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Monday, August 21, 2006

Farmers in Iraq Hold Elections to Select Board

An Iraqi man casts his vote during the Diyara Agricultural Union elections in Diyara, Iraq, Aug. 12, 2006. The 1,200 member union elected seven councilmen to decide the direction of the union, which will enable farmers in the southern Baghdad and northern Babil province region to make profits they haven't seen in years. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Michael Molinaro

The Diyara Agricultural Union held its first elections in the history of the program in Diyara, Iraq

By U.S. Army Cpl. Michael Molinaro

DIYARA, Iraq, Aug. 18, 2006 – The Diyara Agricultural Union held its first elections in the history of the program at the Diyara secondary school Aug. 12.

Farmers from the region voted for seven members to sit on the board of directors that will be depended upon to lead the union and its members into the future.

“They will decide the direction of the union and resource allocations in Diyara,” said Capt. Ben Simms, commander, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

The union is a means of resource for the more than 1,200 farmers in the southern Baghdad/northern Babil provincial region. It’s a program that enables them to buy seeds, tools, insecticides and other items at subsidized prices and earn profits previously not seen before, Simms said. They will also be able to make equipment trades with other farmers, making it a group effort to succeed.

The union was run by the Iraqi government during the Saddam regime. Things were handled by the Ministry of Agriculture, sometimes leaving the smaller individual farmer’s needs out in the cold as they tended to cater to those that would help stock markets in Baghdad, Saleh said. After the fall of the regime, the unions closed up.

“We had to rely on the government before,” said Saleh, a lifelong resident of Diyara. “Sometimes we would get things, sometimes we didn’t. There was no board to get our voice heard. The union allows all of us to work with each other and more importantly buy what we need much cheaper than before.”

Soldiers from 2-8 Inf. saw the union as a way of getting the farmers back on their feet and being able to conduct business for themselves. Agriculture is the primary means of business in this part of Iraq and more than 4,000 people from the region depend on it to keep fed and clothed. By using a more democratic approach, the union will run more like a business than a government subsidy, Simms said.

Soldiers from 2-8 Inf. donated fertilizer and other consumables to the union so the farmers had something to work with, “start-up cash,” as Simms described it. After that, it will be up to those elected to set the prices for the farmers to buy their items and get things rolling at the union.

“We will be there to help them run it in the beginning, make sure the bookkeeping is kept straight and help with projects to give them a better office and storage space to work out of,” Simms remarked. “We’ll oversee the initial meetings, but over time we will be less and less a part of it.”

A Sunni was elected president and three Shia’s were voted to the other top positions, defining the diversity of the board and representing the demographics of the region. The board will be tasked to keep the union solvent and with a high voter turnout and the enthusiasm witnessed in the faces of the farmers, hope is prevalent in the area.

“We love what we do and are good farmers,” one resident said moments after voting. “Now we will rely on each other to give our families better lives and make this area what it once was.”

A representative from the Ministry of Agriculture validates the results of elections held in Diyara, Iraq, Aug. 12, 2006. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Michael Molinaro

Navigating Basra, one day at a time

Sitting down together: Maintaining friendly contact with community leaders at a human level is important. Ministry of Defence photo by Harland Quarrington.

Sunday, 20 August 2006
By Roy Bacon

BASRA — The senior British Soldier in Basra says progress towards stability in the region is slowed by complex tribal loyalties, but hostility is not universal and commerce can help.

As commander of the 20th Armoured Brigade, Brig. James Everard can be seen as the most powerful tribal leader in southern Iraq. In a country where weapons win more arguments than debate, the troops under his control earn him great respect. But Everard prefers to use diplomacy, dialogue and training to achieve lasting success.

In an office at Basra Air Station, among maps, books on guerrilla warfare and an Aladdin’s lamp -- he says he has resisted the temptation to bring out the genie -- the Brigadier explained the challenge of bringing disparate groups together for the greater good of the community.

"You have to remember that we’re very different from Baghdad,” he said. "There’s no-one here who wants to overturn the government. They just want a bigger slice of political power and the trappings that go with it."

That does not mean the security situation is resolved. People are murdered on the streets, victims of tribal feuds, religious sectarianism, terrorism or simple criminal activity. And there's no doubt things have got more difficult recently.

