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Coalition Turns Over An Najaf to Iraqis




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New 2007 Monthly Pay Table
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Soldiers Get Kid Rock for Christmas

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Volume I, Issue 3

“Telling the MND-Baghdad Story”

Monday, Jan. 8, 2007

(Photo courtesy of 4th Bn., 31st Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI))

Iraqi troops with the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, dig into a cache site near Janabi Village, Iraq Dec. 18.

Polar Bears Net Caches
By Spc. Chris McCann 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — A joint operation south of the Iraqi capital seized weapons caches and detained several suspected terrorists near Janabi Village, Iraq Dec. 18. The ‘Polar Bears’ of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, along with elements of the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, conducted the operation, aimed at denying anti-Iraqi forces sanctuary in the area. Soldiers from Company A, 4-31st, as well as Iraqi troops, air-assaulted into the village to conduct the raid. A ten-minute small-arms fire engagement ensued before anti-Iraqi forces broke contact and fled. Soldiers searched a house they suspected the gunmen were in, but did not find them. Another small-arms engagement broke out several hours later, but again the AIF broke contact and fled before the Polar Bears and IA could arrive. owever, a tip from an area resident led the troops to a high-value target who was caught in the act of escaping and detained. In total, seven suspects were detained for questioning. Two caches were found in the operation. One contained a Belgian-made 7.62mm rifle, two bolt-action Mauser rifles, three rocket-propelled grenade launchers and one homemade RPG launcher. Another cache was found in the reed line along a canal. It contained two phone chargers, a cell phone, a 60mm mortar system, six 60mm rounds, two 82mm mortar rounds, a glue gun, a damaged machine gun, a mortar sight, a box of rivets, two anti-tank rockets, four anti-personnel rockets, 100 rounds of 7.62mm rounds, 109 hand grenades, 100 feet of electrical cord, two spools of wire, batteries and propane tanks. A third cache was uncovered by Iraqi troops near the village containing two improvised explosive devices ready to be placed and additional IED-making materials.
(Photo by Warrant Officer Don Ellibee, 4th BCT (ABN), 25th Inf. Div.)

A Warm Heart Meets Cold Hands
Col. Michael Garrett, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, helps a little Iraqi girl put on her new gloves Dec. 16. The commander and his team have been donating hats, gloves and school supplies to the children in the brigade’s area of operations south of Baghdad.

Soldiers Support Iraqi Medical Mission
299th FSB, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. BAGHDAD – Providing medical support to residents of the Bakariya neighborhood is one way Iraqi and U.S. troops are demonstrating their willingness to protect and provide for Iraqi citizens. A joint medical operation Dec. 9 at a local elementary school saw a crowd of local citizens lining up to be seen by the military health care professionals. Soldiers from Company C, 299th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, teamed with 1st Battalion, 23 Infantry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, to assist the Iraqi Army during this operation. Pfc. Eliza Sabo and Sgt. Heidi Taylor, both medics with Co. C, helped to provide treatment, medications, personal care items, and even some toys for many

(Photo by Capt. Jared Dean, Co. C, 299th FSB, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div.)

Spc. Christopher Lopez, Company C, 299th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, hands out dental supplies to local Iraqi children during a medical operation Dec. 9. extraction. They also handed out plenty local women and children. Spc. Christopher Lopez and Capt. of dental floss and toothbrushes. During the brief operation, the Iraqi Jared Dean provided instruction on oral hygiene, and handed out medication, in and American Soldiers helped more than addition to providing limited tooth 35 smiling villagers.

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Jan. 8, 2007

A Year of Transition

Making a Difference on Freedom’s Frontier
Only a few months removed from our stateside homes, the ringing in of the New Year makes me reflect on the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and the hope we carry to the Iraqi people. We all take the freedoms we enjoy as Americans for granted, until we leave the comfort of our homes and see the simple truth, here in Iraq, that freedom isn’t free. Sacrifice and selfless service got us to this point. For the 1st Cavalry Division, 2006 saw the division complete it’s transformation into a new modular model, where brigade combat teams can take on battle space independent of their division headquarters, if need be. We also saw our aviators complete a humanitarian mission in Pakistan, assisting tens of thousands of people devastated by an earthquake, even as they prepared themselves for the mission here in the Iraqi capital. Our formations trained – and trained hard to bring us to this point. We certified that preparation with rotations to training centers at Fort Irwin, Calif., and Fort Polk, La. We spend countless hours on the ranges, MOUT sites and training area at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas. We all said good-bye to loved ones, tearful farewells frozen in time until we return to tears of joy at our return. We came to Iraq prepared to do battle, aided in that effort by our brothers and sisters from the 4th Infantry Division, who shared their lessons learned during the course of
Commanding General: Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr. Public Affairs Officer: Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl Command Information Supervisor: Master Sgt. Dave Larsen Print NCOIC: Staff Sgt. Mary Rose Editor: Sgt. Nicole Kojetin Contributing Writers: Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, Sgt. Jon Cupp, Sgt. Robert Strain, Sgt. Cheryl Cox, Spc. Alexis Harrison, Spc. Nathan Hoskins, Spc. Sheena Reyes, Cpl. Robert Yde, Spc. L.B. Edgar, Spc. Ryan Stroud, Pfc. Ben Fox, Pfc. Jeffery Ledesma Contact Crossed Sabers at VOIP 242-4093, or DSN 318-847-1855 or e-mail or
Crossed Sabers is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of Crossed Sabers are not necessarily official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Army or the First Cavalry Division. All editorial content of Crossed Sabers is prepared, edited, provided and approved by the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Office and posted on the First Team website at

Pegasus 6 Sends
Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr.
their year here in Baghdad. In the short time since we've been here we completed a seamless transition of authority, worked tirelessly to assist the good people of Iraq, we've fought a ruthless enemy, and witnessed the first transition of provincial control to the citizens of Najaf. The New Year holds more challenges for MND-B. We look forward to provincial control of Babil, Karbala, and Baghdad going to the Iraqis. We will continue to train and work closely with the Iraqi security forces throughout our area of operation, setting the security conditions to allow the Iraqi people to realize their full potential. Our strength is in our resolve. Our greatest asset is our troops. Our goal is simple, yet the road ahead won’t be easy. 2007 will be a year of transition, as Iraqi security forces take the lead in securing the peace and prosperity of their nation. We will assist in setting the conditions for the government of Iraq to operate free from terror. We will take a stand against the sectarian violence and deny terrorists, thugs and

radicals safe haven in our areas, capturing and killing them when necessary. I applaud your service, and I mourn the sacrifice we’ve already laid on the altar of freedom. The cost is steep, yet we all know this is a fight for freedom. We’ve seen tremendous support from our families and friends on the home front during the holiday season. Whether it was baked goods or a simple holiday greeting card to a lonely, young

trooper, the outpouring of support for our Soldiers from the American people was amazing. You deserve it. You, the Soldiers of the Multi-National Division – Baghdad, are performing magnificently. This New Year will call on your continued courage, vigilance and dedication to duty. I know that you are all up to the job ahead. We are the right team at the right time. First Team!

Spur of the Moment
“What are your hopes for the coming year?”
"To make it back home safety to my family." Staff Sgt. Jaime Ibarra
Troop B, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment

"I hope that we have a more peaceful time here in Iraq." Pfc. Ronald Russell,
Troop D, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment Troops Bn.

(Photos by Sgt. Cheryl Cox, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

"I hope to stay alive and for all my guys to stay alive." Spc. Chuck Hewitt
Troop B, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment

"… to quit smoking." Spc. Kenneth Leonard
Company A, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion

"I hope to get promoted and hope that everyone has a good year." Spc. Thomas Solis
Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment

Jan. 8, 2007

Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division discovered multiple weapons caches on the outskirts of southern Baghdad Dec. 19. The first cache they uncovered consisted of 15 60mm mortar rounds, 11 82mm mortar rounds, one long range rifle bolt, body armor, one musket, one mortar base plate, one bipod, 33 small caliber mortar rounds, one belt of 7.62 ammunition, one arc welder, one barrel, one barrel with welding supplies, several pairs of battle dress uniforms, one spool of red detonation cord, one rocket-propelled grenade booster, one bag of shotgun shells and a container of long range rifle rounds. Upon further investigation, the paratroopers found another cache a short distance away consisting of one arc welder, one 14.5mm anti-aircraft weapon with welded pineal adapter, one 12.7mm anti-aircraft weapon with welded pineal adapter, one pound of C4 explosive, one RPK assault rifle, seven 50-caliber rounds, ten pairs of Iraqi army boots, one arc welder on wheels, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher, one rocket-propelled grenade round booster, one assault rifle barrel, a vehicle mount, 28 60mm mortar rounds, three 82mm mortar rounds, body armor, and more long range rifle rounds. After the second cache was found, the paratroopers widened their search area and found a third and final cache of the day hidden inside a 55-gallon drum. This cache contained eight 82mm mortar rounds, 500 rounds of 7.62mm tracer ammunition, one explosive-formed projectile cone with bomb making materials, one 8mm sniper rifle with scope, several 105mm rounds, one arc welder, welding materials and other improvised explosive devicemaking materials. An explosive ordnance disposal team took control of the caches for analysis and destruction.

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Paratroopers Find Caches
4th BCT (ABN), 25th Inf. Div. Public Affairs KALSU, Iraq – Paratroopers from Troop C, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade

A cache of weapons is laid out for accountability by the paratroopers of the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division Dec. 19.

(U.S. Army photos)

An explosive ordnance disposal team prepares one of the caches found by the paratroopers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division during a cordon and search operatio south of the Iraqi capital for detonation Dec. 19.

(Photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Gates Chows Down with Troops
The honorable Robert Gates, the United States’ newly sworn in Secretary of Defense, decides on what to eat with Spc. Joshua Smith, a native of Englewood, Calif., and member of the 57th Signal Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, during a breakfast meeting with troops Camp Victory, Iraq Dec. 21.

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improve.” Once the convoy arrived at the chemical plant, the three plant managers and the district manager all sat down with Brown and discussed ways to improve the efficiency of the plants and provide more incentives for the work force. After the meeting, Saeed Wihad, one of the plant managers gave a tour of facilities. He explained the different products being produced and areas that need the most help. There were three different plants at this facility, which included a chemical, a starch and a plastic factory. During the tour, Wihad pointed out lack of raw materials, non-working equipment due to a lack of replacement parts and out-of-date machinery that was still being utilized. Since the Paratroopers of Company D are working in Musayyib on almost a daily basis, they are familiar with the needs and problems in the town. “Musayyib is a pretty stable town. One of the biggest problems here is the poor economic standards for the town,” said Umbrell. “I think that helping the Iraqis in this manner is right on target for our goal of making a more secure Iraq.”

Jan. 8, 2007

Defense Rep. Tours Chemical Plant
By Sgt. Marcus Butler 4th BCT (ABN), 25th Inf. Div. FORWARD OPEATING BASE ISKAN, Iraq – Paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division conducted an escort mission Dec. 17 to a chemical plant in Musayyib, a town south of Baghdad. Company D, 1-501st PIR was tasked to provide security and transportation for Gerry Brown, a representative from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, along with a chemical engineer and logistical specialist. “Our primary mission today was to secure the factory site to allow the meeting between the plant managers and the representative from the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” said 1st Lt. Colby J. Umbrell, 2nd platoon leader for Company D. Receiving this mission one week prior, Company D knew the importance of it and planned accordingly. “This was a pretty high-profile mission for us,” said Umbrell. The mission, led by Umbrell, rolled out of the gates here in hopes of beginning the rebuilding process for the people of Musaayib. “We are meeting with different

Baghdad News Briefs
Aim High? 1st ACB meets with Iraqi Air Force Leadership
TAJI, Iraq – The commander of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division met with the commanding general of the Iraqi Air Force Wing for the first time to open communication channels between the Warrior Brigade and the Iraqi aviators at Taji Dec. 20. Col. Dan Shanahan met with Brig. Gen. Sata to discuss the future of the Iraqi Air Force on Taji and to establish ties between the two units. The Iraqi Air Wing is in the initial stages of reestablishing its aerial capabilities in Iraq. Shanahan, a native of Traverse City, Mich., took time to speak with pilots and enlisted members of the 4th Squadron about the tough times ahead for U.S. and Iraqi military forces and told them that, together, they would succeed in their goal for a safe and stable Iraq.

(Photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler, 4-25ID)

Capt. Eric Lawless, a native of Deaton, Ohio and commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, gets an explanation from an employee of the different types of products and work completed inside of the facilities of a chemical plant in Musayyib, Iraq Dec. 17. Iraqi companies in order to find out ways in which we can help the Iraqis help themselves,” said Brown. “We believe that by providing more jobs and better income, the security situation for the Iraqi people, as well as coalition forces, would greatly

First Time in 40 years; 2ID Brigades Conduct Operation
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team joined with the 3rd Brigade Stryker Team, both from the 2nd Infantry Division, in launching a joint operation on the east side of the Iraqi capital Dec. 24. The operation, aimed at disrupting insurgent activity, marks the first time since the 1960s that the two of the 2nd Infantry Division have worked together. During the operation, U.S. forces searched more than 300 homes. One insurgent was killed and another detained. The detained insurgent is now in U.S. military custody. U.S. forces recovered one bolt-action rifle, believed to have been used by a sniper. The operation also uncovered 15 rocket-propelled grenades and 200 rounds of ammunition. The rifle and ammunition were confiscated by military personnel. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades worked side-by-side in World War I and later in Korea. In WWI, the Brigades fought together during the Chateau-Thierry campaign and the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The Army deactivated the 3rd Brigade in 1939, but the unit reactivated in 1963. Two years later, the 2nd and 3rd Brigades were reunited in South Korea, where they helped calm rising tensions and guard the western corridor. Both brigades are now on their second tour in Iraq. The 2nd IBCT fought from August 2004 to August 2005 in Ramadi. The brigade returned to Iraq in October, operating in east Baghdad.

Iraqi, U.S. Forces Deliver Electricity to al-Thawra
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Iraqi Army troops, assisted by members of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry, delivered a transformer to the al-Fadel neighborhood of al-Thawra Dec. 20. The transformer is part of a multi-million dollar effort to bring electricity to al-Thawra. Some residents of this eastern Baghdad district were wary of the Iraqi Army at first, according to Capt. Gabriel Suarez, from the 3-61st Military Transition Team, because insurgents in IA uniforms had previously committed murders and kidnappings in the area. But once an IA captain explained that insurgents had committed the crimes and that IA Soldiers were only here to help, Suarez said the residents calmed down. Iraqi Army troops also took time to visit with children in the neighborhood school. “The IA captain on the scene talked with the principal about what they were trying to do with the power, and went to every classroom to explain to the kids that the IA is here to help,” Suarez said.

(Photo by Maj. John Nelson, 1st Bn, 18th Inf. Reg.)

Two Uniforms, One Goal
Members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment conduct a patrol briefing in Baghdad Dec. 21 with policemen from 2nd Battalion., 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi National Police Division. This patrol and checkpoints set up during the operation help to ensure a safe and secure environment in the neighborhoods of Al-Aamel and Bayaa. The NP patrolled throughout their area of responsibility to identify shortfalls and the readiness of their checkpoints.

Jan. 8, 2007


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Iraqi Troops Train With Help From Transition Teams
By Sgt. Jon Cupp 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – New basic training graduates with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) trained with the assistance of Military Transition Teams from the 1st Infantry Division here Dec.19 on how to conduct cordon and searches. The training consisted of the IA troops performing practice raids in two building “mock-ups.” According to Capt. Eric James, operations officer and advisor for the 329th MiTT, the training lasts three to four weeks and readies the Iraqi troops before they have to encounter the challenges of working in actual urban environments and checkpoints. “We’re taking new Iraqi soldiers before they get assigned to a company and giving them additional training,” said James, a native of El Paso, Texas. “What we’re doing is getting together with our Iraqi Army brothers and giving them this training prior to their going out into their areas of operations.” In addition, the training, which has been referred to as ‘train the trainer’ style instruction, allows the MiTT team’s subject matter experts to assist Iraqi noncommissioned officers and warrant officers to give blocks of instruction – all the while junior enlisted Iraqis are training simultaneously. This, said James, is important to the Iraqis eventually taking full control in every training, the better they can take over their own security. We show them what to look for during raids and at checkpoints so when they actually get out there they won’t overlook anything.” Iraqi Army soldiers said they all have their own reasons why they train to defend their country. “I have a lot of good feelings about serving my country on the ground I’ve lived on all my life to help the Iraqi people,” said Pvt. Abdul Razaq Shakir, who serves in the 3rd Bn., 2nd Bde., 9th IA Div. (Mech.). “We will risk our lives to help our country and to fight against the insurgents and anyone else who tries to bring our country down.” “We pray to God to make peace on this country to make things normal as they were before,” said Pvt. Al Hamad Vadir, also with the 3rd Bn., 2nd Bde., 9th IA Div. (Mech.). “I hope every Iraqi citizen feels the same way I feel,” said Shakir. “I am really proud to wear the Iraqi Army uniform.” Having worked several months with the Iraqis, James said he is confident of the abilities of the Iraqi troops and their training. “Anytime we’ve done big, important coalition operations, the Iraqi troops have always accomplished their missions,” said James. “We roll out with Iraqis many times a week to do patrols or check on troops in the area of operations and we feel as comfortable with them as we would rolling out with our own troops.”

(Photo by Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

An Iraqi Army instructor (right) prepares his trainees, all Iraqi Army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), to storm a building "mock-up" Dec. 19 during training at Camp Taji, Iraq. aspect of military operation. “We’re trying to push them forward, essentially putting them in the lead when it comes to planning, resourcing and execution for missions and training,” he said. Prior to coming to Iraq, Staff Sgt. Michael Lewis, a combat medical advisor and trainer for 329th MiTT, trained in Fort Riley, Kan. to learn how to instruct Soldiers in doing infantry-style tactics. A medic and a native of Leesville, La., Lewis is now training Iraqi soldiers alongside his Iraqi noncommissioned officer counterparts. “Working here, we’re getting to see the infantry side, and it’s an important role, but it’s just one part of all the training to help them build a company,” he said. Lewis, who is also helping the Iraqis put together a medical aid station, said he is impressed with the progress of the Iraqi soldiers. “Sometimes we’ve had to catch up with them,” said Lewis. “The better they do their

(Photo by Sgt. Cheryl Cox, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

A Caring Touch
Pfc. James Byington, a medic with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, applies cream to burn scars on the face of a young girl at the Qadaa Building in Tarmiyah, Iraq, Dec. 9. After Byington applied the cream the mother applied some of the cream to more scarring on the girls abdomen.

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Black Jack

Jan. 8, 2007

(Photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, patrol the streets of Al Doura during a joint operation Dec. 10. The 1st Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division led the operation against anti-Iraqi forces in the area. The police found numerous weapons, improvised explosive device initiators and ammunition in a mosque during the effort.

Cavalry, Police Team Up for Joint Operation
By Spc. Alexis Harrison 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – In the south-central portion of the capital city is the Al Doura neighborhood where several elements of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division operate. Task Force 1-14 is one of those elements. They’ve been working with the National Police force to help calm rising tension between a divided populous. The 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division has been working side-by-side with companies from the 1st Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division since August. According to Lt. Col. Jeff Peterson, commander of TF 114, what started out as a shaky beginning, has turned out to be something his Soldiers and the NPs can be proud of. "It's taken a lot of work and a lot of effort to get to where we are now," Peterson said. "It was very rocky when we first showed up. We had to build our relationship." Peterson said joint missions conducted with the policemen for nearly six months have included patrolling the streets, cordon and search operations and raids. The team work is paying off now, Peterson said. "Over time, we just keep getting better and better and more efficient,” he said. “There's been a marked improvement in the last month." Most recently, the troops and police conducted joint operation Dec. 10. Peterson called it a parallel approach to the ongoing struggle between the anti-Iraq forces and coalition forces. "It was unique," he said. "(In) the first phase of the mission, we developed some of our own targets, so we did a unilateral operation to conduct raids. Subsequent to that, the NP came and did a medium-scale clearing operation which they planned and organized." Peterson's troops came into the operation with specific objectives in mind. They were after several high-value targets, who were wanted in connection to the ongoing sectarian violence in the area. The policemen had different objectives. They received information on a weapons cache inside one of the local mosques. The police raided the mosque and found exactly what they were after: several electronic, roadside bomb initiators, pipe bombs, plastic explosives and assault rifles. Peterson said that the company of police he worked alongside during the operation was some of the best he's worked with since his unit began these operations. "Maj. Hayder is one of the stronger leaders in the battalion," he said. The police not only found the cache they were after, but several of the men the troops were after. The mission was over. Weapons were taken off the street, and the police showed how valuable they could be to the community. Peterson said it was a very successful joint mission with the police alongside his team. "When they partner with us, I think they do very well. They searched houses thoroughly. They were on time, in uniform ready to go. They interacted with the Iraqi populous in a professional manner. They were respectful of the property as they went through the home. They were respectful of the families. I thought it was a very successful operation," Peterson said. He explained how important it was to have the police in the lead during joint missions. "With these operations it is very important to find caches, terrorists and detain them, but just as important is that the NP develop their relationship with the Iraqi people," Peterson said. "They need to prove that they are trustworthy, professional and that they will conduct themselves in a professional manner," he continued. The partnership between the police force and the coalition troops is a key to securing a peaceful future for the Iraqi people, Peterson said. "It's been a long time and a lot of work, but right now it's all about partnership moving toward transition,” he said. “I think the partnership is the critical piece of getting the situation in Iraq to where it needs to be so coalition forces can depart. It's just going to take some time and commitment."

Jan. 8, 2007

Black Jack
sion they call “The Clip,” or Combat Logistical Patrol. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Vieira, 15th BSB’s commander, said that the supplying of other bases is a “deliberate” process and is at the forefront of the battalion’s list of missions in theater. The supply mission, which comes with its list of dangers, is done quietly in the night because they want to limit the hazards and be able to get the necessary supplies to the Soldiers as safely as possible, according to 2nd Lt. Desiree Breaux, one of the convoy commanders and the Headquarters Company, 15th BSB executive officer from Mandeville,La. There are, however, those who have the title of convoy protector: the gun truck crew members. Soldiers like Spc. Joshua Greves, a heavy equipment operator with Company B from Auburn, Calif., push the thoughts of danger to the side in order to get the precious cargo to its final destination. Greves serves in the top of humvee turret as the gunner. Greves said there is extra pride in what he and others in the Gun Truck Platoon do, not only because of the inherent dangers associated with it, but also because the job itself isn’t a traditional Army occupation, and in most cases, it was something the platoon had to train for before their deployment. Yet, what ended at pride didn’t start off that way. “In the beginning, it was hard,” said Greves. “Everyone here is new; everyone was bringing little things they learned from other units [they’ve been assigned to].” Then, he said, they got together and started doing it their way, created their own standards, and now they are making it work. “We still have our gripes and grievances,

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Gun Truck Pride Pushes Supplies Safely Along
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – While most Soldiers are asleep, a small contingent of the 15th Brigade Support Battalion carries out the mission of supplying the rest of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Almost every morning, even before zero-dark-thirty, Soldiers from the “Gambler” Battalion mount up to deliver fuel, food, auto parts and any needed supplies to the surrounding base camps in a mis-

(Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs).

