Friday, October 31, 2008

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Scott J. Metcalf, 36, of Framingham, Mass., died Oct. 29, in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information, media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-9966, or go to

Coalition Forces Provide Professional Development for Iraqi Police

By Navy Seaman William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 31, 2008 - The Iraqi
police have achieved operational proficiency, allowing coalition trainers to shift their focus to professional development, an officer said yesterday. "We're continuing to develop big numbers of recruits, but at the same time we're also starting to add to the professional training," U.S. Army Col. Bryan Bequette, director of training support for the Civilian police Assistance Training Team, told bloggers during a teleconference. "Investigator courses, follow on leadership courses, management course ... as we start working on professionalism of the force along and in parallel with the size of it."

Bequette is in command of a team of former
police officers, most of them from the United States, that are Iraq in contract positions advising at Iraqi police training centers. They serve primarily in an advisory role.

"Most of what we do is overwatch and assist," he said.

Bequette said his primary concern is training the Iraqi
leadership in logistics, management and administration. In order to help the Iraqi leadership become more adept in dealing with logistics, international police advisors also assist in mentoring and logistic support.

"From a trainer's prospective, we're going through right now and scrubbing all the curriculums... the officer curriculums, commissioner curriculums, trying to put more administrative and logistics training in those curriculums," Bequette said.

"The biggest thing is fuel...keeping their local electrical generation going...they just don't have the mindset of sustained maintenance like we do in our military," he added.

Bequette said the Iraqi
leadership has excelled in other areas of training however.

"The students seem a little more confident," he said. "The training seems a little better structured. I have noticed the national
police, they just seem to be very aggressive about wanting to become a force that's relied on," Bequette explained.

Bequette attributes the motivation, and professionalization of the recruits to the aggressive

"The last battalion that came in, the
leadership was in control from the jumpstart. They had high morale and looked very professional coming in," he said.

"The big tall ticket item right now is investigator training -- basic investigator and advanced investigator," he said. "Now that we've got a handle on providing the numbers to the field the next thing they want is good, quality investigative training."

(Navy Seaman William Selby works for the New Media branch of Defense Media Activity.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Soldiers Help to Turn Abandoned Carnival Into Public Park

By Army Sgt. Jerry Saslav
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2008 - Dover Park, as it is known by Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers, sat abandoned for years. Located in the Qahira neighborhood of Baghdad's Adhamiyah district, its carnival rides were unusable, and the land was overgrown with weeds. "As I drove by the
Army canal every day, I saw this park, and I said, 'This is something we can do to help the citizens,'" Army Col. John Hort, commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said.

Rehabilitating the park became the mission of Army 1st Lt. Rosita Rodriguez, a civil affairs team chief in Multinational Division Baghdad with Company C, 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to the 3rd BCT. Work on the park was completed in two months, and soldiers handed it over to the local neighborhood council Oct. 28.

"This is our first park in Qahira. We never had one before," said Mohamed Madaloom, the Qahira Neighborhood Assistance Council chairman.

The park has a small pond with a generator-run fountain, complete with a flock of geese, as well as benches, solar lights, several swings, slides and seesaws. A tiled path is lined with flowers, and new grass has been planted. A gardener and a security guard will be hired, Madaloom said.

The park is intended to be self-sufficient, and seven small kiosks will be rented to vendors. The rent will provide an income stream to buy fuel for the generator and pay the staff's salaries and other expenses.

"Everybody admires the park. I know the families are so excited to get here," said Madaloom, who, along with other local officials and coalition forces
leaders, gathered for the official handover. Iraqi officials and Hort raised the Iraqi flag to symbolize the opening of the park as doves were released. Some families and their children couldn't wait; they were already on the rides.

"I'm so pleased; our kids aren't able to go many places because of the security situation. I am so pleased that we have such a park in our neighborhood," said Aum Achmed, who was there with her daughter and a niece. "It's important for every kid to have a place to go to."

The younger set agrees. "It's good. It used to be awful before. I wouldn't even look at it before," said Mostfa, a 3-year-old Iraqi child, before running off to a nearby slide.

Army Sgt. Jerry Saslav serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Coalition Forces Capture Wanted Men, Additional Suspects

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2008 - Coalition forces further debilitated al-Qaida in Iraq networks during operations yesterday and today, capturing four wanted men and detaining six additional suspects,
military officials reported. Today in Sadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted man assessed to be associated with al-Qaida weapons and foreign terrorist facilitation networks in the region. One additional suspect was detained for further questioning.

Two more wanted men were captured by forces operating in Baghdad today. One of the men, believed to be an al-Qaida financier, surrendered to coalition forces and turned in his associate.

Forces in Mosul targeted al-Qaida's communication lines yesterday. A wanted man believed to be an al-Qaida courier associated with multiple regional leaders was captured along with three suspects during the operation.

Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained two suspected criminals during combat operations yesterday in southern Baghdad's Rashid district.

In the Jihad community, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's Company C, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, detained and transported a suspected
criminal to a nearby combat outpost. The suspect allegedly is responsible for indirect-fire and small-arms attacks, weapons trafficking and murder.

After receiving a tip from a local citizen, 4th Infantry Division soldiers from Troop C, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, detained a suspected
criminal in the Abu Tshir community. The patrol seized 81 mm mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and rifles from his vehicle. The patrol returned with the detainee to a combat outpost for questioning.

In operations Oct. 28:.

-- In an operation in Khatoon, an Iraqi special weapons and tactics team captured a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq cell leader believed to be responsible for planning and coordinating attacks against Iraqi security forces. He also is suspected of providing financial backing, logistical support, and safe haven for al-Qaida fighters in Khatoon.

-- In Salamiyah, southeast of Mosul, Iraqi special operations forces arrested a suspected leader of an Islamic State of Iraq terrorist organization cell responsible for murdering many Iraqi police in Mosul. The suspect reportedly commands insurgents in the village.

-- Acting on a citizen tip, Iraqi National
Police officer seized a munitions cache in eastern Baghdad. The cache consisted of three 81 mm mortar rounds, three 60 mm mortar rounds, four RPG launchers, five RPG warheads, three RPG fuse assemblies, about 400 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition and a Dragonov sniper rifle.

-- In Rashid, Iraqi special operations forces arrested a suspected
criminal military cell leader on an Interior Ministry warrant.

In operations Oct. 27:

-- The Iraqi
SWAT team in Kut detained two suspected criminal cell members. One of the individuals is said to be a facilitator who supplies weapons and provides financial support and a safe house, officials said. The other individual is believed to be an active member of a sniper cell.

-- In Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers captured a suspected Kataib Hezbollah militant said to have ties to an improvised rocket builder and facilitator. The individual is believed to be responsible for a rocket-assisted mortar attack on a joint security station in July. The suspect's cell also reportedly participated in RPG attacks in April and June. Kataib Hezbollah, also known as Hezbollah Brigades, is a terrorist group believed to receive funding, training, logistics and material support from Iran to attack Iraqi and coalition forces using what the
military calls "explosively formed penetrators," or EFPs – roadside bombs designed to pierce armor-hulled vehicles – and other weapons such as rocket-assisted mortars.

-- Baghdad National Emergency Response Brigade captured a suspected facilitator for the militant Kataib Hezbollah's improvised rocket-assisted mortars cell.

-- Iraqi special operations forces captured six suspected al-Qaida in Iraq cell members northwest of Mosul in Barzan. The cell members are suspected of bombing the Barzan police station earlier this month and attacking the Badoush Prison in March 2007.

-- A Tal Afar
SWAT team captured four suspected al-Qaida members in the village of Ibrat Najar. The individuals are suspected of providing supplies to other al-Qaida terrorists in Mosul. Three Katusha rockets were found north of the village and were destroyed.

