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thedrifter
08-10-04, 08:11 AM
Combat Action Ribbon authorized for 22nd MEU combat operations
Submitted by: 22nd MEU
Story Identification #: 20048913751
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks



CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF OPERATIONS (Aug. 9, 2004) -- The Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet recently approved the Combat Action Ribbon for Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) who participated in combat operations in south-central Afghanistan from March 25 through July 10, 2004.

In a letter authorizing the award, Navy Vice Admiral David C. Nichols Jr. congratulated the MEU on its service in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

During 14 weeks of combat and civil military operations, more than a hundred Taliban and anti-coalition militia fighters were killed and a similar number taken prisoner. Additionally, the MEU provided security for the registration of nearly 60 thousand Afghan voters, confiscated more than 2,500 weapons and 80 thousand pieces of ammunition or ordnance, and initiated 108 civil affairs projects.

The CAR was established on Feb. 17, 1969 by then-Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee, and awarded to members of the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard in the grade of colonel (O-6) and below who actively participate in ground or surface naval combat.

Originally, the award was awarded for combat service after March 1, 1961, but in 1999, the Annual Defense Authorization Bill authorized the Secretary of the Navy to retroactively award the CAR to combat veterans for service dating back to Dec. 6, 1941.

The CAR is a ribbon-only award and worn after the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and before the Presidential Unit Citation. In the center of the ribbon is a white vertical stripe. On either side of the white stripe, from the right of the wearer's perspective are blue, yellow, and red vertical stripes. The blue is always displayed to the wearer's right.

"I can't tell you how tremendously proud I am of each and everyone one of you," said Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the MEU's commanding commander, in a video address to the unit. "Whether you were a rifleman, a cook, an aviator, or a mechanic, everybody was absolutely critical for our success."

"This is one of the few times in the modern history of the Marine Corps where a Marine Expeditionary Unit was able to fight as a complete air-ground task force, and we demonstrated that when we are allowed to do that we can generate overwhelming combat power against the enemies of democracy."

In coming weeks, recipients of the CAR from the unit's time in Afghanistan will be listed on a database accessible at https://lnweb1.manpower.usmc.mil/manpower/mm/mmma/AwardsVerification.nsf/search.

The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22.

For more information on the MEU's role in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, visit the unit's web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/20048914135/$file/CAR_Low.jpg

The Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet recently approved the Combat Action Ribbon for Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) who participated in combat operations in south-central Afghanistan from March 25 through July 10, 2004. The CAR is awarded to servicemembers on an individual basis who meet specific eligibility criteria. Photo by: 22nd MEU (SOC) PAO

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B80ADD51FB2F7C9A85256EEB001EEE96?opendocument


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 08:11 AM
Iraqi Govt. Offices Face Attack Threats

By ABDUL HUSSEIN AL-OBEIDI

NAJAF, Iraq - A militant group threatened to launch a campaign of attacks against Iraqi government offices on Tuesday, while an uprising by militants loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr affected Iraq's oil industry.

Also Tuesday, Lebanese businessman Antoine Antoun was freed after around one week in captivity in Iraq, his father said.

The father, Robert Antoun, said his son contacted him from the Iraqi capital, saying he was safe and in good health. He said he was released Tuesday and would return to Lebanon later in the week.

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Al-Sadr warned Monday that he would fight "until the last drop of my blood has been spilled," in his first appearance since the violence began.

The uprising by al-Sadr's Mahdi Army began to affect Iraq's crucial oil industry, as pumping to the southern port of Basra _ the country's main export outlet _ was halted Monday because of militant threats to infrastructure, an official with the South Oil Company said.

About 1.8 million barrels per day, or 90 percent of Iraq's exports, move through Basra, and any shutdown in the flow of Iraq's main money earner would badly hamper reconstruction efforts. Iraq's other export line _ from the north to Turkey _ is already out of operation.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Divine Wrath Brigades said its "military rebellion and the shelling" would start Tuesday against state buildings.

"We warn all civilian government employees and others ... against going to the offices and institutions where they work because they could be subjected to shelling," the group said in a statement released Monday. It said humanitarian groups and Health Ministry employees working in hospitals would not be targeted.

Insurgents in southern Iraq attacked and set fire to an office of the political party of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

The attack Sunday night on the Iraqi National Accord party's office in Nasiriyah was claimed by a group calling itself the Islamic Jihad Organization.

In a video obtained by Associated Press Television News, four masked gunmen were shown knocking on the doors of the office and forcing the workers out, before pouring what looked to be gasoline on the floors and setting the building on fire.

One of the masked men in the video said Allawi was "subservient to the occupation," and warned his party members to get out of Nasiriyah, a city 190 miles south of Baghdad where Shiite militias _ including that of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr _ have been active in the past.

There were no injuries in the attack, said Capt. Haydar Abboud of the Nasiriyah police. Another of the party's offices in the town of al-Shatra, 30 miles north of Nasiriyah. was attacked Monday morning, he said.

In its statement, the Divine Wrath Brigades claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks on government ministries, U.S. military bases, hotels housing foreign journalists and contractors and the Green Zone _ home to the U.S. and British embassies as well as Iraqi government offices.

The statement was read out by a masked gunman shown among a number of militants in another videotape obtained by APTN.

The group's claim could not be independently verified.

In southern Iraq, clashes intensified around Basra, where a British soldier was killed and several others wounded in fighting with militia near the cleric's office Monday, the British Ministry of Defense said. Three militants were killed and more than 10 others wounded, a senior Iraqi police official said.

On Tuesday, a roadside bomb went off as a U.S. military vehicle drove by in central Baghdad, slightly injuring two soldiers, said Sgt. James Kerphat from the 1st Cavalry Division.

In the holy city of Najaf, the main scene of fighting, U.S. forces tried once more to drive militiamen out of a sprawling cemetery, and an American tank rattled up to within 400 yards of the Imam Ali Shrine, Najaf's holiest site, which fighters have reportedly been using as a base.

