Operation Iraqi Freedom - 2007 Tour, January to March

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Archive 2007-8 Stories & Photos
 2007- 8 Tour of the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq
Last Update December 08, 2014

Recent Deployment News and Stories on OIF 2007

Operation Iraqi Freedom I-III and Older Stories from December 2004
Can be found on our OIF Archives Page

Contents - Society of the 3ID Website

Patrol base Kelsey named for fallen soldier

Monday Dec 24, 2007- Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division named a patrol base after one of their own who was killed while attempting to render aid to a wounded fellow soldier. Patrol Base Kelsey was established Dec. 23 and named in honor of Sgt. Samuel Kelsey, 24, who was killed Dec. 13 during Operation Marne Roundup southwest of Baghdad near the city of Iskandiriyah.

According to an Army press release, Kelsey, a member of B Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated nearby while he was helping another soldier who had been hurt. Within a few days of his death, the release stated, Kelsey’s fellow B Company soldiers seized the town of Kidhr only a few kilometers away from where he had died.

Marne Roundup was being carried out with Iraqi security forces as part of an effort to root out suspected al-Qaida in Iraq fighters in northern Babil province. Kelsey’s company commander, Capt. Chris Neels, recommended the new patrol base be named in his honor. “Naming the patrol base after Sgt. Samuel Kelsey has meant a lot to the leadership and the soldiers of this company,” Neels said in the Army press release. “Kelsey was a phenomenal NCO who gave his life trying to save a wounded comrade.”

From Patrol Base Kelsey, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces will conduct patrols to provide security and bring stability to the local population, the release said. “Enough can’t be said of him or his actions that day. Each time we clear routes in the area or hear ‘Patrol Base Kelsey’ over the radio, we’ll be reminded of his heroic actions and our friend,” Neels said.


Mail to Our Troops
Click Here for the Unit Addresses

“The U.S. Postal Service will not accept mail addressed to "Any Soldier," "Any Wounded Soldier," or the like because if it did, it could be providing a conduit for those who might do harm to armed services members. For more information on this subject, go to www.snopes.com/politics/christmas/soldiercards.asp

Yes, they will NOT deliver mail that has “Any Soldier” on it; that’s why our mail is addressed to one of the Division POCs. 

1LT Clinton Rountree
(Any Soldier Mail)

1-3 BTB, 1BCT-3ID
Camp Ramadi
APO AE 09396 

So in this example, the mail will go to 1LT Clinton Rountree, but he will distribute it to any soldiers who don’t have mail.

ER Outposts
2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 52, 60, OP

• 1LT Clinton Rountree
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-3 BTB, 1BCT, 3ID
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
APO AE 09396

• LT Demetria Durden
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-3 BTB, 1BCT, 3ID
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
APO AE 09396
CR Outposts
1, 12, 13, 17, 18, 33, 35, 57, & 601

• CPT Naomi Johnston
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-41 1BCT, 3ID
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
APO AE 09396

• SGT Tricia Daniels
(Any Soldier Mail)
Unit #42166
Camp Victory, Iraq
APO, AE 09342
WR Outposts
4, 15, 22, 54, 63, & 88

• SGT Tricia Daniels
(Any Soldier Mail)
Unit # 42167
Camp Victory, Iraq
APO, AE 09342

• SGT Tricia Daniels
(Any Soldier Mail)
3rd SIG, 3ID
Unit #42168
Camp Victory, Iraq
APO AE 09342

4th Brigade Combat Team

Ch (MAJ) Albert Downing
Unit 40621, FOB Kalsu
APO AE 09312

c/o CAPT John Garcia
UNIT # 40620 FOB Kalsu
APO, AE 09312

Another way to send it would be to send it to the unit commander, command sergeant major or chaplain—no name, just the title.

1. Notice that the addresses do not include “Iraq.” Just use the four-line (or sometimes five-line address in this Troop Support Addresses (Forward) attachment.

2. The USPS has two sizes (one longer and flat; one narrower and stout) that have a flat-rate fee of $8.95. That is one good deal. You can stuff quite a few goodies in either of them—and since the mail is going to an APO, only the domestic fee applies.

3. Nile Stuart has a good idea about bundling cards/letters. Rather than sending each item at first class mail rates, put them in a manila envelope and send is a flat-rate package. He and Marianne have used put 10 letters in an envelope, folded it in half and sent it for between 75¢ to 97¢

4. Troop Care packages: In reference to the Troop care packages, LGT Gale suggested that the following items:

a. Greeting cards (Blank holiday cards: Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.)

b. Books, magazines new and used no older than 6 months (I.E. Gun, Hunting, Hot Rod, Truck, Motorcycle, Bazaar for the females) are good.

c. Any kinds of nuts – Pistachios, Sunflowers are good ones, because the guys fill their uniform pockets with them. He stated that he always had sunflower seeds on the floor boards and in the gunner’s hatch of his HumVee while over there.

d. Hard candies/ gum – Jolly Rogers, Life savers, etc. – no soft or chocolates that can melt.

e. Peanut-butter or cheese-crackers or similar snacks.

f. CDs – Music all kinds new and used ones.

g. DVD Movies – all kinds – new and old ones, Westerns, Dramas, Mysteries, Comedies. Etc. Also,

LTC Gale suggested the following idea that will put a kudos in the Societies hat and that is that the Society or Society Chaplin send a request to the local Movie Studios – Sony Pictures, Paramount, Universal, etc. asking for donations of new and old DVD movies and explaining to them the purpose to provide entertainment to the soldiers while they are off duty. He said they did this a few years ago, and one of the studios send 2500 VHS tapes to the Division for distribution. Might be a worth-while project for the West-coast OP 22 members who may have contacts with or access to visit the Studio PR departments.

h. Play Station II/ III or XBOX Games – new or used.

i. Playing cards with poker chips and board games.

Many of you have emailed and written asking for addresses or sharing info about your support projects for our Soldiers. Thanks to all of you for these updates. I am collecting them on behalf of the Troop Support Committee and keeping President Chuck apprised.

Also, instead of including troop support updates that are not especially part of an OP meeting in the OP Reports, I’ve started a short section in The Watch called “Troop Support Reports” where your project/activities’ info can be published. If you haven’t sent me Troop Support updated, please start doing that. If you have been sending me updates, thank you and please keep sending them to me.

The most important thing is THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR MARNE SOLDIERS, and God bless you and your families at Thanksgiving!
 Rock of the Marne!
Cath Bacon

Here is a copy of a Christmas card and a photo that I have just received from the 3ID Chaplain LTC Harlon Triplett thanking Outpost 2 for sending them the many packages that were received by him and his staff for distribution to the soldiers. The photo show the 3ID Unit Ministry Team of six, standing near the sign of the Honor Chapel in Baghdad, Iraq.
Jim Tiezzi


Tree Dedication Ceremony in honor of
Our Fallen Comrades 

on Thursday, the seventeenth day of January 2008
at ten o’clock in the morning at Warrior’s Walk, Fort Stewart, Georgia

More trees salute fallen soldiers
Weather mourns too

By Joe Parker Jr.
Contributing Writer
912-876-0156 ext. 25
Posted: Jan. 17, 2008 2:47 p.m.

Color guard sloshes through ankle-deep water at rainy tree dedication Thursday.
Joe Parker Jr. / Coastal Courier

The weather matched the tone as Fort Stewart dedicated eight more trees to fallen 3rd Infantry Division warriors on a gray, rainy Thursday morning. Col. Todd Buchs, Fort Stewart garrison commander, said, ”So long as we have soldiers who will make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, we will have room for their trees at Warriors Walk.”

Family members of slain soldiers are escorted to Warriors Walk ceremony.
Joe Parker Jr. / Coastal Courier

One of the eight was Pfc Ryan D. Christensen, 22, of Spring Lake Heights, N.J., who died at the Medical University of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 24, 2005, of a non-combat related illness identified in Balad, Iraq. Christensen was not initially honored at Warriors Walk because an Army medical investigation indicated his fatal illness was not related to his deployment to Iraq. Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said Christensen's family did not accept this and had remained in contact with the 3rd ID's commanding general, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, during two subsequent inquiries into the illness. Those investigations, Larson said, revealed a possible link with Christenson's deployment. "So now he is honored here, where he belongs,” Larson said. “This is the right thing to do for Pfc. Christensen and his family." Christensen was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Buchs skillfully wove personal information about each soldier into his speech, honoring the eight young men who died in connection with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Christensen, Buchs said, had a personal interest in technology and used his skills to help an Iraqi radio station while he was deployed.

Sgt. Lui Tumanuvao Sr., 29, of Fagaalu, American Samoa, died Nov. 7 in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he was struck by an improvised explosive device during combat operations. The day of Tumanuvao’s promotion was one of the proudest moments for him and his family, Buchs said. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Sgt. Mason L. Lewis, 26, of Gloucester, Va., died in Baghdad on Nov. 16, as a result of a non-combat related training accident. Nicknamed as a child “Little Rambo,” Lewis had grown to love the Iraqi people and culture, and had learned to speak Arabic. He was assigned to the 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Sgt. Samuel E. Kelsey, 24, of Troup, Texas, died Dec. 13 in Tunnis, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated. Kelsey is remembered as a high school athlete and an outdoorsman. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

Sgt. Daniel McCall, 24, of Pace, Fla., died Oct. 30 of wounds suffered in Salman Pak, Iraq, when enemy forces engaged his unit with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device. McCall set a record for the 400-meter at his high school in Florida. His record still stands. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Benning.

Spc. Rush M. Jenkins, 22, of Clarksville, Tenn., died Oct. 30 of wounds suffered also in Salman Pak, when enemy forces engaged his unit with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device. Jenkins has a twin brother, Michael, who received word of his death on their shared birthday. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Benning.

Pfc. Cody M. Carver, 19, of Haskell, Okla., died Oct. 30 in Salman Pak, when enemy forces engaged his unit with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device. Carver is remembered as a good soldier, who “joined the Army to make a difference. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Benning.

Pfc. Dwane A. Covert, 20, of Tonawanda, N.Y., died Nov 3, in Al-Sahra, Iraq, from injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident. Covert and his wife have a daughter born last month. He was assigned to the 104th Transportation Company, 13th Corps Support Sustainment Battalion, Fort Benning.
© 2006 Hinesville Publishing - All Rights Reserved


Top 3rd ID officer: Morale, awareness key to Iraqi war
Andrews says conditions are better but could turn at any time
BY MICK WALSH - mwalsh@ledger-enquirer.com --

Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews

Jan.26, 2008 - Even though he's now the 3rd Infantry Division's top enlisted man, Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews still has a soft spot for his old buddies in the division's 3rd Brigade. "A part of me's still with the guys I served with on Kelley Hill," said Andrews, speaking by telephone Thursday from his office at Baghdad's Camp Victory.

Andrews, a native of Lincolnton, Ga., served as the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment's top non-commissioned officer during the invasion of Baghdad in 2003. Two years later, he was brigade commander Col. Steve Salazar's "battle buddy" during the unit's 2005 deployment. He served in that same role for Col. Wayne Grigsby up until two weeks before the 3rd Brigade left for Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, 3rd ID commander, tapped Andrews as his top NCO last February. "I went from being in charge of about 4,000 soldiers to 20,000 soldiers," said Andrews, 45, who spends much of his time these days visiting all of the 3rd ID units stationed at 55 forward operating bases and outposts throughout the Baghdad area, as well as visiting wounded troops at the combat support hospital in the capital city.
"I can tell you that morale is extremely high, evident mostly by the high number of re-enlistments," Andrews said. "We've had more than 1,000 so far and another 300 or so will re-enlist in February."

Though casualties have been down in the division's theater of operations, Andrews warns troops not to let their guard down. "It could turn on us any day," he said, referring to the insurgency. "The war is a long way from being over. There are still a lot of extremists, so we must continue to conduct kinetic operations.

"The good thing is that we know a lot more about our enemy and the terrain than we did during my first two tours. Our primary mission in Operation Iraqi Freedom was to terminate the bad guy. Now, it's to work with Concerned Local Citizen groups -- to help them protect their own neighborhoods. Some of these people were bad guys just a year or so ago; they were definitely part of the problem. Now, many of them want to be part of the solution."

Andrews' old brigade is getting some help in its almost 10-month fight to tame the Sunni town of Salman Pak, a Tigris River town about an hour from the brigade's headquarters at Forward Operating Base Hammer. "We're moving in a battalion of soldiers from Georgia (the country, not the state) to Command Outpost Cleary, enabling the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment to shift to a new place called Camp Carver," he said. "That will allow the 1-15 to use all of its combat power to clean up Salman Pak." That former resort town is one of the few in the 3rd Brigade's theater of operations without a local citizens group. A majority of the brigade's fatalities have come in Salman Pak. "The formation of the CLCs, along with putting our soldiers in outposts right in the hearts of towns, are two big factors in why our success rates are climbing. Most of the townspeople are armed and they want to protect their neighborhoods from extremists," he said.

Andrews, whose wife still lives in Columbus, will return to Fort Stewart in June with the division. "You'll be seeing a whole lot of changes this summer," he laughed. "A new division commander, new brigade and battalion commanders. But I'll be around for a while. I'll be part of the transition team."


New U.S. Policy Allows Married Couples
Serving In Iraq To Share Same Sleeping Quarters

April 1, 2008
Vittorio Hernandez - AHN News Writer

Baghdad, Iraq (AHN) - Two years after it was quietly implemented, the U.S. Army is now reaping the fruit of a little known Army policy by helping strengthen military marriages and keeping more married soldiers enlisted. The policy, implemented on May 2006, allowed soldier-couples to share the same quarters while serving in Iraq Now quartered in trailers, several couples are enjoying the reversal of an Army regulation that prohibited male and female American soldiers from sharing sleeping quarters while in war zones.

Prior to the lifting of the prohibition, married troops bunked in all-male or all-female quarters. Third Infantry Command Sergeant Major Thomas Thornton explained to the Boston Globe the rationale behind the policy change. "It's better for the soldiers, which means overall it's better for the Army," Thornton said.

The protracted Iraq war led to a rethinking of the policy, particularly the effect of long separations on Army marriages. There were some couples deployed to the Middle East in the 1991 Gulf War but the battle was short-lived that living arrangements of married soldiers then was not an issue, said Lory Manning, a retired now doing military policy studies for the Women's Research and Education Institute.

There are 40 married couples on Couples Row at Camp Striker and another 7 at Camp Victory.

Army couples are not, however, allowed to show public display of affection including hold hands or kissing while on duty or at the mess hall.

Manning pointed out it is rough on marriages if couples rarely see each other over the years. "It would make sense, certainly from a morale perspective and for the Army, to try to preserve marriages," Manning said.
Copyright © AHN Media Corp - All rights reserved.


Honoring valor: Soldiers, Marines receive commendations
as America's War on Terror enters sixth year

Pamela E. Walck  


Purple Heart medal bearing the silhouette profile of George Washington.  (Photo: John Carrington)

FORT STEWART - December 15, 2007 -It isn't sought out, expected or desired. Yet, many recipients become legendary when they receive one - members of an elite club they never asked to join. And their numbers are rising. Since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001 - and then Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 - some 400,000 U.S. soldiers and 8,000 Marines have been honored for their valor on the battlefield. Some awards, such as the Medal of Honor, remain so sacred, few receive it. Others date back to America's Revolution. Although America's War on Terror is going into its sixth year, the number of soldiers and Marines honored still pales compared with the more than 2.8 million military awards presented during Vietnam.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, pins a Purple Heart on one of 10 soldiers during a ceremony at Fort Stewart who were presented the medal on Sept. 20 for injuries they suffered during combat in Iraq.  (Photo: John Carrington)

Army Spc. Christopher Hayes' chest puffed out in pride. Dressed in civilian clothes, a purple pin dangled from his shirt collar. Last Tuesday, the soldier became the 3rd Infantry Division's latest recipient of the Purple Heart after an improvised explosive device - or an IED - struck his Humvee while it was leading a convoy through the streets of Baghdad. For Hayes, Nov. 16, 2007, will be a day he won't easily forget.

Spc. Milton M. Mitchell Jr., left, stands with his 8-year-old son Anthony and fellow soldier Spc. Zacharie A. Nelson in the receiving line after a Sept. 20 Purple Heart medal ceremony at Fort Stewart. The two soldiers were among 10 troops who were presented the Purple Heart for injuries suffered during combat in Iraq. 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who was home for his two-week leave, pinned the medals on each of the recipients.  (Photo: John Carrington)

The 3rd ID's 4th Brigade Combat Team was participating in a relief-in-place with the 25th Infantry Division - a formality on the battlefield that marks the end of one unit's deployment and the beginning of another unit's 15-month rotation. Hayes, a scout with the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry, was seated in the gunner's spot in the lead vehicle, behind the barrel of a loaded .50-caliber machine gun. When the IED exploded, the power of the blast threw the 22-year-old into the gun, knocking him unconscious and shattering his wrist and thumb.
"Honestly, in that moment, I thought I was going to die," said Hayes, who was on his second tour in Iraq. Hayes has a four-month recovery ahead of him - and an honorable discharge in his future. He and his wife, Johanna, have begun planning life after his four and a half years in the Army. "This is one of those awards I never wanted to get," Hayes said. "But now that I am still alive ... well, I'm proud."

Johanna Hayes wipes away a tear as her husband, Spc. Christopher Hayes, speaks to the audience attending an award ceremony in which he was presented a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantry Badge. Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Todd Buchs, right, presented the awards to Hayes. (John Carrington/Savannah Morning News) (Photo: John Carrington)

Before pinning the medal to Hayes' chest, Col. Todd Buchs, the garrison commander at Fort Stewart, praised the soldier and his wife. "There is nothing more important than taking time out to honor a great hero," Buchs said. "On behalf of a grateful nation and a grateful Army, thank you." Hayes said the comments were overwhelming, and while it feels good to be honored, he hasn't lost sight of war's reality. "Soldiers die every day," he said. "But when it happens to you ..."

History of valor
Military history documents Gen. George Washington as the first to issue a "purple heart" to soldiers who fought with valor during the American Revolution. Washington only issued three such awards, each presented in purple cloth and pinned to a soldier's uniform. The Continental Congress asked him to stop in the summer of 1782. It would take 150 years before the honor was revived on Feb. 22, 1932. The fabric heart was replaced with metal, but it remains America's oldest military award in use. Since America's War on Terror began, 7,738 Marines and 7,159 soldiers have been awarded Purple Hearts.

But it is far from being the only military honor. The highest award anyone in uniform can receive remains the Medal of Honor. Two such medals have been issued since 1.4 million men and women began deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq. The first went posthumously to Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, 33, who served with the 3rd ID.
On April 4, 2003, Smith's platoon of combat engineers was charged with building a holding area for Iraqi prisoners near the Baghdad airport, when more than 80 members of the Iraqi Republican Guard attacked. Smith was credited for fighting off the attack, protecting his platoon and killing countless Iraqis with an open-mount .50-caliber machine gun before a round took his life.

A year later, on April 14, 2004, along the Syrian border, Cpl. Jason Dunham, 22, was fighting hand-to-hand with a suspected insurgent when the Marine saw the Iraqi had a grenade. Dunham quickly threw his helmet over the grenade and leaped onto the helmet. The helmet was destroyed and the Marine was severely injured. He spent a week in a coma before dying, but the Marine Corps credits his quick action with saving the lives of three comrades. Dunham reacted the way so many soldiers and Marines do, said William Daugherty, an associate professor of government at Armstrong Atlantic State University and a former Marine.
"I've watched the shows and read the books, and to a man, they all say, 'I was just doing my job,' " he said. Living recipients "are the first to say it was their colleagues who were the real heroes."

Daugherty also is quick to note the military branches have very different approaches to honoring men and women in uniform. For example, during the military operations in Grenada in 1983, Daugherty said, the Army issued some 5,500 awards, a majority of which were Bronze Stars. "A vast majority of those went to people working in the Pentagon," he said. "A lot was made at the time of the fact that so many Army folks in the Pentagon received medals that, perhaps, were questionable."

The Marine Corps takes pride in knowing it issues fewer honors. "Awards, there is a significance to them," said Russ Abolt, Chatham County's manager who served in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. "The expectation, as a Marine, is never to win awards or to seek individual glory. It's based on what you become: You become a Marine." For many, Abolt said, that is enough. 'This must be it'

A flood of decades-old memories crashed over Eugene Harmon as he watched Hayes receive his Purple Heart. "They awarded me mine from a hospital bed," said Harmon, a civilian post employee who attended the ceremony. "Yeah, it brings back a lot of memories." A special ops soldier during Vietnam, Harmon was assisting in the training of South Vietnamese Rangers at Kham Duc when the airfield was attacked by the North Vietnamese Army. Later, it would be estimated that about 1,000 allied forces were surrounded by some 10,000 North Vietnamese. "We were written off," he said. "They called us the walking dead." During the second day of battle, Harmon took a bullet in the shoulder. The tech communications chief continued to work until a grenade went off nearby, and he was hit a second time. Then, when medics were trying to airlift him out, Harmon was hit a third time, in the side. He figures it must have been a sniper. It all happened between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 12, 1968. "When I got hit the third time, I figured, this must be it," he said.
Instead, three days later, Harmon was presented a Purple Heart from his hospital bed."I still carry the metal,'' he said. "There's a lot of it inside me still.
"I remember going over there saying, 'I do not want a Purple Heart, I do not want to get shot,' " Harmon said. "But it happened so quickly. It's just one of those things that's bound to happen (in war). "It does give you a feeling, being recognized for something that happened. You don't want it, but at the same time, it is something George Washington started, and it was given to me."
© 2007 SavannahNOW and the Savannah Morning News.


Honoring 3rd ID Soldiers for the Holidays

By Alaina Anderson- WSAV-TV on your side

A little girl hangs a bell on one of the trees. Photo by Lewis Levine.

Dec 08, 2007 - Unfortunately, not all of our loved ones can be with us for the holidays. Saturday, Fort Stewart held a Bells for Trees Ceremony – hanging bells on each tree on Warriors Walk. It's done in memory of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.
"We want their family members and the rest of the United States to know this is an active memorial. These soldiers are not forgotten just because they have fallen," says Kathleen Thornton.
The bells were hung by spouses who are members of Support3rdID.com. It's a forum that supports family members of soldiers serving overseas.

Bells of blessing go up at Warriors Walk
Lewis Levine |


Brooke Dinkins gives her son Patton Dinkins a lift as he places a camel bell on one of the Eastern Redbud trees
that line Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart. (Photo: Savannah Morning News)

HINESVILLE - December 9, 2007 -If Kathleen Thornton has her way, the soldiers immortalized by Eastern Redbud trees in Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk will never be forgotten. On Saturday morning, Thornton and several members of the group Support3rdid.com hung tiny camel bells on the fallen soldiers' trees that had little or no decorations adorning them. The bare trees line Cottrell Field - the site of numerous homecomings for deployed soldiers.

Thornton talked beforehand about the somber Saturday mission. "We will be hanging bells on trees less visited because family members may be far away," she said. "We want their family members and the nation to know this is an active memorial." Fighting back her emotions, Thornton said the trees that make up the solemn memorial stand for soldiers who should always be remembered. "These soldiers are not forgotten just because they have fallen and paid the ultimate sacrifice," she said.

One by one, those in the group of eight adults and three children walked to each tree and suspended a camel bell on one of the branches. The bells, which normally are worn around the mane of a camel, are believed to provide the animal with a blessing and keep it safe in its travels. The organization purchased $600 worth of silver bells. Warriors Walk contains 373 trees in honor of fallen 3rd Infantry Division soldiers. Thornton is the wife of 3rd ID Special Troops Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Thornton, who is in Iraq as part of the division's third deployment there since the war began in March 2003.

Bells for Trees Ceremony at Warriors Walk



HINESVILLE, GA--It was an emotional day on Fort Stewart, family and friends of soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, honored their loved one's with a bells for trees ceremony along Warrior's Walk. For families who live too far away, volunteers made sure the wind passed through a bell for each 3rd ID soldier no longer with us. It's a walk, most would say is too long.

"I'm blessed to live across from Warrior's Walk. I'm blessed to be a guardian of the walk," said support 3rdID.com member Kathleen Thornton. Kathleen Thornton's husband is a member of 3rd ID. She is very familiar with Warrior's Walk. "I come by every night, water the trees and check on David's tree," said Thornton. David is a soldier whose wife lives across the country. Kathleen and other members of support 3rd ID dot com hung bells on each tree along the walk in a special ceremony this morning.

