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Archive for August 2007

Photo Friday: Insignificant

Each week Photo Friday posts a photo assignment. Your mission is the creative interpretation of the week’s theme. When you’re done, post the picture you took to your website and submit your link to Photo Friday.Photo Friday is about challenging our participants to be original and creative within the constraints of the week’s theme. It’s not a competition. Anyone with a camera and a place on the internet to post pictures can participate.


Surge Notes


In Iraq, approximately 270 km of village roads have been completed. These projects are directly contracted with local firms and assist in the economic development of smaller communities. The Village Roads program is expected to be completed next month and will provide 424 km of improved roads.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER — A routine meeting on Aug. 18 became a saga of tragedy and heroism when one young Iraqi man gave his life to save his family and his friends in the U.S. Army.

The Soldiers he saved that day say they will never forget the man’s sacrifice.

The plan was to visit a leader of the al-Arafia Concerned Citizens Program. After a hectic month of raids and route clearance missions, the scouts of 2nd platoon, Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, weren’t worried about that day’s particular mission.

“It was a pretty darn routine day, honestly,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, of Los Altos,
Calif., acting second platoon sergeant. “We were going to head to the house and
talk with one of the leaders.”

The scouts had visited the neighborhood before and, according to 1st Lt. Mike Barth, of El Segundo, Calif., second platoon leader, they thought the area was reasonably safe because of the watchfulness of the area’s Concerned Citizens group in the area.

“He (the leader) is a very good friend,” Barth said. “He is a respected man in the
neighborhood. We had sat down with him many times and knew a number of his kids. A couple of his children speak a little bit of English, and we had made

In the early evening, Barth, Kane, Pfc. David Menillo, of Fairfield, Conn., the platoon medic, and Josh Berner, of Tehlequah, Okla., Barth’s driver, along with an interpreter, sat down to talk with the leader about the Concerned Citizens and how the platoon could help.

Barth had a cordon of several Bradley Fighting Vehicles set up along the road to provide security, as well as a small contingent of security personnel comprised of
Concerned Citizens.

“This is a very respected man in the neighborhood Barth said. “He is always surrounded by family. Basically, the whole neighborhood is his family, so there wasn’t a need for extra security.”

A man approached Barth’s cordon and asked to enter the sealed off courtyard of the house.

“We had seen him before,” said Sgt. William Morris, of Orange County, Calif., a Bradley Fighting Vehicle commander in second platoon. “Our driver speaks a little Arabic, and the guy explained he wanted to go to his house.”

The man had far more sinister motives. He walked up to the local leader’s guards and requested to see the leader about buying a house in the neighborhood. Upon hearing who it was and what he wanted, the leader agreed to meet with the man after he had been searched.

As the guards searched the man, the guards discovered he was wearing a suicide vest. The guards ran toward the leader’s house in an attempt to warn everyone in the courtyard.

“They all came around the corner at virtually the same time screaming ‘Ali Babba, Ali Babba!’” Berner said. The phrase “Ali Babba” is a widely used Iraqi slang term for a very bad person.

The next few moments were a blur of motion as Soldiers and Concerned Citizens ran for cover.

Barth and Menillo ran to a window to see if the threat was coming from
the street, while Berner grabbed the platoon interpreter and attempted to get
him behind a wall in the courtyard.

As the bomber rounded the far corner of the courtyard, Kane sprang up with his weapon and started moving toward him. Before he could get off a shot, one of the leader’s sons ran up, wrapped his arms around the bomber and began pushing him out of the courtyard. With his sight picture obscured by the son, Kane could not get off a clean shot.

As the leader’s son wrestled with him, the bomber detonated the vest,
killing both men instantly.

“My leg was hit, and my Kevlar was blown off along with my earplugs and eye protection,” Kane said. “My weapon flew out of my hand. The next thing I know, I’m face down in the grass trying to get my bearings.”

Stunned from the attack, Kane attempted to make it to a bathroom in the courtyard for cover.

