Sunday, February 25, 2007

Iraqi Soldiers graduate from Warrior Leader Course

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — The Iraqi army has historically been top-heavy, giving leadership responsibility to officers and officers alone. Enlisted soldiers were not afforded much responsibility or authority. But the “backbone” of the U.S. Army is the noncommissioned officer corps – charged with leading and caring for the troops and their well-being, while officers plan and execute operations.
To help build the Iraqi Army into a well-oiled and highly functioning force, the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) has worked extensively with the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division to train new NCOs in the soldier and leadership skills necessary for success, graduating a class of about 30 NCOs in a ceremony at the Iraqi Army Compound in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, Feb. 21.
“The principle is the same as in the U.S. Army,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mahoney, senior enlistedman in the 2nd BCT. “It’s an entry-level course on the fundamentals of being an NCO.
“If the Iraqi leadership will delegate duties and responsibilities to new NCOs, they will become a force multiplier,” said Mahoney.
Training Iraqi soldiers is a critical part of the 2nd BCT’s mission in Iraq, he added.
“Our main emphasis here is to partner with and train Iraqi Security Forces,” said Mahoney. “One of our efforts is to develop the enlisted leadership within the ISF so they can provide better service for the good citizens of Iraq.”
The brigade’s efforts – and those of the Iraqi army leadership – have been bearing fruit.
“The course was ‘too easy,’ said Sgt. Ali Kazam Radban, a new graduate, using a phrase he learned from American Soldiers. “We learned to search cars, read maps, basic maneuvers and mounted and dismounted patrols. Dismounted patrolling and map reading were my favorite parts, because I like learning new things like that, and going out and seeing the surrounding areas is good too, because I’m pretty familiar with this town.”
The course culminated with a two-hour dismounted patrol of the town of Mahmudiyah, as the students put their skills to work securing street corners for their fellow soldiers moving in the market and various neighborhoods.
Sgt. 1st Class John Lindsey, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., and a military transition team leader, assisted with much of the course.
“They’ve learned techniques in patrolling, inspecting houses and vehicles, and how to teach physical training,” Lindsey explained. “They’ve also had several classes such as first aid, training on different weapons systems like hand grenades, AK-47s, and DShKa machine guns.”
The soldiers were eager to learn for the most part, said Lindsey.
“They’re doing good. (Sgt. Maj. Wessam) Muhammad did an assessment of them,” he said. “Some were having trouble, but the leaders have been working with them, just like in our (American) Warrior Leaders Course.”
Muhammad, the primary instructor for the course, agreed that the students were very successful.
“The soldiers are doing well, of course,” he said. “They’re learning a lot of new information. Before, many soldiers only knew how to kill, and most of those are gone now. The new American skills are helping a great deal. The U.S. Soldiers are giving us a lot of knowledge and skill to our Iraqi soldiers.”
Over 110 Iraqis have graduated from the WLC since the program started, and many are continuing to go to other military courses, learning to be snipers and mechanics.
After the graduation ceremony, where the new NCOs recited the Iraqi NCO creed, the top three graduates were presented coins by Multi-National Corps-Iraq Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola, a native of Elizabeth, N.J.
“I want this to be a reminder,” Ciotola said through an interpreter, “of your obligation to your country. I want this to be a reminder of your obligation to pass on what you have learned. If you love Iraq, together we will make this the paradise God intended it to be for all people. I want to come here on vacation one day.”
The meaning was not lost on the soldiers.
“I am very proud to be an Iraqi NCO,” Kazam Radban said. “I am very proud the Americans have taught us so much.”

Commando Brigade nets terror suspects in series of bizarre incidents

2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Coalition forces had busy days along a major thoroughfare in Iraq Feb. 18 and 19, with separate incidents resulting in several detainees and caches found.
Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) were patrolling a major Iraqi highway, called Route Tampa by coalition forces, when they struck an improvised explosive device at about 5:45 p.m.
The Soldiers scanned the area for a possible trigger man and spotted two local men hiding in a canal and requested aviation support in detaining them.
At about 6:30 p.m., the two men were pulled out of the canal, and questioned along with another three men in the area. Three of the men claimed that the other two were not residents of the area. All five of the men, suspected of being involved with the IED, were detained for questioning.
In another incident, Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion’s Task Force Iron Claw, 2nd BCT, were clearing a road southwest of Baghdad Feb. 19 at about 7:20 a.m. local time when they found two males carrying a white bag, appearing to be trying to emplace it in the road. The task force approached the men, who seemed to be surrendering. One man ran behind a house with the bag, and the Soldiers stopped two trucks at the scene, detaining two men. A white truck of similar make fled.
About three hours later, Soldiers of 1-89 were conducting a dismounted patrol just southwest of the area the suspected terrorists had fled, and spotted a white truck approaching their position, and stopped it, finding two men inside as well as a shotgun. The vehicle had bullet holes in the windshield and hood from rounds fired at it by Task Force Iron Claw.
The two men inside were detained in addition to the two detained earlier and were taken to a coalition base for questioning.
On Feb. 19 at about 9:45 p.m., Soldiers of 1-89 were patrolling Route Tampa when they found three men attempting to place an IED.
They engaged the men, killing one and wounding the other two.
The two wounded men were medically evacuated to coalition care under supervision and will be questioned.