"We want the family members of U.S. soldiers and the U.S. to know this is an active memorial. "It's an honor to do this.to remember our soldiers," said support 3rdID.com member Tara Pivotto. Tara Pivotto is a military wife as well and she was joined by Kathleen and other wives. They hung the camel bells attached to satin cords on the trees as a tribute and in memory of fallen soldiers. "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets it's wings and it's important for us to do this," said Pivotto.

Each bell represents a father, mother, son or daughter, or other family members lost defending our country. Kathleen says the bells may not last forever. but their memory will. "They made a sacrifice and when the wind touches these bells it would be as if someone was here touching the soldier," said Thornton.

The military wives are members of www.support3rdId.com, which is a forum created to help support spouses and other family members. The bells were bought through donations to the website.




More Support is on the Way for 3rd ID Troops

A kissing pillow.

SAVANNAH, GA-Nov. 13, 2007-More support is on the way to our 3rd ID troops.
The Savannah Needle Point Society gave the 3rd Infantry Division Senior Spouses some 300 kissing pillows. It's their way of showing our troops just how much they love and appreciate the work and effort they are giving. Families of the soldiers will kiss the pillows and send them to their loved ones overseas.
"I think it will be a wonderful support system from them. The Savannah community is very supportive of all of our troops and it will show them how much they truly are cared about in their hometown of Savannah," said Senior Family Readiness advisor Sarah Lynch.
Sarah Lynch is wife of Major General Rick Lynch and says sometimes soldiers put these kissing pillows in their helmets, carry them into battle, or keep them close by at night.
Reported by: David Hall, dhall@wtoc.com

4th BCT deploys first wave of Soldiers in support of OIF
Pvt. Jerome Arp / 4th BCT PA

The first body of Soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Kuwait Oct 10.
Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which is the first wave of Soldiers to deploy in the Brigade to help with mission-oriented preparations and ease stress of the flow of incoming and outgoing Soldiers in theater.

Spc. Aracelio Perez, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, is surrounded by his loved ones prior to him deploying Oct. 10. His Family members include his wife Hilda, son Bryan, and daughters Zahira and Nushka. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th Brigade Combat Team.

Families and friends of the deploying Soldiers gathered at their respective companies to say goodbye and wish the Soldiers luck.
Although the Soldiers will be thousands of miles away from their Families, 4th BCT offers many different means of communication and assistance.
“We stay in touch through letters, e-mail and the telephone,” said Hilda Perez, wife of Spc. Aracelio Perez, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. “I prefer talking to him on the phone so I can hear his voice.”

Soldiers with Battery B, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, run through a pre-deployment equipment check Oct. 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th Brigade Combat Team.

For many, this isn’t their Family’s first deployment and they’re familiar with the techniques and stress involved with separation.
“This will be his third deployment, and I’ve learned you have to take the good with the bad,” said Wendy Bush, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Terry Bush, an infantryman with HHC. “I’ll write him often and always enjoy holding and re-reading his responses.”

Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, form a “chain” to more efficiently load the gear of deploying Soldiers Oct. 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th BCT.

The Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) within the Brigade are groups of volunteers responsible for maintaining the critical communication link between Families and the Soldiers during deployment.
4th BCT Soldiers and their Families have attended numerous FRG meetings and are familiar with support the group offers.

Sgt. 1st Class Terry Bush, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, spends some time with his family before deploying Oct. 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th BCT.

The Main Body of 4th BCT is scheduled to deploy in late October and the Trail Party, the remainder of 4th BCT Soldiers, is scheduled to deploy in early November.

Terry Roney, father of Maj. Christine Roney, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, helps his daughter carry her gear as the two spend some time together before her deployment Oct 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th BCT.

Family members watch as 4th Brigade Combat Team Soldiers pre-stage equipment at the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT company area Oct 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th BCT.
Photos by Pvt. Jerome Arp  


Lynch: Attacks, casualties down in 3rd ID area in Iraq
 October 8, 2007

BAGHDAD - During September I was lucky enough to return to the United States for my R&R. As soon as I returned, my wife, Sarah, and I visited West Point where I addressed my class during our 30th reunion. I also addressed some of the Corps of Cadets - the future of our Army's leadership.

When I returned to Georgia I spent some more time with the family as well as some time with local Savannah and Hinesville media and leadership. I wanted to take the time to tell the story of how well our soldiers are performing in Iraq. I also met with leaders and soldiers of our Fourth Brigade Combat Team, who are expected to join us in Iraq next month.

Before I returned to Iraq, I visited our wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Being with those soldiers was the most humbling experience I've had while wearing this uniform. Their injuries ranged from wounded hands and legs to double amputees. In every encounter, the soldiers were not complaining about their struggles but thinking of their fellow soldiers. They were asking about their unit, their buddies, and when they could get back in the fight. I was amazed to talk with these young men and women - they are truly America's heroes.

When I returned to Iraq I was absolutely amazed at the progress that had been made in the three weeks I was gone. Attacks have dropped drastically across the entire area and casualties are down. The 3rd Infantry Division suffered two losses in my absence. We also lost Specialist Christian Neff to an IED attack on his tank in Baghdad on Sept. 19. Christian had become the hometown hero in Lima, Ohio, where the town's number one priority is to make tanks to support the war effort. Thousands showed up to his funeral and we keep his parents, William and Nancy, in our prayers.

Sgt. John Mele paid the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed by a pressure plate IED while conducting a dismounted patrol with a concerned citizen. Sgt. Mele was a great American and served under the legendary Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, one of two medal of honor recipients from Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the initial invasion into Iraq, Paul and John served side by side when Paul paid the ultimate sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jennifer and his daughter, Clarissa.

The concerned citizens program has grown in the 3rd Infantry Division from no concerned citizens in June to over 20,000 recognized volunteers this week. Over 20,000 Iraqis have said they do not approve of violence and have stepped up to secure their local neighborhoods. These 20,000 concerned citizens come from 32 groups that actively oppose al-Qaida. These Iraqis do not only secure their neighborhoods, but clean canals, clear fields, secure critical infrastructure, and train with Iraqi police and Iraqi Army units.

Concerned citizens reach out across sectarian lines - Sunnis and Shiites have joined together to tackle the violence in their communities. In Muellah, a mixed are along the Sunni-Shia fault line 25 miles southeast of Baghdad, Sunni and Shia leaders are planning for combined checkpoints along main route through the center of the area. These leaders are also working together to help resettle both the Shiite and Sunni families that left the area as a result of previous violence.

Most importantly, the concerned citizens are coming forward with actionable intelligence. Because they know they can trust Coalition Forces, they are leading our soldiers to IEDs, caches, and the houses of insurgents. Concerned citizens are responsible for turning in four of the Division's high value targets - insurgents that are now in prison. Also while I was gone, our soldiers worked to build three more patrol bases. By living amongst the Iraqi population with Iraqi Army soldiers, we are working to ensure insurgents have no where to hide.

Rock of the Marne!

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch is commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is based at Fort Stewart and is deployed in Iraq. Capt. Allie Weiskopf Chase contributed to this column. http://new.savannahnow.com/node/371342
© 2007 SavannahNOW and the Savannah Morning News.

Soldier's Recovery Inspires Comrades
Spc. Ben Hutto of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office

Saul and his wife Sarah. While at WRAMC

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq - An injured infantryman is inspiring the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team here with his rapid recovery and his determination to become a better, stronger Soldier.
Spc. Saul Martinez, a gunner with Headquarters Troop, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, was the only survivor of an attack May 8 that left two other Soldiers dead.

"When we pulled up to the vehicle, it was one of the worst things I've ever seen in my whole life," said Staff Sgt. Michael Henderson, Spc. Martinez's section sergeant. "I thought for sure everyone in the vehicle was dead."

"When I put my hand under his body armor vest, I was praying that he was breathing," said combat medic Pfc. Stephanie McCulley. "I was worried about a million things. I was trying to keep him talking so he wouldn't go unconscious again. In the back of my mind, I was worried he would lose his legs, but I focused on what I was doing."

Spc. Martinez's legs were both severely damaged by multiple lacerations and shrapnel wounds. Heavily sedated for nine days after the incident while doctors removed one leg, he can't remember his medical evacuations to Baghdad or Germany. He does remember most of the incident itself, especially Staff Sgt. Henderson and Pfc. McCulley.

"They were my two angels," Spc. Martinez said. "I remember lying there asking God to help me, and they were there. "I woke up and my wife Sarah was next to me at Walter Reed," he added. "The doctors told me I was on the verge of dying every hour of every day. I was really close to not being here."

Two days after regaining consciousness, Spc. Martinez had to decide whether to keep his other leg or have it amputated. "I would not be able to roll my heel, move my toes or walk on it. I told the doctors I would rather be up walking with my wife on two fake legs than limping through life. It really wasn't that hard a decision," he said. "I felt terrible for him," said Pfc. McCulley. "It wasn't until I talked to him that I felt better. He told me, 'I made the decision to walk again. I can heal now.' He helped me realize it was the best decision for him."

Spc. Martinez said his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was a good experience and has nothing but good things to say of his care. "If I'd gone anywhere else in the world, I would have died," he said.

Soon after his last surgery, Spc. Martinez was transferred to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Calif., to begin his physical therapy, which consists of three hours of strength training every day. After only four months, he is already walking on his new legs. "I didn't think he would be walking in four months," Staff Sgt. Henderson said. "It shows you how strong-willed he is. He is walking because he wants to. His determination has made that happen. I think that says a lot about him."

Spc. Martinez wants to do more than walk, however. He wants to stay on active duty and become a better, stronger Soldier. "He's a Soldier," Pfc. McCulley said. "He's always been a Soldier. He still believes in what he does after everything he's been through. That is motivating and the Army needs motivating people."

"I want to be able to do my job and show everyone that everything is okay," said Spc. Martinez. "If I could motivate one Soldier, I would be happy. There is life, no matter what happens. I was hurt doing something I was proud to do, and I'm looking forward to coming back. I want to carry an 80-pound ruck on a 20 kilometer march. I want to run in the brigade run. I can be a better infantryman than I was before."

Article URL on Military.com: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,148106,00.html 

Hello Fellow Marne Riders and Society Members,
While the Marne Riders were in DC attending Rolling Thunder, we had the opportunity to meet Saul, his wife Sarah, and his parents: Elise and Renaldo as well as the other wounded heroes of our Marne Division. We were deeply impressed with the high morale and high Esprit de Corp that Saul and the other Marne soldiers displayed considering what they just went through a few weeks earlier. Clearly, a strong indication of the Divisions training , Leadership, and high Esprit de Corp.
Saul, who is also interested in motorcycles is being mailed a Marne Riders T-Shirt and will provide a gift Marne Rider membership on top of his Society gift membership.
Ride Safe and Rock of the Marne!
Dennis R. Noes
Marne Riders M/C, Director
3ID Society Active Duty Liaison


1-10 Artillery rejoins brigade
Combat unit was guarding detainees at Camp Bucca
BY MICK WALSH-Posted on Sat, Oct. 13, 2007

So long, Persian Gulf. Hello, Baghdad.

The 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, which has augmented the prison guard staff at the Camp Bucca detention center for the last six months, has been reunited with its brothers in arms, the 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team.

Brigade commander Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr. was so happy to see the return of one of his main combat battalions from the port city of Umm Qasr that he threw a lobster dinner for them at Forward Operating Base Hammer this week.

"We're so glad to get you guys back here," Grigsby said to his audience. "It's incredible what you've done. I still hear about the great work you guys did down in Bucca."

The 1-10, under the command of Lt. Col. Mark Sullivan, wasn't originally scheduled to go to Bucca, located in the port city of Umm Qasr, tucked on a sliver of land between Kuwait and Iran.

"As late as the fourth week in March, we were programmed to join the rest of the brigade in the Baghdad area," Sullivan said. "We were subsequently redirected and given the mission of detention operations. We certainly hadn't anticipated a job of guarding detainees."

Now that they are back in the fold, they'll soon be doing the job they were trained for.

"Pat yourselves on the back today, tomorrow and maybe the day after that," Grigsby told the 1-10 soldiers. "But get ready to get out there and start doing your job. It's time to get your game faces on."

The brigade will remain in Iraq until next June when it is scheduled to complete its 15-month deployment.


'You can sense the momentum'

By Kimberly Dick · The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
Updated 10/10/07
Special to The Herald

Lt. Col. Randy Martin, a 1985 graduate of Rock Hill High School,
is a public affairs officer of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

Lt. Col. Randy Martin's job is to tell the story of the soldiers in Iraq. His second trip to the country has surprised him.
Martin, a public affairs officer of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, is a 1985 graduate of Rock Hill High School.
He's based at Fort Stewart, Ga., where his wife, Amy, and three children call home. In March, Martin started his second tour in Iraq, the fifth deployment in his military career.
He talked with Herald reporter Kimberly Dick by phone from Iraq on Monday.

Q: What's surprised you about this trip in Iraq?

A: "After I returned the first time, I noticed you really didn't have a sense of what was going on watching it on TV. Now that I'm here, beneath all the bad news, there is a glimmer of hope. You can sense the momentum in the right direction.
"The number of attacks on U.S. forces has gone down, and the number of people trying to help us, up. You see more lights; more commercial airplanes departing. You see cars; you see kids that are running around and enjoying life the way kids are supposed to. It's been an enlightening experience this trip."

Q: Why did you join the Army?

A: "Growing up, I was impressed by people who served in the military. I remember going to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Arlington, Va., and being so impressed with the soldiers on guard. I remember going through family albums of my dad, who was in the Army in the 1950s and in Korea. Those were my heroes. As soon as I could join the Army, I did. And I have been doing it ever since."

Q: What does your job entail?

A: "I work for Major Gen. Rick Lynch. I am the leader of a team of about 23, responsible for outreach with American and Western media. As director of internal communication, I'm responsible for producing a newspaper, newsletter and Web-based newscast for our divisional task force, totaling about 18,000."

Q: What's your typical day like in Iraq?

A: "It begins about 5:30 a.m. After breakfast, personal hygiene and a visit to the chapel, I go to our operations center and talk to the folks I have manning the battle desk to assess anything that happened overnight that may need to be reported in the news. I take whatever steps necessary to get it on radio, TV, newspapers. That's how I fight my fight for the rest of the day."

Q: So that's pretty similar to how I spend my day?

A: "Except you don't hear explosions; I do."

Q: How did you get a public affairs gig?

A: "For several years, I rode on tankers like my dad. As my career progressed, I reached the point where the Army said, 'We need officers to look at career options.' After several years of doing what they told me to, here the Army was now asking me what I wanted to do."

Q: What's the most interesting situation you've found yourself in since you went to Iraq?

A: "Well, the toughest experience in my Army career thus far is dealing with the real-life drama of having missing soldiers. There was an attack on soldiers who were part of our task force by al-Qaida. In the attack, five men lost their lives, and three weren't accounted for. Five days later, we found one, but two still remain missing -- months later. We commit ourselves to never leaving a fallen comrade behind. Think about their families at home."

Q: When are you coming home?

A: "June or July 2008. I just returned home on leave in September for about three weeks, and that was wonderful and fun. Until you've served, you really don't appreciate all of the goodness you have in America: family, freedom to go where you want, to do what you want to do."

Q: Anything we should be doing as Americans to help?

A: "Never forget why we are doing what we are doing. Continue to support us, and take care of our families while we are gone. Learn as much as you can about why we are fighting."

-- Kimberly Dick


Ambassador Visits Ramadi

August 9, 2007
Press Release: 8-9.1
RAMADI, Iraq – Legislators and citizens of Ramadi were surprised when the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq paid a visit to the capital of Al Anbar province today.
U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker spent the entire afternoon meeting local legislators including Anbar’s governor and provincial council, Ramadi’s mayor and city council, as well as touring a city market.
This was the first trip to Ramadi as the ambassador and comes approximately one month before he will provide an assessment to the U.S. Congress on Iraq’s state of affairs.
Maj Lee Peters

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, greets Ramadi embedded Provincial Reconstruction
Team leader Kristin Hagerstrom, at the Ramadi Municipal Coordination Center.


13th SMA the Soldiers and Leaders of TF Marne

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Five Star Iris entertains troops in Ramadi
Spc. Ricardo Branch
1st BCT Public Affairs

CAMP RAMADI, Iraq (July 12, 2007) – Troops and civilians alike gathered in the Morale Welfare and Recreation facility for a special concert July 11 at Camp Ramadi. Five Star Iris, an Atlanta, Ga., rock and roll music band, made a special trip to Iraq as part of a four-day MWR concert for military servicemembers operating in the Middle East.
“This was our chance to show our support the best way we could,” said Alex Winfield, Five Star Iris lead singer. “This is our third military tour, and it’s our first time in Iraq. It’s been an unforgettable experience.”

The band was approached by MWR officials during one of their performances in Texas and asked if they’d like to perform overseas for the military. “A few months ago, we were approached by an MWR promoter and asked if we’d go to Southwest Asia and of course we said yes,” Winfield said. “Then they asked if we’d be willing to go to Iraq. We said definitely.”
The current tour was something the members really wanted to do for the troops and themselves as Americans.
“Not many bands can say they’ve been in Iraq,” Winfield said. “The people here have been really welcoming and appreciative of us traveling here for them.”

Although it’s only three shows in Iraq, the band enjoys the time to travel across the country and see what the troops endure and what life’s like for the men and women of the armed forces.
“We all have a different takes about our experiences here,” said Dan Fishman, Five Star Iris drummer.
He said that everyone has a responsibility to each other as human beings to do what we can to help in any way they can.
“It’s a huge sacrifice,” Fishman said. “It’s not easy to come and serve here, so if we can do something to help out and break the monotony … this was something we needed to do.”

Before even arriving overseas to entertain the troops, the band was receiving emails from their fan base to make the performance a special one for the military. “We’d have fans telling us that coming here was something we needed to do,” Winfield said. “They were telling us to make this concert a memorable one. We didn’t know what to expect coming here so we were a bit nervous. This was one of our only concerts where you saw weapons in the crowd.”

The troops attending the show loved the chance to break away from their daily routines and enjoy a concert in a combat zone. “It gets dull here,” said Pfc. Gary Murdock, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team paralegal. “This concert helped relieve some stress.” He added, “It was a good concert. The band was enthusiastic about being here and created a very fun and uplifting environment for us. Iraq is a very stressful place and having events like this is a great way for servicemembers to have an outlet and escape the reality of what’s going on around them.

When asked what they all thought of their time at Camp Ramadi, the band had one reply, “Awesome. The crowd was really enthusiastic, and appreciative of us. It’s always great to make new fans wherever we go.” -30-


Adopt a Soldier Creates Empathy
By The Times-Union
Carol Megathlin is a writer based in Savannah

July 5, 2007 - I know a little bit more than I did three months ago about the war in Iraq. That's when I approached Major Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the Third Infantry Division, with the adopt a soldier idea. At Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, deploying soldiers sign up to be sponsored by a civilian while they are in Iraq. In the back of my mind, I knew that some of the soldiers who boarded those planes at Hunter would not be coming home. I even thought about it as they lined up before my table to ask for sponsors.

Last week, however, things started to get real. All of the soldiers who have been adopted so far are in the Second Brigade or the Combat Aviation Brigade. And a few days ago, those brigades began to take casualties. These good-hearted people have e-mailed encouragement, sent care packages and prayed for their soldier's safety. The soldiers write back when the war gives them a free moment. A shy love is taking root among them.

Over the weekend, the sponsor's message came. One of the three soldiers killed in combat was hers. I don't know her, I didn't know her soldier. But I held in my hand the last request he had made before he flew off to Iraq. Had I earned the right to sit at my computer and cry? Is she qualified to grieve at Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk, where he will be honored in a tree-dedication ceremony?

Some soldiers don't think so. We have not felt the exhaustion, smelled the sweat, put hand to weapon in the wild chaos of a fire fight. Unbaptized by blood, how dare we stand with the dead warrior's brothers-in-arms and blubber our easy tears.
We civilians bear the ultimate responsibility for sending them off to war. We also own the obligation to look into the eyes of the grieving parents, the heartsick spouse, the confused and frightened children.

We don't show up at the memorial service on crutches, our camouflage pants pinned up where our leg should have been, trying to comfort our fallen buddy's family. There is no way we could qualify to witness that. Yet we owe it to the Americans who stepped forward to fight for our country to cultivate our sensibility to the human cost of war. And to learn humility. Most of all, to learn humility. Perhaps the best place to start is at a memorial service for a soldier we never knew. On the back row, with our heads bowed.
Carol Megathlin is a writer based in Savannah.
To adopt a 3rd Infantry Division soldier, send an e-mail: Carol.Megathlin@savannahnow.com .


Top US Commander Warns
Against Premature Troop Draw Down

(July 6, 2007)--A top US commander in Iraq is warning that drawing down troops too soon would leave the country "a mess." Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division Center and the 3rd Infantry Division, said Friday at a Pentagon news conference that doing that would lead to more violence.

"You'd find the enemy regaining ground, reestablishing sanctuaries, building more IEDs (and) carrying those IEDs to Baghdad, and the violence would escalate," he said. Lynch said “it would be a mess” if surge forces were withdrawn as part of an early pullout. "Those surge forces are giving us the capability we have now to take the fight to the enemy," the general said. "The enemy only responds to force, and we now have that force."

The comments come as more members of Congress push for a new strategy in Iraq. Republican New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici said Thursday he has already decided that he wants to see an end to combat operations and US troops heading home from Iraq by spring.

A White House spokesman says those remarks are just more "thoughtful discussion," and that it's too early to say if the surge is working.


Col. Charlton briefing Gen. Petraeus

Col. Charlton briefing Nic Roberts (CNN)
in a Ramadi Market

Col. Charlton on patrol with
Soldiers and Marines in Ramadi

Col. Charlton receiving an operations brief

Col. Charlton briefing at a Reconstruction Conference

Col. Charlton and Sheik Sattar


3-1 Cav. finds four weapons caches, detains five
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek, 3rd HBCT Public Affairs
Jul 6, 2007

A Soldier from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, that is currently attached to the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, stands guard during a raid in Jisr Diyala. (Photos by Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment)

One weapons cache found by Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, that is currently attached to the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, July 5, in Jisr Diyala. (Photos by Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment)

Blackanthem Military News, FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Soldiers of 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, detained five suspected insurgents and found four weapons caches July 5 near Jisr Diyala. Each cache found and destroyed decreases the munitions and improvised explosive device making materials available for insurgents to use against the populace and Coalition Forces, said Capt. Jimmy Hathaway, from Columbus, Ga., commander of Headquarters Co., 3-1 Cav.

The operation resulted in the largest cache seizure for the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team since beginning operations southeast of Baghdad in late March. Unit leaders said Soldiers conducted the five-phase operation to deny enemy sanctuaries and seize caches. Soldiers from 3-1 Cav. and Company D, currently attached to 3-1 Cav., secured and searched four target locations simultaneously during the operation.

“Ultimately, this mission was a step in the right direction towards making Iraq a more secure and safe region,” Hathaway said. “The mission established the standard that Coalition Forces are not going to stand for anti-Coalition Force activity,” said 1ST Lt. Donovan Duke, from New Cumberland, Pa., a platoon leader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, from Fort Benning, Ga. “We are here to establish a safe environment in cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces for the Iraqi citizens.”

The following was seized from the four caches: 8 fuses, four artillery rounds, three rockets, nine hand grenades, 56 mortars, 10 rocket propelled grenades, more than 15 pounds of C4 explosives and miscellaneous bomb-making materials and unidentified explosives.

The 3-1 Cav. is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga.


More than 500 troops re-enlist in Iraq; 160 become Americans
By Drew Brown, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, July 5, 2007

Drew Brown / S&S
Sgt. Jason Mawhorr, 24, of Rockport, Texas and his wife, Sgt. Yelixa Mawhorr, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y. were among more than
500 U.S. troops who reenlisted Wednesday during a special July Fourth ceremony at Camp Victory, Iraq.

Drew Brown / S&S
More than 500 U.S. servicemen and women reenlisted and more than 160 others
became naturalized U.S. citizens. at Camp Victory in Iraq.

BAGHDAD — When Sgts. Jason Mawhorr and Yelixa Mawhorr first deployed to Iraq in March, they didn’t think they would be seeing much of each other. So when the opportunity came for husband and wife, both soldiers with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, to re-enlist together, they jumped at the chance. “We didn’t think we would have the chance to deploy together,” said Jason, 24, of Rockport, Texas. “So while we were here, we decided it was something to take advantage of.”
The couple, who have two children at home with Yelixa’s mother, both re-enlisted for six more years in the Army; it was another milestone, they said, in what they both hope will be long and successful careers in uniform.

