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American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (Jan. 16, 2009) – A new patrol in the U.S. Central Command is working to make it unprofitable to be a pirate, the commander of U.S. Navy Central Command and 5th Fleet said Jan. 15. Acts of piracy have “spiked” off the coast of Somalia with merchant vessels and crews being held for millions in ransom by pirates using AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and ladders to take “low and slow” ships traversing one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Cpl. Cole Daniels, a military policeman assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, train with a shotgun aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio. San Antonio is the command ship for Combined Task Force 151. The task force conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Persian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.

Cpl. Cole Daniels, a military policeman assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, train with a shotgun aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio. San Antonio is the command ship for Combined Task Force 151. The task force conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Persian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.

The pirates come from a clan based on the northern coast of Somalia, Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney said, and they are in it for the money. “The problem of piracy started ashore,” the admiral said during a Pentagon news conference. “It’s because there is no rule of law. There isn’t a government. There isn’t economic stability. There isn’t a court system that will hold these criminals responsible for their actions.” Without a penalty for the Somalis, these clansmen — who are normally fishermen — took to piracy.

“As commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, I directed the establishment of the Maritime Security Patrol Area,” Gortney said. Coalition ships and aircraft patrol the area, but it is a complex operation, and task forces already in place had an existing counterterrorism mission. As a solution, Gortney established Combined Task Force 151 to conduct counter-piracy operations. Nations that are members of the task force “will bring their collective capabilities to bear to deter, to disrupt and eventually to bring to justice these maritime criminals,” he said.

The coalition group works with all concerned nations to deter the pirates and it has had some success. “I think, it’s really a fascinating story to watch unfold as, at this point, 14 nations have sent their navies to work against this destabilizing activity,” he said. This includes Russia and China, which are primarily escorting their own national flag vessels. “That allows us to go focus elsewhere with the rest of the ships that are down there,” Gortney said.

The efforts against piracy focused on three areas: bringing in more international forces, working with the shipping industry to put in place defenses to prevent pirates from successfully getting onboard their vessel, and finding a way to deal with the pirates legally. “When we capture a pirate, where do we take him? Where do we hold him? What court system tries him and holds him?” Gortney asked. [NOT GITMO! They'll cry for him and then let him go!]

“When the activity spiked in the middle of August, we knew … our current process wasn’t working, and we had to take a new look at it,” the admiral said. And it is working. In the last six weeks there have been only four successful piracy attacks, the admiral said. “Dis-incentivizing piracy” is what Gortney calls the missing piece. “The State Department is close on finalizing an agreement with one of the nations out there,” he said. “And once we get that authority, then we’re going to change my orders.”

The orders to the coalition now are to disrupt and deter, but not capture, pirates. “But once we get the authorities, my orders will change to disrupt, deter and capture, and try and hold them accountable for their actions,” he said. “We have to make it unpleasant to be a pirate, and that’s where, when we can capture them and try them and hold them accountable for their actions,” he said.

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ TCU Nation, SGP and Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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This is a great article. This also comes from NGAUS, and it is about a new brain trauma center opening at one of our Naval sites. We are so amazing! Well, actually, they are so amazing! ;)

Ground Broken for Brain Trauma Center at Navy Hospital Site.

The first shovel of dirt was turned Thursday at the site of what will be the military’s premier institute for the study and care of psychological health and traumatic brain injuries. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was joined by other department officials, military leaders and several wounded service members to break ground for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Construction of the $70 million, 75,000-square-foot facility is being funded by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit agency that raises funds to support military service members and families. Completion is planned for November 2009. The project mirrors the organization’s funding and construction last year of a physical rehabilitation facility, The Center for the Intrepid, at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

The facility will serve as the clinical research and educational arm of the Defense Department Center of Excellence for psychological health and TBI. It is a collaborative network of military, private and public health care and educational organizations linked to discover and promote the best practices in the care and treatment of psychological health and TBI.

Gates said the need for such a facility has “never been more pressing or more important.”

More changes will be made at the Bethesda campus as the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in nearby Washington, D.C., begins to close and relocate its services to the Navy hospital. That transition is to be completed by 2011 when the entire facility will be known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

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This is a very special Hero who is close to many of our hearts. He shall surely be remembered forever. He is one of the four Navy SEAL’s who were in that God-foresaken land called Hindu Kush, Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. On this day, he went far above and beyond the call of duty to save his unit. There were four of them, only one survived that deadliest day of the US Forces since Operation Enduring Freedom began.