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

Homeland Defense Demands Integrated Efforts, NorthCom Commander Says

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2008 - In the six years since the Defense Department stood up a combatant command charged with unifying homeland defense efforts, U.S. Northern Command has moved from a past mixed with tension and friction among commanders and agencies to an international model of integration at all levels, its commander said yesterday. "The synergy that has been created by this continuum of effort, from warning to consequence management, is what this nation deserves and is maybe one of the best examples anywhere in the world," said
Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and NorthCom. "We have created a true team effort."

Renuart told the attendees of the National Homeland Defense Foundation symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., that effectively defending the homeland and responding to natural or man-made disasters requires an integrated approach that involves federal, state and local governments, and even international and private organizations.

In the end, Renuart said, the average citizen doesn't really care how relief is delivered, only that it is delivered.

"Our citizens really don't care if it's a hurricane or a flood or an airplane striking towers in New York City. They want to see if the nation is prepared to take care of them when these events occur," Renuart said. "So we have to have an integrated organization, ... a team that prepares for the worst that always questions the way we ought to be in the future, not [one that] just worries about what we've done in the past."

Renuart said over the past six years organizations have blended together that once operated somewhat autonomously, each caring for its own particular piece of the homeland defense puzzle.

Within the Department of Homeland Defense, 22 organizations were pulled together. Within DoD, commands were dissolved as others were standing up. Many agencies were suddenly responsible for working together that had not traditionally had a relationship.

Now, the agencies have been successful at growing teams, rewriting policy and securing funding and support, Renuart said. He now has the ability to plan alongside support agencies. This allows commanders and
leaders to understand gaps in support and resource needs, he said. This type of collaboration will make homeland defense successful, Renuart said.

The commander cited recent support in California during its forest fire season, where as many as 2,000 fires were burning at one time in areas not accessible by traditional fire-fighting resources. A joint task force already was in place, and aviation assets flew 470 sorties, Renuart said.

Also, while hurricanes Gustav and Ike did not render the devastation that was projected, teams were in place to coordinate aid even before the storms hit land.

"In each case, we had the support of the nation to put a collaborative team on the ground pre-landfall to ensure that we could assist the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as they prepared for what at least looked to be a near-catastrophic event," Renuart said.

Renuart said 72,000
military servicemembers were deployed after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. For Gustav and Ike, a few thousand were in place before landfall, and 15,000 were on alert. Integration of search and rescue efforts after the hurricanes was the best this nation has seen, Renuart said.

"That pre-event planning, that understanding and integration of capabilities, ... allows us to not just throw mass at the problem, but rather quick precision against the problem," Renuart said. "That's the nature of working in the homeland. It's not a mass-against-the-problem challenge. It is the ability to put the right kind of ... support against a challenge in the community so that the citizens of that community are cared for."

Renuart said the nation can never again consider NORAD, with its missile, cyber and maritime warning systems, and NorthCom, with its response capabilities, operating distinctly. The general said the strength of terrorism often lies in the fact that its groups can move faster than governments.

"Warning requires an integrated team. Action requires a national effort. If you separate those, you lose the ability to operate effectively in a ... decision cycle where our enemies can move faster than government," Renuart said. "We have to accelerate that process. One of the ways we have done that is to make the missions of warning and deterrence integrated into missions of response and consequence management."

Renuart said NorthCom and NORAD are integrated across their staffs. It improves efficiency, he explained, and it helps in integration, planning, coordination and timeliness of execution.

Renuart praised the Defense Department's recent approval of the assignment of a brigade-sized contingent of troops to NorthCom. The 4,700 troops will belong to the command for the next year, and are dedicated to training and preparing to respond to a large-scale chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event or other major explosion. The force is designed to support civilian agencies that might be overwhelmed by the size of a large-scale disaster, Renuart said.

Before, forces were earmarked by the services for support to NorthCom, but the command had no control over their training or equipping. This led to an ad hoc, mismatched effort that was largely reactive, he said.

"That model showed itself during Katrina to be flawed," Renuart said. "If you wait for an event to occur and then you say 'I need forces to come and help,' ... those forces aren't prepared. They're not trained. They may not be equipped the way we want. There is no command structure established. There is no way to integrate those with the national effort in a way that is truly effective."

Now, DoD will annually assign forces to the command and NorthCom will mandate their training and equipping and integrate their command staffs into planning. This will add to the 11,000 servicemembers that NorthCom has identified for its missions who already are serving mostly in specialty units such as medical, aviation and rescue.

This first brigade-size element is made up of aviation and medical assets and nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialists. But the bulk of its troops come from an active-duty brigade combat team at Fort Stewart, Ga. This has caught the attention of some in the media and activists who are wary of the use of federal troops on American soil.

Renuart said the forces will not be used to quell an insurrection or to usurp the authority of local governors or law enforcement.

"That is absolutely not the concept," he said. "These forces are ... organized, trained and equipped to go in and assist in an event that is of such a scale that local and even federal first responders are not able to manage."

Renuart said a second element, roughly the same size, will be built in 2009, largely from National Guard forces.

During the speech, Renuart cited NorthCom's successes working with the U.S.
Coast Guard in its efforts to secure the nation's ports. The command also works with U.S. Southern Command on counternarcotics efforts and collaborates with Canada and Mexico to share intelligence on drug shipments and cartel movements, Renuart said.

The command also has worked to integrate its efforts with international agencies such as the Red Cross, and with private organizations. And it regularly collaborates with the Department of Homeland Security in what Renuart called "the model" for interagency planning.

"All of us have a vested interest in ... securing the communities in our nation," Renuart said. "All of us have to be prepared, and if we can't plan for that ahead of time, we will not be successful."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Face of Defense: Surgeon Aids Economic Development in Rural Iraq

By Marine Corps Capt. Paul Greenberg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - When Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Dennis McKenna took his Hippocratic oath in 1992, he vowed to devote his life to improving the welfare of human beings. In the rural town of Rutbah in Iraq's western Anbar province, his efforts have gone beyond working with coalition forces and the Iraqi Interior Ministry to reopen Rutbah's only hospital. He also uses his professional experience and business acumen to help the impoverished town establish an economic base, which will serve as a catalyst for overall improvement in the quality of life there.

McKenna, 42, is the battalion surgeon for 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, a reserve unit based in Garden City, N.Y. A 20-year Navy reservist, he is on a one-year mobilization with the battalion, which is attached to Regimental Combat Team 5.

In his civilian career, McKenna is an emergency medicine physician at Albany Medical Center, Albany, N.Y., where he has worked for 11 years. When not mobilized, he drives 360 miles round-trip one weekend every month from his home in Selkirk, N.Y., to attend reserve drills.

"I believe in service," McKenna said. "I believe you have to give something back, and I love serving with the Marines."

Although he primarily has a science and medical background, McKenna volunteered to take on collateral duty as the economics line of operations officer, or LOO.

The battalion's line of operations officers glean from their professional and military backgrounds to serve as advisors for local Iraqi governments in areas such as governance, essential services and rule of law.

"I bring a common-sense approach, identifying problems and proposing logical solutions," McKenna explained. "That is what it takes to be a LOO — someone with a real passion for the subject and who is able to present the commander with different options.

"The lines of operations are about setting the people of Rutbah up for success," he continued. "We need to find those people, those Bill Gates and Thomas Jeffersons. These people have been reluctant to show their potential in the past because of the situation that existed here for so long."

The Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, arrived at Camp Korean Village, about 20 miles from Rutbah, in early October. The first step in making strides toward improving the economy was to conduct an "economic atmospherics" assessment.

McKenna explained that the most important thing is getting out into the community, talking to "the average man on the street," and getting the whole story.