Cav Soldiers ‘cruise the drag’ to protect traffic

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — American Graffiti. Easy Rider. Grease.
Since the dawn of the automobile age, American teenagers have “cruised” up and down the streets and roads, talking with friends, and sometimes stopping to fight. It’s no different in Iraq, really.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) regularly “cruise” the roads and byways south of Baghdad, on watch for terrorist acts and improvised explosive devices.
The main highway through Iraq, known to coalition forces as Route Tampa, is a prime target for IEDs and other acts of terror because it is so heavily traveled by military and civilian convoys as well as local civilian traffic.
It is therefore patrolled almost constantly, day and night, to deny terrorists the ability to harm the thousands of vehicles that travel it.
“We’re allowing freedom of movement,” said Sgt. Gilbert Sanchez, a dismount with Troop C, 1-89, and a native of Bakersfield, Calif., during a patrol Feb. 16. “We’re allowing people to travel with more confidence, both civilians and military. And it makes me feel good knowing we’re helping the Iraqis.”
On a nighttime mission Feb. 14, Spc. Andrew Snyder of Temple, Penn., who serves as a driver in Co. A, admitted that the job is often dull, but it’s critical.
“It allows the units in the brigade to do their missions,” he said. “We’re doing this, so they can do that. And the fact that we do it allows everyone else – other units, or contractor convoys – to go back and forth. By keeping the routes safe, we’re helping everything else go smoother.”
The Solders patrol in eight-hour shifts, traveling up and down Tampa, sometimes stopping to watch the traffic from an observation point. Occasionally they will break it up into two four-hour shifts.
“It’s hard to stay alert for eight hours,” said Sanchez. “Breaking it up prevents complacency.”
Their vigilance pays off in IEDs found and defused before they have a chance to explode and terrorists found before they can execute their missions.
A patrol from the squadron found a man near Tampa Feb. 14 with a 50-pound sack of ammonium nitrate – a common ingredient in the homemade explosive mixtures that pack many of Iraq’s IEDs.
The unit also patrols through the village of Mustafar, just off Route Tampa, where they are known by name, especially to the children. The Soldiers check the village routinely, providing a sense of security not only on the road but to the villagers at home.
“Everything we do is for the kids,” said Sanchez. “They’re the future of Iraq.”

Task Force Vigilant Soldiers keep BIAP safe

Sgt. 1st Class Asuncion Moreno, a platoon sergeant with Task Force Vigilant, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and native of Mercedes, Texas, patrols the Baghdad International Village Feb. 18. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Web Wright, 2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI))

Polar Bears detain AIF leader, high value target and 47 others during mission

2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Coalition forces detained 49 suspected terrorists and found three improvised explosive devices during a combat operation Feb. 16-17 in Quarghuli Village, Iraq.
Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment and the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted Operation Polar Iron.
The two-day operation, which consisted of air and ground assaults, was conducted in order to disrupt ant-Iraqi forces within areas of Quarghuli Village, long known as a terrorist safe haven.
Soldiers from 4-31 and 4-4-6 air assaulted into the terrorist safe haven as others cleared the ground.
While conducting clearing procedures cordon and knock and cordon and search procedures soldiers of 4-31 and 4-4-6 IA detained 49 suspected terrorists and discovered the IEDs.
During the operation the soldiers received small arms fire, but no one was hurt.
One of the detained local nationals was reported to be an al Qaeda cell leader.
Another detainee was discovered to be black listed for involvement with the Sunni extremists.
The detainees were taken to Patrol Base Yusufiyah, Iraq for further questioning.
The IEDs were detonated during a controlled detonation conducted by the Explosive Ordnance Team.

Commandos and Baghdad Eagles find anti-aircraft weapon in cache

2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Coalition forces found and seized an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun and ammunition southwest of Mahmudiyah, Iraq Feb. 19.
Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division discovered the cache just 20 miles southwest of Baghdad during a combat patrol.
The cache consisted of a large ZPU-1 weapon, 20 30mm rounds, a tripod and three spare barrels.
The weapon was in firing condition and in configuration to be used in the near future.
The cache was destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by the Explosive Ordnance Team.
The ZPU-1 was evacuated to Patrol Base Mahmudiyah.

Golden Dragons discover weapons cache

2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

RADWANIYAH, Iraq — Coalition forces found a weapons cache southwest of Radwaniyah, Iraq Feb. 19.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment “Golden Dragons,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) found the weapons cache during a routine combat patrol just 30 miles southwest of the capital.
The cache consisted of four 2.5 inch rockets and four 60mm mortar rounds.
The cache was destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by the Explosive Ordnance Team.

