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Friday, June 29, 2007

Fallon Visits Bayji Oil Refinery

25 Jun 07
Sgt. Joshua R. Ford
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

BAYJI, Iraq - Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, met with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, 25th Infantry Division commander, and other Iraqi and coalition leaders, June 11, 2007, at the Bayji Oil Refinery to discuss the future of the refinery.

Fallon expressed his concern with getting the Bayji Oil Refinery running at its maximum potential, which included proposed methods for the protection of the oil pipelines that run to other cities and neighboring countries.

During the meeting, a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers introduced a $16 million plan to re-design traffic flow throughout the refinery, making tankers and fuel trucks less vulnerable to insurgents extorting resources.

The plan also includes surveillance and lighting equipment in heavy traffic areas to increase security in the refinery.

The discussions went beyond the Bayji Oil Refinery’s problems and shifted to fixing other refineries in Iraq to maximize fuel efficiency in other provinces throughout the country.

The refinery in Haditha seemed to be one of Fallon’s main concerns. He wanted to know what the Ministry of Oil and the Bayji Oil Refinery could do to help the Anbar province see some of the same positive changes that Salah ad Din has seen with the Bayji Oil Refinery.

Bayji Oil Refinery representatives said that money is not the primary issue when it comes to repairing some of the problems at the oil refineries in Iraq. Contracting is the issue. It is hard for the Ministry of Oil to find contractors who will work on the different problems each refinery is experiencing.

Since the paratroopers with 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, have been working with the Bayji Oil Refinery, they have seen decreased prices of black market fuel throughout Salah ad Din province, a gas station inspection plan that makes sure various gas stations are accounting for the fuel they receive, and better fuel availability to the local population.

“We’ve done some polling throughout the area, and people of Iraq are actually getting drastically increased amounts of fuel now compared to what they were getting, say, four or five months ago,” said Capt. Kwenton Kuhlman, overseer of the Bayji Oil Refinery and Company B commander, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

“I think (Fallon) left with a positive assessment that those things (discussed) are possible and that we are working towards the way ahead on those issues,” said Kuhlman.

Photo - Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, is greeted by Iraqi leaders, June 11, 2007, upon his arrival to the Bayji oil refinery in Bayji, Iraq.

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Basrah Railroad Station Vital to a Growing Region and Economy

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

HOA Expeditionary Medical Force Educates to Save Lives

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Two Compassionate Soldiers Give Iraqi Child Hope

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Reconstruction Team Launches Dam Project

24 Jun 07
By U.S. Navy Ensign Christopher Weis

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Through a $1.5 million project launched earlier this year, the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Khost is finding that providing water for drinking and irrigation can be an effective weapon against terrorism.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. David Adams, who took over command of the 120-member joint team in April, said that by providing the funding and oversight necessary to empower local governments throughout Khost to decide where and how diversion dams will be built, the Provincial Reconstruction Team helps connect the people to their government -- which is the key to defeating the insurgency.

In a country held back by more than 30 years of war, ineffective water use has made life even more difficult in this already-barren country. Managing water is life or death for farmers like Haji Mazdigar Gul, 56, who explained that without a diversion dam, flooding often causes him to lose his fields, jeopardizing his family’s survival. His village of Koza Bokhana is one of 30 that will benefit from dams, which will redirect water from rivers to the fields of more than 80,000 farmers and families.

Villagers throughout Khost testify to the diversion dams’ ability to bring economic prosperity to the largely agricultural region. In roughly three weeks, the first of these dams will reach completion, helping local Afghans to better control flooding, irrigate their fields, grow crops and feed their families.

“We appreciate America. We are poor people and they are helping us,” said Khost farmer Mumin Khan, 70, speaking through a Provincial Reconstruction Team Khost translator. “They are the only ones helping us rebuild our country. We love the Americans because they send their sons far away from home to help us.”

“Each of the diversion dams, which take roughly six weeks to complete, has the capacity to irrigate 45,000 jerubs, or roughly. 25,000 acres of land,” said Khost Provincial Director of Irrigation Abdulmer Khan Lama

With a relatively peaceful May tempered by al-Qaeda threats of increased violence in Afghanistan, security for the projects is a top priority.

“We have not seen any problems with security for these projects because the people would not accept attacks on dams that go to the core of their livelihood,” Adams said.

While coalition forces have constructed other diversion dams, water retention walls and aqueducts in the border region, the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s efforts are by far the largest in Khost to date, according to the governor, Arsal Jamal. Although the 30 dams will impact one in 10 “Khosties” directly and many more indirectly, Adams said additional funding would be required to meet all of the region’s irrigation needs.

The local governments are involved in every step of the process. They select the building sites based on need, design the dams, monitor quality and ensure the safety of workers, Adams said. The villagers also take ownership of the projects by completing initial excavation and closely monitoring the project to assure the highest quality.

Adams explained that more dams is a top request he receives from villagers throughout the province. The diversion dams project furthers the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s mission.

The diversion dams project furthers the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s mission by “enabling security, promoting good governance and facilitating reconstruction, development and economic growth,” Adams said. These efforts allow the team to make life better for the people of Khost and help transform what was once a hotbed of terrorist activity to a more prosperous region that will no longer tolerate terrorists.

“Sept. 11 started here,” Adams said. “Only by strengthening the government and reconstructing Afghanistan can we ensure that the conditions for another 9/11 will never again take root here in Khost.

Photo - U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dave Adams, 2nd from left, the governor of Khost and the provincial Director of Irrigation offer a prayer before the cornerstone is laid in the Matun district of Khost, Afghanistan, May 8, 2007. The dam will provide irrigation and drinking water for nine villages in the area. U.S. Navy photo.

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Arrowhead Ripper’ Continues to Pressure al Qaeda

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Seabees trade in their hammers for chainsaws to complete project

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Changing lives one mission at a time

24 Jun 07
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig Seals
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The C-130 is one of many different types of aircraft stationed here, but could easily be called one of the most versatile.

The members of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron put that versatility to the test every day. The three primary missions of the C-130s here are airdrop, air-land and aeromedical evacuation.

"Our airdrop missions can be anything from dropping pamphlets to the locals to humanitarian drops such as water, blankets, food and firewood in the winter, ammunition and troop re-supplies," said Senior Airman Patrick Keefe, 774th EAS loadmaster. "Air-land missions consist of troop movements or hauling cargo."

The multitude of missions doesn't limit the aircrew to only one mission type per flight though. Most of the time, their missions are any combination of the three. An aeromedical evacuation mission might be coupled with 15 Soldiers needing to get to a forward operating base while making a stop somewhere else to drop off a palette of supplies.

It's this type of versatility that makes the C-130 one of the most valuable aircraft in the theater. But not all of these missions are as easy as they seem.

"Each mission has a different type of danger, which means that each of us have to be on our A-game each and every day," said Air Force Capt.

John Malley, 774th EAS pilot. "It also depends on where we are going. If we know an area is hot, we know that there is that much more possibility we could get engaged."

Danger aside, the crews have a special sense of pride knowing the supplies and service they bring to the fight.

"I'm proud to be an American and happy to fight the good fight," said Malley. "We're [going to] win this thing and it's only a matter of time.

I'm hoping that every airdrop, air-land and aeromedical evacuation mission contributes positively to our efforts here in Afghanistan."

However, that sense of pride is evident in more than just the C-130 crews.

"With hauling cargo and personnel all over this country, I have been able to see the improvements this country has made," said Keefe. "The people have a feeling of importance now, which was evident in a recent election when they voted a woman in as minister of education. Things like this never would have happened under the Taliban."

Seeing a change for the better in the local people and the faces of the servicemembers they transport puts things in perspective for the crew.

"The most fulfilling part of my job is knowing that we're helping get wounded Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines out of harm's way and getting them to locations where they can get the medical attention they need," said Malley. "And getting those troops on the frontlines what they need when they need it, that's worth it."

Photo - Senior Airman Patrick Keefe (far right), 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, directs a forklift carrying passenger luggage into the cargo area of a C-130 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Keefe is deployed from Wyoming's Air National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyo. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Seals.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

American Indian Marine represents family, heritage in Corps

This post is still available over at Rosemary's Thoughts. Thank you for your patience.

'A Chance' says PM Olmert

Cross-posted at Rosemary's Thoughts.

I just got through with a conference with Miri Eisin, Foreign Press Spokeswoman for Israeli PM Ehud Olmert' office, and I have more question than answers, I'm sorry to say. I could not hear the questions being asked of her after her initial press conference, so it may just be a misunderstanding.

There was a meeting yesterday with President Mubarak, PM Abbas, King (or President) Abdullah from Jordan and PM Olmert in the efforts of taking an opportunity out of this madness (the civil war in the Gaza Strip) and turning it into a chance to move forward with the 2 state solution. She kept repeating that PM Olmert, she and the others were not going to allow the terrorists to define them, but that the moderates were going to take control and define themselves and their destiny.