When the Combat Logistical Patrol convoy reaches Forward Operating Base, members of Company D, Forward Support Battalion moves the supplies. but as soon as your rhino crosses that gate, it’s about protecting everyone in the truck, in front, behind … because we are the PSD (personal security detachment) for the CLP,” said Greves. For Greves, who finds himself in his second Iraq deployment, ensuring that his platoon sergeant has zero worries about vehicle maintenance is also tops on his list. His fellow Soldiers in the platoon joke that he is very attentive to his humvee. Yet, Greves takes that to heart. He said he babies his “truck” like he does his real truck back home. After the afternoon mission brief, Greves goes back to his humvee and spends a few hours examining it from bumper to bumper. It’s a ritual he has come to call his “quiet time.” During the hours of darkness on the different roads the CLPs go through, Greves keeps a roving eye on every part of the road he can. Greves’ way of thinking has proven safe throughout dozens of missions during the time the Black Jack Brigade has been in Iraq. Yet, he also credits his buddy, Spc. Joshua Boal, a machinist assigned to Co. B from Olanta, Penn., with keeping a good eye on things in the lead vehicle. Boal, who also is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, said he jumped at the chance of going back on a gun truck when the battalion was forming the teams up. “I just feel comfortable on the road,” he said. “A lot of people say it’s more dangerous … but when I get in the turret, I’m in a zone. I’m in the lead gun truck.” He attributes his love for the job to one thing: saving lives. “I know, in my heart I do my best [when I’m out there],” he said. “If it means I die – then I die, but at least I’ll have saved other people.”

2nd Lt. Desiree Breaux, convoy commander, takes some notes before a Combat Logistical Patrol at Forward Operating Base Falcon.

Artillery Troops Provide Safe Travel on ‘Red Dragon Express’
By Cpl. Robert Yde 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE UNION III, Iraq – “The assignment of this mission was a bit of a change-up from what I expected,” Lt. Col. Michael Tarsa, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said regarding the mission his battalion received shortly before deploying to Iraq in mid-October. Instead of conducting a traditional field artillery unit mission, the Soldiers of 3-82 FA were assigned the mission of providing escort services for government officials who need to travel from the heavily fortified International Zone into Baghdad. “Our mission is to mainly escort State Department personnel to various places in Baghdad,” explained 1st Lt. P.J. Decareau, a platoon leader with Battery. A, 3-82 FA. The native of Boston said that the majority of these escort missions, dubbed the “Red Dragon Express,” are for meetings with Iraqi government agencies such as the Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Interior. Having its field artillery unit take over the escort mission was a natural decision for the command of the Black Jack Brigade, according to Tarsa. “The previous brigade had its artillery filling this mission set, so the logical transition was to us,” Tarsa explained. After learning of his battalion’s mission, Tarsa restructured his entire unit so that it would be better suited for its new mission. “The first task for me was one of reorganization,” Tarsa gunner. “We trained for something totally different. Then you get here and find that it’s a whole new ballgame.” According to Decareau, though, receiving the new mission was an easy adjustment because their training already focused on patrolling in humvees. “They were ready to get in humvees and get out in the streets,” he said. “It’s not really too much different than patrolling a sector. The only difference is there is some kind of principal you’ve got to take along with you.” That ‘principal’ is the VIP they’re escorting. Making sure these individuals can travel safely around Baghdad in order to conduct meetings with Iraqi government officials is crucial for the future of Iraq. Once the convoy arrives to its location, the majority of the Soldiers pull outside security, while a small team escorts the principals inside, serving as their personal security detachment and providing communication with the Soldiers still outside. “We keep tabs on them and know where they’re at inside the building in case something happens,” Decareau explained. With multiple missions every day, the “Red Dragon Express,” now runs like a well-oiled machine. As the “Red Dragon Express” continues to move government and military officials safely around Baghdad, Tarsa said he knows that it is his Soldiers, who, without complaint or missing a beat have stepped into their new role and made this mission successful. “The Red Dragons have claimed this mission as their own,” Tarsa said. “They are doing great things each day.”

(Photo by Cpl. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Sgt. Derrick Martin, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, watches as his Soldiers go over a map of the route for their escort mission at Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad Dec. 18. explained. “I gutted my headquarters battery and forward support company to create five, 16-man platoons. I then directed my two firing batteries to reorganize into six platoons each and provided them additional officers to ensure each was led by a capable lieutenant.” For most of the Soldiers, learning that they would be providing VIP escorts around Baghdad, instead of conducting patrols, was a bit of a surprise. “It was kind of a shock, at first,” said Pfc. Ken O’Connell, a Boston native who is now serving as a humvee

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Grey Wolf

Jan. 8, 2007

Iraqi Army Rounds Up Baqubah Insurgents
By Sgt. Armando Monroig 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment BAQUBAH, Iraq – The Iraqi Army led a recent offensive operation in Baqubah, Iraq, which yielded 10 suspected insurgents and rescued a kidnapped 16-year-old Iraqi boy being held for a $150,000 ransom. The U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, cordoned off several of the city’s neighborhoods while units of the 5th Iraqi army conducted the search. Maj. Kalil Malek Ahmad, commander of 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army, said his Soldiers were able to identify insurgents with the help of intelligence sources. Lt. Col. Morris Goins, the commander of 3rd Brigade’s 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion, which provided the cordon for the search, said the operation gave the Iraqi army an opportunity to demonstrate it’s capability to play a primary role in military operations. “Iraq is a sovereign nation. They have an Iraqi police department. They have an Iraqi Army,” said Goins, a native of Southern Pines, N.C. “It’s important for them to conduct these operations.” “They are in the lead and we assist when needed,” he continued. This most recent search for insurgents, which is part of a larger effort,” will help local residents by “driving a wedge between the Iraqi people and Al Qaeda,” said Goins. Al Qaeda operatives have been attempting to disrupt coalition forces and have been threatening local residents in the neighborhoods of Khatoon and Mufrek, he said. Capt. Scott Steele, a member of the U.S.

(Phot byt Sgt. Armando Monroig, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division speak with a Baqubah resident before entering and searching his home durng a massive cordon and search operation conducted Dec. 2. Army’s military training team in Baqubah, and a native of Faripault, Minn., said it is important for the Iraqi Army to lead such operations until they can be conducted entirely on their own. “If the Iraqis take over, the United States can leave,” he said. “We’re just helping them along so that they can secure their own country by themselves.” Goins said his unit was presented with some challenges while working with the Iraq’s army, such as language barriers and differences in communications platforms, but those obstacles were overcome with prior coordination. “As with any brand new government, you have challenges,” said Goins. “People often think the United States was born yesterday. It’ll take a little while. There’s a lot of promise here. The work is hard but it’s good.”

Radio Station Opens Doors, Gives Chance for Free Speech
By Spc. Ryan Stroud 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BALAD RUIZ, Iraq - In a city where there is no means for releasing information to its people, coalition forces have developed a project to give the people the chance that many Americans take for granted – the privilege of free speech. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Al Noor radio station, also known as the “The Light,” located in Balad Ruz, Iraq, opened its doors to many with high hopes and happy faces from the Iraqi Army and police department, city officials of Balad Ruz and members of the 5-73 Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. “This is a great day for Balad Ruiz and its people,” said Mayor Mohamed Maroof Al-Hussein, mayor of Balad Ruiz. “I think this is a new stage for our city and a new way to serve our people.” “This is a free station,” he continued. “The people can say what they want. The people can speak freely.” With the help of 5-73, the civilians will now be able to here the news and get more information in their homes other than what the terrorist want to put out, said Al-Hussein. “I remember the first night we were here [at Forward Operating Base Caldwell] and hearing Iranian broadcast in English to target the American Soldiers,” said Capt. John Pratt, Company B, 404th Civil Affairs. “These terrorists were getting their message out and the people here didn’t have a way to get their’s out.” “This is a pro-government radio station that is to counter act what the terrorists are saying,” said the Myrtle Beach, in the economy are just waiting to happen. “This is a primarily agricultural community and this is proof that Balad Ruz’s new government, along with the progress that is being made in Iraq, that the city is able to take that first technological step to bettering their economy,” said Pratt. “This means more jobs and growth for the community.” After the ceremony, spectators were given a tour of the new facility and talked with the new employees. The station will start operations at 7 a.m. and end at 1 p.m., and will change its hours when employees are further trained. Though the hopes of progress are high, Balad Ruz government officials and the coalition forces primarily hope the radio station raises awareness and the morale of the Iraqi people. “I hope this new service will encourage other cities to start stations to better serve their people,” said Al-Hussein. “I hope the [Iraqi citizens] feel good about this,” said Bramhall. “I hope it gives them a chance to say what they want to say. I think its better for them to hear information from their own people then from us.” “It’s also their people getting the chance to reflect their own points of view,” he added. “It’s a chance to let those out there know that they are not alone with their views.” Bramhall said he hoped the Iraqi people would understand this freedom to say what they feel. “This radio station is for the people,” Pratt added. “It’s a way to put out information about what’s happening in their community to better serve the people.” Employees of Al Noor are currently sending out flyers across the city to promote the station and begin its mission of informing the people.

(Photo by Spc. Ryan Stroud, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Members of the Iraqi Army and police department, Balad Ruz government officials and Soldiers from the 5-73 Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, join the Balad Ruz mayor, Mayor Mohamed Maroof Al-Hussein, in the ribbon cutting ceremony opening the doors to the Al Noor radio station, Dec. 18. S.C. native. “It also lets the people know what the coalition forces are doing in their area to help them.” Pfc. Timothy Bramhall, a member of 5-73, and said this mission was one of the most important missions he had been on. Not just for the coalition forces, but for the Iraqi people, said the Bronx, NY native. “This is a chance for the city and its officials to reach out to their people,” Bramhall said. Balad Ruz, which is primarily farm land, is currently behind in technological progress. Pratt feels this is a big chance for the government to prove to its people that changes

Jan. 8, 2007

Borja made their way to visit the Polar Bears in Yusufiyah and Rushdi Mullah, Iraq. While there Freakley presented some of the Soldiers with Purple Heart Medals. “The Polar Bears face a challenge with the type of enemy they have in their area of operations as well as agricultural and the canal systems,” Freakley said. “They are doing extremely well.” On Dec. 17 Freakley and Borja visited the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, and the 1st Squadron, 89th Calvary Regiment. While visiting 2-15 Soldiers, Freakley noticed the strong relationship the American Soldiers have with the Iraqi soldiers they are working with. “They (2-15 FAR) are doing a wonderful job with the IA brigade they are working with,” Freakley said. “The support and mentoring they are giving the IA brigade is wonderful.” After visiting with 2-15 Freakley and Borja went to see 1-89 Soldiers. They toured the 1-89 battle position in Gator Swamp and flew over their area of responsibility. “The Soldiers of 1-89 are able to cover a lot of ground and are doing a great job.” Freakley presented 1-89 Soldiers with Combat Action Badges before departing the area. On Dec. 18 Freakley and Borja visited the support battalions, the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and the 210th Brigade Support Battalion. Freakley and Borja rode in one of the 2nd BSTB’s iron claws and ate lunch with the 2nd BSTB Soldiers. “The 2nd BSTB is the backbone of the brigade in many ways – they provide engineer, signal, military intelligence and military police support. They have a complex mission and are working hard,” Freakley said. Their final stop was at the 210th BSB headquarters where they took the opportunity to talk to the 210th BSB Soldiers and present them with coins. “The 210th BSB is a strong and innovative support battalion. They have innovative ways to repair Soldiers’ equipment,” Freakley said. “Company C, Charlie Medical Company is well staffed with doctors. The Doc-In-A-Box is a unique capability that can deliver medical care and medical assistance to Soldiers in remote areas.” As part of their visit with each battalion, Freakley and

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CG & CSM Visit Commando Brigade Soldiers
By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) had a chance to meet top Mountain leaders during the past week. Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, the 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) commanding general, and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Ralph Borja, the 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) command sergeant major, visited Commando Brigade Soldiers from Dec. 14-19 in the brigade’s area of operations. “The command sergeant major and I wanted to see the current status of the brigade in combat in Iraq, see if the Soldiers had any equipment or manning issues, ask them (the Soldiers) how they felt about the training they received prior to deployment and if there was any training adjustments that needed to be made,” Freakley said. “We also wanted to visit our Soldiers before the holidays.” During the visit Freakley and Borja met and spoke with Soldiers from each battalion within the brigade. On the first day they were able to spend some time with Task Force Vigilant Soldiers. While there, Freakley reenlisted a TFV Soldier and went with Borja to visit with Soldiers and eat dinner with them. Before departing the area Freakley left the Soldiers with some encouraging words. “The TFV is unique, well led and has great Soldiers,” Freakley said. “They (the Soldiers) have a significant mission and high morale. They are very positive young men and women.” On Dec. 15 Freakley and Borja made their way to visit the two infantry battalions, the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment “Golden Dragons,” and the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears.” They toured Patrol Base Dragon, which was established by the Golden Dragons after they took over the Yusufiyah Thermal Power Plant in Yusufiyah, Iraq and Warrior Keep, another patrol base the Golden Dragons manned. “The Golden Dragons face a unique set of challenges with the river, agriculture and the ground, but they are handling them extremely well,” Freakley said. After visiting with the Golden Dragons Freakley and

