Keep Your Helmet On!

Be A Part of a Tribute to Fallen Heroes - Help Build the Fallen Soldiers' Bike
Help support the families of our deployed Heroes - Visit Soldiers' Angels' Operation Outreach
Help Our Heroes Help Others - Click Here to visit SOS: KIDS
Nominate your Hero for IWT's "Hero of the Month" - click here for details!
Search Iraq War Today only

Saturday, January 15, 2005

US Army file photo by Shane A. Cuomo, January 11, 2005
Soldiers from the 278th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, conduct an Iran-Iraq border inspection.

A Soldiers' Duty

from the Boca News
by Sean Salai

Sgt. Thomas Douglas Ladley, kissing his baby daughter, fought back tears behind a pair of dark sunglasses Saturday at the Callaway Reserve Center in West Palm Beach.

Ladley, on his 33rd birthday, reports today with 31 other Florida National Guard soldiers for duty in the war on terror. He will be out of bed by 4:30 a.m., be on a plane for Fort Dix at 6:30, spend two weeks training as an MP, and then depart for Afghanistan.

“It’s going to be long hours and sleepless nights,” Ladley told the Boca Raton News after an afternoon farewell ceremony. “I won’t have much time to think about what’s going on at home, but those thoughts will catch up with me whenever I go to bed at night. That’s going to be the hardest part.”

The Port St. Lucie resident’s battalion, a part of the 265th Air Defense Artillery, is sending the platoon as a “filler unit” for guardsmen wounded or sent home during their one-year tours of duty in Afghanistan. The detachment will be there at least five or six months, with the possibility of extension.

A St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office deputy and father of five who helped with hurricane relief in Punta Gorda this fall, Ladley said he does not know how he will deal with missing Christmas and his children’s birthdays.

“It will be hard wondering how friends are doing at home, wondering how the job is going,” said Ladley, cradling the infant. “That stuff eats everyone up regardless of rank. The training and the job is nothing compared to it.”

Ladley’s wife of three years, Carrie, said the family exchanged gifts for an “early Christmas” during the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Last minute recall
“Tom was originally supposed to deploy to Afghanistan in March, but he was recalled at the last minute due to complications in my pregnancy,” Carrie Ladley said. “We’ve known since November 2003 he would be going. It’s easier for me because of the timeframe, especially now that I know the baby is okay. But it will still be hard just not hearing from him every day and being home alone with the kids.”

Of her four older children, she said, “The two oldest understand, the five year old has no clue, and it will be impossible to explain to the two year old why dad’s not home.”Unlike Ladley, the other soldiers in the detachment did not find out until October 22 they would deploy to Afghanistan.

“I knew it was a possibility when I signed the National Guard Contract, but it came as a shock it was so soon,” said recent enlistee Pfc. Kenneth C. Maltais, 21, of Boca Raton. “Better Afghanistan than Iraq”

Maltais was joined at the farewell ceremony by his parents, girlfriend, a female cousin and two sisters. “I’m proud and I’m worried,” said Sandy Maltais, his mother. “I know he’ll do a good job and serve his country.”Other families had similarly emotional farewell scenes on Saturday.

“I’m glad my daughter Jill will be there while he’s away,” said Becky Barber, whose 38-year-old son-in-law Cpl. Jeffrey Pilgrim had been in the unit just two weeks when the deployment order came. She said Pilgrim is three years from retirement. Michael and Belinda Jaffe of Melbourne Beach said their 18-year-old son, Pfc. Derek Jaffe, had volunteered for Afghanistan and been elated by the deployment.

“He’s very focused and dedicated to his country,” Michael Jaffe said, watching his son shift excitedly from foot to foot while standing in the ranks prior to the ceremony. “He’s been packed for over a month and will stay in Afghanistan as long as they let him.”

“He’s always done crazy and adventurous things, and he’s been in and out of the emergency room more times than I can count,” Belinda Jaffe said. “He can do those things legally in the Army. I’m proud of him, but scared.”

Belinda Jaffe said that her six-year-old boy Eric, the youngest of her four sons, would not understand his brother’s absence for Christmas.

“He asked me this morning ‘who will win’ the battle,” she said. “I said we would. He asked how I knew that. I said because we are right.”