They were going to move forward-cautiously of course-with diplomacy. It is going to be a process with a vision of peace at the end of the rainbow. What happened in Gaza was horrific, but this opens the door to opportunity and they are going to walk through it.

There are three main articles that came up. They are:
1. Abbas fired Hamas' elected officials from the government, and now Abbas is working with an emergency government.

2. There will be 250 Arab prisoners, some will be Fatah, released from Israels prisons. The criteria for their release will be that they must not have blood on their hands and they must admit that Israel is NOT the cause of the suffering for the Arabs in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. They had brought it on by themselves by their own actions, their own choices, their own doing (or lack thereof).

3. Abbas has said to the Arabic world, in Arabic (very important because they sometimes say one thing in English and another in Arabic) that he renounced the violence of Hamas, he believed in a 2 state solution living side by side with Israel in peace, and he recognizes Israel. (I'm not sure of the last one. I can hardly read my notes!)
She also talked about the atmosphere produced so the talks could move forward. She stated that it would be a good idea to widen the scope of the dialogue. They are going to meet again next month, since the new emergency government is only around 10 days old.

Then the questions started. I could not hear the questions, but I could hear the answers. Maybe that is where the confusion comes. The first answer was indeed unique. For the first time, there were no, "Yes, BUT's" in their conversation.

Then she said they would give access to the West Bank! This way they could have freedom of movement. (Do you know who else could have freedom of movement, dear?) They also recognize the emergency government as the ruling government. (How long have we been called occupiers, although the government is in Iraq is elected?) However, access and free movement are very important to human beings. (I just pray it is not a mistake.)

There shall never be a compromise with terrorists such as Hamas and others. As to the money that has been held back due to the Hamas government, that shall be released just as soon as they can both agree on a way that is best for the people's humanitarian needs. There are dozens of truckloads per day being delivered everyday, but the Left press will not write about this. (It bothers me that facts are not disclosed, no matter what the situation.) Also, they both want to make sure the money goes to the moderates and not to the terrorists.

Later in the questioning period, they declared there would not be any benchmarks, ultimatums, or the such. This is what people looking in from the outside do not understand. You cannot do such a thing, especially with a government that is only 10 days old!

At the meeting yesterday, Mubarrak said that what Hamas did was create 'a coup'. Abbas agreed, basically, because he said the same thing at a later date. Abbas also declared it was totally unacceptable. However, it is too soon to expect any elections in the West Bank.

There were questions about trust (many questions). The answer was rather usual. Trust must be built, even if it is with your enemies of old. What alternative is there? (Fight back?)

Iran was mentioned, Syria was mentioned, Russia was mentioned, and I have no answers for you. My fault. I was writing as fast as I could! I did happen to catch one comment. Israel has an economy that surpasses that of the EU! I wish I knew those numbers. Now that's something new I could really sink my teeth into.

Let us pray for Israel and her neighbors countrymen and women. (Notice I did not say governments?) Pray for peace, understanding, forgiveness and readiness.Let us also pray that Israel realizes that the more the give, the more the Arabs will consider this weakness. I know most of the Israelis have hearts of peace, and they want the war to stop. Sometimes you have to have take other paths, sometimes you don't. Let us pray this is one of those times you don't, but if it is? Let us pray they have the chutzpah! (Yes, I am an Israel supporter. You can't even sue me! Hahaha.)

H/t: Israel Project.

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Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

So, ya wanna burn the American flag and get rid of my God?

Next time, anger someone who won't fight back.

H/t: Wizbang.

Update: Blackfive has a great post explaining about the Vikings who were not afraid of the Muslims either. Go check it out.

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U.S., Iraqi Troops Rescue Malnourished Boys From Baghdad Orphanage

Jun 21, 2007
BY Multinational Corps Iraq Public Affairs

BAGHDAD - U.S. and Iraqi army forces found an orphanage housing 24 severely malnourished and abused boys in Baghdad's Fajr neighborhood June 10, military officials reported yesterday.

The 24 boys, ranging in age from 3 to 15, were found naked in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were tied to their beds and were too weak to stand, officials said.

In a nearby locked room, the Soldiers discovered food and clothing that could have been used to aid the children. Three women claiming to be the caretakers, and two men - the orphanage director and a guard - were on the site when the Soldiers arrived.

The Iraqi Soldiers notified members of the Fajr Neighborhood Advisory Council and escorted them to the orphanage to assist the boys. Paratroopers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, and a 492nd Civil Affairs Team also arrived at the orphanage with medics to treat the malnourished boys.

"The council members were crying at the sight of the starving boys," said Navy Lt. James Cook, a civil affairs officer. The neighborhood council arranged for three ambulances to take the boys to the Iskan Hospital for care.

"We're very grateful that this story unfolded the way that it did - that none of these 24 boys lost their lives. This is a story of partnership, courageous action and compassion overcoming deplorable negligence," said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Multinational Division Baghdad's deputy commanding general.

"The role of the Iraqi soldiers and the community council was a key to this action being taken to save these young boys," Brooks said. "We're very fortunate to have the kind of Soldiers we have who are willing to take action, even at personal risk, to save the lives of others. These Soldiers, in a literal and figurative sense, are the best chance for Iraq, just as they were for these boys."

Photo - Staff Sgt. Kyle Richey cares for one of 24 starving boys in the back of an Iraqi army ambulance. Civic leaders escorted the abused and malnourished boys, found by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers in a Baghdad orphanage, to the Iskan Hospital for medical treatment. Photo by Lt. James Cook.

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Aeromedical Teams Provide Care, Comfort

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Aviation Battalion Reaches 20,000 Flight Hours

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Iraqi, Coalition forces move forward despite attacks

21 Jun 07
by Spc. Carl N. Hudson
Combined Press Information Center

BAGHDAD – The Fardh Al-Qanoon spokesman and a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman held a press conference at the Combined Press Information Center Wednesday.

Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta Al-Moussawi, Fardh Al-Qanoon spokesman, and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, discussed the progress of Fardh Al-Qanoon.

“Our military operations are still ongoing in many places in Baghdad to pursue the terrorists,” said Al-Moussawi. “Terrorist attacks will not make us stop our operations in Baghdad, and we’ll move forward with steady steps.”

Al-Moussawi addressed the progress made by the Iraqi Army in the past week.

“We’ve killed 32 terrorists, detained 170 others, freed five kidnapped (victims), defused eight improvised explosive devices and 17 car bombs, found 2,000 different kinds of weapons and seized eight tons of TNT,” said Al-Moussawi.

With the Iraqi Army in the lead, Iraqi locals continue to provide information in response to attacks made by terrorists.

Fox also explained the ongoing security efforts.

“All of the additional requested forces for the ‘surge’ are now in place and are simultaneously conducting coordinated core-level offensive operations throughout Iraq,” said Fox. “Coalition forces are strong and focused and are concentrating our effort and might against the extremists, taking the fight to where they are, going after the terrorists to deny them sanctuary and taking back neighborhoods in order to build a secure future for the Iraqi people.”

“Iraqi and Coalition forces are conducting carefully planned and executed operations, demonstrating their resolve to deny terrorists safe havens,” he said. “We’ll continue to pursue these terrorists wherever they go by attacking their networks and damaging their ability to wage horrific and calculated violence against the citizens of Iraq.”

Al-Moussawi and Fox also expressed their sympathies to the killed and injured from the al-Khalani mosque bombing in Rusafa, Iraq.

“We share the outrage of the Iraqi people against this despicable attack,” said Fox.

“We face a summer of hard fighting,” he said. “I’m confident there’s good prospects for continued progress in the months ahead and that can be matched by progress in the political and economic areas here in Iraq giving us hope for the way ahead.”

Photo - Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta Al-Moussawi (right), Fardh Al-Qanoon spokesman and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a Multi National Force-Iraq spokesman, discuss the progress of Fardh Al-Qanoon at athe Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad. Photo by Spc. Emily Greene.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Black Hawk Troops Use More Than Body Armor to Keep Each Other Safe

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Artillery battalion trades steel rain for hearts and minds

20 June 2007
Story and photo by Cpl. Rick Nelson
2nd Marine Division

HADITHAH — The counter-insurgency coalition forces are conducting in Iraq calls for numerous military units to give up their traditional roles and pick up a different weapon. This is nothing new for artillery units, who, since the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004, have often been called upon to put away their howitzers for rifles, police batons, and claims cards. All around Iraq, artillery batteries and battalions are serving as provisional rifle, military police, and civil military units. In Hadithah, it’s no different.