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley (right), the 10th Mountain Division commanding general, shakes hands with Pfc. Travis Tysinger (left), a military policeman with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI), and native of Zanesville, Ohio, on Dec. 18 at Camp Striker, Iraq. Freakley presented Tysinger with a Purple Heart Medal for wounds he sustained during a combat mission. Borja made sure to ask the Soldiers how their equipment was holding up, inform them on the new houses being built and upgrades to barracks currently in the works at Fort Drum, N.Y., talk with them about their morale and to wish them happy holidays. “The visit was good and it showed they (the commanding general and the command sergeant major) care about the Soldiers,” said Pvt. Joshua Carson, a native of Chatsworth, Calif., who serves as a guard with TFV. “Their visit brings morale to the Soldiers of the brigade,” he added. Borja shared some of his personal thoughts with some of the senior leadership. “I commend the leaders for a job well done. Each and every one of the Soldiers here is looking toward you (the senior leaders) to take care of our warriors,” Borja said as he gave some of the senior leaders coins. “I cannot meet all of your warriors, but I hope you can pass the coins along to them.” Before departing the Commando Brigade, Borja left with encouraging words for the Soldiers. “All the training the Soldiers received before deploying definitely paid dividends here in Iraq to all the Soldiers and the type of mission they have to conduct,” Borja said. “I am extremely proud of them and I know they will continue doing a great job.” Although Freakley and Borja visited Soldiers in Iraq, they did not forget about the warriors at home. “The rear detachment, families and family readiness groups are helping with the mission overall so that our forward deployed Soldiers can focus on their mission,” Freakley said. “It is evident all over the brigade.” “It was humbling to be with the Commando Brigade Soldiers and to see the great work they have done,” he said.

(Photo by Spc. Chris McCann, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley (left), the 10th Mountain Division commanding general, talks with Pfc. James Kelly (right), an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI), and native of Springfield, Ky., on Dec. 17 at Patrol Base Dragon.

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Long Knife

Jan. 8, 2007

2IA Assumes Full Authority of Mosul
By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Sipp 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE TIGER, Iraq – The 2nd Iraqi Army Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Jamal, assumed independent authority to control all actions in their battle space during a transfer of authority ceremony held Dec. 18 at Forward Operating Base Tiger in Mosul. “This ceremony marks a special time in the 2nd Iraqi Army Division’s history,” said Maj. Gen. Randy Mixon, commander, 25th Infantry Division. “This day also signifies the last [Iraqi Army] division to assume Iraqi Army lead in Multi-National Division – North, and the 2nd Iraqi Army Division will fall under the control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command on Jan. 15.” The ceremony consisted of Command Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier, command sergeant major of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, removing the 4th BCT colors from the flag stand, making way for the placement of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division colors. “Today we recognize that the 2nd Iraqi Army is fully capable and ready to take over security operations in Mosul and Ninewa Province,” said Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of the 4th BCT. “We applaud your have carried on fighting terror, day and night, and providing security for Mosu,” he added. Successful completion of the three-day validation exercise, dubbed Operation Lion Assault Dec. 4, removed the final hurdle toward full autonomy of operations and independence of maneuver in their own battle space. Jamal praised the support and assistance offered by Coalition Forces in standing up the division and offered continued mutual support and assistance to the Coalition Forces whenever they needed it. While celebrating the 2nd Iraqi Army Division’s new authority, Jamal took a moment to renew their pledge to the citizens of the Ninewa Province. “Terrorists have been at work attempting to ‘kidnap’ Iraq. They target and kill the scientists, the teachers, and the thinkers; attempting to divide us along sectarian lines. Brothers and friends, it’s time to track down and kill the terrorists. Mosul is a city of a civilization blessed by God. Let us pray to God to bring security and stability to all of our country.” The ceremony concluded with a presentation of gifts to the Iraqi Army commanders, tribal leaders, distinguished guests, and government officials, as well as a full-coarse meal served to the rear of the presentation hall for all those in attendance.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Sipp, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Jamal, commander of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division, shakes hands with Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of the 4th BCT, immediately after the transfer of authority ceremony held Dec. 18, at Forward Operating Base Tiger. bravery and courage, standing in the face of the enemy and defeating the terrorists.” Jamal espoused the 2nd Iraqi Army Division’s origins as well as referencing its future responsibilities now that it was in the lead. “This division was established on Oct. 23, 2004, when there was still a state of much lawlessness. We rose to the responsibility of fighting the terrorists as well as simultaneously outfitting the division with materials and equipment.” “Together with the (Iraqi Police) we

SMA, USO Team Up To Bring Christmas Cheer to Troops
By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Sipp 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq – Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, in conjunction with the United Service Organization, visited the troops of Task Force Lightning at Forward Operating Base Marez, in Mosul, Iraq, Dec. 16, as the first stop in Iraq on a Christmas tour of U.S. bases in the Central Command area. Accompanying the SMA were hosts and celebrities Al Franken, of Saturday Night Live fame, and model Leanne Tweeden, one of the hosts of The Best Damn Sports Show Period; country music stars Keni Thomas, Shevy Smith, Mark Wills, and Darryl Worley; as well as the hip-hop brother and sister team of Jekob and Rachael Washington, known as the Washington Project. Backing up all the artists was the world-famous U.S. Army Band, and guests Laura Beke and Shenythia Willie, some of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Preston addressed the crowd and brought the performance into perspective. “When you look at the entertainers that are performing tonight; they could be someplace else other than here. They spend their entire year out on the road, doing what they do to make a living. Christmas is a special time for entertainers, whether it’s the movie industry, or the music industry, for them to spend with their families. All the entertainers here tonight have chosen to be here with you.” The theme of solidarity and support was echoed as each artist spoke before their performance. “There is only one reason we’re here, because you are all family to us,” agreed Jekob Washington, one half of the Washington Project. Connections to the military could be found in many of the performers, but none more evident than Keni Thomas. Thomas, a former Army Ranger and veteran of Task Force Ranger in Somalia in 1993 (made famous by the movie Blackhawk Down), and now a rising country music star, added his own understanding of serving as a Soldier. “It

(Photo by Sgt. Paula Taylor, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders Laura Beke (left) and Shenythia Willie (right) celebrate with country music artist Mark Wills during the USO show at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq Dec 16. doesn’t matter what battle you are in, or what war you are in; it always comes down to the man on the left and the man on the right of you. That’s what it is all about.” Mark Wills and Darryl Worley each performed sets full of tributes to the American troops and representative of the patriotic spirit that surrounded the show. Worley dedicated a song to the wife and children of Sgt. Brent Dunkleberger, a 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldier who was killed four days prior, and whose memorial service was attended by the performers, just hours earlier. Switching between the reflective and somber moments and transitioning into upbeat humor and music, the artists touched on every emotion present in the audience. The show featured skits between Franken and Tweeden as well as several different audience-participation vignettes that involved Soldiers from the audience. As the three-hour performance drew to a close, the entire cast joined hands with the audience and sang a stirring rendition of “Stand by Me” to close out the show. The USO representatives, cast, crew, and SMA are scheduled to play several more dates throughout Iraq before heading to Afghanistan.

Jan. 8, 2007


Page 11

(Photo by Capt. Matthew Angliss, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div.)

Earning Pen Pals Through Kindness
Moorehead, Minn., native Spc. David Hutcheson, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, attached to Battery C, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, hands out school supplies to students at a southwestern Baghdad school Dec. 13.

Iraqis, Cav Team Up in Western Baghdad
By Staff Sgt. Kason Fark 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment BAGHDAD—Staring down at an empty lot, Spc. Craig McBaine wondered how such a tranquil neighborhood could be the scene of so much carnage. Nicknamed “IED Alley East,” this 700-meter stretch of barren earth has been the scene of many attacks against coalition and Iraqi security forces. On this day, the patch of land, bordered on three sides by once-beautiful three-story houses, is occupied by up-armored Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams Battle Tanks, all in support of Operation Beastmaster. During Beastmaster, troops from the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division cleared three large neighborhoods in the western Baghdad suburb of Ghazaliya. The sight of much sectarian violence, Ghazaliya is the battle ground for Sunni insurgents trying to push back the overwhelming Shia population in the northern and eastern areas of Baghdad. “Alternate Supply Route Sword,” the U.S. military’s name for the largest road running through southern Ghazaliya, is also the in-road from Fallujah to Baghdad proper. Having just arrived weeks ago, Soldiers McBaine said. The Florida native’s patrol would later be hit multiple times by small arms fire, a rocket-propelled grenade and a roadside bomb. Based out of Ft. Bliss, Texas, 2-12 Cavalry is part of the 1st Cavalry Division’s newest brigade – the 4th “Long Knife” Brigade Combat Team. While the unit may be new to El Paso, Texas, it is no stranger to combat. 2-12 Cavalry was de-activated shortly after its return from Operation Iraqi Freedom II in March 2005. The unit has also earned streamers in other conflicts such as WWII, Vietnam, and Deset Storm. The unit was the first U.S. unit in Leyte and Japan. The unit re-activated at Fort Bliss 18 months after returning from Iraq. Participation in operations, such as Beastmaster, with the Iraqi Army is the key to handing Iraq back over to its people. The Iraqi soldiers involved were being observed by coalition forces to gauge their ability to perform urban warfare tasks. Overall, Operation Beastmaster was a huge success. In the course of three days of house to house searches, the Iraqi Army troops uncovered seven weapons caches, numerous roadside bomb-making materials and captured a high-value target.

(Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Buytas)

Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, prepare to follow Iraqi Army troops into a house during Operation Beastmaster in Ghazaliya a western suburb of Baghdad. of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, have set upon the goal of taking over the security of Ghazaliya from the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. “It’s been pretty crazy already,”

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By Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Beach 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

Jan. 8, 2007

Coalition Turns Ov
NAJAF, Iraq – The security and governance of nearly one-million An Najaf citizens was officially transferred to Provincial Iraqi Control in a ceremony here in southern Iraq Dec. 20. “Today we are saying no to sectarianism, and no terrorism, and yes for peace, and yes for freedom, and yes for democracy,” said As’ad Abu-Galal al-Taai, the governor of An Najaf province, to a crowd of several hundred Iraqis gathered in the city’s soccer stadium for the ceremony. In June 2005, Iraq’s Prime Minister announced a joint decision between the Iraqi government and Multinational Forces – Iraq to systematically hand over security responsibilities to Iraq’s provinces to provincial civil authorities under the control of each province’s governor. “This is a terrific success for Iraq,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy commanding general - support for Multi-National Division – Baghdad. “It is a major step forward in improving security and strengthening the authority of Iraq.” An Najaf is the third of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be transferred to Provincial Iraqi Control and

is Iraq’s fourth l transferred full P provinces of Al M this year. Since then, l have had full resp tle coalition assis “I am proud our destiny,” said people, we will h constitution and celebration.” For three-and in An Najaf wor training, equippin army to take resp enforcement of ru “Transferring indication of the police and the Ira capabilities grow nance will take provinces security Najaf , the p province, is appr Baghdad. It is ho ly Shia’s, holiest The shrine is the

(Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Beach, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

As’ad Abu-Galal al-Taai, the governor of An Najaf province, addresses an audience of several hundred Iraqis at a transfer to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC) ceremony in Najaf, Iraq Dec. 20.

Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy commanding ge Division, with his interpreter, addresses an audience o ceremony in Najaf, Iraq Dec. 20.