Al-Sadr's vow to keep fighting was a defiant challenge to Allawi, who visited Najaf on Sunday and called on the Shiite militants to stop fighting.

"I will continue fighting," the young, firebrand cleric told reporters in Najaf. "I will remain in Najaf city until the last drop of my blood has been spilled."

President Bush said Monday that coalition forces were "making pretty good progress about stabilizing Najaf."

U.S. military officials estimated that 360 insurgents were killed from Thursday, when fighting began, and Sunday night, a figure the militants dispute. Five U.S. troops have been killed in the fighting. About 20 police also have been killed, Najaf police chief Brig. Ghalib al-Jazaari said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said that a Saudi man held at a U.S. detention camp near the southern city of Umm Qasr escaped. The man, identified as Abdullah Salem al-Kahtani, broke out of Camp Bucca on Thursday, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson from the Office of the Deputy Commanding General for Detainee Operations.

The man is believed to have fled from the camp, where the U.S. military is holding about 2,500 security detainees, and crossed the nearby border into Kuwait, according to media reports Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two Jordanian and two Lebanese hostages were freed from captivity in Iraq on Monday, according to relatives. All four were truck drivers. The Jordanians were held captive for two weeks; the Lebanese for a week.

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2004/08/10/ap/headlines/d84cagjg0.txt


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 08:12 AM
Marine charged in prison death denied witness <br />
<br />
By: DARRIN MORTENSON - Staff Writer <br />
<br />
CAMP PENDLETON ----- A key witness will not be allowed to testify in the defense of a Marine reservist facing...

thedrifter
08-10-04, 08:13 AM
Dog kennel opens for MHG canines
Submitted by: I Marine Expeditionary Force
Story Identification #: 200489135057
Story by Lance Cpl. J.C. Guibord



CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Few service members have to worry about taking their roommates on walks or bathroom breaks.

Now dog handlers at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, can rest easy knowing their four-legged coworkers have a new kennel to call home, with the only bright, green grass on the base.

"We'll be here for a significant amount of time with canine support, so we felt we needed long-term billeting," said Gunnery Sgt. William H. Kartune, the I Marine Expeditionary Force kennel master.

The handlers put on a demonstration July 26, inviting personnel at Camp Fallujah to see the dogs in action at their new kennel. The demonstration attracted a large crowd of onlookers, while the handlers directed the military working dogs to take down mock "suspects" in large, padded suits.

"We mostly work entry control points, searching all the contractor vehicles and civilian vehicles that are coming on base," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Cleophus Gallon, an augment from the 52nd Security Forces Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, U.S. Air Forces Europe. "(The handler and dog are) partners - we're a team. Where he's sniffing, I'm looking. It makes you look places you normally wouldn't."

It's these qualities that make military working dogs prized weapons in the fight against anti-Iraqi forces.

"There is good coordination between the dog and the instructor," said Lt. Col. Amer A. Ahmad, an officer with the Iraqi Special Forces who attended the demonstration. "I would definitely love to use them because they're good for sniffing bombs at vehicle checkpoints."

The airmen also accompany Marine units on sweeps for improvised explosive devices, a major hazard to convoys on Iraq's major supply routes.

"We've been out on patrol... a few times," said Gallon, one of four Air Force dog handlers assigned to the I MEF Headquarters Group. "Most times, we go together as a squad, so if a dog handler goes down, someone's there to secure (the dog), grab his leash."

And while the airmen are armed, just like a Marine, a dog handler's primary weapon isn't his rifle.

"He's not going out there with his weapon up," Gallon said while mimicking holding a rifle at the ready. "He has to hold the leash and watch what the dog's doing."

But the handlers don't seem to mind.

"It gives me a great adrenaline rush," said Cpl. Jose R. Chavez, a dog handler assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1. "I've got that great weapon - you feel like you can take on pretty much any challenge."

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200489141024/$file/DOG02lr.jpg

Lt. Col. Amer A. Ahmad, an officer with the Iraqi Special Forces, watches a military working dog demonstration July 26, 2004 at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. The demonstration was held to mark the opening of a new kennel facility for the dogs. Photo by: Lance Cpl. J.C. Guibord

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/57FF658E6B6479C585256EEB00620C73?opendocument


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 08:14 AM
Marines love to drive in face of danger
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 20048107203
Story by Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers



FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Aug. 9, 2004) -- The dual threats of improvised explosive devices and ambushes make conducting a convoy one of the most dangerous missions in Iraq.

But without them, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit would be unable to move troops and supplies to the places they need to be.

Despite all the dangers lurking on the roads of Iraq, the drivers of MEU Service Support Group 24 think convoy runs are the best part of their day.

"The only time [being here] is fun, is when I get to drive," said motor transportation operator Lance Cpl. Ryan Krieger, 20, a Bloomingdale, N.J., native with the Motor Transportation Detachment, MSSG-24. "I don't have to see the same place all day."

With incessant danger up and down these treacherous paths, the drivers of MSSG-24 take every precaution necessary to ensure their mission is completed with as few casualties as possible.

"We [come across] a suspected IED almost every day," said Lance Cpl. Patrick Gerke, 21, a logistical vehicle system driver with the Transportation Support Detachment, MSSG-24. "Most of the time it's nothing, but I'd rather stop and take time out [of the] convoy than drive through."

To combat the hazards of the Iraqi roads, the 24th MEU put all of its drivers through several convoy live-fire courses in Kuwait prior to arriving in Iraq. The MEU also installed up-armor, steel plates on all of its vehicles offering more protection for the Marines inside the vehicle. Prior to their departure, the Marines participated in Training in an Urban Environment at Camp Dawson, W.Va. There they practiced driving with night vision goggles, and the proper response to threats such as IED's and ambushes.

Another key defense against potentially lethal incidents is the attention to detail inherent to every Marine.

