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Archive for October 1st, 2007

Source: CentCom.

This article is especially special to me, since the guy I’ve been talking to is over there to do the same thing. These guys do a great job, and they also go through many hardships. Personally, I pray for everyone over there not to have survivors guilt.

11 Sept 07
by Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs
.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan (AFPN) — Afghan instructors are training Afghan national police officers in a series of security forces classes here, while two American Airmen provide watchful mentorship. The Afghan national police sustainment training is a giant step forward for the future of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan military, said Staff Sgt. Daniel Smith, Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team’s police technical adviser.

Sergeant Smith and Senior Airman Zackary Osborne, both deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., are mentors for the instructors.

“From this point on, the Afghans will have a more active role in the development of their police and security forces,” he said. “In the past, coalition and government forces supplied the training to the Afghans, but now, as the instructors receive qualification, we can step back and let them train themselves.”

The month-long classes cover a wide variety of security-related topics, such as arresting procedures and riot control, and are required by all first-year officers. Once the course is completed, the police officers are no longer considered “rookies” and are given a pay raise.

Already, Sergeant Smith said, he can see a difference within the classroom. “The students’ attention is held when the Afghans are instructing,” he said. “They go through the material a lot faster, since nobody has to pause and wait for an interpreter to translate everything. And we can see how they are catching onto things a lot faster. At this point, all that we (Americans) do is stand back, observe and give suggestions every now and then. They are running the show.”

The instructors were trained by a U.S. government-contracted security firm at the Regional Training Center in Jalalabad, a city east of Laghman Province where forward operating base Mehtar Lam is located. In a few months, construction will be complete on a provincial training center near the FOB, so more instructors can become trained and qualified locally.

“We will be able to hold our classes there at the PTC, rather than inside a tent on the FOB,” said Sergeant Smith. “There all their training needs can take place.” These classes are only part of the Laghman PRT’s mission, which serves to provide international aid to the area via security backed by national and coalition forces, reconstruction projects and humanitarian aid delivery. They are also responsible for disarming and demobilizing militia forces and terrorist activity throughout the region with the help of the locals.

“I’m extremely proud of what my Airmen are doing here with the Afghan military and the Afghan police,” said Lt. Col. Robert Ricci, the PRT commander deployed from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. “They have allowed the local authorities to expand their capabilities for security, and because of that, Laghman Province is a lot safer and that allows all of us to work harder to get this province, this country, on its feet.”

Photo – Staff Sgt. Zachary Osborne listens as Afghan National Police instructor Maj. Muhammad Omar teaches a class on patrol procedures to Afghan National Auxiliary Police trainees Sept. 3 at forward operating base Mehtar Lam in Afghanistan’s Laghman province. Sergeant Osborne is an Air Force security forces member deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. He is assigned to the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team police technical advisory team and works as a mentor to the Afghan instructors. The course is now being taught entirely by ANP instructors. The PTAT’s role has now shifted to monitoring the course’s progress and mentoring the ANP instructors. U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

May God be with all of them, and may no one need comforting…

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Source: CentCom.

These men and women are the people that don’t really get many kudos, except maybe from the troops. They are the ones who are behind the scenes making sure that all the repairs necessaey are done and done well.

10 Sept 07
By Sgt. Anthony Guas
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)
.

AL ASAD — Whether it is building or renovating, combat engineers are always working hard to ensure that service members have what they need to make work or life a little better. Recently, the Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 took on a mission that has an affect on service members throughout Iraq.

The engineers of MWSS-271 have started the Rapid Runway Repair project, which is designed to fix problem areas on Al Asad’s runways. “The problem is that there are holes in the runway from where the concrete expands and contracts from the heat and it starts breaking up,” explained Sgt. David Poole, a combat engineer for MWSS-271. “When you have holes in the flightline, the planes have trouble landing or taxiing.” The repair on Aug. 11 was the second of many upcoming repairs that will be conducted by the 271 engineers. The repairs are completed in small sections, so that they do not interfere with normal operations.

“We go in and cut out the portion that is starting to come up where there are holes and we jackhammer all the stuff out and put in pavement, which is runway repair material,” said Poole. “It gives it a solid surface and stops it from cracking.”