Humor, history mix in Black History Month observance

Humor, history mix in Black History Month observance
By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Many performers show support for the troops by playing concerts in various theaters of operation. But in celebration of Black History Month, Camp Striker, Iraq was treated to a show by a band that has been around since 1964.
“The Temptations” – actually a group of Soldiers of Troop D, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) - sang and danced in honor of the day, and Soldiers of that troop also re-enacted Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat and the assassination of Malcolm X.
The theme for the annual celebration this year was “From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Spencer Gray, a native of Thomaston, Geo., and the command sergeant major for the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, was the keynote speaker at the celebration, and called to mind all those who have struggled for the rights of African Americans in the United States, including former presidents John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman.
“This celebration gives Soldiers the opportunity to celebrate African-American heritage month,” he said. “This means a lot – even with the struggles of African-Americans, there are people without whom we couldn’t have done it,” he said, speaking of the strides made in equality. “Lincoln, Kennedy – everybody had a part of this just cause.”
“The military has evolved greatly,” Gray said, speaking of the desegregation after the American Civil War and the fact that black Soldiers were often steered into support occupations, even until recently. “The mindset has changed now. In every branch, you have African Americans. …We’ve been serving side-by-side with our majority counterparts in the U.S. military.”
He cautioned that African-American Soldiers cannot rest on what has been done before.
“Whatever took place in the past, it was a bad deal,” he said. “But don’t make that negativity a focus. We’ve got to push on, and it’s okay to struggle.”
The re-enactment of Rosa Parks’ watershed refusal to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger was played out by Trp. D, 1-89 Soldiers using chairs as bus seats. As Pfc. Jackie Jones, a Spartanburg, S.C. native and a communications specialist with Trp. D, was hustled off the stage by Soldiers playing police officers, a narrator spoke about the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott that came about because of her courage and the civil rights movement of the 60’s that found its precipitating factor in her refusal.
Soldiers also re-enacted the assassination of Malcolm X by members of the Nation of Islam, and spoke about his legacy of promoting equality between the races.
Spc. Jenna Maravillas, a native of Lake in the Hills, Ill., and an information systems specialist for 2nd BCT, sang Mariah Carey’s “A Hero Lives In You” as a tribute.
“I was asked to perform by Sgt 1st Class (Anthony) Drayton, the brigade’s equal opportunity representative,” said Maravillas. “I had wanted to sing it for the Fourth of July, so I brought it up to him and he said it would be nice as a dedication.”
Staff Sgt. Nikkii Courtland, a native of Columbia, S.C. and a brigade aviation element noncommissioned officer in charge, commented on the importance of the observance.
“Black History Month is important, because it recognizes the accomplishments of African-Americans that are not duly noted in the history books. But it shouldn’t just be a month – it should be every day.”
Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie, a native of Lockhart, Texas, and the equal opportunity representative for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, said she enjoyed the performances.
“I particularly liked it because it showed that the Soldiers are knowledgeable about history because they came up with the skits themselves. I think it really illustrated to the other Soldiers that Rosa Parks isn’t just a name in a history book, she was a real person. And their struggles, while they might have been before most Soldiers’ times, were real and continue to have real repercussions for us today.”

Civil-military operations center gets star power

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

RADWANIYAH PALACE COMPLEX, Iraq — A coalition forces general visited the civil-military operations center at the Radwaniyah Palace near Camp Striker, Iraq, Feb. 23, calling it “good stuff.”
Maj. Gen. H. L. ‘Buz’ Altschuler, a native of Boston, Mass., and the commanding general of the U. S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), toured the facility that overlooks Camp Striker during the visit, meeting with civil affairs officers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion that coordinates operations at the CMOC.
“He came to see the operations of the CMOC, and learn how we interact with the local nationals and what we do here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Juan Perez of Freeport, N.Y., the CMOC’s noncommissioned officer in charge. “He’s very interested to see our operations with the Iraqi nationals. Civil affairs is key to winning hearts and minds and winning the war.”
The CMOC clinic has treated over 1600 patients since opening less than a year ago, said Perez, and sees about 70 people each of the three days a week it is open. Soldiers are also available at the clinic in case of after-hours emergencies.
“There are no hospitals in this area,” said Perez. “We’ve already saved lives here. We’re the link between the local residents and the combat support hospitals.”
Maj. Ron Vogus, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., and the commander of the 413th Civil Affairs Company, explained much of what the Soldiers had done.
“It gives him visibility on all the excellent stuff the 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain is doing in non-lethal operations, which affects the lethal side. This is just one small piece. All the civil-military efforts are synchronized with the maneuver battalions. Bringing it all together is what the CMOC does,” said Vogus.
This is an integral part of civil-military operations, and other operations within the 2nd BCT’s sector. We have to work together to meet the brigade commander’s intent. We want to bring the eastern part of southern Baghdad together with the western part to get them involved with the nahia council and get the locals to bring the local governance together.”
Maj. Felipe Moon, a native of Modesto, Calif., and the civil-military operations officer for the 2nd BCT, said he was pleased by the visit.
“This is an opportunity for (Altshuler) to see, hear and experience his civil affairs efforts are capable of accomplishing these counterinsurgency operations,” he said. “The 413th Civil Affairs Company has been able to deal with every aspect of CMO, from negotiations and engaging sheiks to assessing clinics and developing civil service infrastructure in areas that have been war-stricken since 1991.”
Altshuler himself was impressed by the troops’ work.
“This is an example of a classic civil affairs ‘storefront,’ he said, noting that the battalion commander can work with the indigenous population through the CMOC.
“It’s a proven outlet for local nationals to communicate with the commander and enables him to fulfill the requirements to safeguard the population and still be able to carry out the mission,” said Altshuler. ‘The clinic, claims office and playground are near the secure facility but still accessible to the neighborhood. Nongovernmental organizations and other groups are able to be secured and protected, but still close to the population.
“In short, it’s just good stuff,” he said.

