Archive for July 8th, 2008

Troop Scoop 7/8/2008

Troop Scoop

Posted: 08 Jul 2008 10:23 AM CDT

Dear Interested Reader,
Maximum-Security prison being built as a model to use throughout Iraq, to contain all the high profile criminals and terrorists being captured.  Hawijah’s literacy program gains national attention in Iraq.  Kudos to Iraqis who want to be educated.  Iraqi and U.S. Engineers partner to build a new Iraq.  Soccer tournament promotes and celebrates unity between Shia and Sunni.  Large weapons and munition caches seized, as well as Special Groups criminals captured.

Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

July 8, 2008
Hawijah’s literacy program gains national attention in Iraq

HAWIJAH – Iraq’s Deputy Minister of Education, Nehad Al-Juburi, and the Prime Minister’s Education Advisor, Zaid Chaid, paid a historic visit to Hawijah to bring national attention to its pilot literacy program, July 5.
Five-hundred SoI members in four of the sub-districts of Hawijah — Zaab, Abassi, Riyadh and Hawijah city — are currently participating in this program, which teaches students at a 3rd to 4th grade reading level.
“Education is the foundation to rebuilding,” Dr. Nehad told the audience, which included close to 100 of Hawijah’s SoI students in the program in Hawijah. “You should be proud of what you’re accomplishing here and know that you are setting the example for your country to follow.”
According to its Ministry of Education, 5.6 million Iraqis are illiterate. Thirty percent of Hawijah’s population falls into that category.
The pilot program was envisioned by Gen. David Petraeus, the comm. gen. of MNF – Iraq, and is being
facilitated by Soldiers from the 1st Bde, 10th Mtn Div. Its initial design is to prepare SoI members for transition into the Iraqi SF. The application process for both the IP and its Army requires applicants to be literate.
The program kicked off in Hawijah, June 15, and is already fulfilling the dreams of some participants. “I don’t have the words to explain this great feeling I had when I was able to write and show my family my name for the first time,” said Abdulkarem Faris, 24.  Faris had to quit at the elementary school level to help his family farm in the agricultural based economy.  He hopes to apply to the IP Academy in Kirkuk City when the 4-month program ends.
Hawijah Mayor Khalaf Ali praised the combined efforts of the CF and ISF for the security gains measuring around a 90% reduction in violent attacks against CF, ISF and citizens in this region, which will now allow the country to focus its efforts on jobs and education,” he said.
“It’s only fitting on the day after our nation’s birthday I quote one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who said that education is a gift to the people,” said Col. David Paschal, 1st BCT, 10th Mtn Div cmdr.
Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek told the SoI students in attendance to be proud of their accomplishments, referencing the security increases over the past 10 months that were key to the area’s selection by Gen. Petraeus. “Your city and district have been chosen as the model program that may eventually educate millions of Iraqis nation-wide,” Vanek said.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark R. Zamzow, Dep. Chief of Staff, Strategic Communications, MNF-Iraq, attended along with other GoI reps from Baghdad.

The Dep. Gov. of Education for the Kirkuk Province, Dr. Mubarek cuts the ribbon signifying the grand opening of Iraq’s pilot literacy program, as Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek, 1st Bn, 87th Inf Regt. cmdr., and key local, provincial, GoI representatives, and CF leadership look on.
( photo by Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson, 1BCT, 10th Mtn. Div.)


Tip yields cache finds for IA, Rakkasans in Sayafiyah

CAMP STRIKER – An informant in Mahmudiyah gave info to IA and Rakkasan Soldiers which led to a cache find in Sayafiyah, July 3.
IA Soldiers and 3rd BCT, 101st Abn Div (Air AASLT) acted on the tip and found a total of 8 caches in the area 35 km southwest of Baghdad.
The caches included a 23 mm anti-aircraft gun, a makeshift sniper rifle, a Russsian Draganov sniper rifle, 4 RPG launchers, a homemade rocket launcher, 2 anti-tank mines (one rigged as an anti-personnel IED), 7 82 mm mortars, 4 120 mm mortars, 3 60 mm mortars, 5 57 mm anti-aircraft rounds, 23 RPGs, more than 1,000 rounds of assorted ammo, fuses, multiple AK-47 components and miscellaneous primers, detonators and IED-making materials.