Meanwhile, Berner was trying to protect the interpreter.

“He stopped to see what was going on, and I just grabbed him and tried to get him behind the wall,” Berner said. “I turned right because I was expecting small-arms fire, and the detonation threw me into the wall.”

Collecting his wits, Berner saw that the interpreter was sprawled out and stunned on the ground. Berner finished getting him behind the wall and thought of the women and children in the courtyard.

“I just ran back out and started grabbing them,” he said. “None of them were hurt, but I wanted to get them into the house or behind the wall. I didn’t know if we were
going to take small-arms fire or anything like that. I yelled to (the interpreter) to tell them to get inside.”

The detonation threw both Barth and Menillo into the adjacent courtyard wall.

“For the first 15 seconds after the explosion, everything was real quiet,” Menillo said. “I heard Sgt. Kane yell he was hit and tried to find him.”

When Menillo got into the bathroom, he said he was shocked by what he saw, but Kane was not seriously injured.

“I just grabbed his leg and started checking it,” Menillo said. “I moved on to his ankle and didn’t find anything. I got him up. I thought his leg was busted up from where the blast was in the courtyard and where he was.”

After Menillo retrieved Kane’s gear, Berner started helping him to the vehicle.

According to Barth, the leader’s son took 90 percent of the blast and ultimately saved everyone in the courtyard.

The incident was over minutes after it started.

“The son was definitely a hero for acting the way he did,” Barth said. “His actions saved four American lives that day and the lives of his father and family.”

Barth believes Kane’s actions also saved the lives of his platoon members. As the bomber was running into the courtyard, the first thing he saw was the muzzle of Kane’s weapon. Barth said he believes Kane’s quick reaction and decisive thinking caused the bomber to lose confidence and freeze up.

“A lot of things kept that situation from being worse,” Barth said.

The leader’s son, killed by the bomber, had served chai (tea) to Barth and Kane several times before.

“He was high-spirited and really believed in what the group (Concerned Citizens) was doing,” Kane said. “I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American
Soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn’t
intercepted him, there is no telling how bad it could have been.”

Berner remembers on the ride back, how he and Kane shared a quick smile to let each other know they were all right.

“He just kind of looked over at me and smiled,” Berner said. “We had been in a roadside bomb incident before that, so this was the second time we had been in that situation. I think we both realized that, as bad as it was, we walked away both times.”

Even though the incident is over, it has lasting effects.

Leaders of 3rd HBCT, the Iraqi National Police and Jisr Diyala leaders met with the father to acknowledge his sacrifice and thank him for his son’s actions.

Both Barth and Kane were present at the ceremony to offer support to their friend and to provide security.

The father was given a plaque and a ceremonial pair of spurs from Lt. Col. John Kolasheski, of Louden, Tenn., commander of 3-1 Cav. Regt.

“You cannot put a price on a life, but we would like to give you a few tokens of appreciation for your sacrifice,” Kolasheski said. “This is a tragic event we are recognizing, but it represents an outstanding change in this area.”

Barth admits it has been difficult talking with the family because of the pain they are experiencing. He has thanked the family for their sacrifice.

“They will always be friends,” Barth said. “This tragedy has strengthened that.”

Berner has relied on the experience of members of his platoon to help him with the incident.

“I’ve talked with Sgt. Kane about it,” he said. “He helped me put in perspective. Being younger, I don’t have the life experience to really understand it. He has been a big help. It’s just one of things that I will never forget.”

Bill T notes: Few would be shocked to see a dour report slip into the hands of a Congress almost desperate, by the admission of some of its Democratic members, for a loss in Iraq.

Grizzly Mama notes: The Americans are not giving up…..Neither are the Iraqi.


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Michelle Malkin: Answering ANSWER

Michelle Malkin stands with the Eagles, and so will I.

