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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Operation Big Dig

Sgt. Samuel Jones, a Task Force 2-12 Cav signal systems support specialist who works as a radio operator with the Task Force’s attached Estonian platoon stands by an unearthed cache of Frog-7b rocket warheads during the first day of Operation Big Dig in the Latifiyah desert Jan. 23. The surface-to-surface warheads contain 1000 kg of high explosives. At the end of the first four days of the operation, the Task Force had found nine Frog-7b warheads and 11 Cobra surface-to-surface missiles. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andy Miller, 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

STORY - at the 1st Cavalry Division website

CH-46 Sea Knights with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 stand ready on the flight line while two more fly across the twilight sky minutes after taking off at Al Asad, Iraq, Jan. 26. Nearing the end of their deployment, the Marines of HMM-365 are leaving Iraq with a sense of great accomplishment.Photo by: Cpl. Paul Leicht

A pair of CH-46 Sea Knights with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 ascend from take off toward the setting sun over Al Asad, Iraq, Jan. 26. Nearing the end of their deployment, the Marines of HMM-365 are leaving Iraq with a sense of great accomplishment.Photo by: Cpl. Paul Leicht

Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 walk along the flight line as the evening full moon rises over Al Asad, Iraq, Jan. 26. Nearing the end of their deployment, the Marines of HMM-365 are leaving Iraq with a sense of great accomplishment.Photo by: Cpl. Paul Leicht

ETA Bomb Injures 39 in Spain

from Fox News

MADRID, Spain — Basque separatists detonated a powerful car bomb in Madrid on Wednesday, a week after Spain's Parliament overwhelmingly rejected a plan to give the region autonomy. Dozens of people were injured.

The explosion came hours after the arrest of at least 10 suspected members of the armed ETA . It was preceded by a telephone warning from a caller claiming to represent the separatist group.
The bomb went off around 9:30 a.m. near the convention center Ifema, shattering thick panes of glass in surrounding buildings and damaging cars parked nearby.

Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said the bomb packed an estimated 45-65 pounds of explosives.

Thirty-nine people were injured, none seriously, said Javier Ayuso, a spokesman for the Madrid emergency medical service.

King Juan Carlos had been scheduled to open an art show at the convention center later in the day, accompanied by President Vicente Fox of Mexico. Authorities said the ceremony was still on.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, speaking during a visit Poland, said "ETA and those who support it have no place in political or civil life. Bombs lead only to jail."

The telephone warning was received by the Basque newspaper Gara, which often serves as a mouthpiece for ETA.

Madrid has been jittery since the March 11 bombings of commuter trains, which killed 191 and wounded more than 1,500. The attack was blamed on Islamic militants.

ETA detonated a small bomb in a Mediterranean resort hotel on Jan. 30, two days before the vote against broader autonomy. One person was slightly injured.

Juan Jose Ibarretxe, the region's president, responded to the vote by calling early elections for April 17, hoping to capitalize on Basque nationalist anger.

The ETA's political wing, Batasuna, was outlawed in 2003 and is not allowed to field candidates.
ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths since the late 1960s in a campaign of bombings and shootings aimed at creating an independent Basque homeland in land straddling northern Spain and southwest France.

ETA carried out a string of small bombings in northern resort towns over the summer. It also detonated seven bombs around Spain on Dec. 6 — the anniversary of Spain's 1978 constitution that set up the system of regional autonomy that ETA abhors as insufficient.

Spain withdrew troops from Iraq so to placate terrorists. As I've said before, it doesn't work. Proof positive is the continuing violence there. Once you teach terrorists that they can sway an entire election by bombing train stations, you've just declared open season for them. All my sympathy to the victims of these bombings, but the Spanish government needs to learn that terrorists need to be harshly dealt with, not placated.

In Today's News - Wednesday, February 9, 2005 Associated Press
Sharon, Abbas declare cease-fire at summit
Israeli and Palestinian leaders returned home to hammer out the details of a cease-fire they declared at a dramatic summit meeting in an Egyptian resort, trying restore trust in the post-Yasser Arafat era after four years of bloodshed.