During Saturday’s brief farewell ceremony, officials from the army and government gave several speeches to the troops.

First Sgt. Regina Bell, a West Palm native who served in Iraq during Desert Storm and again this year, said the 32 soldiers leaving today would forget all of them.

“You remember the day you come home more than you remember the day you left,” Bell said. “The farewell ceremony is a blur — you can’t even remember everyone who was there. Coming home is definitely more important.”

Thanks to Jill for passing this along, and to your Hero for all he's doing.

from Stars and Stripes

Marines, Iraqi forces report progress in effort to keep out foreign fighters
By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes European edition, Thursday, January 13, 2005

AL ASAD, Iraq — U.S. military officials in Anbar province are reporting progress in one of their most difficult missions: securing Iraq’s porous borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and turning over complete responsibility for the job to Iraqi forces.

Over the last three months, Marines under the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (parent formation of C 1/7) have built — or rebuilt — more than two dozen border forts and recruited more than 1,000 specially trained Iraqi border security forces (Brian's company is training them at Camp Wolf).

It is possible, Marine Corps officials say, to have the entire border security system in Iraqi hands by this year. If so, it would be a significant milestone in the U.S. military’s struggle to train and equip Iraqi security forces as a means to ending the U.S. presence in Iraq.

The effort’s centerpiece is a specialized Iraqi unit dubbed the Desert Wolves, which U.S. officials say will be the heart of a revitalized and reconstituted Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement.
“Bringing people into sections of the border where they’re not from is one of the smartest things we’ve done,” said Maj. Bart Logue, a Marine Corps foreign area officer attached to the Okinawa-based 31st MEU.

“It’s very important that they not be tied to the sheiks of that area, and they don’t have to follow the cultural rules,” he said in a reference to kickbacks, bribes and other forms of petty corruption and influence that U.S. officials say were rampant in the former regime and its security forces.

Several times a week, Logue, members of the Navy’s Seabees and the Army Corps of Engineers load into 31st MEU helicopters and check on the forts. They always are accompanied by a heavily armed security element.

On Tuesday, Marines from Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines — armed with everything from light machine guns to rocket launchers — piled into two helicopters at Al Asad and headed out for an inspection of forts along the Iraqi-Saudi border.

About halfway to their destination, though, fierce sandstorms forced them to turn back. The conditions made a landing too dangerous to attempt, so the inspection was postponed. On days when they do reach the forts, the Marines clear and secure the areas, sometimes running into booby traps or discovering the forts — which resemble stone castles with turrets — vandalized or damaged.

The $32 million project is being undertaken through local contractors and labor, said Logue, a 33-year-old from Monterey, Calif., and a military-trained Arabic linguist. The forts are meant to add a physical presence to Iraq’s borders, which long have been sand berms in open stretches of desert.

Small teams from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also are working with Iraqi border forces, training them in customs, immigration and trade. Last month, Logue said, leaders of the Desert Wolves met with Syrian border officials for the first time in years to work on coordinating cross-border issues.

“That happened within the first 30 days of the program. I’m truly impressed,” Logue said. “These are the guys who are going to be making a difference for their country.”

The Syrian border has been the most difficult to secure, with U.S. officials saying hundreds of foreign fighters have been allowed to enter Iraq through that route. However, senior U.S. diplomats have said the problem is being curbed to some extent.

“We have seen a lot of improvement regarding foreign fighters who were using Syria to enter Iraq, and this is a good thing,” Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters last week in Damascus after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“But I also made the point that former regime elements of the Iraqi regime sometimes cross back and forth on the border, and that it’s very important to have that stopped,” he said, according to a State Department transcript of his comments.

According to the Pentagon, the U.S. government is holding some 325 foreign fighters in Iraq. Nearly half of those were captured in the past two months, officials said, many during the November assault on Fallujah.

And though the aim of the border program is to stop the illegal traffic, recruiting and training a successful border force are crucial pieces of the larger security picture, military officials said.
“It’s important the security forces know this is a combined effort. It’s critical they know that when things are happening, we’re there to support them,” said Logue, who also serves as the 31st MEU’s Iraqi Security Forces coordinator.

“This is not because the 31st MEU happened to find a good bunch of Iraqis. The key is they are training alongside us. No one asks these guys to do anything the Marines are not willing to do,” Logue said.