Jan. 8, 2007

Taleb, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and the fourth caliph. Every year, nearly one million Shia Muslims make a pilgrimage to Najaf. It is estimated that only Mecca and Medina receive more Muslim pilgrims. “More pilgrims will be able to enjoy An Najaf’s religious sites through it’s protected roadways and airport,” said Brooks. “In turn, this will continue stability and increase the quality of life for all residents.” Shia religious activities were severely restricted under Saddam Hussein’s regime and observances such as Ashura have only recently been allowed thanks to the democratically elected Iraqi government. Ashura is a Shia religious ceremony mourning the death of Imam Ali, held each year at the conclusion of the Hajj season. With the change in status, coalition security forces are helping local police and the Iraqi military take full control of security in the region. “I am proud of the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army, as they now assume full responsibility for all law enforcement and security activities in the An Najaf province,” Brooks said. “It will be the citizens of An Najaf who must also work with the police to maintain and build upon safe communities, and to enjoy the blessings of peace. The future of Iraq depends on its people.”

Page 13

ver An Najaf to Iraqis

largest province. The coalition Provincial Iraqi Control to the Muthanna and Dhi Qar earlier

local police and military forces ponsibility for security with litstance. of you as we assume control of d As’ad. “With the help of the have security as promised by the the elections. This is a day of

d-a-half years, the Iraqi people rked alongside coalition forces ng and mentoring the police and ponsibility for the security and ule of law. g the security for An Najaf is an increased capability of the Iraq aqi army,” Brooks said. “Their w every day, and civil govere the lead for providing the y enforcement needs.” provincial capital of An Najaf roximately 100 miles south of ome to one of Islam’s, especialt sites -- the Imam Ali Shrine. burial site of Imam Ali Ibn Abi

Iraqi police officers carry posters of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki before a crowd of hundreds during the Provincial Iraqi Control ceremony in Najaf, Iraq Dec. 20.

neral for Multi-National Division – Baghdad and 1st Cavalry of several hundred Iraqis at a transfer to Provincial Iraqi Control

Iraqi police officers march in formation before a crowd of hundreds during the Provincial Iraqi Control ceremony in Najaf, Iraq Dec. 20. Among the honored guests were Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, An Najaf’s governor As’ad Abu-Galal al-Taai, Multinational Force – Iraq’s deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Kurt A. Cichowski, and Multinational Division – Baghdad’s deputy commanding general, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks.

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Strike Force

Jan. 8, 2007

‘Stars’ Fall Upon FOB Loyalty

Top Generals in Iraq Descend on Base Camp
By Maj. Sean Ryan 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – It’s not unusual for Soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division to receive daily mortar fire or hear the explosions of detonating devices outside the walls of this small compound located within Sadr City, but receiving three distinguished visitors in one week is out of the ordinary. The distinguished guests included Gen. George W. Casey, the commanding general of Multi-National Force-Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commanding general of Multi-National Corps-Iraq and Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell, the deputy commanding general-maneuver for MultiNational Division – Baghdad. Casey visited on Christmas morning, with Campbell coming in later that night. Odierno visited the FOB six days prior. Casey’s visit started off with a 20minute operational brief that included the leadership of both the 2nd BCT commander and the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd “Arrowhead” Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The Stryker Brigade is currently conducting operations with the 2nd “Strike Force” Brigade for the first time in over 40 years. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades first fought together during World War I and later reunited in Korea during the 1960s. Casey also spent time with Soldiers in the dining facility for breakfast Christmas morning, signing posters commemorating He was on the roof of an apartment complex when he was struck in the head by a sniper’s bullet. Coincidentally, it was the same sniper his team was looking for while on patrol. Clemmons said he turned his head to let his Soldiers waiting on the stairs to come up onto the roof with him, when the bullet entered the side of his Kevlar and exited out the back. Clemmons said his Soldiers witnessed the debris from the Kevlar flying out of the back and side of the helmet and assumed he was a dead man. But Clemmons received a only small flesh wound to his skull. He was treated, and fortunately was able to return to duty within a day. He’s been tabbed the luckiest Soldier in the brigade. Later the same night, Campbell visited and also received an operational brief before joining the Soldiers in the dining facility for dinner. Campbell walked around and greeted all the Soldiers eating and asked how operations are going. Earlier in the week, Odierno received a brief in the TOC and also handed out some coins to deserving Soldiers. He said the mission of the Strike Force was in the most contested, sensitive and political areas within Iraq. He urged the brigade to set the conditions to allow local officials and security forces to start taking their country back. “I think it’s great and it means a lot to Soldiers to see that the top brass care,” said Master Sgt. Mark Mansfield, 2nd BCT’s senior food operations supervisor.

(Photo by Maj. Sean Ryan, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Officer)

Sgt. Benjamin Clemmons, native of Sacramento, CA., and team leader for Company B, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, explains how a bullet entered the side of his Kevlar and came out the back to Gen. George W. Casey, commanding general of Multi-National Force – Iraq, as he inspects the helmet on Christmas morning at Forward Operating Base Loyalty, Iraq. the brigade’s joint operation and presenting 15 coins to grateful recipients. One of the recipients was Sgt. Benjamin Clemmons, a native of Sacramento, Calif., and team leader for Company B, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. A day earlier, Clemmons was on a clearing mission looking for insurgent snipers with his team.

Making a Difference: CA Leader Sacrifices to Serve Again
By Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq – You’re closing on your first home, you’re expecting your first-born child and you’re about to deploy to Iraq for your first deployment. Not to mention, you’re no longer in the military. This is precisely the situation Capt. Chris Boyer, team leader, Civil Affairs Team A, from CA Team C, 489th CA Battalion, faced one morning when he opened his mailbox to find the correspondence any veteran on inactive ready reserve status dreads most: a go-to-war-or-go-to-jail letter. This might be too much for a typical person, but Boyer, who is a native of Warren, Mich., is not your typical Soldier. He truly is a team player, said Lt. Col. James W. Phillips, squadron commander, 361st Cavalry Squadron, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Now going on nine months deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Boyer possesses a “clear, concise understanding” of the problem: the Iraqi people’s inability to solve their issues. “The problem isn’t they don’t have water. They don’t have essential services. They don’t have a government,” Phillips said. “That is not the problem. The problem is they don’t know how to fix them.” Phillips said the answer is to show Iraqi leaders how to address issues in their communities and take on the problems themselves. Rather than material items that fade over time, Boyer transition of his own over the last year, leaving his civilian occupation in marketing to become a civil affairs team leader for the first time. “I did two years as a global product manager for a Fortune-500 company. I worked in marketing, mergers and acquisitions, and business development – a lot of different lines throughout the entire marketing program,” the resident of Natick, Mass., said. “I flew around the world, talked with a lot of surgeons and people who did not speak English, sometimes with an interpreter, sometimes without.” Prior to a career in marketing, Boyer was a field artillery officer for five years, after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1999. “I was one of those, door-kicking-combat-arms-kind of guys.” Boyer said. “My transition to this was pretty easy. When you think about CA, we’re shaping the maneuver space for the maneuver commander by using civil military operations. Rather than shooting rockets or cannons at the enemy, I’m working in the civilian populace to shape that battlefield.” Though Boyer took a break from active-duty service, he said his experience in the civilian sector made him a more effective Soldier on the battlefield. “The civilian skills that I was able to maintain really set me up for success because you have to go in, read the people, understand what their needs and wants are, understand their background – where they come from - and then find a way to relate with those people. From there, bring in whatever assets we need to bear on whatever their situation is,” Boyer said.

(Photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Capt. Chris Boyer, team leader, Civil Affairs Team A, from CA Team C, 489th CA Battalion, visits with local Iraqi children in Wahida, Iraq, Dec. 5. stressed the importance of working on “long-term developing initiatives,” which will endure long after coalition forces leave Iraq, he said. To this end, Boyer works with the local councils (nahias) to build rapport. Out on patrol, he strikes up conversations with the Iraqi people, even if it is just small talk. He works with the populace, he said, “All the way up to, ‘Can you show me exactly where your issues are?’ ‘Show me what’s going on.’ That’s how you build their trust and confidence and from there (we) try to alleviate the problems through U.S. money or the ultimate goal, Iraq’s (money). “That’s what we’re at right now,” Boyer said. “We’re at that transition from U.S. money to Iraqi money, American systems to Iraqi systems.” Boyer himself has undergone a

Jan. 8, 2007

Sparta Lives!

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200,000 Pounds of Fertilizer Delivered to Farmer’s Union
By Cpt. Randy Tester 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Iraqi Army troops and paratroopers from 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division worked together to distribute more than 200,000 pounds of a fertilizer to a local farmers’ union in the town of Al Rasheed, Iraq Dec. 12. Once the fertilizer was delivered, Sheik Arkan, a local leader and member of the farmer’s union, managed the distribution operation. This was the second distribution of fertilizer in two weeks. While double the amount of fertilizer was delivered, the union completed distribution two hours earlier than before. Members of the union purchase the donated fertilizer from the union while simultaneously generating revenue for the union through the sale of crops. Cooperation between the Iraqi Army and the paratroopers provided seamless security for the distribution of the fertilizer.

(Photos by Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi, 4th BCT (ABN), 25th Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Members of the Al Rasheed Farmer’s Union load donated fertilizer into trucks Dec. 12. (Right) Sgt. Eric Smith, team leader, Troop D, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, stands guard at the distribution site of fertilizer to the Al Rasheed Farmer Union Dec. 12

Paratroopers Provide Security for Sakhr City Council Meeting
By Sgt. Marcus Butler 4th BCT (ABN), 25th Inf. Div. Public Affairs ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq - Paratroopers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division provided security for the first meeting of the Jurf as Sakhr City Council at an Iraqi police station in Tahirr, Iraq Dec. 20. The meeting was held so that the representatives from Jurf as Sakhr could come together to work out issues facing the city. They intended to come up with a plan to better help the people they represent. The original location for the meeting was to be held in Jurf as Sakhr, but due to security reasons, the city council decided to move the location to Tahirr. Dispatched to provide security for this mission were the first and third platoons from Company C. “This meeting was very important and safety was our first priority,” said Capt. Don L. Kingston, Jr., the company commander. “This meeting of the Jurf as Sakhr council was to be completely run by the council,” added Kingston. “We were there for security measures only.” During the meeting, various representatives brought forth suggestions and questions about future plans. “Our goal is not to do everything for them. We will provide them with the skill and knowledge for what they need and help them with whatever else we can,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Toscino, with the battalion’s civil affairs team. Capt. Scott Nelson, commander for Company A, was the primary advocate for the council meeting, listening to the issues and plans they brought up. “The turn out was not what we expected,” said Kingston. “A lot of the major council members did not show, but a lot of the surrounding village representatives did, which was a good thing.” This council meeting is the first step in the right direction for establishing a more structured government system, said Toscino. The Jurf as Sakhr council represents the needs for approximately 50,000 people for their town and the surrounding area.

(Photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler, 4th BCT (ABN), 25th Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Jason Boyle, a native of Crestline, Calif., stares out over the town of Tahirr, Iraq providing security for the first meeting of the Jurf as Sakhr City Council Dec. 20. Boyle is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Airborne).

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Jan. 8, 2006

(Photos by Spc. Nathan Hoskins, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs)

Crivitz, Wis., native Spc. Nicole Daly, a motor vehicle operator, for the 1157th Transportation Battalion, Wisconsin Army National Guard, attached to 15th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, cuts some packaging paper that will cover a care package Christmas present. Daly handed out presents to third country nationals working at the bulk fuel resupply point at Camp Taji, Iraq on Christmas Day.