IA soldiers locate weapons cache in Amarah

BAGHDAD – IA soldiers located a weapons cache in the city of Amarah and detained 2 individuals occupying the building where the cache was found, July 4.
The IA located 3 EFPs, 20 155 mm artillery rounds, 3 anti-tank mines, 20 RPGs, a anti-personnel RPG, 3 RPG launchers, 21 grenades, 3 spools of detonation wire, 6 voltage meters, 3 camera flashes and a pair of new assault rifles.
The Iraqi unit is partnered with the, 4th BCT, 1st Cav Div.


Maximum-security prison constructed near Tallil

By Pfc. Terence Ewings
4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.

COB ADDER BAGHDAD – A new, maximum-security prison close to the Tallil Air Base is nearing completion and is now able to receive prisoners from Nasiriyah.
Nasiriyah Prison is a self-sustaining penitentiary equipped for managing, guarding and teaching legitimate trades to criminals during their prison terms. Maj. Catherine Vergona, the 4th BCT, 1st Cav Div’s judge advocate, said the prison was modeled from penitentiaries built in the U.S.
With security towers, surveillance equipment and a ratio of 2 guards for every prisoner, the prison is setting a higher standard for maximum-security installations in the country. The Nasiriyah Prison is operated by Iraqi security guards and supervised by the U.S. military.


IA, MND-B Soldiers seize weapons, munitions in Baghdad

BAGHDAD – MND – Baghdad Soldiers seized weapons and munitions caches as they continued conducting ops to increase security in the greater Baghdad area.
A local sheik turned in a munitions cache to Soldiers with the 2nd Stryker BCT, 25th ID, July 6 in Tarmiyah. The munitions consisted of a bag of homemade explosives, an IED, homemade grenades, a RPG launcher, a mortar tube with base plate, a 120 mm mortar, 60 mm mortars, small-arms rifles with silencers, 10 14.7 mm rounds, a drum of 7.62mm ammo and 2 cases of 7.62 mm rounds.
At approx. 12:30 a.m. July 7, IA Soldiers found additional munitions.


Iraqi Co. SWAT teams capture 5 suspected Special Groups criminals in separate ops

BALAD – July 6, Al-Kut CSWAT arrested 4 suspected Special Groups criminals on Wasit Provincial warrants. The 4 criminals have been implicated in an assassination and intimidation cell. On the night of the op, a Wasit Province prince reportedly was threatened by this cell for having CF at his home. Three additional suspects were detained during the op.
In an op in Al-Hillah, Hillah CSWAT captured an alleged Special Groups criminal suspected of being a weapons smuggler and Special Groups criminal financier.


MND-B Soldiers, ISF discover caches in Rashid

BAGHDAD –  Soldiers from the 1st BCT, 4th ID and members of the Iraqi SF discovered 3 weapons caches July 6 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad, consisting of 2 RPGs, an acetylene tank, 4 RPGs, 2 RPG launchers, 3 rifles, approx. 338 rounds of ammo, an RPG launcher and an 82mm mortar round.


Iraqi, U.S. Engineers partner for long haul

JOINT BASE BALAD – Army engineers across the world face the same challenges each day for soldiers, materials and equipment.  Shortages of repair parts, force protection measures, and limited construction equipment are just some of those challenges. These shared challenges provided the opportunity for 2 engineer units to construct a lasting partnership together.
Together, Soldiers from the 5th Eng. Bn and the 5th IA Eng. Regt in Diyala province constructed an aggressive 6-month training and combined ops partnership, June 5.
“Working with the 5th IA Eng. is my number one priority while here in Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Joel Cross, the cmdr. of the 5th Eng. Bn. “It is a tremendous opportunity to make a difference for Iraq and the sooner they achieve full operational capability the sooner we will be able to go home, permanently.”
In 6 months, the cmdrs. of both units will come back together to re-assess their mission needs and to develop an updated plan for the remaining months of the partnership.
The plan for partnering includes immediate combined ops such as route clearance and road repair. They will also be conducting medical training, basic engineer soldier skills and equipment handling throughout the coming months.
“Our 2 units will part ways after 15 months.  But, we will be able to look back and know that a permanent mark was left that will forever affect the way we operate and train in the future,” said Cross.

