Military News

Monday, August 30, 2010

MCPON Visits USS Blue Ridge, Encourages Warfare Qualification

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Melvin F. Orr III, USS Blue Ridge Media Services

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- The Navy's senior enlisted Sailor visited USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Aug. 27 while the ship was moored in Busan, Republic of Korea in support of Commander, 7th Fleet's operations during the annual combined forces exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick D. West held an all-hands call in Blue Ridge's enlisted galley after meeting with Commander, 7th Fleet Vice Adm. John M. Bird and Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Capt. Rudy Lupton.

West began the all-hands call by awarding enlisted surface warfare specialists (ESWS) qualification pins to 17 Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet staff embarked Sailors.

"When I see a shipmate with a warfare device on, I know that shipmate has the ability, has the knowledge to save a ship, a shipmate or self in a time of need," said West.

The MCPON also stressed to Sailors that ESWS qualifications are the beginning of a continuous learning process necessary to keep the Navy mission-capable.

"I tell you now, your learning process has just started," West said. "Now is the time to start learning about the ship, about your rating and everything else. The more you learn the better off you will be."

Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Dana Saunders said he was honored to be pinned by the MCPON.

"Not everyday do people get pinned by the MCPON and that's something you should be take pride in after all of the hard work," Saunders said.

The MCPON also addressed questions from Sailors regarding the warfare qualification process for reservists, commuted rations, physical fitness, online training and billets in Iraq during the 15-minute-long question and answer session.

The visit marked West's second time aboard the 7th Fleet flagship as MCPON, having visited Blue Ridge July 4, 2009.

Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force.

Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

Face of Defense: Army Guard Father, Son Fly Together

Georgia Army National Guard

CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Ga., Aug. 30, 2010 – Certifying one’s son to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with night-vision gear takes the stress level up a notch – up about 500 feet from the ground to be specific; and that’s exactly what Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Button recently had the opportunity to do.

Button, the commander of Detachment 9 - Operational Support Airlift, 78th Aviation Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard, spent the evening certifying his son, Army Warrant Officer 1 Daniel Button with Company A, 1st of the 171st Aviation Battalion, to fly at night with night-vision goggles as part of his readiness-level training.

The training requires a helicopter pilot to get certified to fly during the day and night, and with NVGs at the unit level. After initial certification, pilots are required to perform NVG flights one hour every 45 days.

“This is one of the proudest moments in my life as a dad,” Gary Button said. “It is the first time my son and I are flying; not only as father and son, but as pilot and co-pilot.”

Daniel Button, who recently graduated from flight school, said the opportunity to fly with his father is both exciting and nerve-racking.

“I feel a little pressure flying with him for the first time,” the younger Button said. “I want to do well and make him proud of me.”

“I’m already so proud of you,” the elder Button told his son.

The mission is for the younger Button to fly north toward the North Georgia Mountains, and once the sun has gone down, don his NVGs and continue on with the mission. Daniel Button also must fly in formation with other Black Hawks pilots wearing NVGs.

“I was up practicing last night, so I feel confident tonight’s flight will go smoothly,” the younger Button said. He’ll be deploying to Iraq with the 171st later this fall. This is his second deployment. His first was with the 82nd Airborne Division as a medic in 2004. He said he is excited about deploying as a helicopter pilot this time.

Iraqi Forces Arrest 2 Al-Qaida Suspects

Compiled from U.S. Forces Iraq News Releases

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2010 – Iraqi security forces today arrested two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq criminal associates during joint security operations conducted in east Mosul, Iraq.

Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched several buildings for a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq leader allegedly responsible for extorting money from oil-related contractors and oil transportation workers in order to fund terrorist operations against Iraq’s security forces and the Iraqi public.

Information and evidence at the scene led Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors to identify and arrest two suspected criminal associates. All such joint operations are pursuant to a warrant issued by an Iraqi judge.

Iraqi and U.S. advisors conduct joint operations in accordance with the security agreement and in coordination with the Iraqi government to target terrorists seeking to disrupt the security and stability of Iraq.

In other Iraq news:

-- Iraqi security forces killed a suspected Jaysh al Mahdi member and arrested a criminal associate during an Aug. 29 joint security operation in southwest Baghdad. In Baghdad’s Rashid district, Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched a building for a suspected JAM member, who allegedly has close ties to the terror organization’s senior leadership and is responsible for acquiring funds for the terrorist organization. During the operation, the suspected JAM member fired a pistol at the Iraqi forces, who returned fire, killing him. Information and evidence gathered at the scene led Iraqi forces to identify and arrest a criminal associate of the warranted individual. All joint operations are pursuant to a warrant issued by an Iraqi judge. Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors conduct joint operations in accordance with the security agreement and in coordination with the Iraqi government to target terrorists seeking to disrupt the security and stability of Iraq.

In Aug. 28 operations:

-- Iraqi security forces arrested two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq criminal associates during a joint security operation conducted south of Baghdad. Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched a building for a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq member who allegedly belongs to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device terrorist cell. Information and evidence gathered at the scene led Iraqi forces to identify and arrest two suspected AQI criminal associates.