Operation Wolverine Alesia continues snagging caches, detainees

2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi army and coalition troops continue to find stockpiles of weapons and detain terror suspects near the main highway, Route Tampa, leading into Baghdad, where operations have been ongoing since Feb. 3.
Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Troop B, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) working together as part of Operation Wolverine Alesia, have discovered two major caches – including one that contained 1,100 mortar rounds – and three minor ones. They have also detained six local nationals in the course of the operation.
Soldiers continue to conduct cordon-and-search operations as well as route clearance and deliberate search-and-attack village clearance.
“We have effectively denied the zone as an anti-Iraqi forces sanctuary in the Wolverine area of operations,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, a native of Redding, Penn., and commander of the 1-89 Cav.
As part of the counter-insurgency tactics that the 2nd BCT is conducting the cavalry squadron provided necessities to the local residents to assist the coalition with fighting the terrorists.
The operation also included a veterinary treatment clinic. Local nationals brought 187 animals to be treated by Multi-National Division – Baghdad veterinarian, Lt. Col. Neil Ahle. The animals, wrangled mostly by the local children, were given wormer and vaccinations for endemic area diseases.
Encouraging Iraqi veterinarians was Ahle’s main goal, he said.
“Maybe by doing this veterinary care, we’ll get a vet in the area to step up,” he said. “We put a lot of effort into many areas, but pushing the Iraqi people to step up and do it – well, this is one way to do that.”

Market grand opening signifies Iraqi resilience

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Last July, innocent women and children were killed here when terrorists attacked one of the only places that thrived with livelihood – the Mahmudiyah Marketplace.
Since the attack, which killed more than 40 Iraqis and wounded more than 100, Iraqis and coalition forces worked together to rebuild the market.
Local Iraqis gathered at the Mahmudiyah Marketplace, now named the Martyrs Market in remembrance of the local nationals killed during the July attack, for the grand opening Feb. 14.
“Today we are sending a message to the terrorists that whatever they have destroyed we (the Iraqis) will, and are continuing, to rebuild it,” said Moyad Alamery, the mayor of Mahmudiyah. “Today is a happy day.”
Since the attack of the market - a place where it was safe to shop – small businesses had suffered. However, the opening of the market signified hope to the once terror-stricken area.
“Our store has been open for just a short while,” said Muthana, an Iraqi vendor, as he stocked the shelves of his store. “We had spent months repairing our store from the terrorist attack, but we are up and running.”
Muthana, like many store owners had to repair the damage caused from the July attack. The repairs in his shop ranged anywhere from holes in the ceiling to cracks in the walls – totaling 3 million dinar just to fix.
Although Muthana and other Iraqi vendors had the funds to fix their store, many other Iraqis did not since their small store was their only mean of survival.
“We helped the people with repairs to their stores by facilitating the projects the contractors worked on,” said Taliv Abbas Jasim, the city council president. “We are helping to improve the quality of life and provide basic services such as water and electricity to the people.”
With the city council and other Iraqis helping their neighbors the local residents are starting to have confidence in their government.
As the market was being built up again, terrorists still tried to sop the progress. Mortars were fired towards the area and bombs were set; however, the Iraqis pushed on – fighting for a better Iraq.
“The Iraqi people have more confidence and trust with the Iraqi government,” Alamery said. “It is through this type of event that the people gain confidence in their government.”
Wanting to provide for their own, Iraqi government officials worked with coalition forces to help get the market open again.
“We coordinated the contractor work and helped to provide security when necessary during the renovation (period),” said Lt. Col. Bob Morschauser, a native of Fairless Hills, Pa., who serves as the commander for the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery, Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). “The initial phases of the work began in November following the attack.”
With the help of the Soldiers in 2-15 the Iraqis took the lead in getting the market running again.
“Iraqi contractors repaired damages and the Iraqi City Council provided assistance,” said Col. Ali, the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division commander. “The opening will help the Iraqis and bring them closer to the Iraqi government’s efforts to help them.”
Even though the market was opened there were still memories of the Iraqis lost in July.
“The new market is something considered of great importance to me,” Ali noted. “It is a remembrance of people who lost their lives.”
Noting the market signifies a mending of hearts for loved ones lost, it also signifies the new relationship between two tribes that have been at odds for some time.
“We have both Sunni and Shiite vendors here,” Ali commented of the market. “We hope to solidify the relationship – the market is open to everyone.”
Since tension in the Mahmudiyah area is common knowledge security was tight during the opening. Soldiers from 4-6 and 2-15 FAR provided security for the opening, however; the event was peaceful as Iraqi men, women and children roamed the streets.
“I am happy that I have the chance to shop and not be scared,” said Nawal, an Iraqi woman as she walked with her children through the market. “I was scared before, but I no longer am.”
Nawal, just like many others, combed the streets of the market looking at anything from shoes and blankets to fresh meat and fruits. There was a wide variety of items to choose from.
“I think the market is good for the community itself – the people,” Morschauser said.
Ali concurred.
“It will help the Iraqis and their families,” he said of the opening. “All Iraqis will benefit from the market.”
The market, which currently consists of 92 stores, was built with extra security precautions to ensure the safety of local nationals.
“Our amount of customers has decreased since the new security measures have been taken,” Muthana said of the road in front of his store that is used for a check point. “We are hoping to have more customers though and more advertising about stores located on the other side of the road.”
The mayor commented about what the opening will do for the Iraqi economy.
“This will help the economy of Iraq,” Alamery said. “This market will be very busy.”
From a time when terror-stricken citizens were afraid to leave their homes to a new beginning the market opening signified something about the Iraqi people – resilience.
“This shows that the Iraqi people are resilient,” Morschauser said of the opening. “They are not going to let anti-Iraqi forces stop them from living their lives."