The husband and wife were among 500 service members who re-enlisted Wednesday at one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, at Camp Victory, adjacent to Baghdad International Airport. The massive ceremony, during which 160 troops from 54 countries also became U.S. citizens, was the biggest of its kind to take place in Iraq. The fact that the ceremony took place on July 4, exactly 4½ years to the date when they met at Fort Hood, Texas, also made the day a special one, said Yelixa, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y. “We believe that the family who re-enlists together stays together,” she said.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, presided over the ceremony. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., were guest keynote speakers. McCain, who spent more than six years in captivity during the Vietnam War and who is now seeking the Republican presidential nomination, praised the troops for their sense of duty and their commitment to the U.S. mission in Iraq. “We have incurred a debt today that we can never repay in full,” McCain said. “What you have done for us, we can never do for you.”

Although the country is deeply divided over the war, and Congress is pressuring President Bush to start bringing troops home, support from the American people for its service members has not wavered, McCain told the troops.The war “has divided the American people,” but it has not diminished “America’s admiration for you,” he said.

Graham led the troops as they recited the pledge of allegiance. A videotaped message from Bush called the day “a defining event” for those soldiers who’d just become U.S. citizens. “Today,” Bush noted, “the United States is not only your home; it is your country.” Bush’s message was followed by country singer Lee Greenwood’s classic song “Proud to be an American,” which became famous in 1991, during the first Iraq war.

Soldiers then stood at attention and saluted as a speaker read out the names of each of the 50 states and the dates they joined the union. Cannon fire boomed out over the loudspeakers after each state and date was called out. The troops cheered loudly when their home states were mentioned. Shouts of “Hooah!” echoed throughout the marble-tiled palace.

After the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, moved from one small group of soldiers to another, congratulating those who’d just re-enlisted and those who had just become new citizens. More than 180 soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division re-enlisted in the ceremony; 37 of them gained their citizenship.
“It’s an amazing thing, in the middle of a combat zone, for these guys to raise their right hand and decide to stay in the Army,” Lynch said. “People ask how you do it,” he said. “You do it because it’s important.”

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Brigade enters fourth month in Iraq
Sledgehammer soldiers building a better Iraq


The 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team began its fourth of 15 months in Iraq on July 1 and things are going better than expected, according to its commander. "I'm amazed at what our magnificent Sledgehammer soldiers have been able to accomplish," said Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. As the third of five brigades called upon by the Pentagon in early January to "surge" forward into Iraq and implement the Baghdad Security Plan, the 3,800 soldiers from Fort Benning have been right in the middle of some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

And they've done it while finding conditions on their arrival to be a bit, uh, spartan. "What's so astonishing is that we have built everything from the ground up," said Grigsby, who pointed out that no coalition forces had ever occupied what is now Forward Operating Base Hammer or any of the smaller Combat Outposts where brigade soldiers are stationed. While much of the brigade's time is spent disrupting the flow of accelerants into Baghdad and either capturing or killing insurgents, terrorists and criminals, Grigsby also points out that his soldiers have already forged bonds between themselves and the local populace. Over the past week, brigade soldiers have been involved with such things as sponsoring a medical clinic, renovating a youth center, fixing a water pump and meeting with local officials.

Here's a look:

Free medical clinic

Brigade soldiers conducted an outdoor medical clinic earlier this week at a school in Nahrwan. Medics set up three treatment stations under a camouflaged net surrounded by concertina wire while the 3rd Battalion, 1st Cavalry Regiment's loud speaker broadcast a message to villagers announcing the opportunity to receive free medical care. During the broadcast, villagers from the area began forming two lines, male and female, waiting to be seen. The separate lines were set to ensure female medics were available to see female patients.

According to Pfc. Kristina Sutton, a medic from Springfield, Mass., some patients stood in line for almost four hours. The medics saw ailments such as back, stomach, head, skin and upper-respiratory problems and were able to treat those with medicine bought from a local pharmacist.
The medics saw approximately 225 patients.

New youth center

Elements of the Fort Benning-based 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team are helping to improve life for Iraqi youth by assisting with a renovation project that will cost up to $500,000. Iraqi contractors, youth center leaders and members of the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment and the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, which is currently attached to 3-1 Cav, met last week in Jisr Diyala to discuss the planned improvements. Construction is expected to begin in late July and will include renovations to the weight room, sewing room, library and arts and crafts room. Coalition forces are also expecting new computers and exercise equipment for the center.

"The renovations of the youth center will help show the youth of Jisr Diyala that there are other activities out there that can help improve their lives," said Capt. Jimmy Hathaway of Columbus, the 3-1's Headquarters Company commander. "We are going to turn this youth center into a world class facility."


Brigade leaders, the Iraqi Security Force and the Mada'in Qada mayor met at Forward Operating Base Hammer this week to increase communication among the three elements. Meeting in the brigade's new Tactical Operations Center, the group reviewed combined operations, lessons learned and future projects in the Mada'in Qada (qada is equivalent to a county in the United States). "I'm glad we had this meeting," Grigsby, the brigade commander, told the group. "We want to assist all of you in getting the help you need and we will use our contacts in Baghdad to do that."

Al-Rubay'l, the mayor of Mada'in Qada, reported that the people in his province are very supportive of coalition forces. He explained that he had witnessed many young men volunteering to join Iraqi Security Forces so they can help expel al-Qaida from the province. "Soon they will be ready to fight and take the lead in operations," explained Al-Rubay'l through a translator. "The people here are willing to help themselves, but we still need support. The insurgents, we must admit, are well equipped and have military training. They are using innocent women and children as shields. Innocent people would become targets. American help is still needed."

Water pump repair

Lt. Col. Ryan J. Kuhn, the brigade's deputy commander, complimented the Qada mayor for his government's work to refurbish the Al Bawi water pump station this week. The pump station was sabotaged in early March, prior to the arrival of the 3rd Brigade. When fully-operational, the pump station provides more than 90 percent of the water needed in the Mada'in Qada.

"Under the guidance of the mayor, we are almost done with the project," said Kuhn. "The pumps are almost up and ready. This is good, but it also makes the station a target. It has to be protected."
The 3rd Brigade public affairs office contributed to this report.



July 4, 2007 - Today America turns 231 years old. It is able to claim so many years of freedom because Soldiers like you keep it free. It was Soldiers who fought for our independence, and it is the Soldiers who answer the nation’s call to be where America needs them.
I am so very honored to be your commander. Every day I witness acts that make me so proud.

Just last week, I went to a memorial service for 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment and reenlisted two Soldiers just before they mourned the loss of their brothers in arms. In the darkest hours they raised their right hands, said “Our nation needs us” and asked to continue to serve America.

What we as Soldiers do is important. Our sacrifices ensure that Americans sleep soundly and live without fear. The anniversaries and birthdays you miss are small sacrifices compared to the freedoms you protect. You are taking the fight to the enemy on the battlefield.
Operation Marne Torch has been and will continue to be very successful.

Soldiers from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division killed more than 23 enemy insurgents at a Pepsi factory and Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division took out a JAM battalion commander and EFP cell leader.

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) are engaging with locals in an effort to increase the Iraqis’ willingness to secure their own neighborhoods. Our aviators are crushing the enemy emplacing improvised explosive devices from the sky.

Everything you do has an impact – from a patrol following an intelligence tip, to bringing water to a neighborhood with it, to developing a youth center. Every action has an impact on the Iraqi society, every one of your actions brings the Iraqi people closer to being a free country, one like we sometimes take for granted.

Today Gen. Petraeus will reenlist hundreds of Soldiers right here on Camp Victory. Hundreds of Soldiers are answering our nation’s call and volunteering to continue to give their service. I couldn’t be more proud. Although we close our eyes and think of our families back home, we know they celebrate today because of the work we are doing here. They are celebrating their freedom because you brave men and women keep them free.
Rock of the Marne!


Hamilton Native Commands
Multinational Division in Iraq
By Joshua Rinaldi
Staff Writer, Journal-News.com

MG Rick Lynch,
Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - When Rick Lynch left Hamilton, Ohio for the U.S. Military Academy in 1973, he expected to do his five years in the Army and get out. More than 30 years later, he's a two-star general commanding 20,000 troops. Lynch, a Hamilton native, said he never made the decision to be a career military man, but stayed with it because it felt right. "Everyday, I can look in the mirror and feel like I'm doing something important," Lynch said in a phone interview from Baghdad on Thursday.

Click Here to read full story:


10 New Trees Mark Fallen Soldiers
Sean Harder | Friday, June 22, 2007

Staff Sgt. Todd Toomey, left, grieves for Spc. Kyle A. Little, a member of his platoon in 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry. Little was one of 10 soldiers honored during a Warriors Walk tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart. (Photo: John Carrington)

FORT STEWART - Army Spc. Kyle Little returned home from his pre-Iraq training in February with a mission: Make a baby with his newlywed wife, Tiffany. "I remember he called me all excited and told me he wanted us to get pregnant," said Tiffany Little. "Miraculously, we did before he left." The 20-year-old Massachusetts native deployed to Iraq in March as soon-to-be father.

In Iraq, Little was hand-picked for his brigade commander's personal security team. A roadside bomb killed him and a fellow soldier on May 8- three months and three days into his marriage and too soon to learn he was going to be the father of a girl. Baby Kylee is expected to be born in November. She one day might visit the Eastern Redbud tree and granite marker dedicated Thursday to the father for whom she'll be named.

The names of Little and nine other 3rd Infantry Division soldiers killed in Iraq were read aloud Thursday morning at Warriors' Walk. Each man was 25 years old or younger. The living memorial's 336 trees bookend Fort Stewart's parade grounds. Each tree represents one 3rd ID soldier killed since the Iraq war began in March of 2003. The division is now serving its third combat tour in the conflict.

Soldiers and other guests stand for the national anthem during the Warriors Walk tree dedication ceremony
at Fort Stewart on Thursday. (Photo: John Carrington)

"Young and old, soldier and civilian alike, will walk these paths," said Col. Todd Buchs, Fort Stewart's garrison commander. "They will pause and read their names and reflect on the sacrifice they made for freedom."

Among those honored Thursday was Pfc. David Kirkpatrick, 20, whose interest in the military began at an early age.Growing up on his family's farm in Matthews, Ind., Kirkpatrick dressed in camouflage, played soldier and read everything military-related he could find, said his father, Kenny Kirkpatrick. "I tried to talk him out of joining, but he wouldn't listen," Kirkpatrick said. "He said 'Dad, what did you think I was going to do?' He knew what he was doing, and he wanted to do it." The Army mechanic was killed by a roadside bomb in Fallujah while recovering a damaged vehicle on April 27 - one month before he was due to return home on leave.

Roadside bombs are a "cheap, highly effective way to kill our boys. And I don't know how they can protect against it," Kenny Kirkpatrick said. Kirkpatrick said he, his wife and their four daughters have been devastated by the loss of their only son. They plan to use his life insurance to pay off the family farm, which they have struggled financially to keep.
"That's what David would have wanted us to do," he said.

Tiffany Little, left, and Tonita Gonzalez, her niece Kyra Tso and son Brennen Gonzalez, right, sit with other family members during the Fort Stewart tree dedication ceremony at Warriors Walk. Their husbands, Spc. Kyle A. Little and Sgt. Christopher Gonzalez
were among the 10 fallen soldiers honored Thursday. (Photo: John Carrington)

More than a month of memorial services, tributes, calls from fellow soldiers and military escorts have left the Kirkpatrick family overwhelmed. But they also have been impressed by how many lives their son had touched. "The Army really has been behind us 1,000 percent," Kirkpatrick said. "It's been so wonderful, yet so horrible. You can't imagine how wonderful and horrible something can be at the same time.
"David did a very honorable thing. No one can say it's not an honorable thing."


A soldier folds the camouflage cloth embroidered with the name of one of 10 fallen soldiers honored
during the Warriors Walk tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart on Thursday. (Photo: John Carrington)


Here are the names of the 10 soldiers honored at Thursday's tree ceremony:

Pfc. David A. Kirkpatrick, 20, of Matthews, Ind.

Pfc. Nicholas E. Riehl, 21, of Shiocton, Wis.

Spc. Eddie D. Tamez, 21, of Galveston, Texas

Pfc. Jay-D H. Ornsby-Adkins, 21, of Australia

Sgt. Dale Hicks, Jr., 21, of Pantego, Texas

Pfc. Cole E. Spencer, 21, of Decatur, Ill.

Sgt. Blake C. Stephens, 25, of Pocatello, Idaho

Spc. Kyle A. Little, 20, of West Boylston, Mass.

Sgt. Allen J. Dunckley, 25, of Yardley, Penn.

Sgt. Christopher N. Gonzalez, 25, of New Mexico

The 3rd ID, which led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, began its third rotation into Iraq earlier this year. The division's 20,000 soldiers will serve extended 15-month tours as part of a troop buildup to stabilize Iraq.
As of Thursday, 28 soldiers from the division have been killed this year in Iraq, according to www.icasualties.org , a Web site that tracks the war's fatalities.


'Warriors Walk' memorial at base expected to grow

Gannett News Service

(Photo: Carl Elmore)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007-A popular war memorial consisting of dedicated trees -- one planted for every soldier lost to war -- presents commanders with a problem. The memorial is running out of space. Its elaborate design -- requiring sidewalks and buried electrical lighting -- has forced Army officials to prepare expansion plans.

It is a delicate issue at a base where thousands of families are sending loved ones off to war again, in some cases for the third time. "The assumption was, unfortunately, four years ago there wouldn't be but two sidewalks worth of trees, and that just didn't happen to be the case," says Michael Biering, the garrison director of public works. The memorial is filled with eastern redbud trees. Those trees were chosen because their pink-purple blossoms appear in the spring, when soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division based here first raced to Baghdad in 2003 and suffered their first fatalities. The division has returned to Iraq twice since then.

Now, 326 trees are planted along sidewalks that border the parade ground, where troops assemble before reuniting with their families after a combat tour. Next to each tree is a granite stone engraved with the soldier's name and a small spotlight to illuminate the branches. The memorial is called Warriors Walk.

"It's sort of bittersweet to return (to the memorial), and it gives me comfort and sadness at the same time," says Birgit Smith, the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Iraq invasion. She drives six hours from her home in Hollywood, Fla., five times a year to visit her husband's tree. "It's the most hallowed ground on this installation," says the garrison commander, Col. Todd Buchs. He helps preside over tree dedication ceremonies that are a monthly ritual. Family members come. A color guard is there.

The Fort Stewart memorial differs from other military installations that often honor war dead with names etched onto a remembrance wall. The tree memorial was initially one long sidewalk along the south edge of the parade area. As the division returned to combat in 2005 and fatalities mounted, three more sidewalk phases were built along the parade ground's northern edge. The trees were staggered to economize space.

The division is incurring losses on its third tour, and Biering estimates space will run out in about two months. "Part of it is experience," he says of his estimate, recalling a bad month in 2005 when 40 trees were planted. In his office, he keeps blueprints for at least four more parallel sections of sidewalk. It is, he says, a sensitive topic.
"I don't want to get too much out ahead of this because of the potential adverse impact it may have" on installation families, he says.
Many Army families say they understand the grim reality and how expansion plans for Warriors Walk are necessary.
"We're pretty strong people," says Amy Lambert, whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Scott Lambert, is in Iraq. "This is a fact of life. More people are going to die. Nobody wants it to happen. But it's going to happen until the war ends."


IP’s recognized for hard work
Staff Sgt. Raymond Piper - 1st BCT Public Affairs NCOIC

RAMADI, Iraq (May 22, 2007) – It’s arguably one of the toughest law enforcement jobs in the world. Iraqi Police face car and road side bombs, snipers and insurgents bent on breaking there will. Often less equipped than their coalition partners, the policemen are prepared to do their duty on a daily business.
Coalition and Iraqi Police leaders held a ceremony May 20 to recognize the sacrifices and hard work of the Ramadi police.

“Today is a very memorable day and is a day that should make all the people of Ramadi proud of its young men,” said Ramadi Iraqi Police Chief Brig. Gen. Ahmed Khalil. “It is a day for the coalition and Iraq leaders to recognize the brave policemen of Ramadi.”

Col. John Charlton, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division commander, told the gathered policemen that the ceremony was dedicated to the sons of Anbar, who have brought security to the area.
“Every day I see Iraqi police putting their lives on the line to protect the people of this city. It is because of your continued bravery that children can play outside and people can open shops and begin to live normal lives again,” Charlton said.

The path to a more safe and secure Ramadi has not been easy and many officers paid the ultimate sacrifice for security. On the same day as the ceremony, Iraqi Police from the Zangorra station were looking for a truck laden with explosives.
“Those police officers were on patrol looking for the truck bomb because they knew the (terrorists) would attack,” Charlton said. “While they had stopped and were searching the truck, it exploded killing one of the officers and wounding two others.” He added the policemen knew that there would be danger when they stopped the truck, but they set aside personal safety and continued to do their duty. “As a result, no civilians were hurt. Once again the Iraqi Police protected the people of Iraq,” Charlton said.

The Iraqi security forces are one of the primary targets of insurgents because they are what the terrorists fear, Charlton said. “They know the police are the only thing preventing them from coming into the area and taking over.”
Khalil told the gathered police that all of the stations must continue their hard work because they are going through a very critical point of time. He said, “Maintaining victory will be the hardest part, therefore we most continue our hard work during this state of war and stick together as we fight the insurgents.”


More Outposts being Built to Accommodate Troops for ‘Surge’
Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, May 22, 2007

American troops continue to build small, neighborhood outposts to support the troop “surge” in and around Baghdad, while the final extra Army brigade is poised to arrive in Iraq next month.

Units such as the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, have moved from larger foward operating bases to combat outposts. In the case of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, three new outposts named after soldiers from the unit killed in combat have replaced their home at Forward Operating Base Hammer. The combat outposts include Cleary, Cahill, and Cashe, in Wahida, Salman Pak, and Tuwaitha, respectively, officials said. “To live with the populace and experience what they experience, you get a better appreciation for the area,” Maj. John Cushing, the battalion’s operations officer, was quoted as saying in a news release.

In one case, a combat outpost was built in a former government building and a set of greenhouses, officials said. The COPs, as the outposts are known, are being outfitted with showers and dining halls, among other amenities. In another area of Baghdad, the eastern district of Sha’ab, officials are touting successes since February, when Iraqi police trucks with blood-stained beds looked “like they had just come from a butcher shop,” one officer said.

But now, the sectarian murders have largely ended, according to Capt. Will Canda, commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The battalion patrols an area of the city that includes Sha’ab, Ur, and Sadr City. Some 20 percent of Baghdad’s population lives in the area, giving a ratio of one U.S. soldier for every 26,000 Iraqis, officials said. While acknowledging there is still “a ways to go,” officials have said they’re confronting militias, failed local governments and breakdowns in public services. That unit too operates from a combat outpost, this one named Callahan; it was formerly an upscale shopping center that had been abandoned.

1-15 Infantry Establishes Combat Outposts
By Multi-National Division - Center PAO
May 21, 2007

Spc. Jeff Nutter, 27, Redding, Calif., Pvt. Dillon Bella, 19, Fredrick, Md., and Sgt. Anthony Shuta, 27, Daytona Beach, Fla., all from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, relax in their living quarters May 2, at Combat Outpost Cashe, Iraq.

Blackanthem Military News, COMBAT OUTPOST CLEARY, Iraq — Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team have established three combat outposts in the unit’s area of operation, all named after their fallen comrades. While in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, V, 1-15 Inf. moved from Forward Operating Base Hammer, where the brigade headquarters is located, to Combat Outposts Cleary, Cahill, and Cashe in the areas of Wahida, Salman Pak, and Tuwaitha, respectively.

According to Maj. John Cushing, of Rochester, Mich., Operations Officer for 1-15 Inf., the battalion was assigned to the outposts to be closer to the communities and people they are here to secure. He said moving closer to the towns where they will be conducting their operations also allows for the battalion to better intermingle with the locals. “To live with the populace and experience what they experience, you get a better appreciation for the area,” Cushing said.

COP Cleary is named after 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary, 2nd Platoon Leader for Company E, 1-15 Inf., who was killed during an IED strike Dec. 5, 2005 during OIF III in Ad Duliayah, Iraq.

According to Capt. Mathew Garner, of Dallas, Texas., commander for Company C, the unit had moved from a pharmaceutical plant to COP Cleary almost immediately. When they arrived at the former government building and greenhouses, there was nothing but one run-down building. Rubble and broken glass covered the ground, rendering it nearly impossible to maneuver vehicles. “It only took one day, really, for the inside of the building to be cleared,” Garner said, “and about a week or two to get all the glass cleared away.” After hard work and dedication from the Soldiers at COP Cleary, the outpost now has toilets, a shower facility, and the Dragon Inn dining facility area. “It’s gotten so much better here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Quentin Fenderson, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. “Especially with the new chow hall and showers. Most of the Soldiers would rather just stay here than go back to (FOB Hammer) for showers and chow.”

Company D occupies COP Cashe, which is named after Sgt. 1st Class Alwynn Cashe. Cashe was a platoon sergeant in Company A during OIF III. He died on Nov. 8, 2005 from injuries suffered during an IED strike on Oct. 17, 2005 in Ad Duliyah, Iraq.

The outpost is located in the town of Tuwaitha, just north of Salman Pak. Directly next to the building is a fire station where the Soldiers get most of their water. “The firefighters help us out,” said Staff Sgt. Quentin Heard, 33, Lagrange, Ga., tank commander for 2nd Platoon, Company D, 1-15 Inf. “They bring bread; they help us get our water running. We help them too. Like, if one has a headache or something, we will get with our medic to try to help them.” COP Cashe currently has two man-made toilets, a new chow kitchen, and a shower made from ponchos, old lockers, and a fire hose. The living quarters are rooms within the building capable of housing eight to 16 Soldiers.

COP Cahill, named after Capt. Joel Cahill, Commander of Company B, 1-15 Inf. during OIF III, who was killed Nov. 6, 2005 in an IED attack in Ad Dwar, Iraq, is the smallest of the three outposts and is believed to be the former Hunting Club security building for Saddam Hussein’s sons, owned by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“It’s getting better everyday,” said Spc. Anthony Hartley, 22, Delaware, Ohio, Company A, 1-15 Inf. “We have the phones and internet, all we need is a place to wash clothes and I’ll be set.” The COP has one makeshift shower, dining facility, and phone and internet access. According to 1st Lt. Chris Pearson, Executive Officer for Company A, improvements to be made to the outpost includes additional living space and air conditioning.

Although it is not clear how long 1-15 Inf. will be living at their designated outposts, the Soldiers are making tremendous progress with the resources they are given and are prepared for what could be an 18-month deployment. “It’s my job,” Hartley said. “If I wasn’t prepared to do whatever I needed to, I wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line.”



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Report from LTC Tim Stoy on his
June 2nd visit to Walter Reed Hospital

Hello Everyone,

I visited our men in the hospital again this weekend. PFC David Foss was doing well, and is departing today, 4 June, for San Diego, California where he will continue his recovery. Has a great attitude going into the future.

PFC Arnold was in outpatient on Saturday so I did not have the opportunity to see him, but he is coming back into inpatient treatment this week for a further operation.

There is a new soldier on Ward 57, PFC Evan McQuislen. He was hit by an IED blast as a driver in a 3-1 CAV HMMWV. They are rebuilding his right arm, he had some blast effect to his face. His mother and stepfather are present. He is a bit frustrated at the moment, but appears to be progressing. Evan is from Florida.

I visited a soldier from 10th MTN whose brigade is under the 3rd Division. PFC Tommy Langseth of the 2-15th FA was hit by an IED blast while on foot patrol He has burns and shrapnel damage to his face, and his eyes were damaged by the blast. He has a great attitude and is progressing very well. The doctors believe they can get his eyesight back, and will do so before he is released for further burn treatment in Texas. His parents were present and were very positive. The family is from Texas. This Soldier turned down a scholarship to Texas A&M to join the Army!

I also had the chance to say goodbye to PFC Saul Martinez, who will be leaving for California and further medical treatment on Wednesday. He lost both legs in a blast which obliterated his HMMWV and killed the other two occupants. He spent one week with 1-15 IN before being pulled up to BDE HQ to serve on the Bde Cdr's Security Detail. The convoy got hit while traveling to an important meeting. They were gunning for the Colonel. Saul said the bomb consisted of four explosive penetrators (shaped charges). His parents and grandparents, brother, and wife were all there. Great attitude on this young man.

SSG Brown continues to work hard to take care of our men.