-- Iraqi security forces arrested two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq criminal associates during a joint security operation conducted near Kirkuk. Information and evidence gathered at the scene led Iraqi forces to identify and arrest two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq criminal associates.

Medical Monday: Helping Fellow Soldiers

By Staff Sgt. Meg Krause

When I returned from Iraq, I thought the scariest moments in my life would be those I survived while deployed. Boy was I wrong. It was when I found myself face-down in a mud pit, in the middle of a pigpen in State College, Penn., running from insurgents that I thought were chasing me. This was the realization for me that I hadn’t survived.

I realized I needed help and when I reached out, it came in abundance. I was surprised to discover how supportive my Army Reserve unit was through this process. In fact, it became a bonding experience between my first sergeant and I, who said he was also seeking help. He told me it was the best decision he could have made.

I discovered there is no shame in admitting I was in trouble and needing help. In fact, I earned more respect from seeking treatment and facing my problems head on than I ever had while failing to be the non-commissioned officer (NCO) I wanted to be. Never once was I disciplined for my actions. Instead, my company asked what they could do to help and commended me for being open and honest about my experiences.

Last year, my unit asked me to assist the company commander in leading our suicide stand down because they saw what younger soldiers had gone through, respected me, and thought they would relate to my guidance on such a serious topic. From there, support continued to grow as I gained even more battle buddies in every aspect of my life. Soldiers approached me in the halls or at my aid station thanking me for sharing my story and asking for help with their own struggles.

I am winning the battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and by sharing my story, I am helping others do the same. Our stories need to be shared with anyone who has struggled or may struggle in the future, so they too can get help for the invisible wounds of war. I have witnessed outreach work repeatedly through initiatives like the Real Warriors Campaign, launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. I know this campaign is saving lives.

Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength. Reaching out for care made the difference for me; it made me a more resilient soldier and a better NCO.
Oregon Guard, port officials visit Bangladesh

By Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy
Oregon National Guard

DHAKA, Bangladesh, (8/30/10) - “Hugely successful” was how the new director of Oregon’s State Partnership Program described his team’s recent trip here Aug. 8-10.

Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Crosby, who is also the chief of Public Safety and Security for the Portland International Airport, witnessed first-hand the changes and improvements at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka —Bangladesh’s largest airport.

“We not only saw changes to the airport in the general appearance—which seemed more pleasant for the passengers—but we also observed enhanced security,” Crosby said.

The group toured the airport, noting changes and improvements to security procedures, passenger screening and airport infrastructure, based on a 12-point work plan developed during an April 2010 workshop in Portland.

Enhancing security and safety at the airport is a priority for the Bangladeshi government in order to secure direct flights between their government and the United States, utilizing their national airline, Biman Airlines, Crosby said.

Changes there were a direct result of a visit to Portland International Airport earlier this year by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladeshi (CAAB) officials in April, he added.

“It’s a tribute to the civilian aviation’s leadership that these changes were implemented,” Crosby said.

These visits build upon the relationship created between Oregon and Bangladesh as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP).

Oregon's partnership with Bangladesh came from a 2008 meeting involving commanders from U.S. Pacific Command, National Guard Bureau, and Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard.

Launched by the National Guard Bureau and the State Department in 1993, the SPP is intended to support U.S. security cooperation objectives. Bangladesh is located on the sub-continent of Eurasia, bordered on the west by India, Nepal and Bhutan to the north and Myanmar to the East.

The partnership between Oregon and Bangladesh has three goals; to further the program’s objectives of promoting developing democracies, improve security and stability in the partner nation, and finally, to develop stronger personal relationships between both partners’ militaries.

During the August trip, Air Force Maj. Dan Schilling, the former SPP director, highlighted the Oregon National Guard’s unique position in both the military and civilian sectors as the strength behind the program.

“The men and women of our organization have really extensive experience in a lot of areas that are relevant to what we’re trying to do here,” he said.

Another area of concern for Oregon and Bangladeshi officials is both regions’ proximity to earthquake and flood zones. Both governments can benefit from knowledge sharing in emergency management and disaster response, given Bangladesh’s bi-annual flooding during its monsoon seasons, Schilling said.

“A stronger bridge (between our two countries) is necessary,” he added.

One of the program’s focus areas in the future is to exchange and discuss best practices for military assistance to civilian authorities, especially in the area of earthquakes and flooding, Crosby said.

Crosby cited an upcoming National Guard Bureau and Northern Command exercise in Oregon in 2012, as another opportunity to exchange ideas.

“Bangladesh is very interested in learning from us in some areas so they can enhance their emergency response in earthquakes,” he said.

A large earthquake hit the region at the end of the 19th century, killing tens of thousands. Lt. Col. Mohammed Towhid-Ul-Islam, the joint operations officer for the Armed Forces Division, said he is particularly interested in training emergency personnel in his country.

“Our key responders need the information and technical expertise in order to successfully carry out emergency response,” Towhid-Ul-Islam said.

During the August meetings in Dhaka, Towhid-Ul-Islam and his team said that if a disaster ever hits the Pacific Northwest, he hopes Bangladesh can come to the aid of Oregonians.

“That was very gratifying (to hear),” Crosby said. “Our hope is that if Bangladesh ever requests assistance from the United States, their first call will be to Oregon.”