Escorted by Marines and sailors from the battalion's Weapons and Golf companies on a series of security patrols, McKenna made his rounds through the city Oct. 20 and 21, speaking with Iraqis from all socioeconomic strata to get a clear picture of the overall economic situation in order to determine how he can work with local Iraqi leaders to improve it.

The project is not an easy one, considering that this remote part of the country, about 230 miles from Baghdad, is just beginning to transition to a full-fledged democracy with a free-market economy. More than half of the adult population is unemployed, and coalition and Iraqi security forces have only recently quelled the violent insurgency that rocked the province for more than three years.

"On a macro level, we're not going to solve all their problems in five months," McKenna said. "We do, however, have an outsider's perspective. We can propose ideas that have worked in the States. We make our recommendations so that they can find Iraqi solutions to their problems here."

In a Rutbah city council meeting Oct. 21, Muthana Jubaer Juwana, the city council president, told McKenna that most local Iraqi businessmen with the capital to invest are putting their money into businesses in Jordan and Oman. Juwana said foreign investment in a large-scale business, such as a cement or glass factory, was the town's main hope to provide jobs.

A local tribal sheik at the city council meeting said that for a factory to be successful here, a Western company would have to build it, and its operation would need to be supervised, at least initially, by coalition forces.

McKenna, however, did not agree.

"They have the skills and potential here," he insisted. "They built this city. They have educated people. We just need to focus on establishing a cadre of business leaders who have confidence in their city."

As coalition forces take a step back and focus on providing mentorship and guidance to the Iraqi security forces, it ultimately is up to the Iraqi people to determine the direction their country will take in the future, McKenna said.

(Marine Corps Capt. Paul Greenberg serves with Regimental Combat Team 5.)

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Afghan Tribal Elders Meet to Resolve Security Problems

By Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Tribal elders in the Tagab district of Afghanistan's Kapisa province met Oct. 26 for a "peace jirga" at the district center to try to find a political solution to the security problems plaguing the area. Kapisa Gov. Khuweja Abubaker hosted the meeting, which the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, provincial government officials and elements of Task Force Warrior planned and organized.

Last month, a smaller "shura" an assembly of elders who meet regularly, addressed many of the same concerns. This peace jirga aimed to focus more on resolutions.

"We have diagnosed the problems many times, we now need to find the prescription and cure the disease," said Haji Khoshal of southeastern Tagab as he addressed about 250 fellow elders.

Beverli DeWalt, U.S. State Department representative for the provincial reconstruction team that serves Kapisa and Parwan, attended the peace jirga along with several other PRT members.

"The goals of the provincial council include unity, security, reconstruction, and eradicating rivalry and blood feuds," DeWalt said.

Some elders at the peace jirga were critical of Afghanistan's parliament. Others focused on the personal responsibility of the people to come to a solution themselves, DeWalt said.

Khoshal used the analogy of building a house to delineate responsibilities of the government, the international community and the people of Tagab. People could not expect the government or international community to build each person a house, he said, as that is a personal responsibility. Similarly, he said, finding a solution for peace in Tagab is the responsibility of the people of Tagab.

Some elders said that if the people found a solution for their problems, then the government and international community would support them.

Abubaker, the provincial governor, repeatedly expressed both his expectation that the people would take the lead in finding solutions to their problems and his commitment to helping the people of Tagab.

"We need one tribe, one shura, one district," one elder said, summing up the spirit of the peace jirga.

The audience supported the idea to create another shura. The Afghan Social Outreach Program shura, due to be created in the near future, may fulfill this need, officials said.

(Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens serves in the Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office.)

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Police Transition Teams Start From Scratch in Basra

By Army Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Combat Outpost Perry here houses elements of the U.S. Army's 21st Military Police Company, the first U.S. military police unit in the area. The unit, which is primarily based out of nearby Contingency Operating Base Basra, is deployed to provide assessments, assistance, training and mentoring to the Basra police force.

Although the unit could have been based solely out of the contingency operating base, the soldiers at the outpost said they felt a need to be closer to the citizens of Basra and their Iraqi police counterparts.

"By being closer to the IP and the people we will be able to spend more time coaching the IP of the city," said Army 1st Lt. Steve Caldwell, a platoon leader. "Working at the COP, we now have less traveling time spent on the roads to get to the IP stations we work with. The majority of our tips on enemy activities are given to us or to the IP by civilians, and being in the city gives us a quicker response time to react to those tips."

For example, Caldwell said, while conducting daily operations at the collocated Hussein District headquarters Oct. 25, the police transition team was able to test its quick-reaction capability after a report from the Iraqi police district headquarters that an officer from the nearby Jehad police station had found six rockets in a field. The PTT was able to respond quickly and examine the site where the rockets were found, he said.

In addition to incident management, Caldwell said, working from Combat Outpost Perry keeps the 21st MPs closer to the Iraqi police organizations they work with in the area.

Although the coalition forces are in the beginning phase of police development in Basra, 21st MP Company officials said, the Iraqi police have done a lot on their own, because they want to do their jobs responsibly while protecting their neighbors.

An emergency police battalion was formed in May, after criminal uprisings in Basra. Since then, the battalion has exhibited great progress while providing law and order for the people of Basra, officials said.

"[The Iraqi police] are really motivated, and they are doing the right things when they are out in the communities," said Army 1st Lt. James Webb, a police transition team chief. The goal for the PTT, he said, is to help in coaching the police to become the primary Iraqi security force in Basra, a transition plan similar to that being used in Baghdad.

"Eventually, we plan for the IP force here to expand and the Iraqi army to move out of the city," he said.

(Army Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger serves in the Multinational Corps Iraq Public Affairs Office.)

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Coalition Captures Iranian-Backed Terrorism Suspects

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Coalition troops in Iraq today captured a suspected financer and four others associated with an Iranian-backed terrorist group believed to be responsible for bombings, military officials said. Acting on intelligence information, coalition forces this morning targeted the suspected Kataib Hezbollah facilitator during an operation in Amarah in Iraq's Maysan province, which borders Iran.

Kataib Hezbollah, also known as Hezbollah Brigades, is a terrorist group believed to receive funding, training, logistics and material support from Iran to attack Iraqi and coalition forces using what the military calls "explosively formed penetrators," or EFPs – roadside bombs designed to pierce armor-hulled vehicles – and other weapons such as rocket-assisted mortars. The group is believed to be responsible for a June 4 explosion in the Shaab district of Adhamiyah in Baghdad that killed 16 Iraqi civilians and injured 29 others, officials said.

The suspect and his associates were detained without incident. During their search, troops discovered more than $50,000 in U.S. currency and nearly 12 million Iraqi dinar, the equivalent of about $10,000, officials said.

It was the second blow to the leadership of terrorist networks in Iraq in two days, officials said. Yesterday, coalition forces captured a suspected terrorist and an additional suspect during an operation near Tikrit, about 100 miles north of Baghdad, they said. During that operation, the suspect surrendered to coalition forces and identified himself as the wanted man believed to be an al-Qaida in Iraq cell leader in the area.

On Oct. 27, coalition troops captured six men suspected of working with Iranian-backed terrorist groups in eastern Baghdad, officials said. Based on a resident's tip, soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, detained the men, who a witness identified as terrorists known to Iraqi security forces.

During the operation, troops also seized five AK-47 assault rifles with 32 magazines, a 9 mm pistol with three magazines, a shotgun and 60 shotgun shells, an SKS rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a fragmentation grenade, a scope and nine magazines for a Dragonov rifle and 3,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition.

In other news from Iraq, coalition and Iraqi security forces yesterday seized several illegal weapons caches in and around Baghdad. The seizures were based on residents' tips and included Iraqi soldiers and national police as well as the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Brigade, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

The seizures included two 60 mm mortar base plates, three 60 mm high explosive mortar rounds, three 81 mm high-explosive mortar rounds, four rocket-propelled grenade launchers, five RPG warheads, three RPG fuse assemblies and hundreds of rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. In what was believed to be a bomb-making factory, they found 160 blocks of C4 explosives, 34 complete EFPs, 53 copper plates, 40 shaped plates for EFPs, three presses and a punch and 14 107 mm rockets.

