demanding and challenging situations," he said. Hertling is not as hard on the Iraqi government as some people because he understands the pressures the government is under.

He said Ninevah province -- with the second-largest city in Iraq, Mosul -- certainly will go to provincial Iraqi control sometime between December and April.

Army Casualty

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

Master Sgt. Thomas L. Bruner, 50, of Owensboro, Ky., died Oct. 28, in Kabul, Afghanistan from a non-combat related illness. He was assigned to the Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 100th Division, U.S. Army Reserve, Owensboro, Ky.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information related to this release, the media may contact the 100th Division public affairs office at (502) 454-2980.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri, 27, of Los Angeles, Calif., died Oct. 27 in Siet, Lake Jolo Island, Philippines from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis, Wash.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information related to this release, the media may contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005.

Coalition Troops Detain 11 Suspects in Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2007 - Coalition forces detained 11 suspects today during operations to disrupt al Qaeda networks in central Iraq.

-- In southern Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be involved in roadside-bomb and small-arms attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi citizens. The detainee is linked to al Qaeda activities in Baghdad's Arab Jabour section and other areas. Coalition forces detained another suspect also linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.

-- Also in Baghdad, coalition forces detained two more al Qaeda-linked suspects without incident.

-- Coalition forces captured two individuals in Tarmiyah. One of the detainees is linked to Ali Latif Ibrahim Hamad al-Falahi, a former
terrorist leader who coordinated car-bombing operations in Baghdad and was killed Aug. 20.

-- In another Tarmiyah operation, coalition forces detained five more suspects while targeting a
terrorist believed to be responsible for local roadside- and car-bomb attacks. "We're continuing to engage terrorists who carry out brutal attacks on the Iraqi people and threaten Iraq's security," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

-- Multinational Force Iraq officials said Arkan Hasnawi, a former brigade commander in the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia, is responsible for kidnapping Shiite and Sunni tribal leaders from Diyala province yesterday. The tribal
leaders were returning to Diyala from their meeting with an Iraqi government representative when they were kidnapped. Arkan Hasnawi is linked to Iranian-supported terrorists operating in Iraq.

In operations earlier this week:

-- Coalition forces took advantage of a concerned citizen's tip to seize several rockets aimed at a coalition base east of Baghdad during an Oct. 27 raid. Four rockets were confiscated.

-- U.S. soldiers discovered two caches of ordnance during operations conducted east of Hamrin Lake on Oct. 26. The first cache contained more than 110 mortar rounds and six landmines. The second cache consisted of 15 mortar rounds and one recoilless rifle with an improvised gun mount. The contraband ordnance was destroyed. "The discovery of these supplies is vital, as it continues to limit the supply of extremist groups who continually try to disrupt the progress in Diyala," said
Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala province. "The terrorists have no safe haven. We will destroy them, as well as their support base."

-- In Baghdad, two Iraqi civilians died and 22 others were injured after a two-week spate of terrorist rocket and mortar attacks that ended Oct. 26. Yet, over the same period, coalition officials said, there has been an overall reduction in insurgent-conducted violence against coalition and Iraqi security forces and civilians.

-- Coalition forces uncovered two weapons caches containing enough material to make 200 roadside bombs during a search operation in Hawr Rajab on Oct. 26. The caches were destroyed. On the same day in the same area, concerned citizens uncovered two other caches containing two makeshift roadside bombs, two rocket-propelled grenades, two 57 mm rockets filled with explosives, a 60 mm mortar round and nine 2-liter bottles of explosives. The contraband material was destroyed.

-- U.S. soldiers found a bomb-rigged rocket and detained three men suspected of insurgent activities during operations in Baghdad's Rashid district Oct. 26.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Security Forces, Citizens Decrease Violence in Iraq
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2007 - Coalition and Iraqi
security forces continue to make progress against al Qaeda and other criminal elements, thanks in large part to the efforts of concerned citizens throughout the country, a senior military official in Baghdad said during a briefing today. In his first briefing since taking over as chief of Multinational Force Iraq's communications division, Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith said the recent detention of several key leaders in al Qaeda propaganda cells has proven that coalition forces are making an impact against al Qaeda in Iraq.

Smith said four senior media cell members have been detained in the last month, including the media emir of Mosul, the former head of Mosul's media cell who had established the al Qaeda communications hub in Baghdad, a foreign terrorist from Saudi Arabia who is proficient in video editing and special effects, and a
computer graphics specialist.

"Since the surge began, we've uncovered eight separate al Qaeda media offices and cells, have captured or killed 24 al Qaeda propaganda cell members and have discovered 23 terabytes of information," Smith said.

The admiral said forces have learned a great deal from the detainees. "(They) have indicated that al Qaeda propaganda efforts have been degraded in recent months," he said.

He quoted one of the detainees as saying, "There is almost nothing left of (al Qaeda in Iraq)."

Smith said officials believe coalition efforts have reduced al Qaeda's ability to spread propaganda by as much as 80 percent.

"Progress made against al Qaeda and other
criminal elements has led to decreased attacks against coalition and Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens," he said. "Attack levels are continuing a downward trend that began in June."