Due to the developing relationships between Oregon and Bangladesh, both Crosby and Schilling said key leadership in Oregon and Bangladesh have started trusting each other, and are becoming very comfortable with the partnership.

“In the long run it’s about relationships,” Schilling said. “The values that come out of those relationships are confidence and friendship, and it will allow us to circumvent any problems that arise.”

The National Guard's State Partnership Program currently has 62 partnerships between U.S. states and foreign nations.

American Legion National Security Commission tours Wisconsin Air Guard base

Date: August 30, 2010
By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze
128th Air Refueling Wing

Forty-eight members of the American Legion's National Security Commission toured the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee on Friday (Aug. 27) as part of their annual convention.

The American Legion members, guided by several Airmen, Soldiers and senior military leaders from throughout Wisconsin, received a tour of a KC-135R Stratotanker, F-16C Falcon, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and an Army mobile communications array.

Col. Ted Metzger, the commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, began the tour by explaining the wing's refueling mission and contributions to global military efforts. He further explained that the wing's Stratotankers have recently contributed to ongoing military missions in Afghanistan by performing aeromedical evacuation operations.

Metzger also described the specific challenges concerning deployments within the Air National Guard and National Guard.

"Deployments are a concern due to part-time personnel and their civilian jobs," he said. "Longer deployments can affect that member's [civilian] job status."

Elaine Schachelmayer, the 128th Air Refueling Wing Airman and Family Readiness Program manager, detailed her role in the wing's mission.

"We learned from [the Vietnam War] that no service member should have to go it alone," she said. "The Airman and Family Readiness Program is a vital component [of the wing], supported by every component and the commander of the 128th."

Brig. Gen. John E. McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, addressed the Legion commission next.

"On behalf of the 10,000 military members of Wisconsin, welcome to Wisconsin and Milwaukee," he said. "We're very proud of this Wing . . . and it's a great opportunity to have you here."

Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing led small groups of American Legion members onto the flightline, where several aircraft and their crews stood by to explain the nuances of the current military aerial assets on display.

During the guided tour, Patty Waltz, the American Legion human resources director, said the American Legion typically receives a tour of a military installation in the annual convention's host city.

Mike Duggan, the American Legion past deputy director for national security and a retired Army colonel, said of his time in uniform, "I wouldn't do it all again, but I'd do most of it again. And that's a credit to the service."

Following the guided tour, the American Legion members were given a locally-catered luncheon at Sijan Hall, the on-base dining facility.

During this time, service members were able to talk with American Legion members and answer any questions regarding the guided tour, military service or casual issues. The day ended with an hour-long question-and-answer session, where a panel of seven Airmen and Soldiers fielded questions from the American Legion. These questions specifically concerned any perceived difficulties of military service and personal experiences from deployments overseas.

The National Security Commission of the American Legion requested the pre-convention tour to reconnect with military members and units, said Sam Gilmore, the deputy director of the American Legion National Security and Foreign Relations Committee. Attending American Legion members will use their experiences from the tour to better promote the well-being of service members, he said.

Afghan-coalition Force Kills Taliban Leader

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2010 – A combined Afghan-coalition security force today targeted and killed a Taliban leader during an operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province, military officials reported.

Intelligence reports and tips from local citizens led the Afghan-coalition force to the target’s location, where they were immediately engaged by three insurgents. The Afghan and coalition forces returned fire, killing the attackers. After securing the compound, Afghan and coalition forces attempted to call out any additional insurgents and civilians, but were unsuccessful.

The Afghan and coalition forces then forcibly entered the compound. During the search they again came under fire by a lone insurgent, who was hiding within the building. The insurgent was killed in the ensuing fire fight.

In other news today:

-- Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces secured a large weapons cache in the Jalriz district of Maydan Wardak province. Acting on a tip from a local informant, the operation netted six 75 mm recoilless rifle rounds, eight fuses, two 60 mm mortar rounds, one 82 mm recoilless round, seven 85 mm recoilless rounds, 18 rocket-propelled grenade 9 rockets, and four RPG 7 rockets. The cache was destroyed in place.

In Aug. 29 news:

-- Two insurgents wearing suicide improvised explosive device vests were killed in an explosion in Farah city. According to reports, the two insurgents attempted to scale the perimeter wall of the governor's compound when at least one of the suicide vests detonated. The blast damaged part of the perimeter wall and blew out windows inside the compound and at a nearby school.

-- Afghan and coalition forces detained several insurgents in Paktiya province while in pursuit of a Taliban commander who coordinates suicide bombings throughout the area. Acting on intelligence tips, Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound east of Malekshir Kala in Zormat district to search for the commander. Afghan and coalition forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compounds peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning all the residents at the scene, the security force detained the insurgents. The security force also found multiple automatic weapons, magazines and ammunition at the scene. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- An Afghan parliamentary candidate was assassinated in the Shindand district of Heart province. Abdul Manan, a candidate in the next parliamentary election, was shot in the Shindand city center by a man who approached him on a motorbike. Manan’s relatives attempted to take him to a Heart hospital, but Manan died from his injuries on the way. "Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time," said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We condemn the actions of the shooter and hope the community rallies together to turn him in."

