Friday, November 30, 2007

Leadership in Film

A number of courses and seminars use film, movies and television to express leadership concepts. The co-author of Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style, Raymond E. Foster, is collecting practitioner, student and academic input on leadership in film. Have you used film, movies or television to teach leadership? Have you viewed something in a leadership course? Or, have you viewed something that expressed a leadership lesson that you would like to share? Share your thoughts on Leadership in Film.

Reconstruction Team Works to Improve Agriculture for Iraqi Farmers

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 29, 2007 - The Baghdad 5 embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, attached to the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is closely coordinating with the Inma Agribusiness Program to work with Iraqi farmers in the region here. The U.S. Agency for International Development recently awarded the contract for the Inma Agribusiness Program in Iraq to Louis Berger Group to work with the government of Iraq to support the development of agribusinesses and agricultural markets. Inma is "growth" in Arabic.

The group, consisting of livestock, produce and irrigation experts, toured the entire Ironhorse Brigade's area of operations Nov. 27, scouting promising farming areas and developing ways for farmers here to maximize their overall productivity by improving the agriculture business.

"It's to help build important relationships between farmers, agribusiness, financial services, and domestic and international markets," said Ronald Curtis, the USAID agriculture advisor and program manager for the Inma project.

"It's assessed by value chains; we track the product starting at the producer, follow it through the process it takes to make it useable, and all the way to the market," said Curtis, who hails from Pocatello, Idaho. "We identify and isolate the weak chain in the process and make improvements."

The program was established to help the economy grow and become self-sustaining.

"The project is going to stimulate and support private agriculture and businesses. We buy from Iraqi farmers and sell to Iraqi markets, providing more profit and employment for the region," Curtis said. "The Iraqi business people want to expand and grow."

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coalition Troops Detain 12 in Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 29, 2007 - Coalition forces detained 12 suspects during operations today targeting al Qaeda in central and northern Iraq.

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted individual during operations in Tarmiyah while targeting a foreign
terrorist facilitator and associate of senior al Qaeda leaders. They also detained two other suspects without incident.

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted individual north of Samarra during operations targeting foreign terrorist facilitators and senior
terrorist leader associates. The wanted individual is believed to be an al Qaeda leader in the area.

-- Coalition forces detained four suspects while targeting al Qaeda members responsible for assassination-style murders in Hawija. Coalition forces also targeted their associates in Mosul, detaining three suspects without incident.

-- Forces detained one suspect in Bayji while further targeting al Qaeda terrorists involved in kidnappings, money extortion and sectarian-related murders.

"We're continuously attacking al Qaeda in Iraq to bring down the networks responsible for conducting attacks against the Iraqi people," said
Army Col. Donald Bacon, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

In other operations today, coalition forces killed two armed men and detained five other suspected
criminal during operations in the Khan Bani Said area, north of Baghdad.

The targeted individual reportedly was a significant facilitator and trainer specializing in explosively formed penetrators within "special group" criminal elements in the Khan Bani Said area and Baghdad who have not honored Muqtada al-Sadr's pledge for a ceasefire. The suspected
criminal also reportedly was an associate of several other senior-level criminal element leaders who were involved in attacks on coalition forces.

During the assault on the targeted building, two armed men came out of the building with assault rifles aimed toward coalition forces. The ground force engaged the armed men, killing them in self-defense. During the operation, coalition forces detained five additional suspected criminals without incident.

"We will continue to show restraint towards those who honor Muqtada al-Sadr's pledge to stop attacks," said
Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "While Iraqi and coalition forces are making progress against criminals who are not honoring this pledge, their networks remain a dangerous enemy of Iraq that must be removed."

In operations earlier this week:

-- Apache helicopter crews killed three insurgents southeast of Baghdad after an attack on a coalition forces convoy Nov. 27. The attack originated from a house near the road the convoy was on near the Tigris River. The Apaches, from the 3rd Infantry Division, were called to engage the enemy forces in the house. After positive identification of the enemy was made and clearance was given by ground forces, the Apaches attacked the enemy forces at the house with 30 mm cannon and Hellfire missiles, killing three.

-- A group of local citizens turned in a weapons cache to a checkpoint in Hawr Rajab, Nov. 27. The cache consisted of seven blasting caps, 13 pressure plates, two fire extinguishers and 28 two-liter bottles filled with homemade explosives.

-- Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, were conducting a foot patrol near Maderiyah on Nov. 25 when they found an abandoned house with copper wires extending out of a window. This led them to believe the house was rigged with explosives. Iraqi citizens confirmed the house was abandoned. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called, and saw the copper wires were attached to blasting caps on jugs filled with homemade explosives. It was determined that approaching the house to destroy the bombs would be too much of a risk, so the area was cleared, and an Air Force F-16 destroyed the house.

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

Iraqi Security Forces Take Huge Steps Forward

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 29, 2007 - Iraqi security forces have taken "huge steps forward" in growing and moving toward independent operations, a senior commander in Iraq said today. And they've made this progress despite fighting a war on their own soil and working through an immature bureaucracy, said British
Army Brigadier S. M. Gledhill, deputy commanding general for the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq. The command is charged with helping the Iraqis to organize, man and equip their force and to develop the ministries of Defense and Interior.

"Fundamentally, Iraqis are now taking ownership of the battle space themselves. I think this is an extremely positive move and it really demonstrates their capability," Gledhill said to a group of
Internet journalists and "bloggers" in a conference call.
"An increasing number are moving into the leading role, and I have every confidence that over the next 12 months Iraqi battalions and brigades will increasingly take the lead in the battle space," he said.

In the past year, the Iraqi security forces have rocketed to nearly a half million, including both the
police and army. The 158,000-member armed forces are expected to grow to 190,000. The police forces number more than 300,000, Gledhill said. A year ago, the police forces numbered less than 200,000, and the armed forces were about 135,000 strong.

Between the army and national police, 191 Iraqi battalions are in the fight, with more than half operating without coalition force support, he said.

This progress has come as U.S. forces put more into developing training infrastructure in the country. A combat training center about 50 miles east of Baghdad can train a brigade at a time. Plans are for each
army division to have its own training center that will be able to host battalion-level training.

Now is the time to develop logistics capabilities that have not kept pace with the combat forces, Gledhill said.

"As the size of the force and the nature of it matures, we need to put in place a proper functioning logistics system. It's partly in place, but not entirely," he said.

Some of the higher level maintenance for Iraqi equipment now is provided by contractors who are paid by the United States. "Clearly that's not something that can carry on for much longer," he said.

He called the Iraqi security forces logistics efforts problematic and fragile. But, he said, "that was not a surprise. We have been ... focused upon producing combat units to get them into the fight as a first priority."

Plans are to deliver "considerable enhancements" to the logistics capabilities over the next year. For example, each Iraqi
army division will have its own logistics support base in its operating area, offering supply and maintenance services. Now units have only regional support that is no longer capable of serving the expanded force, Gledhill said.

More depots will be built, offering maintenance and wheeled- and tracked-vehicle repair.