Iraqi Police receive new gear from IP general

JOINT SECURITY STATION YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Sa'if Faisal (left), a member of the Yusufiyah Iraqi police, signs a receipt for an armor vest, boots and other equipment recently acquired by the department. Thirteen Iraqi police received new gear Feb. 20 at the new Joint Security Station in Yusufiyah, Iraq, with Gen. Abid Muhammad, chief of Iraqi police for the district, personally distributing the equipment. Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) were on hand to help the police with fitting their gear. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Chris McCann, 2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI))

‘Polar Bears’ nab caches in unexpected finds

2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

RUSHDI MULLAH, Iraq — U.S. forces found several large caches in twin finds on Feb. 14 along Iraq’s Mulla Fayad Highway near the village of Rushdi Mullah.
Soldiers of Company C, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) were burning reeds along the highway to destroy concealment used by terrorists when they heard explosions caused by the fires at about noon.
Upon assessment, they discovered a directional charge loaded with explosive, four empty directional charges, five tank rounds, a burned AK-47 and two magazines, two 60mm mortar base plates, and 300 rounds of AK-47 ammunition.
The remainder of the cache was destroyed with a controlled detonation.
Later that afternoon, a patrol from Co. C found five more caches in the same area, which contained four 120mm tank sabot rounds, Russian tank rounds, a metal pipe, a sack of 12.7mm rounds for a DShK Russian heavy machine gun, 15 empty directional charges, five explosive-packed directional charges rigged with detonation cord, a 105mm rocket round and homemade explosive.
“We took 25 improvised explosive devices off the street today,” said Maj. Web Wright, spokesman for the 2nd BCT, of the find. “We are definitely making an impact on the Al-Qaida and former regime members’ freedom of maneuver, as well as their weapons stockpiles.”
The caches were seized and destroyed in a controlled detonation

Iraqi, U.S. forces seize extensive caches in Iraq

2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

LUTIFIYAH, Iraq — Combined Iraqi and U.S. forces discovered and destroyed two caches of weapons and improvised explosive device-making materials near Lutifiyah, Iraq Feb. 13.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division in conjunction with the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) discovered the stockpile west of Lutifiyah at around 12:30 p.m. local time while on patrol.
The first cache contained a land mine, a silencer, 20 feet of detonation cord, a nine-volt battery, a washing machine timer, 11 blasting caps, 10 feet of crush wire, 5,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, five rocket-propelled grenade propellant charges, four RPG rounds, a Dragonov sniper rifle magazine, 60 unlinked rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, 70 linked 5.56mm rounds, six AK-47 magazines, eight black masks, three tactical vests with Iraqi flags on them and a drum of ammunition for a PKC medium machine gun.
The second cache, found nearby, contained 11 RPG rounds with propellant charges and five RPG launchers.
The weapons were seized and destroyed in a controlled detonation.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From ABC News

Associated Press journalist Lauren Frayer visited the 2nd BCT's 2-14 Golden Dragons in Yusufiyah.
Click the link for more

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

TFV Soldiers assist Iraqis with new IP station

1st Lt. Randall Cornelison
TFV, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

BAGHDAD — Old things can become new, and it’s exciting when they do.
In Airport Village, Iraq, also known as French Village, two thousand residents are receiving a new Iraqi police station made out of old buildings on the south side of the village.
With new windows, doors, paint and plaster, mown grass and stray trees uprooted, the old dilapidated buildings are becoming new, and with them a renewed beginning for Iraqi police in Airport Village.
Soldiers from Task Force Vigilant, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) are facilitating the process of building the new IP station. Currently, the distance from the village to the closest existing station is too far to get timely help. Citizens could not expect the police to arrive in the village from IP stations in Baghdad in time to help with a crisis. Additionally, because of some struggles within the Iraqi government, the IPs are not permitted to fully enforce the law except in the village.
“The new police station will bring the Iraqi Police drastically reduced response times, will serve as a visible symbol that the Iraqi government is able to protect its own citizens from crime and the rogue militias which are threatening and forcing good families to leave the village, and will re-assert police primacy as legitimate Iraqi Security in Baghdad International Airport,” said Maj. Brett Kessler, the TFV commander and native of Philadelphia, N.Y.
Taking a page from the new counterinsurgency manual, which states, “Well sited and protected police stations can establish a presence in communities . . .and build support for the host-nation government” - TFV has worked closely with the IPs and the contractors to “build to suit.”
The station renovation, designed by the BIAP IP chief, Lt. Col. Col. Yaseen Mustafa Abdul Ghafour, Kessler and Esam Al Asker, an Iraqi local contractor, will create a sub-station of the main BIAP station and will be under Yaseen’s supervision when complete.
The new facility includes a reception area, office space, a parking area, sleeping quarters, and holding cells for criminals. TF Vigilant presented the idea for a new police station, one that would be integrated into the community and allow IPs the ability to train on local, domestic law enforcement to the city council and Yaseen who made it (the idea) their own.
Council Chief Thabit stated, “The most important contribution is the trust the station will build between the residents and the Iraqi government. This station is a seed of trust. It will always be available to assist residents with any need they have,” he said. “The new generation of young people here will benefit from interacting with police in Airport Village. I want to thank everyone who is working so hard to make this happen.”
“The new station will enable IP officers to keep a closer eye on the village and better protect the citizens from crime, threats of eviction and speeding. One strong leader at a time, Iraq is becoming a safe place for Iraqi families.”