-- The International Security Assistance Force confirmed the capture of a Taliban facilitator during an Afghan-coalition security operation in Kandahar province. The insurgent procured and moved weapons and coordinated IED attacks. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound outside Deh Savzi in Arghandab district to search for the facilitator. The combined force used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the area. The security force detained the facilitator and six associates after interviewing the residents on scene. The security force also found an IED initiator at the scene. Afghan women and children were protected during the search.

-- An Afghan-led force detained several suspected insurgents in Kandahar province while in pursuit of a Taliban commander believed to be responsible for directing IED attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces. The commander also allegedly coordinates the movement of supplies and fighters throughout the province. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound in Senjaray in Kandahar district to search for the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the area. The security force detained the suspected insurgents after interviewing the residents on scene. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several insurgents in Khost province while in pursuit of a Haqqani network facilitator whose primary role is coordinating the movement of fighters throughout Khost, Paktiya and Paktika provinces. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a remote series of compounds north of Ziarat-e Bad in Khost district to search for the facilitator. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compounds peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning all the residents at the scene, the security force detained the insurgents. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- Coalition forces carried out an air strike targeting a senior Taliban commander south of Sangin, Helmand province. The target, Qari Hazrat, who had been conducting hit-and-run attacks in the Sangin and Qaleh Ye Gaz areas against Afghan and coalition forces, was killed in the strike, along with three other insurgents.

-- Afghan and coalition forces captured a Haqqani network commander and several of his associates during an operation in Khost province. The commander and his fighters are believed to be involved in the Aug. 28 attack on Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman. The commander also is believed to be involved in IED attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces. Acting on intelligence tips, Afghan and coalition forces targeted a series of buildings east of Khodizali in Terayzai district to search for the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the buildings peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning all the residents at the scene, the security force identified and detained the commander along with several Haqqani fighters. The security force discovered and destroyed a suicide vest and multiple grenade launchers, hand grenades, automatic weapons, magazines and ammunition. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- Afghan and coalition forces captured a suspected Taliban IED facilitator during an operation in Kandahar. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a series of compounds in Sahebdad Ghundey in Kandahar district to search for the facilitator. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compounds peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning all the residents at the scene, the security force identified and detained the facilitator. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- Afghan and coalition forces detained several insurgents in Paktiya province while in pursuit of a Taliban commander who coordinates suicide bombings throughout Paktiya. Acting on intelligence tips, Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound east of Malekshir Kala in Zormat district to search for the commander. Afghan and coalition forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compounds peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning all the residents at the scene, the security force detained the insurgents. The security force also found multiple automatic weapons, magazines and ammunition at the scene. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- Afghan and coalition forces confirmed the capture of a Haqqani network commander suspected of involvement in the Aug. 28 attacks on Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman in Khost province. Two other insurgents also were detained. Acting on intelligence tips, Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound south of Bakhtanah in Sabari district to search for the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning the residents at the scene, the security force detained the commander and two additional insurgents. The security force also found multiple automatic weapons at the scene.

-- Afghan and coalition security forces captured a Taliban judge with influence in Nad 'Ali and Marjah districts of Helmand province. The assault force targeted a compound west of Lashkar Gah in Marjah district in pursuit of the judge. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully, and then secured the area. After questioning all of the residents at the scene, the security force detained the judge. The security force also found 15 pounds of wet opium at the scene. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children during the search.

In Aug. 28 news:

-- A joint incident assessment team recently found no evidence to conclude coalition force helicopters were responsible for the deaths of three Afghan National Police members Aug. 21. In initial reporting, it was believed the deaths were caused by an International Security Assistance Force coalition air weapons team, but closer examination indicates there is no evidence to support the air-weapons team caused the ANP casualties, according to the report. The team traveled to Mazar-e-Sharif to examine the facts of the case where three ANP officers were killed and nine others wounded in Jowzjan province, allegedly by coalition helicopters. The team interviewed people involved in the incident and reviewed tapes from the helicopters. The team was made up of Afghanistan-government appointed representatives from the ministries of Interior and Defense, as well as a general officer and staff representatives from the ISAF Joint Command. In its report, the team determined the one Hellfire missile and 80 rounds of 30 mm fire impacted a positively identified insurgent firing position. The review of gun-tape footage clearly indicates the fire provided by the air weapons team impacted a hilltop where enemy activity was present. Prior to the operation beginning, an order was issued to the ANA commander to have all personnel remain inside the compound. An ANA chief later acknowledged he understood all personnel were to remain in the compound. It was the conclusion of the team that no coalition fire impacted inside the compound where the ANA forces were located. Also in the report, the team noted the engagement with enemy forces began several hours before the helicopters arrived on location and lasted several hours after, making it possible casualties resulted from other small arms or indirect fire before or after the air weapons team was in the area.