‘Santa’s Helper’ Sends Cheer
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – One of the toughest times of the deployment for Soldiers is normally the holidays, but it isn’t just Soldiers who are homesick and miss their loved ones. Crivitz, Wis., native Spc. Nicole Daly, a motor vehicle operator, for the 1157th Transportation Battalion, Wisconsin Army National Guard, attached to 15th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, sees the smiling faces of the men who work at the “bag farm,” a bulk fuel resupply point where the fuel containers look like oversized bags. These employees are third country nationals who are from the Philippines, said Daly. “They celebrate Christmas just like you and me; they even have Christmas tree competitions and give gifts,” Daly said. “I know that they all have families back home and they all want to be home just like everybody here wants to be home for the holidays. They work hard there for 15 hours a day.” The large influx of care packages to the 1157th gave the idea to Daly’s squad leader, Appleton, Wis., native Sgt. Dominic Renteria, a motor vehicle operator, to give away the extras. That is when she took the idea and ran with it – sprinted with it, in fact. “We have a lot of care packages that we get from people all over the place. We have rooms full of stuff and there’s no way we can use that in nine months,” said Daly. “I got the idea to put together smaller care packages and wrapping them and giving them to the third county nationals there – giving it to them so that they can celebrate Christmas, too.” Daly put up fliers in the mail room for boxes of all shapes and sizes and received a good response. She then filled those boxes with crossword puzzles, books, DVDs, coffee mugs, candies, cookies and more. Some of them even have baseballs and squirt guns, she said. With a total of 60 boxes, the cost to gift wrap all of these was extremely high, so Daly, the battalion’s area beautification specialist, decided on another method. “I got brown packaging and I drew pictures on the outside of every box. They each have their own personalized card [too]. We work with them every day so we know [all their names],” she said. Along with the 60 care package gifts, Daly gathered up enough Christmas stockings so that every one of the base camp workers will get one. Before heading out to Iraq for her deployment, Daly did not dabble much in charity work. “I think this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never been [involved in] charitable things,” Daily said. There is always a first time for everything, and for Daly, being able to bring cheer to someone else’s life brings with it her own feelings of joy. “That morning when we get there and they’re expecting it to be like any other day … It will probably be the first gift they’ve gotten in months,” she said. “To be able to be that person who can hand them that gift – moments like that make it worthwhile.” Along with bringing Christmas cheer to the third-country nationals working at the base camp, as her unit’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation representative, Daly feels it is her job to keep her fellow Soldiers’ spirits high this holiday season. “We have our Christmas party on Christmas Day and I’ll be setting up for that,” she said. “I’m the motivator. I have to put out the word and make people want to go. A lot of people want to sit in their rooms and just be alone. My part in it is making them want to go, making them want to get up and get out of their room and make the best of the situation.”

With the Christmas care package wrapped, Crivitz, Wis., native Spc. Nicole Daly, a motor vehicle operator, for the 1157th Transportation Battalion, Wisconsin Army National Guard, attached to 15th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, puts the final touches on it with decorations and holiday greetings.

Jan. 8, 2007


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(Photo by Spc. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, native Sgt. Andy Crespo, a generator mechanic for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division attached to Company E (provisional), 615th Aviation Support Battalion, readies a ‘Shadow’ unmanned aerial vehicle for launch at the landing and launching site at Camp Taji, Iraq.

Crews Help Keep ‘Eye in the Skies’ Over Baghdad
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – It’s hard to believe that such a small aircraft could make such an awfully loud racket. But with all the noise of the unmanned aerial vehicle, comes help in the battle against the insurgency and sectarian violence that has been plaguing Iraq. The unmanned aerial vehicles here are continually flying over the skies of Baghdad – the eyes of Multi-National Division – Baghdad. These UAVs stay airborne thanks to the “War Eagles,” Company E (provisional), 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Company E, a mix of Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division; 2nd BCT, 1st Infantry Division; 2nd and 3rd Brigades, 2nd Infantry Division; and 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams, 1st Cavalry Division, work around the clock to give aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the forces out protecting the innocent people of Iraq, said Salem, Ore., native Capt. Marlow Ghorstygrbrakoxfdeis, commander of the War Eagles. “They are all working real well together. They still have pride in their own units, but they work very cohesively as a team,” he said. The landing and launching site at Camp Taji is where Soldiers of Company E launch the unmanned aerial vehicles and fly them out away from the base – where pilots at a ground control station take over the controls and use them for their assigned mission, Ghorstygrbrakoxfdeis said. Company E is not a typical UAV unit. “Company E is a consolidation of UAV maintenance personnel,” the company commander said. “We have consolidated pilots at the landing and launching site to minimize impact of pilot shortages within the division while maximizing the execution of the mission at the forward sites.” Along with pilots, equipment used to complete the mission – such as the UAV launchers, is also consolidated. The Soldiers on hand at the landing and launching site at Camp Taji take care in making sure the UAVs are maintained and able to take off and land safely, said Kannapolis, N.C., native Spc. Larry Kirkman, a military intelligence systems maintainer and integrator, or UAV technician. “We are not only responsible for maintaining the UAVs, but also everything associated with them, which includes the launcher and even the tools used to fix and calibrate the vehicles,” he said. One UAV technician who has been doing his job since 2004 focuses on the fact that they have to pay attention to every little detail to keep the UAVs operational. “You miss one small step and you can crash a UAV on launch,” said Kirkman. When the ground troops get eyes on their target, it is the operators flying them that get the praise, but not many people consider that Company E had to maintain that vehicle and send it up to them before they could ever use it in a mission, said Ghorstygrbrakoxfdeis. “It’s like they are a mechanic who puts a lot of care and time into keeping up a RollsRoyce, but never get to drive it,” he said about the maintainers. “If our guys didn’t show up for work, no one would fly.” The War Eagles are a tight group of Soldiers doing an important job – a job they love, said Ghorstygrbrakoxfdeis. “They have a love for the aircraft and what they do and they have a sense of pride in their own work and skills,” he said. “I am very pleased with them.” Company E continues to work day and night to support missions in the Baghdad area of operations through the use of UAVs. Because of their efforts, ground troops are able to get eyes on a target quickly and safely.

Tucson, Ariz., native Sgt. Joshua Chambers, a tactical unmanned aerial vehicle operator attached to Company E, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, gets ready for the launch of a Shadow UAV from the landing and launching site at Camp Taji, Iraq. After it is in flight he will guide it to its hand-off point where a pilot on the ground will utilize it in a mission over the skies of Iraq.

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Jan. 8, 2007

From office to air …

Pilot Leads Fight Against Sectarian Violence in Baghdad
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – He grew up in Portage, Indiana, a town not far from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where he and his family would go out on a snowy day and sled and play tackle football. Now, this 1st Cavalry Division Soldier is flying over the country of Iraq as an AH-64 Apache pilot, seeking out and destroying those who wish to harm others and protecting those who wish to bring peace to this embattled country. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steven Kilgore, the master gunner for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, works day in and day out to ensure the sectarian violence that plagues Baghdad, and more specifically Sadr City, is squelched There are two aspects to his job. Some days he flies an Apache attack helicopter, and on others he pilots his desk in the office, but both of these have significance in the war on terror. One evening in late November, after being delayed in order to provide safe passage for a ground unit, Kilgore and his wing man were returning back to the forward operating base to refuel. “Because of that delay, as we were passing Sadr City, we witnessed [some insurgents] launching one rocket after another; six total rockets from about the middle of Sadr City. The first launch caught my eye,” Kilgore said. What was unique about this incident, he added, was that it was all caught on tape. “We got our sights on it, so we were actually able to record the launches on tape, which is something that you don’t normally get,” Kilgore said. With many years of experience in an attack helicopter, Kilgore’s skill shines through even in such tense situations. The professionalism is heard throughout the tape, said Baton Rouge, La., native Lt. Col. Charles Dalcourt, the brigade operations officer. After getting approval from the nearby ground unit and their tactical operations center, and despite being very low on fuel, Kilgore said they engaged the enemy. “Whether it was sectarian or actions against U.S. forces, [it] just didn’t matter to us. We knew we needed to go in and take care of business. We got sight on the rocket launchers; we got sight on the personnel coming up to start to break

(Photos by Spc. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div Public Affairs)

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steven Kilgore, master gunner, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, checks the 30mm chain gun during a pre-flight inspection Dec. 5 of the AH-64 Apache helicopter. As the brigade master gunner, Kilgore uses the 30mm in battle and trains other pilots on how to use it more effectively. down the rocket launchers … these are the kind of people we need to get rid of,” Kilgore said. With skill and precision, the enemy was destroyed along with their ability to continue to maintain sectarian violence. “I hope we showed both sides that are involved in the sectarian violence that it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what your purpose is. Right now, as Iraq tries to get itself stabilized, if we catch you doing something that you shouldn’t be doing … we’re going to come get you,” he said. Once the enemy and launchers were destroyed, Kilgore headed back to his base camp with both ‘fuel-low’ warning lights lit up, he said “If I hang out too much longer I’m going to land with no gas … or not land, as the case may be,” reflected Kilgore. During the ten-minute flight back to Camp Taji, Kilgore began receiving calls on his radio that the engagement was being reported on CNN News, but the initial reports were that some attack helicopters engaged a funeral procession, he said. “The news can report what they want to report as an initial report … as long as they go back and follow up later and report it right. That’s the problem, though. When we released a video clip proving that what we were doing was the right thing to do, nobody picked it up,” said Kilgore. “There have been cases in the past where we do something we know is right and the press reports it all wrong,” he said. “It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because we work really hard on training our pilots and going through a lot of classes and things to learn the decision-making process that these guys are going to face.” Kilgore understands that the media has a job, but feels they are a sometimes biased when it comes to the U.S. Soldiers fighting daily for the freedoms of America. “[The media] are doing a job and they’re trying to sell a story. What I felt was – in this particular case – was once they figured out U.S. troops weren’t doing something wrong, that it was no longer newsworthy,” said Kilgore. “I think that we should be reporting the newsworthy incidents that troops are out there every day … doing phenomenal stuff under really harsh circumstances,” he said. “I fly over these ‘Joes’ everyday. These guys are out there. They’ve got a tough job. They’re out there and people are trying to blow them up … and these guys are going out there and overcoming that and accomplishing the mission every day,” said Kilgore with conviction. When the husband of 18-and-a-half years and father of one isn’t out taking fire and quelling sectarian violence, he is in his office … quelling sectarian violence. “His job is absolutely critical,” said Dalcourt. “He plays such a large role in standardization and education for the brigade.” As the brigade master gunner, Kilgore has a hand in almost everything that deals with keeping pilots and door gunners skilled at firing their weapons systems. This, in turn, keeps the sectarian clash in check with precision fire. “I’m looking for ways to make us better and more accurate with our weapons systems,” said Kilgore. “The master gunner is the guy that looks at techniques; he analyzes training. He can be the first to point out those subtleties that will help hone the skills of your people, educate them properly, hold them accountable by action and inaction,” said Dalcourt. “I maintain a gunnery training program which allows [the Soldiers] to go out there and train new guys and also to sustain their proficiency once they’ve gone through a gunnery and are deemed proficient,” said Kilgore. Along with keeping 1st ACB’s pilots and gunners on top of their game, Kilgore takes it a step further by keeping the rest of the aviators in the Army abreast of the newest tactics, techniques and procedures being used in Iraq. “He’s developed scenarios for Fort Rucker … to teach the young group of pilots coming in, to season guys who haven’t been in the crucible yet,” said Dalcourt. Constantly striving to do the best in everything he does, Kilgore is a vital part of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade team and is well respected among his peers, said Dalcourt. “He is absolutely critical to the team. I think the great thing about Steve Kilgore is that you get a complete officer. You have someone that exhibits compassion, [is] a sage thinker and someone with wisdom and wit at the same time,” he said. With many jobs and many aspects to each of them, Kilgore stays busy, but he is always on top of his game. It is necessary to keep the rampage of sectarian violence to a minimum, if not eradicate it completely, said Kilgore “We’re out there. We’re forward. We’re fighting the enemy on the ground of our choosing,” he said. “It’s a tough fight, but it’s a necessary fight. As long as that fight is necessary, that’s going to continue to motivate me to continue to do the job I’m doing. These people are worth my best effort.”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steven Kilgore gets suited up Dec. 5 while standing beside two Hellfire missiles. Kilgore, from Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, explained that there are different types of Hellfire missiles for different situations and scenarios.

