Archive for June 10th, 2008

Troop Scoop 6/10/2008

Troop Scoop

Posted: 10 Jun 2008 09:34 AM CDT

Dear Interested Readers,
There are a variety of interesting and positive stories showing more of the Iraqi people taking over security and infrastructure progress.  Kudos to Major Gen. Douglas Stone for initiating innovative ideas for improving the system of detaining prisoners.  New markets proposed for al-Kut, and new Baghdad Police College East breaks ground.  Weapons caches continue to be seized.
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

June 10, 2008
Operation Lion’s Hunt brings IA closer to autonomy

TIKRIT – Op Lion’s Hunt, a joint op that began in Ninewah province June 6 between 3 IA elements was the first unilateral Iraqi-led aerial op of Op Iraqi Freedom.
The proof-of-concept op was an unqualified success, netting 8 suspected AQI operators, and pulling the
village of Markab al Tair from the grip of the insurgency.
“The IA had a need to move a long distance in a very short amount of time,” said Lt. Col Michael Tetu, the 2nd Gen. Support Aviation Bn, 1st Aviation Regt cmdr., and the air mission cmdr. “The best way for the IA to do that was not to go in by convoy, but to go in by air. In the eyes of the MiTT, who trained these guys, they were ready for the next step, and that was to go in on an air assault.
“We are almost at opposite ends of MND-N, so the distance factor had a big vote in how easy this was to coordinate.  What we wound up doing was picking a point in-between to move our aircraft and our crews up there early so we could pre-position a couple days prior,” Tetu said.
Once in position, the bns still needed to train the IA on the infiltration and exfiltration sections of the mission. To make absolutely sure the IA Soldiers would be ready for the actual mission; the 2nd GSAB, 1st Aviation Regt flew to COP Nimr the day before the mission, coordinated directly with the IA, and ran rehearsals with them.
“We took the aircraft and the training opportunity to rehearse right into their camp, and we went through every opportunity to practice our contingency missions, our emergency actions,” said Tetu.  The IA Soldiers practiced loading and offloading when the engines were off, and then when the blades were turning, getting the full effect of the twin-engine Chinook.
“It was a good experience,” said Sgt. Alexander S. Rolinski, 2nd GSAB,  who served as a flight engineer for the mission.  “It was rather new because normally we work together with the Americans and the IA, but considering this was all IA, it was different; a lot of diversity but I think it went well, because we got to communicate through the interpreters and work in conjunction with them, and it flowed.  We were working as a team.”
“It’s a huge message that’s being sent to the population because their flag is coming out of our helicopters on the IA uniforms.  People who speak their language and potentially their own relatives are the ones providing their security,” said Tetu.


Operation Restore Peace VII continues to reconcile former fighters in Hawijah

HAWIJAH – The GoI and CF Soldiers continue to reconcile former fighters as the Op Restore Peace
program in the Hawijah district of the Kirkuk Province held its seventh meeting, June 1.
“The GoI is giving you an opportunity to reconcile. Take it,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek, 1st Bde, 10th
Mtn Div. “If you aren’t here to reconcile – I’ll see you again, on the battlefield.”
The program locals refer to as ‘Musalaha’, has been instrumental along with the SoI program with the over 90% decrease in violent attacks against ISF, CF and civilians in the Hawijah district, according to Gregor.
“Your sheik, neighbor and village have spoken,” Vanek said. “They want peace. You currently have a choice to find us and join that process or, we’ll find you.”
Additionally, the successful efforts these Soldiers and other CFs are key to the security successes in the region and the motivating factor in persuading more Iraqis in the area to “lay down their arms and join the reconciliation process,” said Vanek.
In a June 4 offensive op named ‘Muthana Strike’ along the Tigris River Valley, west of Hawijah, info obtained from previous ops, Musalaha petitioners, and tips from local citizens, netted over 20 suspected AQI terrorists. All were members of a known network responsible for VBIED attacks and weapons smuggling effecting the Ta’Mim province and its surrounding areas in northern Iraq.
Over 200 have successfully completed the reconciliation process since Op Restore Peace began in January. Hawijah is located approximately 60 miles southwest of Kirkuk.

Screenshot_009 A 1st Bde Soldier escorts some of the 21 new petitioners June 1, at FOB McHenry, Hawijah.