What this man did was incredible. He was the man on the radio, and they were 10,000 miles high trying to fight the Taliban after being ambushed. Earlier that day, they had accidentally run into a farmer and his son. They had to make a quick decision: Do they let them go so those Afghanis could give away their position, or should they get rid of any witnesses? They let them go, and these ungrateful pieces of trash gave away their position. The fight was a very long one, it lasted for what seemed like forever.

Lt. Murphy knew that if they did not get any help from overhead, they were not going to make it out of there alive. So what did he do? He made sure his unit was covered, and then he made himself a target. He had to go out into the open to get a radio signal, and he did so. He was killed trying to call for help. You can read about this act of heroism in Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell’s book, “Lone Survivor.”

NEOCON EXPRESS.
Photo courtesy of DIG Music.

While I cannot find my copy of the book right now (I’ve been cleaning), it is an incredible book, and I urge you to read it. If you really want to know what it is like to be in the US Armed Forces out there in the middle of nowhere, then this is the book for you.

To learn more about Lt. Michael P. Murphy, please read this:

Hometown: Patchogue, NY
Awarded: Medal of Honor
External Links: Lt. Michael P. Murphy’s Medal of Honor Website.
Download this hero’s story: Right click and “Save Target As…” to download.

We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died
We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived
.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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T. Planck’s Constant: British government cracking down on Fake Religion.
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W. Stop the ACLU: Little Baby Reagan.
Th. Diary of the Mad Pigeon: Lost in Space, Catholic Style.
F. The World According To Carl: Yet Another Example Of Liberal Hypocrisy.
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F. 123beta (F, Wknd): Sweet! Google Reader On Your Desktop.
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W. Maggie’s Notebook (W, Wknd): W. Maggie’s Notebook (W, Wknd).
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D. Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: D. Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker.

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Blackfive (Uncle Jimbo): Operation Redwing tribute- Someones You Should Know.
Right-Wing & Right Minded: Wednesday Hero.

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1. W. Right Truth: PATIENT EVIL – An R.J. Godlewski / Right Truth Blog Exclusive – Chapter Three.
PATIENT EVIL An R.J. Godlewski and Right Truth Blog Exclusive eBook Chapter Three Viper’s Lair, Kerch, Ukraine Muhammad crouched upon the floor, next to his odiferous mattress. Another day had passed without interruption; at least he considered it to be…
2. M. Faultline USA: It’s Either McCain Or . . .
One of the very important things a conservative president can do when Democrats control congress is to appoint federal judges. If leftist Democrats control both the presidency and congress, by 2012 we could have an irreparable disruption in the balance…
3. F. Pirate’s Cove (M, F): Bush Admin Gets Wonky With Polar Bears.
To start off (CNS News) “Although the population of bears has grown from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960s to approximately 25,000 today, our scientists advise me that computer modeling projects a significant population decline by the year…
4. A NEWT ONE: My Letter To My Representatives.
There was a time when the Representatives and Senators actually cared about what their constituents in their respective districts cared about. Not any longer. They care more about deals between each other in order to garner support for their pet proj…
5. Beagle Scout: Reading List: Locke, Montaigne, and Rabelais on Education.
Locke, Montaigne, and Rabelais…

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by Luis P. Valdespino Jr.
CJTF 82 Public Affairs.

KABUL, Afghanistan (April 3, 2008) – The Afghan National Police Central Training Center graduated 24 police officers today from the first course for trauma-assistance personnel taught by U.S. Navy hospital corpsmen. Three Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Navy corpsmen from the ANP Medical Embedded Training Team here taught the eight-week course, which gives the ANP its first personnel certified in basic first aid and medical care skills.

“Just being able to put on a proper (wound) dressing is going to increase the probability of (saving policemen’s lives) tenfold,” said course instructor Petty Officer 1st Class Ed W. Scheinert, an Oxnard, Calif., native deployed to Afghanistan from Naval Station North Island, Calif.

The METT sailors said they modeled the course after the combat medic course taught to Afghan National Army soldiers, because ANP are just as likely as ANA soldiers to have contact with enemy fighters. TAP Class 001 students learned to apply bandages and tourniquets and to correctly give intravenous injections, said Scheinert. They each successfully gave another student an IV injection.