Everard admits his troops are now far more cautious when moving around the area then when they first arrived. But he also said there is less need for British soldiers to be on the streets, because Iraq's own police and military are doing much more of the work.

So what is it like walking around Basra city these days?

"It's a bit like going to a football match in England wearing the wrong shirt. If you catch the mood right, people don't see anything wrong with you. If you catch the mood wrong, you could be in trouble very quickly," Everard explained.

Regardless of who is doing the policing, a solution to the power struggles and violence will demand far more than shows of force.

"The solution is a political one," said Everard. "What you need is a government in Iraq which is going to give a lead of clear determination, strength and moral validity. And we need them to establish boundaries. There are people down here who simply don't see themselves as beholden to the rule of law."

"You find someone who's very good, and you invest in him heavily, but he's recognized as very good, and then taken elsewhere. You can imagine the frustration for a unit which spent six months building up a cohesive police station around the chief of police and his key deputy who are on-side, progressive and helpful. Then you go in one day to find they've both been promoted and taken to Baghdad.”

Such complications take on added significance in dealing with the tribal structure.

"Links are everything," explained Everard. "If you're a politician your loyalty will be to your political party. But you'll also be loyal to your tribe, and, through marriages, have secondary loyalties to other tribes.

"We're always slightly surprised when people are reluctant to make what we would deem a quick or logical decision, and it’s often because, although they know what the decision is going to achieve, they have to work out what the impact is going to be in terms of tribe, politics and wealth."

He compared Iraq to his experience in the Balkans, where the prevailing warlord culture meant any compromise was seen as weakness.

"People haven't been exposed to the way democracy is meant to work. It’s a question of dialogue, consensus, compromise, and the powerful respecting the rights of the minority. But there are an awful lot of people who really don’t get it at all."

And while winning the battle for minds is essential, the methods used are not ideological - they are very practical bread-and-butter ones, he said.

"Through the Provincial Reconstruction Teams and other structures we’re trying to tempt inward investment and get employment-generating commerce off the ground. We recognize that many of the people who are picking up guns are young, unemployed and bored, and therefore ripe for recruitment into some of these (insurgent) organizations."

There has been concrete progress in some areas.

Everard views the handing back of Muthanna province to Iraqi control as highly significant, and predicted that Dhi Qar and Maysan provinces could be handed back by the end of the year. That, he said, raises the question of what to do with the resources freed up by the process.

"The big decision people will have to make in the future is whether to take your dividend elsewhere, or to reinvest it. The temptation will be to put those troops elsewhere. But actually, if you're going to finish this off, you ought to reinvest them here."

Everard is under no illusions about the difference he can make during his brief time in charge.

"It's a long-term game," he said. "You come down here wanting to change the world. But you realize that your seven months is part of a much larger game plan. If you can make your slice of the Iraqi Army or the Border Enforcement Agency or the Police better and stronger, that's job done. That's achievement."

British soldiers on patrol interact with the Iraqi locals. Ministry of Defence photo by Harland Quarrington.The Iraqi Police force -- an essential element in restoring civil order -- is generally viewed as less reliable than the Iraqi Army, and the multi-national force has worked hard to train its leadership. But Everard said that success creates its own difficulties.

HOME INSPECTION — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Steele, from 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, leads a house raid in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 11, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jonathan F. Doti

IA training creates better Soldiers

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division participate in a training course to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at Forward Operating Base Gabe near Baqubah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, August 16, 2006)

August 18, 2006
SR# 081806-142

by Pfc. Paul J. Harris
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

BAQUBAH, Iraq (August 17, 2006) -- Gunfire rings out followed by sharp commands in Arabic. Iraqi Soldiers stack against the barriers like pieces in a puzzle and attempt to clear the adjoining room. It is this close quarter’s marksmanship training that makes the Iraqi Soldier better.

Iraqi Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division completed a month-long training course Aug. 16. The course was taught by U.S. Special Forces and the Military Transition Team Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Gabe.

"A democracy needs good fighters and good Soldiers, especially in an area like Baqubah," said Gen. Samon Talabany, commander, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, who was at FOB Gabe to see his Soldiers progress.