"The drivers and gunners keep their eyes open for anything unusual," said Cpl. Paul Rivera, 24, the chief dispatcher for the TS Detachment. "If they suspect something, they'll use their communication [assets] to halt the convoy and inform [their command]."

Reactions such as these have become second nature to these Marines as they fearlessly deliver packs, laundry, ammunition and supplies such as food and water to some of the most dangerous places in Iraq.

Preparing for the worst is half the battle in a combat zone, but it's that foresight that the Marines believe will make it possible to return home to their families when their mission is done.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200481072453/$file/040804-M-1250B-001lores.jpg

Lance Cpl. Ryan Krieger of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares a humvee for a convoy as fellow Marines weld a mount for an M-240G machinegun to the rear of the vehicle at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.
Krieger, 20, from Bloomingdale, N.J., is a motor transportation operator with Transportation Support Detachment, MEU Service Support Group 24.
The 24th MEU is conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/444ADF8962C18E8385256EEC003E42B8?opendocument


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 08:15 AM
August 8, 2004

Marines push deep into Najaf

By Alex Berenson and John Burns
The New York Times



NAJAF, Iraq - Marine commanders battling Muqtada al-Sadr's rebel militiamen in this Shiite holy city said Saturday that the fighting had cleared the rebels from the ancient cemetery in the heart of the old city, but that more fighting lay ahead in the streets and alleyways nearby as a U.S.-led offensive moved to the end of its third day.

U.S. commanders, who said they were acting under orders from the new Iraqi government, gave little sign that they intended to heed appeals for a cease-fire from clerics and others claiming to represent al-Sadr. But their forces pulled back from the cemetery's edges overnight to take up more secure positions, and the city streets were mostly quiet.

The Marines described engaging in hand-to-hand fighting in the vast cemetery, which lies adjacent to the ancient Imam Ali mosque, a golden-domed shrine that is one of the holiest in Shiite Islam. The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which returned to Iraq recently after taking part in the U.S.-led invasion last year, had endured the fiercest battle of all its engagements in Iraq, the commanders said.

"The engagements in the cemetery were done on foot, encountering numerous fighters at a range when you can smell a man, and it's hand-to-hand combat," said Col. John Mayer, who leads the battalion that took part in the fighting. He spoke at a forward Marine base on the outskirts of Najaf, about three miles from the fighting, as fresh Marine units prepared at dusk for nighttime deployment into the city.

U.S. accounts of the fighting on Saturday said that there had been only sporadic exchanges of rifle, rocket and mortar fire after the intense battles of the previous 48 hours, in which the Marines and an allied force of Iraqi police officers and national guardsmen claimed to have killed more than 300 fighters wearing the black outfits of the Mahdi Army, the militia force loyal to al-Sadr. Spokesmen for the militia have countered the claims, saying only 40 of their fighters had been killed.

The U.S. command said American losses in the fighting up to noon on Saturday amounted to two Marines and one soldier killed, and about 20 U.S. servicemen seriously wounded.

Reports from Najaf told of a city now largely deserted, especially in the area of the old city where the fighting has been concentrated. Shops and other businesses remained closed. The few people who ventured out on foot could be seen clearing rubble, seemingly oblivious to the rattle of nearby machine-gun fire. All power, water and telephone lines were cut.

An Army battalion is expect to join the Marines in Najaf, though Marine officers said the United States is hoping that Iraqi national guard and police will take the lead, especially at the fringe of the cemetery near the shrine; in that area the Americans are vulnerable to attack and feel constrained to wage an offensive.

In Baghdad, representatives of al-Sadr met Saturday with a U.N. official, Jamal Benomar, who offered himself as an intermediary, along with a group of Iraqis from a range of political and religious groups. Benomar said al-Sadr's envoys appeared to be reaching for a cease-fire. "In a nutshell, they are keen to meet with the government and come to a settlement," Benomar said.

But there was little sign a cease-fire would be accepted by the Iraqi government and U.S. commanders. Instead, the indications at nightfall were that the U.S. and Iraqi units intended to press the battle, in the hope of breaking the back of al-Sadr's force in Najaf.

The Iraqi police commander in the city, Gen. Galib Hadi al-Jazaery, told reporters at the Marine base that Iraqi police officers and guardsmen had surrounded and attacked a house that al-Sadr has used as a headquarters in recent months. But the force did not find the cleric. "We want to rid the city of this devil," al-Jazaery said.

Lt. Col. Aqil Khalil of the Iraqi national guard said the attack on the house was botched, and that the guard and police did not work effectively together. The Iraqis are struggling to prove themselves in battle.

Much in the immediate future of Iraq depends on the Najaf fighting, and on lower-intensity skirmishes in the last 72 hours in other urban areas across central and southern Iraq, including the sprawling slum of Sadr City, on Baghdad's outskirts, and the southern city of Nasiriyah. The central question is whether the decision to confront the militiamen, and to do so in a place of the highest religious sensitivities, Najaf, will win the support of Iraq's Shiite majority, or provoke a potentially crippling backlash against the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

On Saturday, after remaining silent during the first 48 hours of fighting, Allawi held a news conference in Baghdad in which he turned aside appeals for a cease-fire, saying prisoners taken during the fighting included "more than 1,000 criminals," at least 400 of whom had been released from prisons under an amnesty declared by Saddam Hussein six months before he was toppled from power.

"What has occurred in Najaf is pitiful," the prime minister said. Referring to the militiamen, he continued: "These attacks have aimed at destabilizing the government. These people are trying to deprive our people of their freedom and progress. Our country has gone through too many wars, and too much hardship, and I'm confident our people will choose the path toward peace and prosperity."

Allawi suggested that the militiamen fighting in Najaf might not be al-Sadr loyalists at all, but "people using his name." He said he had been receiving "positive messages from Muqtada al-Sadr." He invited al-Sadr to abandon reliance on his militia and to run in elections planned for January 2006, an idea that al-Sadr has already rejected.