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

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U.S., Iraqi Leaders Work to Secure Forces Agreement

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Top leaders on both sides in Iraq are working to reach an agreement that would shape the future of U.S. operations there and ensure that hard-fought security, economic and political gains are not lost, a senior military official there said today. "Nobody wants to turn the clock back," said Army Brig. Gen. David G. Perkins, director for strategic effects for Multinational Force Iraq. "Nobody wants to lose the security that has been hard-fought and gained. Nobody wants to lose economic progress. Nobody wants to lose the political progress."

Speaking to reporters in Baghdad today, Perkins said senior military officials are engaged on both sides working to map out an agreement that takes into account the interests of both countries while strengthening Iraqi sovereignty.

Officials are laying down the legal groundwork that will allow U.S. forces to continue to partner with the country in security and reconstruction efforts after the United Nations mandate that covers U.S. forces in Iraq expires at the end of the year, he said.

"Our discussions between the two governments ... are laying out specifically what are those legal instruments. What are they required to be, [and] how can we work this together so that we both end up with the result in the end that we want and have a win-win situation?" Perkins said.

The commander cited "remarkable" partnerships with the Iraqi government, its security forces and the Iraqi people over the past few years that have led to significant security gains. Boosting border security, rebuilding critical infrastructure and rebuilding communities have encouraged foreign investments, he said.

"Those are the kind of things we want to continue to partner with the Iraqi government and Iraqi people," he said. "We think this is exactly the kind of model that we want to move forward [with] into the future, because it affects security, it affects political progress, economics and governance, and those are the things that all Iraqi people can agree upon that they want progress in."

Perkins did not give a status on the agreement, but said both sides are continuing to work "in the spirit of cooperation" in hopes of preventing a gap in the partnership.

The general said the U.S.-Iraq agreement is critical because efforts there are interrelated with U.N. forces, Iraqi security forces and other international organizations.

"They're all intertwined. So if you pull one pillar of that out, you now seriously degrade ... the ability for the others to progress forward," Perkins said. "We want all those pillars to stand, and we want this entire team that has been so successful in the past to continue to move forward."

Perkins said regional support for Iraq has increased, citing recently appointed ambassadors from Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Syria and Jordan. But, he said, Iranian political and military influence is muddling affairs in Iraq. Perkins said activity has increased by Iranian-backed extremist groups using funding, training and sophisticated weaponry from both the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

"It is no secret that Iran has tried to interfere into the bilateral discussions between the United States and Iraq," Perkins said. "As the United States and Iraq continue a bilateral negotiation, based on their own sovereignty, external influence and statements from other countries are not welcome and not helpful, and, quite honestly, are not respectful of the sovereignty of the countries involved in the negotiations."

Perkins said that when it's reached, both sides would benefit from the agreement.

"Upon the positive conclusion of these negotiations, our partnership will be even stronger, and both sides will have the protections they need to ensure their sovereignty is intact and the partnership can move forward," he said.

Vessel Crews Thwart Pirate Attacks in Gulf of Aden

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Proactive measures taken by masters and crews of targeted commercial shipping vessels thwarted five piracy attempts yesterday in the Gulf of Aden, Combined Maritime Forces officials reported. Even when shots were fired during two of these attacks, officials said, the crews of commercial shipping vessels conducted evasive maneuvering and used fire hoses to repel their attackers.

"The proactive measures taken yesterday by merchant vessels are exactly what we have been recommending," said Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of Combined Maritime Forces. "For slightly more than two months, the coalition has been working with the commercial shipping industry and the International Maritime Organization to recommend best practices and leverage lessons learned to employ reasonable self-protection measures. These measures range from proactive lookouts and evasive maneuvering to embarking professional security teams."

The Combined Maritime Forces established a maritime security patrol area Aug. 22 in support of the International Maritime Organization's call for international assistance to discourage attacks on commercial vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. Since its establishment, coalition units have deterred more than two dozen attacks, officials said.

"Piracy is a threat to the security of all nations and requires an international solution," Gortney said. "The coalition's presence is helping deter destabilizing activity, allowing the shipping industry time to implement self-protection measures and the international community to establish a legal framework to hold pirates accountable for their actions."

In addition to coalition naval forces, ships and aircraft from several other nations, including a NATO task force, are operating in the region. Though no formal agreement exists between the coalition and other navies, they have been communicating with each other and sharing information to more effectively patrol the area, officials said, noting that these additional forces allow Combined Task Force 150 to more broadly assign assets to conduct maritime security operations throughout their 2.5 million square mile operating area.

Maritime security operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremist use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material, officials explained. Through training opportunities with regional partners, they said, Combined Task Force 150 enhances existing cooperative relationships that aim to support regional countries' struggles against violent extremism.

(From a Combined Maritime Forces news release.)

Security Responsibility Returns to Iraqis in Wasit Province

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Complete security and governance responsibilities transferred to Iraqi officials in Wasit province today, giving Iraq's government responsibility for more than two-thirds of the country, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters during a news conference today. "The national and local government now has responsibility for security and governance in all of southern Iraq," Morrell said. "It is our hope that Iraqis can take charge of security for the final five provinces in the coming months."

Wasit becomes the 13th of the country's 18 provinces, and second in a week, to transition to Iraqi control, he said. Wasit follows Babil province to its west, which transferred during a ceremony there Oct. 23.

The milestone means a great deal to the partnerships between the Iraqi government and coalition forces, Army Lt. Col. Amy Hannah, a Multinational Force Iraq spokeswoman, said today. "We are working together to provide the security needed for the stability and prosperity Iraqis need to move forward in their lives," she said.

Multinational Division Center, for which the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division provides the headquarters, maintains about 2,200 combat and support troops throughout Wasit, providing a secondary role in security efforts there. If Iraqi forces need assistance, local authorities can request coalition support through the provincial governor, Hannah explained.

Coalition forces retain an overwatch position in the province, she said, meaning that should security degrade beyond the capability of local Iraqi police and army forces, the provincial governor may approach the national government to seek assistance, and the prime minister determines if the assistance is needed.

"As in any place in the world, you will still have isolated, condemnable incidences of senseless violence, no matter the stability of the area," Hannah said. "As we have always said, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups here have been dealt a serious blow by Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi people and coalition forces, but they are still a dangerous element."

More than 13,000 Iraqis make up Wasit's security force, which includes more than 10,000 police and nearly 3,000 soldiers. Wasit's police force grew to its current strength from fewer than 1,500 officers in only three years, Hannah said.

A provincial reconstruction team made up largely of State Department personnel operates in Wasit and will continue its work with the Iraqis. The team has been helping provincial officials with infrastructure improvements, health care, rule of law, education and agricultural and economic development, she said.

"This is a very important partnership that works well and has accomplished much for the Iraqi people," she added.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki chairs Iraq's national security council and has the final approval authority for provincial turnovers, Hannah said. The council and coalition members evaluate the province against a set of conditions to determine whether it's ready for turnover, considering the region's security state, the readiness and capability of Iraqi forces, the proficiency of the regional government and the supporting ability of coalition forces, she explained.

Officials here and in Iraq are unsure which will be the next province to transfer responsibilities, Morrell said. The remaining five provinces – Baghdad, Diyala, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Kirkuk -- though much improved over the past year, still are considered problematic, he said. Transition will be a tough test for security forces in those provinces, he said.

"The remaining provinces are particularly challenging, but with each passing day, the Iraqi army and police are growing in capacity, capability and confidence," he said. "Our forces are working hard to help the Iraqi government recruit, train and equip security forces that can one day protect all Iraqis from internal and external threats."