At the Hadithah Civil Military Operation Center, Marines assigned to 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, an artillery battalion based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. assist the local populace with their civil matters.

“This was a big change from our usual duties as a field artillery battalion,” said Cpl. Russell Mullis, Civil Affairs Group, Team 1, Detachment 1, 5/10. “Steel rain and hearts and minds are two entirely different missions, but we’re adapting very well.”

Until this year, CAG detachments were primarily staffed by reservists. This is the first year an artillery unit has civil affairs as their primary mission.

“We serve as a liaison between the local populace, and the coalition forces,” said Mullis. “We handle any claims and concerns from the populace, and process projects to rebuild the area.”

Civil Affairs Group, Team 1, Detachment 1, 5/10 is a part of Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who fall under Regimental Combat Team 2. These Marines operate the CMOC, and patrol in Hadithah to conduct assessments and coordinate with local contractors.

“The Marines run two different missions, CMOC and civil affairs,” said Warrant Officer Harold Kiser, Officer-In-Charge, CAG, Team 1, Detachment 1, 5/10. “Our areas of concern and focus form the acronym SWEATS – schools, water, electricity, agriculture, transportation and sewage.”

The center conducts many daily tasks for the local nationals, a lot of which includes vehicle registration and badge distribution. CAG also compensates the locals for any damages inadvertently caused by military personnel during counter-insurgency operations.

“The sheer number of people who come through everyday is our biggest challenge,” added Mullis, a Winston-Salem, N.C.

On average, the CMOC will assist approximately 150 people a day. The largest number of local nationals serviced in one day was 220. CAG compensates for this number by issuing the local national a specific number after he or she has been searched at the entrance. This number puts them in a line to air their grievances and receive help. The Civil Affairs Team uses interpreters to overcome the language barrier.

“Our main problem here is a shortage of interpreters, but the ones we do have do a great job,” Mullis added.

Once a number is selected, an interpreter will speak with that person and determine how they can be helped. After speaking with the interpreter, the Marines will cater to the local national’s problem based on the situation.

Mullis recalled one such incident that occurred at the CMOC.

“A local national was driving his dump truck through a [traffic control point] in Haqlaniyah and misunderstood the Marines working there, and he went the wrong way,” said Mullis. “The way he went had road spikes, and he ended up destroying two of his tires.”

The driver was issued a claims card. When he arrived at the CMOC, he was given 381,500 dinar ($299.92 in American money).

“We searched through vendors to see what an average price was on the tires, which is how we came up with the amount,” he added. “That’s the usual way we complete our claims, and it seems to be working.”

This CMOC is another facet to this complex environment, and it’s something the CAG Marines know is vital to mission success.

“The CMOC provides a place for local nationals to interact with coalition forces, and without it, I think there would be a lot more friction with the people,” said Mullis.

Marines assigned to the CAG detachment continue to help the locals here and support the Lava Dogs of 1/3 in order to aid their counter-insurgency campaign.

Photo - Cpl. Russel Mullis, a Marine with the CAG detachment assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, hands out paperwork to the local nationals at the Civil Military Operations Center in Hadithah.

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1132nd Well Drillers increasing Camp Lemonier Water supply1132nd Well Drillers increasing Camp Lemonier Water supply

Story by U.S. Army Capt. Jerord E. Wilson

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti – In preparation for the increase in personnel arriving to Camp Lemonier, the 1132nd Well Drillers of the North Carolina National Guard are hard at work improving the amount of water available for camp operations.

Within the last month, the 1132nd Well Drillers received a new well drilling rig capable of drilling through the toughest rock formations in Djibouti. The unit wasted no time in learning the intricate details of the new equipment and how to place it effectively into operation. Prior to this drilling event, they conducted a test to ensure the drilling equipment is fully operational before starting any job.

“The first drill site gave us confidence in ourselves and the equipment. It allowed us the time to learn how to manage the drill site with the new equipment and work on things we can do better,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Brown.

Recently, the 1132nd received word to install an additional water well to support Camp Lemonier’s future water supply needs. The first team of well drillers began prepping the site by digging a six-foot deep hole, emplacing a drill bit casing and stabilizing the hole with concrete to prevent the walls from collapsing during drilling operations.

“Setting-up our equipment at the drill site early is key to our efficiency as a team. During these last two drill sites we are constantly learning the pros and cons of the new drilling rig. I look forward to our missions in the future that will take us deeper into the vast regions of Djibouti,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rex Hipp.

Once the main drill site preparations were complete, the new drill rig and support vehicles were placed and drilling began. In short order a well was located at a depth of 128 ft. The well is expected to provide 400 gallons of water per minute. More than enough to meet the camp needs.

According to U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Joseph Dunaway, “When we receive our additional water tanks, our water holding capacity will increase to 600,000 gallons. These numbers will enable us to increase our water management and efficiency on Camp Lemonier.”

Upon completion of the second Camp Lemonier water well, the 1132nd will have earned a short rest before beginning drilling operations for new water wells in the southern region of Djibouti. The luxury of having a well in the desert is a valuable resource to the people. The 1132nd will continue to drill water wells for the people of Djibouti anywhere they are needed.

Photo - Members of the 1132nd Engineer Team from North Carolina completes the final depth needed for the water well to ensure a useful water source. From left to right: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Brown, U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Danny Hunter, and U.S. Army Sgt. Raphael Paniaqua. Photo by U.S. Army Capt. Jerord E. Wilson.

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Battle Company Makes Presence Known

By Army Sgt. Brandon Aird
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Public Affairs

KORENGAL VALLEY, Afghanistan — The paratroopers were keen for the mission despite their rough conditions. The difference between a tan line and dirty skin has long since passed. Bites from sand fleas and mosquitoes just add to the problem. Electricity, toilets and running water (a 45 minute patrol away) are long forgotten conveniences.

The paratroopers are Sky soldiers from Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

For the last month, 2nd Platoon and a platoon from the Afghan National Army have been operating out of Firebase Phoenix — the southern most firebase in the Korengal Valley, which is located in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

The living conditions for the soldiers are the least of their problems. The Korengal Valley is a support area for Taliban extremists.

“The towns here are neutral at best,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Mathew Piosa, 2nd Platoon leader, “In the last eight days we’ve had five (enemy) contacts.”

Within days of interviewing, Piosa his platoon had two more enemy engagements- one being a coordinated ambush.

“We take steps to prevent the enemy from having the upper hand,” explained Piosa.

Even with precautions soldiers still get hurt. During a night patrol, June 5, Army Pfc. Timothy Vimoto was killed during an ambush by insurgents.

The platoon has not allowed the loss to deter them and they continue to conduct reconnaissance, counter improvised explosive device and security patrols daily.

When the platoon isn’t out on patrols they pass their time by improving individual soldier skills to improve their combat capability.

“We’ve had classes on all the weapons out here (on site) and today were training on the LLDR (Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder),” said Army Pfc. Sterling Dunn, 2nd Platoon.

Even though the LLDR is used for indirect fire support, it is also being used to scan for enemy personnel, said Piosa.

Battle Company is working to improve the situation for 2nd Platoon by getting a generator to Firebase Phoenix.

For now, 2nd Platoon is going to have to make due with what they have, said Army Pfc. Matthew Moreno, a paratrooper in 2nd Platoon.

Second Platoon plans to stay in the area to help the Afghan people for the next 15 months until they are relieved by coalition forces or the ANA.

Photo - U.S. Army Pfc. Mathew Moreno, 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), looks through a Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder at Firebase Phoenix in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, June 10, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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Mission Success Relies on Maintenance Troops

Multi-National Division-Central Story

FOB KALSU, Iraq — “In order to have combat power you need to shoot, move and communicate. “We are the move part,” said an auto mechanic with 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

The mechanics of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 26th Brigade Support Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga., help ensure vehicles and equipment are combat ready when soldiers go on missions.

Readiness is monitored through weekly command maintenance, said Staff Sgt. Javier Castillo, non-commissioned officer in charge, Company B, 26th Brigade Support Battalion.

Such checks help reduce the chance of having a deficiency that may stop the mission or endanger lives.

“If equipment doesn’t work, the mission is over,” Castillo said. “Get to know your equipment, and make sure it is combat ready.”

The best way to get to know equipment is preventive maintenance checks and services, or PMCS.

“A PMCS determines deficiencies. Without one you don’t know what is broke or will break in the near future,” Castillo said. “When you lack a PMCS, you have to ask yourself ‘Is this combat ready?’”

While mechanics perform PMCS along with their command maintenance, weekly maintenance is often not enough because of the heat, dust and sand in Iraq.

“Some people rely more on the mechanics, and view us as a Jiffy Lube to take care of all their problems,” said Sgt. Sandra Muniz, Company B, auto section. “Thus, they get complacent.”