“We’ve found something here that’s going to take us home.”

Thanks to Susan for passing this along.

In Today's News - Saturday, January 15, 2005 Associated Press
Abbas sworn in as Palestinian leader
Mahmoud Abbas, sworn in as Palestinian Authority president Saturday, said he is extending his hand in peace to Israel and called for a cease-fire, but he made no mention in his inaugural speech of how he would deal with Palestinian militants, the most pressing issue on his agenda.

U.S. said eager to leave Indonesia soon
The United States is eager to end its military tsunami mission as soon as other nations are ready to take over, the U.S. deputy secretary of defense said Saturday. The United Nations began paying survivors in Indonesia to clear rubble.

Graner to speak at sentencing hearing
Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at Abu Ghraib, may tell his story about what went on inside the notorious Baghdad prison after all.

Weather information provided by HamWeather

Iraq, Baghdad

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Ebadi: I won't obey Iran court summons
Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said Saturday she won't obey a summons by the hard-line Revolutionary Court even though she could be arrested, a challenge to the powerful body that has tried and convicted many intellectuals. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

The U.S. News: Iraq News:
First of 14,000 Camp Lejeune Marines leave for Iraq
On Friday, dozens of Marines -- some with family and some alone -- waited in a Camp Lejeune gym for buses to arrive to take them to the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, where they would fly out [in Herald Sun] The US News: Iraq News

Critical battle for Iraq's energy
The truckers were in no position to resist. One by one, witnesses say, they handed over the paperwork that permitted them to leave the tank farm with a load of gasoline. When the gunmen had a fat shea... [in MSNBC] The US News: Iraq News

NATO Likely to Cut Iraq Training Missions
NATO is likely to scale back plans to send instructors to train Iraq's military, the alliance's top operational commander, U.S. Gen. James L. Jones, said Friday.He insisted the cuts were not due to NA... [in Gadsden Times] The US News: Iraq News

US considers 'Salvador option' to tackle Iraq insurgents
The United States is considering setting up an elite squad of assassins to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency, according to reports yesterday. Newsweek Magazine said the Pentagon, in Washington, i... [in General Sources] The US News: Iraq News

France Hunts Missing Journalist in Iraq
France is stepping up its local contacts in Iraq over the mysterious disappearance of a French reporter and her translator in the country, the prime minister said.Jean-Pierre Raffarin said French auth... [in Gadsden Times] The US News: Iraq News

Gunmen kill aide to Iraqi Shiite leader
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Gunmen killed an aide to Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, intensifying the threat of a violent sectarian split with the approach of national elections that political leaders are strug... [in Casper Star Tribune] The US News: Iraq News

Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Woman Pulled Gun on Iraqi Defense Minister - Paper
A woman pulled a pistol on Iraq's defenseminister in his office but then broke down in tears in a failedassassination plot hatched by an Iraqi group in Syria, theminister said in comments published on Saturday. Hazimal-Shaalan told the pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper the 40-year-oldwoman had drawn the gun, loaded with poisoned bullets, during ameeting with him and other officials more than one week ago. Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Charles Graner convicted of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse Iraq & Terror

Graner to be sentenced...Plant burns out of control...Teachers may strike Iraq & Terror

NATO Likely to Cut Iraq Training Missions
NATO is likely to scale back plans to send instructors to train Iraq's military, the alliance's top operational commander, U.S. Gen. James L. Jones, said Friday. He insisted the cuts were not due to N... [in ABC 33/40] The US News: Iraq News

Some Iraqis to boycott vote
threats from insurgents, posters of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's Shiite religious leader, have started appearing in recent days encouraging Iraqis to vote. [in Washington Times] The US News: Iraq News

15 Iraqi guardsmen feared kidnapped
Insurgents rocketed an Iraqi military bus west of the capital and 15 Iraqi soldiers were missing and feared kidnapped, as insurgent violence and intimidation [in Hindustan Times] The US News: Iraq News

France steps up contacts in Iraq in search for missing French reporter, prime minister says
PARIS (AP) France is stepping up its local contacts in Iraq over the mysterious disappearance of a French reporter and her translator in the country, the prime minister said. Jean-Pierre Raffarin... [in 5PIX] The US News: Iraq News