U.S. Hopes to Resolve Differences Over Iraq Agreement, Official Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - The United States is holding out hope that issues delaying a status of forces agreement with Iraq will be resolved before the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing U.S. forces there expires Dec. 31, a senior Pentagon official said today. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said at a news conference that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is translating written issues submitted by the Iraqi government, and expects a "very deliberate" review to follow.

The United States will listen to the Iraqi government's concerns and work to iron them out, but has little interest in "a wholesale rejiggering of this agreement," Morrell said.

"We think it is good as it's currently constructed," he added.

"This is an agreement born of seven months of hard negotiations," Morrell said. "We believe it's a good agreement. We believe it's a fair agreement. We believe it protects ... Iraqi sovereignty while at the same time protecting our forces and [allowing] us to finish the mission in Iraq."

In addition to the SOFA, the discussions also cover a strategic framework agreement that will define the long-term partnership between the United States and Iraq. "We want to have a long-term, good, healthy, open, working relationship," Morrell said.
The Iraqis have made it clear that they want to be treated as a partner, just as the United States treats other countries where its troops are based, Morrell said. That entails giving full consideration to Iraq's concerns and ideas and working to resolve them. "And I think that's where we are at this point," he said.

The focus for now is on reaching an agreement so the Council of Representatives in Iraq can pass it into law, resolving the legal status of U.S. forces in Iraq. Lacking such an arrangement, U.S. forces will have no legal authority to be in Iraq on Jan. 1, and no legal protections to conduct their mission.

"And the risk you run," Morrell said, "is that the gains that have been made ... at great cost ... to the American people and families – taxpayer dollars, blood lost, lives lost -- will start to unravel, potentially, if we have to cease operations because we don't have the legal mandate to operate any more."

The only alternative to a SOFA would be to extend the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing troops there, but Morrell said neither the United States nor Iraq prefers to go that route.

The Iraqis "don't want to operate any longer under the auspices and the authorities of this U.N. resolution," Morrell said. "They have emerged from the period of darkness in the aftermath of their liberation, and they wish to be treated ... like the independent, sovereign, strong country that they are."

Arriving at a SOFA will fulfill those Iraqi wishes while providing a framework for the U.N. to complete its mission in Iraq, Morrell said. This, he said, will ensure the Iraqis "have the security forces and the government capabilities to run that country without any U.S. force presence there -- hopefully in the not-too-distant future."

U.S. Will Support Afghan Reconciliation Efforts, Official Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - The United States will support the Afghan government in efforts to step up its reconciliation with the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan, but not with al-Qaida or those who support it, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters today. "They are an independent, sovereign state," Morrell said of the Afghans' stated interest in escalating reconciliation efforts. "If that's what they see is in their best interest, we fully support it, and we'll do whatever we can to help facilitate it."

Morrell emphasized that U.S. support would be limited to those "willing to work for the good of this democratically elected government [and] for the peace and security of the Afghan people."

"Those are the kind of people that we think it's worth taking a shot to try to bring into the system," he said.

The United States will stop short of supporting reconciliation with foreign fighters in Afghanistan, or Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who Morrell said provided a safe haven and base for Osama bin Laden to train terrorists who eventually launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"We as a government do not believe that Mullah Omar is somebody you reconcile with," he said. "Mullah Omar has the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands, based on the support he provided Osama bin Laden. So we do not reconcile with al-Qaida."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed similar endorsement of the Afghan government's interest in negotiating with insurgents during his return flight from a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Budapest, Hungary, earlier this month.

"What is important is detaching those who are reconcilable and who are willing to be part of the future of the country from those who are irreconcilable," Gates told reporters.

"Part of the solution is strengthening the Afghan security forces," he said. "Part of the solution is reconciliation with people who are willing to work with the Afghans."

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- October 29, 2008

New report finds rising risk of infectious diseases in America
“Trust for America's Health (TFAH) released a new report today, Germs Go
Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America; which finds that at least 170,000 Americans die annually from newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, a number that could increase dramatically during a severe flu pandemic or yet-unknown disease outbreak. Factors including globalization, increased antimicrobial (drug) resistance, and climate and weather changes are contributing to the increased threat. […] While the U.S. government has invested significantly in treatments that could counter an intentional biological attack, new drugs to treat emerging diseases and new antibiotics to address growing antimicrobial resistance have received far less attention. The development of new, improved therapies to treat drug resistant bacterial infections, as well as influenza and other viruses, is essential.” (PR Newswire; 29Oct08)

Reuters evacuates NY newsroom in powder scare
Police told staff to evacuate the 19th-floor Times Square [Reuters] newsroom after Brian Rhoads, the company's managing editor for the Americas, opened an envelope and a ‘puff of powder’ came out of it, Hunt said. Police isolated the envelope, and Rhoads, and then told the 140 members of staff to leave as a precautionary measure while they investigated. Staff made arrangements to ensure the company could put out a news file from other offices. Nearly three hours later, Hunt said authorities told Reuters the powder was harmless and workers returned to the desk.” (Stuff; 28Oct08; Source: Reuters)

Sarin Vapor Leak Found At Blue Grass Depot
“Blue Grass
Army Depot says chemical weapons inspectors have found an M55 rocket leaking GB, or sarin, vapor. The depot, near Richmond in central Kentucky, says the vapor was confined to an airtight tube and considered low-level. The Lexington Herald-Leader [KY] reports the rocket will be packed in another leakproof container Tuesday and later moved to another [storage] igloo. County and state emergency management agencies were notified, but the depot says there was no danger to people nearby the facility. No vapor was detected in the storage igloo's atmosphere. The discovery was made by toxic chemical crews inspecting the chemical weapons stockpile.” (Lexington Herald-Leader; 29Oct08)

Cuts in
military intelligence risks UK's national security
“The UK 's
military intelligence service is facing severe cuts that will reduce its ability to foresee future threats to national security and dangers to British forces abroad, a confidential Whitehall document shows. British analysis of Russia's military capabilities and activities will be reduced as the Ministry of Defence slashes the size and budget of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), a senior officer has warned. The agency is losing more than one in five of its Whitehall staff and having its budget cut by nearly seven million pound as the Ministry of Defence cuts costs. […] The DIS analyses foreign countries' military capabilities, monitoring both conventional weapons like aircraft and missiles and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons proliferation.” (Britain News; 28Oct08; Source: ANI)

OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Director-General Visits Bulgaria for High-Level Meetings
“The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, paid an official visit to Sofia, Bulgaria from 21 to 23 October 2008 where he met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr Ivailo Kalfin, and other high-level Government officials. […] The Director-General provided an update on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), including the progress being made towards eliminating global chemical weapons stockpiles. Director-General Pfirter commended Bulgaria for its implementation of the Convention and its close cooperation with the OPCW. For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Kalfin reaffirmed Bulgaria’s firm commitment to the goals of the CWC […]” (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; 29Oct08)

Utah gives NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] update on wishes for low-level nuke waste
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission now knows what path Utah wants it to follow as the NRC considers present and future license applications to dispose of any foreign generated low-level radioactive waste at EnergySolutions' Clive facility in Tooele County. […] The need for that clarity arose after state and regional regulators learned this past year that the NRC had already allowed the Clive site to accept small amounts of radioactive waste that originated in Canada, France, Germany and Mexico. […] Now […] the company wants to store up to 1,600 tons of low-level radioactive waste that would come from decommissioned nuclear power plants in Italy. That proposal prompted opposition last May from the Northwest Compact and an assertion to the NRC that the regional eight-member compact has authority over the Clive site.” (Deseret News; 29Oct08; Stephen Speckman),5143,705258934,00.html