The engineers have primarily been focused on minor projects around the base, before starting on the runway repair. “We have been building SWA huts, gyms for units, a detention facility for (the Provost Marshal’s Office), just small construction projects,” said Poole. “It’s a big change, definitely different. It’s part of our job and I feel like I’m really doing my job out here doing (runway repair) because I know it means something.”

Although the MWSS-271 engineers have primarily been tasked with small projects, their performance during the first runway repair was the catalyst for more work. “They finally decided to give us a shot at it to see how we could do it, and we ended up doing it ahead of schedule,” Poole explained. “We had two nights allotted to us on the flight line, where they shut it down for us, and it didn’t even take one full night. So now they see that we can and we are going to be repairing a lot more.”

Just like any other group of Marines in the Corps, the engineers attribute teamwork to their success. “Everyone gets along well and knows their job” said Poole. “It’s all planned out before we get out there, so everybody knows exactly what they will be doing and when they’ll be doing it.”

If planes cannot land or taxi, then supplies cannot get where they need to be in a timely matter. The engineers understand and relish the fact that repairing the runway is essential to the overall mission here. “(Rapid runway repair) is one of the only projects that’s an asset to the (whole) base,” said Cpl. Jessica Torelli, a combat engineer for MWSS-272. “We usually work fast and efficiently. When things need to be done, we work together pretty well.”

The first two projects went well and the engineers plan on continuing their success, according to Poole. “We have a couple more missions signed up and all the Marines are excited.” said Poole. “This is important to the overall mission in Iraq, it’s not like building a desk for somebody. We are doing something that is going to be noticed and needed for the mission.”

Photo – Cpl. David Strathman, a drafting and survey technician for Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 and Lance Cpl. Zach Brown, a combat engineer for MWSS-271 jackhammer a piece of runway that is being replaced, August 11. The combat engineers are repairing areas of the flightline that have holes as part of the Rapid Runway Repair project. Photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas.

God bless them, each and every one. It takes all of them to complete the missions, and they are important, too.

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Source: CentCom.

This is an article that has me all choked up again. The well-spoken Soldiers who are but young men, the spirit, the purpose, sureality of it all. Please read this, even though I am late posting it.

11-Sept-07
By Sgt. Jim Wilt, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – At 5:16 p.m., the only sounds that could be heard here were the distant drone of helicopter rotors and the flap of flags in the wind.

In the United States, it was 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, six years to the minute after a plane hijacked by terrorists struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

For one minute, servicemembers attending a memorial ceremony here were silent.

For one minute, these servicemembers honored those who perished that fateful day.

For one minute, these servicemembers honored those who fought back on a plane.

For one minute, these servicemembers were reminded why they are here.

“The world that was behind me when I went into school that morning was gone forever, and the new one waiting for me that afternoon was wildly different,” said Army Sgt. Gregory J. Barbaccia during a speech at a ceremony commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Barbaccia was a 17-year-old high school student in lower Manhattan when the attacks happened. Barbaccia, who is now 23 and serving here, was one of several speakers at the memorial. His speech revealed his memories of Sept. 11, 2001. “Downtown that day looked like exactly what it was, a war zone,” Barbaccia said. He painted a vivid picture of what that war zone looked like with his words.

“A layer of ash covered the streets and a cacophony of alarms refused to cease. I remember the 60-block walk home where my friends and I walked north up the middle of 6th Avenue, which was completely void of all traffic, except for sporadic rescue vehicles from neighboring counties with unfamiliar demarcations rushing downtown, their sirens piercing the eerie silence. Crowds of people gathered outside any establishment with a television, standing like statues in anesthetized silence,” he said.

“From virtually all points in Manhattan, one could look to the south and see a huge plume of smoke hovering over the rubble where two towers once stood, two majestic American symbols, symbols representing both commerce in the free world and democracy,” Barbaccia added.

For Barbaccia and his friends, the impact of what happened didn’t hit him until the evening of the 11th. “When the death toll was repeated that evening in the media, my friends began grasping the horror that their parents might not be coming home,” he said. “As for me, in that strange and surreal moment, the die was cast,” Barbaccia said. “A seed in my mind was deeply planted and roots already taking hold.”