Students said they benefited from the lectures and practical application. Ahmad Fawad, one of two honor graduates, said he believes with confidence that he will be able to help his fellow police in medical emergencies.

Chief Petty Officer Manuel A. Rodriguez, a course instructor originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, and deployed to Afghanistan from the Sewells Point Branch Medical Clinic, Norfolk, Va., said he plans to recommend six graduates to become future course instructors.

The TAP students graduated at a shared ceremony with ANP in other courses at the training center, then held a follow-up ceremony in their classroom. Each TAP graduate received a certificate, a TAP patch to wear on his uniform and a medical kit. “That badge that you’re wearing not only makes you a better (policeman), but (shows) you have the skills to help your fellow police,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Martin V. Aquino, senior enlisted adviser with the Combined Security Transition Command surgeon’s office.

Scheinert said future classes will include ANP, Afghan National Civil Order Police and Afghan Border Police. TAP Class 002 is scheduled to begin April 12, 2008.

Students with the Afghan National Police Trauma Assistance Personnel course treat a fellow policeman’s simulated wounds during the inaugural course at the ANP Central Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Source: CentCom.
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I have watched both of these videos, and I must say they are thrilling. The missile test I wish was a little longer though. Wait until you see an inflight (plane?) land on a ship!

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This is such a great program, please help us to show these wounded Sailors how grateful we are for their unselfish sacrifices. What this program entails is creating for them a life that is closer to the one they used to know before their injuries.

I will be trying to raise more money than the Army, Marines and everyone else! for our Sailors to receive a laptop computer that is voice activated. This way, they can communicate with loved ones through e-mail, blog, keep a diary of their progress, etc.

Soldiers’ Angels started this program a few years back. Won’t you consider saying, “Thank you” by donating today?

<object classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″
codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,0,0&#8243;
WIDTH=”440″
HEIGHT=”240″
id=”gauge”
ALIGN=””>

<embed src=”http://soldiersangels.org/gauge.swf?stage_width=450&stage_height=240&xml_source=http://soldiersangels.org/therm3.php%3Ftime%3D0.26440600+1128349620&#8243;
quality=high
bgcolor=#0000C0
WIDTH=”450″
HEIGHT=”24″
NAME=”gauge”
ALIGN=””
TYPE=”application/x-shockwave-flash”
PLUGINSPAGE=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”&gt;

The white rectangle says, “Make a Donation.” All monies go directly to the program. I receive nothing, and I would not accept anything. This is about them. So come on. Dig deep! We’ve got to beat the other branches, and we are behind. No matter. We always beat them in football, now we need some foot-soldiers to help put us over the top. ;)

Thank you so much for any amount you spare. It all adds up, ya know. :)

Hat tip: Laughing_Wolf over at Blackfive, and Blackfive.

Update: Stix Blog has a very touching, angering, sweet, hard and emotional post that we all must read. For most of us, some of these are photos we’ve seen before. He has tastefully arranged them with commentary included. Please, if you read no other blog today, read this one. Write about it, pass it on, understand it to the best of your ability. This is what these brave men and women do to keep us safe. The least we can do is to honor them.

Update 2: There are other sites for the other branches of our military, and I think it is only right that I provide them for you.

I do have a request from any of you techie guys. I cannot seem to get the code to work here. Would you please help me? Thank you. ;)

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Seriously though, all the money goes into the same program. It’s just fun having a little competition. GO NAVY!

Now to let you know that this is an open trackback. You must come to this site to read this post, but I shall post my URL and trackback over at a site I no longer use. lol. Please, someone, anyone (except porn sites), please trackback here! lol. We are working on the little bug that gives you my URL for this site and the trackback for a site I’m not using anymore. Thank you. ;)

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Source: US CentCom.

22 Sept 07
By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser
2nd Marine Division
.

HADITHA DAM, Iraq — Mention of the U. S. Navy usually conjures images of huge battleships cruising across the oceans, but the Navy is also responsible for much smaller boats and waterways. The Navy has fought on rivers and lakes at home and overseas since its establishment during 1775.

During the War for Independence, sailors fought on tiny boats against the huge warships of the Royal Navy on colonial waterways. The War of 1812 found sailors on the Mississippi River aiding Gen. Andrew Jackson during a major British assault on New Orleans. With the beginning of combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the 1960s, the Navy joined forces with the U.S. Army to form the first Riverine squadron, known at the time as the Mobile Riverine Force.