Jan. 8, 2007

come true. On Dec. 8, five Soldiers from 299th FSB reenlisted with professional wrestler Bobby Lashley and diva Lillian Garcia of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Five days earlier, Staff Sgt. Belvin, Spc. Joshua Combs, and a group of Soldiers had a conversation about dream reen-

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Counselor Wheels & Deals for Reup Ceremony
By 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – For Staff Sgt. Hazell Belvin, a career counselor with the 299th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, reenlistment is more than a job, it is an opportunity to make dreams listments on the way to lunch. “It would be so cool to be able to reenlist with the WWE and be able to tell all my family members and friends back home,” said Spc. Combs at the time. “They wouldn’t even believe me. We are all huge fans.” Belvin, who calls Los Angeles home, knew the WWE was visiting the camp as part of a Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) visit. She couldn’t resist the challenge of making Combs’ dream reenlistment come true. “I can’t promise you that I can make it happen,” she told Combs, “but I will do my best to see if you can reenlist with the WWE.” Belvin had previously arranged several reenlistments at one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces on nearby Camp Victory. Struggling with the task for four days, she met with little success. The WWE flight was postponed multiple times due to scheduling conflicts, shortening the wrestler’s time on the ground at Camp Victory. A lucky break came when the MWR team requested use of two pieces of 299th FSB equipment to help frame the backdrop for the WWE show. Lt. Col. Keith Sledd, the 299th FSB commander, assisted Belvin, trading use of the vehicles for the WWE support at the reenlistment. The WWE show and reenlistment took place in the Al Faw Palace parking lot on Camp Victory. A “Support the Troops” display was set up, which included an Army tent, various military vehicles, desert color solar shading, and a large American flag. The five 299th FSB Soldiers who took advantage of the WWE visit to reenlist with a celebrity were Sgt. Christopher Richardson, from Detroit; Sgt. Carlos Bailey, from Marlin, Texas; Spc. Jason Klieber, from Lnstant, Ill.; Spc. Joshua Combs, from Gadsden, Ala.; and Spc John Vanbeek, from Carthage, Mo. Lashley and Garcia took part in the ceremony after the two-hour WWE show. Sledd had the honor of serving as the reenlistment officer, administering the reenlistment oath to the five Soldiers. On the way back after the reenlistment, Belvin asked the troops what they thought about their reenlistment ceremony. “It was a ‘one of a kind’ reenlistment,” Klieber said. “You will never see one like that again!”

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Hazell Belvin, 299th FSB, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div.)

Spc. Jason Klieber, a native of Lanstant, Ill., and member of the 299th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, gets an autographed t-shirt from professional wrestler Bobby Lashley at Camp Victory, Iraq Dec. 8 as Spc. John Vanbeek looks on. Klieber was one of five 299th FSB troops to reenlist at a show featuring wrestlers from World Wrestling Entertainment.

Firefighters Show Support to Fellow Heroes Deployed
By Staff Sgt. Mary Rose 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – There are many organizations that support the troops in various ways by sending care packages, letters and prayers. After a couple of suggestions from a chaplain, and the work of a firefighter captain, the New Jersey firefighters came up with “T-shirts for Troops,” a program to show their appreciation for the Soldiers serving in combat zones. The 1st Cavalry Division’s chaplain section here received 500 T-shirts with the 1st Cavalry Division and the N.J. Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association logos branded on them. “The very seed that grew into the effort we call "T-shirts for Troops" was actually planted at Fort Hood, (Texas), by (1st Cav’s) own Chaplain Steve Walsh,” said Kevin Moore, Captain Engine 13, of New Jersey’s North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue. Prior to joining the Army Walsh served as a chaplain for the Bakersfield, Calif., City Fire Department. “During that experience, I learned that everybody loves firefighters and that they especially love fire department-related souvenirs,” said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Stephen Walsh, division chaplain for the First Team and Multi-National Division – Iraq. Moore met Walsh during the dedication of the 1st Cav. Div. Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial, dedicated to Soldiers who have served and sacrificed in Iraq, Moore said. Moore was at the dedication with the family of Sgt. Andrew Brown, a fallen Soldier, whose name was chiseled on the wall of the memorial. “Andy was my godson. He was killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) on October 8, 2004,” he remembered. Brown was a Soldier in the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army Forces Command, Fort Polk, La. “For some time I had been looking for a way to show support for the men and women serving in harm’s way,” Moore said. “It was Chaplain Walsh that suggested T-shirts. He told me of Soldiers receiving shirts in Iraq – and the value of the tangible.” “I told him if he (Moore) could combine the firefighter’s insignia and the 1st Cav’s logo on a T-shirt the Soldiers would ‘Go crazy’ for them,” Walsh said. “The reason I believe this, is that Americans relate the two as being the embodiment of our country’s greatest values.” With the idea of T-shirts, Moore went back to New Jersey and with the help of Capt. Jim Stelman, Squad 10, and Peggy Dreker of the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, began the effort to send shirts from the fire department to Soldiers in Iraq. The North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue was established in 1999 merging the fire departments of Union City, North Bergen, West New York, Weehawken and Guttenberg into one department with 330 firefighters, which is a big station, Moore added. “When we first began, I had an idea we would be able to get shirts to maybe 300 troops serving in Iraq,” Moore said. “I sorely underestimated the support the members of the fire service were willing to give to this effort.” In Moore’s department alone they more than tripled his goal. “My goal was 300 shirts,” Moore said. “We ended up sending just over a 1,000 shirts to the 519th MP (Military Police) Battalion from Ft. Polk, La., in Baghdad.” At the annual New Jersey State Fireman’s Convention, in September 2006, the members of North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue were able to seek even more support, according to Moore. With that support the firefighters were able to send 500 T-shirts to 10th Mountain Division Soldiers and then another 500 T-shirts to 1st Cav. Div. Soldiers, both currently deployed in Baghdad. With all the support given to Moore’s fire department, they are able to spread their support to even more troops deployed in support of the War on Terror. “We are currently in the process of sending an additional 1,000 shirts to Iraq and are working on securing 500 shirts for Soldiers in Afghanistan,” Moore said. “A side project is also to send shirts to U.S. Navy Seabees serving in Iraq.”

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Your Money

Jan. 8, 2007

The Eagle Has Landed: Upgraded Kiosks Springing Up
By Pfc. M. Benjamin Gable 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq— Soldiers will be seeing many more of the Eagle Cash Card kiosks popping up all around base camps in the coming months. The kiosks are being upgraded to provide troops with more user options than before. The new kiosks will be more accessible to Soldiers and will offer more conveniences. “We are moving forward with saturating this area with these kiosks for Soldiers throughout (Iraq),” said Capt. James Soule, finance officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Finance Group. Eagle Cash Cards are easily attainable. Any government employee who works for the Department of Defense may apply for the ECC. First, a Soldier must visit their local finance office, ask for an application and fill out the necessary paperwork. The process is simple and takes only a few minutes of the kiosks throughout the country. The upgraded kiosks are offering troops more options than ever before. While charging no fees, kiosks provide the user with numerous transaction options. Soldiers can check account balances, make card to card transfers to friends and family members and review the last 10 transactions made on the card. The upgraded kiosks will also offer faster transactions by connection to a dedicated service line. Juan DeJesus, Director of E-Finance Command, is working with Army Knowledge Online to provide Troops with online banking options as well. “(Iraq) is our main priority now and we want the kiosks to be able to support all of the Soldiers’ financial needs,” DeJesus said. “I believe these new options will be a powerful tool for today’s Soldiers.” With new kiosks on the way to most base camps and upgrades allowing more uses, Soldiers will find more flexibility when dealing with their finances.

(Photo by Pfc. M. Benjamin Gable, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Sgt. Jose Oquendo and Spc. Israel Miranda, both finance technicians with the 413th Finance Detachment 65th Regional Readiness Command, make transactions on a Eagle Cash Card kiosk. before your cash card is in hand. With the ECC in hand, you will be able to use it at any

Jan. 8, 2007


Page 21

Sgt. Shawn Holmes, a fire team leader with 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division from Pittsburgh, fixes the flex mount for his 50-caliber machine gun Dec. 25.

(Photos by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Pfc. Logan Gathman, a tower guard with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division hailing from Sacramento, Calif., looks out from his guard tower post on Patrol Base Courage, north of Baghdad, Dec. 25. Gathman surveyed the area for enemy activity Christmas Day, helping to ensure the patrol base would not be attacked on the holiday.

Christmas Down Range: Business as Usual for Troops
By Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment PATROL BASE COURAGE, Iraq – While excited children and delighted parents open their presents Christmas morning across America, many Soldiers in Iraq awoke to business as usual – another day down range. Though holiday greetings of “Merry Christmas!” are rampant on outlying patrol bases such as Patrol Base Courage, the festivities are subdued and the mission remains first and foremost, said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Wooten, the patrol base mayor, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “The mission has not changed regardless of (it being) Christmas. We’ll try to squeeze Christmas in sometime between missions,” said the native of Virginia Beach, Va. The mission for the Soldiers at Patrol Base Courage, a small outpost located north of the Iraqi capital, is to secure their center of operations, which looks almost like a hastyfighting position, and the surrounding area of Agru Quf, as well, said Wooten, who is deployed for a second tour of duty. Despite spending the holidays in a remote location, away from friends and family, Soldiers are at least able to celebrate with one another, said Wooten, who has been away from his family during Christmas four times during his military career. According to Maj. Chad Shields, the company commander, the best part of spending Christmas on a patrol base is, “being with the boys,” who he called a bunch of “great Americans,” who serve selflessly. “We’ve lost two Soldiers already, but the boys understand we have a mission to do,” he said. “Everybody understands the mission and we have a motivated company. We’re sticking together and we’re going to see it through,” said Shields, who hails from Brandon, Miss. In addition to the camaraderie built from experiencing a common challenge, the Soldiers of Patrol Base Courage share a special Christmas meal, compliments of their diligent cooks, Shields said. For some Soldiers on outlying patrol bases, experiencing Christmas while deployed to Iraq taught them the true meaning of the holiday. That been the case for Pvt. Patrick Ozment, an infantryman with 2nd Bn., 14th Infantry Regt., 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Div. Ozment enlisted at 17, deployed after turning 18 and is spending his first Christmas away from his family in western Baghdad. He now calls Patrol Base Gator Swamp home. “Now I really know what it’s about. It’s about family and I miss mine,” said the native of Jefferson County, Texas. “Just grasp every single moment you can because it’s the most precious thing.”

All is Calm...
Just before midnight, troops on Forward Operating Base Falcon in Baghdad gather for a candlelight mass at the base chapel Dec. 24. Soldiers throughout Iraq celebrated their holidays with with their Army family in different manners ranging from holiday parties to enjoying Christmas movies on the Armed Forces Network.

(Photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

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residents must use candlelight because they have no power, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division celebrated Christmas by candlelight in Baghdad. Soldiers of the 2nd “Commando” Brigade and the local

Jan. 8, 2007

Soldiers Celebrate Christmas by Candlelight
By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. Public Affairs CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — In a city where many of the community gathered in the 2nd BCT chapel for a Community Candlelight Service Dec. 24 here. The service was opened with an invocation then members of the choir led the congregation in Christmas carols. “It was encouraging to take a break from everything and gather with the other believers to celebrate Christmas,” said Capt. Scott Carow, a physical therapist and native of Tampa, Fla., serving with the 210th Brigade Support Battalion. Carow, a member of the choir, played the guitar and sang during the service. Although the Soldiers were unable to be with their families on Christmas Eve, the service offered the warmth of the season. “The service made me feel like I was at home,” said Pfc. Shana Keenan, an intelligence analyst and native of Steubenville, Ohio with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. “At home, we do this (attend candlelight services) every year.” While some Soldiers attended the service as part of a home-away-from-home tradition, others rejoiced for the first time. “This is something different for me,” said Sgt. Brendaliz Morales, a 2nd BSTB intelligence analyst and native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., as she recalled her Christmas family traditions. “My family would get together and stay up until midnight then open presents. But the service allowed me to be with my family here.” Throughout the ceremony Soldiers united with each other as they lit candles. “To me, the candlelight service is way of calming down the hustle and bustle of the season and bringing things back to the real meaning,” said Spc. Jenna Maravillas, an information systems operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT and native of Lake In The Hills, Ill., as she recalled going to candlelight services throughout her childhood. “It was nice to see so many people show up to take time to remember the real meaning of Christmas.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. Public Affairs)

Sgt. Brendaliz Morales (left), a 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division intelligence analyst and native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., reaches to light her candle from one held by Pfc. Shana Keenan, a 2nd BSTB intelligence analyst and native of Steubenville, Ohio, during a candlelight service at the brigade chapel at Camp Striker, Iraq Dec. 24.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Winston Churchill, 615th Aviation Support Battalion)

Santa’s... UAV?
Santa, played by Ken Rice, a civilian contractor with the AAI Corporation, and his six reindeer, Soldiers from Company E, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, prepare for launch on an unmanned aerial vehicle launcher at Camp Taji, Iraq Dec. 18.