In the next 18 months, the Iraqis will become self-sufficient with their own logistics capabilities, Gledhill predicted.

Another growth area for the force has been developing the bureaucratic processes within the Defense and Interior ministries, which Gledhill called immature. But, he said, the war and the expeditious growth of the force have made it a challenge to develop even the most basic services.

Now, monthly progress is measured by an objective process developed jointly with Iraqis. Basic functions are evaluated, such as the ability to acquire material and field it, the ability to recruit, train and equip and the ability to pay its force. The results are assessed with the Iraqis, and focus areas are decided, Gledhill said.

When Gledhill arrived, the ministries were almost totally dependent on coalition support, he said. Now most are capable of performing nearly independently.

"In the past eight months, it is quite clear that there has been steady improvement ... in both ministries," Gledhill said. "It's definitely moving in the right direction. But there's still a lot work to do."

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. 1st Class John J. Tobiason, 42, of Bloomington, Minn., died Nov. 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from an incident that is currently under investigation. He was assigned to the 847th Adjutant General Battalion, 89th Regional Readiness Command, Wichita, Kan.

For more information media may contact the 88th Regional Readiness Command public affairs office, Ft. Snelling, Minn., at (612) 713-3011.

U.S. Military Mentors Work With Afghan Police

By Petty Officer 1st Class David Votroubek, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 29, 2007 - Road maps of Faryab province mark roads as "drivable," "possibly drivable" and "maybe drivable," but a
police mentoring team there often drives where there are no roads at all. These mentors from Task Force Phoenix drive them all, even at night. The province has two six-man police mentoring teams, led by Army Maj. David Goodman. One team works at the provincial level, while the other mentors Faryab's district police, who are responsible for general law enforcement, public safety and internal security. Both teams work from Forward Operating Base Maimaneh.

The district team, whose call sign is "PMT 21," is led by
Army Capt. Stewart Gast. His team travels to every district in Faryab to find out who the police are and where they are. The team conducted a census of police in every district in preparation for the "focused district development" initiative, which is how the Afghan Interior Ministry will reform the police and improve the rule of law.

It was a typical day for PMT 21 when they checked in with Afghan National
Police officers at the district headquarters in Qaysar. Gast and his team discovered that the chief of police was assisting the Afghan National Army by escorting detainees who had been arrested during a security operation the day before.

During Operation Shaheen Sahara (Desert Eagle), the
police in Faryab helped the Afghan soldiers by securing the roads and preventing insurgents from escaping to the north. To do this, they deployed police officers from as far away as Mazar-e Sharif, which is more than a 10-hour drive away. Some of those were deployed for more than 45 days, which is unique for local policemen and presented logistics challenges they don't normally face at home.

Further along on their mission, the team stopped at a few observation posts outside the village of Karez. Gast asked the officer in charge of the post how they were doing and if they had enough supplies. "We need more firewood," the officer replied.

Gast promised to look into it. For now, the team tends to focus more on logistics issues than on actual
police training. Later on, coalition officials gradually will take all officers from their districts and train them as complete units.

While Gast spoke to local national
police leaders, Army Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Gutierrez checked the unit's defensive positions overlooking the Ring Road. After walking through the trenches encircling the hilltop, he crawled into the bunker they had constructed.

He smiled as he looked up at the solid roof beams. "You did a good job," he told one officer.

At the next outpost, officers showed Gutierrez an improvised explosive device they had found nearby and disabled themselves. Because of its location, it was probably meant for them. While the two mortar rounds might not necessarily have caused much damage to the U.S. team's armored vehicles, they could have posed a serious threat to the Afghan police's light trucks. Yet, the police did not seem at all intimidated.

On the team's way back from visiting village elders and
police outposts a few days later, they got a radio call to help the Afghan police and coalition forces in a running gunfight with insurgents. The team suffered no casualties and kept exchanging fire even as they left. The fight shows that mentoring Afghan police is definitely "hands on," but sharing risks with the police is part of their job.

The Afghan
police impressed team member Sgt. Bill Westberg during the firefight. The Charleston, S.C., special weapons and tactics deputy has 21 years of law enforcement experience and is careful about whom he clears buildings with, but said the Afghan National Police officer who helped him was "phenomenal."

The rest of the team might not have police experience, but they bring other skills to the police mentoring team. Gunners Spc. John Caddell and Cpl. Thomas Palis provide security for the team and may spend 10 hours or more a day in the turret when the team goes out. Army Capt. Gerald Keller formerly served as a combat engineer in Iraq and now helps mentor the police.

Although they return from some missions well after dark, the job doesn't end when they park their Humvees. Guns need to be cleaned, gear needs to be unloaded, and the vehicles need to be serviced. Dinner and showers can wait. Lt. Col. Robert Williams, the commanding officer of FOB Maimaneh, watched as PMT 21 got ready for their next mission.

"They do it right," he said. "They take care of their 'horses' first."

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class David Votroubek is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.)

Public Safety Technology in the News

Editor's Note: A number of these technologies are used for counterterrorism and domestic homeland security.

Study Shows Tasers to be Relatively Harmless
The Post (10/22/07), Alivia Nuzzo

A study examining instances of
Taser® use by law enforcement at six agencies supports the use of the electro-muscular discharge units as a less-lethal alternative for law enforcement. Research data for the study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and conducted by Wake Forest University's School of Medicine, was gathered from criminal suspects' reports regarding use of Tasers®. Of the almost 1,000 subjects, 99.7% had little or no injuries. Death occurred in two instances, but it was later determined that the deaths were unrelated to the use of Tasers®.

New 911 System Can Trace Cell Calls
Daily News Transcript (10/22/07), Keith Ferguson

The Walpole (Massachusetts)
Police Department has taken advantage of Vestas Pallas, a new 911 system that reports cell phone numbers to dispatchers and provides dispatchers with the ability to trace cell phone calls to detailed locations on a computer-generated map. In the past, cell phone call location and phone number information were difficult to acquire. The system takes advantage of the GPS feature that's on most new phones to obtain location and phone number information. However, if the cell phone is older and doesn't have a GPS feature, the system initially will indicate the nearest cell tower and zero in on a more precise location as the call continues.

Townwide Alert Helps Police Find Missing, an edition of "The Telegraph," (Nashua, NH). (10/22/07), Hattie Bernstein

Lt. James Sartell has 10 years on the Hollis, New Hampshire,
police force, and has always been concerned about children and elderly citizens going missing, especially in the fall and winter months when temperatures dip down quickly. Recently an elderly man called the department after his wife did not return from an afternoon walk. The department took this opportunity to contact the toll-free national hotline for "A Child is Missing" alert system, which the town subscribes to free of charge, and within a minute the service telephoned 1,000 residents in the area near where the woman had last been seen. Roughly 490 of those calls were answered, and citizens received an automated message regarding the situation. Some of those citizens also volunteered to assist police with the search. These efforts resulted in the missing woman being found in about 2 hours.