Allawi also announced that he had signed a decree offering a 30-day amnesty period for people involved with the insurgency that has paralyzed wide areas of the country. The terms of the amnesty cover only relatively minor actions - among them, possessing illegal arms and explosives, failing to disclose information about terrorist groups, and otherwise helping with attacks. But under American pressure, the amnesty offer does not include anybody who has engaged in killing U.S. troops.

Throughout the clashes, U.S. military spokesmen have stressed the point that fighting with the al-Sadr militia has been undertaken under the political authority of the new government. They have said that the Najaf battle was triggered at early light on Thursday when the city's Iraqi governor appealed for the Marines to send a quick reaction force from a tent camp 30 miles east of the city to support Iraqi policemen and national guardsmen defending a police station in Najaf's old city from waves of attack by the militiamen.

At dusk on Saturday, Brig. Gen. Erwin Lessel III of the Air Force, the deputy operations director for the U.S. command in Baghdad, said Najaf had been mainly quiet for much of the day, but that there had been exchanges of rifle and rocket fire around the cemetery. Lessel said there was no immediate expectation of a cease-fire.

"We're going to continue operations," he said. "We are not negotiating at this point." But he added that the political decisions were for Allawi, not for U.S. commanders. "The Iraqi government has the lead," he said. "We are there in a supporting role, and we will support the government in its decisions. It was their resolve, their commitment to take this course of action, and there's no indication that they're going to stop."

U.S. military spokesmen have stressed that it was the al-Sadr fighters who turned the mosque and its vicinity into a battleground. They have said that al-Sadr's fighters have fired rifles, mortars and rockets from within the mosque or its roofs, as well as the cemetery, and that the Marines have fired back only when fired upon.

The 11th Marine Expeditionary Force, the U.S. unit leading the fighting, issued a statement on Saturday saying that the militiamen had stored "large weapons caches" in the cemetery and had launched numerous attacks from the site, violating a cease-fire agreement reached with U.S. forces in May.

The statement added: "While the international laws of armed conflict normally identify sites like this as protected places, such status is forfeited if the site is used for military purposes. The actions of the Muqtada militia make the cemetery a legitimate military objective, which was only assaulted due to necessity and self-defense. During the fighting, the Marines made every effort to minimize collateral damage and preserve the cemetery."

http://www.registerguard.com/news/2004/08/08/a1.iraqfighting.0808.html


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 09:20 AM
Allawi Asks Fighters in Najaf to Lay Down Arms <br />
<br />
NAJAF, Iraq Protected by about 100 guards, Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi visited the war-shattered city of Najaf today, calling on...

thedrifter
08-10-04, 12:16 PM
Back Home, Disabled Vets Fight Injuries, Red Tape <br />
Army and VA can't keep up with numbers of badly wounded soldiers and their families awaiting benefits. <br />
<br />
By Esther Schrader, Times Staff Writer ...

thedrifter
08-10-04, 12:17 PM
Working under banners that say "Army Families Are Special," and "We Love Our Troops," two women, both wives of soldiers, take 60 calls a day from wounded soldiers seeking help. One spent four months unraveling a problem that had prevented a soldier who lost a limb in the war from getting paid for six months.

Another got a former soldier who lost both legs and his sight into Braille classes. The young man had been sitting at home since getting out of the hospital, depressed and confused. Now he is working with the VA to build a home that meets his physical needs.

"We really pushed ourselves into this guy's life. We knew he needed help," said Col. Jacqueline E. Cumbo, director of the program. "We'll continue to follow this service member until he says, 'I no longer need your services.' This is not a one-time shot."

Flowers said he was proud of the program's initial successes but acknowledged it was only a beginning. "It is not enough," he said. "This just has to grow."

Kristopher Atherton, 24, lost his left arm on July 26, 2003, when an improvised explosive device hit the Humvee he was driving near Abu Ghraib. With the remains of his arm dangling, he clenched a rag in his mouth to blunt the pain and drove another 20 minutes to get himself and his passengers to a hospital.

"I had a lot of things going for me," Atherton, now living in Orting, Wash., said of that day. "About a month before I got injured my daughter was born. I had not seen her yet. I was thinking about coming home alive at least and making sure everybody else comes home. I had a newborn daughter I hadn't seen. I didn't know about the other guys. Maybe they had someone they hadn't seen."

Atherton spent five months at Walter Reed getting what he said was excellent care, even though the amputee ward was severely understaffed at the time. He said it was not until he got out of the hospital and left the Army that his troubles began.

For almost two months, he wasn't paid at all. He arrived at Ft. Riley, Kan., where his family was waiting, and was told he had to be out of his free, on-post housing in 60 days.

"There were times like that [when] I didn't know who to talk to, but Hank helped me out when he came into the picture," said Atherton, referring to Hank Minitrez, one of the civilians working to help the newly Army disabled veterans.

Within a month, the new Army support program found Atherton and his wife a townhouse in Orting and got his pay reinstated.

They also helped him get a specially outfitted car through a VA program he hadn't been aware of. The VA paid $11,000 of the total cost of his 1999 Jeep Cherokee.

A local American Legion post gave him $1,000.

He and his wife are still struggling. Changing diapers is nearly impossible one-handed, he says, and Atherton winces when he visits friends who are able to toss his daughter, squealing with delight, up in the air.

But Atherton said the help from the Army and from social workers with the VA had made a difference. Starting in September, the VA will be putting him through school first at a community college and then at St. Martin's College to study civil engineering.

The future is far more limited for Jay Briseno.

In his parents' home, he lies in his bed, a stuffed animal from his childhood tucked into his motionless arms.

A photo of him in uniform rests on the mantle nearby. Although conscious, he is unable to move and his ability to communicate is severely impaired.

His teenage sisters have dropped many of their after-school activities to help out. The deacon of their church comes by three times a week.