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Operation Wolverine Alesia continues snagging caches, detainees

2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi army and coalition troops continue to find stockpiles of weapons and detain terror suspects near the main highway, Route Tampa, leading into Baghdad, where operations have been ongoing since Feb. 3.
Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Troop B, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) working together as part of Operation Wolverine Alesia, have discovered two major caches – including one that contained 1,100 mortar rounds – and three minor ones. They have also detained six local nationals in the course of the operation.
Soldiers continue to conduct cordon-and-search operations as well as route clearance and deliberate search-and-attack building clearance.
“We have effectively denied the zone as an anti-Iraqi forces sanctuary in the Wolverine area of operations,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, a native of Redding, Penn., and commander of the 1-89 Cav.
The operation also included a veterinary treatment clinic. Locals brought 187 animals to be treated by Multi-National Division – Baghdad veterinarian, Lt. Col. Neil Ahle. The animals, wrangled mostly by the local children, were given wormer and vaccinations for endemic area diseases.
Encouraging Iraqi veterinarians was Ahle’s main goal, he said.
“Maybe by doing this veterinary care, we’ll get a vet in the area to step up,” he said. “We put a lot of effort into many areas, but pushing the Iraqi people to step up and do it – well, this is one way to do that.”

Soldiers reestablish presence in Az-Zaidon area

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

AZ-ZAIDON, Iraq — It was a scene that could almost have been taken from the movie “We Were Soldiers.” Troops stood in the darkness, waiting to get into helicopters to air-assault into an area of Iraq that had not seen U.S. forces in over a year, and someone mumbled something very like Lt. Col. Hal Moore’s comment in the film – “round-trip with choppers, thirty minutes – that means the first sixty men will be on the ground a half-hour alone.”
Fortunately for the Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), the similarities to the story stopped there.
The 2-14 Golden Dragons, joined by soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division surrounded the village of Ibrahim Sallal, southwest of Az-Zaidon, Iraq, in the predawn darkness of Feb. 3.
The first drop of Soldiers from Company B waited silently for the other half of the company to arrive before going to the homes in the area, waking the occupants and collecting all the military-age males in the village for questioning. They also gathered all the weapons they found in the houses.
The men were taken to the school in the center of the village, where they waited to be questioned as the Soldiers set up a defensive perimeter, communications equipment, and mortar tubes. Other Soldiers re-searched the village, being more thorough after the initial hunt where time was of the essence, turning up another man who had been sleeping, and a few more weapons.
The Iraqi soldiers searched the local mosque, where they found a few jihadist fliers.
Questioning began early and continued throughout the day. While the families had seemed a little frightened by the early intrusion, the wives and children soon came to the school, bringing socks and scarves for the men who did not have time to get them. They also brought food for the men of the village and the Soldiers alike. Some of the women brought ill children to be treated by the medics, and were given medicine.
“Everything has been very successful so far,” said Maj. Joel Smith, a native of Brisbane, Australia, and the 2-14 executive officer. “We did a rapid clearance of the houses on the objective, controlled all the military-aged males, and took contraband weapons. The mission is to get a better picture of the area; since our transfer of authority, we’ve had no presence here.”
Several of the men told the interrogators that there was terrorist activity in the area, and said that one local man had been forced to leave days before after terrorists had threatened him and his family.
Despite the early hours that awakened the villagers, the Soldiers of Co. B were unfazed and even excited about the mission.
“We’re always out at four a.m.,” said Pfc. Charles Marcille, a native of Metamora, Ill., and a rifleman with the company, as he stood outside the mosque guarding two men that had been found there. “This was my second air assault. I’m not a big flier – it’s nerve-wracking when you’re in a helicopter. But it’s exciting, too.”
1st Lt. George Webb, a native of Madison, Virginia and a platoon leader, was also enthused about the early-morning assignment.
“I couldn’t see myself, nor would I want to be, anywhere other than here, doing what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s neat seeing the reaction, especially from the children, and seeing the improvements we could make in the neighborhoods by bringing the sheikhs to a council.”
The mission included four Iraqi soldiers that work often with the company.
“We hope to catch insurgents on this mission,” said Koteba Hamid Ahmad. “We came in here to see the area, and everyone did a great job. The kids seem happy, the helicopter ride in went well, and working with the Americans is always good. We enjoy it every time.”
Bassim Muhammad Ali, who has done seven air assaults with the unit, agreed.
“I love working with the American Army. We four are always out with 2-14; this sort of mission isn’t new.”
Civil affairs Soldiers came in by convoy later that morning, distributing school supplies such as backpacks and colored pencils to dozens of eager children.
And although the 2nd BCT has not had much presence in the area until Saturday, the hope is that the time spent there will increase and bear fruit.
“I think we’re doing something productive and helping here,” said Pfc. Stephen Harris, a rifleman with Co. B and a native of the Cayman Islands. “We did a patrol to find caches and searched buildings. It will definitely help; we’re taking a proactive approach. Ever since we’ve been proactive in an area, (improvised explosive device) attacks have gone down, because we’re keeping the insurgents on the run.”
While the men were detained for questioning until after dark, all were released to their homes when the company left that night.
“The decisive part of this mission was intelligence gathering,” said Capt. Palmer Phillips, a native of Swampscott, Mass. “All our reports were six months to a year old. We found three people that we’d had reports on, and we developed them to our satisfaction, but we didn’t detain them. We have a start on developing information on Zaidon, and established ties between the Zaidon area and (the village of) Sadr Al-Yusufiyah which will be important in developing future operations. This mission was substantively useful.”