-- A joint incident assessment team returned to Kabul following a trip to Badghis province where two Spanish military instructors, a Spanish interpreter and an Afghan National Police member were killed following an Aug. 25 gun fight with an Afghan National Army servicemember. Following its assessment, it was confirmed that the Afghan servicemember killed the Spanish military instructors and the Spanish interpreter in an unprovoked attack. The team determined that the ANP servicemember had been arrested and disarmed a year ago for links to terrorists. Following his arrest, two local elders established the shooter as a credible member of society and he was therefore allowed to go free and subsequently re-enlist with the ANP. According to the report, the shooting was unprovoked and likely caused by the shooter's links to terrorists -- the shooter's brother-in-law is a known terrorist in the area. Within 25 minutes of the shooting incident, a violent demonstration took place at the former provincial reconstruction team base in Qal'ah Ye Now, the same site where the shootings occurred. The joint team discovered that bricks used to attack the PRT had been prepositioned in piles prior to the demonstration. They also discovered that some demonstrators were in possession of hand grenades, Molotov cocktails and weapons upon arrival. During the demonstration Spanish military instructors remained inside the base with the ANP trainees. The report indicates that ANP outside the base responded to the demonstration and took control of the situation. The violent demonstration resulted in 25 wounded, 11 by gunfire; however, it is unclear how the wounds were suffered since many of the demonstrators were firing guns, throwing bricks and grenades. The report confirmed that none of the injuries were caused by ISAF forces. The report indicates that the attack and demonstration were coordinated and the result of terrorist activity.

-- Afghan and coalition forces operating in Paktiya province pursued and killed a Taliban commander responsible for indirect- and direct-fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The deceased insurgent commander, Naman, also coordinated the movement of IEDs, ammunition, supplies and fighters. Seven other insurgents also were killed during the operation. As the security force approached the targeted compounds west of Kowti Sheyl in Zormat district, several armed insurgents ran from the compounds. Two of the insurgents hid outside the compound and were engaged by coalition aircraft after they threatened the security force. Two additional armed insurgents ran in a different direction. As the security force attempted to interdict them, the insurgents demonstrated hostile intent and also were killed. During a follow-on inspection, the security force found automatic weapons, grenades, magazines and IED-making material with the insurgents. In the compound, four insurgents hid inside one of the buildings and engaged the force with a machine gun as they attempted to clear the building. The security force returned fire and killed the insurgents. Inside the building, the security force found the machine gun, multiple automatic weapons, 16 grenades, 25 magazines, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with multiple rounds and a bayonet. They also found IED-making material including blasting caps and other components in the building. After the fighting ceased, Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the remainder of the buildings. After questioning the residents on scene, the security force detained several insurgents. The security force protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- A coalition force air strike was conducted against a senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander who facilitates foreign fighters and leads attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Kunduz. The commander has a standing relationship with senior Taliban members in Kunduz and his fighters are integrated with Taliban fighters in the area. Intelligence tracked three armed insurgents traveling on a motorcycle south of Mang Tapa in Chahar Darah district. After verifying insurgent activity and ensuring no civilians were present, coalition aircraft engaged the insurgents. Coalition forces did not dispatch a follow-on ground force, but assessed the air strike killed at least one insurgent and wounded another. No civilians were injured or killed in this operation.

-- Afghan and coalition forces killed more than 30 Haqqani network insurgents, including 13 wearing suicide vests, as they attempted to storm Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman and government buildings in Khost during an Aug. 28 morning attack. Mudasir, a Haqqani suicide bomber and IED facilitator, was killed as he attempted to flee as the attack was defeated by Afghan and ISAF security forces. Overnight, ANSF and ISAF forces capitalized on intelligence tips to capture a commander involved in planning the attacks. The attack was the latest of several insurgent attempts to conduct spectacular attacks in the last several months. All of the attempts, including attacks in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Bagram and Kabul failed to achieve any significant operational effect.

"The insurgents' attempts to attack ISAF or Afghan government facilities were defeated again," said Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, ISAF spokesman. "The insurgent leadership who direct these ill-conceived attacks far from the actual battlefield knows their low-level fighters have no chance of success against these targets." Since May 2010, there have been five failed insurgent attacks on ISAF or Afghan government targets garnering significant attention resulting in dozens of insurgents captured or killed.

-- Afghan and coalition forces detained several insurgents in Nangarhar province while in pursuit of a Taliban operational commander directly linked to a Feb. 22 suicide bomber attack that killed Khogyani elder Haji Zaman. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a series of compounds outside Khozakheyl in Khugyani district to search for the commander. Afghan and coalition forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compounds peacefully and then secured the area. After questioning the residents on scene, the security force detained the insurgents. They also discovered multiple weapons on the scene. The security force did not fire their weapons and they protected the women and children for the duration of the search. No civilians were killed or injured during this operation.