His mom and dad don't stay in their bedroom anymore they sleep on a futon next to their son's bed to care for him through the night.

They have to: The money they get from the VA is only enough to pay for 19 hours a day of nursing care and he needs help all 24.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/la-na-wounded8aug08,1,2869030.story?coll=la-home-headlines


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 01:19 PM
08-08-2004

Report From A Grunt In Iraq



Good thing about it, other than heavy weapons we are armed pretty well. 75% carry SAW's and we have BKC's (7.62 X 51) strategically placed throughout the parimeter. No way for the bad guys to get in no matter the number.

We also have between 200-300 local Iraqi's with AK47's in our camp who we use to man some positions and aid in QRF. Last time we had a ground attack 90% dropped weapons and fled. We have mostly Kurds (who hate iraqi's) so hopefully they wont flee!!!

Anyway, before I could shoot you that e-mail yesterday the army got hit south of here. 3 serious injured. We have their truck. The IED was wrapped in Ball Bearings. Even the Armor plates dont slow that **** down!!! Just melts it like butter. Not sure how kevlar will hold up to it but we are already trying to figure out ways to get our F350's hardened a little more.

Nothing more to report. The full moon is almost over so at least its getting to dark for then to come at us at night.

Your favorite Grunt

http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/csNews.cgi?database=Special%20Reports.db&command=viewone&op=t&id=288&rnd=291.78434019794406


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 01:55 PM
Command Center Juggles a Dual Mission
U.S.-led coalition has had to intervene even as it seeks to coax Iraqis to take on insurgents.

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer


CAMP VICTORY, Baghdad On the second day of fighting in Najaf last week, Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. military officer in Iraq, held a video teleconference with his subordinate commanders across Iraq to discuss the spreading violence.

U.S. Marines were gaining ground against Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr's forces during battles in Najaf, Iraq's holiest city, yet the fighting had begun spilling into key Shiite cities in the south, and U.S. commanders feared that the violence could reach the level of April's bloody uprisings.







Midway through the teleconference Friday, a British officer giving a situation report from Nasiriya a southern town where insurgents were attacking throughout the day reported that his biggest worry was that the governor of the city had lost resolve and was trying to negotiate a truce with the insurgents to get Italian troops out of the city center.

The governor, the British officer reported, had "gone slightly wobbly."

Casey and other commanders considered the British officer's report from their leather chairs inside the high-tech Joint Operations Center at Camp Victory, adjacent to Baghdad's international airport, where U.S. and coalition officers run the daily operations of the 160,000 foreign troops in Iraq. Then, Maj. Gen. Andrew Graham, deputy commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq and the top British officer in the country, leaned into his microphone.

"Our job is to support the governor," said Graham, a cerebral, soft-spoken commander who has the look of an Oxford don in combat fatigues. "But not to give any ground and not to let him wobble too much."

Graham's comment about the situation in Nasiriya encapsulated the entire mission of U.S.-led forces in Iraq more than a month after transferring power to a fragile Iraqi interim government.

As fighting continues in Najaf, a foreign military force eager to fade into the background and give the Iraqis the starring role in securing their own country has been forced to remain on center stage by the insurgency.

It is a difficult and dangerous balance for coalition commanders. On one hand, they must coax Iraqi officials and security forces into the lead to take on the insurgents. On the other hand, the dicey security situation demands that they use the vastly superior forces and weaponry at their disposal to try to keep the violence from spiraling out of control.

The events in Najaf, top officers say, are a critical test of security environment after the June 28 hand-over, where U.S. troops in Iraq remain strangers in a strange land.

"It's important that the Iraqis know they can count on us to assist them in these challenges," said Brig. Gen. William Troy, chief of staff for Multinational Corps-Iraq. "Because this is not going to be the last one."

Throughout the fighting in Najaf, a low hum of activity at the command center at Camp Victory has been replaced by frenetic briefings and constant communication with commanders both in the holy city and throughout southern Iraq. Within the JOC, housed inside the gold- and marble-encrusted Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory, officers on the amphitheater's nine elevated platforms tap away on Dell laptops, watch live video of insurgent formations beamed from a Predator drone aircraft and anxiously monitor radio traffic among front line units.

From a bank of computers in the center of the room, Army Col. Bob Pricone, the Multinational Corps chief of operations, conducts an orchestra of millions of dollars worth of communications gear. Rarely without at least one telephone against his ear, Pricone relays a stream of information from far-flung combat areas to officers inside the JOC.

A giant video screen at the front of the JOC provides a grim reminder of Iraq's perils for foreign troops: a running chronicle of the day's mortar, rocket and roadside bomb attacks, and the casualties they have caused.

The success of guerrilla attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq is a paradox of modern conflict: expensive and high-tech weapons are often neutralized by rudimentary tactics, such as an artillery round hidden inside the carcass of an animal, rigged to explode as a U.S. convoy passes.

Although U.S. military forces now train extensively for urban combat, the insurgents hidden in Iraq's crowded streets have an advantage. Even more reason, U.S. commanders say, to get more Iraqi forces on the street.

During periodic secure video teleconferences with Casey's headquarters in Baghdad's Green Zone, the officers in the JOC give operational updates to the four-star commander.

In such a teleconference Friday, Troy gave Casey his report on the Najaf fighting after returning from the city on an Army helicopter. The Marines were making good progress pushing Sadr's forces back, Troy said, yet the insurgent defenses inside a cemetery adjacent to a major shrine made it difficult for U.S. forces to launch strikes against the bulk of Sadr's militia.

Complicating matters, intelligence officers reported that insurgent forces from Baghdad, Fallouja and Amarah had been able to skirt U.S. military roadblocks encircling Najaf and reinforce Sadr's Al Mahdi militia.

Casey expressed concern that the small Marine unit fighting in Najaf might not have enough reinforcements. Officers inside the JOC responded that the tank battalion of the Army's 1st Cavalry recently dispatched south from Baghdad toward Najaf should be enough to bolster the firepower of the U.S. forces fighting in the city center.