The Navy officially stood up the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, responsible for fielding a new Riverine force in Iraq, Jan. 13, 2006, in Little Creek, Va. Sailors in the new command began training during June 2006 in preparation for their upcoming deployment. Less than a year later, during March 2007, Riverine Squadron 1, Riverine Group 1, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, deployed to Iraq’s waterways in support of Regimental Combat Team 2, in Al Anbar Province.

Now, for the first time since the Vietnam War, a Navy Riverine unit is wrapping up their tour of duty, turning over their area of operations, and preparing to come home.

When we controlled the rivers during Vietnam, it was a huge hit to the enemy and a major U.S. success. [My bolding.] It’s the same here,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer John V. Flanagan, a damage control chief with the squadron. “Manning boats and guns is the Navy’s job. We just scaled down the boat, the gun, and the size of the operations. It feels good to be the first ones back in this position. Those are big shoes to fill, but I think we did pretty well.”

Flanagan, as well as the other sailors in the unit, commonly referred to as riverines, is pleased with the success the squadron has had in Iraq.

“My measure of success is this, in seven months we’ve only been shot at twice and we never hide. We are doing things right and the enemy stays away. They know if they mess with this unit they will be leveled. It’s the most significant Brown Water Navy contribution to the war so far. They came in, ramped up training and deployed in less than a year. We haven’t lost anyone and we’ve completed every mission. That’s success plain and simple,” said Flanagan, who is serving on his third deployment.

The months leading up to the riverines’ deployment were filled with various schools, exercises and training sessions. Every riverine in the squadron attended the Marine Corps School of Infantry East, in North Carolina. Boat captains and crewmen attended Special Missions Training Command, to learn more about the watercraft. Gunners went through the Marine machine-gunners course, and selected sailors even attended the Defense Language Institute for an Iraqi immersion course. Riverines assigned to Maritime Interdiction Operations Teams, a ground combat element, went through a specialized combat course provided by Blackwater, a private civilian security firm. In addition, most of the riverines also completed a combat lifesaver course.

“The training was great,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Bennett, a boat captain with Detachment 3, Riverine Squadron 1. “Before we deployed, we met some of the riverines who served during Vietnam, and they emphasized the importance of what we are doing and got us excited about coming. Then, when we got here, the Marine Dam Security Unit trained us and prepped us for the takeover of (Haditha Dam). We’ve been set up for success since day one, and when we got her,e we just wanted to work and help out. We wanted to leave our footprint and get experience.”

The riverines are responsible for the security of the Haditha Dam, but in addition, they work with other units within the regiment on various combined arms operations.

“We’ve worked with Marine Anglico guys, They were awesome. We provided support for the Navy Seals sometimes. We worked a lot with the regiment’s Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, doing blocking positions and sweeps, and provide security for various units,” said Bennett, a 35-year-old Seguin, Texas, native. “A lot of times, we transported people and gear, because the waterways are safer than roads to travel on. Once, we even worked with the Air Force on an operation. We don’t care, we just want to help out.”

Many of the riverines say their new role in the war has given them a better perspective for the type of life a Marine or soldier might have, and most of them are happy to share that warrior heritage.

“We definitely have more appreciation for Marines, soldiers, and groundpounders in general,” laughed Bennett.

“We are proud of the fact that the only difference between us and the guys on the ground is the water under our boat. We share hardships, we know what that type of lifestyle entails, and we’re proud to have a claim in that,” agreed Flanagan. “There’s no rivalry or bickering, because we’ve been trained by everyone, Marine, Army, Navy, even civilians, its one team, one fight.”

Photo – Navy riverines with Detachment 1, Riverine Squadron 1, Riverine Group 1, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command man their machineguns during a patrol on the Euphrates River. The squadron was stood up, trained, and deployed in less than a year, and is the first Navy riverine unit to be deployed since the Vietnam War. Photo by Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser.

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While I did not write this article, Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser did, I believe it one that should be shared. Our men have done well since their inception of the Navy (and all other branches), and it is about time we all stood up and said so. Let’s support our men and women. Pass this story along.

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Source: US CentCom.

19 Sept 07
By Sgt. Anthony Guas
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)
.

AL QAIM, Iraq — Just like a guide dog helps a blind person or a ground guide assists a heavy equipment operator, air traffic controllers are on the ground to help pilots. Wherever there are Marine Corps aircraft[s] flying, there are air traffic controllers ensuring that the pilots know when they can take off or land, how to approach the airfield, or what is in the airspace.