Screenshot_010 Lt. Col. Uthma Ramadan, IA cmdr; Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek; Lt. Col. Yassin, Hawijah’s Police Chief, field reconciliation questions from petitioners.


Detainee operations changes command leadership

BAGHDAD – Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone turned over his command of Task Force 134 Detainee Ops to Rear Adm. Garland P. Wright in a ceremony conducted at the Al Faw Palace, June 6.
Gen. David H. Petraeus officiated the ceremony, thanking Stone for his contributions and forward thinking regarding detention.  “General Stone is a man of big ideas, and the assessment he conducted shortly after taking command led to the biggest of his big ideas:  the enemy was conducting an insurgency inside the wire, and we needed to conduct counterinsurgency ops inside the wire,” Petraeus said.
One of Stone’s most innovative programs involved assessing detainees more thoroughly upon detention by separating the moderates from the extremists, thereby eliminating the “peer pressure” within detention.
Other initiatives implemented include a family advocacy program for visiting families, using visitations to instruct families in civics, education and cultural discussion.  He also developed training for Iraqi Correctional Officers and established the juvenile education center Dar al Hikmah, “House of Wisdom,” to help juvenile detainees learn math, to read and write Arabic, and to better understand the GoI.
“Our greatest achievements in Detainee Ops are the Iraqis who leave our custody, return to their families, and prosper in Iraqi society, never again to take up arms against us or their citizenry,” said Stone.  “We should be most proud of this, because it is a reflection of all we, as free people, hold dear.”
Stone went on to thank the men and women in his command that transformed his ideas into reality and the Iraqi teachers and clerics, asking them to rise and be honored with applause.  “Furthermore, it has been a tremendous privilege to have worked with so many Iraqis and to have served the Iraqi people,” Stone said.
“In previous years, the terrorists were successful, building schools and incubators for terrorism within detention centers,” said Wright. “But honest Iraqis have now replaced those schools and provide a different, more hopeful message with more promising and longer-lasting results.  Honest Iraqis are helping their brothers fight ignorance with knowledge and overcoming ideology with reason.”

Screenshot_011 Rear Adm. Garland P. Wright congratulates the outgoing cmdr., Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone.


MND-B Soldiers find weapons cache

BAGHDAD – June 8, in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad, at approx. 7:30 a.m., Soldiers from the 1st BCT, 4th ID, discovered 3 60 mm mortar tubes, 2 82 mm mortar tubes, a 120 mm mortar tube; 16 82 mm mortar rounds; 15 60 mm mortar rounds, 30 pounds of plastic explosives, a bag of ammo and a ski mask.


Civil Affairs Soldiers speak with Kut shopkeepers

A Lithuanian soldier watches the market in al-Kut, June 3, during a meeting with shopkeepers who will be displaced by the construction of new fish and meat markets there. The Iraqi and Coalition-funded project,
which has already begun, will give farmers in Wasit Province an outlet for their goods and provide jobs and better conditions for shopkeepers and workers in the markets.  Programs are being developed for the
displaced shopkeepers, meant to give them fresh employment opportunities.

Screenshot_013 Staff Sgt. David McFate, speaks with shopkeepers.


Corp of Engineers Hands Over Two Facilities

BASRA – The Gulf Region South Corps of Engineers turned over 2 facilities to the GoI in Basra, June 8.
The Abo Al Khaseeb Votech Center and a Primary Healthcare Center in the Hai Al Muhandiseen area were handed over to their respective Ministries as they near total completion.
The Votech Center has undergone major renovations during the last 9 months as the Corps of Engineers coordinated efforts of several Iraqi construction companies to rebuild parts of the existing structure and install a new perimeter fence.  More than 600 students are already attending classes at the center and gaining valuable skills that increase their employability and boost the income for the local community.
The Healthcare Center was a complete construction project to provide services to an area that did not possess sufficient medical treatment facilities. The project began in 2006 and is being handed over to the Ministry of Health as the contractors finish the final stages of construction.

Screenshot_014 An Iraqi student at the Votech Center works on a welding project during a class June 8.

Screenshot_015 Maj. Stephan Dale from Gulf Region South Corps of Engineers talks to an Iraqi doctor during the handover of a Primary Health Clinic, June 8.