[U.S. Secretary of Defense] Gates: nuclear weapons and deterrence in the 21st century
“We also still face the problem of weapons passing from nation states into the hands of terrorists. After September 11th, the president announced that we would make no distinction between terrorists and the states that sponsor or harbor them. Indeed, the United States has made it clear for many years that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our people, our forces and our friends and allies. Today we also make clear that the United States will hold any state, terrorist group or other non-state actor or individual fully accountable for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction, whether by facilitating, financing or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts. To add teeth to the deterrent goal of this policy, we are pursuing new technologies to identify the forensic signatures of any nuclear material used in an attack, to trace it back to the source.” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; 28Oct08; see link below for full transcript),zru&proj=znpp,zusr

UN atomic energy chief warns of nuclear theft
“Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, asserts that the number of reports of nuclear or radioactive material stolen around the world last year was ‘disturbingly high.’ ElBaradei, in his annual report to the General Assembly, said Monday that nearly 250 thefts were reported in the year ending in June. ‘The possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear or other radioactive material remains a grave threat,’ he said. ‘Equally troubling is the fact that much of this material is not subsequently recovered.’ […] If all the stolen material were lumped together, it would not be enough to build even one nuclear device, [ElBaradei’s staff] said. It was unclear if the rising number of reports of stolen material stemmed from a growing market for radioactive goods or more vigilant reporting of thefts by member states.” (International Herald Tribune; 28Oct08; Neil MacFarquhar)

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

Soldiers Make Sure Warfighters Can Communicate

By Army Staff Sgt. Amber Emery
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - In a combat environment, good communication capabilities are the key to success, giving warfighters visibility on the ground and across their battle space. A team of communication maintainers in the Communication and Electronics shop here ensures this vital aspect of the battlefield functions properly.

"The importance of our mission is to keep the warfighter talking," said
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Klar, a maintenance supervisor in the 10th Mountain Division's network support company.

The Victory Base Complex shop has provided technical assistance to numerous locations throughout Multinational Division Center's area of operations.

"The mission of our section is to primarily take care of the communication assets for Task Force Gauntlet and Task Force Mountain locally, but we have extended our reach to any unit that doesn't have communications support," Klar said. "So we've gotten our name out there quite a bit."

The shop maintains both signal and ordnance communications through various types of equipment.

"Every signal system reaches to one of the two main hubs in theater, either here at Victory Base Complex or in Kuwait, and from there are two satellites from those nodes that reach back to the States," Klar said.

To ensure the soldiers are ready for any issue that may occur within the shop, they are continuously learning. The soldiers also work closely with contractors' field support representatives and other support assets such as Communication Electronics Command.

"All we can do ... is to keep up on our skills as technicians," Klar said. "There is really no set, defined way of saying, 'OK, if this situation happens,' because anything can happen. So most of the time it is common sense we work off of, and most of the time it is things we have learned in the past."

Klar said that despite a rough start, the mission has been successful so far. Now that the units know where they are located and what their capabilities are within the shop, he said, things have started to come into place.

"We are succeeding and providing them their support," said
Army Spc. Brent Moore. "As long as everyone is able to communicate and everyone's happy, that validates my success."

Army Staff Sgt. Amber Emery serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)

U.S. Forces Kill Militants After Helicopter Attack in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - U.S. forces in Afghanistan assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Regional Command East killed 12 militants yesterday and detained one other while securing the site where a coalition helicopter was forced to land in Wardak province after taking enemy fire. The UH-60 Black Hawk came under small-arms fire from a number of militants. The helicopter crew returned fire, but had to land when the tail was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, officials said.

Coalition ground forces responding to the scene were engaged by several militants in the area, officials said. Coalition forces responded, initially killing five militants. Coalition forces continued searching the area and were engaged by more militants. They again responded, killing seven more militants and detaining one.

The helicopter was recovered and taken to a nearby ISAF base.

Also yesterday, Afghan and coalition forces killed one armed militant and detained seven suspected militants during combined operations targeting the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist networks in Ghazni and Khowst provinces.

In Khowst's Sabari district, Afghan and coalition forces searched a compound associated with a Haqqani commander suspected of facilitating the movement of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. The targeted militant also believed to plan and coordinate terrorist activities in the province, officials said.

As the combined force entered the targeted compound, an armed militant attempted to assault the force. In response to the insurgent threat, the force engaged the militant with small-arms fire, killing him. The combined force detained six suspected militants during the operation.

A second operation, in Ghazni's Waghez district, netted a targeted militant with ties to multiple Taliban commanders. Coalition forces searched the compound without incident, detaining the targeted insurgent.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

Coalition Forces in Iraq Capture Suspects, Seize Caches

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - Coalition forces apprehended 11 suspected terrorists today as they continued operations to dismantle al-Qaida in Iraq networks throughout the country's central and northern regions,
military officials reported. Coalition forces operating south of Kirkuk captured a wanted man believed to be a weapons dealer with connections to al-Qaida operatives in the Hamrin Mountains region. He also is believed to be a local al-Qaida leader who has contact with other regional leaders, officials said.

In Baghdad, coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists, including a wanted man believed to conspire directly with regional al-Qaida
leaders. Following his capture, the wanted man, who reportedly also is a financier for the organization, led coalition forces to a nearby residence, where they apprehended an alleged foreign terrorist facilitator.

West of Baghdad in Karmah, forces apprehended a wanted man who officials said intelligence reports indicate is an al-Qaida financial facilitator.

Forces targeted al-Qaida supply networks during two related operations near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. During the first operation, coalition forces captured an alleged logistics facilitator for al-Qaida in the Tigris River Valley region. The wanted man identified himself to coalition forces at the time of his capture. The man then led ground forces to a second location, where they detained another wanted man who intelligence reports suggest is one of al-Qaida's
leaders in Tikrit.

Coalition forces captured four suspected Kataib Hezbollah terrorists in Abd ar Rahman, east of Sadr City. Kataib Hezbollah, also known as Hezbollah Brigades, is a terrorist group believed to receive funding, training, logistics and material support from Iran to attack Iraqi and coalition forces using what the
military calls "explosively formed penetrators" – roadside bombs designed to pierce armor-hulled vehicles – and other weapons such as rocket-assisted mortars.

Acting on intelligence information, coalition forces targeted the residence of a suspected Kataib Hezbollah administrator with close ties to network
leadership. Coalition forces approached the targeted individual's residence, where they detained four of his associates without incident.

In operations yesterday:

-- Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's Company A, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, detained an operative of an Iranian-backed enemy group during a targeted raid in the Rashid district's Hayy Aamel community. The patrol returned to a combat outpost with the suspect, who was wanted for indirect-fire and roadside-bomb attacks.

-- Soldiers from the same brigade's Company C found a roadside bomb composed of four 57 mm anti-aircraft rounds encased in concrete in a house in the Rahid district's Hayy Jihad community. A coalition explosives ordnance disposal unit responded to the site and found the bomb had no initiating device. Company C soldiers also seized three 120 mm mortar rounds, two 155 mm rounds and 10 pounds of homemade explosives attached to an egg timer while conducting a security patrol in the same community.

-- Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's Troop B, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, responded to a tip from an Iraqi citizen and found an identical bomb, consisting of four 57 mm anti-aircraft rounds encased in concrete, in Rashid's Hadar community. The homemade explosive had a washing-machine timer and a cell phone, but was not wired to the explosives that were hidden in brush about 10 feet from a local school. An EOD unit responded to the scene to disarm the bomb.

-- Iraqi soldiers searching the Adl Clinic in Baghdad's Mansour district found a false wall hiding eight homemade hand grenades with fuses.

-- Iraqi soldiers arrested a man after finding two bombs in the underbelly of his vehicle in the Mansour district.