For Al Qaim, those are the controllers of Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team for Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Detachment C.

“The mission of any air traffic controller, whether it be back in the states or here, is the expeditious flow of traffic into or out of our airspace,” said Staff Sgt. Jimmy Houser Jr., MMT leader for MACS-1, Detachment C. “Here it’s all helicopters, we don’t have a runway for any fixed wing aircraft.”

The controllers are responsible from the surface of Al Qaim to 3,000 feet, 5 nautical miles from the center of the airfield. They are split into six-hour shifts in which they land and depart as many as 20 helicopters a day.

“We de-conflict any type of flight into or out, (unarmed aerial vehicles), weather balloons all that stuff,” said Houser.

Since the size of Al Qaim does not accommodate fixed wing aircraft, the controllers spend their time dealing with just helicopters. The limited number of aircraft operating in and out of Al Qaim makes the operational tempo for the controllers a little slower than usual.

“The traffic here is slow, we do just over 40 operations a day,” said Houser. “Most of the Marines are from (Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.) and I’m from (MCAS Yuma, Ariz.), which are two of the busiest airports in the Navy and Marine Corps so we are used to 40 operations in an hour and we do that in a 24-hour period here.”

The slower operational tempo allows Marines like Cpl. Blaze Crawford, who previously worked in radar, an opportunity to wet his feet working in the tower.

“It’s new, when I first started I didn’t know the aircrafts flight and where they were going to come in, I had no clue what was going on because I never see them in radar,” explained Crawford. “When I’m in the radar room I’m in a box, I don’t see them, they are a dot. It’s exciting to actually see what I’m doing.”

Although the operational tempo may be slower, the Marines are determined to give their best effort by increasing the quality of air traffic control that they provide.

“We’re doing great so far,” said Sgt. Nicholas Foster, air traffic controller, MACS-1. “I’m glad that it’s such a small group of guys. It could be bad because there could be one or two that don’t know the job, but we kind of lucked out in that we are all kind of seasoned. Nobody has to baby-sit anybody, everyone knows their job, they know what they have to do, they know the Marine Corps.”

While battling the normal difficulties of a deployment, the ATC Marines also have an added number of obstacles that they must hurdle on a daily basis.

“What makes the job difficult here is limited visibility and limited equipment,” explained Houser. “Basically the austere environment and the wear and tear of the gear.”

Despite the lack of accommodations to do their job, the Marines are adjusting to their environment and compensate for the shortfalls by increasing their proficiency in other areas.

“The Marines study the airspace as much as they can,” explained Houser. “There are a couple of different things that you can learn around here.”

Whether it is reading manuals or memorizing the rules for the airfield, the controllers are always working hard to ensure that they are a positive source of information for the aircraft pilots.

“There is a manual that teaches you everything about the airfield, a course rules brief that tells all the pilots how to get into and out of the airspace, what we expect them to do,” said Houser. “As long as we continue to train to everything in the airspace, train on the radio, train on the equipment to pass information whether it be mIRC (Internet Relate Chat), (e-mail), that’s how we compensate for some of the shortfalls.”

Another service that the controllers provide is navigational aid when there is inclement weather or limited visibility. To ensure that the navigational aid is always ready the MMT has a technician on call 24 hours a day.

“We provide tactical aid navigation for aircraft to find the airfield in case of inclement weather or some type of outage or shortage,” Houser explained. “(The tactical aid mechanic) provides service to that (system) 24 hours a day.”

Although they are a small air traffic control team and their mission is smaller than usual, the Marines know that they are having positive influence on the mission in Al Qaim.

“I think its great that we’re out here, normally if there is any type of a Marine aircraft flying there’s always a Marine air traffic controller that’s talking to them,” explained Houser. “We do play a vital role when it comes to the (medical evacuations), getting them out as quick as possible. That’s probably the best feeling that we have, knowing that there’s troops in contact, we need to get a gunship out or there’s somebody injured and we need to get them medevaced into or out of the airspace.”

Photo – Sgt. Nicholas Foster, air traffic controller for Marine Air Control Squadron-1, looks on the mIRC (Internet Relate Chat) for information on incoming flights to Al Qaim, Aug. 31, 2007. Foster is part of the Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team that manages the airspace in Al Qaim. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas.

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29 Aug 07
By Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich, II
Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
.