SUU Issues First E-Mail Safety Notice (11/12/07), Josh Smith

The Southern Utah University (SUU) Department of Public Safety recently issued its first-ever campuswide e-mail alert. The alert included a mug shot and information about a gentleman "considered by Public Safety to be a threat" and requested that people alert the department if they saw him on the campus. Previous efforts would have required public safety officials to post signs throughout campus. With this new system, notification is instant and provides the capability to send notifications to everyone on the SUU system. Other future
technology projects include electronic locks on exterior doors, digital signage, comprehensive video surveillance, and an emergency siren system.

Minneapolis Wins Award for New High-Tech Emergency Dispatch System
Technology (11/8/07), News Report

Minneapolis' new cutting-edge
computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, which will improve how police and fire and rescue units respond to emergency situations, was awarded top technology honors at the 8th annual Tekne Awards. These awards acknowledge organizations and individuals that have a positive impact on the technology-based economy of Minnesota. The award-winning system went into service in March 2007. It provides first responders and 911 dispatchers with new ways to respond faster and smarter to emergency situations by making more detailed information available to them. This new system was paid for using U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funds, and was developed by TriTech, Inc. of San Diego.

Device Will Put Crooks at Cops' Fingertips
WTOP Radio (11/14/07), Hank Silverberg

Technology designed to correctly identify criminals who have given false information regarding their identity will be implemented by Fairfax County, Virginia. The county will be the first in the nation to use a handheld device that will allow police officers to instantaneously identify a person who has been arrested either by using fingerprints or a digital photo. The information captured will be cross-referenced against information contained in a database of criminal records, and in the future this system may connect to a national database of criminal records. Fairfax County is expected to have 50 of the units, which have been paid for using U.S. Department of Homeland Security funding. Several surrounding jurisdictions hope to obtain similar devices as well.

Local FBI Rolls Out Online Sharing Network
The Gazette (11/6/07), Alicia Ebaugh

In terms of information sharing between local and
State law enforcement Iowa is "far ahead," according to an FBI official, but taking advantage of an FBI site will only serve to make that communication better. On October 6, officers from across Iowa got their first look at the FBI's Law Enforcement Online information sharing network. This network assists all levels of agencies in sharing information nationwide. The FBI's system has been operational since 1995 and the agency is still working to get thousands of local, county, and State agencies involved by providing trainings to organizations nationwide. Law Enforcement Online gives officials a secure, encrypted location in which to put crime information so they can seek out information from other jurisdictions or make information available to other agencies. Access to Law Enforcement Online is granted using an FBI background check process.

FBI Harnesses Power of "On Demand" From Comcast to Track Criminals, Find Missing Persons, Make Communities Safer (11/1/07), PR Newswire

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has found a valuable tool in using the ON DEMAND
technology that Comcast uses for cable service. "Police Blotter ON DEMAND" is a community-oriented video on-demand service that was launched in the Philadelphia area last December. Recently a Comcast customer, after seeing the profile of a wanted bank robber, contacted the FBI with a tip that led to an arrest. This service provides law enforcement with another tool to reach out to the public for assistance. The features the service provides, such as pause and rewind, can assist customers in seeing details and making connections that might otherwise be lost. Police Blotter ON DEMAND is regularly updated with video profiles for bank robbers, missing persons, and individuals from the Philadelphia Police Department's most wanted files. The offering is available free of charge to customers on the Comcast system.

Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Allen C. Roberts, 21, of Arcola, Ill., died Nov. 28 from a vehicle accident near Al Asad, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 214, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

Media with questions about this Marine can contact the Yuma public affairs office at (928) 269-3422.

Troops Visit Two Southern Baghdad Schools

By Cpl. Ben Washburn, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 28, 2007 - Despite being on the ground here for only a month, the 4-64th Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, has hit the ground running. The "Tuskers" -- currently operating in the southern region of the Iraqi capital attached to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division -- continued their efforts to improve the life of Iraqi citizens by visiting two schools in the Saydiyah neighborhood Nov. 26.

The improvements in the Sunni neighborhood are important to
Army Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander.

"I want to be sure the government is taking care of all the people," Gibbs said.

With students lined up outside holding welcome signs, the soldiers first stopped by the National Reconciliation High School for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that marked the reopening of the school. Inside the school for 220 students, which stands away from the city, is new paint, windows, and electrical wiring. The renovation of the school was the result of efforts by the "Tuskers" and the "Vanguards" of the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which returned home to Germany earlier this month.

Smiling school girls gathered in groups outside and asked the soldiers in broken English, "What's your name?" One soldier said he was able to see the results of his hard work.

"The better the area gets, the better it makes you feel, because it means you are doing your job," said
Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Haynsworth, Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment.

Just a short walk from the National Reconciliation High School sits the Ishtar Elementary School, tucked away in a block of buildings, providing stark contrast to the stand-alone campus of the larger school yards away. Again, soldiers were met outside by the student body and the school administrators. The soldiers greeted many of the students outside, shook their hands, and communicated with universal hand gestures.

The children received new backpacks from the soldiers as a sign of friendship.

"We've made friends with the people in the area, which in doing so has drawn the fighters and terrorists from the area," Haynsworth said.

With Iraqi National
Police present in this Sunni neighborhood, citizen volunteers assisting with security and coalition forces working with local leaders, the area is a symbol of the transformation that is taking place all across Baghdad.

"Before, the INP couldn't come in here; now that we're friends, there's no problem with the Shiia and the INP coming down here in this area," Haynsworth said.

The opening of the school is a result of the increased security in the area, and the citizens, as well as coalition forces, are safer since the unit arrived, he added.

"Since then, we've not had one small-arms fire incident from this area here, period. No improvised explosive strikes, no small-arms fire."

Army Cpl. Ben Washburn serves with 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Public Affairs.)

The Awful Things I Must See

Patrolling the streets on the west side of town
The radio is busy dispatching a fairly normal sound
My thoughts were on Christmas, only a few weeks away
The gifts I needed to buy before the big day


Iraqi Government Wants Continued U.S. Troop Presence

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 28, 2007 - The government of Iraq appreciates the efforts and sacrifices of U.S. servicemembers engaged in the country's fight against insurgents, and it desires a continued American troop presence as Iraqi security forces improve in numbers and capability, an Iraqi government spokesman said today. The U.S.-Iraq Declaration of Principles for Friendship and Cooperation signed by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during a Nov. 26 videoconference signifies American recognition of Iraq's sovereignty and also of the United States' continued commitment of support for Iraq, Ali al-Dabbagh said during a conference call with online "bloggers" and reporters.

The declaration "is a shared statement of intent that establishes common principles to frame our future relationship," Dabbagh explained, noting the document moves the two countries further along the path to normalized bilateral relations.

leaders of Iraq and the United States have committed to begin negotiations regarding formal arrangements and relations, Dabbagh said. The envisioned relationship includes American and Iraqi cooperation "in the political, diplomatic, economic and security arenas," he added.

Under the declaration, the United States will assist Iraq in recovering funds illegally sent out of the country and will assist in efforts to encourage foreign investment, Dabbagh noted. The United States, he added, also will continue to support programs that train, equip and field Iraqi security forces.