Militants gun down Iraqi journalist
Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist working for a U.S.-funded television station and his son as they left their home Wednesday in the southern city of Basra, an official said. Two more U.S. soldiers were reported dead, one in an ambush in Mosul.

Rice: NATO won't be world's policeman
The expanding NATO alliance can be a bulwark for freedom without playing policeman to the world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said as she neared the end of a European tour that included visits to both old and newer NATO members.

Alleged Kuwaiti terror group leader dies
The alleged ringleader of a terror group accused of attacking Americans and Kuwaiti security forces has died of heart failure while in prison, an Interior Ministry official said Wednesday.

Ananova: War In Iraq
Soldier abuse case: Charge dropped
Another charge has been dropped in the court martial of British soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners. Ananova: War In Iraq

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Militants gun down Iraqi journalist
Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist working for a U.S.-funded television station and his son as they left their home Wednesday in the southern city of Basra, an Iraqi official said. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Bush remains cautious on Mideast truce
Even with a cease-fire pledge from Israeli and Palestinian leaders, President Bush is moving slowly to involve himself and U.S. prestige in the always risky, often disappointing Mideast peace process. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Arrests mar annual Cairo book fair
Egypt's annual international book fair is meant to attract a free and lively literary and cultural debate. But this year's event has been marred by a crackdown on books and activists demanding reform in the Arab world's largest country. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Israeli seeks disengagement referendum
Israel's foreign minister says he will lead a campaign for a referendum on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan, a step that could interfere with Sharon's intention to carry the plan out this summer. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Iraqi police killed by roadside bomb, official kidnapped
An Iraqi official was kidnapped and a journalist for a pan-Arab television station was killed in insurgent attacks that also saw four Iraqi policemen killed. Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Lebanese Hezbollah members detained in Iraq: minister
Iraq's Interior Minister Falah al-Naquib said 18 members of the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah have been detained in Iraq, Arab newspapers reported. Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Weather information from The Weather Channel

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From Fox News
Mideast Leaders Go Home
Bush Remains Cautious
Israeli Minister Challenges Plan
Iraqi Journalist Gunned Down
Paper: Italian Journalist Alive
Rice Warns Iran of U.N. Action
Rice Revamps America's Image
Rice: NATO Not World's Police
Alleged Terror Leader Dies
Tsunami Aid Misuse Alleged
Another Laser in Cockpit

9/11 Prof Defiant
Ward Churchill says he wouldn't retract essay comparing WTC victims to Nazi war criminals

Click here for background information on the War on Terror.

From the Department of Defense
Air Force Provides Convoy Security
CAMP BULLIS, Texas, Feb. 8, 2005 — Air Force Master Sgt. William Chapman recently returned from Iraq and is now teaching his fellow airmen critical skills they'll need to conduct convoy security missions. It's a mission the Air Force hasn't carried out since Vietnam but took on again early in 2004 to help ease the burden on the Army and Marine Corps. Story

New Polish Commander Heads Division in Iraq
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2005 — Polish Maj. Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak took command of the Multinational Division Central South at Camp Echo in Diwanyiha Feb. 7. The division is responsible for the security and stabilization of southern portion of Iraq between Baghdad and Basra, including the provinces of Babil, Wasit, Karbala, Quadisiyah and Najaf. Story

U.S. Soldiers Rescue Two Kidnap Victims
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 8, 2005 — U.S. soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, stopped a vehicle they thought was suspicious Feb. 7 and when they searched the vehicle, inside the trunk, the soldiers found two blindfolded and bound men. Story

Arkansas Soldiers Attend School in Iraq
TAJI, Iraq, Feb. 8, 2005 — Instructors with the National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit’s Sniper School, located at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, in North Little Rock, Ark. recently traveled halfway around the world to Baghdad to coach students from, of all places…Arkansas. Story