I met another SSG Brown with a Marne combat patch now on staff at the hospital. He served on a surgical team in support of 2d Bde in OIF I. Hopefully he will sign up as a new member.

While I was there a group of Indonesian officers with their wives visited Foss and McQuislen. It was nice to see that other people also appreciate what our soldiers are doing.

As always, a good trip. Will hopefully make it out next weekend.

Rock of the Marne!



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Baghdad's Karada neighborhood
hints of a better future

By Zeke Minaya, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Capt. Joseph Peppers, on loan from the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, shares a laugh with a Karada district council member on Monday.
Zeke Minaya / S&S

BAGHDAD — When Capt. Joseph Peppers rides through the streets of the Karada Peninsula, east of the Green Zone in Baghdad, he catches glimpses of the future. In the crowded commercial district, where merchants stack televisions, air conditioners and refrigerators in front of their busy shops, Peppers sees a hint of the prosperity that is possible in Iraq.
“Think of the peninsula as what Iraq will look like 10 years from now; security is good and people are making money,” Peppers said.

Karada, long one of Baghdad’s safest neighborhoods, has been made more so by the recent security push, military officials in the area say. Having achieved a measure of public safety, troops have shifted more of their focus to building up essential services and coaching local leaders. But even as the improved security in Karada provides hope, it also underscores just how much is left to be done once the violence settles down. Electricity and fuel shortages have hounded residents for years, infrastructure improvements are sorely needed and the nascent democratic institutions of the area are far from mature.

“If we can get the area fixed it could be a pilot program,” Peppers said. “If we can get electricity and sewage fixed we would be heroes. The opportunity is there. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort, but it’s doable.”

Karada was one of Baghdad’s premier neighborhoods under the regime of Saddam Hussein, and it still is. The area, with roughly 250,000 predominantly Shiite residents, is marked by a relative affluence and is home to many government officials as well as Baghdad University.

Peppers, a Chicago native with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Artillery Regiment, on loan from the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Benning, Ga., helps coordinate civic improvement projects. Last week, there was a rally at the southern tip of the peninsula where residents protested the lack of dependable electricity service, Peppers said. Military officials estimate that it will take more than six years before the region’s power woes can be completely solved.
“Electricity is a big, big issue, and we have made it a priority,” he said.
Other concerns are antiquated sewer systems and the lack of gas stations in the area, Pepper said.
“People wait six hours in line for fuel.”
Unemployment is high in the area, as in Iraq as a whole. Military officials, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams, are helping build local industry through a mixture of grants and government loans.

“We need to get the economy going,” Maj. Dean Bushnell said. “If you can employ military-aged males, they are less susceptible to terrorists.” Though the commercial district is busy, most of what’s sold is imported and industry native to the area is sorely lacking, Peppers said.
“There’s no Iraqi-made cars, no Iraqi Wal-Mart. So we’re really trying to foster large businesses to employ military-aged people,” he said.

After being under a totalitarian system, local leaders will need more time to grow into the responsibilities of democratic governance, Peppers said. “All decisions were made by one person or few people just a few years ago,” Peppers said. “Now you have different councils and groups; that dichotomy brings about some issues.” Being able to tackle concerns other than public safety means the security plan has begun to pay dividends, Peppers said. “Once [the plan] is done you can focus on quality of life issues and not just on where to place barriers and planning raids. That’s how you can tell you are making a difference,” Peppers said.

It is not clear where other neighborhoods in Baghdad have experienced the same benefits of the security push that Peppers has seen in Karada. On Monday, the New York Times reported that a military assessment of the security plan has shown slow progress. The assessment, which was completed in late May, said coalition forces had control of 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods, according to the newspaper.

In Karada, Peppers said, the future is close. “Iraqis didn’t progress at all for about 20 years, so now we are taking a whole society and throwing them into the millennium,” he said. “It’s going to take time. What do you expect? The risks are high but so are the rewards.”

© 2007 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.






Five More Trees for the Fallen
Coastal Empire by Sean Harder |
 Friday, May 18, 2007

Jennifer Lawlor and her child, Brennan, are framed by some of the 326 Eastern Redbud trees now planted on Warriors Walk. Lawlor's husband, Staff Sgt. Brian Lawlor, served with Sgt. Adrian Lewis, one of the slain 3rd Infantry Division soldiers honored Thursday. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

FORT STEWART - A memorial to fallen soldiers was expanded Thursday as soldiers and family gathered to honor the lives of five more 3rd Infantry Division soldiers killed in Iraq. Amid occasional rain and haze from the wildfires in southeast Georgia, they stood as each soldier's name was read aloud and granite markers were uncovered at each Eastern Redbud tree planted for the fallen.

"I'm humbled to speak of five great people, five great soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Col. Todd Buchs, garrison commander at Fort Stewart. "They each answered their nation's call to duty, serving to protect what we all hold dear." The trees dedicated Thursday bring the number of Eastern Redbuds at Fort Stewart's memorial, Warriors Walk, to 326.

3rd Infantry Division soldiers salute Thursday during a ceremony at Fort Stewart honoring five slain soldiers.
(Photo: Carl Elmore)

The first tree dedicated Thursday was in honor of Spc. Forrest J. Waterbury, 25, of Richmond, Texas, who was killed March 14 in Ramadi by enemy fire. He was assigned to Fort Stewart's 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor. Waterbury was on his third deployment to Iraq and had been there only three weeks before he was killed, said his aunt Kathy Hall. He is survived by his wife and step-child. "He always had a smile on his face, no matter the situation," Hall said. "He loved what he was doing and loved being in the Army. He had planned to make the military his career."

Amanda Lewis, widow of slain 3rd Infantry Division Sgt. Adrian Lewis, attended Thursday's tree ceremony at Fort Stewart with several family members, including, from left, daughters Brianna Martin and Lexy Lewis. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

One week after Waterbury's death, another Fort Stewart soldier from 3-69 Armor was killed. Sgt. Adrian J. Lewis, 30, of Greenville, S.C., was killed March 21 by small arms fire in Ramadi. "He didn't want to go this last time," said Amanda Lewis, his wife and mother of four children. "We had just had a baby. She was a month and two weeks old when he left."
As a father of four, Lewis enjoyed spending time with his family and taking the occasional beach vacation to Florida, she said.

A 3rd Infantry Division color guard participated in the ceremony for five fallen soldiers who were honored
at Warriors' Walk on Thursday. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Three other soldiers from the division's 3rd Brigade at Fort Benning near Columbus were also honored Thursday. They are:

Pfc. Joey T. Sams, 22, of Spartanburg, S.C.

Staff Sgt. Harrison Brown, 31, of Prichard, Ala.

Pfc. David N. Simmons, 20, of Kokomo, Ind.

The 3rd ID, which led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, began its third rotation into Iraq earlier this year. Its soldiers will serve an extended 15-month tour as part of a troop buildup to stabilize the country.

As of Thursday, 20 soldiers from the 3rd ID had been killed this year in Iraq, according to www.icasualties.org , a Web site that tracks the war's fatalities.
© 2007 SavannahNOW and the Savannah Morning News.



Maintaining the Line
For ‘supply-line’ Soldiers job rewards them like never before
Spc. Ricardo Branch-1st BCT Public Affairs

A fork-lift unloads supplies at Camp Blue Diamond during a supply drop off by Soldiers from Company B, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion. (Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)

RAMADI, Iraq (May 17, 2007) – On the streets and alleyways of Ramadi, combat units need the tools necessary to maintain the fight and continue the mission. For the troops of Company B, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, they have to be prepared to live up to their motto “ready to roll” at a moments notice to delivery valuable supplies to the units fighting for stability in the city.
The Soldiers lived up to their motto by bringing five thousand pounds of  bottled water, food and vehicle parts to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor May 15 at Camp Blue Diamond. “We have to get this to them so they can continue their mission,” said Spc. Richard Cowling, a mechanic with 3rd BSB. The 21-year-old Havertown, Pa., native said, “Right now 3-69 Armor is our main security here. If they don’t have the supplies and tracks for their vehicles, they can’t do their mission, so it’s important we do these runs to resupply and refit units like them.”

Sgt. Mark York, a truck driver with Co. B, 3rd BSB ties down a container of supplies before the unit travels back to Camp Ramadi.(Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)

The Soldiers don’t just see units in nearby Blue Diamond but units in and around Ramadi as well. Company B has driven 10, 860 miles on 85 convoy missions in their effort to resupply units around the city. “There are times where we’ve had to go to Corregidor to drop off jersey barriers for units to improve their security, or push supplies into hostile areas like Albu-Bali,” Cowling said. “We go to where the units are and bring them whatever they need.”

Soldiers from Company B, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion hold a prayer for a safe journey before the start of a mission to 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor May 15 at Camp Ramadi. (Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)

Even though they are not on the frontlines, the Soldiers maintaining the supply lines often find themselves in harm’s way while on duty. “While we were going down the roads into Albu-Bali, I was thinking this is a long route, and it was kind of creepy – not scary – but like I was being watched,” Cowling said. “Then while I was scanning a house it exploded.” “It was one of those ‘did that just happen?’ moments,” he said. “I was wondering if EOD did it … but they were in front of us. We also had a couple of Bradley vehicles hit not even ten minutes in front of us during that push.”
Although the Soldiers have not had to deal with small-arms fire, which is a testament of the success in Ramadi, they are always prepared. “We’ve been pretty lucky on our routes because the units securing them have done a real good job,” Cowling said. “(But) It doesn’t stop us from scanning our sectors and being alert for anything suspicious.”

A Soldier directs a truck at the supply drop off point May 15 at Camp Blue Diamond.
(Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Joseph Monroe, the convoy commander, sees the pride the Soldiers have in their job reflected in the way they perform. “The Soldiers are doing real well,” said the 27-year-old Fayetteville, N.C., native. “Each time they go out, they use the operation as an opportunity to get better, so I’m proud of them – They grow more with every mission.”
Monroe said the satisfaction the Soldiers display in their work can be credited to their eagerness for the opportunity to perform something extraordinary – keeping their comrades supplied in combat.
He added, “They love this work. This is something they may never get a chance to do again. Some of them we had to pick for this duty, but most of them volunteered because they knew they could handle it.”
Despite all the dangers, the Soldiers delivering supplies continue to roll out the front gates of the combat outposts in their journey to maintain the line.
“This is my first time being deployed,” Cowling said. “I thought I’d be in a motor pool working 20 hours a day so this is a new experience, and I like it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”



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Numerous Caches Discovered in Ramadi

Point of Contact:
Maj Lee Peters
May 12, 2007
Press Release: 5-12.1

RAMADI, Iraq – Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces discovered multiple insurgent caches in the Albu Bali region while conducting clearing operations during the past week.
Iraqi Police, Provincial Security Force 2 and Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division uncovered 21 enemy caches including an underground bunker, a vehicle borne improvised explosive device factory, two VBIEDs, 24 155mm and 33 120mm artillery rounds, 29 120mm mortars, approximately 650 82mm mortars which included 190 inert rounds, 84 60mm mortars, seven bags of chlorine and phosphorous powder, two improvised rocket launchers, and 13 eight-foot rockets.

Members of the Iraqi Police and PSF 2 proudly stand next to one
of the 21 caches uncovered in Albu Bali.

Many of the cache locations were provided by local citizens once a permanent police presence was established in the region. “This is another example of citizens responding to an increased security presence,” said Col. John Charlton, Brigade Combat Team commander. “Once the local population sees that the police are not leaving, they immediately begin providing them with information on caches and activity.”

The discovery of a VBIED factory represents an elaborate assembly
line that produces VBIED historically used to attack Iraqi Police.

The VBIED factory included six 55 gallon drums of homemade explosives, four 50 gallon mixing barrels, 15 drums of gasoline, two stoves, one water pump, three bundles of wire, an assortment of metal pipes, two grain bags containing HME residue and a fire extinguisher. One VBIED was being built and contained eight containers of HME when the factory was discovered.
Two VBIEDs attacked Ramadi May 7, resulting in 16 killed and 19 wounded.
Albu Bali, one of the remaining areas of persistent enemy activity, is located 15 kilometers northeast of Ramadi.- 30 -



Media embedded with 1BCT








Teri Weaver

Stars and Stripes

1-77 AR,

3/7 MAR,

3-69 AR


13 MAY


James Janega

Chicago Tribune

1-3 BTB,

3/7 MAR

11 MAY

13 MAY

Chaplain Barkmeyer

Nic Robertson



14 MAY

19 MAY

Security, Reconstruction

Melinda Liu


1-77 AR,

2/5 MAR

19 MAY

23 MAY


Rick Wilkinson

Richard Butler


1-41 FA,


23 MAY


Soldier Features

Brigade Commander on Progress in Ramadi
By Charles Grey, WTOC – CBS Savannah

As we pause to take time this Memorial Day weekend to honor those who've given their lives in service to our country, we can also think of those still living and working in harm's way.
It's still rough in places like Ramadi, Iraq, which has seen a lot of action since the war began. We got a chance to speak with Col. John Charlton, commander of the Third Infantry Division's First Brigade Combat Team, which has been in Ramadi since February.
"Well, I'll tell you, Ramadi is, at least in my opinion and I've been over here three times now, the most damaged city in Iraq," he told us Friday in a satellite interview from there. "This city has undergone intense fighting over the past few years, and a good portion of it is completely destroyed. So one of our challenges is to work with the Iraqi government to help put that back together."
And a good deal of that work is being handled by Iraqi civilians through contracting programs.
"We'll hire local Iraqis from certain a neighborhood to clean the neighborhood up," explained Col. Charlton. "That generates some immediate income for those people. It also cleans up the area, it makes it more sanitary. It also, in the process of cleaning that up...they often find caches of weapons and munitions that were left behind by insurgents, so they're very useful programs on several fronts."

Security remains a priority, though. As Col. Charlton explained, "We've had a total of 27 days in the city of Ramadi where there was not a single attack. And so we're working very hard every day to keep that security up. Cause if we can keep the security up, then all those other things will happen. All the reconstruction and economic development will continue to progress very well."
The First Brigade Combat Team plans to have a short, simple Memorial Day ceremony honoring all the fallen, but those who've made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq especially.
Col. Charlton says the support of the people on the home front is essential as he and his soldiers continue to focus on the serious work to be done in a dangerous environment. "Well, we're grateful for everyone back home remembering those fallen warriors," he said. "What they've done for their country, what they've done for the people here in Iraq."

Build up services, break down resistance
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes

With a moment of peace hovering inside Ramadi, its people are asking for a little bit of prosperity.
The electrical grid is virtually dead. A small sewage plant operates, but it’s only enough to handle one small part of town. The ceramics factory is closed, and the nearby workers’ quarters lie open with shattered windows and crumbling bricks.
In January, the city was in the midst of the war. It had a mayor with no budget, no officers and no paychecks, said Army Col. John Charlton, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Since then, the military has helped shape local leaders into local councils, with the hopes that they can start prioritizing city projects and make formal requests to the Ministry of Interior for help. That effort will take longer than anyone wants, military commanders said last week.
“You have no government,” Charlton said of the early part of the year. “Now all of a sudden you expect the government to be able to perform all the services of a mature government. It’s just not possible.”
Possibility and patience are two different things. While Marines patrolled a Ramadi neighborhood one evening last week, Iraqi children swarmed them in their usual efforts to get chocolate, candy, water, anything.
One group of kids had a different request: “Electricity! Electricity!” they shouted in English.
There’s a military strategy at work in making the city run, Charlton and others said. If the U.S. military can’t help deliver certain services and secure abandoned buildings, the city could fall back into the hands of people willing to pay money — and threaten harm — to gain a foothold against American troops and Iraqi forces.
Keeping the Iraqi police force equipped and satisfied is another concern. The local police are local men, most who have taken up arms to protect their own property and families.
Their presence and work at security stations throughout Ramadi and the outlying areas are vital. As one Marine lieutenant told his squad before a planned walking patrol: “If we don’t have [Iraqi police] we’re not going,” he said. “It’s not safe. It’s pointless to go without them.”
The police, too, are at risk. Eight were killed last week at a checkpoint outside the city. Most are new recruits who have been to a five-week training school. Most, but not all, have uniforms. They certainly expect to be paid, American commanders say.
Maj. Sabah Yusif Zgier, who runs the Iraqi police at a station south of Ramadi, says that did not happen for his men in March. Their pay came in April, but it did not include the missing money, he said through a translator in his office last week. He was told it was a paperwork problem, and that to fix it, an official wanted a bribe of 5 million dinar.
“They cannot work for free,” he said.
Marine Capt. Marcus Mainz leads Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. He’s been in town about a month, and walks the streets often. Once he was invited inside a home for dinner. He’s learned simple Arabic phrases, the proper greetings, the words for good and no. Some of his Marines have had the name patches on their uniforms sewn in Arabic to wear on patrols.
While Charlton works on getting large money for large projects, Mainz and other commanders like him have CERP — Commanders Emergency Response Funds. Mainz can use this to get potholes fixed, generators put in the right place.
He also has the control to remove barriers, literally, that block residents’ way to work. A man greeted him on the street. A week ago, the same Iraqi was shaking in anger that he couldn’t get to his shop to receive a metal delivery. Mainz has the power to make that journey easy, and the man hugged him Thursday.
“It’s not about fighting the enemy,” he said. “It’s about getting [residents] food and water, about long-term economic development.”
During the walk, the Marines went by an empty lot where people had strung a volleyball net and drawn a court into the sand. They had no ball. Nearby, a field of garbage, including animal carcasses, rotted. Down the block, a man was stringing wires from a generator to a mosque. Another man washed his car. Kids trailed the patrol, some licking orange ice cream cones.
The Iraqi police led the way on foot. They also circled the outside of the patrol in an F-350 truck.
For those police in Ramadi, and Maj. Sabah’s who work south of the city, payday is the 15th. They have it marked on their calendar.

Smith: Iraqi officials are in gridlock
The Oregonian

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said his trip to Iraq last weekend affirmed his position that U.S. forces should not police an Iraqi civil war.
"My position is unchanged," Smith said. "If anything, in numerous conversations with Oregon soldiers, they ratified my position."
Smith, who led a congressional delegation to Iraq and Jordan on Thursday evening, said U.S. troops are making a "heroic effort" in Iraq.
"What we are doing now we have not been doing over the previous four years," Smith said, "clearing, holding and building."
But that optimism, Smith said, was tempered by his meetings with Iraqi officials.
"They are in gridlock," Smith said. "They are focused more on revenge than on reconciliation, on advantage rather than inclusion. Until they take over their government with progress and provide their people with security, there is no successful outcome in Iraq."
Smith voted to authorize the war in 2002 and publicly supported Bush for the next four years. Last December, he drew nationwide attention when he denounced Bush's Iraq policy.
Smith was one of two Republican senators to vote for a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's increase in troops this year. That increase, Smith said, has worked "to a point."
"In January, al Qaeda in Iraq declared Ramadi their capital," Smith said. "Al Qaeda in Iraq has essentially been wiped out. That is a result of the surge. Ramadi, which was once the worst area in Iraq, is now one of the best."
But Smith warned that Iraq is a "vast country."
"The complexity of tribal hatreds runs throughout and ultimately, for them to live together they have to make compromises together. And I have yet to see the willingness to do that."
Smith said he is concerned about Iran's involvement in Iraq, but he said that is an issue Iraq must resolve.
"It is widely reported that we have captured Iranian weapons and bombs, their personnel, their plans and their checklists," Smith said. "That's simply the truth. Iran is bent on chaos in Iraq. Iraq should be left to the Iraqis to settle."


Remarkable turnaround in Ramadi?
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes

RAMADI, Iraq — On a routine trip last week into Ramadi’s center, a driver in a Marine Corps convoy saw the tailgate on one of the trucks swinging open.
Rather than risk losing the gear inside, the convoy stopped and a couple of Marines jumped out to fasten the tailgate. A few short weeks ago, the same convoy would have sped on, the Marines on the ride said later. The risk of standing on a Ramadi street, exposed to sniper fire and bomb attack, would have outweighed the risk of lost cargo, they said.
“It’s not that kind of fight anymore,” said Staff Sgt. Amos Livingston, a Marine who patrolled Ramadi a year ago and recently returned with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Corps Regiment.
It’s been weeks since a major attack or explosion hit inside the city limits, according to military statistics. Part of the change comes as local tribal leaders and police forces have banded with military troops. The joint effort has led to massive security sweeps, discoveries of piles of hidden munitions and the dismantling of a makeshift car bomb factory, the military says.
Key to this effort are neighborhood police and military outposts — called joint security stations — set up where the violence dwells, Iraqi and U.S. officials say.
These stations are just taking hold in Baghdad as part of the military’s surge to defeat the insurgents. But they started in Ramadi months ago, and they seem to be making a difference, commanders, troops, Iraqi police and citizens say.
The tactic involves sweeping the area clear of insurgents while embedding U.S. troops inside the community. The troops — like Livingston — live alongside Iraqi forces, letting them run operations while the Americans provide financial and military support.
Now Ramadi is full of the stations, says Army Col. John Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, which oversees a swath of land in Anbar province that includes Ramadi.
“It eliminated the enemy’s ability to move around the city,” Charlton said recently in his office on Camp Ramadi. “ ‘Cause everywhere they go, they are going to run into one of our positions. And that has helped hold the terrain that we cleared.”
But clearing the violence in one sector pushes it into another, Charlton knows.
Despite the relative calm inside Ramadi, two suicide car bombs on May 7 hit an Iraqi police checkpoint and a market less than a mile east of the city limits, killing 16 — eight police and eight civilians. Nineteen others, mostly civilians, were injured.
A few weeks prior, Charlton won approval to include that market in his area because he knew the enemy was running in that direction. The same day the car bombs hit, an Army unit was in the midst of opening a security station in the area.
Chasing the insurgency is also happening in other directions. Earlier this spring, a road leading south from the city to four villages was littered with buried bombs, and its farms were stashes for insurgents’ munitions. About two weeks ago, a security station opened at the southern end of the route.
But it came at a price. A corporal from Company C, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, lost his legs in a roadside bombing in late April, before the calm began.
Charlton and others know one of the biggest vulnerabilities is suicide car attacks.
An Iraqi store owner injured in the May 7 attacks agreed.
He was brought to the military hospital at Camp Ramadi following the attacks. He was surprised the American military would treat him “like one of the family,” he said through an interpreter. He also said the attack that hit his store seemed inevitable.
But, still, he said, things are better than a year ago. Then, he would never have trusted the Iraqi police to protect him if he offered up information about suspected insurgents. Now, he would go to them, he said. He did not feel safe enough, however, to print his name in an American newspaper.
The hospital staff keeps track of the violence differently. On May 7, they treated 12 wounded, including one Iraqi police officer. Two other people died of wounds. The last time that many injuries was April 26, 11 days earlier.
Another thing has changed in Ramadi.
“I’m done with raiding homes and scaring women and children,” Army Capt. Ian Lauer said during a meeting with Iraqi troops last week. The company commander with 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, was talking to an Iraqi officer about a tip on some hidden weapons. It’s Lauer’s job, in part, to urge the Iraqis to do more of their own raids and their own arrests.
Charlton is on his third tour in Iraq. He knows peace and calm can be short-lived in Iraq.
In Ramadi, he’s concerned that the swelling ranks in the local police force could prove opportune for al-Qaida to enlist its own recruits. He wants to start rebuilding infrastructure, before local residents stop believing that America will help fix the electrical grid and the sewage lines. He’s aware the local tribal leaders, who are helping drive the cooperation and calm, may begin their own power struggle.
Still, he remains optimistic.
“I think what’s promising here is the level of support we have from the local population,” Charlton said. “That’s what gives me optimism about the way forward.”

Promotion pressure still prevalent downrange
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes

Spc. Ryan Hicks is nervous.

Yes, the 25-year-old from Tallahassee, Fla., is living at Camp Ramadi, just a stone’s throw away from the city that al-Qaida in Iraq once claimed as its capital.

But Wednesday morning, he had to face a more immediate foe of another sort — the sergeants in his unit who would decide on his promotion from E-4 to E-5, the solid terrain of noncommissioned officers.

“That’s the goal: to mess with us to see if you can act under pressure,” said Hicks, a member of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division headquartered at Ramadi.

Hicks’ description isn’t far off, according to Sgt. 1st Class John Gear of the battalion’s headquarters company. “They’ve got to react against their nerves,” said Gear as he sized up the group.

Hicks and others like him may have a bigger advantage going in front of the promotion board in Iraq than they would at their unit’s home in Germany, Gear said.

“Here,” he said, referring to car bombs and firefights, “they do this on a daily basis.”