In Iraq, complacency can be deadly. It is important that units conduct their own daily vehicle inspections in addition to the mechanic’s checks, said the mechanics.

“You can save a lot of lives on missions from daily routines,” Muniz said.

“Each unit needs to take ownership of their equipment. It can save their lives,” Castillo added.

While individual soldiers may not be armed with the knowledge the mechanics have, the mechanics said it shouldn’t keep them from doing their own maintenance. To conduct a PMCS, the only thing a soldier needs is the vehicle’s technical manual, or TM.

Each TM contains a troubleshoot outline that operators can use to fix low-level problems, Castillo said.

“The TMs are simple, by the numbers,” said Sgt. Robert Monigan, another Company B, auto section mechanic.

“Whenever you work on a vehicle[, you] have the technical manual by your side. It takes care of a lot of problems,” Muniz stressed.

If a unit loses its manual, an electronic copy can be picked up at the motor pool. All a soldier needs to do is bring a disk to copy it to, Monigan said.

Once an operation has all the tools needed to do a proper PMCS, the operator should perform a PMCS before leaving on a mission, during mission downtime, and after completion of the mission, said Castillo.

“If you need to get out of a hotspot, you want your vehicle to be 100 percent,” he said, adding, the best way to maintain this percentage is to do a PMCS at these times.

Monigan knows from recent experience how important these checks are during missions.

Upon arrival at their destination, the crew did a control check and found a water hose leaking. By replacing the hose before rolling out, they prevented the vehicle from breaking down on the return trip, Monigan said.

Besides saving time, such actions may have also saved lives by not having to stop during the mission and possibly become a target.

Just as a soldier wouldn’t want to go on a mission without body armor or a properly functioning weapon, Castillo said soldiers should remember their vehicle is just as important and that they shouldn’t want to leave without it properly maintained and combat ready.

“Take care of vehicle, and it will take care of you,” Monigan said.

Photo - U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Marshall, Company B, 26th Brigade Support Battalion, tightens bolts that hold ballistic glass onto a gunner's turret. Daily inspections help keep vehicles combat ready. Multi-National Division-Central photo.

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Engineers Conduct Officer Professional Development, in Theater Operations

By Army 1st Lt. Kenya V. Saenz
Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Combat Engineer officers conducted a professional development exercise to enhance their knowledge of Afghanistan’s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s histories.

The Fort Lewis, Wash., based 864th Engineers got a chance to see some of the current Afghan Engineer District projects, as well as the overall mission of the Corps of Engineers.

“Our mission is to conduct construction and engineering operations in Afghanistan to facilitate the establishment of a secure and stable environment, while promoting reconstitution and infrastructure development,” said Army Col. William E. Bulen, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District, in his briefing to the officers.

The officers went to Kabul to study and reflect on the first Afghan-Anglo war during the 1840s. Army Lt. Col. Mark Deschenes, commander of Task Force Pacemaker, analyzed the battle in Bala Hissar, which according to Wikipedia was the site of some of the bloodiest fighting between Afghan and British forces, demonstrating its significance to Afghanistan and its relative parallels to today’s struggle. The Pacemakers also visited the Bala Hissar site to further analyze the fortress’ structural engineering and the events of the war.

“Taking into consideration the length of deployments today, we spend more time deployed than at home station,” said Deschenes. “It is critical to execute officer professional development; it’s an opportunity to grow as leaders and to empower subordinates as they step up and take charge.”

Photo - Kristi L. Acuff, quality control engineer for the Afghan Engineer distrtict, briefs soldiers about the quality assurance of a project from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Photo by 1st Lt. Kenya V. Saenz.

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Historic Abu Nuwas Street Revitalization Center Opens

By Maj. Sean Ryan
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer, PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq — The rebuilding of the famous market in eastern Baghdad is making progress with the opening of the Abu Nuwas Revitalization Center June 9.

The market is well known for serving up mazgouf fish, meaning river fish, a Baghdad delicacy cooked over wood fires while you wait and served with fresh vegetables. The wait won’t be too much longer as the information center is one of the first steps in the historic street’s revival.

The information center was opened in conjunction with local leaders from the Rusafa District along with the District Advisory Council chairman from Abu Nuwas.

This part of the city, which once provided a variety of shops, restaurants, and hotels, was world-renowned and will soon open again. Approximately 45 business owners attended the opening to discuss economic and security issues.

According to Maj. Dave Carlson, a native of Allensburg, Wash., and the leader of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division’s civil support team and the Rusafa district, the meeting allowed business owners from the area to discuss issues and “become unified in their economic goals.”

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to make the street a more central location,” said Qays Foraj, the Abu Nuwas chairman. Foraj explained to the business owners his vision of the future for the market and the possibilities of offering financial assistance.

The center will be open to answer questions or discuss upcoming projects to citizens and business owners, alike. Questions to be answered include when the market will be open for customers.

“I would be very happy once the area brings back even a portion of the customers that used to come,” said a store owner who owns a retail store. “A lot of money is being put into fixing the street and the people appreciate the time and effort from everyone.”

Under Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon, also known as the Baghdad Security Plan, the Abu Nuwas Market is one of the areas targeted to stimulate economic growth.

Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Multi-National Division-Baghdad‘s deputy commanding general for support, paid a recent visit to the market and discussed issues with local owners.

“The Iraqi people need to remain resilient and things will get better,” he said. Brooks recognized that security needs to improve and reassured the store owners that they will not be left without protection.

“Coalition Forces are working side-by-side with the Iraqi Security Forces and we are here to help, not leave,” he said. Iraqi Police and Army under the Iraqi Rusafa Area Command provide security for the area, with help from the soldiers from 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, currently operating as part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The area has been shut down due a series of car bombs that left the area paralyzed several months ago. With no customers coming in, a lot of shop owners and restaurateurs had to close their doors and the ones that stayed in the area, slowly watched their livelihoods disappear.

“We still need essential services like electricity and water,” an owner of one of the fish markets told Brooks during the general’s visit, “but we are ready to start telling all customers we will be open soon.”

Photo - U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, paid a visit to the market and discussed issues with local owners, June 9, 2007. Approximately 45 business owners attended the opening of the Abu Nuwas Revitalization Center in the Rusafa District of eastern Baghdad to discuss economic and security issues of the area. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Sean Ryan.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Urgent Request

I know this rather unusual, but this site has more readers than most of my others. Please forgive my indulgence.

I have just found out that a couple of days ago a very good friend of mine was hospitalized and had triple by-pass surgery on his heart. I am begging for everyone who reads this to please pray for John Darby's speedy recovery. This means I expect him to recover.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are the Supreme Doctor. You can hear our prayers, and You can Heal anyone of anything. Please hear my petition for John Darby. God, I know I've been away far too long, but please do not punish John for my sins. Please Heal him, Lord. Hear our prayers. I love you, Lord. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Press Release: Group joins others for Military Families


Costa Mesa, CA., June 20, 2007 - Numerous Southern California Rotary Clubs within District 5320 are joining forces with MilitaryConnection.com, TAPS, Homefront America, Soldiers Angels and ThanksUSA in a joint effort to support the families of the fallen by forming Operation One Family. Details of the program and registration information for families in Southern California and Nevada can be found at www.operationonefamily.org. Operation One Family is a proud member organization of America Supports You.

Operation One Family endeavors to help families of the fallen cope with their loss, stabilize their present situation and secure their future. The mission is to help provide life skills, education and continuing support for the families of our fallen military heroes. The goal of Operation One Family is to create a national model that will be used by Rotary Clubs across America to provide ongoing support for these families in their own communities.

The efforts of Operation One Family will culminate in a regional convention-style weekend scheduled August 2 -5 for families in Southern California and Nevada. Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California will host the families and provide meeting venues. The first day will feature “TAPS Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp” featuring Dr. Darcie Sims. Other events will include a Share Faire providing resources, information and workshops, a California beach party at the Dunes in Newport Beach, visits to Knotts Berry Farm, the Orange County Fair and a few surprises. Limited sponsorship opportunities are available for good corporate citizens.

Rotary International District 5320 has a qualified non-profit 501(c)(3) Charitable Foundation that supports the charitable activities of the clubs within the district including the collaborative effort of Operation One Family at www.operationonefamily.org. Rotary is an organization that exemplifies “Service Above Self”.

MilitaryConnection.com is a portal of all types of military resources and information connecting candidates from the military community with outstanding government and civilian employment opportunities, and assisting numerous military non-profits at www.militaryconnection.com.

TAPS (The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) is a national non-profit Veterans Service Organization providing peer based emotional support services to all those who have lost a loved one serving in the Armed Forces at www.taps.org.

Homefront America is a 100% volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
dedicated to supporting our troops and their families with meaningful assistance in times of need at www.homefrontamerica.org.