-- Afghan and coalition forces detained several suspected insurgents in Helmand province while in pursuit of a Taliban commander who is a key facilitator of weapons and supplies for other Taliban commanders operating in northern Helmand. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound in remote Marjah district to search for the commander. Afghan and coalition forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the area. The security force detained the suspected insurgents after questioning the residents on scene. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- More than 10 suspected insurgents were detained in Kandahar during an Afghan-led operation in pursuit of a Taliban commander. The insurgent commander, who profits from weapons trafficking, mediates allocation disputes, and is a middle-man between other senior-level leaders in the province. Afghan and coalition forces went to a compound west of Seyyedan in Arghandab district to search for the commander. Afghan and coalition forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the areas. The security force detained the suspected insurgents after interviewing the residents. The security force did not fire weapons and protected the women and children for the duration of the search.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained one suspected insurgent in Kunduz province while in pursuit of the Taliban district commander for Aliabad, who is directly involved in the planning of attacks against coalition forces. Earlier this month, an Afghan and coalition force killed Abu Baqir, a dual-hatted Taliban sub-commander and al-Qaida group leader, after a coalition force air weapons team witnessed Baqir and a group of insurgents attacking an Aliabad police station. Afghan and coalition forces went to a compound east of Gerdan in Chahar Darah district to search for the commander. The security force used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the areas. After questioning the residents on scene, the security force detained the suspected insurgent. The security force did not fire their weapons and they protected the women and children during the search.

-- ISAF officials confirmed the capture of a Taliban facilitator involved in the acquisition of military materials during an Afghan and coalition force operation in Kandahar province. The captured Taliban member also is responsible for coordinating IED attacks. Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound outside Deh Savzi in Arghandab district to search for the facilitator. Afghan and coalition forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully and then secured the areas. The security force detained the facilitator and six associates after interviewing the residents on scene. The security force also found an IED initiator at the scene. The security force protected women and children during the search.

-- The commander of ISAF Joint Command has ordered an investigation into the allegations of civilian casualties in Baghlan province during an Aug. 22 operation. The investigation was ordered based on information contained in the joint initial assessment team's report of the operation. The assessment team determined that several rounds from coalition helicopters fell short, missing the intended target and instead striking two buildings, which may have resulted in civilian casualties. Insurgents were using the building as a base of operations; however, it was not the intended target. "We are here to protect the people of Afghanistan. Civilian casualties reduce the confidence of the Afghan people and erodes trust placed in us," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, ISAF Joint Command commander. "This is a serious issue and that's why I ordered this investigation. We will find out what happened during this operation." Results of the investigation will be provided upon completion.

In Aug. 27 news:

-- Afghan and coalition security forces operating in Kandahar province captured a Taliban commander believed to be responsible for IED and rocket-propelled grenade attacks. The Taliban commander also is believed to have facilitated weapons and IEDs for future attacks. The assault force targeted series of tents west of Hajji Azaz in Kandahar district in pursuit of the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the tents peacefully, and then secured the area. After questioning all of the residents at the scene, the security force identified and detained the commander along with two associates. The security force did not fire weapons and protected women and children during the search.

Top Navy Officer Visits San Diego

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kyle P. Malloy, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The chief of naval operations (CNO) was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of San Diego, the West Coast Surface Navy Association (SNA) Symposium and conducted an all-hands call with Sailors in San Diego Aug. 26.

CNO Adm. Gary Roughead spoke at the SNA Symposium about the current Navy, its capabilities, its manning and the role of unmanned vehicles in the future of the Navy.

CNO said the SNA Symposium served as a good opportunity for him to discuss surface warfare in the Navy and for others to bring their ideas and questions to him.

"I think it's important that I give you the opportunity to share your thoughts with me because the questions you have, the ideas you have enable me to do a better job when I go back to [Washington D.C.]," said Roughead.

He also was the keynote speaker for the Rotary Club's meeting where he discussed general naval operations, current readiness and future plans for the Navy.

He identified how the Rotary Club's mission continues to influence the Navy and its Sailors.

"In my view, organizations like Rotary, with the emphasis on service to community and mutually beneficial economic development are a big reason for the support that you give [the Navy]," said Roughead.

Finally, CNO had the opportunity to speak with Sailors and answer their questions during an all-hands call on Naval Base Point Loma.

"We're an extraordinarily busy Navy," said Roughead. "We have places in the world where our naval presence is absolutely key and where it's making a huge difference."

Kearsarge Group, Marines to Provide Pakistan Relief

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kristin L. Grover
Amphibious Squadron 4 Public Affairs

NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Va., Aug. 30, 2010 – The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed Aug. 27 to support U.S. humanitarian assistance in Pakistan.

The Kearsarge group is made up of Amphibious Squadron 4, 26th MEU, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall and the amphibious platform dock ship USS Ponce. The deployment of the Kearsarge group was moved up; it originally was scheduled to deploy in late September.

“USS Kearsarge, USS Carter Hall and USS Ponce have exceeded my expectations in every aspect and are fully able to accomplish any mission that we might be assigned,” Navy Capt. Larry Grippin, the group’s commander, said. “We are all grateful for the opportunity to flex the disaster relief capability of this Navy/Marine Corps team. This mission shows that the U.S. military is truly a global force for good.”

The Kearsarge group will work with the Pakistan government to provide logistical support, emergency transportation and supplies to aid flood relief efforts.

“The crew enthusiastically accelerated their deployment preparations,” Navy Capt. Baxter Goodly, the commanding officer of the USS Kearsarge, said. “Even though we’re deploying early, the crew is eager and proud to be heading over to help the people of Pakistan.”

After their humanitarian mission to Pakistan is complete, the Kearsarge group and the 26th MEU will continue with their original mission in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of maritime security operations.