As the top American commander in Iraq, Casey who took over for Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez last month is the U.S. military's chief liaison with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government. Casey spends much of his time in high-level discussions with Iraqi officials about the insurgency, the progress toward independent elections in January, and the course of the U.S.-led military effort.

During the teleconference, Casey told his officers in the JOC that Allawi had decided there would be no negotiation with Sadr's forces, and that the decision about what to do with Sadr had to be made by the prime minister and his aides.

The decision about Sadr's fate remains one of the most complex for Allawi's government, as Iraqi officials must weigh dealing with a thorn in their side against alienating the legions of his Shiite supporters.

U.S. officers in Iraq sometimes bristle at the often glacial pace of decision-making among politicians. Commanders who once had carte blanche to run operations throughout the country now have to incorporate the wishes and sensitivities of Iraqi politicians into their battle plans.

"That goes so counter to at least the Army culture, which is can-do. Give me the mission, and I'll do it," said Multinational Corps commander Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Metz, who runs the daily military operations in the country. "It's hard to tell our leaders, 'Let the Iraqis do it' . It's hard to let go."

Mindful of what they call a "rush to failure," top commanders say that dispatching ill-prepared Iraqi forces into intense combat too quickly would only set back the development of Iraqi security forces.

Troy said, however, that the fighting in Najaf has been a debut for low-level Iraqi military headquarters planning and executing missions independent of coalition forces.

In addition, he said, the governor of Najaf has been in constant communication with the Marine commanders running operations in the city.

Metz said that for the post-June 28 arrangement to work, Allawi's government must rely on the foreign troops still desperately needed in this unstable country, without looking like a puppet of Western governments.

He said that despite its limitations and uncertainties, this arrangement was the only way that Iraq would be able to govern itself enabling U.S. troops to eventually depart.

"As much as I would love the Iraqis to love me, and my doctrine tells me I want to win the hearts and minds, I know I'm not going to do that," he said. "What I'm looking for is Iraqis that will step up to the plate and be leaders. And we're beginning to find them."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-command8aug08,1,1205261.story


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 02:26 PM
Letters from Iraq: Platoon clears Ambush Alley

Aug. 9, 2004 12:00 AM


This is the second in a four-part series of letters from 1st Lt. John Dunlap III to his family from Iraq. The 24-year-old Phoenix soldier arrived in Iraq in March. In the first installment, Dunlap described patrols in Iskandariyah and the start of the battle in Fallujah.

Escalating war
April 8

A lot of new developments, the war in our area is escalating - we are right in the middle of Muqtada al-Sadr's uprising and Mahdi's army. We are located right between Fallujah and Najaf, where there has been intense fighting from the rebels who have moved into our AO (area of operations) to try to organize rebellion. The past few nights we have been rocketed and mortared, and some injured have been evacuated.

Please continue to pray for us here and pray for my own personal spiritual strength.

The Iraqis have been scared but nonetheless our informers continue to help us despite the risk they take on their families. Please pray for the Iraqi police and coalition supporters and for the safety of their families.


Attacks erupt
April 10

Things have been getting out of control here. Yesterday, I went on a mission that was supposed to last a few hours and then everything started to erupt.

We went to rescue some Marines that were ambushed, under attack and being killed. On the way over, the platoon we were following was ambushed. We then had to rescue them. Then we made contact with the enemy. The platoon that we had just come to rescue returned for the base with casualties. On the way they were ambushed again and fell back on my platoon's position. We had to spend the night in the enemy area in the desert because we had too much damage to our own vehicles to return home.

That night the enemy tried to mortar our position while we were out alone and we almost ran out of water and gas and ammo. We survived. My platoon was the only platoon that had no casualties and remained combat effective. God has definitely been protecting us. We passed through several of the ambush sites minutes before or after a fight and the enemy never engaged my platoon in ambush . . . thanks to none other than the protection of God, and your prayers.

I saw my first dead enemy today. He had an RPG (rocket propelled grenade launcher) on his shoulder, cocked and ready to fire at us. It was a terrible sight but I am glad that he was a definite bad guy.

They sent out at least two companies of Marines, armored and engineers, to rescue us this morning. Not to mention that all last night and this morning we were supported by F-16s and Cobra helicopters that I had at my disposal.

Today my platoon was praised when we finally made it back to the FOB (forward operating base). My battalion commander, my company 1st Sergeant, and many others were impressed at how calm I sounded on the radio and my command and control. The real credit goes to the men in my platoon. They are brave and sharp professionals who don't require much leadership due to the fact that they are self-motivated and know what to do.

I haven't slept in 48 hours so I am going to make it short and say good-bye.


Ambush Alley
April 13

Ambush Alley.

It is easy to get discouraged here when you see how much America and England have done for the Iraqis and how quick they are to turn on us. This country has seen enormous freedom, higher quality of life and business opportunity, yet the extremist religious leaders have so much control over the people that they still are too scared or too brainwashed to accept the new opportunity.

Today, I was clearing Ambush Alley along with some other routes. Ambush Alley has already taken the lives of more Americans than probably any other stretch of road in the country. Some of the lives were from my Company. With the exception of a few IEDs (improvised explosive devices) we found, it was a beautiful day in the Euphrates River valley.

It is like going back in time when we drive around here. People still drive donkey-pulled wagons and there is no sign of a commercial franchise of any sort. This area is lush with farmlands and palm trees and water. Very peaceful, except for the rusted tanks and piles of old artillery shells on both sides of the road.

Along the road I saw children dressed in brand-new school uniforms going to some of the schools that my battalion has supported. The people will admit that the schools are now better, but after the children reach about 12 years old none of the parents force them to go.