Soldiers Angels is a national network of hundreds of thousands of volunteers dedicated to providing hands-on comfort to the members of the military and their families at www.soldiersangels.org.

ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the United States Armed Forces by providing college, technical and vocational school scholarships for their children and spouses at www.thanksusa.org.


Source: Operation One Family e-mailed me.

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Iraqi politicians agree deal on sharing oil, says Kurd Minister

Written by: Michael Howard in Sulaymaniya.
Thursday June 21, 2007
The Guardian.

Iraq's Kurdish leaders said last night they had struck an important deal with the central government in Baghdad over a law to divide up Iraq's oil revenues, which is seen by the Bush administration as one of the benchmarks in attempts to foster national reconciliation.

Ashti Hawrami, the minister for natural resources in the Kurdistan regional government, told the Guardian the text had been finalised late last night after 48 hours of "tough bargaining" with Baghdad. The deal represented "a genuine revenue sharing agreement" that was transparent and would benefit all the people of Iraq and help pull the country together, he said.

Iraq's oil revenue accounted for 93% of the federal budget last year. Iraq sells about 1.6m barrels a day.

Mr Hawrami said the law provided for the setting up of two "regulated and monitored" accounts into which external and internal revenues would be deposited. The external account would include items such as oil export earnings and foreign donor money, while the internal fund would consist largely of customs and taxes. The federal government in Baghdad would take what it needed, and the rest would be automatically distributed to the Kurdistan regional government, which would get 17%, and to Iraq's governorates "according to their entitlement". Revenues would be distributed monthly, he said.

Mr Hawrami said the system would better enable Iraqis to track how and where the oil funds were being spent. The Kurds, for example, have complained that remittances to their self-rule region have been being held back by up to six months in Baghdad. Iraq's Sunni Arabs had also expressed concerns that they might miss out on their share.

Iraq's finance minister, Bayan Jabr, and the oil minister, Hussein Sharistani, were accompanying the president, Jalal Talabani, on a state a visit to China and could not be contacted for comment.

The new deal came days after a visit to Iraq by the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, during which he rebuked politicians for failing to reach consensus on sharing oil revenues. The US sees the deal as a benchmark of progress toward reconciliation.

A western diplomat in Baghdad said last night: "Fair-sharing of Iraq's oil revenue is important to finding a sustainable political solution in Iraq. But on its own it will not halt the sectarianism."

Full coverage: Britain and Iraq: Interactive guides: Key documents: Audio reports: In this section:

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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Lion of Fallujah: Marine Corps Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec

“If you took 100 Doug Zembiecs to war with you, you could conquer the world.” That is how Maj. Zembiec’s high-school wrestling coach characterized him – though the men who served with him captured his spirit more succinctly: He was reverently called the “Lion of Fallujah.” A magnetic commander, an “unapologetic warrior,” Zembiec believed in leading by deeds rather than words. As a result, his men would tell you that they would follow Zembiec to the gates of hell – or, at the very least, into the treacherous urban battlefield of Fallujah.

In early April of 2004, Zembiec’s company was sent in to help pacify Fallujah and restore order in a city where violence had spiraled out of control. During the month-long battle to claim Fallujah, Zembiec’s Echo Company was often the first one in and the last one out.

On April 6, Zembiec, a captain at the time, found himself deep in insurgent territory in Fallujah’s Jolan district.

A Marine patrol was taking heavy fire, and Zembiec’s unit was called in to lead a retaliatory assault. Right after arriving, Echo Company rushed toward the enemies, who launched a heavy volley of fire toward the new arrivals. Instead of directing from the back, Zembiec himself led the men toward the fire, determined to help the trapped patrol.

His men moved to a roof to counter the insurgents who had been firing down from above. The enemies wasted no time and focused their AK-47- and RPG-fire on the Marines on the roof. The Marines tried to radio an Abrams tank to fire on the enemy, but the tank didn’t respond. As they continued to call for assistance, Zembiec decided to take matters into his own hands.

He raced down the stairs and directly into the line of fire, heading toward the tank. He climbed up to the hatch even as mortar rounds exploded nearby and bullets ricocheted off the metal. Unscathed, he told the tank operators where to fire. The tank made quick work of the enemy, and Zembiec ran back to the roof. Witnesses say the other Marines dropped their jaws in awe of his bravery.

A few weeks later, on April 26, insurgents opened fire on Zembiec’s platoon from three sides, with thousands of rounds. Grenades flew back and forth between the enemy and his men – with only 20 feet between them. Zembiec, wounded by shrapnel, moved to a better position to direct the counterattack. He then moved from house to house, encouraging and motivating his men and repositioning the outnumbered Marines. Even as the battle raged, Zembiec coordinated the evacuation of nine injured Marines.

Later, despite being assigned to a desk job, Zembiec volunteered to return to the frontlines. He completed a tour in Afghanistan and returned to Iraq for a second time. On May 11, 2007, Zembiec was killed in Baghdad, Iraq, while leading a combat operation.

When people think of warriors and heroes, images of legendary Spartans or Trojans often come to mind. The tales of those warriors may have faded into history, but that same timeless courage and heroism lives on in a new breed of heroes – men like Doug Zembiec, the “Lion of Fallujah.”

For his month-long fight in Fallujah, Zembiec received a Bronze Star for Valor on Dec. 9, 2004.

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Iraqi Security Forces foil suicide car bomb attack

14 Jun 07
Multi-National Division-Baghdad Public Affairs Office

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Security Forces prevented a suicide car bomb attack on a Coalition forces combat outpost in Khan Bani Sa’ad, located in the Diyala province, Tuesday.

Iraqi Army Soldiers received a tip and description of a potential suicide vehicle bomb and engaged the vehicle with small-arms fire as it approached the outpost. The vehicle detonated prematurely, before it could reach the outer perimeter.

Two Coalition force Soldiers received minor wounds and were treated on the scene.

“The truly amazing thing is that the Iraqi Soldiers, who are mostly Shia, got the tip from local Sunnis, who had seen a suspicious vehicle driven by masked men traveling towards the outpost,” said Lt. Col. Marshall Dougherty, commander, 2nd squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

“This is yet another example of the people of Iraq refusing to allow terrorists to destroy their lives,” Dougherty said.

The tip from the Iraqi citizen allowed the Iraqi Army to seek out and destroy the suicide vehicle borne explosive device, saving the lives of the countless number of casualties both Iraqi and Coalition, said Dougherty.

The Iraqi and Coalition forces have been engaging the local population of Khan Bani Sa’ad for the last several weeks in an effort to gain their trust.

“It’s obvious that despite their tribal or ethnic differences, the people of Khan Bani Sa’ad have come to trust their Iraq Security Forces and no longer will tolerate insurgent violence here,” said Dougherty. “Today was a good day.”

Immediately following the explosion, Iraqi Army Soldiers worked with Iraqi Police to secure the area and collect evidence.

“I could not be more proud of the Iraqi Security Forces today,” Dougherty said.

Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces continue to work together in order to gain the trust of the Iraqi people.

“Troop B, 2-1 Cav. Regt. lives and works in the combat outpost with Iraqi Army Soldiers,” Dougherty said.

Tips from Iraqi locals shows the trust they are gaining in the Iraqi Security Forces and their continued dedication to a safe and secure Iraq.

Photo - U.S. Army Spc. Marquis Dawkins, an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, surveys more than 120 five-gallon cans of nitric acid, a component used to make bombs, discovered at a bomb-making “factory” in Baghdad’s East Rashid District Monday. Every cache found by Iraqi troops and Coalition forces helps protect the population from future attacks. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ben Washburn, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs.

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Mukki places blame on USA for Golden Mosque and Turkish incursion

Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to a website of which he is affiliated, commenting on the bombing today, Wednesday, June 13, 2007, of the Al-Askariya Shrine, or Golden Mosque, a revered Shi’ite shrine in Samarra, Iraq, which destroyed two of its minarets. The site was also bombed in February 2006. Sadr declares that no Muslim, Shi’ite or Sunni could possible commit such an act, and aims his anger towards the “occupier”, claiming they continually metaphorically ignite fires within the Iraqi Muslim population, and places blame for the attack on the “hidden hand of the occupation which aims to harm us”. To the Iraqi people, Sadr calls for an observance of three days of mourning and demand that the enemy withdraw from Iraq; a demand which if not supported by the Iraqi government, renders the institution illegitimate.