Navy, Marine Unit Deploys to Pakistan

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Santiago G. Colon Jr.
26th MEU Public Affairs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Aug. 30, 2010 – Time became something of a commodity for Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit here as they prepared to deploy a month early aboard the ships of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.

The ships left the docks at Naval Station Norfolk this week responding to an order by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to depart before the end of the month to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan. The group is bringing heavy- and medium-lift aircraft and other assets. The group is expected to arrive in the Pakistan vicinity in late September.

"This is an opportunity for 26th MEU Marines and sailors to help a key partner nation," said Marine Corps Col. Mark J. Desens, commanding officer of 26th MEU. "We have a versatile and flexible force that we will use to alleviate suffering of the Pakistani citizens affected by this disaster."

After assisting in Pakistan, the 26th MEU will continue its regularly scheduled deployment, which will last more than two months longer than a traditional seven-month deployment.

The 26th MEU had just completed its deployment-certification exercise Aug. 10 when it received the notification that it might be called upon to support the Pakistan flood relief mission. When confirmation arrived a few days later, the Marines had just two weeks to finalize preparation for deployment. Much of the gear had to be off loaded and re-packed at Camp Lejeune for deployment and the assigned mission. The MEU completed training requirements and finalized arrangements for the families and personal effects of nearly 2,400 Marines and sailors.

The sailors and Marines are prepared for their deployment, Desens said.

"We've had a very successful pre-deployment training period," he said. "Leaving our families early isn't easy, but we are ready to deploy and put into practice the skills we've worked so hard to perfect. Our mission in Pakistan is a noble one, and it's an honorable way to begin this deployment."

Airmen Deploy to Pakistan to Provide Flood Relief

621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 30, 2010 – About 40 airmen from the Air Force’s 621st Contingency Response Wing arrived here Aug. 28 to support Pakistan flood-relief operations.

The airmen will work at Pakistan Air Force Base Chaklala, Rawalpindi, in partnership with Pakistani government and military officials to support humanitarian airlift operations delivering relief supplies to required locations throughout the country.

This is the second time CRW personnel have deployed to Pakistan; they provided similar support during the 2005 earthquake humanitarian relief operations. The unit is based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

“Our mission will be to work in close coordination with the government of Pakistan to help provide humanitarian relief supplies and equipment that meet the requirements identified by assessment teams and humanitarian organizations,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Underwood, 621st Contingency Response Element commander.

“We’ve supported the people of Pakistan before,” Underwood continued, “and the support and aid we provide to our friends in this time of need will be nothing less.”

The Air Force operation is part of numerous U.S. military deployments in response to Pakistan’s request for flood-relief assistance.

To date, U.S. military aircraft supporting flood-relief efforts in Pakistan have transported more than 2.2 million pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies and rescued more than 8,000 people within Pakistan, delivering much-needed aid and providing transport to people who urgently need emergency assistance.

Adm. Papp thanks Auxiliary at National Conference

Monday, August 30, 2010
Written by: CDR Glynn Smith

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp expressed his deep appreciation to the members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary for their selfless service during the Commodore’s Banquet at the Auxiliary’s National Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, Saturday. Adm. Papp noted that Auxiliarists time and again unfailingly and unhesitatingly answered the call to duty in major operations like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and routine activities like boating safety education.

“From the top of the world in the Arctic, to the Deepwater Horizon command posts along the Gulf Coast, and reaching down through the Caribbean to the island of Hispaniola; indeed, everywhere I have travelled in my first 100-days as Commandant, and throughout my 35-years of service, I have found the dedicated men and women of the Auxiliary assisting and supporting Coast Guard active duty and reservists,” said Papp.

Some examples that were cited include:

* Providing security at the Canadian Winter Olympic Games.

* Providing communication, public affairs and logistical support for the devastating Haitian earthquake.

* Providing education on boating safety along 860 miles of the Yukon River to remote Alaskan villages.

* Providing assistance with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response by filling every position from vessel operator to air observer and supporting each of the incident command organizations, as well as backfilling many other positions in local commands whose staff were deployed to the response.

“The Auxiliary continues to perform a broad range of services that provide for the safety and security of the American people,” Papp said.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary’s commitment to boating safety and saving lives through education and patrols of America’s waterways in particular were highlighted by Adm. Papp in his remarks.

“This year alone, the Auxiliary’s 31,000 members collectively assisted in saving 250 lives, assisted almost 1400 others in distress, and saved more than $9 million in property,” said Papp.

Adm. Papp also recalled the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s beginnings, in World War II, when volunteer Auxiliarists guarded our ports from sabotage, patrolled America’s coasts and performed other domestic responsibilities to allow Coast Guardsmen to serve overseas. Then as now, the Auxiliary stepped in to assume responsibilities that ensured our success.

“The continued strength of the Coast Guard Auxiliary remains as important today as it was when the Auxiliary was formed,” Papp said.

After thanking National Commodore Nick Kerrigan for his exceptional service and welcoming prospective National Commodore Jim Vass, Papp said to all Auxiliarists, “Thank you for your service, your patriotism and your volunteer efforts; you are greatly appreciated and much needed.”