Insurgents Fire Rockets in Baghdad
Insurgents fired rockets Friday night against targets in the center of Baghdad, causing no casualties, police said. Other attacks were reported on the western edge of the capital. [in Yahoo] The US News: Iraq News

From Fox News
Sharper Pics of Saturn Moon

Wolfowitz: U.S. Eager to End Military Tsunami Mission

FBI Inauguration Warning

Inaugural Prayer Ban Rejected

White House Cold to CIA Report on Iraq Terrorism- 15 Iraqi Guardsmen Kidnapped

Accused Deserter on Navy 'Most Wanted' List

Iraqi Expats Gear Up to Vote
Historic election is dream come true for many Iraqi-Americans

Bush Unfazed by WMD Criticism
President remains firm on Iraq war despite failure to locate weapons

Click here for background information on the War on Terror.

From the Department of Defense:
No Illusions: Insurgents Are Not Heroes
BAGHDAD, IRAQ, Jan. 14, 2005 — Any idea that the insurgency is a spontaneous rising of the Iraqi people is "hogwash," said a senior Multinational Force Iraq official here. "There are no illusions about the insurgents," he said. "The people know they are immoral, vicious animals who want only their own power." Story

Babil Police Recruiting Effort Draws 1,100
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, Jan. 14, 2005 — Nearly 1,100 Iraqis converged on a police recruiting center south of Baghdad Jan. 13 to compete for 100 jobs at police stations throughout northern Babil Province, according to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit officials. Story
300 Iraqis Line Up to Join Police Ranks

'Little Things Make All the Difference'
TALLIL, Iraq, Jan. 14, 2005 — When Joe Faustina, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, hired several local engineers to work on projects for the Corps, he heard some horrible stories about the former regime and what had happened to some of the local people. Faustina was determined to help those still suffering.Story

Airmen Arrive for Duty in Afghanistan
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 14, 2005 — A new team of approximately 700 airmen is scheduled to arrive at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, within the next three weeks for a 120-day mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Story

As Fallujah Residents Return, Troops Help

Reconstruction in Iraq Moves Forward

Supply Operation Delivers Goodwill

U.S. Troops Uncover Bomb Factory

'Commando' Unit Detains Suspected Bomb Maker

Cavalry Unit Rescues Iraqi Police Colonel, Wife

Marine Combat Engineers Fortify U.S. Camp

Force Protection Vital to Rebuilding Effort

'Wolfhounds' Ensure Stability, Security

Marine Puts Accounting Degree to Work
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Jan. 14, 2004 — When U.S. Marine Cpl. John R. Glynn was in school, math was his favorite subject. He never could have known that his love for numbers would someday put him in control of $5 million and the lives of nearly 2,000 Marines. Story

Military Intel Soldiers Return to Fort Gordon
FORT GORDON, Ga., Jan. 13, 2005 — U.S. soldiers assigned to the 202d Military Intelligence Battalion returned to Fort Gordon recently after a 12-month deployment in Iraq. Story
Photo Essay: 821st Transportation Co. Returns to N.H.

Spouse Helps Troops, Families
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2005 — A bit over a year ago, Joan DeFalco heard the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany needed help getting personal items for servicemembers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said she wanted to do something. Story

Forces Round Up Insurgents

4 Troops Killed During Operations

Iraqi Units Respond to Explosion

Iraq Daily Update

Iraq Reconstruction


Weekly Progress Report (pdf)

North-Central Iraq Ready for Vote

Marines Patrol to Ensure Security

U.S. Supports Election Commitment

Election 'Historic Moment' for Iraq

Powell: Vote Means Better Security

Fact Sheet: Iraqi Elections

Missing Aircraft Search Continues

More Weapons Caches Turn Up

Enduring Freedom Marks 3 Years

Afghanistan Daily Update


Security Conference Ends

Ridge: U.S.-European Effort Vital

Bush Visits Pentagon for Updates

Terrorism Requires Global Response

Waging and Winning the War on Terror

Terrorism Timeline

Terrorism Knowledge Base

Benning Pledges Family Support

Children Learn About Deployments

Amputee Care Center to Open

Guard Must Plan to Avert Crisis

Top Enlisted Leaders Visit Wounded

National Guard, Reserve Update

Army Deploys 'Intel Snipers' to Iraq