For Hicks, so far, so good. On Wednesday morning, he passed his GATES test, a series of hands-on tasks that measure a soldier’s ability to treat wounds, don a gas mask, call for the explosive ordnance team and read a map.

Thursday, he knew, would be a different fight. He and a handful of others would go before a panel of higher-ranking soldiers for questioning.

“I’m pretty nervous," he said.
Kudos for the commandant

His squad calls him the Commandant. Like most nicknames, it brings equal parts respect and abuse.

Sgt. Troy White, 20, of Owasso, Mich., is the Marine of the Year for the Marine Expeditionary Force I, which includes America’s West Coast. To achieve the honor, White sat through interviews from his own base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., up to division level.

“They look at your appearance, your confidence,” he said last week, a couple of hours before his squad — part of the 2nd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment — went on a walking patrol in Ramadi.

Neither was in question that night. White and others Marines from his unit patrolled Ramadi a year ago, when gunfire and roadside bombs were more the norm. This month, the unit returned for a second tour in the same area to find pockets of calm in the same city.

It was White who best tracked the route among a crew that included the company captain. It was White who reported a child they passed had pointed westward and said “boom,” a sign hard to read but ominous enough that the group changed their tack.

And it was White who noticed where too many fuel tanks were piled up on a corner. Even as the neighborhood enjoys a measure of peace, White saw the intersection and a potential explosion from a car bomb.

“Yes, that’s it!” Company L Commander Capt. Marcus Mainz shouted, congratulating the Commandant for his attention.
Goodies from home
Friday was mail call for the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, only their second since deploying from California in recent weeks. And Friday’s shipment to Forward Operating Base Hurricane Point was the first with boxes, care packages full of goods from home.

They got smoked almonds, glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty, Twizzlers, foot powder, Mike ‘n’ Ike candy, energy drinks, tuna packets, socks, dried fruit, spicy Slim Jims, a towel, Oragel, a sheet set, the movies “Talladega Nights” and “Rocky Balboa,” a computer, pictures, kosher chicken and salmon meals, trail mix, and paper and envelopes for return letters home.

Some Marines got nothing.

And some know that more is on the way. One Marine is waiting for a package from his wife that contains yellow plastic lemons full of lemon juice, so he can mix it with sugar and water in the Iraqi desert and make lemonade.

Far away from home
By Stacy Horany, Wichita Falls Times Record News

Lt Col. Scott Johnson is a long way from Lucy Park.
Less than 100 miles west of Baghdad on the banks of the Euphrates River, Ramadi, Iraq is about as far from the span bridge and the Falls as one can get, and Johnson said he will be ready to visit his parents, Segal and Carol Johson, and see his old home after his 15-month deployment to Iraq ends next April.
"I miss the country - I miss West Texas more than anything else," Johnson said. "Wichita Falls changes every time I see it, but we always go to Lucy Park, walk across the swinging bridge, go to the Falls and hike around on the trails."
A 1981 graduate of Hirschi High School and a 1985 graduate of Midwestern State University, Johnson is the commander of the Army's Third Infantry Division's 1-3 Brigade Troops Battalion, otherwise known as the "Desert Cats."
Johnson said his battalion does many different jobs in Ramadi, including military intelligence (operating unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs), ground intelligence, communications and building vigilance security stations for the Iraqi security forces, among many other jobs. He said the hard work his men are doing is paying off in terms of security and cooperation with the locals in Ramadi.
"It's not easy. We're really working hard with the local government and security forces, including the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. We're also working with the tribal sheiks and the local population," Johnson said.
"From the time we got here in January until now, it's a 180-degree difference from where it was," Johnson said. "We took over for the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and they did a heck of a lot of work - when we took over, their work started to pay off."
Johnson said they are working closely with the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army in Ramadi and have been able to improve the situation on the ground there, getting utilities up and running and improving living conditions in the city.
Johnson said he does miss many things - most of all his family, including his wife, Ann, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army, and his sons, 7-year-old Conner and 2-month-old David, who live at Fort Stewart in Georgia. He said he was able to be there for David's birth in March.
He said he also misses the TV show "24," basketball and football games and especially dove hunting, but he knows the job he is doing in Iraq is necessary and important.
"I feel good about what I'm doing here every day, not only serving my country and being part of the Army, but I actually feel good about what I'm doing," Johnson said.
"We just need your support. We need the American people to back us - I tell people that I don't make the policy, I'm just a tool of the policy makers. We're here to do a job, and when that job is done then we'll come home," he said.
He said those care packages, letters from schoolchildren and the like all mean something to soldiers in Iraq.
"We get tons of letters from school classes, a lot of care packages - all of that makes a soldier smile because we really feel like people are supporting us," he said.
Johnson's parents moved the family to the area in 1976, shortly before Segal retired from his career in the Air Force, Carol said. Along with Scott, Carol said her son Randall is in the Coast Guard. Her other son Keith served for four years in the Army.
"We're just very proud of them, I worry about Scott because of where he is, but this is his second tour in Iraq," Carol said. "We e-mail him and he calls us so we stay in touch- it's a lot different than when my husband went to Vietnam because we didn't have computers. We communicated by letters back then."
Johnson said he is looking forward to coming home and visiting Wichita Falls, but he has another plan in mind as well.
"I think I'm going to go to Angel Fire for two weeks and do some fly fishing," he said.

Voice of Ramadi speaks for police, city leaders
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HURRICANE POINT, Iraq — Three times a week, Lance Cpl. Joseph Day surfs the Al Jazeera and the BBC Web sites, looking for news to bring to the city in Ramadi.

The Voice of Ramadi, a 15-minute newscast, blares from loudspeakers throughout the northern part of the city every day but Friday, the Muslim holy day.

The Arabic broadcast includes the Iraqi national anthem, a reading from the Quran, and nationalist songs.
There’s always a soccer score from around the world, and, sometimes, the city’s mayor reads a statement.

The idea is to build credibility between the city and its local leaders, according to Day and Adel Abouhana, a Department of Defense worker who translates the English narrative into the local Arabic dialect and records the message.

To do that, the broadcast never mentions coalition forces.

It also means not mentioning that the message starts in the small public affairs office at Hurricane Point, a Marine Corps base just outside Ramadi that houses the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Corps Regiment. The tagline, “The Ramadi police welcome you to this news update,” but never mentions the U.S. military or American news outlets.

“We’re speaking for the Iraqi police,” Abouhana said Saturday morning.

“It has nothing to do with coalition forces.”

Yet, for now, it’s U.S. Marines who draft and approve the script and produce the audio. They put the seven loudspeakers at various Iraqi police stations throughout the city, and they e-mail or deliver the final versions to the locations for broadcasts.

The choice of news stories starts with Day, 20, of Amesbury, Mass. He generally picks two stories from Al Jazeera about Middle East and Africa, two from BBC about Europe and Asia. One broadcast last week included the Chinese government’s plan to send military engineers to Darfur and the deaths of two Palestinians in Lebanon who were members of the Fatah movement.

Day intentionally skips what he calls negative news: information about economic turmoil or uprisings that reject democratic values, he said. Instead, he looks for stories about other nations in Asia, Europe and Africa that are having elections, conducting peace talks, and improving their economies.

The broadcast also usually includes a local message, Day said. The May 9 script explained two suicide car bombs May 7 that hit a market outside of Ramadi, killing eight Iraqi police and eight civilians.
“On Monday, madmen terrorists committed a horrific act by attacking and killing innocent men, women and children of Jazeera by driving two vehicles filled with explosives into an open market and police checkpoint,” the scripts read in English.

It goes on to explain why a couple of bridges were closed and asks local residents with information about the bombings to contact the Ramadi police.

The Marines hope to pass the production duty onto local city officials, especially in time for the end of Abouhana’s deployment four months from now. Capt. Craig Schaffner, who also helps with the script, said he wants to start including the city government, rather than just the police, on the show’s tagline.

“We don’t want them to think it’s propaganda,” Schaffner said.

------------------------- Points of Contact ----------------------

Please provide comments, suggestions or questions concerning this newsletter to the 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Section:

Major Lee Peters SSG(P)
Raymond Piper
Public Affairs Officer Public Affairs NCOIC
318-340-3832 (DSN) 318-340-3624 (DSN)



Second Brigade Combat Team Deploys

May 10, 2007-More Third Infantry Division soldiers are on their way to Iraq tonight. Members of the Second Brigade Combat Team left their families at Fort Stewart this morning. They'll deploy later tonight from Hunter Army Airfield. The soldiers will be gone for at least 15 months. Many families are handling the news well, knowing the deployment could have been even longer and remembering that their loved ones have a job to do.

Staff Sergeant Joshua Stone, holding his youngest son, Jamari

With their bags packed, it was finally time to say goodbye. The first time wasn't easy said Staff Sergeant Joshua Stone, holding his youngest son, Jamari, and it doesn't get any easier. "The second time was a little harder," admitted Staff Sergeant Stone. "The third time, you kind of get used to it, but you never really do."

Staying behind is more difficult for his wife, Mae, who spent nine years in the military, herself. "It's a little easier for the kids now, but it's harder for me because I'm not there with him to see what's going on and knowing what to expect over there, it's a little harder," added Mae Young Stone.

Jessica Reade, who just got engaged to Private Nathaniel Slosson, gives him a kiss

Jessica Reade, who just got engaged to Private Nathaniel Slosson, is ready to help him however she can, right down to carrying his gear. "I'm pretty proud," said Slosson, smiling at his petite fiance. "She's carrying a rucksack that weighs at least as much as she does." Both said it's hard to say goodbye. "It's pretty hard," said Reade, "I've grown up around it in a military family, but with him, it's a little harder." "It's hard to leave," said Slosson, "but this is what I signed up for and this is what I wanted to do. She's not too happy about it, but 15 months isn't too long, I guess."

The troops' 15 month deployments are having another effect on the Third Infantry Division. The Fourth Brigade Combat Team, that was scheduled to deploy in July, will now deploy in September instead.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com



iPod tells soldier he was shot - the real story

April 10, 2007
Everyone knows it’s a must-have for music fans, but now it's being put forward as an essential life-saving accessory for soldiers. Apple’s iPod apparently saved the life of an American soldier serving in Iraq, if pictures posted on Flickr are anything to be believed.

According to a comment accompanying the pictures of the life-saving iPod, Kevin Garrad (3rd Infantry Division) was attacked by an armed insurgent, who shot him in the left-hand side of his chest with an AK-47. The iPod in his jacket pocket reportedly took the full force of the shot, leading to countless ‘iPod saved my life’ headlines.

A rather unexpected PR bonus for Apple, just as its iPod passed the 100 million sales mark, but also a bit of a tall story. It turns out Garrad’s life was actually saved by a good old-fashioned bullet-proof vest. He told Greg Adler at PC Advisor’s US-based sister title PC World that he was wearing upgraded body armor that easily stopped the AK-47 bullet.

He said the upgraded armor he was wearing could stop the AK-47 round. It was not the newest armor that is in Iraq now, but it was an upgrade. This was his second iPod that he had brought to Iraq. The first had been damaged earlier and the store would not replace it, even with the additional warranty he purchased.

The pictures are what happens when an AK-47 bullet hits an iPod.

He’s talked to Apple and is happy that they sent him another iPod. He’s gone through two already. If any others send him iPods he’ll put them in care packages back to friends in his unit who don’t have them.

Still, with iPod jackets and iPod trainers (coming by way of the Nike+iPod sports kit) already on the market, could iPod-enabled bullet-proof vests be the next big thing?

Compiled from articles in Flickr and  pcadvisor.com-Paul Trotter 

The back of the Ipod.

Christine and Kevin Garrad with iPod.

The front of the Ipod.





Fort Benning Commander Talks About the Future

April 24, 2007-Fort Benning is going through a transformation. The military's base realignment will bring thousands of new troops to the area. Fort Bunning's commanding general talked about the growth and the extended deployments of the troops.

Major General Walter Wodjakowski began his command of Fort Benning 20 months ago. He has no plans of leaving just yet and expects to be here for at least another year. "It's a great command Fort Benning is a wonderful place. We love the entire tri community area.," he says.

The general will continue to oversee the growth and addition of thousands of new troops to the base as the base realignment plans move forward. "From the strategic point of view...we have been planning in detail since the brac law was passed," says Wodjakowski.

Just over a week ago the defense department announced that some of the troops serving in Iraq would see longer deployments. Wodjakowski says that was no major surprise to the military community.

"In the case of the 3rd brigade combat team, who this really impacts on. Their families were told by their commander Colonel Grisby and their division commander General Lynch before their deployment that a 12 month deployment was probably not going to happen, they could expect 16 to 18 months to be away from home so there was some preparation of those families. My belief and I say this because we of course support the family readiness of the 3rd brigade combat team group everyday on Fort Benning is that they are doing fine with it." says Maj. Gen. Wodjakowski.

He says he does not expect any major environmental impact connected to Fort Benning growth. But there is going to be a public meeting on the issue at the Columbus Trade Center next month.

3rd ID Commander reports from Iraq
Joe Parker Jr., Coastal Courier

April 24, 2007-Although his soldiers are “exactly where they should be in terms of equipment and training,” the 3rd Infantry Division’s commanding general said, “We are still losing great soldiers.” As Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch spoke to the Coastal Courier in a telephone interview this week, he noted the death of a soldier in a unit attached to the 3rd ID headquarters, and the dedication of another tree Thursday at Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk, honoring another 3rd ID soldier killed.
“We are in top-of-the-line armored vehicles,” the general said as an example of improved equipment used by the division in Iraq. “As I said before we left Fort Stewart, we will only bring to Iraq soldiers who are trained and ready,” he said.

Noting the recent extension of Iraq tours from 12 to 15 months for all deployed and deploying soldiers, Lynch recalled he had told 3rd ID soldiers and families to be prepared for a potential stay of 18 months. “There are signs of progress,” he said, “but we are in a difficult situation. The cost is high.” Morale is good, the general said, and pointed out several reasons, including, “We know our families are being taken care of back home.” Lynch remains installation commander of Fort Stewart and stays in touch with home station through formal and informal and informal channels. “I talk to my wife,” he said, “just like other soldiers talk to their wives.” The general also has regular teleconferences with Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Todd Buchs.

The infrastructure in Iraq to support morale includes a fitness center “just like the one we have at Fort Stewart,” with another one under construction. Other features include movies, pool, ping-pong, a library and a popular Internet café. Lynch said the recent visit of three National Football League players was an example of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities that include tours by celebrities and entertainers.
As part of the Gridiron Greats Tour 2007, Chris Harris, a safety with the Chicago Bears, Nick Harper, a cornerback with the Indianapolis Colts and Israel Idonije, a defensive end also with the Chicago Bears, visited soldiers last week.
“These players understand what soldiers are doing and they understand how they are serving and they want to give back to the community, the greater community of the Army,” said Joe Canfield, the players’ manager.
The 3rd ID headquarters, established from scratch since its arrival in Iraq, also commands the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division and the 4th Brigade (Airborne) of the 25th Division.

Lynch: 3rd ID Soldiers miss home, but Morale is High
Savannah Morning News

MG Rick Lynch,
Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division

April 24, 2007-Like so many of the soldiers I lead, I miss family and friends at home in the Coastal Empire and beyond. There is not a second that goes by that I don't think about the families and the community we left behind. Our reunion will be sweet for sure, but for now we do our duty and focus on the mission at hand.

The Army announced last week that active component, regular Army soldiers deployed and deploying to this region will spend no more than 15 months in theater and no less than 12 months at home. This came as no surprise to our soldiers because we had told them all to expect an 18-month deployment. I still caution them to not be fixated on a set date for returning home. That time will come. We will complete our assigned tasks. Each soldier will be compensated with extra pay each month after the 12 spent here. But we all know that it is still tough to be separated from loved ones. In spite of the delay, they remain motivated and they are doing a magnificent job. Morale is very high across the force.

I want to thank all of you who have expressed your support to us over the course of the last four weeks and longer. Our loved ones at home are comforted by you and we are in your debt. The "Adopt A Soldier" program is in full swing here. Thanks.

In my role as commander of this great division, I travel around Iraq to visit units and gain situational understanding. En route I often look out of the aircraft and see Iraqi children playing soccer in dusty fields and trying to swim in half-filled pools. They remind me of our children in the U.S.A. They want to have fun. And their parents want them to have a better life than they themselves had. For now their dream is just out of reach. They lack the security and resources necessary to have the joy freedom provides. And that's where your division, the 3rd Infantry Division, comes in.

A key to establishing security for the Iraqis is stopping weapons and extremists with their foreign ideologies from entering the city of Baghdad. Today, Dog Face Soldiers, our 1st Brigade (Raiders) and 3rd Brigade (Sledgehammer), are performing that task on both sides of this nation's capitol.

In Ramadi, the Raider Brigade has established numerous outposts in that former bastion of terror. Now, civilians have greater freedom. There are jobs, reconstruction and citywide improvement projects. Our troops have reduced the number of terrorist attacks from 25 per day to four and even zero per day in just three short months. Civilians are joining the political process there and rejecting the insurgents.

Another of our tasks is to help train the Iraqi security forces. In many parts of Iraq, Iraqi security forces operate on their own. In others, they are teamed with U.S. soldiers until they are sufficiently trained and equipped to perform the task independently. I have met many of their leaders and they are a proud lot. Our 1st Brigade Combat Team has hosted recruiting drives and Sunnis are joining the Iraqi Army and police. You would be pleased to know that our great soldiers in the Marne Division are enjoying some success. They are moving into neighborhoods with the Iraqi Security Forces, conducting patrols, serving jointly with the Iraqi Army and police. I am so very proud of our soldiers. They are building schools and they are helping Iraqi citizens to obtain clean water for drinking as well as watering of their crops.

In time, the children in this region will have their security and be able to play, grow and enjoy the freedom we enjoy at home. For now someone must stop the terrorist threat. And that takes courageous young men and women like your friends and neighbors now deployed.

I have had the privilege of awarding soldiers medals for bravery and valor. Pinning these awards on a soldier's chest is the greatest honor a leader can have. May God bless each one. Sadly, I have also attended memorial services for fallen heroes. Staff Sgt. Harrison Brown and PFC. David "Neil" Simmons were assigned to our Third Brigade Combat Team from Fort Benning. They were killed in action here while on patrol. Improvised explosive devices and indirect fire remain our greatest threats and we are working hard to defeat these systems and find the persons responsible for creating them.

Staff Sgt. Brown left behind a wife and three daughters. PFC Simmons' mother told his fellow soldiers that her son had died doing what he wanted to do - what he believed in. Their families can rest assured that they were cherished.

I hug our soldiers in their victories and I am there to console them in their grief. If insurgents are nothing else, they are the breakers of hearts. And I have tired from attending memorial services and tree dedications. As I stare at the photos of soldiers who have fallen, I think of their families at home, their friends left behind, and the dreams they did not fulfill.

Then I pray and resolve myself to honor their memory by doing my duty to the best of my ability so that others may live freely. Rock of the Marne.



Mail comes sooner than later for 3rd Brigade Soldiers

Photo by Sgt. Kevin McSwain

FOB HAMMER, Iraq— An open mailroom puts some 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldiers in contact with family members for the first time since arriving in Iraq. “Soldiers are getting their mail and it feels good to know that I am a part of that,” said. El Paso, Texas, native Cpl. Maria Guardado, a brigade mail clerk. The task was to establish a mailroom for the Soldiers on Forward Operating Base Hammer from the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

The mailroom started out with one large storage container and five Soldiers. However, Guardado said that did not provide sufficient space to hold the mail that was coming in, so she had to find other containers for storage. “I talked to the Mayor’s Cell and acquired more storage space to accommodate the incoming mail,” Guardado said. “I am very thankful for all the help the battalions have provided us. We had Soldiers from all over the brigade volunteer to help receive, organize, and distribute the mail.” With the help of the volunteers, Guardado said service members are able to receive their mail within 24 hours of its arrival to the forward operating base.

The base is so new that phones and internet are not readily available for Soldiers. So, for some, this is the first connection to friends and family since their arrival in Iraq. Guardado said mail gives the Soldiers something to look forward to and it has lifted morale around the brigade. “I like to see the smile on a Soldier’s face when I tell them that they have a package,” she said. Guardado said all the mail clerks have become very popular. “Soldiers are always coming up to us and asking if they have any mail for the day,” she said. Soldiers on base emphasized how grateful they were for the hard work and dedication the mail clerks have put in to establish a mailroom.

“It feels good to be receiving mail, and I know it is because of their hard work that this is possible,” said Sgt. Jamie Jones, a personnel specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
Jones, from Beaumont, Texas, said that out of everything she received in her first package, she cherished the pictures of her infant daughter the most. “Being able to see how much my daughter has grown in such a short time brings me joy and it gives me something to look forward to throughout the deployment,” she said. As one of the designated mail clerks for her battalion, Jones said the mail system has been a way for Soldiers to receive products they are not able to purchase at the local Post Exchange.
“The care packages that have been sent so far have been very helpful for Soldiers,” she said. “It provides them with a little of the comforts of home out here in the desert.”

Guardado, who has not received her first package, said she has one special request for the contents of the box. “When my package arrives, I hope it has a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce,” she said. “But whatever is inside will be greatly appreciated.”

With the establishment of a mail center and other services around base, Soldiers of 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. have shown how motivation and training can make anything possible.

For queries, contact the Multi-National Division – Center Public Affairs Office by sending an e-mail to Maj. Alayne Conway at alayne.conway@iraq.centcom.mil  or MSG Marcia Triggs at marcia.triggs@iraq.centcom.mil  or by phone at VOIP 822-777.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division sort mail during a recent mail drop on Forward Operating Base Hammer.
This is a story from the 3rd Infantry Public Affairs Office.



Rush to 'adopt' 3rd ID soldiers warms the heart
Carol Megathlin, Savannah Morning News

Requests to sponsor soldiers pouring in. Zeke was the first to volunteer. His message popped into my inbox at 8:58 Sunday morning. I fretted while it trembled there, alone, for 30 minutes. Maybe Easter Sunday wasn't the best time to run a column asking readers to adopt a Third Infantry Division soldier. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the 3rd ID, had his staff ready and waiting to match soldiers in Iraq with sponsors in Savannah. How demoralizing it would be if only Zeke stepped forward.

How could I have doubted you, even for 30 minutes? After the church services and the Easter egg hunts were over, a trickle of responses began to pool in my inbox. Then on Monday, the trickle became a torrent.I scrambled to forward your requests to Maj. Gen. Lynch, send you a list of items for care packages, and gather your e-mail addresses into a listserve.

Now, three weeks after the column appeared, your requests to sponsor a soldier are still slipping into my inbox. You have sent the column so far afield that 3rd ID soldiers are introducing themselves to sponsors in Nevada, Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky and Virginia. I didn't expect your messages to blur my eyes and tighten my throat. When our fingers fly over the keyboard, we reveal our hearts.

These words, from "old soldiers": "Mail call is a lonely time when your name is never called.
"I spent 23 years in the United States Army with two tours of duty in Vietnam. There is no replacement like hearing your name called at mail call and a letter from home."

From newcomers to Savannah: "Our family would LOVE to adopt a soldier. We have recently moved to the Savannah area, and we see how much this community loves their military men and women. "I'd be honored to be in touch with a couple of our soldiers. I'm a Richmond Hill resident now - moved from Long Island a year ago. I have to say the sense of patriotism and pride in our soldiers and country have really had an effect on me ..."

Then, from a home-schooling pastor's wife in Kentucky: "PLEASE can you get our family on the list to adopt. We are studying American History and feel that a personal touch would give our children such a special experience. It makes me so proud to live in such a wonderful country ... so protective and appreciative of the men and women who serve us. We have so much to thank them ALL for, past and present."

The most determined of the respondents had to be Virginia. Eighty-four years old, happily unhampered by the Internet, she had a neighbor send her name to my e-mail address. Later she sent me a letter, written in a beautiful hand on lined yellow paper:  "Thank you so very much for sending a soldier's name to me. Today, I sent his care package and also a letter. I couldn't get all the things I bought in that small box. Maybe he will answer and I can send him some more. I always wanted to write to our boys but just didn't know how.
" P.S. I am 84 years old but I love everybody and especially those boys who are fighting for their country."

Sometimes your stories took my breath away with an unexpected turn. This, from Marty:  "I would be very happy to write to one of our soldiers. Last year I had sent a box of books to soldiers in Baghdad, and one soldier wrote to thank me. We shared e-mails for several months and he even sent some patches from his regiment to me. And suddenly - nothing - and it's haunted me ever since that something might have happened to him."