Mountain Soldiers find largest cache in history of 2nd BCT -

2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi army and coalition troops found 1,129 81 mm high explosive mortar rounds in a cache near the main highway, Route Tampa, leading into Baghdad Feb. 3.
Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Troop B, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) working together as part of Operation Wolverine Alesia discovered the huge cache, near Yusufiyah, Iraq, just ten miles southwest of the capital.
Acting on a tip from a local national, the soldiers conducted an intentional search of the area which resulted in the largest cache find in 2nd BCT history.
The cache, which was buried in the dirt, was larger than expected. As the Soldiers continued to unearth more mortar rounds, it became evident that this was a major find.
“These mortars rounds are in the configuration to use as improvised explosive devises,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, the 1-89 squadron commander and native of Redding, Penn. “The mortar rounds in this state cannot be used for indirect fire; they are fabricated and stored to be used against the coalition and sectarian enemies as IEDs.”
Suich commented about what the find will do to the terrorist’s capability to harm others.
“We put a significant reduction in the enemy’s ability to emplace IEDs in this area today,” Suich said. “We are pretty sure that these are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq.”
The area around Yusufiyah has long been identified as an al-Qaeda and former regime safe haven where attacks against Baghdad and coalition and Iraqi security forces.
“This is what we refer to as a weapons supermarket-type cache,” said Maj. Mark Aitken, the 1-89 squadron executive officer and naturalized U.S. citizen from Leicester, England. “The terrorists place a large cache of weapons in one place to draw from. They then pre-position what they draw in many other smaller caches around the countryside.”
During the operation four individuals were detained by the IA for suspicious activity in the vicinity of the cache.
In a subsequent cache nearby Troop C, 1-89 found 20 120 mm mortar rounds, 26 81 mm mortar rounds, four PKC medium machine guns, 8,000 rounds of PKC ammunition, three rifle scopes, 60 fragmentation hand grenades, 50 pounds of home made explosives, 27 boxes of 5.56 mm rifle ammunition and 10 rocket propelled grenade projectiles.
Operation Alesia is a joint operation designed to deny terrorist sanctuary along Route Tampa, the military designation for Iraqi Highway One, leading into Baghdad from the south.
The operation began Feb. 30 and is ongoing.
The operation is named after a roman battle led by Julius Caesar against the Gauls in 52 BC where the conquering force surrounded the enemy at the fortifications of Alesia in modern day eastern France and defeated the defenders through siege warfare. The battle of Alesia marked the turning point in the Gallic Wars.
“Today we took over 1100 IEDs off of the streets of Baghdad,” said Maj. Web Wright, spokesman for the 2nd BCT and native of Annapolis, Md. “This is a really big deal.”
“Not only did we take these weapons off of the streets, 3-4-6 IA is fully integrated into this operation. Last night they found three caches and were actively involved in finding these two.”
The mortar rounds were destroyed during a controlled detonation by the explosive ordnance disposal detachment at approximately 2:35 p.m. The blast could be heard for over 20 miles.
The four detained men are being held for questioning.

Allons Soldiers mourn comrade lost in battle

By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — “He was known for his competence, his intensity …and his hair.”
With that single remark, Battalion Chaplain (Capt.) Richard West, native of San Diego, Calif., seemed to sum up Capt. Kevin Landeck, who served with the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), and was killed Feb. 2 by an improvised explosive device near Mahmudiyah, Iraq.
Landeck was remembered as a platoon leader with a sense of humor matched only by his skills as an infantryman.
“He was one of the best officers I’ve worked for in 15 years,” said Staff Sgt. Barry Belles, a native of Wilkes-Barre, Penn., and a platoon sergeant in Company B, 2-15. “Soldiers loved him. He always knew what to say to make people smile. I can’t say enough good about him. It’s a terrible loss for the platoon. The Army lost a great leader.”
1st Lt. Bobby Temple, a native of Atlanta, Ga., arrived at 2-15 the same day as Landeck.
“He made other people laugh,” Temple said. “He was the funniest guy I ever met.”
Temple recalled Landeck’s hijinks – snatching nametapes off other Soldiers’ body armor if it was left unattended, hitting golf balls off the roof of the patrol base. But when it came to getting the mission done, he said, Landeck was a leader to be relied on.
“He loved his platoons – (the Co. B military transition team platoon) and Co. D’s 1st platoon. He tried to do everything he could for them. … He tried to make things better for his guys on the ground.”
Capt. Andrew Visser, commander of Co. B and native of Uckange, France, spoke at the memorial ceremony.
“He took on the MiTT mission with great enthusiasm,” he said. “In all circumstances, I could rely on him to deal with the Soldiers, no matter what the chaos. And he was rarely without a smile on his face. His loss leaves us all much poorer. He was a joy to be around, and he will be sorely missed.”
1st Lt. Michael Ruckdaschel, a native of Amherst, N.Y., and a close friend of Landeck’s, also spoke at the ceremony.
“My first memory of him was when he took the rank off my beret and let me go on my merry way,” Ruckdaschel said, before becoming more serious.
“He put his men first. They loved his leadership and his intensity. He had many friends, and in a short time, he impacted many lives.”
Landeck’s blond hair was famously spiky and mussed, but “he was quick to point out that it was within the three-inch standard,” said West. The haircut – within Army regulations, but completely individual – may be a picture of the man himself.
“He was the funniest guy I’ve ever known,” said Pfc. John Warren, a gunner with the MiTT platoon and native of Oradell, N.J. “He was an awesome leader, one of the best I’ve ever known. There’s no other person I’d want to work with. Nobody.”
Landeck is survived by his wife, Bethany, and his parents, Richard and Vicki Landeck of Wheaton, Ill.
His awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Army Service Ribbon, an Overseas Service Ribbon, a Parachutist badge, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and Expert Infantryman’s Badge.