The number of U.S. troops in Iraq will reflect the status of Iraqi security forces, Dabbagh said. American troop presence in Iraq will diminish as Iraqi soldiers and
police gain in numbers and capability, he noted.

Dabbagh acknowledged the positive effects of the surge of forces in reducing insurgent-committed violence in and around the Iraq's capital city and western regions.

"With the improvement of the security situation in Baghdad and the west area and now even in Diyala (province), I think the level of the threat has been less now," the Iraqi spokesman said.

The improvement in security, he said, has bolstered hopes that Iraqi soldiers and
police can begin taking more responsibility for security.

However, "we still need the support of the American troops and the multinational troops," Dabbagh emphasized, in order to completely defeat the insurgents.

"The threat from the
terrorist organizations is not limited to Iraq," he pointed out, adding that Iraq is at the forefront in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East region.

Iraqis are grateful for America's role in releasing them from Saddam Hussein's tyranny and for current U.S.
military efforts to keep the country free from insurgent domination, Dabbagh said.

"The Iraqi people will not forget all the sacrifice of the United States' people," he vowed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pentagon Official: Afghanistan Air Strike Hit Legitimate Targets

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 28, 2007 - An air strike earlier this week in eastern Afghanistan was based on credible intelligence from multiple sources and by all indications struck its intended targets, the Pentagon's press secretary told reporters today. NATO International Security Assistance Force troops used precision-guided munitions in the late Nov. 26 air strike in the mountainous Nuristan province, killing several insurgents, Geoff Morrell said during a Pentagon briefing. Abdullah Jan, the western Nuristan Taliban commander, is believed to be among those killed.

Morrell dismissed press reports that the attack had mistakenly killed civilian construction workers. He noted that the closest known construction site was a kilometer away from the target area and that no structures, vehicles or other construction equipment were anywhere near the impact area.

"We deem it at this point a legitimate air strike," Morrell said. He cited reports from ISAF and U.S. commanders in Afghanistan. "They had a legitimate target, they had multiple credible sources, and they believe they got their target," he said. "And at this point, there is no indication to believe there were the civilian casualties as are being described."

Morrell emphasized that the United States and its coalition partners never target civilians in their operations, but noted that "the Taliban most certainly does." Taliban fighters "most certainly put civilians in harm's way, use civilians as human shields (and) launch attacks from the midst of civilians," he said. "And they often, in the aftermath of a legitimate operation like this one, raise this issue of civilian casualties," he said.

"We have no indication at this time that there were anything other than legitimate targets killed in this operation," he said.

Face of Defense: Twice-Wounded Soldier Returns to Duty

By Pfc. Daniel M. Rangel, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 28, 2007 - A soldier serving her third combat deployment returned to Afghanistan on Nov. 12 after receiving medical treatment in Germany for injuries suffered in her second improvised-explosive-device detonation.
Army Spc. Cassandra L. Miles, a native of New Brunswick, N.J., volunteered to return after suffering a mild concussion and possible brain injury in an Oct. 28 IED attack. She survived another IED attack earlier this year, when she suffered headaches and burns.

While Miles was serving as a medic attached to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, an IED exploded near her Humvee door during a patrol in Logar province. Feeling the need to care for her unit, she asked to be returned to the aid station and medical platoon at Forward Operating Base Shank to resume her duties as soon as possible.

"A lot of people don't understand that we're very shorthanded as it is, and my section is more of a family than anything," Miles said. "Unless I had to definitely go home and I had no choice, then I was going to go back."

Miles said she has counted her blessings and is grateful to be feeling well again.

"I feel like I'm blessed," Miles said. "I'm alive with my limbs and my legs, and I shouldn't be because of where the impact was. I shouldn't even be here, but I'm still capable of doing what I've got to do -- treat patients."

Miles is part of a medical platoon in which more than half of the medics are women who patrol with infantry paratroopers on a daily basis.

"It's a hard job for a woman to prove herself to an infantry platoon that she can do the same thing a male can do and that she can carry it out on a constant basis," Miles said.
Miles credits her platoon leader,
Army 2nd Lt. Adam Davies of Houston, for a positive work environment despite the harsh conditions.

"He really sticks his neck out there for us and takes care of us," Miles said. "He fights our battles that we can't fight without having the rank."

Army Pfc. Megan Anstiss, a medic from Eau Claire, Mich., another member of the medical platoon assigned to a maneuver element, agrees with Miles.

"It's sort of like a family," Anstiss said. "We're all very close. We all look out for each other, and we argue and all that good stuff too sometimes, but it's a good place to work."

Both soldiers have been able to prove themselves to their male comrades.

"You have to do what they do," Anstiss said. "When they get out of the truck; you get out of the truck. When something breaks, you help fix it. You're there when you're supposed to be. Don't do the girly stuff. If you act like a soldier, they'll treat you like a soldier."

Male or female,
Army medics do a tough and dangerous job on a daily basis out of FOB Shank.

"If anyone gets hurt, we get out of the kill zone and treat the patient," Anstiss said. "If it becomes a situation where there are not enough personnel to return fire or nobody's hurt, then we would return fire."

Miles detailed one of the toughest fire fights she's endured.

"It was scary," Miles said. She was taking care of a patient who was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade in the undercarriage of his seat in a Humvee, she recalled. "When it blew up, he had shrapnel on his lower back all the way down to his upper knees," the medic said. "I was trying to take care of him all the way back, but we kept continuously getting hit for about 10 kilometers."

The last IED attack Miles suffered put her in and out of consciousness. She was evacuated to Bagram Air Base and sent to Germany for further treatment.

Davies said Miles was sent to Bagram to check for possible minor traumatic brain injury. "That's something that we're seeing a lot of," he said. "The
Army had just come up with a plan that everybody in the entire Army had to have MTBI and (post-traumatic stress disorder) training, and we gave that training." During the same month that his unit was conducting the training, Davies said, half of the 26 casualties evacuated had some form of minor traumatic brain injury.

Throughout Afghanistan, Army medics are enduring similar hardships, but Miles' attitude is common.

"I'm just doing my job," Miles said. "Unfortunately, we don't have the number of males needed or required ... and I couldn't leave my guys, so I asked the doctor if I could return back to country."

Army Pfc. Daniel M. Rangel is assigned to the 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Nov. 27 in Amerli, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Killed were:

Pvt. Isaac T. Cortes, 26, of Bronx, N.Y.

Spc. Benjamin J. Garrison, 25, of Houston, Texas.

For further information contact the Fort Drum public affairs office, (315) 772-8286, or go to

Officials Open School, Health Clinic in Afghanistan

By Capt. Erick Saks, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 28, 2007 - Months of work and cooperation between the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Afghan government culminated in two ribbon-cutting ceremonies Nov. 26, as hundreds of community members and several civic
leaders officially opened a girls school and a health clinic in the Kapisa province's Kohistan II district. Kapisa Gov. Kwaia Kholam Abubaker and Army Capt. Jordan Berry, Bagram PRT's Kapisa civil affairs team leader, presided over the ceremonies opening the Dihat Dasht girls school and the Jamalagha basic health clinic.