As retired Army Col. Harry Riley explains, “Unlike the 60s and 70s, the anti-war lemmings will not have the streets or the political stage to themselves. This time, Eagle Americans — we who support our troops, understand the stakes in the War on Terror and the true nature of our enemy, who aren’t blinded by an insane hatred of our way of life and our form of government — will also be in Washington, D.C., to show Congress that we will not tolerate another betrayal of our own forces or our allies…While the anti-democracy forces are well-funded by pro-left, anti-Americans, we Eagles have steadily been building our own coalition to stop ANSWER in its tracks, and keep Congress focused on winning the war, not their political ambitions.”

See you in DC!


Surge Notes

This is what victory looks like in Iraq:

In 2006, education opportunities improved for Iraqis with 838 of 849 schools completed. Each completed school serves approximately 400 students for a total of 335,200 students nationwide.

Central Baghdad school opens after two months of renovations

BAGHDAD — For the second time in a little more than a month,
the partnership between the Kindi Neighborhood Advisory Council and the Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment’s Company E, has led to another school being opened in the area.
After opening the Waoud Kindergarten in July, the Andalas School, which will serve as a middle and secondary school, was opened Aug 26.

The project, which took nearly two months to complete, was one of the first that Co. E, which is attached to the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, took on after taking over operations in Kindi in June.

“The project was already started when we got here,” said Co. E commander, Capt. Greg Turner. “The scope of work and the project were already approved, so we just came here four or five times, checked on the work and made sure everything was happening.”

Turner, who is originally from Butler, Pa., said that although the money for the project was provided by 4-9 Cav., it was the efforts of the Kindi NAC members that led to its fruition.

“We provide the funds, but the Iraqi guy that we hired did the design for the school and Iraqi contractors did the work,” he explained. “So besides being the middle man, we’re not responsible for this school. The Iraqis are responsible for what you see here today.”

Bill T notes the success of the military operation is not in question. The United States Military is performing well under the worst of circumstances politically, and they are stabilizing a situation that would have been uncontrollable 2 years ago. “


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Bullets over Iraq

Who said there is nothing of importance to be gleaned by surfing the Internet?

Tonight I learned the difference betweeen a cartridge and a bullet.

The Dissident Frogman took time from his busy schedule to give a quick lesson in the difference between the two, the humiliation of a certain AFP reporter is an added bonus.


Surge Notes

Residents join Guard Force to improve neighborhood security:

BAGHDAD — It’s just after 10 a.m., and a large crowd has gathered outside the Adhamiyah District Advisory Council building. Dozens of men mob the entrance.
Normally, the DAC building is where citizens come to complain about potholes and power outages, and where wailing mothers come to plead for the release of their detained sons. But the men gathered here this morning didn’t come to complain about problems, they came to be part of a solution. The men are all here to apply for jobs with Adhamiyah’s new Critical Infrastructure Guard Force, a security force made up of local men that will protect area schools, hospitals, fuel stations, and government buildings.
In Adhamiyah, a Sunni enclave in east Baghdad that has long been a haven for insurgents, U.S. and Iraqi forces have struggled to make residents more active partners in security. But the surprising embrace of the Guard Force is just one of a growing number of signs that Adhamiyah residents are starting to take a more aggressive role in protecting their community, say U.S. Soldiers based in the area.
“They’re standing up, and I think it shows they’re ready to take their neighborhood back into their own hands,” said Columbia, Md., native, Capt. Albert Marckwardt, commander of Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

In other developments throughout Iraq:

Elements of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, conducted a mission to deny extremists sanctuary in Jisr Diyala, southeast of Baghdad Thursday.

Task Force Marne troops conducted a mission to disrupt terrorist activity and succeeded by destroying a large cache of munitions and improvised explosive device-making materials Thursday.

Mikes America reveals the undeniable truth about U.S. efforts in Iraq.
Bill T shares some Surge Clarity from Krauthammer


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Capitol GOE


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Lily Ponds – Longwood


Livestrong Philadelphia

Young Republicans from Across the State to “Ride” with Lance Armstrong

PHILADELPHIA, PA — August 21, 2007 – - The Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans announced that they have teamed with Montgomery County Federation of Young Republicans to raise money and awareness for cancer research and survivorship programs supported by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, as a part of the LIVESTRONG Challenge on August 26th in Philadelphia.