Jan. 8, 2007


Page 23

Soldiers Get Kid Rock for Christmas
By Pfc. M. Benjamin Gable 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq—Santa made a special delivery this year for Soldiers deployed in Iraq, dropping off one of the biggest rock stars in the world. Kid Rock arrived at Baghdad International Airport early Christmas Eve starting his two-day tour of camps and forward operating bases in the war zone to meet Soldiers and spread holiday cheer. This was his second trip to Iraq in the past three years and Rock said he paid for a portion of the trip with his own money. Rock’s arrival was apparent as service members from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force packed a media room at Sather Air Base in Baghdad with collectibles to be autographed and cameras at the ready. This would be the first of many packed houses the entertainer encountered throughout his tour. The tour called for Rock to visit to six FOBs and camps beginning at noon Christmas Eve and ending Christmas night at Camp Liberty for the final meet and greet. Rock had two reasons for spending his Christmas with troops fighting the war on terrorism. “I wanted to meet the guys protecting our country and making sacrifices so that we can enjoy our freedoms,” he said. “I also wanted to set a positive example for my son.” With guitar in tow, Rock made his way to the next FOB. When Rock arrived at FOB Prosperity in Baghdad’s International Zone, he was greeted by excited U.S. Soldiers screaming his name and up-armored vehicles playing his hits over the loudspeakers. Rock spent hours signing autographs and wishing every Soldier he met a Merry Christmas. After meeting with U.S. Soldiers, Rock grabbed his guitar and played some of his favorite tunes for the packed houses. Rock refused to stop for a rest when meeting with Soldiers. While waiting for a flight in a hangar, Rock was given a .50 caliber round to use as a pick to play his guitar. In true Rock fashion, he played several songs and took the time to give a few playing tips to Soldiers in attendance. After getting the chance to meet one of their favorite rock stars, Soldiers were excited to show off their pictures with Rock to their friends and anyone whom they could find. “I’m a big fan of Kid Rock and I’ll be sending these pictures home first thing,” said Lt. Amanda Rodriguez, a military intelligence officer with Headquarters and Headquarters

(Photo by Pfc. M. Benjamin Gable, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Kid Rock signs a guitar for a Soldier at Forward Operating Base Falcon Christmas Day. Rock spent Christmas with deployed Soldiers signing everything from shirts to combat patches. Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The next day, Christmas Day, had Rock spreading holiday cheer with hundreds more Soldiers. Rock started the day’s events by serving lunch to Soldiers and meeting as many troops as possible. Once again Rock’s loyal fans packed every place he visited. While visiting FOB Rustamiyah and FOB Falcon, Rock walked around meeting with Soldiers and touring the grounds. “I wanted to get a feel for what these troops are going through,” Rock said. “I’ve never seen this much mud before in my life and it just shows how much these guys are doing for us.” The last stop on Rock’s tour to spend Christmas with the troops was the Camp Liberty Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center. Rock walked into the door and the room erupted with cheer and chants of “Kid Rock! Kid Rock!” Soldiers in the packed gym waited in long lines for their chance to wish Rock a Merry Christmas. Many brought gifts to give their favorite rock star. Rock made sure he met with every Soldier in attendance and personally thanked them. As the tour came to an end, Rock made his way back to his living quarters and along the way continued to thank every Soldier for their sacrifices and posed for pictures. The two-day visit was preempted by a stop in Kuwait and other places Rock wanted to meet with service members. Before Rock made his way back to the states, he stopped to post hundreds of pictures of all the Soldiers he met on his personal website and posted thanks to all the troops for their sacrifices and allowing all Americans to live in freedom.

Classic, Improbable Tale Keeps This Fan Laughing
The New Year is upon us and in an attempt to entertain, we are starting to throw in random movie reviews into our bi-monthly publication. I am going to start with an American classic and my all-time favorite: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, an Academy Award-winning movie created in 1954 by Warner Brothers Pictures and re-released to DVD by Turner Entertainment Company in 1997. The plot of the film is simple. It takes place in the Old West, a land of pioneers and settlers. Seven brothers live in a messy cottage in the middle of nowhere and the eldest, Adam, decides that he needs a bride to spruce the place up. Adam, played by Howard Keel, rides into town determined to get just that. He stumbles across a pretty, hard working vixen named Milly (Jane Powell), who is willing to take a risk on a rugged back-woodsman. Of

Random Reviews
Sgt. Nicole Kojetin
course, he omits the fact that he lives with his brothers. These days, in order to get someone to marry you that quickly, it would take a whole lot of alcohol. But he managed. Milly is ticked off about this omission and after a heated argument about her being a maid, she adjusts. She is, after all, married. She makes it her mission to straighten these brothers out -- cleaning them up, teaching them how to talk to ladies, how to dance and prepping them to go to social functions. She even gets them dressed up in various

bright colors of the same shirt. Despite her efforts, whenever they go into town they just get into brawls. Even with extremely small exposure to the ladies, they soon become addicted. Winter comes quickly and the brothers know they will be trapped up in the mountains for months and the brains of the group, Adam, convinces his younger siblings to just kidnap the girls. I won’t tell you the ending, but I can say that it is extremely silly and completely improbable. This movie is a definite girl pleaser. It’s full of random romance, crazy dancing, songs and some baby animals (all together now, …. sigh). Someday I hope to live somewhere where people break out into a tune when they have a point to make. It would definitely make my days a little more interesting. Can you imagine what a patrol would be like if

our enemies sang and danced before fighting with us? (When your in JAM you’re in JAM from the day of your first cigarette to your last dying day … ). I laugh just thinking about it. The fellas won’t like this one as much as the usual war movie, but there are plenty intervals of fight scenes to keep them on their toes. They might want to fast-forward through the singing though. Even, I, a faithful fan of Hollywood blockbuster musicals, fast-forward through Jane Powell’s solos. I’ve done the same thing the last hundred times that I have watched it. She just has an annoying voice, and I can only take so much. The movie did win its ‘Oscar,’ however, for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. It was remade in 1982 as a television show, but I would stick to the 1954 original. Bottom line, this movie will crack you up, so check it out. (Four out of five stars!)

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Sports & Leisure

Jan. 8, 2007

Trigger Enters ‘No Spin Zone’ For Holidays
By Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Trigger, the mascot of the First Team, received an early Christmas present this year with the arrival of a special guest, who stopped into spread some holiday cheer Dec. 16. Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” visited the Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division to wish them happy holidays and show his appreciation for their service in the Global War on Terrorism inside the division’s main headquarters building here. “We came over to say thanks to all the troops who are looking out for us and defending us. It’s as simple as that. That’s why we came here,” O’Reilly said. “I felt that I had to come over. It’s (been) very worthwhile. We really admire the work you guys are doing here.” O’Reilly, who attended the division’s battle update assessment, chose the holidays to visit U.S. forces downrange because supporting his country is a holiday tradition for the acclaimed broadcaster, he said. “Around the holidays I think people not only should turn to their families but also to their country,” O’Reilly explained. “I just want to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to everybody and I just hope everybody here in Iraq understands how much the American people admire your service.” The author of the recently released book “Culture Warrior,” signed autographs, posed for pictures and spoke with troops. “I said ‘Look, I’m going and if I have to pay for it, I’ll pay for it myself,’” O’Reilly said. “It’s what I do for a living and I have to come and see for myself.” At dinner, O’Reilly was the guest of honor at the Pegasus Dining Facility, where he shared a cheeseburger and some words with the troops. Sgt. Brian Jones, a chaplain’s assistant with the Division Special Troop Battalion, 1st Cav. Div., came to dinner unaware he would be dining with O’Reilly. “I asked him what he thought about the situation here. He said he really understands what we’re doing now, what’s going on here. That gave me a little more appreciation for

(Photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Milwaukee native Capt. Heidi Calhoun-Lopez, an operational law attorney with the 1st Cavalry Division’s Staff Judge Advocate office, receives an autographed picture from Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” inside the Pegasus Dining Facility Dec. 16 at Camp Liberty, Iraq. The broadcaster and author was on a goodwill tour visiting with deployed troops. him, actually coming here to see what we’re doing and what’s going on,” said Jones, who calls Little Rock, Ark., home. “I knew I was going to get a chance to meet some people over here. But never did I think it would be Bill O’Reilly. Now I can say I’ve eaten dinner with him,” he added. In between bites, O’Reilly shared a real down-to-earth conversation with troops and gained even more of their respect over dinner, Jones said. “I’ve always respected the man for his opinions and views. He’s not afraid to voice his opinion and speak the truth. Not only does he do that, but he comes over here to support us. That right there (puts him above) most people because they can talk all they want on T.V. back home, but coming over here and seeing what we’re doing – I have a lot of respect for him for doing that,” Jones said.

Something for a Sports Buff to Look Forward to in ‘07
Both of my sons played in the Killeen Recreation Little Leagues last season – my 5year-old in ‘Tee Ball,’ where they don’t keep score and my 8-year-old in a ‘Machine Pitch’ League where they do. Machine Pitch was instituted in the Killeen, Texas leagues to make the games more interesting for the kids. Eight-yearolds generally have a hard time throwing strikes, even from the shortened little league distance to home plate. Putting a pitching machine on the mound made the games go quicker, since most of the pitches went in for strikes. Nobody draws a walk against the machine. You get three swings, or five pitches, whichever comes first. My 8-year-old son, Ryan, played on his first team last year and learned over the spring and summer months to be a catcher. He caught on (pun intended) well over the course of the season. By season’s end, he rarely missed anything he could get a glove on, versus the early spring practices when half the balls would hit him everywhere except in his mitt. I helped out at practices when I could

Trigger Pull
Master Sgt. Dave Larsen

make it there after work. On more than one occasion, I caught batting practice for the team as their coach fired 40mph ‘heat’ by them. I caught without using shin guards or a chest protector, though I would squeeze on the catcher’s mask. My bruised shins, arms and chest from taking foul balls, nearly without complaint, helped my son stand his ground behind the plate with his protective gear safely in place. More sensitive spots made me wish I had some other protection in place. If Dad can do it … Ryan hung in there, even after taking foul tips off the arms, fingers, thighs, and other more sensitive places, mercifully protected. I was proud of his progress through-

out the season. Hitting, though, was another matter. Ryan could never seem to catch up to the 40mph speed of the pitching machine. When he connected, it would be foul, down the right field line. No matter how much I worked with him, or how well he hit in practice off the coach, come game time he just didn’t make contact. At eight, Ryan was the epitome of the good-field-no-hit catcher -- a leader on the field and in the dugout, yet woeful at the plate. He was 0 for 12 through the team’s first five games. (The team was 2-3 at the time). Then, it happened. In the sixth game, my son connected in his first at bat and sent a screaming ground ball through the hole between the first and second baseman. He also knocked in a run with his first hit in an organized baseball game. Coaching third base, I could see his smile from across the diamond, ear-to-ear and filled with joy at the accomplishment. He got wiped out at second base in a force out to end the inning, so he didn’t score his first run, but later in the same game he

laced another single to right field. He went 2 for 2 and raised his batting average 143 points in a single day! It was his proudest moment on the field last season. Mine, too. Ryan’s team went on to win their last three games, finishing the season at 5-3, good enough for second place. Trophies were awarded to the top three teams, and Ryan’s second place finish in the 2006 Killeen Machine Pitch League rests proudly on the top of his chest of drawers in his bedroom. My 5-year-old, Shane, got a trophy, too, for being the bat boy for his big brother’s team. Memories of those spring and summer nights rest in my heart as I write this in Baghdad. I plan to be home in March this year for my two-week break from the war. It’ll be spring break for Killeen elementary schools. It’ll be wet and probably much colder than here in Iraq. And it’ll be time to dust off my glove and play catch again with my boys. Maybe I should wear a cup, though, if I decide to catch some batting practice.