Smith said the number of weekly attacks is at its lowest level since February 2006. He added that the number of improvised-explosive-device attacks is down more than 60 percent in the past four months since the beginning of Operation Phantom Thunder.

He said the number of casualties has decreased as the number of attacks continues to fall. "In September, less than one third as many citizens died from enemy initiated incidents as compared to last December," he said. "October is on track to continue the impressive decline."

Smith said much of the progress can be attributed to Iraqi citizens who are volunteering to actively participate in their own neighborhood's security.

"What began as the 'Anbar Awakening' has now evolved into the formation of concerned local citizens groups present in almost every major neighborhood in Baghdad province."

More than 67,000 Iraqis have signed up to assist coalition forces and the government of Iraq in securing neighborhoods. Smith said more than 17,000 who have volunteered to permanently augment security forces to operate with brigade and local officials.

Smith cited the efforts of one such group in Muqdadiya who located a suicide bomber and entered his home Oct. 26 in an effort to quell his efforts to hurt innocent citizens. Upon his discovery, the individual detonated his bomb, causing the building to collapse, injuring himself and one of the concerned local citizens.

"This prevented the loss of innocent civilian lives," Smith said. "We commend such efforts."

These efforts aren't only on the part of organized groups, Smith said. Individuals are stepping up as well. Smith described how one Iraqi citizen led coalition forces to the largest weapons cache to be discovered in Iraq on Oct. 23. The cache contained 120 fully-assembled explosively formed penetrators, 600 pounds of explosives, 100 mortar rounds, 150 copper discs and 30 107 mm rockets.

Also known as explosively formed projectiles, EFPs are armor-piercing shaped charges that officials believe are making their way into Iraq from neighboring Iran for use against coalition forces.

Smith said that across Iraq, religious leaders and citizens alike are calling on fellow Iraqis to condemn violence and to unite in their efforts to rebuild the war-torn country.

"All want to see their country free of the violence brought upon them by extremists and criminals," Smith said.

Army, Marines Release Counterinsurgency Manual

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

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

Download the Manual

Coalition Forces in Iraq Continue to Disrupt Terrorist Networks

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2007 - Coalition forces captured two wanted individuals and detained another four suspects early this morning during operations to disrupt al Qaeda networks in central and northern Iraq, and
military officials report numerous weapons caches discovered and suspects detained in operations over past several days.

-- In Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted individual reportedly attempting to re-establish the city's car-bombing operations after significant degradation by coalition forces. During several recent operations, coalition forces captured suspects with ties to the car-bombing network involved in attacks against Iraqi civilians and
security forces.

-- In an operation to disrupt foreign
terrorist networks in Mosul, coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be a terrorist cell leader in the southern part of the city. The suspect is believed to have a long history of terrorist activity and is associated with several al Qaeda senior leaders.

-- Intelligence gained from previous operations led coalition forces north of Habbaniyah to a location believed to be an al Qaeda safe house and meeting place. During the operation, the ground forces were targeting an alleged associate of the al Qaeda senior leader. Reports indicate the targeted individual previously was responsible for finances and served under several
terrorist leaders who fought coalition forces in Fallujah in 2004. Three suspected foreign terrorists were detained.

-- In another operation, coalition forces detained a suspected terrorist southwest of Kirkuk while targeting an associate of an al Qaeda in Iraq member believed to be the senior terrorist leader in the province. The targeted individual allegedly makes frequent trips across northern Iraq and has knowledge of al Qaeda operations in the province, including the whereabouts of foreign terrorists operating in the region. "This operation is another example of our continued success against al-Qaeda," said
Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "Their networks are being systematically dismantled by Iraqi and coalition forces, disrupting their operations, diminishing their pool of manpower and limiting their ability to attack innocent Iraqis."

In operations yesterday:

-- West of Balad, coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be a member of a foreign
terrorist facilitation network that channels extremists into Iraq. Reports indicate the targeted individual is an associate of an al Qaeda senior leader operating outside of Iraq who is involved in facilitating terrorist funds and information into the country. During the operation, the suspect identified himself to the ground force and was detained without incident. In addition to the targeted individual, seven suspected terrorists were detained.

-- Farther north in Mosul, coalition forces targeted another member of a foreign terrorist facilitation network. Officials said intelligence reports indicate the targeted individual is associated with senior facilitators operating outside of the country, and reportedly is planning a meeting with the al Qaeda senior leader. Six suspected
terrorists were detained.

-- During another operation north of Fallujah, coalition forces targeted a suspected associate of al Qaeda senior
leaders and a building used as their safe house and meeting place. One suspect was detained.

-- Northwest of Khalis, coalition forces captured a senior militia extremist, killed two others and detained an additional 14 admitted criminals during operations in the village of Fawwaliyah. "We're continuing to target
terrorists at every level," Danielson said. "Foreign terrorists who come to Iraq with the help of al Qaeda and commit murderous acts against the Iraq people have no place in the future of this country."