The Dihat Dasht girls school is an eight-classroom facility that will accommodate about 160 students. The $150,000 facility includes four faculty offices, restrooms, a well, a guard house and a perimeter wall.

Hamidullah Hatan, Department of Education representative, spoke at the school-opening ceremony, emphasizing the Afghan government's focus on education and stressing the community's duty to their new school.

"We are very grateful to the PRT for building this great school," Hatan said. "Now, it is the responsibility of the community to maintain it and keep those people away who would shoot rockets at it."

The eight-room Jamalagha basic health clinic is the first of its kind in the area and will be staffed by a doctor, a midwife, two nurses and two vaccination technicians, said
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Deborah Taylor, PRT medical team noncommissioned officer in charge.

"This clinic offers family-practice care, prenatal care, vaccinations and pharmaceutical services," she said. "Before this clinic was built, there wasn't a place for the people to find this kind of care in the area. This facility will have a huge impact on the lives of the people here."

Aziz Jan was the contractor for the $85,000 health clinic and said he was very satisfied with the project and was glad to create the facility for the people of the region.

"The community here is made up of good people," he said. "They were always helpful and are very excited about the clinic." The relative peacefulness of the community allows the PRT to complete projects like this in the area, Berry said. "Kohistan II is a beautiful district with friendly people," he said. "We have never had any issues with the people here, and this security allows us to help the community."

The governor agreed, expressing his gratitude to the community for embracing peace and supporting the government. "Thank you to the people of Kohistan for keeping the peace here," the governor said. "Only with peace can we build schools and clinics, giving the people freedom to study and improve themselves."

These ceremonies are the first of a series of about a dozen ribbon-cutting ceremonies planned over the next month,
Army Maj. Jim Blashford, Bagram PRT acting commander, said.

"The projects we're finalizing range from schools and clinics to roads and wells," Blashford said. "It's a busy and exciting time for the Bagram PRT. From the time the team arrived in March, our focus had been coordinating new projects and overseeing their construction. Now many of those projects are wrapping up, and we're all finally able to see the fruits of our labor."

Air Force Capt. Erick Saks serves with the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.)


The life of a cop is never easy
The life of a cop is an on going job
as he chose this career because
a love for protecting people far
outweighed his fear.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Troops Kill Four, Seize Large Weapons Cache in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 27, 2007 - Iraqi and coalition forces killed four suspected
terrorists yesterday in an operation that also claimed the life of a child. Meanwhile, combined forces uncovered a significant weapons cache, military officials said. In a raid targeting al Qaeda networks north of Beiji, coalition forces saw several individuals maneuvering near an area reported to be a terrorist logistical base and safe haven, military officials said. The ground force called for supporting aircraft, which engaged and killed two suspected terrorists.

Later in the operation, troops saw two men in a vehicle approach a road block at high speed. The driver failed to comply with coalition forces' instructions to decelerate. The ground force fired warning shots, but the driver attempted to speed through the road block. The ground force engaged and killed both men in the vehicle.

Upon inspecting the vehicle, troops discovered a child inside who had been wounded during the engagement. Coalition forces administered immediate medical care before transferring the child to a
military medical facility, where the child later died.

"We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces work diligently to rid this country of the
terrorist networks that threaten the security of Iraq and our forces," said Navy Cmdr. Ed Buclatin, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

Elsewhere in Iraq, national
police members from the Khansa police station and coalition forces are conducting joint patrols around Baghdad to maintain momentum of security efforts in the Iraqi capital, military officials said.

During a recent joint training patrol in a junkyard filled with abandoned automobiles, soldiers from 54th Military
Police Company, 95th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, found a weapons cache containing five handheld radios, more than 2,000 7.62 mm rifle rounds, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, 29 metal plates, and four protective vests. Military officials said the amount of items seized in the cache likely will prevent future deaths in the al Khansa district.

Iraqi police requested explosive ordnance teams to dispose of the cache.

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

Coalition, Iraqi Troops Continue to Pressure al Qaeda

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 27, 2007 - Coalition and Iraqi operations are keeping up the pressure on al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq, a senior U.S.
military official told reporters in Baghdad today. Although al Qaeda in Iraq "retains the capacity" to replace a series of leaders killed or captured in recent months during engagements against coalition troops and Iraqi security forces, the terrorist group clearly is under duress, said Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

Several al Qaeda chieftains operating in Tarmiyah, Mosul, Baghdad and other areas across Iraq have been killed or detained during anti-insurgent actions as part of surge operations, Smith said.

Success achieved against al Qaeda in Iraq "is placing strains at the top, restricting their freedom to maneuver, forcing al Qaeda members to constantly be in a survival mode vice planning their next attack, and has clearly eroded the experience level at the senior levels of al Qaeda's various networks," Smith explained.

In addition, concerned Iraqi citizens are playing an ever-increasing role in countering al Qaeda operations in Iraq, Smith said.

"Now 77,000 strong, these brave Iraqis, once terrorized and intimidated by al Qaeda and other insurgents, are volunteering to support security in their neighborhoods," Smith said. "The volunteers receive basic training and then patrol their neighborhoods and man checkpoints."

The efforts of these citizen groups have "an enormous effect on the security environment and will help to bridge the gap, while the Iraqi security forces steadily grow in numbers and capability to one day take over this responsibility throughout all of Iraq," Smith said.

Smith also saluted the efforts of courageous coalition and Iraqi engineers who quickly rebuilt the Qayyarah Bridge that spans the Tigris River in Ninevah province. The bridge, which is important to local commerce, was destroyed by an al Qaeda truck bomb last week, he said.

"Working through the night, Iraqi and coalition forces engineers repaired the span in just 12 hours," Smith said. More than 1,200 feet in length, the repaired bridge "is a major part of the economic and social infrastructure in the province" and also connects main travel routes between Mosul and Baghdad, he added.

Iraq Infrastructure Needs Maintenance, Operations Procedures

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 27, 2007 - Establishing proper maintenance procedures and operations processes is as important as providing power plants, hospitals and other infrastructure in Iraq, a senior U.S.
military engineer said today. The United States has contributed almost $14 billion toward Iraq's rebuilding effort, including nearly 4,000 projects designed to help improve the country's infrastructure and central services, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Dorko, commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference.

Yet, improving the state of Iraq's infrastructure isn't only about providing "brick and mortar" items like roads, bridges, hospitals, and water treatment and electric power plants, Dorko said.

"It is every bit as important to meet the needs of the Iraqi society and the Iraqi people, as it is anywhere in the world, to focus on operations and management and maintenance sustainment policies, practices and procedures that allow those pieces of infrastructure to be effectively and efficiently used to meet the needs of the people of Iraq for years or decades or even generations to come," Dorko said.

For example, the general noted that 142 health care centers are being built for the people of Iraq, including a new children's hospital in Basra.

"We're also working with the staffs of those centers to ensure they know how to operate the equipment in the facilities and how to maintain the facilities so they're sure to function at their optimal levels for years to come," Dorko said.