The hospital we donated thousands of dollars to would not accept the wounded Iraqi Army soldiers we trained that fought alongside us against Mahdi's army because they had supported the coalition. When we arrived at the hospital we saw Sadr posters posted. And the mosques we worked with were having anti-American pep rallies. Our unit has been going to enormous measures to explain to the Iraqis all we are doing yet they have grown impatient with us and live in fear of associating with us, lest they or their families get murdered for their cooperation with the U.S.

One thing is clear as water: it is just how evil the enemy is. The terrorists make the people live in constant fear, and the people give in. I believe that the extremist Muslims know that Iraq is a critical point in their war against democracy. Iraq now has the ability to become the most successful free nation in the Middle East. It is beautiful and has so much potential. Or Iraq can become the example of how democracy can't work and how terrorism is more powerful than freedom.

The soldiers here know how important this is for the future of the world and they are giving their lives to make freedom more powerful than terrorism.

I have to go now. Got to hunt the bad guys.


Powerful show
May 5

Today we got the Internet building up for the first time since Al-Iskandariyah so hopefully we can stay in better touch.

Fallujah is a lot more crazy than Al-Iskandariyah. The war the past few days has been exciting. The last day of the cease-fire my battalion leveled the south side of the city. It was an amazing show of the power of the U.S. military, especially air assets. We sustained few casualties, none KIA (killed in action).

Lt. Niven's platoon was hit the other day by an 8-strand IED ambush. I arrived first on the scene with the colonel who I was escorting. The platoon sergeant had to administer combat life-saving because the medic was one of the casualties. They are fine and now in Germany. Lt. Niven is doing well and still leading patrols.

I must go now.


Letters help
May 11

I think our platoon is the only platoon so far not to have a casualty in the whole battalion. This being absolutely nothing of my moderate work but all from God's love, mercy and power as well as because, I honestly believe, more people are praying for our platoon than any other platoon in the Army.

Please thank everyone who writes me, I have received more mail than the whole platoon combined. Everyone has been so gracious and every letter means so much. I love them. I take a few out with me on every mission since I don't have time to read them here. They help so much to combat the loneliness and stress out here. I have such wonderful friends and friends of friends.


An unfair rep
May 12

Fallujah has been hot, real hot. It is already well into the 100s, although I have no thermometer, and we are required to wear jackets, pants, and about 60 lbs. of body armor and gear -all this before we put on our assault packs.

We just finished getting our HUMVs (Humvees) "up-armored" - meaning they are bullet-proofed. Hopefully, this will hold up against an IED's secondary fragmentations, but they cannot defend against a well-placed IED. Another issue is you can't crack a window so your vehicle becomes a tin oven in the sun.

The enemy is still plotting against us and has more support than ever. This is mostly due to the repeated coverage of the prisoner scandal. For the first time Iraqis have cable so they get all the same channels like ABC, CNN, etc. However they can't understand English so they just see all the "new" pictures and don't know that we are appalled by the behavior of those prison guards.

Soldiers in our chow hall all get so mad when they see the added coverage on the scandal - and it is always on - because they know when they go out of the wire (outside their base) . . . for a patrol through the Fallujah area some of the locals will be extra violent and opposed to Americans because they honestly believe that is what our organization is about and that all soldiers are rapists. Not only does it make our job more dangerous and harder but it also discounts all the schools that we have improved, water piping we have added, electricity we have given them, etc.

In the past week I have seen a distinct difference in the children's behavior toward us. The kids used to wave at us, smile, give us the "thumbs-up," and try to imitate us. Now they run from us or stay inside.

I assume Arabic TV networks have loved this scandal as much as CNN. I worry that Americans at home in the U.S. have no clue how great the U.S. men and women are over here and that those of us here may be thrown into a negative stereotype from this scandal. Much like the American servicemen of the Vietnam war were often referred to as "baby killers."

These soldiers work their butts off over here and I can't believe they have the motivation to keep on charging without a break. I am physically drained, I haven't showered in a week, I haven't had a meal in two days, and I haven't slept more than 5 hours in I don't know how long. Never a day or hour off, this is the standard here for infantry types.


http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0809dunlap-two09.html


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 04:48 PM
Marines return home <br />
Submitted by: MCAGCC <br />
Story Identification #: 200486163750 <br />
Story by Cpl. Itzak Lefler <br />
<br />
<br />
<br />
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2004) -- A...

thedrifter
08-10-04, 05:50 PM
Marines push deep into Najaf

By Alex Berenson and John Burns
The New York Times







NAJAF, Iraq - Marine commanders battling Muqtada al-Sadr's rebel militiamen in this *****e holy city said Saturday that the fighting had cleared the rebels from the ancient cemetery in the heart of the old city, but that more fighting lay ahead in the streets and alleyways nearby as a U.S.-led offensive moved to the end of its third day.

U.S. commanders, who said they were acting under orders from the new Iraqi government, gave little sign that they intended to heed appeals for a cease-fire from clerics and others claiming to represent al-Sadr. But their forces pulled back from the cemetery's edges overnight to take up more secure positions, and the city streets were mostly quiet.

The Marines described engaging in hand-to-hand fighting in the vast cemetery, which lies adjacent to the ancient Imam Ali mosque, a golden-domed shrine that is one of the holiest in *****e Islam. The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which returned to Iraq recently after taking part in the U.S.-led invasion last year, had endured the fiercest battle of all its engagements in Iraq, the commanders said.

"The engagements in the cemetery were done on foot, encountering numerous fighters at a range when you can smell a man, and it's hand-to-hand combat," said Col. John Mayer, who leads the battalion that took part in the fighting. He spoke at a forward Marine base on the outskirts of Najaf, about three miles from the fighting, as fresh Marine units prepared at dusk for nighttime deployment into the city.

U.S. accounts of the fighting on Saturday said that there had been only sporadic exchanges of rifle, rocket and mortar fire after the intense battles of the previous 48 hours, in which the Marines and an allied force of Iraqi police officers and national guardsmen claimed to have killed more than 300 fighters wearing the black outfits of the Mahdi Army, the militia force loyal to al-Sadr. Spokesmen for the militia have countered the claims, saying only 40 of their fighters had been killed.