Also, in another statement issued by Sadr three days prior, the Shi’ite cleric chastises Turkey for its shelling in northern Iraq, in the region referred to as Kurdistan. Sadr, at first, compliments Turkey as a “friendly neighbor” vis-à-vis its position against the United States in Iraq, then switches to disappointment with the country for the actions taken in Iraq. Citing the sovereignty of Iraq over that region and Turkey’s fault in attacking it, Sadr urges Turks to support Iraqis in denouncing the acts, and states: “The Kurdish people are a part that cannot be divided from Iraq, and our duty is to defend it and also the Turkish people are our friends. We respect its sovereignty in its land and to protect its security is also our duty and we are ready to solve the matter peacefully between all sides and that is for the benefit of not only the two people of the nations, but the entire region.”

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Reconstruction Advisory Team working with Iraqis in Baghdad

Thursday, 14 June 2007
By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs

BAGHDAD - When President George W. Bush ordered troops to “surge” into Baghdad he was not just sending Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, he was also sending little-known teams of reconstruction experts as well.

One of those teams operates out of Forward Operating Base Falcon with the 4th “Dragon” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in the southwestern Rashid District of the Iraqi capital.

These small teams, known as Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams, are made up of workers from the U.S. military, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Timothy Zuniga-Brown, who heads the EPRT in the Dragon Brigade, said his team serves as advisors to the Iraqis.

“We are a small team that works at the brigade and regimental levels,” said the Carson City, Nev., native. “This gives us better visibility and better understanding of what the Iraqi government can do to bring peace and stability to their own country.”

The team, comprised of seven people with technical expertise in various areas such as governance, security and economics, has been on the ground for almost two months.

“It is premature to see noticeable changes,” Zuniga-Brown said. “But we have seen changes for the better.” He said the district council holding its own meetings and the Doura Market revival are two examples of Iraqi growth in the area.

In December 2006 there were three shops open in the Doura Market, while today there are more than 250. More than $100 million has spent so far on rebuilding projects throughout the Rashid District, which the team is responsible for.

While the work was started by the military, Zuniga-Brown said the civilian teams would eventually help the Iraqi government stand on its own.

“Brigades have lots of knowledge and understanding at this level, but their main task is to fight and help the Iraqis win this war on the military side,” he said. “But, it’s clear in this conflict, especially when dealing with counterinsurgency, a lot of components are civilian – the Iraqis sending supplies to their own people, listening to their own people and putting together the requirements for a civil society to be stitched back together.”

The military was there to help address the security problems, but they needed help addressing their other problems, as well, Zuniga-Brown added.

“We are in an advisory role, a helping role,” he said. “Bottom line – the Iraqis need to do it themselves and they understand it.”

Photo - Lt. Col. Joeseph Birchmeier (standing) commander 4-1 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, gives a briefing on the ongoing service projects in the Rashid District of Baghdad.

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What’s Happening In Congress?

Details of Senate NDAA Made Public
The Senate report on S.1547, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY 08, was released this week, providing further insight as to the status of such issues as empowerment, retirement, and the Insurrection Act. Included in the bill are several provisions that translate into progress for the Guard and our legislative goals. These include:

* Requiring the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to prescribe a charter for the National Guard Bureau.

* Increasing the grade of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from lieutenant general to general.

* Reducing the age at which a member of the Ready Reserve could draw retired pay below the age of 60 by 3 months for every aggregate 90 days of active duty performed under certain mobilization authorities during a fiscal year.

* Repealing section 1076 (relating to the Insurrection Act) of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 and reviving the provisions amended by that section as they were in effect prior to the effective date of that act.

One major concern with the retirement provision is that it did not make the qualifying active duty retroactive to September 11, 2001 as provided for in Senator Chambliss’ bill (S. 648). Because the House Armed Services Committee rejected the House version of the Chambliss bill (H.R. 1428), in its markup, the retirement provision will face a major challenge should it clear the Senate and move to conference.

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves MILCON-VA Spending
The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday approved a $109.2 billion spending bill for military construction and veterans’ affairs. The bill includes $4 billion more than the President requested, with the bulk of the increase slated for use on veterans’ health care with a particular focus on traumatic brain injuries and stress disorders. Military construction accounts were appropriated $21.6 billion, $400 million more than the President’s budget request, an increase driven the results of the 2005 BRAC process. The House bill had been held up by a party dispute over earmarks (special member projects) and although House Democratic leaders say they will include earmarks in the measure, they will not disclose them for several weeks. The White House issued a statement Wednesday that lawmakers must find offsets in other spending bills if they seek more than the amount requested by the President or else face a veto of the other bills. It is not known when the Senate will debate the military construction and veterans’ spending bill but the House is expected to consider their version on Friday.

JCA Selection
The Army and Air Force Wednesday announced their selection of the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft as the vehicle of choice for the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program. The JCA contract, worth up to $7 billion, was awarded to L3 Communications Integrated Systems - Alenia North American team, which also includes U. S. partner Boeing.

Ken Krieg, the Pentagon’s head weapons buyer, approved a request by the Army and Air Force to move forward in a “low rate initial production” capacity. The services received approval to buy 78 planes over the next six years, with 54 going to the Army and 24 to the Air Force. Also approved was funding to cover the first round of low rate initial production, which is expected to deliver 13 planes.

National Governors Association Holds Forum on the FY08 NDAA
On Thursday, 14 June, the National Governors Association (NGA) hosted a panel discussion on the provisions of the FY08 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) pertaining to the National Guard. NGAUS joined participants in the forum, including Military Legislative Assistants (MLA) from the offices of Rep. Tom Davis and Senators Bond and Leahy. Representatives from the National Guard Bureau’s Legislative Liaison office (NGB/LL), Major General Frank Vavala, TAG-Delaware and President of AGAUS, as well as Major General Fred Rees, TAG-Oregon, and Major General Bill Libby, TAG-Maine. The topics discussed included a review of the Senate and House versions of the bill, the impact of included provisions, and upcoming action on the bills.

What’s Happening at NGAUS?
NGAUS has continued to aggressively lobby Congress for support to reduce the age in which National Guard members begin to receive retirement pay. The “Pay-Go” rules requiring an “offset” are a major barrier to the adoption of this provision. However, the Senate version does contain provisions as described earlier in this newsletter. We need your help to move this through conference and into the final defense authorization bill. Visit our web site to learn more about this issue and then contact your representatives to express your concerns and solicit their support. The best way to do this is by using our Write to Congress feature found on our web site, but any form of communication will help (phone, fax, letter, personal visit, etc.).

What Can You Do?

Capwiz Update
17,360 messages sent this year.
295 messages sent this week.
3593 messages on Guard Empowerment.
4326 messages on TRICARE fee increases.
7771 messages on retirement.
929 messages on JCA

Top 5 States:
1. Georgia – 2342 messages
2. Tennessee – 2162 messages
3. Mississippi – 1188 messages
4. Ohio – 674 messages
5. Indiana 570 messages

Our Goal for 2007: 54,000 messages - Only 36,640 messages to go!

Rich Green, Director
Pete Duffy, Deputy Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Emily Breitbach, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst
Gareth Vaughan, Legislative Analyst

For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: NGAUS.org.


NGAUS Notes: 6/15/2007

C-27J Spartan Tapped as New Joint Cargo Aircraft

The U. S. Army announced a $2.04 billion contract award Wednesday to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Boeing and Alenia North America for their C-27J Spartan to be the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA).

An initial purchase of 78 aircraft will replace aging air platforms. But officials said they imagine the total number of aircraft will reach, if not exceed, the originally planned purchase of 145 aircraft.

The Army will receive 54 and the Air Force will receive the other 24 aircraft in the initial purchase to replace the C-23 Sherpa and C-12 Huron.

With the bulk of older airframes in the Guard, officials said the Guard would relieve many new aircraft.

And they would be available for much more than wartime utilization, particularly for governors to use them for crucial airlift tasks in state operations, such as for a natural or manmade disaster.

“You’re always going to be short of airlift no matter where you go, and when we flew these [older] airplanes, we were sending airplanes forward that could have carried a lot more, but we were carrying what they needed now, and that was maybe one or two passengers, maybe one pallet of medical goods,” said Maj. Gen. Marshall K. Sabol, an Air Force spokesman.

“Where this airplane will fit extremely well is it’ll be able to do that kind of mission [with a] smaller cargo bay ... [and] relieve the C-130s to be able to do the missions they were not able to do,” he added.

The first two C-27Js will arrive late this year. After fiscal year 2008 funds come through, the next four aircraft should arrive around January 2009.

The first operational JCA unit will stand up in late 2010.

Gates Recommends Mullen as JCS Chairman

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will recommend that President Bush nominate Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chief of Naval operations, to replace outgoing Gen. Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In news conference last week, Mr. Gates said he also will recommend Gen. James E. Cartwright for the position of vice chairman. General Cartwright is the commander of U.S. Strategic Command. Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., the current vice chairman, announced his decision to retire two weeks ago.

“I have become well acquainted with Admiral Mullen over the last six months and believe he has the strategic insight, experience and integrity to lead America’s armed forces,” Mr. Gates said.