The most poignant message was from the ex-wife of a soldier. "I have a soldier for you that can use your prayers and care," she said. The soldier had just left for his third deployment, the first since his divorce. Her closing words were these: "Please, the most important thing of all, pray. Pray for him and all the others out there at war that risk their lives every day to keep peace in another country."

We reveal our hearts when we write. Your good hearts are on the way to Iraq.


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Survivors dealt 2nd blow with benefit plan

Rochester, MN

By Deanna Salie
Deanna Salie is the widow of Sgt. 1st Class David J. Salie, who was killed in Iraq on Feb. 14, 2005.

My husband was certain that he was going to die in Iraq. Sgt. 1st Class David J. Salie had been an American soldier for almost 17 years. He'd deployed many times, and he'd been to war before. He'd parachuted into Panama with the 82nd Airborne Division, served in the Gulf War and gone to Haiti with the 25th Infantry Division. But he'd never been so certain that he was going to die that he prepared for death. David told me that he wouldn't be coming back. I didn't believe him. I felt that he was just under so much stress thinking of our children and me, and about the 40 soldiers in his platoon who were his responsibility.

In the month before he left for Iraq with B Company, 2nd of the 69th Armor, 3rd Infantry Division, David went over his will with a fine-toothed comb, and he checked out his Survivor's Group Life Insurance, which provides protection for military people. David even gave away some of his personal belongings. He also checked on the death benefits that a soldier's family receives. My husband came home and proudly announced that if he died in Iraq, his family would be taken care of. I tried to tell him that he shouldn't worry about things like that. He said that every soldier going to war worries about his family and wants to make sure that if he's killed, his family will be taken care of just as they would be if he were still alive.

We were "all squared away," David told me. I wish I could say that he was wrong about dying and right about the rest of it. Instead, he was correct in his premonition about his own death, but wrong that we were "squared away."

On the evening of Feb. 14, 2005, a little after 9 p.m., I heard a knock on the front door of our house at Fort Benning, Ga. I got up from the couch in the living room, where I'd been resting with a sick child, and I saw two soldiers in dress green uniforms standing on the front porch. As my 11-year old daughter watched, they informed me that David had been killed that day by a roadside bomb in Baqubah, Iraq. I can't tell you what they said after I heard the words, "... regrets to inform you" because I was crying and screaming too loudly to hear much.

The next week was filled with contacting family members, trying to hold myself together for my three children, making funeral arrangements and dealing with all the red tape that a military death forces upon you. Had it not been for my Casualty Assistance Officer and the Rear Detachment Command of my husband's brigade, I'm not sure I would have made it through those first weeks. I was one of a lucky few who had wonderful help after my husband's death. Many other Army wives are less fortunate.

After making it through my husband's funeral, I was greeted with mountains of paperwork. I was escorted from office to office by my casualty officer as my military identification card was changed and reissued; as I signed up for the Veterans Administration's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and the military's Survivor's Benefit Plan (SBP).

I reviewed the paperwork after all of these appointments, and I was shocked to discover that David had been wrong: We weren't going to be cared for as if he were still alive. My husband didn't know that dependents' compensation offsets the Survivor's Benefit Plan. If he'd known that, it would have made him very angry.

DIC is a payment made to widows, their children and some parents who've lost a husband, father or son. Widows are entitled to the benefit for the remainder of their lives, unless they remarry. DIC comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs. SBP pays a deceased soldier's income, and it comes from the Department of Defense. The offset, a dollar-for-dollar deduction, is supposedly intended to prevent double dipping from two similar benefit plans. But the Survivors Benefit Plan and Dependents Indemnity Compensation are provided for different reasons, and the offset leaves many military families with no survivors' benefits at all. Others receive only the pittance that's left over after the offset is deducted.

As we try to rebuild our shattered lives, the offset deals us a second blow. Grief and loss are hard enough to handle, but now we have more important worries, such as providing homes, food, clothing and schooling for our families. This is not a partisan political issue. This is not a matter of whether you're for or against the war in Iraq. This is about those who died serving our country, standing between our enemies and us and believing that their families would be cared for if they gave their lives.

It's a shame that that isn't true. There are two bills pending in Congress -- S. 935 in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, and H.R. 1927 in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Texas -- that would eliminate the offset and help the families of our fallen. Please contact your senators and representatives and urge them to vote for these bills.

Web links
* Senate bill S. 935
House bill H.R. 1927


New American heads off to war
Sean Harder, Savannah Morning News

Turkish immigrant, forced to sue to obtain his U.S. citizenship, will soon join the fight in Iraq. Army Spc. John Yasar got his wish to become a citizen of the nation he's going to fight for. The Turkish immigrant raised his right hand in Atlanta on April 20, fulfilling a decade-long quest that temporarily careened off course into a labyrinth of bureaucracy and post-Sept. 11 paranoia about foreigners.

An FBI background check held up Yasar's application for 19 months - longer than most of the 60,000 foreign-born troops serving the United States. Under new rules enacted by President Bush, active-duty immigrants enjoy a streamlined naturalization process that typically lasts only four months.

This weekend, the 29-year-old Apache helicopter technician will deploy to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade. "I feel relieved now," he said. "It's all I've been waiting for since I turned 18."

To take his citizen oath, Yasar had to resort to something very American: He sued. Filing a complaint against the federal government apparently did the trick. Just minutes before his first hearing before a judge, immigration officials suddenly approved his application and scheduled his ceremony date.

Yasar was born in Ankara, Turkey. At 14, he would sit transfixed to the green night-vision TV coverage of U.S. bombs being dropped on Baghdad during the first Gulf War. That's when the young Turk decided to become a U.S. pilot.
"That was the year my dad got me a computer," he said. "I started using a flight simulator program. All of a sudden, I'm hooked up on all these things."

After training to fly with a civil air patrol group in Turkey, Yasar saved enough money to come to the U.S. in 1999 and enroll in an Oklahoma flight school. Before he could finish the course, he ran out of money. A fellow Turk-turned-con-man summoned him to New Jersey and bilked him of what money he had left by promising financial help that never came.

Before long, Yasar's visa was set to expire. So he stayed in New Jersey and waited for the one thing that could come into his life and save him: love. If he got married, he could apply for a Green Card, stay as a permanent U.S. resident and pursue his dream to become a pilot."I just worked faithfully, waiting for that right person to come into my life," he said.

She did, in August of 2001, through the Internet. "Jolene found me," he said. "We started talking, writing letters and sending pictures. "It was like an oasis in the desert. With the all the hardships going on, we had a good time." The couple wasted no time making plans to get married. They set a date: Oct. 12.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001.

Yasar was a secular Sunni Muslim in a nation that had just been attacked by Middle Eastern airplane hijackers. He had completed flight training at the very same school that two of the hijackers visited and that Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, attended. None of this dawned on him in the run up to his wedding.

As he was preparing to travel with Jolene to get married at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Yasar realized he had lost his wallet. With it, his expired visa and other important papers were missing. So he called his attorney for help and explained who he was to a legal assistant. He told her he was looking for help to get a Green Card, and that he was a pilot.
"Looking back, someone got suspicious and called it in," Yasar said. "Maybe it was the right thing to do for them. I understand."
The next day, two detectives knocked on Yasar's door and said they had his wallet and needed to take him in for questioning. He was arrested for having an expired visa and detained for 42 days before an FBI agent soon saw Yasar for what he was: a victim of circumstance.

He had two choices. He could waive his rights and be deported back to Turkey to apply for a new visa, or he could appeal his case before an immigration judge. He chose the judge, and the judge gave him a second chance. Yasar finally received his Green Card and in May 2005. He enlisted in the Army as an armament, electrical and avionic systems repair specialist for Apache attack helicopters.

Hunter Army Airfield's Apaches will fight throughout Baghdad and beyond on a 15-month deployment. Yasar won't be far behind, repairing and arming the gunships on his first combat deployment. "There's some anxiety," he said. "But it would be more stressful if I wasn't able to be a citizen going into this war. Now I can look forward to getting through it."
With U.S. citizenship, Yasar is able to obtain the security clearance needed to eventually become a pilot.
"My focus is to improve during this deployment," he said. "I want to come back safely and go to warrant officer flight training."



Training the future
3-69 Armor trains Iraqis to save lives
Spc. Ricardo Branch
1st BCT Public Affairs

Spc. Michael Darby, a medic from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment attached to Co. A, 3-69 Armor, watches on as a Provincial Security Force member demonstrates how to administer an air tube to restore breathing in someone’s body.
(Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)

RAMADI, Iraq (April 27, 2007) – The troops arrive at a small town on the outskirts of Ramadi. They could rush out and engage the enemy at a moments notice, but their job today is different – to train Iraqis to save lives.
For the Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor, it’s all about helping the Iraqis to help themselves.
The Soldiers latest effort was training local Provincial Security Forces in basic medical care during a visit to one of their stations April 23 at Hamidia.

“We’ve been working with the PSF here for the last two and a half weeks to get them better prepared to handle situations in their area,” said Sgt. Charles Dinkins, a tanker with Co. A, 3-69 Armor. “Today, we’re showing them basic medical aid to help their buddies out on the battlefield.” The Soldiers taught the Iraqis airway movement, the different types of bleeding, how to stop bleeding, and how to administer air tubes to restore oxygen flow in the body.
“They are catching on real quick with airway movement and knowing that oxygen is a valuable part of life,” said Spc. Michael Darby, a medic from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment attached to Co. A, 3-69 Armor.
He said that with the training, Iraqis understood most of the lessons but had an easier time when it was more hands on for them.

Spc. Michael Darby demonstrates how successful the nasal pharyngeal tube can be for someone during medical training with the Provincial Security Forces April 23 at Hamidia. (Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)

“They were grasping the material real fast, but when we went into the different types of pharyngeal tubes and how to use them, it was a bit difficult until I demonstrated on one of their own,” said the 39-year-old Texas City, Texas, native.
The Soldiers said they view their new mission as a big step forward from how they operated with the Iraqi Security Forces in previous deployments.
“I’ve worked with Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army …, but I’ve never dealt this close before with the Iraqi Security Forces,” Dinkle said. “We’re working on a more personnel basis with these guys over here. We work with them almost every other day and see them just like us minus the training, but they are getting it down very quickly.” Darby said that with this new training he sees lots of hope these days for Iraq in the future.

“If we give them the tools to protect themselves, their family, friends and neighborhood, maybe we won’t have to come back in the future,” said the 24-year-old Memphis, Tenn., native. While the training was being conducted each PSF battalion in Hamidia, sent over their most qualified medical personnel. “We trained 17 personnel today with prospects for another 17 in two to three weeks,” Darby said. “The idea is to have as many security personnel trained in the most basic combat medicine as possible.”

“This is really a two-fold mission,” he said. “One, is ridding the Anbar province of insurgents, and two, is better training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces we work with, so they can maintain what we’ve done here together.”
As the day came to a close, and the last Iraqi left the training, the Soldiers see their work as part of the growing effort to improve security for Ramadi, one little piece at a time.



Care Packages For Soldiers In Iraq

A group of soldiers stationed in Ramdai, Iraq will son have a taste of Southern Hospitality.

Montgomery's Young Meadows Presbyterian Church and the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base sent care packages to the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Thursday. The packages have everything you can imagine from books to snacks and letters from local schools.

A mother who's son is third in command in the unit spear-headed the project, she wanted them to know that despite their conditions and the controversy surrounding the war in Iraq, people back here in Alabama care for them.

Troops Come Home

A group of 3rd ID soldiers is home with their families this morning after spending months in Iraq.

About 50 soldiers with the 233rd Transportation Company landed at Hunter Army Airfield around 1am Friday. They were then escorted to Fort Stewart, where family members waited for their first big hug in seven months.

Every soldier in the 233rd Transportation Company made it back safely. Some of these soldiers have been deployed to Iraq as many as six times.



Operation Targets Remaining Hotspot

RAMADI, Iraq – May 3, 2007-Approximately 450 Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces completed Operation Forsythe Park in northern Ramadi Wednesday.

Iraqi Provincial Security Force – 2, Iraqi Army demolition experts and Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division conducted the weeklong clearing operation in Albu Bali, located 15 kilometers northeast of Ramadi, targeting one of the remaining hotspots in the brigade’s area of operations.
“We had seen an increased amount of enemy activity in this region over the last three weeks,” said Col. John Charlton, commanding officer for 1BCT. “Once we set the conditions and built sufficient combat power, we took the fight to the enemy and provided much needed relief to the population.”
The combined forces built a new joint security station during the operation. The JSS will establish a permanent Iraqi police presence in Albu Bali and prevent the terrorists from controlling the area. Local citizens saw the immediate results of the operations and more than 100 Iraqi males immediately requested to join the police force, Charlton said.
The five-day operation discovered multiple weapon caches including 28 improvised explosive devices, two AK-47 assault rifles, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, three 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns, five mortars, 300 pounds of home made explosives, 2200 gallons of nitric acid and 200 blasting caps.
Two coalition service members and six terrorists were killed during the operation.
This marks the sixth large-scale operation for 1BCT this year. Four previous operations focused on clearing terrorists from Ramadi.



General predicts Troop Death Rate likely to Climb
Fort Worth Star Telegram

BAGHDAD -May 7, 2007- A U.S. Army general forecast Sunday a rise in deaths among American forces in the coming months, a prediction underscored by the announcement that roadside bombs killed eight U.S. soldiers and a foreign journalist.
A car bomb also killed 30 people in a wholesale food market in a part of the Iraqi capital where sectarian tensions are on the rise.
In all, at least 95 Iraqis were killed or found dead nationwide Sunday, police reported. They included 12 policemen in Samarra, among them the city's police chief, who died when Sunni insurgents launched a suicide car bombing and other attacks on police headquarters.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said casualties will climb as American troops dig into enemy territory as part of a stepped-up military operation ordered by President Bush in January. Lynch, who oversees a swath of territory to the south and east of Baghdad, gave his bleak prediction on the heels of the deadliest month this year for American forces in Iraq.

In April, 104 troops were killed, only the fourth time since the beginning of 2005 that U.S. deaths exceeded 100 in a month. At least 25 troops have been killed in May, a grim start to a month in which Democrats are expected to keep up pressure on the White House to plan a withdrawal from Iraq.
"There are going to be increased casualties during this surge because we're taking the fight to the enemy," Lynch said.
He said troops in his area are facing a "thinking enemy" that has been on the ground far longer than most U.S. soldiers and has adopted techniques to trip up the Americans, such as planting roadside explosives too deep to be detected by high-tech equipment. "He dominates that terrain," Lynch said, adding that 13 of his troops had been killed since arriving in Iraq in March.
Lynch said most of those died as a result of armor-piercing roadside bombs that U.S. officials allege are coming from Iran.
The deadliest attack against U.S. forces Sunday occurred in Diyala, where six U.S. soldiers and a European journalist were killed when a massive bomb destroyed their vehicle, the U.S. military said. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded
Two other American soldiers died Sunday in separate bombings in Baghdad.

On Sunday, the military also reported three other deaths: two Marines in a blast Saturday in Anbar province and a soldier who died Sunday in a noncombat incident in northern Iraq. Those deaths raised to at least 3,373 the number of U.S. military members who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.




U.S. Aviation Brigade headed to Baghdad
The 3,200 troops and 152 helicopters are the final contingent in a plan to improve security.
But violence continues as a suicide bomber kills 15, injures 26.
Los Angeles Times

May 7, 2007-The final troop contingent in President Bush's controversial plan to improve security, a brigade that includes 152 attack and transport helicopters, will soon arrive in the capital, a U.S. commander said.

With the arrival of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., the addition of 28,500 troops begun in mid-February will be complete. The brigade will be based at Camp Victory near Baghdad International Airport, Maj. Gen. James Simmons, deputy commander of multinational forces, said in an interview Friday.

As the buildup neared completion, violence continued in the capital. A suicide bomber in a line with police recruits outside an Iraqi base near the infamous Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad detonated an explosive vest Saturday, killing 15 and injuring 26 others, police said. In Kut, southeast of Baghdad, nine insurgents and four Iraqi police were reported killed in a battle.

In the north, an explosion aimed at a police patrol in the center of Kirkuk killed two civilians and injured three police. To the south, the Basra airport was reported closed until further notice after insurgent attacks Saturday damaged a runway.
The new air combat brigade will increase the U.S.-led forces' helicopter fleet by 34%. Also coming are 3,200 pilots, crew members, mechanics and other support personnel.

Helicopters are increasingly important tools in the war effort because insurgent attacks have made ground transport dangerous in many areas of Iraq. The workhorse of the fleet is the UH-60 Black Hawk, which is used to shuttle cargo, troops and other personnel around Iraq. The helicopter fleet also includes the UH-1 Huey and the AH-64 Apache. Despite the increased reliance of the U.S. military on choppers, there has been no increase in the fleet since the war began in March 2003, Simmons said.

The announcement in March that the air combat brigade, as well as almost 4,000 other support troops, were coming in addition to 21,500 extra troops already committed to Iraq infuriated some war opponents, who saw it as a back-door method of squeezing more troops into an unpopular conflict. When completed, the buildup will bring the U.S. troop level in Iraq to 160,000.
Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress are locked in a bitter struggle over an Iraq war funding bill. Bush vetoed a bill last week that would have made future funding for the war conditional on a timetable for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The current helicopter fleet in Iraq includes 449 choppers. With the arrival of the new brigade, Iraq will be home to four of the Army's 10 air combat units worldwide. Since June 2003, 58 helicopters have been lost in Iraq, of which 28 were shot down by ground fire. The rest crashed in accidents. According to a tally by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, a total of 179 people died in those crashes.




A Deadly Surge
Albany Times Union

May 9, 2007-Oh, there's an unmistakable surge under way in Iraq, all right. It's the increase in the casualty toll among American troops and Iraqi civilians that will continue over the next three months as fighting intensifies. The additional troops that President Bush has committed to sending to Iraq can look forward to dangerous duty in a land of sectarian chaos. That much is candidly acknowledged by a top U.S. commander, more than four years into an ever futile war.

"There are going to be increased (U.S.) casualties during this surge because we're taking the fight to the enemy," says Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of four of the five brigades that are part of the deployment of 28,000 more troops. "We're going to do everything we can do to preclude that from happening."
The blunt words of General Lynch are reiterated by Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a spokesman for the military. "It may get harder before it gets easier for the Iraqis," he says.

For evidence of that, look no further than the frustration and despair expressed in Baghdad and other cities. "Where is the security plan? Where is the Maliki government?" people cried out in Baghdad Sunday after a double car bombing that killed 35 people.
Such are the circumstances under which U.S. forces are left to "take it" to a seemingly omnipresent enemy -- enemies, really.

What no one can say -- not the brutally honest generals in Iraq, and certainly not the more circumspect and calculating politicians in Washington -- is when the surge in casualties, brought on by the surge in troops, might end. At least 3,376 American troops, according to an Associated Press count, have died already. And top military commanders are telling both the troops themselves and their families back home to brace for still more?

It's best left to President Bush to offer the requisite reassurances and explanations as to just what has been achieved by sending all those soldiers to die in a land that demonstrates little ability to accept anything resembling peace.
It's the members of Congress, especially those still hesitant to support efforts to at least begin to bring home the troops from Iraq, who should listen most intently. Only now, any defense of the war must be filtered through the admission from the ground that the Iraq war is about get even bloodier.

In Baghdad, they can ask about the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in danger of its biggest political crisis yet as Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi threatens to lead a walkout of Sunni Cabinet members.

Here at home, we can wonder similarly about our own.




Benning soldiers enter Iraq
As first wave gets settled, no word when others will arrive

Staff Writer
 * Gallery | Images of 3rd Brigade soldiers training in the Kuwaiti desert

Mar. 31, 2007: The first wave of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team soldiers have crossed the border into Iraq. A company of 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment soldiers, nicknamed Team Bayonet, has joined forces with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division at the division's tactical operations center at Camp Striker, Iraq, which is located near Baghdad's International Airport. While there, the company will support the 10th Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team. It's not unusual for elements of the 3rd Brigade to be attached to other units during their deployment to Iraq. In fact, while the majority of the 3rd HBCT soldiers were stationed in Baqouba in 2005, the 2-69 spent much of its time in the Ramadi area in Anbar province. There's still no word on when the remainder of the brigade will travel north.

Staff Sgt. Chad Inman (left), a native of Prattville, Ala.,and Sgt. Shawn Harris, a native of St. Charles, Ill., both tank commanders with "Team Bayonet" of the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, fold a flag after taking a photo inside the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) tactical operation center on Camp Striker, Iraq March 29. Team Bayonet recently arrived to Camp Striker in order to support the 2nd BCT.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs)

Ranger honored

Capt. John F. Detro, a senior physician's assistant with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning has been chosen to receive the Outstanding Alumni Award from his alma mater, Siena Heights University of Adrian, Mich. The 1985 graduate was honored along with two fellow alumni at the school's annual awards day celebration."These alumni are great role models for our students," said Jennifer Hamlin Church, program coordinator. "They all have used their education to make a positive difference in our world, and they are great examples of what is possible with a Siena Heights degree."
Detro majored in biology and chemistry and enlisted as a medic in 1987. He became a PA while earning a second bachelor's degree and two master's degrees. In 1999, at age 35, he was the oldest candidate in his Ranger class, but he finished the grueling training first in his class -- thanks in part, he says, to the "athletic mind" he developed at Siena as an All-American track and field athlete. A veteran of five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he recently was honored with the 2006 Surgeon General's Annual Physician Assistant Recognition Award and the 2006 Association of Military Surgeons Physician Assistant Award. In addition to his Ranger duties, Detro is also an assistant coach of Columbus State University's cross country teams.

History lesson

Columbus native Ken Thomas, a historian whose books include one on Fort Benning, will be speaking about the early history (1917-1920) of the Army post Thursday evening at Columbus Museum. His lecture is part of the "Red Clay, White Water and Blues" series that Virginia Causey of Columbus State University is coordinating. Thomas will address the effect the advent of Fort Benning had on the families that were displaced and how the process went to get them off their lands.

In memoriam

George Ertel was matter-of-fact when he blamed sickness and recent deaths for the relatively small turnout of soldiers at the October reunion of Korean War vets at the Holiday Inn Airport. "They get smaller and smaller all the time," said the Turtletown, Tenn., resident who for years has helped organize a reunion of soldiers from Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.

Most of those who came to Columbus last fall were survivors of a horrific battle at what was called Easter Egg hill. They came complete with detailed maps, yellowed newspaper clippings, snapshots and tall tales. When the three-day event ended, Ertel told the rest he'd see them next year... God willing. Baker Company may meet in October, but it will be without George Ertel. He died recently in Tennessee and was buried Wednesday at Parkhill Cemetery in Columbus.
Contact Mick Walsh at 706-571-8588 or mwalsh@ledger-enquirer.com


Chopper pilot heads back to a riskier Iraq
A Black Hawk pilot waits to return to Iraq, where 8 U.S. helicopters have gone down this year.
He doesn't dwell on the risks, but his family can't help it.

By Richard Fausset, Times Staff Writer
March 27, 2007

THE RIGHT STUFF: “Each time we go over there it seems like the situation is progressively worse,”
says Chief Warrant Officer Hector Echevarria, a Black Hawk pilot who expects to be deployed again soon.
(Stephen Morton)

IN THE AIR: Black Hawks are known as workhorses, often used to shuttle personnel.
Echevarria says such flights were usually safe in his first tour. During his second, the insurgency had strengthened.
(Stephen Morton)

Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. — EACH time he receives the order to fly a Black Hawk helicopter over Iraq, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Hector Echevarria tidies up the personal effects he leaves behind.

Echevarria has completed two yearlong tours of Iraq since 2003, and he is planning a third. He has helped clean out a dead soldier's messy room before. If he is shot down, "messy" is not how he wants to be remembered.

"People don't remember you for how you go into a situation," Echevarria said. "They remember how you went out."

FAMILY: “I didn’t want to leave my wife a widow,” says Echevarria — with Rebeca and their daughter, Mariah —
about his second tour. (John Carrington)

Perfectionism and fatalism are two traits common in Army helicopter pilots, and both are being sharpened here on this bustling airfield, where hundreds of soldiers, pilots and crew members from the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade are preparing to deploy to Iraq, perhaps by mid-May.

They are packing sand-colored shipping containers, queuing up for new battle gear and hustling from office to office, fulfilling the military's insatiable appetite for paperwork.

Helicopter pilots are fitting in last-minute training flights, with veterans like Echevarria warning the new ones to take their training seriously — because the next time it will probably be real.