Camp Striker gets new PX

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – For Soldiers here, shopping in small trailers has come to an end. Soldiers from this Baghdad base camp lined up for the chance to shop in the new Post Exchange here Feb. 1.
The exchange, larger than the size of a convenience store, was opened to accommodate the needs of the Soldiers who live and visit Camp Striker, since it is a transient post.
“The new exchange has a lot more space than the old one,” said Pfc. Justin Bascom, a truck driver with the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “It is nice to be able to shop in a space larger than a trailer.”
The new exchange has more amenities than the old one. Some of the amenities included more shelves to stock items and more cash registers.
“The lines are a lot quicker since there are more registers,” said Pfc. Adriane Guy, a 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) human resources specialist from Houston. “It is nice that we are able to shop in an area larger than a trailer. I think all of the Soldiers will enjoy shopping at the PX.”
The exchange is stocked with a variety of hygiene items, military clothes, fitness products and food. Store employees like the new facility, as well.
“The new store is nice,” said Mohammad Imram, a cashier. “I like to help the Soldiers.”
“Having the new PX is a morale booster for the Soldiers,” said Sgt. Aubrey Weaver, a quality assurance and control inspector with the 210th BSB and native of Anderson, Ind., as he looked at different brands of hygiene items.
The Camp Striker PX is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

2nd BSTB Soldiers are ‘commander’s eye in the sky’

Spc. David Colon
2nd BSTB, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

CAMP STRIKER — It was a clear, warm evening, just like any other in Iraq. Men, women and children were taking care of their daily chores as they heard a distant buzzing sound. Little did they know it was the Shadow descending on the terrorists a few houses down.
Soldiers from the Shadow Unmanned Aerial System platoon, Company B, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) use the Shadow on a regular basis to monitor what is going on in the neighborhoods of Iraq. This platoon is the first Shadow UAV platoon the 2nd BCT has ever deployed with.
“The Shadow UAV platoon has added an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the 2nd BCT that previously only existed at division and higher levels,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Harrison, the 2nd BSTB commander and native of Snellville, Ga. “The Shadow allows the brigade to obtain information about areas of interest and to see who or what is traveling through those areas. It also gives the brigade commander and task force commanders live information about what is happening on an objective.”
The Shadow is just like any other aircraft, but what makes it unique is the absence of a pilot inside. Instead of the cockpit being inside of the plane, it is located in a Humvee. The shadow can be flown virtually anywhere in theater, if needed.
The goal of the Soldiers operating the Shadow is to keep constant watch on the Iraqi neighborhoods in order to keep them safe from terrorists, as well as supporting the troops on the ground.
“We are the eyes and ears of the brigade commander,” said Sgt. Dylan Neill of Emporia, Kan., who serves as a 2nd BSTB standardization operator. “We give the commander the opportunity to get actual imagery of any part of the brigade’s area of operation.”
The powerful camera mounted in the fuselage of the aircraft, allows for the support of the troops on the ground by conducting reconnaissance, developing targets and finding possible threats to include improvised explosive devices.
During a recent use of the Shadow, Soldiers of the 2nd BSTB were able to detect and relay to ground forces the location of a terrorist in the Mahmudiyah, Iraq area.
The mission payload operator was controlling the camera searching for enemy activity near the target house, when he noticed a terrorist fleeing from the house. He immediately located the location of the terrorist using the camera’s crosshairs so the troops on the ground could follow him and detain him.
While the MPO was controlling the camera, aerial vehicle operator, was maneuvering the plane to support the MPO. In the mean time the mission commander was communicating with the units, reporting where the enemy was and what possible threat they might encounter.
“Each person in the Shadow platoon is qualified to be a aerial vehicle operator and a mission payload operator,” Neill said of the mission. “We get a lot of interesting missions here.”
The mission helped to keep the people of the town safe by letting the ground forces know of the location of the terrorist. The ground troops were then able to detain the terrorist with the intelligence they received from the Shadow UAV platoon members.
That was one of the many missions the platoon has flown.
The Iraqi local nationals have nicknamed the Shadow “The Fly,” because of the buzzing sound it makes when it’s locked on to its target, flying at low altitudes, as its big eye reports their every movement.
Since the platoon’s arrival in Iraq, only five months ago, they have found IEDs, mortar rounds, enemy weapon cache sites and two anti-aircraft artillery guns.
On another occasion members of the platoon used the shadow to catch four terrorists burying IEDs in a road.
On more than one occasion, the platoon has guided the ground troops towards enemy targets and warned them of threats in their paths.
“The UAV team has flown over 1,840 mission hours since the brigade’s transfer of authority in September,” Harrison said.
With the intelligence the Shadow platoon provides, unit commanders have received an added benefit enabling them to direct their Soldiers on the battlefield and make enhanced critical decisions during operations. This added benefit has earned the shadow platoon’s nickname, “commander’s eye in the sky.”
“The brigade has come to depend upon the intelligence it receives from the Shadow UAV and it (the brigade) could not operate as successfully or remain as agile as it has in Iraq’s rural terrain without the Shadow,” Harrison said. “The UAV platoon Soldiers are well trained and motivated … They are writing the book on how to support a BCT with UAVs.”