Admiral Mullen graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968.

He has served in leadership positions at the Naval Academy, the Navy’s Bureau of Personnel, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Navy Staff.

He became the 28th Chief of Naval Operations in July 2005.
Mr. Gates had intended to re-nominate General Pace and Admiral Giambastiani, but after consulting with senators of both parties came to the conclusions “that because General Pace has served as chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the last six years, the focus of his confirmation process would have been on the past rather than the future.”

General Pace will continue to serve as chairman until his term ends Sept. 30. He is the first Marine to hold the position.|

Calling Cards Bring Troops Overseas a Little Closer to Home

To help bridge the gap between the front lines and the home front, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) actively engages the American public every day troops are far from home.

Available to the public since April 2004, “Help Our Troops Call Home” allows anyone, even non-authorized exchange shoppers, to send military exchange global prepaid phone cards to deployed troops.

Since the program’s inception, individuals have purchased more than 206,000 phone cards.

“From the soldier with a young child back home to the airman who will spend his first Father’s Day away from dad, being able to reach out and speak to loved ones is critical,” said Lt. Col. Steven Dean, AAFES contingency planning chief. “During my deployment, being able to talk to my family was my first priority.”

Dads, aunts, neighbors and even civic groups can take part in the effort by sending any one of three military exchange global prepaid phone cards to troops.

Among them is a 550-minute denomination card capable of providing more than two hours of call time from any of 72 phone centers in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait to the United States.

The phone card may be sent to an individual service member designated by the sender or distributed to “any service member.” Facilitators of the program include the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House Foundation, Navy-Marine Corps Relief, Soldier and Family Assistance Center and United Service Organizations.

More information on the program is available at AAFES.

Commuication Department Needs Staff Writer

The National Guard Association has an immediate opening for an experienced staff writer. Selected candidate will contribute to NATIONAL GUARD, the association’s monthly magazine, NGAUS Notes and the NGAUS Web site.

Duties include writing short news stories and covering a variety of hearings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. For the magazine, the successful candidate will contribute at least one substantial feature story each month and assist in editing and producing the final product. Some travel is required.

Candidates must have five years of reporting experience. Familiarity with the military and the National Guard is preferred.

Interest in writing about military/legislative topics a must. Car required. Salary: low- to mid-40s. Excellent benefits include health and dental coverage and a 401K. plan. Convenient Capitol Hill location.

Send cover letter, résumé and three writing samples to:

National Guard Association of the United States
Communications Department
One Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C., 20001.

Fax: 202-682-9358
E-mail: Chris Prawdzik.

NGAUS History

NGAUS launched the Special Committee on Manpower in the spring of 1973, to help find ways to recruit new members of the National Guard.

Maj. Gen. Henry W. McMillan, NGAUS president and committee member, thought the group should look into what the association could do “to assist in developing a greater sense of duty and patriotism — to serve in a volunteer military organization.”

He saw “every indication” that the Guard’s problem of maintaining units strength in the new zero-draft environment “will be critical” for the upcoming years.

This Week in Guard History

June 13, 1966: Oahu, Hawaii—With the onset of the Cold War and the threat of long-range Soviet nuclear bombers, the National Guard writes a new chapter in its history of homeland defense.

Beginning in 1954, thousands of Army Guardsmen manned anti-aircraft artillery positions across the country, adopting for the first time a federal mission while in a state status. In the late 1950s the Guard began transitioning from guns to longer-ranged and more lethal missiles.

For exactly 16 years, from September 1958 to September 1974, the Army Guard manned Nike-Ajax and Nike-Hercules missile batteries in an operational status. At the height of the program in 1969, 17 states provided more than 7,000 soldiers to staff 54 missile batteries around sixteen key metropolitan areas.

Hawaii’s 298th Artillery Group was the first Guard unit to adopt the Nike-Hercules missile, becoming operational in 1960.

Produced weekly by the NGAUS communications department. Comments and questions should be directed to e-mail NGAUS.


Marines Train Servicemembers in Martial Arts

13 Jun 07
By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mary Popejoy
CJTF-HOA Public Affairs

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti — Sailors and soldiers of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Camp Lemonier are learning non-lethal self defense moves from the U.S. Marine Corps by participating in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP).

During the June 2 session, students learned basic knife techniques, throws, basic movements, restraints, weapon defense techniques and apprehension without deadly force.

“This program is intense because it focuses on mental, character and physical discipline,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Ryan Piatti, 6th Provisional Security Company MCMAP instructor. “It pushes them to look deep within and do something they wouldn’t normally get to do in their branch of service.”

For Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Beaumont, CJTF-HOA Administration, taking the class reminds people that age shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they want to do.

“I’m 57, so I wanted to show everyone that older people can still have the stamina to keep up with a younger crowd,” he said. “It pushes me to the max and my body lets me know it.”

MCMAP is designed to provide individuals with the ability and confidence to fight in hand-to-hand combat using any weapon available. It also teaches self-discipline as to understand the responsible use of force, both on and off the battlefield.

“In a combat zone we follow the Rules of Engagement, so the skills we learn here will help us protect ourselves without firing a weapon,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Jonny Pierce, Delta Co. 1/3 Old Guard.

Whether the students see a battlefield or not, the knowledge gained from the experience will help them in any environment they face.

“It’s a great feeling being able to have the knowledge and abilities to protect myself from those who want to cause me bodily harm,” said Chief Petty Officer Scott Carver, Camp Lemonier’s Supply leading chief petty officer. And for Piatti, sharing a Marine Corps tradition with his trainees is a very rewarding experience.

“I am proud to be part of a program that teaches people of all ages and backgrounds how to protect themselves in a non-lethal way from the enemy,” he said.

Photo - Sailors and soldiers of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa's Camp Lemonier learn basic self defense techniques with a weapon during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program June 2, 2007. The objective of the training is to teach all branches of the service how to protect themselves without firing their weapon. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mary Popejoy.

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Leaders, Wounded Warriors Celebrate Army Birthday at WRAMC

by Bernard S. Little
Army News Service

WASHINGTON - Walter Reed Army Medical Center joined installations and commands worldwide this week in celebrating the Army's 232nd birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony Tuesday in the hospital's Heaton Pavilion.

Acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, acting U.S. Army Surgeon Gen. Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock and Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Kenneth O. Preston attended the celebration honoring those who answered the "Call to Duty - Boots on the Ground - Army Strong," this year's Army birthday theme.

Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and WRAMC, said medics have been a part of the Army for almost its entire existence, pointing out that about a month after the Continental Congress established an Army to defend the colonies, a medical service was created for care for the 20,000-member Continental Army.

"We've had our boots on the ground as Soldiers almost since our inception as a defender of America's freedoms," Maj. Gen. Schoomaker said. "It's also fitting to celebrate at the place where our first mission is to put warriors back on their feet to return to the fighting force and resume their lives."

Walter Reed has treated nearly 6,000 patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom since the war began. More than 2,000 of those troops were injured in battle. Walter Reed has also treated nearly 550 patients from Operation Enduring Freedom, and more than 180 of those troops were injured in battle.

Maj. Gen. Schoomaker spoke of attending the funeral last year of Cpl. Angelo Vaccaro, a medic killed while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. "Only days after a major enemy encounter, during which he performed courageously saving many lives, Soldiers from his unit once again came under major enemy fire suffering several casualties." Cpl. Vaccaro volunteered to evacuate the injured while the battle continued, and was killed by enemy fire.

"His sacrifice and call to duty will not be forgotten," Maj. Gen. Schoomaker said of Cpl. Vaccaro.

Walter Reed's Warrior Transition Brigade headquarters will be named after Cpl. Vaccaro later this year.

SMA Preston agreed that birthdays provide a special time to reflect. "As we reflect back on the Army's history we see our nation's history. There are 178 streamers on the Army flag. Each one represents critical events in the history of our Army, nation and world. These critical events represent sacrifices by Soldiers. They not only sacrificed themselves, but they were there to save the day," he said.

The SMA spoke of Sgt. Maj. Brent Jorgensen, who was injured in Iraq but recovered and redeployed. He was injured again when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades. Then a first sergeant, he suffered a severe head injury, wounded right knee and left leg amputation at the knee. His driver was killed.

During Sgt. Maj. Jorgensen's recovery, he was selected for promotion to sergeant major and to attend the Sergeants Major Academy. "Two weeks ago, I handed him his diploma as he walked across the stage. He was the first-ever amputee to attend the academy and graduate. He will soon be the sergeant major for the Army's Wounded Warrior Program and report to Walter Reed in July.

"These are incredible stories of the spirit of the American Soldier and a testament to the efforts of Army health-care professionals," SMA Preston said.