HABBANIYAH, Iraq – When a group of American military advisors deployed to Iraq and took over a small combat outpost on the outskirts of town recently, they knew the task ahead might get tough, but each day would be rewarding. The Marines and sailors that make up Military Transition Team 13, working alongside the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are increasing the security of the area and the quality of life for local residents as well.

They operate out of a dusty, war-faced outpost named the OK Corral. They usually work long hours, patrolling streets with Iraqi soldiers or standing post overlooking the Euphrates River. They cook each meal themselves, because there is no chow hall to feed the 14 Marines, two corpsmen and company of Iraqi soldiers. They have learned to adapt, dealt with sweltering heat and braved the roadways of a foreign land.

Many of the men of MTT 13 have been to Iraq before, making them ideal candidates for an advisory team. The soldiers that make up 1st Battalion are veteran war fighters as well; hardened by battles past, experienced in combat operations. Perhaps that is why the people in this area trust the Iraqi soldiers.

Habbaniyah acts as a corridor in a crucial area, known as Jazerria, located between the once terrorist safe heaven cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. Nowadays, people go about their lives freely while searching for jobs, attending schools, plowing fields and shopping in crowded markets without fear of being shot in the crossfire of combat.

“The IAs have won the trust of the people,” said Cpl. Jason Syvrud an infantryman attached to MTT 13. “People see that they’re here, the area is safe, they are happy that their families aren’t at risk anymore. The IA is here to help the whole country and get this back on its feet. The people are loving to see the change. The country as a whole is trying to rebuild.”

Syvrud is only 22, but is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. He has been in cities where it was difficult to trust the citizens. But now he has seen a significant change in the war and in the people. He feels pride in his advisory role, knowing each day is bringing comfort to strangers he once felt uncomfortable around.

“I’ve seen in the three times I’ve been here this country has done a complete 180. It’s gone from everyone not knowing what to do and being scared to do anything, to them starting to come out and finding out what a democratic society would be like,” he said. “Now, they are really trying to get involved. They are building their schools up, they’re building up the mosques, their homes. They’re trying to find jobs. It looks more and more like a typical American rural area. The majority of the people seem happy. They’re doing what they have to do to survive and building a life out of this.”

Safety is what brings out the smiles and trust of the townspeople Syvrud said. The locals are involved with the Iraqi Army now. They help locate possible terrorists. They have begun to rebuild their community by fixing up schools, roads and mosques. The province is still early in reconstruction efforts, but the transition seems to be working as planned.

Getting the soldiers to understand the benefits of civil engagements, such as the civil medical engagements, is a priority for MTT 13 team chief, Lt. Col. Thomas Hobbs. Transition teams have assisted in several CMEs, which provide medical care to people who would normally have to travel to Ramadi to see a doctor. With more than 16 years of experience in the Marine Corps, Hobbs said focusing on civil affairs can not only counter the insurgent’s propaganda, but win the hearts and minds of law-abiding citizens.

“This battalion tends to be very focused on conventional operations. What I mean by that is in a counter-insurgency environment they are enamored with cache sweeps, security patrolling,” Hobbs said. “They should be focusing on civil affairs information operations and focusing on the population as a whole. The security level right now allows for that, so I’m trying to teach them to think in that manner.”

Hobbs praised the Iraqi company commanders for understanding the impact civil affairs has on the war efforts. “They have been very willing to get out and meet the population and doing civil affairs projects on their own, even without money. We’ve been really successful in getting the companies to move and they’re actually initiating a lot of things I want to change or make better,” he said.

Hobbs said the predominately Shiite Army has been received with open arms by the Anbari locals, who are mainly Sunni. A huge reason for this may lie in the idea of getting his team of advisors to stress the importance of making the population comfortable to Iraqi leaders. It is his philosophy that if the people are happy and satisfied with their life, then the terrorists will no longer have the ability to move freely within the community. He said the company and platoon leaders have begun to buy into the civil affairs mindset. As a result, the city has not seen any escalation in force in more than two months.

The soldiers of 1-3-1 can fight, that has been proven during the past year and a half of combat operations. Hobbs said the battalion is known throughout the Iraqi Army for its ability to engage and defeat the enemy, and that is what the terrorists should realize. The mission now is to concentrate on keeping this rural area safe and prospering. The smiles on children are evidence enough that the plan is working.