SPP partners join forces in Afghanistan

By Sgt. Matthew Moeller
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (3/27/09) - In Regional Command-East, a group of Michigan National Guardsmen and Latvian soldiers recently formed the command’s first multi-national training group, known as the Observer, Mentor, Liaison Team at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Konar province, Afghanistan.

The mentoring and advising the Afghan national army is usually lead by U.S. Military’s Embedded Training Teams. An OMLT, pronounced omelet, differs from an ETT because it is multi-national, and can vary in its size and purpose.

The idea for the combined OMLT with Latvia stemmed from the National Guard’s State Partnership for Peace Program, a concept designed to pair Guardsman from different states with former Cold War adversaries.

“The state of Michigan and Latvia have been working together since 1995,” said Army Capt. Dan Voss, OMLT team member and Michigan National Guardsman from the 119th Field Artillery Battalion. “We’ve done training together in the past, they have come to Michigan for two-weeks during our [annual training] and it always went well, so the idea for an OMLT started getting kicked around.”

For three months the Guardsmen trained with their Latvian army counterparts, including training at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

“We did joint tactical and technical training,” said Voss. “That way we will all be on the same page, not just an American way or a Latvian way, but an OMLT way.”

The combined team arrived at FOB Bostick in November, where they absorbed members of the existing ETT, made up of active duty service members from the Army and Navy.

The former ETT commander and current OMLT U.S. team leader Army Maj. Jim Hickman said OMLTs and ETTs both seek in guiding the ANA, but the current OMLT is able to provide better support for the area. “Most ETTs are 16-20 people,” he said, “we’re 47, so we’re able to cover down on a lot more.”

The team is helping establish the 6th Kandak, a battalion sized unit covering some of Afghanistan’s most remote and hostile areas along the border with Pakistan. It not only mentors the ANA soldiers on combat skills, but also administrative tasks, such as establishing supply and training programs.

“We are here to support the ANA in their development, so that one day they can take over all security for their country,” said Latvian army Maj. Juris Abolins, leading Latvian officer in the OMLT. Once they [accomplish this], then I am done, and I can go home.”

Pacific Partnership 2010 Transits to Papua New Guinea aboard HMAS Tobruk

From Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

HMAS TOBRUK, At Sea (NNS) -- A contingent of Australian Defence Force and U.S. Pacific Partnership 2010 participants aboard HMAS Tobruk (L 50) are transiting to Papua New Guinea in support of Pacific Partnership 2010's last mission stop.

With USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) having completed its participation in Pacific Partnership 2010, and currently transiting to its homeport in San Diego, 64 U.S. military and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel are sharing the unique experience of being underway aboard a partner nation ship.

"Having the opportunity to embark onboard another nation's naval ship is truly a unique opportunity," said Cmdr. Peter Shumaker, lead medical officer-in-charge of the contingent. "This transit is affording us the time to get better acquainted with one of our key partners and see firsthand how they conduct their business at sea."

Upon completion of Mercy's last mission stop in Dili, Timor-Leste, Capt. Lisa Franchetti, Pacific Partnership mission commander, moved her staff to Tobruk, which will serve as the command platform for the visit to Papua New Guinea.

Similar to the manner in which Pacific Partnership 2010 has been conducted in five countries thus far, sailing aboard the Australian ship is met with the same level of dedication and anticipation that was the trademark of the 90,000 ton floating hospital ship Mercy and its embarked crew.

"This is the first time in Pacific Partnership's history where the command element has transferred to another ship, let alone another partner nation's ship," said Cmdr. Paul Scott, HMAS Tobruk commanding officer. "We couldn't be more pleased to host the Pacific Partnership team and ultimately assist the people of Papua New Guinea."

This final leg of Pacific Partnership 2010 not only offers the Royal Australian Navy the opportunity to increase their participation in the mission, but also extends that same opportunity to the members of the Australian Regular Army (ARA) and the Australian Second Combat Engineer Regiment.

"This mission presents a unique opportunity to the [Australian] Army personnel aboard," said Lt. Steven Beutel, second-in-command, Ship's Army Detachment, from the 9th Petroleum Platoon, 10th Force Support Battalion, based out of Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. "When I joined the army I did not expect to find myself working with the Australian Navy, much less U.S. Navy personnel and NGOs showcasing the versatility and professionalism of the Australian Defence Force in helping provide humanitarian assistance to a neighbor while building relations that may be called upon in a time of need."

Some things are a constant from navy to navy.

"I am really impressed to see Australian sailors conduct their casualty drills," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Leo Rodriguez. "As a qualified damage control petty officer, it is difficult to standby the sidelines and watch them get in gear when the alarms go off. Being witness to how they conduct their drills makes you want to participate that much more, but at least I know my fellow Sailors and I are in good hands while aboard Tobruk."

Tobruk is scheduled to initiate the mission in Rabaul when it arrives next week. During Pacific Partnership 2010 Mercy visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste. Also operating under the Pacific Partnership mission, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Palau in July.

While in Rabaul, Tobruk will be joined by USS Crommelin (FFG 37), HMA Ships Labuan (L 128) and Tarakan (L 129).

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among host nations, partner nations, U.S. government organizations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.