Other training programs are under way for Iraqi employees who work on the country's electrical generation, transmission and distribution systems, the general pointed out.

"We're providing training for workers on operating, monitoring and maintaining what is a very complex system," Dorko said, noting Iraq's power grid capability is improving daily.

As part of these efforts, the Gulf Division is implementing a $345 million infrastructure sustainment program that instructs Iraqi employees how to provision, operate, manage and maintain their facilities over the long term, Dorko explained.

The numerous training programs underway greatly affect the Iraqi economy, Dorko pointed out, noting that more than 470 contracts totaling more than $200 million have been awarded to Iraqi business women.

More than 100 Iraqi engineers have taken online courses teaching project management skills, the proper repair of masonry and concrete and many other subjects, the general said.

"And, we've trained more than 690 employees in the Ministry of Water Resources on how to operate and maintain water treatment facilities," Dorko said.

Dorko took over the Gulf Division on Oct. 10 from outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Michael J. Walsh. Dorko is back on duty after being wounded by shrapnel from an enemy improvised explosive device Oct. 29 in northern Baghdad.

Time Critical for Medevac Crews

By Pfc. Monica K. Smith, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 27, 2007 - "Medevac! Medevac! 2nd Up." As the call comes over the radio, the living room of the pilots, crew chiefs and medics of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, springs to life. Soldiers scramble to grab their gear and run to the Black Hawk helicopters that will carry them to the site where a patient waits for a lift to 25th Combat Surgical Hospital, in Baghdad.

Speed is key to these medical evacuation soldiers whose sole mission is to transfer patients to medical facilities at Baghdad and Balad.

"Time is the most important (element)," said Chief Warrant Officer Travis Powell, a pilot in Co. C. "We take pride in trying to be the fastest aircraft off the ground."

The medevac company is allotted 15 minutes from the initial call to when the aircraft is off the ground, but for Co. C the time from the call to "wheels up" is less than 10 minutes said Sgt. Reid Carpenter, a flight medic with Co. C. Patients are usually picked up within 40 minutes depending on the pick-up site, Carpenter said.

The medevac company picks up three classes of patients: urgent, priority and routine. Urgent patients typically have gunshot wounds, and the pilots have no more than an hour to move the patients to a medical facility. Priority patients have four hours to be moved, but have the potential to become urgent. Routine patients are those whose circumstances are not life threatening, such as a doctor's appointment. The majority of patients are urgent and priority from gun shot wounds or Humvees rolling over an improvised explosive device, Powell said.

To conserve life-saving time, the company prepares the aircraft and gear in advance. A preflight run-up of the aircraft begins at 6 a.m. daily, when a health indicator test is performed on the engines, radios are set, equipment is loaded, and gear is sitting ready in the cockpit.

"We have a dedicated phone for medevac calls," said Capt. Shane Miller, of Co. C, 2-3 Aviation Regiment. "When the call comes, the (pilot) and crew chief go directly to the aircraft to run up the aircraft, while the other pilot gets information on the patient and where to pick them up. Then it's 'Go! Go! Go!'"

The ground units also assist in speeding the process of transporting patients. Ground units provide a pinpoint eight-digit grid coordinate and mark landing areas to signal pilots so the units are not searching for a place to land.

"We fly as fast as the aircraft will go," Powell said. "It's pretty exciting. Speed is the essence (of our job)."

Army Pfc. Monica K. Smith is assigned to 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.)

Gates Asks Congress Not to Derail Iraq Progress

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 27, 2007 - Important progress the
military is making in the war on terror would be derailed if Congress doesn't pass a supplemental war spending bill "in short order," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the Killeen, Texas, Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Congress has passed supplemental measures, but each includes timetables for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. President Bush has vowed to veto any spending bill that contains this language.

Killeen is the site of Fort Hood, home of the
Army's 3rd Corps, 4th Infantry Division, and 1st Cavalry Division. At least one major unit from Fort Hood has been deployed to Iraq since March 2003.

Gates said the facts of the problem are simple. "Without these funds,
Army operations and maintenance funds will be exhausted by mid-February, and similar Marine Corps funds about a month later," he said. "We cannot wait until mid-February to figure out how to deal with the consequences of these accounts running dry."

If Congress does not pass a bill the president will sign, the department will have to take measures, starting in mid-December, the secretary said to the group. DoD will need to send furlough notifications out to
Army civilian employees beginning next month. The service also will have to terminate contracts and reduce base services and operations.

"We're not trying to scare anyone or play politics; that's not the way I do business," Gates said. "But I am responsible for prudent
management and planning, and that means prior planning just in case we don't get this funding in a bill the president will sign."

The secretary likened DoD to the world's biggest supertanker: It cannot turn on a dime, and we cannot steer it like a skiff. "I do not want to cause anxiety among our employees, but I must plan and I must prepare," he said.

In the question-and-answer session that followed the speech, Gates said the surge of additional forces into Iraq has worked. "I think that the decision to increase by a substantial number the combat forces in Iraq has taken what was a pretty dismal prospect a year ago and turned it into a pretty promising aspect right now. The security situation is significantly improved," he said.

While the security situation is better, servicemembers still are being killed and wounded in Iraq. "I have two folders of condolence letters in my hotel room to sign tonight," he said. "It's the worst part of my job. So no matter how successful we are in terms of the military strategy, there are still families that are hurting, and we need to be cognizant of that and take care not only of the servicemember but the families of those wounded or killed."

The surge has made a huge difference, Gates said, and positive and promising political and economic developments on the ground that the United States did not anticipate are taking place. The secretary said he does not want to count the chickens too early. "But I think the signs are all positive right now," he added.

Gates noted that
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus told Congress in September that he wanted to bring five brigades home by July 2008. Since Petraeus, the commander of Multinational Force Iraq, made that announcement, "things have only gotten better," Gates said.

"My hope is that we will not only be able to meet that timetable, but that we will be able to continue the drawdowns after July," he said.

The security progress in Iraq has allowed a Fort Hood unit -- 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division -- to redeploy. "The members of that brigade and of every other unit throughout the U.S. armed forces have been giving this effort everything they've got," Gates said. "And they've gained something in return: They know that they are defending our country and shaping the course of history."

Gates said Fort Hood units have been under stress. The units deploy for 15 months and are at home station for a year. "Let me point out that more help is on the way," Gates told the crowd.

The Army is recruiting more soldiers to build more units, and money is programmed to help improve the quality of life for families when their loved ones are deployed.

Gates also praised families of deployed soldiers. "America owes a great deal to those who have been called 'the power behind the power' -- the spouses, children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of our men and women in uniform," he said. "They, too, make a significant contribution and pay a price in the cause of protecting the United States and its allies."

Gates recalled his days the president of
Texas A&M University before becoming defense secretary. "When I was at A&M, I would get e-mails from Aggies serving in Iraq," he said during the question-and-answer session. "They all said three things: 'We want to come home, we don't want to come home until the job is done, and we don't want the sacrifices of our buddies to be in vain.'