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

Airmen Receive Cavalry Spurs for Building New Base

By Army Staff Sgt. Mark Schenk
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - For their efforts in building more than 25,000 square feet of housing and administrative offices for 1st Cavalry Division soldiers of 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 29
Air Force airmen received cavalry combat spurs – symbolic of cavalry service in a combat zone -- from the squadron's commander here Oct. 20.

Army Lt. Col. Daryle Hernandez awarded the spurs to the airmen of Detachment 3, 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, after receiving the official "key" to the base.

After 12 years of
Air Force service, Tech. Sgt. Charles Tolbert said, building Forward Operating Base Hunter has been an overwhelming experience.

"The golden combat spurs we were awarded today are the highest honor I have received in any of my deployments in the
Air Force," said Tolbert, a Cincinnati native who is the detachment's electrician. "To say I am very proud is an understatement."

The civil engineer squadron also is responsible for building Forward Operating Base Garry Owen, a base recently built from scratch and used by the 4th BCT as a headquarters to counter weapon smuggling along the southeastern Iraq-Iran border.

The Airmen graciously accepted the spurs, but admitted they couldn't have accomplished their mission without help from the soldiers here. The
Air Force unit recognized those soldiers with certificates of achievement and challenge coins for a job well done.

"It was a lot of work and long nights, but the real reward is having a nice, comfortable safe place to sleep and work," said
Army Sgt. Victoria Brenic, a native of Copperas Cove, Texas, assigned to the regiment's Troop D.

Army Staff Sgt. Mark Schenk serves in the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Local Leaders Near Bagram See Problem, Solution for Water Issues

By Army Spc. Mary L. Gonzalez
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - People in the rural villages surrounding this former Soviet air base in eastern Afghanistan that's now being used for the headquarters of coalition operations in Afghanistan have been upset about an enigma surrounding an important creek for some time. Coyote Creek, as it is known on the base, enters the base on the west side of the flightline and then flows through to the east side. Or at least it used to.

Six years of dirt and silt have built up on the west end of the creek, causing severe flooding to the western villages, and droughts in the villages on the east side. Many of the local citizens thought this was done purposely by coalition forces to choke off their main water source.

So on Oct. 25, officials from the provincial reconstruction team for Afghanistan's Parwan province and the Mine Action Center here invited village elders onto the base to inspect the creek and see the progress that has been made to amend the problem.

Australian Maj. David Bergman, MAC officer in charge, said village elders were able to see for themselves that the creek had silted up from a long-term blockage to the drain that goes under the runway. "We saw approximately five feet of dirt that is blocking the creek head," he said. "And what that means is no water can actually enter in the creek and flow through."

This a concern not only for the local residents, but also for the base, Bergman said. When the west village floods, so does that part of Bagram Airfield and some of its roads and housing, he noted.

To eliminate the problem, the MAC burned down the dense plant growth around the creek within the base so the area can be cleared of hidden mines left over from the former Soviet occupation as the first step in solving the problem.

"Then we are going to use our demining excavators, which are up-armored, to actually go along the creekline and take out as much silt as we can to allow the water to flow from the western side of the creek through the tunnel under the runway," Bergman said.

While at the base, the village elders saw various places along the creek where the silt and debris had severely narrowed the creek bed or blocked its path. With all the vegetation burned away, the mess was clearly visible.

The elders showed a lot of excitement during the visit. There seemed to be no end to the handshakes, smiles and hugs from the most senior of the elders as they saw something is being done to fix their main water supply.

"From their standpoint, I feel that [the visit] helped them understand and know that we are here to help in whatever capacity we can," U.S.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jayson Blunck, MAC operations noncommissioned officer, said.

"We are truly concerned with the problem of the village not receiving water," Blunck added, "and bringing them on base helped them understand. Like the saying goes, 'A picture is worth a thousand words.'"

Army Spc. Mary L. Gonzalez serves in the Combined Joint Task Force 101 Public Affairs Office.)

Marine Casualty

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

1st Lt. Trevor J. Yurista, 32, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., died Oct. 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

For additional background information on these Marines, news media representatives may contact the 1st Marine Division public affairs office at (760) 763-5397.

Iraqi Security Forces Increase Footprint in Southern Baghdad

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - Iraqi forces in southern Baghdad once needed the help of nearly 10,000 American troops to maintain security, but by next month, the number of coalition troops there will drop to fewer than 1,800, a
military official posted in Iraq said today. The "professionalization" of the Iraqi Army is perhaps the greatest achievement of coalition forces in southern Baghdad, Army Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, known as the Rakkasans, told Pentagon reporters via teleconference.

The size of the Iraqi force in the area has grown from fewer than 4,000 soldiers to more than 12,000 since July, Caraccilo said. The force currently makes up the 17th Iraqi
Army Division, and when Caraccilo and his brigade redeploy in November, they'll leave the bulk of security responsibility to the Iraqis, he said.

The region was once one of the more deadly areas in Iraq, known as the "Triangle of Death," Caraccilo said. The area is bound by Yusufiya, Mahmudiyah and Iskandariyah to the south and "was a nexus of enemy activity," he said.

In the past, the area was the site of brutal attacks against coalition forces, Caraccilo said. Less than a year ago, coalition forces were reporting as many as 70 roadside bombs monthly, but now that number is less than 20. In September, only 15 roadside bombs were reported, and most were found before detonation, he added.

"[The area] was riddled with [bombs] and was considered a 'no-man's land' for both coalition forces and noncombatant Iraqis," he said. "It's important to highlight the atrocities of the 'Triangle of Death' in order to appreciate how far this region has come."

Today, along with the Iraqi forces, two U.S. Army battalions will backfill the Rakkasans to provide resourcing, training and access to artillery and aviation support that is not now organic to the Iraqi
Army, the colonel said.

The "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group program has allowed for durable security progress, giving the Iraqi army and
police the opportunity to increase their capacity and grow. The program also supplies the community with a permanent security presence and is a successful way to provide jobs. More than 19,000 Iraqis make up the Sons of Iraq in southern Baghdad and Mahmudiyah, he added.

The Rakkassans have been conducting operations under an Iraqi-led structure, providing only necessary assistance, for a little more than a month, and it's proven very successful, he said. During that time, Caraccilo has transitioned 18 of his unit's 23 patrol bases to complete Iraqi control, he added.

"The 17th Iraqi
Army Division, along with the neighborhood-based Sons of Iraq, have proven to be quite capable of providing security," he said.

Caraccilo said the 17th Iraqi Army Division is trustworthy and capable, noting their proficiency in gathering intelligence as well as in planning and conducting combat operations. In many ways, Iraqi forces are better suited to fight there than coalition troops because of their ability to relate to the local populace and tribes, he said.

"Iraqi soldiers understand the people, tribal differences and culture better than coalition and U.S. troops ever will," he said.

"The residents have great faith in the abilities of the [Iraqi
Army] to secure its population," he said. "[Residents] provide tips, identify weapons caches and make concerted efforts to alert the Iraqi army of potential insurgent activity in the neighborhoods.

"From my vantage point," he continued, "it looks like the Iraqis [are] in the lead on a host of issues with strong support for coalition partners. To that end, we have developed a provisional
military structure within our area that transfers primacy of security operations from the coalition to the Iraqis."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Oct. 27 in Baghlan, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as they were preparing to enter a building.

Killed were:

Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio, who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco, 35, of Bartlett, Ill., who was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery, Illinois Army National Guard, Sycamore, Ill.

For more information on Casey, media may contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005 or at .

For more information on Grieco, media may contact the Illinois National Guard public affairs office at (217) 761-3569; after hours, (217) 725-2265, or at

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reconstruction Team Helps Malnourished Afghan Children

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - Medical staff members of the Zabul provincial reconstruction team here helped hundreds of malnourished Afghan children regain their health. The PRT members began a four-week regimen of their "strong food," known locally as qavi ghiza, to the Shajoy hospital two months ago.