Lt. Col Joel Cross shakes hands with Iraqi Col. Raad, the cmdr. of the 5th IA Eng. Regt.

Chief Warrant Officer William Hovater Jr. (right) talks with IA Eng. mechanics about techniques and procedures while the mechanics transfer an engine from a truck.


Soccer Tournament Celebrates Sunni and Shia Unity in Yethrib

By 1st Lt. Jonathan J. Springer
1st BCT, 101st Abn Div

Shouket Rahman, Mayor of Yethrib, shakes the hand of a soccer player from Albu Faras during the opening ceremonies of the Yethrib nahi’a soccer tournament.
Photo by 1st Lt. Jonathan Springer.

YETHRIB — For the people of Yethrib, it has been a long five years.  For over half a decade, the Balad and Yethrib areas have been plagued with sectarian violence that has pitted rival Shiite Muslims and Sunni Arabs against one another. The bloodshed between tribes, at times, had turned into all out warfare that was waged in palm groves and fields near the Tigris River.
Over the course of 2007, the “tribal awakening” began to spread throughout all of Iraq. This awakening saw many high profile Iraqi sheiks turn their backs against the brutality of foreign led fighters and stand up, along with the CF and Iraqi SF, to take back the streets of their homeland.
Because of this dedicated partnership, the sectarian violence that once gripped the Balad and Yethrib region is almost non-existent now, and attacks are down in almost all parts of the area.  With security improving, local citizens have begun taking full advantage of the much improved stability in the country, and many have restarted the political process in their neighborhoods, villages and cities.
On June 30th, teams from al Jamiah and Albu Faras, both small villages near Joint Base Balad, squared off on the soccer field to begin a two-week-long district soccer tournament aimed at promoting unity in the area.  The soccer tournament is a first of its kind in an area of roughly 60,000 people. The tournament is expected to run nightly through July 12th, and will pit over 24 teams from the district in sporting competition against each other for the coveted championship trophy.
“This is the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime that we’ve done something like this. Because of the sectarian violence in the area, we haven’t been able to hold this kind of event since 2003,” said Shouket Rahman, mayor of Yethrib.  Shouket, who was born and raised in Yethrib, said this soccer tournament marks a dramatic turning point for the local villagers in the district.  He said this tournament is momentous because it brings various groups of people together, both Shia and Sunni, to rejoice and commemorate the substantial progress that has been made in the Salah ad Din province. “This soccer tournament is all about unity,” Shouket added. “In the past, many of these men were fighting each other with weapons … but now, they are battling each other on the soccer field.”
To locals in the area, this soccer tournament is more than just a game. They say it is significant because it celebrates their return to normalcy. “Right now, security is the best it’s been in years … this tournament is all about celebrating that,” said Ahmed  Suwod, a 38-year old villager from Albu Hishma, speaking through an interpreter.


King Me

Stars and Stripes reporter James Warden photographs a game of checkers between Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek, cmdr. 1st Bn, 87th Inf Regt, and Hawijah’s SoI contractor Khalaf Ali, in a downtown market, July 1.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Margaret Nelson, 1st BCT, 10th Mtn. Div.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – The first clue that the Tuesday afternoon session in Part 4 of Buffalo City Court is not like other criminal proceedings comes just before it starts.

Judge Robert Russell steps down from his bench and from the aloofness of his black robe. He walks into the gallery where men and women accused of stealing, drug offenses and other non-violent felonies and misdemeanors fidget in plastic chairs.

“Good afternoon,” he says, smiling, and talks for a minute about the session ahead.

With the welcoming tone set, Russell heads back behind the bench, where he will mete out justice with a disarming mix of small talk and life-altering advice.

While the defendants in this court have been arrested on charges that could mean potential prison time and damaging criminal records, they have another important trait in common: All have served their country in the military.

That combination has landed them here, in veterans treatment court, the first of its kind in the country.

Read the whole thing here.