"I think that's the way most people feel at this point, and the truth is I think we're on a track where with any luck we can meet all three of those conditions," Gates said.

Iraqi Targeting Success Now Equals Coalition Efforts

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 27, 2007 - Iraqi forces can now gather intelligence and go after targets as successfully as U.S. units there, a senior intelligence advisor in the region said today. Iraqi intelligence gathering and processing has progressed at the
tactical level to the point that target information is collected, processed and approved and then sent to Iraqi units, who go after the target. The cycle is successful in yielding results about 30 percent of the time.

That is about the same as U.S. efforts, said Daniel M. Maguire, the senior intelligence advisor and director of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior intelligence transition team, speaking via telephone to a group of
Internet journalists and "bloggers."

"They are right now on par in terms of going after targets and having success ... with the rest of the coalition forces," Maguire said.

Maguire's joint team of about 80
military members and civilians work within the ministries of Defense and Interior, advising and mentoring Iraqi officials as they build the capacity of the intelligence efforts. His department falls under Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, which is responsible for training, manning and equipping Iraqi security forces.

Maguire said he believes intelligence capabilities within the Iraqi government should be self-sustaining by this time next year. In Baghdad "we have gone from submitting probably less than a dozen targets on a weekly basis, of which none were actionable, to most recently being able to submit between 50 and 60 on a weekly basis, 90 percent which are actionable" or have sufficient details that Iraqi forces can go out and make an arrest, seize a target or pick up the weapons cache, Maguire said.

Some targets, though, still are sent to coalition forces, depending on their sensitivity or if they are out of Iraqi forces' technical capabilities.

"But the success story is really (that), from the front end to the back end, (the) complete cycle is Iraqi-run and Iraqi-executed," he said.

Under Saddam Hussein's rule, intelligence organizations within Iraqi security divisions were there more often to spy on commands than to collect outside target information.

Maguire said his team is working to resolve commanders' suspicions by directly working with commanders and assigning senior intelligence officers at division levels so the commander and the intelligence officers establish working relationships.

Iraqi intelligence efforts are limited in some technical capabilities, such as intelligence gathering. Maguire's office is working to get the Iraqis some low-level capabilities that would apply against target sets they are confronting, he said.

At a more senior level, the biggest challenge is recruiting trained analysts and supplying them with secure communications devices and analysis computers and software. They have about 80 percent of what they need, Maguire said.

But, he added, the Iraqi government is hiring and recruiting mostly by word of mouth at universities and reaching out to former military and intelligence officers.

Maguire said he thinks that this time next year they will be "perfectly capable of collecting (intelligence) against a target and executing against a target probably in most of the provinces."

Civil Military Operations Platoon Helps Neighborhood

By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2007 - Iraqi children at the Daklea Market in Baghdad come up to American soldiers with broad smiles on their faces. Some ask for soccer balls like thousands of other kids across the country, but some just wanted to talk with the troops who have brought calm to their little corner of the Iraqi capital. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment's Civil
Military Operations Platoon were there Nov. 18 to take a census of sorts among the shop owners.

The platoon was documenting all the shop owners in the area. That day they catalogued the last shops.

"It's all about sales," said
Army 1st Lt. Quinn Robertson, the platoon's leader from Richmond, Va., who sold stocks before joining the Army. "It's all about selling yourself. That's how you talk to them."

Robertson's strong background in the business world and his time as a battery executive officer and battalion intelligence officer have served him well with the platoon, he said, as he helps Iraqis learn how to rebuild their nation.

"It's all about the relationship building," he said after meeting and greeting various Iraqis at the market. "They don't come from the same backgrounds as we do, so we are reintroducing them to the process – the who and where you get the money from to get things done. The way you talk to them goes a long way."

The CMO platoon, created in September, was the brainchild of former Civil-
Military Officer, Army 1st Lt. Alex Barnett, who saw its creation as a way to free up combat power, said Lancaster, Pa., native Army 1st Lt. Neal Rice, the battalion's civil military operations officer.

"Before we had the platoon, line platoons were escorting us all over the battlefield," the 27-year-old said. "CMO became such a big part of our mission that we were getting inundated. So the commander said, 'Let's get a platoon.' Now CMO has freedom of movement anywhere in the area of operations."

The platoon -- made up of various
military occupational specialties including administrative, medical, infantry and cannon crewmembers -- has helped to calm a once restive market.

The battalion, and the platoon, brought a local religious leader over to their side with signs of progress, Robertson said.

"He was not exactly on the fence," he said. "But we brought him onto the fence then our actions brought him over. We asked if he was the power in the neighborhood and he said, 'Yes.' So we put him together with the neighborhood (advisory) council. With the NAC and him together, the bad guys could only take him so far."

And the neighborhood began to steadily improve, he added. Besides helping get the Daklea Market back on its feet, the platoon is tasked with "getting sewage off the streets, getting the pumping stations working, assessing schools and assisting the Iraqi
police auxiliary in Yarmouk," said Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Whaley, an infantryman from Bloomington, Ind., and CMO platoon sergeant.

The platoon also helped with
police auxiliary recruitment drives in Hateen and Yarmouk. But, the success of the platoon goes back to one thing, Robertson said.

"It's all about relationship building," the 33-year-old five-year
Army veteran said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons serves with 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Public Affairs.)

Afghan Commandos Detain Several Taliban Extremists

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2007 - Afghanistan's elite
military force detained several suspected insurgents during an operation in the Zormat district of Paktya province yesterday, officials said. The Afghan commandos targeted a Taliban bomb-making site during an early morning raid in Sheykhan village. The Taliban responded with sporadic gunfire in an attempt to defend their position. After the brief firefight, several Taliban suspects were taken into custody for further investigation.

"Once again, the commandos demonstrated their ability to rapidly respond to the concerns of local citizens and the directives of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," said
Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

"Thank you for giving us peace and stability in the village, all we want is to live in peace," a local villager said to
military officials.

The commandos' training and dedication to mission paid off, Belcher said, noting the Iraqi troops' "aggressive attitude and enhanced skills allowed them to seize the initiative and work well with their partnered (Afghan
police) throughout this operation."

In other Afghanistan news, coalition troops detained five Taliban militants suspected of weapons smuggling during an operation conducted in Zabul province Nov. 23.

"Coalition forces are continuing to disrupt the Taliban's supply of weapons in Afghanistan," said Belcher. "We are eroding the Taliban's resources and their ability to bring harm on the Afghan people."

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

Troop Redeployment Gets Under Way in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2007 - The first reduction in American forces in Iraq is under way, as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division heads back to Fort Hood, Texas. The brigade will not be replaced. Roughly 162,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq in 20 brigade teams or their Marine equivalents. If all goes well, this will drop to 15 brigade combat teams over the next eight months,
Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq in Baghdad, said Nov. 24.

Iraqi security forces are attaining the expertise and operational capabilities needed to police their own country, Smith said. Iraqi forces are taking over more of the battle space in Baghdad and around the country.

"Current conditions allow for a withdrawal of the first unit ... starting on Nov. 27," Smith said. "If conditions continue to permit, a total of five brigade combat teams will be redeployed over the next eight months."