Team Leaders Bid Farewell to Kirkuk Council
KIRKUK, Iraq, Feb. 8, 2005 — Second Brigade Combat Team leaders bid farewell to members of Kirkuk’s first provincial council inside the Kirkuk government building Feb. 3, concluding a successful Election Day in the province. Story

Afghan Academy Welcomes First Cadets
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 8, 2005 — On a snowy day in February, Afghanistan's first class of cadets reported for duty at the new National Military Academy Afghanistan. Story

'America’s Battalion' Takes Fight to Enemy
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Feb. 7, 2005 — “America’s Battalion,” 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, completed Operation Spurs this week as part of a combined Coalition and government of Afghanistan offensive against terrorist threats in Afghanistan during the winter months. Story

Iraqi Refugees Teach Fort Benning Soldiers
FORT BENNING, Ga., Feb. 7, 2005 — “I left Iraq because people from Saddam Hussein’s regime were always coming to my classes, watching me, insulting me and interrupting when I talked,” said Dr. Abbas Al-Kafagy, former professor at Basra University, who now teaches U.S. military personnel. Story

Marines Mark Reopening of Fallujah Schools
FALLUJAH, Iraq, Feb. 7, 2005 —U.S. Marines from the 4th Civil Affairs Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, marked the reopening of schools Feb. 5 in Fallujah by delivering school supplies to children, who returned to class for the first time since Operation Al Fajr was launched last November. Story

U.S. Troops Help Balad Council Organize, Plan
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PALIWODA, Iraq, Feb. 7, 2005 — Task Force Danger soldiers over the past year have helped the city council members of Balad build a solid infrastructure. Story

Chemist Helps Marines Survive Chemical Attacks
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Feb. 8, 2005 — Playing with chemicals has always been a passion of Lance Cpl. Peter W. Duffy. He never could have imagined that his love for chemistry in high school would bring him to Iraq, where he would use his interest in science to protect more than 1,000 Marines from chemical weapons. Story

Rumsfeld: 'America Supports You'
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2005 — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent heartfelt appreciation to U.S. servicemembers as part of Defense Department's "America Supports You" program and a reminder that the country is united behind its men and women in uniform. Story

Iraqi Security Forces Update
There are a total of 136,065 Iraqi security forces trained and equipped, senior defense officials said Feb. 4, 2005. About 79,000 serve in the Ministry of Interior Forces — police, civil intervention, emergency response, border enforcement, highway patrol, dignitary protection. Another 57,000 serve in the Ministryof Defense Forces — Army, National Guard, Intervention Force, Special Operations, Air Force and Coastal Defense Force.

Iraq Daily Update
Year in Review 2004 Fact Sheets (pdf)
Iraq Reconstruction
Weekly Progress Report (pdf)

Drugs, Weapons Seized
Afghans Appreciate U.S. Presence
Civil-Military Ops Make Strides
Afghanistan Daily Update

Rumsfeld Seeks Larger NATO Role
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Bush Sends Defense Budget to Hill
Budget Focus Includes Terror War
Pay Hike Among Budget Proposals
National Guard, Reserve Update

Back From Iraq -- and Suddenly Out on the Streets

By Alexandra Marks, The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK - Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are now showing up in the nation's homeless shelters.

While the numbers are still small, they're steadily rising, and raising alarms in both the homeless and veterans' communities. The concern is that these returning veterans - some of whom can't find jobs after leaving the military, others of whom are still struggling psychologically with the war - may be just the beginning of an influx of new veterans in need. Currently, there are 150,000 troops in Iraq and 16,000 in Afghanistan. More than 130,000 have already served and returned home.

So far, dozens of them, like Herold Noel, a married father of three, have found themselves sleeping on the streets, on friends' couches, or in their cars within weeks of returning home. Two years ago, Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) in the borough of Brooklyn, saw only a handful of recent returnees. Now the group is aiding more than 100 Iraq veterans, 30 of whom are homeless.

FULL STORY - from The Christian Science Monitor