“I feel proud when I look around and see the kids and people smiling,” Syvrud said. “They’re happy when the Army and Marines come walking around, they aren’t afraid of us anymore. They’re happy with themselves, they’re happy with the environment around them and they’re striving to get better. They’re not just satisfied with things, they want it better, just like any American does.”

Photo – Lt. Col. Thomas Hoobs, team chief for Military Transition Team 13, talks to members of the Iraqi Security Forces during an inspection of a local bridge. Keeping roadways safe and drivable not only helps navigation of anti-terrorist traffic, but is part of a wider ranging civil affairs mission of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

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22 Aug 07
Cpl. Rick Nelson
2nd Marine Division
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BARWANAH, Iraq – Progress continues to be made in Al Anbar Province. A city once threatened by small arms fire, populace intimidation, improvised explosive devices and snipers is experiencing a renaissance.

This renaissance is due to the continued presence of the Marines assigned to Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2 in and around the town, and the recent build up of Iraqi Security Forces.

“When we first got here things were running very slow and not many stores were open, but now a lot of new businesses are opening and people seem to be a lot more friendly and helpful with us,” said Sgt. Anthony C. Galloway, a section leader with Weapons Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2.

Galloway, a veteran of the Battle of Fallujah has seen combat at its most intense but was still a little reserved upon his arrival in country. “You never know what to expect when entering a combat zone,” said Galloway . “I was imagining it was going to be just like my first deployment to Iraq, which was all out war and nothing but combat.” This deployment has been less intense than what Galloway experienced two years ago, but there have been numerous challenges faced by 1/3. It takes time to win over the local populace, but Galloway has noticed a big change since Alpha Company first arrived here and is impressed by the way the local people have taken to his Company.

“You can tell a lot by the attitude of the local people,” said Galloway. “They give information to us about terrorists or suspected insurgents, when they couldn’t before for fear of their lives. With the stability of the city though, the local people have such freedom now to give the Marines information.”

Lance Cpl. Bryan P. Stutts, a machine gunner in the Company, has also noticed how the local populace seems to be much more accepting of the Marines. “They seem to be very thankful for the security we provide. A lot of times they will come out to say hello, or give us sodas while we’re on a patrol,” said Stutts. “That’s the one thing that stands out, the people. This is my first deployment, but I didn’t expect the people to be so friendly, they’re awesome.”

Stutts said although the situation has improved, he still remains aware of the enemy. “Even though I feel safe here, I still keep my guard up and keep the mindset in case the time comes when we do get contact,” said Stutts, a Texas native. “You never know when you may go around a corner and get blown up or take contact.”

Cpl. Anthony P. Mitchell, an intelligence analyst with the Company, said due to a berm that was built around the city in December as a part of Operation Majid, the IEDs inside the city are rare. “A lot of the caches were found along the edge of the Euphrates,” said Mitchell. “We don’t see them nearly as much due to the increase of the company’s patrols in the area.” Mitchell went on to explain another reason for the success seen today was due to the units who operated in Barwanah prior to 1/3’s arrival.

“The Marines from second Battalion, third Marines and second Battalion, fourth Marines had a big mission to secure the city. By the time Alpha Company arrived, it already had much, not all, of the qualities and stability we see today,” said Mitchell, a native of Burlington, Colo. “The problem we faced when we arrived here was maintaining that stability and building the Iraqi Police and Army force.”

Prior to April, the Iraqi police force in Barwanah was minor, both in size and impact. However, with the help of the local community leaders, specifically the mayor and city council chairman, the force’s size has increased significantly. It currently stands at 150. Their presence, as much as the Marines, has been a driving force behind this new found progress.

“The Iraqi Police in Barwanah are all locals from the area, so they’re able to know who the bad guys are,” said Mitchell. “This makes it a lot easier for us when it comes time to detain the people because the Iraqi Police know exactly who they are and where to find them.”

The population is now able to enjoy its city and spend more time outdoors. “At night, children will play soccer until the 11 p.m. curfew. I don’t know many American parents who would feel comfortable allowing their eight or nine-year-old child to stay out that late,” said the 21-year-old Mitchell. There has been a strong connection made between the Marines, sailors, Iraq Security Forces, and people of Barwanah. This connection has shut down the insurgency within the city and uplifted progress.

Photo – Sgt. Anthony C. Galloway, section leader, 1st Squad, 4th Platoon, Alpha Company, 1/3 briefs his Marines while holding security at a bridge in Barwanah. Photo by: Cpl. Rick Nelson.

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