The U.S. command said American losses in the fighting up to noon on Saturday amounted to two Marines and one soldier killed, and about 20 U.S. servicemen seriously wounded.

Reports from Najaf told of a city now largely deserted, especially in the area of the old city where the fighting has been concentrated. Shops and other businesses remained closed. The few people who ventured out on foot could be seen clearing rubble, seemingly oblivious to the rattle of nearby machine-gun fire. All power, water and telephone lines were cut.

An Army battalion is expect to join the Marines in Najaf, though Marine officers said the United States is hoping that Iraqi national guard and police will take the lead, especially at the fringe of the cemetery near the shrine; in that area the Americans are vulnerable to attack and feel constrained to wage an offensive.

In Baghdad, representatives of al-Sadr met Saturday with a U.N. official, Jamal Benomar, who offered himself as an intermediary, along with a group of Iraqis from a range of political and religious groups. Benomar said al-Sadr's envoys appeared to be reaching for a cease-fire. "In a nutshell, they are keen to meet with the government and come to a settlement," Benomar said.

But there was little sign a cease-fire would be accepted by the Iraqi government and U.S. commanders. Instead, the indications at nightfall were that the U.S. and Iraqi units intended to press the battle, in the hope of breaking the back of al-Sadr's force in Najaf.

The Iraqi police commander in the city, Gen. Galib Hadi al-Jazaery, told reporters at the Marine base that Iraqi police officers and guardsmen had surrounded and attacked a house that al-Sadr has used as a headquarters in recent months. But the force did not find the cleric. "We want to rid the city of this devil," al-Jazaery said.

Lt. Col. Aqil Khalil of the Iraqi national guard said the attack on the house was botched, and that the guard and police did not work effectively together. The Iraqis are struggling to prove themselves in battle.

Much in the immediate future of Iraq depends on the Najaf fighting, and on lower-intensity skirmishes in the last 72 hours in other urban areas across central and southern Iraq, including the sprawling slum of Sadr City, on Baghdad's outskirts, and the southern city of Nasiriyah. The central question is whether the decision to confront the militiamen, and to do so in a place of the highest religious sensitivities, Najaf, will win the support of Iraq's *****e majority, or provoke a potentially crippling backlash against the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

On Saturday, after remaining silent during the first 48 hours of fighting, Allawi held a news conference in Baghdad in which he turned aside appeals for a cease-fire, saying prisoners taken during the fighting included "more than 1,000 criminals," at least 400 of whom had been released from prisons under an amnesty declared by Saddam Hussein six months before he was toppled from power.

"What has occurred in Najaf is pitiful," the prime minister said. Referring to the militiamen, he continued: "These attacks have aimed at destabilizing the government. These people are trying to deprive our people of their freedom and progress. Our country has gone through too many wars, and too much hardship, and I'm confident our people will choose the path toward peace and prosperity."

Allawi suggested that the militiamen fighting in Najaf might not be al-Sadr loyalists at all, but "people using his name." He said he had been receiving "positive messages from Muqtada al-Sadr." He invited al-Sadr to abandon reliance on his militia and to run in elections planned for January 2006, an idea that al-Sadr has already rejected.

Allawi also announced that he had signed a decree offering a 30-day amnesty period for people involved with the insurgency that has paralyzed wide areas of the country. The terms of the amnesty cover only relatively minor actions - among them, possessing illegal arms and explosives, failing to disclose information about terrorist groups, and otherwise helping with attacks. But under American pressure, the amnesty offer does not include anybody who has engaged in killing U.S. troops.

Throughout the clashes, U.S. military spokesmen have stressed the point that fighting with the al-Sadr militia has been undertaken under the political authority of the new government. They have said that the Najaf battle was triggered at early light on Thursday when the city's Iraqi governor appealed for the Marines to send a quick reaction force from a tent camp 30 miles east of the city to support Iraqi policemen and national guardsmen defending a police station in Najaf's old city from waves of attack by the militiamen.

At dusk on Saturday, Brig. Gen. Erwin Lessel III of the Air Force, the deputy operations director for the U.S. command in Baghdad, said Najaf had been mainly quiet for much of the day, but that there had been exchanges of rifle and rocket fire around the cemetery. Lessel said there was no immediate expectation of a cease-fire.

"We're going to continue operations," he said. "We are not negotiating at this point." But he added that the political decisions were for Allawi, not for U.S. commanders. "The Iraqi government has the lead," he said. "We are there in a supporting role, and we will support the government in its decisions. It was their resolve, their commitment to take this course of action, and there's no indication that they're going to stop."

U.S. military spokesmen have stressed that it was the al-Sadr fighters who turned the mosque and its vicinity into a battleground. They have said that al-Sadr's fighters have fired rifles, mortars and rockets from within the mosque or its roofs, as well as the cemetery, and that the Marines have fired back only when fired upon.

The 11th Marine Expeditionary Force, the U.S. unit leading the fighting, issued a statement on Saturday saying that the militiamen had stored "large weapons caches" in the cemetery and had launched numerous attacks from the site, violating a cease-fire agreement reached with U.S. forces in May.

The statement added: "While the international laws of armed conflict normally identify sites like this as protected places, such status is forfeited if the site is used for military purposes. The actions of the Muqtada militia make the cemetery a legitimate military objective, which was only assaulted due to necessity and self-defense. During the fighting, the Marines made every effort to minimize collateral damage and preserve the cemetery."


Ellie

thedrifter
08-10-04, 09:57 PM
Professional Football Honors Purple Heart Recipients <br />
By Samantha L. Quigley <br />
American Forces Press Service <br />
<br />
CANTON, Ohio, Aug. 9, 2004 -- It was the Deacon's doing. <br />
<br />
After visiting troops in...