Click Here to read the entire story


U.S., Iraqi forces launch operation aimed at expanding security zones
By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American and Iraqi forces have launched a “major operation” in Ramadi designed to expand security zones in the contested city, officials said Monday. The operation focuses on western Ramadi and includes troops from Task Force 1-9 Infantry and Iraqi police and soldiers. It is the fourth such large-scale clearing operation conducted in the city since February, officials said, and aims to create a permanent presence of Iraqi and American troops where there previously was none.

“This operation will benefit the people of Ramadi by establishing security and providing basic services and necessities,” U.S. Army Col. John Charlton, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said in a news release. “[Al-Qaida] has intimidated the people of Ramadi through murder, kidnapping and the destruction of their city. The Sons of Anbar are here to establish and maintain security,” Charlton said, referring to Iraqi troops specifically recruited in and deployed in the province.

Other U.S. military officials were quick to say that the operation was not a “Fallujah-style” battle for the city. In that large operation, civilians were cleared from the city and American troops battled insurgents house-to-house in pitched fighting. According to an Australian television news crew embedded with U.S. forces in Ramadi, the new operation targets the al-Iskan district of the city and included Apache attack helicopters. The report quoted Army Maj. Dave Christensen as saying there had been several troops wounded already, including two Americans and two Iraqis. One Iraqi police officer was reported killed.

Ramadi, long one of the centers of the Sunni insurgency in western Iraq, falls under the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. But, the troops in the city are a mix of Army, Marines and Navy personnel, including many special operations units. Before February, the city and its surrounding areas fell under the Germany-based 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. That brigade has been credited with a grinding, determined effort to establish combat outposts in territory previously ceded to the insurgents.


As 3rd ID Deploys, a Colonel Holds Down the Fort

Sean Harder | Monday, March 26, 2007
Please meet: Col. Todd A. Buchs

Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Todd Buchs

FORT STEWART - With most of the 3rd Infantry Division's 20,000 troops heading to Iraq for another yearlong combat tour, things could get a little lonely for Col. Todd A. Buchs, Fort Stewart's new garrison commander. Buchs, however, sees the deployment as just one more challenge in his 20-year Army career. "As we look at this deployment, I'll never forget the soldiers that remain here but my priority will be the family members," he said. "That's the only way we're going to be able to continue this long war - by taking care of our family members."

As garrison commander, Buchs holds a position similar to that of a small city mayor. He oversees the programs, services and facilities at Fort Stewart and is one of the local public faces of the U.S. Army. With previous assignments in Germany and a war college in Pennsylvania, this is the first time Buchs, his wife Renee and their two children, Austin, 13, and Alexie, 6, have lived in the Southeast. They arrived last June and Buch's assignment will keep them here into 2009. "We absolutely love it down here," Buchs said. "You get down here and there is that Southern hospitality that is just untouchable."

Even with most of Fort Stewart's population heading to war, Buchs said there are encouraging signs that the exodus of family members this time around may not be as severe as the division's previous two tours in Iraq. For example, Fort Stewart's housing occupancy rate still hovers around 95 percent despite the deployment of more than 5,000 soldiers so far this year. "The indicators tell us the families are not leaving," he said. "We as an Army have gotten better and better at taking care of our families during deployment."

On Buch's watch, Fort Stewart will cut the ribbon on a new chapel, new headquarters building and new buildings for the division's newest brigade, the 4th Brigade Combat Team. He'll also keep vigil over the expansion of Warriors Walk, a memorial of 320 Eastern Redbud trees that stand for each division soldier killed so far in Iraq. The deployment will give the Army an opportunity to upgrade Fort Stewart's motor pools, which weren't designed to house the Humvees and other armored vehicles in use today. Soldiers' dining facilities will also get a $6 million makeover.

Buchs has future projects in the pipeline, too. There are plans to upgrade Fort Stewart's Wright Army Airfield to accommodate both military and private civilian flights, giving Hinesville's economic leaders a new way to attract corporate investment. Buchs is moving forward a plan to allow Liberty County schools to build a new middle school on Fort Stewart for 550 children who now must travel 14 miles to a school in Midway. The new school would free up space for students as Midway's population grows while accommodating students on Fort Stewart and in neighboring Hinesville, said Liberty County School Superintendent Steve Wilmoth.
"We've been working on this for a few years now. At this point we have a general and Col. Buchs who like the idea. It's an opportunity for us to do something for them, and them something for us," Wilmoth said. In exchange for a school site, the Department of Defense school system will allow its sixth-graders to enter the Liberty County system so they don't miss out on sports and extracurricular activities when joining middle school. "Every day, that's what we talk about: How we can develop win-win situations between our communities," Buchs said.

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Veterans protest war near Fort Stewart
As 3rd ID heads back to Iraq for third tour, residents and soldiers show support for bringing troops home

Sean Harder | Thursday, March 22, 2007

E. Victor Mereski of Savannah, at right, holds up signs protesting the Iraq war.
Behind him, Harvey Tharp of Cincinatti, traveling with the Veterans For Peace, also protested. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

The Veterans for Peace caravan arrived in Hinesville in two buses advertising the group's message. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

HINESVILLE - They rolled into town in colorfully painted buses reminiscent of author Ken Kessey's psychedelic school bus of the 1960s.
They held up signs that read "Iraq Vets Against the War" and "Bring the Troops Home Now!" Contrary to what you might expect in this military town outside Fort Stewart's front gates, the dozen or so Veterans for Peace protesters received a largely positive response. Several Hinesville residents, military spouses and 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who drove by the protesters honked their horns, some even flashing the peace sign during Wednesday's lunch hour.

Pfc. Omar Figueras, a 3rd Infantry Division soldier, at right, said that he's against the war
and paused to talk with Sandy Kelson of Veterans for Peace. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Army Pfc. Omar Figueras made a point of stopping his vehicle to say one thing to the demonstrators:  "Peace.""I agree with them," said Figueras, who'll be deploying to Iraq this summer with the 4th Brigade. "I'm against this war. I don't want to go, but that's my job."

Just four years ago, as the 3rd Division led the charge into Baghdad, these demonstrators likely would have received a chillier reception. Now, however, polls show the majority of Americans wants troops to withdraw from Iraq, and that's giving active-duty soldiers the courage to speak out, said Elliot Adams, president of Veterans for Peace and a former Army paratrooper who served in Vietnam. Adams' group, along with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out, launched a "peace convoy" to military bases throughout the Southeast this week.
Adams said honking horns and other signs of support aren't unusual outside military installations. It's just one sign of the anti-war movement's growing momentum. "It's a sea change," he said. "People are getting the message. Our government is destroying our military. They're wearing out equipment and wearing out our people. Soldiers are angry about this war, but they don't know how to express it, so we're trying to give them that out."

Bruce Peterson of Savannah carries a sign and flashes a peace sign during a war protest in Hinesville near Fort Stewart.
Some soldiers and residents honked their horns or shouted their support for the anti-war protester. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

The veterans handed out brochures about the GI Rights Hotline and the Appeal for Redress, a petition drive that so far has collected the signatures of more than 1,700 active-duty service members who want Congress to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Pfc. Ty Heald, a 2nd Brigade soldier who will deploy to Iraq in May, accepted the information but wasn't sure how he felt about the anti-war message. "I just can't wait to go over there for the extra pay," he said. "Everybody who goes over there has a different take on it. You're really there to make sure your buddy doesn't get killed."

Kevin Benderman met with the protesting veterans in Hinesville.
Benderman, a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier, served in prison after refusing to deploy to Iraq in 2005. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Kevin Benderman, a former Army sergeant at Fort Stewart who served 13 months in a military brig for refusing to deploy to Iraq a second time with his unit, also attended the protest. He and his wife, Monica, are working on "Benderman's Bridge," a project to help veterans obtain vocational training and transition into civilian life. "Soldiers should be the first ones allowed to exercise their constitutional right to free speech," he said. "There are a lot of talking heads who like to say a lot of things, but it's the soldiers who know better than anyone what's going on in Iraq."

Robert Randall of Brunswick, founder of GlynnPeace, said it helps to have a veterans group leading the call for a troop withdrawal. "It helps dispel that myth that people who are against the war are also against the troops," Randall said. "The people who are really against the troops are the ones who are sending them off to get killed in a counter-productive war."

Elliot Adams, president of Veterans for Peace. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Despite pending resolutions in Congress to set a time line for withdrawing U.S. troops, several activists predicted politics will prevent Democrats from ending the war. "If you're a Democrat, you can hang the war as a millstone around the Republicans' neck, and come 2008 you might get elected," Adams said. "But we're going to stop the war before then."
Does he really think that will happen?
"Sure it can happen," he said. "It's just a matter of winning over the public."


Trees bloom for 3rd ID's fallen
Sean Harder | Friday, March 16, 2007

Soldiers, families gather to honor first two
Fort Stewart soldiers killed this year in Iraq

Kristen Chacon, mother of Pvt. 1st Class Kelly Youngblood, is comforted by Joy Nelson, left, wife of 1st Brigade rear detatchment commander Maj. David Nelson, at a tree dedication and memorial service held at Warriors Walk. Younger sister Melanie Youngblood, right, holds the memorial marker cover embroidered with her brother's name. Two soldiers, Pfc. Kelly Youngblood and Pvt. Matthew Zeimer both of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment were honored at the Fort Stewart ceremony. (Photo: John Carrington)

FORT STEWART - Pvt. Matthew Zeimer had arrived at the combat outpost in Ramadi just two hours before the shooting began on Feb. 2.
He and the 1st Armored Division soldier he was replacing ran to the roof to fight back against attacking insurgents. Enemy fire hit a nearby concrete wall and killed them both, making Zeimer the 3rd Infantry Division's first casualty of 2007.

On Thursday, the division added its first tree of the year in honor of the Montana native to Warriors Walk - a living memorial of Eastern Redbud trees. "Shoulder to shoulder, Matthew and his comrade fought back, fighting for their lives and the lives of their fellow soldiers in the outpost," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the division's commander. "Matthew answered the call and was proud to be a soldier."

Zeimer, 18, decided to become a soldier after learning his father was the first in his family to join the Army, said his father Tom Epperson, of East Haven, Conn. Looking at the pink show of the trees' spring bloom, Epperson said he's satisfied knowing his son died doing what he loved. "How many people can honestly say their son is their hero? I can," he said.

Eastern Redbud trees dedicated to the fallen soldiers bloom at Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk. Thursday two trees were dedicated to the memory of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers Pvt. Matthew Zeimer and Pfc. Kelly Youngblood, both of whom were killed in Iraq (Photo: John Carrington)

A second tree was planted Thursday in honor of another 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor soldier who was killed. Pfc. Kelly Youngblood, 19, of Mesa, Ariz., was killed by sniper fire in Ramadi on Feb. 18. His grandmother Jean Herrold remembered how proud Youngblood was while showing his family around Fort Stewart in October. "He just loved the Army," she said.

Youngblood's fellow soldiers loved him. Known as a prankster, Youngblood was often at the receiving end of a serious chewing-out by his non-commissioned officers, said Spc. Derek Benson. "He was one of the funniest soldiers you'll ever meet," said Benson, who considered Youngblood his best friend. "Even the non-commissioned officers would laugh at him. He brought excellent morale to everyone."

Benson, 20, recalled a time he was beaten up at a party. Youngblood stepped in to help, and eventually took Benson to the hospital. "They were giving me all sorts of pain medication and stuff, but the thing that helped more than anything was him sitting there making me laugh," he said. "I was rolling, and that was the best pain medicine I could have had." Benson said he's part of the rear detachment that will remain at Fort Stewart during his unit's combat tour in Iraq. That makes losing his friend all the more frustrating.

"I feel like I failed him, like I should have been there for him," he said. "It's hard. I want to get over there so bad. I just feel useless."


 US Army Combat Aviation Brigade
to Deploy Early to Iraq: Official

WASHINGTON (AFP) - March 16, 2007-A US Army combat aviation brigade with about 2,600 troops will be deployed to Iraq 45 days ahead of schedule, expanding a surge of US forces to nearly 30,000 troops, a senior defense official said Friday.

An aviation brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division was being notified of the decision, which was made Thursday, the official said. It had been scheduled to go to Iraq in June. "The latest piece on this is the combat aviation brigade which is being notified it is being deployed early," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.  "This aviation brigade, which will go 45 days early, we hadn't previously announced," said the official. "But it is part of the 7,000 to 8,000 enablers that you've been hearing about."

Top Pentagon officials told Congress earlier this month that some 7,000 additional troops would be deployed as part of the surge.
They are in addition to 21,500 extra combat troops in five combat brigades that are being sent to Iraq at a rate of about one a month through May. Currently, there are 142,000 US troops in the country.

The official said General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, had requested the aviation brigade and some 2,200 military police after reviewing his requirements for a crackdown center in Baghdad. His request for military police was approved last week.

The aviation brigade would include UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, CH-47 Chinooks, and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance/attack helicopters. The piece-by-piece expansion of the surge comes amid fierce debate in the US Congress over Democratic-sponsored measures to force the administration to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq this year.

The Senate late Thursday rejected 50 to 48 a measure that set a goal of March 2008 for the withdrawal of US troops. But a separate measure that would pull US troops out by September 2008 was passed by the House Appropriations Committee.


Early Return to Iraq

MG Rick Lynch,
Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division


As I am sure you are aware, our Division is heading back to Iraq earlier than we anticipated....the Division Headquarters must be there NLT 25 March07. Our liaison teams are already there...the main body of the headquarters leaves o/a 18 March.

We in the Division headquarters are into detailed training in preparation for our deployment...and the Brigades are on a separate deployment schedule based on our modular Army. The 1st Brigade is already in Iraq fighting in Al Anbar, our 3rd Brigade will be there by mid- March, our 2nd Brigade, Sustainment Brigade and Combat Aviation Brigade in May, and our 4th Brigade in July. Our soldiers and units are ready or will be ready for this important mission, and we will continue to build on the amazing history of this magnificent Division that you have established.

We are having a prayer luncheon, followed by a Division Colors casing ceremony, on 8 March. As always, you are invited to attend....but please be there in spirit....and keep us in your prayers.

Thanks for all your support. Take care and God bless. Rick


Top post NCO promoted
Andrews takes over 3rd Infantry Division
Staff Writer- Posted on Sat, Mar. 10, 2007

Just days before deploying to Iraq with the 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team, commander Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. must break in a new battle buddy. Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, who rode shotgun alongside Lt. Col. J.R. Sanderson with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment during the brigade's 2003 deployment, and then filled the "Hammer Seven" role under Col. Steve Salazar in 2005, has been named the 3rd Infantry Division's top NCO. His promotion, which is effective immediately, forced a shake-up on Kelley Hill.

Grigsby tapped Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson from Lt. Col. Jack Marr's staff at the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, to fill Andrews' position. Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, formerly of the Brigade Troops battalion, was quickly named to succeed Pearson. "All of this came pretty quickly," Andrews said Friday as he hurriedly packed up his office for his move to Fort Stewart. "I'm humbled and excited about the move, but I'm leaving my soldiers in very capable hands."

The 44-year-old Andrews was spending his final leave in his hometown of Lincolnton, Ga., earlier this week when he received a phone call from division commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch's office. "They wanted me to come in Wednesday morning for an interview as brigade command sergeant major," Andrews said. In fact, all of the division's brigade command sergeants major were invited to the interview with Lynch. "I was told that evening I had the job," he said. "It means that instead of being over about 5,000 soldiers with the brigade, I'll be in charge of 20,000 soldiers."

Andrews, who was married on Feb. 20, is still headed to Iraq. But instead of being with the 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team, he'll be working with Lynch and the rest of the divisional staff in Baghdad."I'm very pleased for him," Grigsby said. "He's certainly deserving of the promotion."

3rd ID Flag to Unfurl Next in Baghdad
Sean Harder | Friday, March 9, 2007

3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, right, and 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews ceremoniously roll the Marne flag during a Division Casing and Retreat Ceremony in preparation for the command staff's deployment to Iraq. Wherever the commander is, so too are the colors.
(Photo: John Carrington)

3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch speaks at the Division Casing and Retreat Ceremony after he and 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews ceremoniously furled the division's flag in preparation for the division command staff's deployment to Iraq. (Photo: John Carrington)

Ceremony officially marks third combat tour for Army division from Fort Stewart

FORT STEWART - The next time the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division flag is flown, it will be over war-torn Baghdad. That's where Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the division's commander, and about 1,000 troops in his headquarters will go next week to help beef up the U.S. military command in Iraq's capital city. Lynch officially packed up the red, white and blue flag on Thursday during a short ceremony that serves as a symbolic start to the division's unprecedented third combat tour in Iraq.

The 3rd ID led the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the combat unit is returning to make more history, Lynch said. "They (the flags) are more than mere fabric," he said. "They represent the blood and sweat of all 'Marne' soldiers who came before us. They are a record of our past, the standard of our present and an inspiration to all those who follow us in the future. "In a matter of weeks, we'll uncase our colors in Baghdad, and we'll think of all of you here, and we'll be grateful for the memories we've made together."

The day began with a prayer luncheon at Fort Stewart. It ended with a street dance for soldiers, their families and area residents. Soldiers such as Lt. Alexandra Chase, a military intelligence officer in the division's headquarters, had to accelerate their deployment by more than three months to fulfill President Bush's order for a troop surge to stabilize growing sectarian violence in Baghdad. Chase, whose job will be to prepare Lynch for meetings with Iraqi governing officials, is heading into her first deployment. "There is a lot of history in this division, and it's exciting to be a part of it," she said. "I'm hoping to learn a lot over there."

Lynch also used Thursday's ceremony to install a new command sergeant major, the highest ranking enlisted soldier in the division.Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, who served with the 3rd Brigade at Fort Benning, was promoted to the division level and will deploy to Iraq as Lynch's enlisted counterpart. Andrews replaces Command Sgt. Maj. John Calpena, who had to step down because of knee surgery that would have prevented him from deploying.


Army Inspectors Visit Fort Stewart Hospital
Walter Reed Scandal Prompts Visit
Sean Harder | Saturday, March 10, 2007

In the wake of revelations about bureaucratic struggles and poor living conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, a team of inspectors visited Fort Stewart's Army hospital on Wednesday. The inspection team, which included U.S. Army officers and civilian employees of the Army's medical command, spent the day examining the medical hold facilities and administrative procedures at Winn Army Community Hospital. Winn is one of 11 Army post hospitals the inspectors are visiting.
The inspection was conducted under the command of the Army's surgeon general. Its findings have not yet been made public, said Lt. Col. Randy Martin, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman.

Foreign press descends on Fort Stewart

There were more international journalists than local reporters at Thursday's retreat ceremony marking the 3rd Infantry Division's deployment to Iraq. A Fort Stewart spokesman sent a news release about the ceremony to the U.S. State Department, which in turn sent it out to foreign media. Reporters from Spain, Britain, Germany and Finland made the trip to the Army post near Hinesville to report on the start of the division's third combat deployment since the war in Iraq started in March 2003.

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Ramadi is now a two-faced city
Fierce fighting still rages downtown as calm takes hold in outskirts

By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, March 2, 2007

RAMADI, Iraq — It’s a tale of two Ramadis.

As troops attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division wage a pitched battle against entrenched militants in the city’s downtown — a fight marked by dense urban terrain, booby-trapped buildings and sustained gunbattles — units to the city’s immediate west, north and northeast are experiencing an unprecedented calm.

The split personality in this provincial capital of roughly 500,000 largely has to do with a recent alliance between U.S. forces and a dozen local tribes who say they’ve had enough of militants whose stated goal is to oust U.S. troops and establish an Islamic caliphate in the region.

A campaign to root out and destroy enemy cells in Ramadi’s notorious Mulaab district — a downtown neighborhood of roughly 15,000 residences — kicked into high gear this week as troops with the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division began clearing the quarter, building by building.

The ultimate goal, commanders say, is to establish nine permanent Iraqi police stations throughout the downtown to try to hold the territory.

But even as this costly battle rages downtown, Col. John W. Charlton, commander of the 1-3ID, is planning an economic revitalization conference for the city’s western Ta’meem neighborhood.

Monte Morin / S&S
Col. John W. Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division,
visits Combat Outpost Iron in southern Ramadi recently.

Among other projects, Charlton hopes to kick start the renewal of power and water stations in the once notorious neighborhood, as well as reactivate Ramadi’s large ceramics and glass plant.

“It’s a unique situation, a real counterinsurgency fight,” Charlton said Wednesday. “In one part of town we’ve got massive kinetic operations. On the other side, we’ve got massive non-kinetic operations.”

The current kinetic fight was formulated months ago by the 1-3ID’s predecessor, the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. For roughly eight months, units under the 1-1AD battled militants with heavy armor, satellite-guided rockets, jets and ground troops, clearing much of downtown’s eastern neighborhoods and closing in on neighborhoods like Mulaab.

The focus changed radically in November, however, when area tribes sided with U.S. forces and volunteered more than 4,500 local men for service in the Iraqi police and associated security units dubbed Emergency Response Units, or ERUs.

When the sheik of a Ramadi suburb called Sofia, northeast of downtown, called U.S. forces to say his clan was being attacked by more than 50 insurgents, 1-9 troops responded, killing most of the attackers. From there, troops focused on securing this area and other suburbs further east, leaving the downtown battle on hold.

“We had an opportunity we didn’t expect and we took it,” Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of the 1-1AD said recently. “We figured that once we secured those areas, we’d go back to our original plan of clearing downtown.”

Today, Charlton’s troops, as well as soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are once again pushing the fight downtown. During a visit to Combat Outpost Eagle’s Nest in the city’s center, Charlton discussed the operation with 1-9 commanders.

One reason the city’s downtown remains more violent than outlying areas is that it lacks a formal tribal structure, and therefore has yet to benefit from the local tribes’ movement known as the “Anbar Awakening.”

The downtown fight has been a hard one, as militants used the lull to build up their defenses, officers said, lining streets with vehicle and anti-personnel bombs, rigging the sides of buildings with improvised rockets and cementing explosives into courtyard walls.

Earlier this week, an entire U.S. squad was severely wounded when they sought cover beside such a wall and it exploded.

“Entire buildings have been rigged with explosives,” Charlton said. “They’ve literally made the building a weapon.”

Explosives teams have worked around the clock clearing the area of caches. Soldiers have discovered numerous roadside bomb and car bomb “factories.” Recently, troops found that a local school had been converted into an enemy firing range, complete with silhouette targets. Troops also discovered a bomb nearby, its detonating cables leading into an adjacent mosque.

Commanders also say militants have laid boards across rooftops of adjacent buildings to allow them to move through the neighborhood without using the streets, and that enemy fighters also have taken to attacking U.S. and Iraqi troops from buildings occupied by civilians.

That tactic, they say, seems intended to draw U.S. fire on households so as to cause civilian deaths and generate negative publicity.

Some commanders estimated that at the time the operation began, from 100 to 200 of such hard-core Islamic militants operated in the city. Today, some U.S. commanders estimate that roughly 60 enemy fighters remain.

3rd ID soldiers leave today for Iraq

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Mar 1, 2007

Iraq deployments for close to 4,000 soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, begin today, the Army announced in a press release.This deployment marks the third rotation to Iraq for 3rd ID, which led the march to Baghdad four years ago this month. The 1,000-soldier headquarters element began departing for Iraq last week, and other brigades began departing Fort Stewart, Ga., in January. The deployment has been accelerated as part of the surge in troops to help secure Baghdad.

The first departure of the brigade’s main body on Thursday will include about 175 soldiers from a number of units within the 3rd BCT and departure ceremonies for family members will take place at a variety of locations on Fort Benning, Ga.

2 Army Units Rushing to Iraq
Will Forgo Desert Training

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Feb. 27, 2007- Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question the switch, which is not widely known. They wonder whether it means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to prepare them for the challenges of Iraq.

Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on yearlong tours. "You would like everybody to go through" the training center, but in this case it is not possible, Brig. Gen. Tom Maffey, director of Army training, told a news conference at the Pentagon today. He said the soldiers are losing very little by not going to Fort Irwin. "The effect is marginal, at most," Maffey said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Monday she is concerned about the "less-than-ideal training situation" for the 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is based in her state and is one of the two brigades that did its final training at home. That brigade is to go to Iraq in April, one month earlier than planned.

The other is the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., which is due to go in May for its third combat tour since the war began in 2003. Instead of going to the National Training Center first, it imported personnel and equipment — even Toyota pickups like those used by Iraqi insurgents — from the training center at Fort Irwin for two weeks of final rehearsals that begin Wednesday.

"The preferred method is to have them come here," a spokesman at the National Training Center, John Wagstaffe, said in a telephone interview Monday. The main things that cannot be replicated in a home station exercise are the vast spaces of the National Training Center, which is located in the Mojave Desert, and the weather and other environmental conditions that so closely resemble much of Iraq, Wagstaffe said.