The redeployment of the brigade shows the coalition's confidence in Iraqi security forces and reflects the overall improved security in the country, Smith said. The brigade – based in Diyala province – will not leave a vacuum in the province.

"We do not intend to give back our hard-fought ground," Smith said. "Repositioning of coalition and Iraqi security forces will ensure that overall force levels and combat capability levels in Diyala will be tailored to meet emerging threats."

Soldiers of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division are replacing the 3rd Brigade forces, said
Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The Stryker Brigade has been conducting combat operations in other areas of Iraq for the past six months and is absorbing Diyala into its battle space.

"Over the past 14 months, my soldiers and the Iraqi security forces, the provincial government and other officials have worked hard to bring stability and services to Diyala," Sutherland said. "And it's truly gratifying to see the efforts of my soldiers come to fruition."

The province, while still troubled, has come a long way, he said. The security problem dominated; government, economy and basic services hinged on improved security, he explained.

"Public perception of inequity, corruption, and fear became the driving force behind support to terrorists, specifically al Qaeda," the colonel said.

In May, prior to Operation Arrowhead Ripper and the surge of troops in Diyala, there were 1,051 significant acts of violence, Sutherland said. This included murders, kidnappings and suicide attacks. "Today, the operational environment is drastically improving," he said. "By the end of October, there were 464 significant acts of violence reported. This is a drop of over 50 percent of significant acts in a province the size of Maryland, with over 1.6 million citizens." And the trend continues. Through Nov. 20, there were just over 200 acts of violence this month.

"These improvements would not have been possible without the support and cooperation from the local citizens who were tired of the hatred and disgust offered by extremist organizations," he said. "The surge enabled the coalition and Iraqi security forces to dominate the terrain and secure the population. It also helped the government to function properly and begin focusing on reconstruction and essential services."

But in the end, it was the people of the province who enabled the surge to succeed. Roughly 3,000 concerned local citizens have stood up against al Qaeda, Sutherland said. "They assist the Iraqi
police by guarding their own roads and local infrastructure and manning checkpoints throughout the province," he explained.

These concerned local citizens also provide coalition and the Iraqi security forces with information about weapons caches, locations of car bombs and house-borne and deep-buried improvised explosive devices, and are turning in known al Qaeda fighters. "These concerned local citizens understand that the future of Iraq can be better if they get involved in ridding the province of al Qaeda and participate in the development of their own democracy," he said.

"As I've said on numerous occasions, we cannot kill our way out of this," Sutherland said. "In Diyala, when the government loses its will, the people lose hope and they turn to other sources to provide that hope. Today, there is hope in Diyala."

Iraqis Build Fallujah's First Sewage System

By Norris Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2007 - About 450 Iraqis are working to get Fallujah's first sewer system operational by summer. That number is expected to grow soon to a construction force of 700 Iraqis. The $85 million project includes a collection system, trunk mains, pump stations and a wastewater treatment plant processing 10.5 million gallons of water a day.

"People are happy because our community is safer now and there are more American projects creating jobs in different areas," said construction manager Awaf Abdul Rahim at the wastewater treatment plant. "It's helped Fallujah's unemployment. When the security situation improved earlier this year, we were inspired to work hard. Our construction crews became more serious and active and are now getting more done."

Peter Collins, with the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, is the project manager overseeing the work. "The long-term benefit is huge. At the moment, Fallujah's raw sewage is flowing into the Euphrates River, polluting it, impacting communities downstream who depend on it as a drinking source," Collins said.

Apart from the Iraqi work force, the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers has 35 Iraqi engineers visiting the various project sites daily, checking on the quality of the ongoing construction and encouraging worker safety.

Collins said the new treatment plant will have the capacity to serve Fallujah's needs until 2025, even if the community has a 50 percent growth in population from 200,000 to 300,000 residents.

"People in Fallujah may not fully appreciate the impact of this project because they have never lived in a sewage-free city. Next year there will be no wastewater flowing in the streets and their children will be able to play safely outside," Collins said. "It represents a monumental step forward, and that's what motivates us as we work to achieve that goal."

(Norris Jones serves in Iraq with the Gulf Region Central District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)

Rakkasans Kick Off Operation Marne Courageous

By Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2007 - For some, a wake-up call came in the form of a B-1B bomber dropping its load on a suspected insurgent safe haven in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 16. Components from the Iraqi
army and the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans" kicked off Operation Marne Courageous when 4,000 pounds of explosives were dropped on an island in the middle of the Euphrates River at 3:50 a.m.

The objective was to deny insurgents the opportunity to use the island as an asylum, said
Air Force Capt. Craig Barham, 15th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, supporting the Rakkasans.

Marne Courageous is aimed at securing the populations of Owesat and Betra, former insurgent sanctuary areas, by establishing a permanent presence on the west side of the Euphrates River, officials said.

"In addition to that, we're going to exploit any intelligence that could lead us to the missing or captured soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division," said
Army Maj. Curtis Crum, 3rd BCT operations officer. The two soldiers, Spc. Alex Jiminez and Pvt. Byron Fouty, went missing May 12.

"The goal of this joint effort with the Iraqi
army and U.S. soldiers is to defeat any remaining extremists or al Qaeda in Iraq operatives on the western side of the Euphrates River in our zone," Crum said.

The operation has three phases: intelligence-gathering, establishing security and maintaining a presence.

Phase 2 began with the bombing and air assault. Units went into Owesat and Betra, knocking on doors and trying to identify anti-coalition forces and al Qaeda members, as well as looking for information that might lead to the whereabouts of Jiminez and Fouty.

The second and third phases overlapped. While troops on the ground established security after the air assault, a float bridge unit out of Hanau, Germany, the 502nd Engineer Company, began emplacement of a bridge that extends from Patrol Base Dragon across the Euphrates to extend the lines of communication.

"The movement of forces to clear the objective, since it is somewhat permissive, is going very smooth, so we were able to employ the bridge immediately," said
Army Col. Dominic Caraccilo, 3rd BCT commander, adding that a good portion of the bridge was emplaced in the first day.

Also a part of the third phase is the construction of Patrol Base Kemple, where Company A, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, will be based. The location has been established and will be operational by mid-December, officials said.

The patrol base is named for
Army Cpl. Andrew Kemple, who was serving in Iraq with Company A, 3-187th Infantry Regiment, when he was killed Feb. 12, 2006.

From the timing of the bombing to boots on the ground, the commander of the Rakkasans said everything was on point and that he was pleased with what had happened so far.

"We expect nothing less than perfection when you do an air assault, because the risk associated ... is so high that you can't accept anything (else)," Caraccilo said. "Tactically, for us to be able to employ like this is pretty significant – that was exceptional."

He also noted how well his soldiers and those of the 3rd Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade worked together. "To be able to get on aircraft with pilots we've never really trained with shows that the
Army truly is modular," he said. "That we can plug into another division and use their combat multipliers and be successful is another confirmation that the Army transformation worked."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy serves with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.)