In operations earlier this week:

-- Southwest of Mosul on Oct. 26, coalition forces conducted an operation targeting a suspected
terrorist believed to be responsible for logistical and security functions for al Qaeda. The suspect also reportedly was involved in efforts to procure weapons and manpower for attacks against coalition forces.

-- Coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists during an operation north of Fallujah targeting an al Qaeda senior leader Oct. 26. Intelligence reports indicated the target building is a suspected safe house and meeting place for numerous terrorist senior leaders. The suspects are brothers who allegedly have knowledge of terrorist
leadership locations.

-- Acting on a tip, a group of Iraqi citizens located a suicide bomber who detonated himself upon discovery in Muqdadiya on Oct. 26. The bomber, who was believed to be targeting a populated area, detonated as soon as the group entered the house he was located in, causing it to collapse. The collapse wounded one citizen and a suspected extremist who was in the house with the suicide bomber. "(This) is a sure sign the population continues to grow tired of al Qaeda's barbaric acts," said Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala province. Citizens are playing active roles in securing their areas and neighborhoods across Diyala, he added, "an important sign that they realize they must be the definers of their own democracy."

-- Also on Oct. 26, paratroopers found a large cache of rockets in North Babil. The soldiers, from the 25th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), found a cache containing 27 Iranian-made 107 mm Katusha rockets during combat operations in Hilla. In addition to the rockets, two multiple-launch rocket systems capable of firing 20 rockets at a time, 11 launching rails, nine batteries, eight firing devices, timers, blasting caps and other equipment used to fire the rockets were also found. The rockets, launch platforms and other equipment were taken for investigation.

-- Iraqi
police officers from the southern Ninevah province town of Qayyarah stopped a large car bomb explosion Oct. 25, before its driver had a chance to detonate it. Local police received a tip from a citizen about the suspected large fuel truck that was rigged. Moving in to investigate, they learned the driver had parked the device on the Qayyarah Bridge, told a local national on the ground that he was going to blow up the bridge, and then jumped off the bridge into the water below. Upon examination, the vehicle was found to contain about 50,000 pounds of unknown bulk explosive. "This is an incredible act of selflessness on the part of (Iraqi police Lt. Col.) Kahlid, moving into harm's way to prevent this (car bomb) from destroying the bridge and causing significant injuries and loss of life to those in the area," said Army Lt. Col. Robert McLaughlin, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. "His actions epitomize the quality and discipline that we are seeing examples of throughout the Iraqi security forces on a daily basis."

-- Coalition forces killed two terrorists and wounded another Oct. 25 in Mosul. Intelligence reports led the ground force to a location where an al Qaeda member responsible for
terrorist activity in the city was believed to be living. Reports indicate the terrorist allegedly was involved in kidnappings and other terrorist attacks in the city and was an associate of the al Qaeda leader for northern Iraq. During the operation, men emerged from the target location and maneuvered toward the ground force. Perceiving hostile intent, coalition forces engaged and killed two men, , one of whom was the targeted individual. They also wounded another man, who evaded capture. "We continue to clear and hold areas where terrorists think they can hide," Danielson said. "Nowhere in Iraq is al Qaeda safe from the Iraqi and coalition forces who seek to bring them to justice."

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers, acting on tips from residents, found a large weapons cache and detained 13 insurgent suspects during ongoing operations in the Doura area of the Iraqi capital Oct. 25. Following a tip from Iraqi security volunteers, soldiers found four 82 mm mortars, 17 sticks of explosives, seven blocks of plastic explosives, 300 feet of detonation cord, 29 blasting caps, 28 grenade fuses, 725 assorted 7.62 mm rounds, eight rocket-propelled grenade ejection motors, two rocket fuses, six mortar fuses and 78 electric fuses.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Scores of Taliban During Six-Hour Fight

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2007 - Afghan and coalition forces engaged and killed more than six dozen Taliban fighters near the Musa Qaleh Wadi region of Afghanistan's Helmand province yesterday, officials reported. A combined Afghan-coalition forces patrol was conducting reconnaissance when Taliban fighters engaged them with rocket and small-arms fire. The combined patrol immediately returned fire, maneuvered, and employed close-air support, resulting about 80 Taliban fighters killed during a six-hour engagement. During the battle, the combined force exchanged small-arms fire with the fleeing attackers, quickly putting them on the defensive.

The insurgents attacked from a trench line using small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The Afghan and coalition forces fixed the enemy in their positions, and four separate precision-munitions engagements killed more than six dozen insurgents who were trying to reinforce enemy positions.

"Afghan national security and coalition forces remain devoted to uprooting Taliban insurgents in the Musa Qaleh Wadi region," said
Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

In other operations yesterday, Afghan and coalition forces engaged insurgent fighters near Kandahar province's Shah Wali Kowt district.

The combined force was conducting a reconnaissance patrol when several insurgents engaged them with rocket and small-arms fire. The patrol immediately engaged the Taliban element, killing several enemy fighters before they fled the area.

"Today, the Afghan national
security forces spotted the enemies of Afghanistan before they could carry out their attack," Belcher said. "The superior capabilities of the ANSF were instrumental in this successful engagement with Taliban insurgents."

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)