PFYR General Counsel Kristin Mihelic led the internal
charge, uniting young republicans across the state to support the LIVESTRONG Challenge in its inaugural Philadelphia appearance. “There was just no way that we couldn’t be involved with this extraordinary event. Lance Armstrong has always been an inspiration and he epitomizes the core values of our group; dedication, passion, and an unending pursuit of excellence. I am so proud of our efforts and we really look forward to helping those most in need in our area,” said Mihelic.

To date, The Lance Armstrong Foundation has contributed over $2 million to Philly area cancer research and survivorship programs.
The Foundation is a key contributor to the Living Well After Cancer program at the University of Pennsylvania hospital. The Foundation has also formed the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance to help
combat cancer rates that are rapidly rising in the young adult category.

I will be walking along with the young republicans this Sunday in support of those who are battling and winning the war with cancer. This walk/biking event is being held all over the nation – Together we are STRONG……come walk with me.

Note that there is no public support of this event from organizations such as A.N.S.W.E.R , Code Pink or other liberal organizations.


Surge Notes

Freedom Facts:

In 2006, medical care improved in Iraq with the renovation of 15 hospitals. Each completed facility sees approximately 500 patients per day for a total of 11,000 patients nationwide.

Progress in Iraq and the road ahead

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, commanding general of the Gulf Region Division, and Dr. Karim Wahid, the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, discussed the advancement of electricity in Iraq.

Walsh opened the discussion with a brief history of electricity in Iraq. While under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad received 22 to 24 hours of electricity a day, while the rest of Iraq received far less. In 2004 the U.S. government goal was to aid the Iraqi government efforts to stabilize the electricity grid through out Iraq, Walsh said.

“Certainly when you flip the light switch and nothing happens people can get angry,” Walsh said. “We are working very diligently with our Government of Iraq partners

The completion of more than 500 electrical projects in the area of generation, transmission and distribution are just some of the signs of progress. These projects account for 80 percent of the planned electrical projects in Iraq, Walsh said.

In the month of August, Iraq had 12 days with a peaked megawatt output, which exceeded 5,000 megawatts. The advancements are challenged by lack of fuel and the constant increase in demand for electricity, Walsh said.

“The demand (for electricity) has increased more than 70 percent since 2004 because the people of Iraq are purchasing more energy intensive products like air conditioners, refrigerators, computers and other electronic devices, and that is good,” Walsh said.

The goal is to have an equitable distribution of power across Iraq. Although Baghdad is receiving less power now then it did before the war, the rest of Iraq is getting more, Walsh said.

Power distribution centers across Iraq are becoming operational. A power plant in Daura recently became fully operational for the first time since 2001. A gas turbine plant in Musayyib will be operational within months providing another 400 megawatts of electricity for the Iraq power grid, Walsh said.

Karim then explained a new plan to improve the national power grid over the next ten years. The plan focuses on adding an additional 1,000 to 1,500 megawatts to the national grid. The Ministry of Electricity plans to allocate $40 million a year for the next four years, Karim said.

The ministry also plans to repair existing power plants and build other plants across Iraq. Power plants in Hurriyah, Al-Kudis and al-Telgi will be rebuilt and a plant will be placed in Nasariyah, he said.

“Iraq needs approximately 9,500 megawatts,” Karim said. “We will reach 5,400 megawatts in the next few months.”

This plan will also ensure the oil pipelines that fuel the power plants do are secured. These pipelines are often the target of attacks, which has virtually paralyzed the lines that run into the Baghdad area, Karim said.

The Ministry of Electricity works 24-hours a day, but still faces problems. Due to the insecurity in Iraq, workers cannot conduct their duties in certain parts of the country. In spite of these set-backs, Iraq has achieved 5,000 megawatts, Karim said

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