New Baghdad Police College East construction begins

BAGHDAD – Baghdad Police College broke ground for a new campus to be known as Baghdad Police College East, June 8.
When completed next year, the new facility will have 19 buildings for training and housing IP and will accommodate 2,000 recruits and 200 instructor staff.  There will be 9 student barracks, 4 instructor barracks, a laundry, a dining facility, 2 large classroom buildings, a multi-purpose facility and an administration building.  The new BPC East campus will also have a large parade field and soccer field.
“This represents a giant leap forward for the IP,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Jones, dir. gen. of the
Directorate of Interior Affairs that provides assistance in training the IP. “The picture we see here is that this new facility will train many Shurta [policemen] in the months to come, who in turn will join other courageous policemen in Iraq making a difference for the people of Iraq. This facility will help make the IP better.” Jones also praised Iraqi Police Maj. Gen. Dr. Jassin for having the vision to accelerate the training for the IP.
“The IP attending the new training facility here will be able to share their knowledge with other IPs in order to secure Iraq,” said Jassin.  He also said there are 17 new police training centers under construction or renovation.
Over the next year, the goal is to increase Shurta training by adding 9,100 seats a year to IP training academies.  The Ministry of Interior has budgeted approximately $160 million this year for this major expansion that will build many new facilities around the country.
The Baghdad Police College also has a High Institute for advanced training courses, the police qualification center, the commissioner course for enlisted policemen, a K-9 school for dog handlers, an Ethics Center and Administration Center.

Screenshot_016 Maj. Gen. Dr. Jassim, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jones, Maj. Gen. Dean Juma’a and senior police officers particiapte in the groundbreaking ceremony.


It is important to keep in mind that our veterans are first and foremost people. Heroes for sure, but people who live lives, fall in love, marry and have children, all the things one would hope for those who serve us all. Some never get that chance, having sacrificed their future for ours. Some are seriously injured in our service and must adapt to life after sacrifice.

Here is one such story, a Marine story, but a story that embraces love, hope, determination and faith in the future that should serve as a model for us all.

Ray and Sheri’s Wedding

Many of you will remember Cpl. Ray Hennagir, USMC. He was one of the first heroes from Operation Iraqi Freedom to be assisted by GOE. I had the honor of being on his escort ride home and at his benefit. That was nearly a year ago. Since then, Ray, who lost both legs to a terrorist IED, has gone skiing, horse back riding, various styles of boating, plays hockey and feels anything but sorry for himself. Recently, we posted a newspaper article that concerned Ray and his then fiancée Sheri. Well, it is my distinct honor to announce that this past weekend I attended the wedding ceremony of these two young heroes. Sheri has officially received the title of Marine wife, which is, without a doubt, the toughest job in the Corps.

The ceremony took place in the Rose Garden at Walter Reed Army Hospital . Not even the 98 degree temps could put a damper on the ceremony. Ray’s best man served both combat deployments with him and gave a moving toast in which he said, in part, “Ray and I have been through a lot of tough times together. May there be nothing but good times ahead for him and Sheri.” Another Marine that served in Iraq with Ray also came in for the wedding.

One of the most moving parts of the ceremony was the other wounded in attendance. Two Marines who were wounded in the same action rose from their wheelchairs onto prosthetics to honor Ray. To see these three warriors walk, without assistance, moved me to tears. Tough guy that I am, I was very happy to be wearing sunglasses because I could not keep the tears from escaping. These fine young men insisted that I take a photo with them. Since they are all Marines I was slightly afraid that lightning would strike, but I was honored beyond description to stand with them.

I was paid the highest compliment by one of these young heroes when he thanked me not only for GOE’s assistance, but for my personal service in the military. As I welcomed him home and thanked him for his service he gripped my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “It’s only because of you who came before that we even exist. We’re just riding on your coat tails.” Even now it moves me to write the words. These men and women who serve now are saving the world, and to be counted amongst their number as veteran is a high honor indeed. Congratulations Ray and Sheri, I love you both and offer you my sincerest wishes for a happy life. Semper Fi Marines. Manchu

Chris Hill
National Director for Operations
Gathering of Eagles

Pictures of the Wedding can be found here.

May God Bless and shine his love upon Ray and Sheri, and may they have a long, happy and productive life together.
God Bless the US Marine Corps