Following the attacks, Barbaccia said, he and his friends spent their time handing out supplies to rescue workers near “Ground Zero.” “In my enthusiasm and focus to do what I could, there was no discerning morning from afternoon or day from night,” he said. “Just knowing that I was there to serve, I was there to show my gratitude, I was there to say, ‘Yes, I believe.’ “We kept handing supplies to the unending convoy heading into the abyss, and the people kept cheering,” Barbaccia said.

The terrorist attacks left their mark on Barbaccia as they left their marks on many others. “I’ll never forget the acrid smell, the fearful and numbed look on people’s faces, the sounds and the sour taste in my mouth,” he said. Those memories led him to join the Army. “I knew it was my duty to wear this uniform,” he said. “America needed help, and life in (America) has been very good to me, and I wanted to give back.”

“Due to the way my father raised me and the strong service ethic instilled in me from my high school, I always felt it was my duty to serve, only I was unsure in what capacity,” said Barbaccia, who also has had two tours in Iraq. “The violence of the Sept. 11 attacks helped me decide to join the military.”

Six years after the attacks, Barbaccia said he believes fighting terrorism in Afghanistan is the right thing to do. “The Taliban had tyrannical rule over this country and robbed its citizens of inherent rights and freedom,” he said.

During the ceremony, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, the Combined Joint Task Force 82 deputy commanding general for operations said Barbaccia “represents the highest quality” of servicemember. Votel also voiced his own feelings on the events. “I can recall how angry I was that someone could perpetrate an attack on our country,” he said.

Army Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, the International Security Assistance Force deputy director for security, said he was struck by Barbaccia’s speech. The attacks were “our generation’s Pearl Harbor,” Champoux said. “Events that day changed us as a person and as a nation,” he said.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Hayes, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing safety superintendent, was at Ground Zero the day of the attacks. Hayes, who is part of the New York Air National Guard, was a fire fighter aiding in the rescue efforts. “My main focus was to rescue as many people as possible,” he said. “We worked and worked until we couldn’t work anymore.” “My wife didn’t know if I was dead or alive,” he said. Today was an emotional day for many people. Hayes said he had a lump in throat all day.

In his closing remarks, Barbaccia echoed the thoughts of many servicemembers. “That morning terrorists gave their lives to cause those attacks,” he said. “So here we stand, six years later, prepared to give ours to prevent further ones.”

Photo – Army Sgt. Gregory J. Barbaccia, who was in New York during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, gives a speech at the Combined Joint Task Force 82 Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2007. Barbaccia, 23, was in school in lower Manhattan during the attacks. Photo by Sgt. Jim Wilt.

What nation are we to be blessed with such men as this?
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I am going to tell you about the struggles I am having with my left hand. A few days ago, it was working fine. I found myself sleeping at the computer again, and I had lost the feeling in my hand. Well, not actually the feeling because it was tingling, but I could not move my fingers.

I have had 3 strokes before, so I know the symptoms. It was not stroke related. It is not even related to my fingers, oddly enough. The problem starts with my wrist. I can find pressure points all up and down my arm and even underneath my arm! Crazy how our bodies are connected.

I’ve still not gone to a doctor, but my fingers seem to be regaining strength. I can actually pick something up now, as long as I don’t have to raise it over my head. I have a suspicious it may be only a slight bit of tendinitis. I’ve been trying to rest my hand by using just one finger. lol.

The odd thing is I cannot use my thumb. This is also affecting my movements in my wrist as far as peripheral reach. (The area of stretchability or reach.)

So there’s really no big story here. I’m fine. I’m sure my wrist will be back in action soon. Until then, I have some really cool military stories that I have permission to copy/paste. If you choose to ‘borrow’ any of them, please give the credit to the person(s) who actually wrote the article. You could also be kind enough to let people know where you found it. 😉

Well, I guess that’s it. Not too much to it, eh? That’s the GOOD news! Have a great day.

PS. I have reached 3000 hits on my blogger site, but I do not know who to give credit for it. Therefore, I shall give the post the credit, and all who came to visit my blogger site. It is one of my Military sites posts which I have permission to copy/paste their articles, so please give the person who actually wrote the article credit if you chose to ‘borrow’ any of them. Thank you.

UPDATE: 18. Leaning Straight Up: San Francisco’s Anti Military Disease Spreads to Oakland. A MUST READ, says me. Toll free to the Capitol: 866-340-9281. Do the right thing.

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