"Your weapon won't jam from sand at Fort Stewart," he said. Murray said she does not doubt the ability of soldiers to adapt. "They have done everything we have asked of them," she said. "However, I am deeply troubled by the president's escalation plan and am committed to questioning the new demands it places on service members."

On a visit to the brigade's home station at Fort Lewis last week, Murray asked the top commander there, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, whether the soldiers' preparation for Iraq was adequate without going to the National Training Center, according to a Fort Lewis spokesman, Lt. Col. Dan Williams, who said he attended Dubik's meeting with Murray.

Dubik assured her it was, Williams said. The general told her he was confident "that they were ready to go" to Iraq even if they had not had 1,300 soldiers imported from the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk to play the role of Iraqi insurgents and civilians and to observe and control the mission rehearsal exercise. "They went through all the things they know they're going to do in Iraq," Williams said. Some outside observers say it was inevitable that, in a pinch, the Army would tinker with training.

"It tracks with what we should expect when we hurry the units up in their last three months" before a deployment, said Kevin Ryan, a retired brigadier general and former Army planner who is now at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Army commanders are compelled to make "economies," he added, when an accelerated deployment plan forces them to compress some aspects of training. Ryan said he doubts this approach will significantly detract from the soldiers' degree of preparation for Iraq.

"'Adequate' is probably a good description of what that training is," he said. "It's not the premier kind of situation that commanders would prefer, but it is adequate." Daniel Goure, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank, said, "This shouldn't have a decisive impact, although it carries a modicum of risk." The two units that are skipping their National Training Center sessions are among five Army brigades that are being dispatched to Baghdad on an sped-up schedule as the centerpiece of Bush's new approach to stabilizing Iraq.

The first to go, in January, was an 82nd Airborne brigade specially designated for short-notice deployments; it did no full-scale final exercise before deploying to Kuwait and then into Iraq. The next two, from Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Riley, Kan., did their final training sessions at the National Training Center. The unit from Fort Riley is entering Iraq now and the other is due to arrive in March.


Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Brigade tapped for third Iraq tour
Associated Press
Posted on Mon, Feb. 26, 2007

FORT BENNING, Ga. - The first contingent of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade departed for Iraq over the weekend, with more-than 4,000 to follow over the next month, officials said. The 3rd Brigade, based at Fort Benning, is a part of the 3rd Infantry Division, which helped lead the charge to Baghdad in 2003 and is the first Army division tapped for a third tour in Iraq.

The 3rd Brigade had been expected to deploy in May and June, but is leaving at least two months early as part of President Bush's order to send 21,000 additional troops to help stem a dramatic rise in attacks on coalition forces and civilians in Baghdad. The first group of 50 soldiers left Fort Benning on Saturday and the remainder will follow over the next month, Army spokeswoman Elsie Jackson said Monday.

The 19,000-member 3rd Infantry Division is headquartered at Fort Stewart, along with its 1st, 2nd and 4th brigades. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters earlier this month that he will command a task force of about 20,000 troops in southern Baghdad. His headquarters is scheduled to deploy by March 25. The division's 1st Brigade deployed in January. The 2nd Brigade had its deployment moved up a couple of months and is now expected to depart in mid-May. The deployment of the 4th brigade also could be sooner than anticipated, possibly in July rather than September, officials said.


Young GIs get first taste of war in Ramadi
Troops took different paths toward enlisting, but face common enemy
By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, February 24, 2007

Monte Morin / S&S
1st Lt. Joshua Drake, 24, of Lakeland, Fla. (wearing helmet) questions Iraqi men through his interpreter during a search of homes in Ramadi early Wednesday morning. The men were not taken into custody.

RAMADI, Iraq — What lures a young private to Iraq?

For at least two recent arrivals in this battered provincial capital, where troops attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division are battling Islamic militants in a muddy and bloody urban war, the answer is both love and money. “I joined for the money,” Pvt. Andrew Ralston said before heading out on a cordon-and-search operation Wednesday. “My plan is to retire at 45 with $3 million.”

Monte Morin / S&S
Pvt. George Maxham, 24, of Farmington, Maine, uses a cigarette lighter to apply camouflage face paint to Pvt. Andrew Ralston, of Eden Prairie, Minn., before a recent mission in downtown Ramadi.

Although the 3rd ID is now on its third deployment in Iraq, many soldiers, including Ralston, are experiencing war for the first time. In Ralston’s squad alone, all but two soldiers are serving in Iraq for the first time. The 22-year-old Eden Prairie, Minn., native said that with the right investments and shrewd financial planning, a 23-year career in the Army would take care of him for life. “Plus, the benefits are great,” he said. “I got $20,000 for enlisting.” Before he can retire though, Ralston has to face one of Iraq’s toughest areas of operations — downtown Ramadi.

While commanders say they have made phenomenal gains in this Sunni Arab city over the last eight months — forging an alliance with local tribes and enlisting more than 4,500 new Iraqi police — the city’s dense, south-central area remains violent.
Commanders with the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, the unit responsible for much of downtown Ramadi, say that scores of hard-core Islamic militants have, after being driven out of other areas, focused their operations here, staging frequent, brazen attacks against U.S. forces. In one recent episode, a Bradley fighting vehicle melted to the ground after enemy fighters snuck up to the vehicle and placed a bomb beside it. No soldiers were injured.

Monte Morin / S&S
Spc. Michael Murphy (left), 23, of Vineland, N.J., and Pfc. Joshua Vandergrift, 19, of Rochester, N.Y., listen to instructions from their squad leader before going out on a mission in Ramadi recently. The soldiers are attached to Blue Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

Officers believe that Islamic fighters here are staging an offensive of their own, timed perhaps with the U.S. troop surge in Baghdad, as well as the 3rd ID’s recent arrival in Ramadi. The new units have hit the ground running and have launched a series of operations aimed at rooting out enemy cell commanders and disrupting insurgent supply networks. The plan, they say, is to clear the dense city blocks and establish new outposts for Iraqi army and police so that they can hold the territory.
“We’re definitely in for a fight,” said Maj. Rich Cleveland, the brigade operations officer. “They’re not going to give it away. This won’t be a freebie.”

With just three weeks on the ground here, Ralston and his fellow Blue Platoon soldiers already had experienced their first firefight — a harrowing, hour-long ordeal in which six soldiers and Marines were injured by gunfire, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. The group was pinned down for much of the time, until Bradleys clanked down the street, laid down fire with their 25 mm cannons and evacuated the soldiers. “A Bradley is the most beautiful sight in the world,” Ralston said. “When you’re taking fire like that and a Brad rolls up and unloads 25 [mm fire], it’s just beautiful.” When the troops were clear of the scene, an F-18 fighter jet dropped a bomb on the enemy’s position. Soldiers estimate that as many as 10 enemy fighters were killed in the engagement.

Monte Morin / S&S
Pfc. Adam Novikoff, 21, of Novikoff Mountain, Ore., takes a seat in an Iraqi home following a recent cordon and search operation in downtown Ramadi.

Pfc. Adam Novikoff, 21, of Oregon, also is attached to Blue Platoon, Company D, 3-69. The M240 gunner recalls frying the barrel of his weapon that afternoon when he fired more than 1,000 rounds of suppressive fire. When he recalls the incident, he says it wasn’t exactly what he figured life had in store for him a little more than a year ago. At that time, he hadn’t considered joining the Army and thought little about the war. “I had a house, all the toys, and was engaged to be married,” Novikoff said. “I had a really nice life. That was until my girlfriend cheated on me with a guy I worked with.” Novikoff, who was working at a tire store, quit in disgust. “I told the guy, ‘I quit!’ Then I threw a tire at him,” Novikoff said. “After that, I kind of lived like a bum for a while and joined the Army. It’s a classic story.” Oddly enough, Novikoff said he didn’t realize at the time he would wind up in Iraq, much less the streets of Ramadi. “I guess it was in the back of my mind, but I thought I’d wind up at Fort Lewis,” Novikoff said with a grin. “I had probably watched about an hour of news since the war started.”

Monte Morin / S&S
An Iraqi family, in apparent anticipation of a house search, left a note for American troops on their refrigerator door saying they were at a funeral and would be back in three days. Troops from Blue Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, discovered the note during a cordon and search operation Wednesday morning.

© 2006 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.


Benning torch party leaves Saturday for Iraq

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Feb 23, 2007

An advance group of soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division’s brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., will deploy to Iraq on Saturday, the Army announced. The “torch party” will consist of close to 50 soldiers and will be the first group from 3rd Brigade Combat Team to deploy, according to a news release from Fort Benning.

The deployment will mark the brigade’s and division’s third rotation to Iraq since operations began there in March 2003. Deployment for the division’s 1,000-strong headquarters element from Fort Stewart, Ga., was moved up from June to March. More than 4,500 3rd ID soldiers are deployed to Iraq already, with 8,000 more, including 3rd BCT, preparing to deploy in March and May.

The division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in January.
All content © 2007, Army Times Publishing Company 


3rd ID Trained and Ready for Deployment
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch

Jan. 25, 2007. One brigade is already in Kuwait on its way to Iraq. In the next few months, first in mid March, then mid May, and finally June, the rest of the 3rd Infantry Division will follow.

It's a deployment that comes two to three months faster than originally expected, the result of President Bush's plan to increase troop levels by 21,000 soldiers. But Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the 3rd ID commander, says the plan doesn't come at the expense of training for his soldiers. "We as an Army, and we as a division, will not send untrained or poorly equipped soldiers on combat operations," said Gen. Lynch.

That's the message the general wanted to get out to everyone. At a media luncheon at Fort Stewart, he said his soldiers will be well-trained and ready to go to Iraq when the call comes. That call could send the 2nd and 3rd Brigades to the center of the action in Baghdad. "The insurgents realize that the eyes of the world are on Baghdad," said Lynch. "So goes Baghdad, so goes the rest of Iraq. "Security has to be job one," he added. "Create a secure environment and everything else might, might flourish."

The 3rd ID 1st Brigade Combat team left home earlier this month and is currently staged in Kuwait. Soon they are off to the Al-Anbar province in western Iraq.

Lynch says he knows how hard it is for the families left behind to see their loved ones go into battle again, but he wants them to stay strong, so the soldiers can concentrate on their jobs. "If you are deployed in combat operations spending all your time worrying about your family, your morale is not good," according to Lynch. "If your wife, your spouse says things here are going fine, you're okay, we're okay, then they're going to be just fine. So if I can keep the families' morale up, I can keep the soldiers' morale up as well."

Lynch says the 3rd ID soldiers face a daunting challenge, but not an impossible one. Fourteen of 18 provinces are already secure. The next job will be to stabilize the others, and gain the trust of the Iraqi people, so progress toward democracy can continue.  "There are 26 million Iraqis and only ten to fifteen thousand insurgents," said Lynch. "Taking these 26 million Iraqis there and make them love the coalition, make them glad we're there because we're bettering their society. That's what we have to do every day."

Lynch says while he hopes the troop surge will help, Americans shouldn't count on a quick resolution to the war.
Lynch believes conflicts like this take up to nine years to complete. He will be on hand to help his soldiers this time around. He plans to deploy to Iraq himself in June, and will be in charge of military operations in one half of the country.
Reported by: Andrew Davis, andrewdavis@wtoc.com

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3rd ID Heads Back to Iraq 
Alaina Anderson WSAV News 3 Send e-mail

Monday, Jan 08, 2007  


Members of the 3rd Infantry Division are already preparing for another deployment. One hundred soldiers boarded a plane last night for Iraq and others left last week. More members of the 3rd ID’s 1st Brigade Combat Team are expected to leave in the next few weeks. Thanks to the USO, there's one package soldiers won't leave without.
"Your families must be proud of you. Thank you and hurry home," is part of a note that’s in just about every care package the USO gives to troops when they're deployed. "A flight leaves at 2 o'clock in the morning, I'm there and one leaves at 5 o'clock. One leaves at midday -- I'm there. It's just an honor to be with those courageous men and women," says Mary Nelson Adams, the Savannah USO’s Volunteer Coordinator.
Baby Wipes and Calling Cards
Since members of the 3rd ID are heading back overseas, Mary and other volunteers are making sure they have enough care packages for the soldiers -- packages filled with everything from magazines to a 100 minute calling card.  Mary says, "That's the main thing they look for. But the other stuff is appreciated, too."
Like baby wipes. That's one item Specialist Nathan Hawkins loved the last two times he was deployed. "You don't have time to get everything you need and it seems like they kind of get everything together where they don't forget a lot of things you do forget," says Nathan. Helping soldiers like Nathan is why Mary loves working with the USO. "These men and women are going off for our freedom and this is my main purpose for contributing my time and I feel very honored," says Mary.
More than 3,500 soldiers are members of the 3rd ID’s 1st Brigade.
You Can Help
If you'd like to volunteer with the USO or make a monetary donation to them, Mary says to give her a call at (912) 354-5794. For more information about the USO, log on to their website.

American Red Cross Searching for Volunteers

The American Red Cross is also looking for volunteers to help at Hunter Army Airfield's deployment site. The organization provides refreshments as well as comfort kits for soldiers to use during their trip to Iraq.
If you'd like to volunteer with Savannah's American Red Cross chapter, give them a call at 651-5300.
WSAV-TV News 3 - On Your Side
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Headquarters 3rd Infantry Division -
"Rock of the Marne" - Goes to Iraq in March

Feb 16, 2007. The Defense Department announced Feb. 16 that the 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, will deploy to Iraq beginning in March 2007. This headquarters previously was scheduled to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom in June 2007, as announced on November 17, 2006, but will now be accelerated by a little over three months. The unit leadership notified the Soldiers and their families prior to this announcement.

This deployment affects an Army division headquarters of approximately 1,000 Soldiers. U.S. troop levels in Iraq continue to be conditions-based, and are determined upon the recommendations of military commanders in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi government.

The 3rd Infantry Division, nicknamed "The Rock of the Marne" for its steadfast defense in the face of numerically superior enemy forces in France during WWI, will provide essential command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in support of security operations in and around Baghdad. Over 4,500 Soldiers from the division are deployed to Iraq already and 8,000 more are preparing to deploy in March and May.

The Army continues to be completely supportive of Army families touched by the war's needs. Without our families' steadfast and unrelenting support, Soldiers would not be ready for combat, Army officials say. Using the Army's time-tested Family Readiness Group organizations, unit and installation commanders and their staffs are ensuring families are fully supported while their Soldiers are away.
Established in 1917, the 3rd Infantry Division is battle-tested and battle-hardened. From World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marne Soldiers have achieved legendary accomplishments and established a lasting heritage of service to our country.

The division fought in Europe during WWII and remained in Europe to help protect NATO allies during the Cold War. The division also fought in the Korean War. One brigade fought in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and Marne division units deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo to restore security there.

This is the headquarters third deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division was the vanguard unit in the march to Baghdad and it later returned to Iraq and helped fight insurgent forces alongside Iraqi security forces.

Fifty-one heroic members of the division have been honored with the Medal of Honor in its 89 years of service to our nation. Today, 3rd ID Soldiers are supported by friends and neighbors in Columbus, Hinesville, and Savannah GA where it trains for GWOT missions at Georgia's Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Benning.

The Defense Department and the U.S. Army will continue to announce major unit deployments as they are identified and told. For information, please contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
Last updated Friday 16 February, 2007


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Ready to shift
Plan has 3,800 soldiers departing in mid-March

BY MICK WALSH, Staff Writer


Colonel Wayne Grigsby Jr., commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, discusses the upcoming deployment to Iraq.
Mike Haskey/Ledger-Enquirer

Posted on Tue, Feb. 20, 2007:
Unlike the 2005 send-off at Doughboy Stadium, which was complete with speeches, music and enough tears to fill Upatoi Creek, this year's deployment by the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team to Iraq will be much more subdued. "Family good-byes at the battalion areas and bus rides to the airport," said brigade commander Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. as he outlined Monday the timetable for the mid-March departure of his 3,800-soldier outfit.

Just back from four weeks of intense combat training at Fort Irwin, Calif. -- much of it under the critical eye of former brigade boss Col. Steve Salazar -- the 3rd will be making its third trip to Iraq since the invasion of 2003.
"We're ready to go," Grigsby said. "We're very close to full strength, almost 60 percent of our soldiers have combat experience and we're trained for full spectrum operations."In other words, the brigade is ready to tangle with insurgents in Baqouba, Ramadi or downtown Baghdad. "We're strong in all the fundamental skills that we'll need," he added.

So where are they headed? And when? And for how long?
It appears as if the brigade will be stationed in the southeast section of Baghdad, possibly under the umbrella of the 3rd Infantry Division.
"General (Maj. Gen. Rick) Lynch and I are in contact every other day and we have a pretty good relationship," said Grigsby. "It would be great to be part of his team."
Grigsby has already been in touch with another of the division's brigade commanders, Col. John Charlton, who took his unit, the 1st BCT, to Baghdad in January.
"We talk about issues that he's had to address since his arrival in Iraq, things that we may need to focus on in the weeks ahead," Grigsby said. "Keeping those communication lines open is important."

All of the brigade is to be in theater no later than the Ides of March, March 15.
Soldiers could be leaving Fort Benning from Lawson Army Airfield as early as March 9.
"How long will we be gone?" said the colonel. "A minimum of 12 months."
He's already told the Family Readiness Group that tours could be extended for as many as six months.

"It's condition-based," he said, noting that circumstances in Iraq at the time of the scheduled re-deployment dictate whether or not a unit might be extended. Soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division serving in Afghanistan had their tours lengthened by four months recently.

Grigsby, who took the reins of the brigade last June, also spoke on the matter of the Army's controversial "stop-loss" program. "We've had to keep some people longer than they had hoped," he said. "Some enlistments were extended. I don't have an exact number but I believe if you said 'dozens of soldiers,' you'd be right. It was all done on a case by case basis." Lynch, who will be visiting the brigade on Thursday, announced on Feb. 1 that about 350 soldiers in the division would be retained despite retirement or transfer orders.

Almost every brigade soldier can count on one four-day weekend between now and deployment. The rest of the time? More training and packing.

‘Raider Brigade’ takes over Ramadi
Ceremony marks end of 1-1AD’s battle to stabilize volatile city

By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, February 19, 2007

Monte Morin / S&S
From left to right, Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin and Cols. Sean B. MacFarland and John W. Charlton sit for an interview Sunday with Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera following a formal transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Ramadi, in Iraq.

RAMADI, Iraq — The Germany-bound “Ready First Brigade” of the 1st Armored Division formally relinquished combat authority in and around Ramadi Sunday following a fierce, eight-month campaign that commanders say broke a long and bloody stalemate between U.S. soldiers, Sunni Arab tribes and Islamist militants here. The breakthrough — which occurred when a majority of local tribe leaders decided to ally with coalition forces against Islamist militants — bodes well for the incoming 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division “Raider Brigade,” which is now on its third tour in Iraq.

“We leave here with a great sense of accomplishment,” Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of the 1-1AD said at Sunday’s transfer of authority ceremony. “Although there is still work to be done, we take comfort knowing that we are relinquishing our job to the superior soldiers of the Raider Brigade.”

Col. John W. Charlton — commander of the 1-3ID who has served twice before in Iraq — said Sunday that his soldiers were prepared to build on the gains made by the departing 1-1AD. “We’re ready to take on this mission of bringing peace and prosperity to this region,” Charlton said.
© 2006 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.

Insurgents attempt a surge of their own
Troops take on determined militants in volatile Ramadi
By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes

Monte Morin / S&S
An Abrams tank with the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, watches over a street corner in downtown Ramadi recently.

Mideast edition, Wednesday, February 21, 2007: RAMADI, Iraq — The 3rd Infantry Division has fought two previous tours in Iraq, but as Lt. Col. Mike Silverman and his “Speed and Power” soldiers are quickly learning, the enemy in this battered city is unlike that of previous tours.

As U.S. troops in Baghdad are attempting to quell a bloody sectarian war between rival Sunni and Shiite religious sects, soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division are squaring off against a determined force of Islamist militants belonging to al-Qaida in Iraq and other terror groups. Unlike insurgents in many other areas of Iraq — who often melt away into the landscape after sudden roadside bomb attacks or drive-by shootings — brazen, sustained attacks appear to be the hallmark of insurgents in Ramadi.

Commanders hope to capitalize on gains made, but are now countering an anticipated surge in enemy attacks. While it is customary for enemy forces to increase attacks on troops who have recently rotated into Iraq, officers here say Islamist fighters have launched a particularly fierce offensive against U.S. troops and cooperating tribes.
“Basically, al-Qaida in Iraq and these other groups have been reading about the surge in Baghdad, and they’ve been hearing what President Bush is saying. We think now that they’re trying their own surge,” Maj. Charles Krumwiede, the battalion operations officer, said.

Monte Morin / S&S
Marine Warrant Officer One James Wright, 32, of Houston, Texas, uses his rifle scope to scan buildings in downtown Ramadi after hearing gunfire recently. Wright, a public affairs officer with the 4th Civil Affairs Group, was visiting a joint security station.

The recent car bomb assassination of a highly skilled Iraqi Police commander and another such attack on an Iraqi Police post Monday were part of this three-pronged enemy offensive, according to commanders. The offensive, they said, was aimed at intimidating local residents from cooperating with new Iraqi Police or U.S. forces, assassinating Iraqi Police and government leaders, and attacking U.S. troops.

Commanders said a series of ongoing, coordinated operations between units throughout Ramadi would help to destabilize the enemy. At the same time however, Silverman said he and other commanders were not about to underestimate their foes. “These guys have been involved since 2003,” Silverman said. “These guys are at their pinnacle. In some ways, they are almost as good as a professional army. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not enamored of the enemy. They are savages, absolutely. But they are not poorly trained savages.”

During the 3rd ID’s 2005 deployment to the areas of Balad, Tikrit, Samarra and Beiji, it was common for groups of 15 or 20 attacking insurgents to flee after two or three of them had been killed. Here, however, the same sized group will press their attack until most of them have been cut down, commanders say. In a vivid example, officers said that U.S. snipers methodically killed 10 insurgent attackers recently as they attempted to crawl up a creek bed toward a combat outpost downtown.

The phenomenon, officers say, is linked to a breakthrough alliance here between U.S. forces and a majority of local tribes who once aided the Islamist groups. Until late last year, more than two-thirds of enemy fighters here were considered to be local Baath Party loyalists and/or from criminal groups. Now many of those local tribe members have opted out of the fight or joined the Iraqi police. Those enemy who remain, officers say, are mostly hard-core Islamists who are increasingly desperate to break the alliance between tribes and the coalition.

As such, units like Silverman’s 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, are encountering an enemy he and other officers describe as highly experienced, religiously zealous and organized along traditional military lines. “It looks to me like they operate very much the way we do,” Silverman said. “There is a battalion-level emir who comes up with a vision for the battlefield. They issue guidance to cell leaders who function fairly autonomously. They would be like company commanders in our operations. Most of the attacks are then committed by lower platoon-level fighters.”

After years of combat in Ramadi, enemy fighters here are among the most experienced in Iraq. They are drawn from a steady pool of local and foreign Islamists attracted to Ramadi because it symbolizes, for them, the center of the fight against the U.S. and the west in general. “For them, Ramadi is jihad land,” said Krumwiede. “They know that if they want to fight the Americans, Ramadi is the place to go.” By the same token, U.S. troops here say they take satisfaction in knowing that those fighters they kill or capture are part of al-Qaida and its many associated groups. “No kidding, when you’re in Ramadi, you’re not just fighting to stabilize Iraq, you’re part of the larger war on terrorism,” Silverman said.

Monte Morin / S&S

Soldiers attached to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, cross a sewage creek in downtown Ramadi during a recent patrol.

Over the past few years, Ramadi has functioned as a de facto training camp for these Islamist fighters, commanders say. Those who pass the course survive; those who don’t, die. “There’s nothing more Darwinian than an insurgency,” Silverman said. “The gene pool for poorly trained and unthinking insurgents gets cleaned out pretty quickly.” In Silverman’s area of operations, there are perhaps 100 or 200 such fighters, operating in autonomous cells, and communicating via couriers or Internet cafes.

The previous unit in Ramadi, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, has been credited with significant gains over the past eight months by establishing a network of joint security stations throughout Ramadi’s downtown — an area that was once controlled mostly by the enemy.

The number of police has increased from just over 200 eight months ago to roughly 4,500 today. While this has done much to stabilize western and northern Ramadi, areas like downtown, which lacked a tribal structure, remain contentious.
© 2006 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.


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