Strong food is a vitamin-enriched, high-calorie food supplement used to combat malnutrition. The Zabul PRT medical staff is working with local health officials to combat issues such as unsanitary water supplies and malnutrition, the main causes of the area's high infant mortality rate.

The area's public health administration staff has been using the low-cost and locally produced food supplement to treat more than 400 malnourished children.

"This program has been going very well and giving positive results. People know about it," said Dr. Zamarai Sultan, the public health administration nutrition officer. "It is going to be even more successful in the future."

Sultan has monitored the strong food program in Shajoy closely. In a patient sampling of 60 children, 78 percent have shown positive growth. The doctor said he has seen most patients gain 2 to 5 pounds a week while taking the supplement.

"People from this area are very poor," Sultan said. "They don't have enough money for their baby's special food. As long as we have this kind of program, it is going to succeed. Now people know this good thing about the strong food."

Sultan's support and the nutritional supplement's success in the Shajoy area provided
Air Force Capt. (Dr.) James Arnold the momentum he needed to expand the program.

"Giving this program to Dr. Sultan has actually been the biggest help to us, because he is well invested in it," said Arnold, deployed from Andersen
Air Force Base, Guam. "He is a nutritionist. He deals with the malnourishment problem for the entire Zabul province."

Sultan's positive reputation in the medical field has helped convince his fellow doctors to join the program, Arnold said. The two doctors met local medical experts with pediatric specialties to go over the results.

"We are not going to stay around for the long haul," Arnold, a native of Grass Valley, Calif., said. "We [want] to give them something they can do on their own and sustain on their own."

After a demonstration on how to make the nutritional supplement, the medical professionals made a batch themselves with ingredients available locally. The concoction was blended using mixing sets donated by Michael Morgan, an Eagle Scout candidate with Boy Scout Troop 157 out of Salem, Ore.

"Boy Scouts are taught to seek opportunities to help others," the West Salem High School senior said. "I wanted to provide a service that was meaningful as I sought to complete my requirements for... the rank of Eagle. This project seemed challenging, but perfect."

Sultan said he is grateful for the effort the PRT put into launching the program.

"I am very thankful to this team," he said. "This is a very active team, and they have really wanted to work, and [it] has been seen."

Air Force Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore serves with U.S. Air Forces Central.)

Coalition Troops Kill Militants in Baghdad Raid

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - Coalition forces in Iraq killed five militants early today after a small-arms attack in Baghdad's New Baghdad security district,
military officials reported. Coalition troops were attacked about 1:20 a.m. with small-arms fire at a joint security station, officials said. The soldiers identified the attackers and returned fire. A total of five attackers were killed with no U.S. casualties, they said.

In another operation today, coalition forces killed three
terrorism suspects during operations near Tikrit, about 100 miles north of Baghdad. Ground forces had surrounded a building in an effort to apprehend a man believed to facilitate suicide-vest and roadside bombings in the Tigris River Valley.

Soldiers called for the occupants to surrender, then were fired upon by a man running from the house. Acting in self defense, coalition forces engaged the man, killing him. Another man then began firing at the team. They returned fire and killed the man. Coalition forces killed a third man inside the building when he picked up a rifle from one of the dead terrorists and engaged the forces, officials said.

Two other suspects were detained. A third suspect was injured and was treated by coalition forces before being taken to a nearby base for additional care. One of the dead terrorists later was identified as the wanted man, they said.

Also today, coalition forces in Mosul killed a man wanted for terrorist acts committed as an al-Qaida in Iraq
leader in the area, officials said. Upon arriving at the target location, coalition forces entered a building intelligence reports indicated was an al-Qaida in Iraq hideout. The wanted man engaged forces with a pistol as they entered the building. The troops returned fire, killing him.

In Baghdad today, coalition forces captured a wanted man known to be an al-Qaida in Iraq courier.

In weekend operations:

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted man yesterday who intelligence reports suggest is connected to an al-Qaida in Iraq bombing network. The suspect is believed to have been planning attacks against troops in the region, officials said.

-- In southern Baghdad's Rashid district Oct. 25 and yesterday, coalition troops working with Iraqi security forces discovered an improvised explosive device and detained a member of an Iranian-backed terrorist group.

-- Soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, contacted a coalition explosives ordnance disposal unit to pick up a 155 mm artillery round prepared to be used as a roadside bomb. The device had no initiator and was discovered in an abandoned house in West Rashid. The EOD unit safely recovered the IED.

-- In a targeted raid early yesterday in the Aamel community, soldiers from the 1st Battalion's Company A detained a suspected Iranian-backed terrorist group member wanted for weapons trafficking, murder, and roadside-bomb attacks.

-- Iraqi and coalition soldiers seized weapons caches in the greater Baghdad area yesterday afternoon, based on citizens' tips. The seized items included a 57mm rocket and improvised launching tube, 15 glass beakers, 5 pounds of ammonium perchlorate, 5 pounds of propellant and four five-gallon jugs of nitric acid.

-- Iraqi
police and soldiers and coalition forces seized a weapons cache Oct. 25 north of Baghdad. Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division's Company C, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, seized 10 rocket-propelled grenades. An explosive ordnance detachment team destroyed the weapons in a controlled detonation.

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

Afghan National Security Forces Show Progress

By Navy Seaman William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - The mood of Afghan citizens has changed dramatically in the past year due to the progress the Afghan security forces have made, a senior
military official said Oct. 24. "I've seen a lot of progress here in the Afghan army and police," Army Col. Bill Hix, commander of Afghan Regional Security Integration Command South, said to bloggers during a teleconference.

While the Afghan
Army has had about five years to develop, Hix said, the Afghan police didn't really start to reform until last summer, when U.S. troops began to mentor them. Progress has been gained in the professionalism of the Afghan Security Forces but there are issues that need to be addressed, Hix said.

During the Sarposa prison break in June, Hix said, the Afghan government responded quickly, deploying more than 1,000 soldiers in less than 24 hours to combat the Taliban, but there were a number of problems. At that point, he said, Afghanistan's
Army and police forces weren't working as closely together as they are now.

For the past few weeks, the Taliban have been intimidating citizens to try to gain power in Helmand province.

"The fundamental difference between what is happening today in Helmand and what happened in Kandahar in June is that the
Army and police are operating as an integrated team," Hix said. "In some cases, the police are fighting side by side with the army."

Another component to the improvement of the Afghan security forces are the operational mentor and liaison teams that have been embedded with the army and
police, Hix said.

"We've got mentor teams embedded in the Afghan army and police from three different nations," he said. "We conduct coordination, but all of us are actually taking our lead from the Afghan commander."

Hix acknowledged that some corruption remains inside the Afghan security forces, but he said it is being addressed through several programs.

"There are a number of programs that we've instituted, most of them in the
police, because the police have a much stronger reputation for corruption," he said. "On the Army side, there is an increasingly energetic [inspector general] audit team program that's being put in place that goes out and looks at corruption." Hix expressed confidence that the corruption issue will continue to improve.

Improved professionalism among Afghan soldiers and
police has led to greater confidence in them among the Afghan people, Hix said.

"There's a degree of hope for the future that they may have not had before," Hix said. "Pushing the Taliban away from the population, disrupting their safe havens in areas where they prepare before they come in to put [bombs] on the road [or] attack a checkpoint ... is really key to kind of keeping them off-balance and putting them on the run," Hix explained.

When the Afghan
Army and police forces are the ones who are taking the fight to the Taliban on a day-to-day basis, the confidence of the people is going to rise, Hix said.

"I think the concern of the Taliban is going to rise as well," he added, "because they're no longer going to be able to claim that they're fighting an infidel's army."

Navy Seaman William Selby works for New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)