Sec. Geren said much as changed since the Army's birth on June 14, 1775, including technology, uniforms and medicine. "But one thing has not changed - the centerpiece of the Army and our nation's defense - the Soldier."

Photo - Installations and commands worldwide are celebrating the Army's 232nd birthday this week. Shown here is the sword presented to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston to cut a cake at a ceremony at the U.S. Senate June 12. Photo by Staff Sgt. Christina M. O'Connell.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Airmen receive first AF Combat Action Medals

12 Jun 07
by Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph
Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley awarded six Airmen the Air Force Combat Action Medal during a ceremony June 12 at the Air Force Memorial. These Airmen were the first in the Air Force to receive the new medal.

Recipients of the award were Maj. Steven A. Raspet, Capt. Allison K. Black, Senior Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, Master Sgt. Charlie Peterson, Master Sgt. Byron P. Allen and Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Paxton.

The medal was created to recognize Air Force members who were engaged in air or ground combat off base in a combat zone. This includes members who were under direct and hostile fire, or who personally engaged hostile forces with direct and lethal fire.

"As we thought about the 700,000 (Total Force) Airmen out there today who epitomize the warrior ethos while in combat on the ground or in the air, we began to think through this notion of a combat action ribbon that is part of our culture and our heritage," said General Moseley. "We believe our Airmen know this and understand this, and live it daily through their actions.

"In fact, since that awful day in September 2001, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of Airmen engaged with or engaging hostile forces during performance of their duties, many of them on the surface, outside the wire, in nontraditional roles for Airmen," the general said. "We wanted an award to serve as an outward and visible reminder that combat is a fundamental part of being an Airman. And we wanted an Air Force-specific award for Airmen to wear proudly on their uniforms."

The medal's design is one of a kind, General Moseley said. It is the only American award with a diagonal stripe. The design was inspired by a personal insignia Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell had painted on the aircraft he flew over the St. Mihiel, (France) in September 1918. He flew the aircraft while developing plans for what would become the first major American offensive in World War I.

"(General Mitchell's) legacy is manifested in today's Air Force in so many ways, not the least of which is this new medal," said General Moseley. "This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of his most important legacy... the creation of the United States Air Force as an independent service."

Members of General Mitchell's family were present for the ceremony. General Moseley presented General Mitchell's grandson, Tom Gilpin, with a shadow box commemorating General Mitchell's service and influence on the medal.

"While much has been said about my grandfather's unique life and limitless dedication to the advancement of air power, today highlights the loyalty he had to his fellow Airmen, his Air Force family," said Mr. Gilpin.

"My grandfather was the original Air Force wingman," he said. "Today, it's an honor to be a part of the profound connection between the heritage bestowed by my grandfather and these amazing Airmen who have continued his boldness and his courage. I know he would be pleased by the Air Force Combat Action Medal as it symbolizes so well what he stood for: facing adversity with conviction and never backing down."

General Moseley also recognized Susan Gamble, a professional artist and master designer for the U.S. Mint -- and the wife of Air Force Col. Mike Gamble -- who completed the design of the medal, in conjunction with the Army Institute of Heraldry.

"(Ms. Gamble) transformed a rough sketch into the Air Force Combat Action Medal ... This magnificent creation serves as an enduring link to our heritage and our culture," said General Moseley. "It will forever remind us of American air power pioneers, and the courage of conviction they had, ultimately forging the Air Force into an independent service 60 years ago.

"(The medal) ties the Airmen of today engaged with enemy hostiles... to the legacy of courage, valor, service and sacrifice that our predecessors left us," he said. "These Airmen, like all Airmen, stand on the shoulders of giants such as Billy Mitchell, (Henry "Hap") Arnold, (Claire) Chennault, (James) Doolittle, (Curtis) LeMay and (Bernard) Schriever," said the general. "Today we recognize these six amazing Airmen for their combat roles as warriors wielding the air power bequeathed to us by these giants."

As the citation for each recipient was read, General Moseley pinned the medal on the Airman.

"There are so many great Airmen who have done so many incredible things, so to be singled out as one of them is an honor," said Major Raspet, the first Airman in the ceremony to receive the medal.

"It's a great honor anytime you're recognized for your efforts, but I don't look at it as heroic," said Captain Black. "I'm proud to represent all the (Airmen) who will receive this award."

Recipients of the award were:

- Maj. Steven A. Raspet is an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. While deployed to Afghanistan on Jan. 8, 2006, Major Raspet was the flight lead of two A-10s tasked to cover a joint Afghan/U.S. Army operation. He responded to a convoy's request for close-air support as they were taking fire from a building adjacent to their route. After confirming the exact location of coalition forces, Major Raspet executed several low roll-ins to place weapons on target. Despite communications problems and the imminent threat of ground fire, he eliminated the threat, continued to provide presence and deterred further attack for nearly an hour as the convoy transited the ambush area.

- Capt. Allison K. Black is an AC-130H gunship navigator with the 1st Special Operations Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla. While providing close-air support on Dec. 4, 2001, to a forward element of friendly forces near the enemy-held city of Kandahar, Afghanistan, she and her crew attacked enemy forces and vehicles advancing on a U.S. Special Forces and alliance strategic position. Under large caliber, enemy anti-aircraft artillery fire, Captain Black continued the assault at below minimum altitude, destroying enemy personnel and equipment, and leading to the eventual capture of Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds in Afghanistan.

- Senior Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez is a pararescueman with the U.S. Air Force Pararescue/Combat Officer School at Kirtland AFB, N.M. While deployed to Afghanistan on March 11, 2004, Sergeant Colon-Lopez, his advance force operations team and elements of the Afghan national strike unit conducted operations to capture a high-value target and a follow-on sensitive site exploitation to prevent proliferation of chemical weapons in theater. During the helicopter infiltration, the team took sustained small-arms weapons fire inflicting serious damage to the aircraft. With rounds impacting all around him and unsure of the size of the enemy force, he pressed forward, overrunning enemy positions. The raid resulted in two enemy kills, 10 enemy apprehensions and the destruction of rocket-propelled grenades and small caliber weapons.

- Master Sgt. Charlie Peterson is a vehicle operator with the 927th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. During his deployment to Iraq on July 28, 2004, Sergeant Peterson was operating the command vehicle for a 20-vehicle supply convoy near Balad Air Base. Halfway through their transit, Sergeant Peterson's vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device filled with ball bearings. The 18-wheel truck preceding his vehicle also was hit and became engulfed in flames while Sergeant Peterson's vehicle was left inoperable and without communications. Despite taking shrapnel and glass in his head and left arm, Sergeant Peterson left the command vehicle, obtained the medical status of his convoy commander and gunner, who were in the same vehicle, secured the perimeter and used a global positioning system to notify the battle staff of the enemy engagement. The convoy was rerouted to a safe zone where Sergeant Peterson was medically evacuated by helicopter to receive treatment for his wounds.

- Master Sgt. Byron P. Allen is an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter aerial gunner assigned to the 1st Special Operations Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla. While serving as part of a two-ship formation on April 12, 2004, Sergeant Allen was conducting a combat resupply mission inside Iraq. The lead helicopter was shot down by Iraqi insurgents and Sergeant Allen's helicopter was engaged by a barrage of surface-to-air fire. He returned accurate fire, spotted the downed aircraft and talked his pilot through a flawless approach. Sergeant Allen then directed the recovery effort by setting up a perimeter and covering special forces members while they recovered the other crew. As the aircraft limped back into the air, they were again engaged by enemy fire. Only 20 minutes after the shoot down, Sergeant Allen and his crew delivered the recovered airmen to medical assistance.

- Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Paxton is an aero-evacuation technician assigned to the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. On March 28, 2003, Sergeant Paxton was part of a mission to establish a series of tactical medical units along the border of Kuwait and Iraq. His convoy came under enemy fire from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and small-arms fire. Sergeant Paxton and his team, with no intra-vehicle communications, reacted to the ambush and returned fire, successfully defending their assets as they executed a coordinated withdrawal. Under the cover of darkness and using night vision devices, the convoy headed out and the enemy again opened fire. During the next 18 hours, the convoy came under fire five subsequent times and Sergeant Paxton successfully engaged the enemy with return fire, defending himself and the convoy as they progressed on their mission.

Photo - Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley awards an Air Force Combat Action Medal to Master Sgt. Byron Allen at the Air Force Memorial June 12 in Arlington, Va., June 12. Sergeant Allen was one of six Airmen to receive the medal, awarded to Airmen who have been directly in harm's way, engaging enemy forces. Sergeant Allen was serving as an MH-53 aerial gunner was conducting a combat resupply mission when his aircraft came under enemy fire. Sergeant Allen is from the 1st Special Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, Fla. U.S. Air Force photo by Donna Parry.

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