Talabany said he was happy with the training coalition forces provided and did not think there were many units in Iraq that got this type of help.

The training focuses on close quarter’s marksmanship and basic movement techniques similar to training U.S. Soldiers receive in basic training.

"It was not too hard as long as you paid attention and kept your head in the training," said a 2nd Brigade Iraqi Soldier after receiving his certificate of completion.

The Soldier said he will take this information and teach it to the other Soldiers in his unit.

"When a Soldier finishes the training you can see the change in him," Talabany said. "Every month they are training one company from the brigade. They are doing very well and are extremely professional."

The reason for this training is to get Iraqi Soldiers to become a cohesive unit. The Soldiers are proficient at fighting; but the fundamentals of communication and movement that U.S. Soldiers learn in basic training were not taught to the Iraqi Soldiers until now.

"A large percentage of the guys in 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division were (Iraqi) National Guard and they received no basic training," said Lt. Col. Frank Muggeo, Military Transition Team leader for 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers. "They were on the street, they gave them a gun and they have been fighting for a couple of years without any of the training we would have gone through."

Though it was like starting from scratch, Muggeo, along with Talabany, is pleased with the way the training has enhanced the skills of the Iraqi Soldiers.

"They go back to the unit as a platoon as opposed to a bunch of guys," Muggeo said. "I think the transformation of the brigade has been magnificent."

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division fire at paper targets simulating enemy forces during a training course monitored by Iraqi officials and U.S. military advisors to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at Forward Operating Base Gabe near Baqubah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, August 16, 2006)

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division sprint from a room they just cleared to the next objective during a training course to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at Forward Operating Base Gabe near Baqubah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, August 16, 2006)

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division dismount their truck and prepare to storm a house during a training course to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at Forward Operating Base Gabe near Baqubah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, August 16, 2006)

A Soldier from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division pulls guard in front of a truck as his fellow Soldiers storm a house during a training course to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at Forward Operating Base Gabe near Baqubah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, August 16, 2006)

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin K. Thomas
August 17, 2006
The 3rd U.S. Infantry’s U.S. Army Drill Team executes precision drill movements during a festival at Fort Eustis, Va.

In Today's News - Monday, August 21, 2006

Quote of the Day
"They've got us surrounded again, the poor bastards."
-- General Creighton W. Abrams (for whom the M1 is named),
during the Battle of the Bulge

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraq Snipers Kill 20, Injure 300 at Shiite Religious Rally
Hussein on Trial for Genocide in '88 Offensive Against Kurds

Operation Enduring Freedom
A-10 Thunderbolts Surge for Afghan Offensive

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Police: 'Substantial Material' Found in British Terror Probe

Troops on Trial
Recruiters Cited for Misconduct
Marine Denies Involvement in Cover-up

Other Military News
Two Coast Guard Divers Drown
Iwo Jima Photographer Dies

Mid-East Ceasefire
Mideast Peacekeeping Plan Hits Snag
Annan condemns new Israeli raid
Protests over Hamas arrest
UN envoys fear truce may unravel - Video
Olmert asks Italy to lead UN force
Lebanon warns against inciting Israel
Israel Outlines ConditionsFor Int'l Peacekeepers

Immigration / Border Control
New Jersey protestors clash over illegal immigration

Worldwide Wackos
Iran to Offer 'Multifaceted Response' to Nuke Package- Iran Tests Missile
Ayatollah: Iran Will Continue Pursuing Nuclear Technology
Germany Wants 'Solid Answer'

Politics / Government
Lieberman Calls for Rumsfeld to Resign Amid Dem Attacks
Lieberman insists he is "devoted" Democrat
Kerry Raps Lieberman on War
Sen. Hagel says GOP has lost its way

U.N. News
Arabs to UN: Give Sudan more time on Darfur

Mother Nature
Spike Lee's Katrina film will air on HBO
Katrina refugees scattered across U.S.
More rain on the way in flooded Alaska

The women feel bad, but the guys must feel worse
Are you SURE you want to remove that?

Other News of Note
JonBenet Suspect Flies Home in Style
Man who confessed to 6-year-old's murder returns to U.S. - Video
Gunman Shoots 4 Police Officers at Texas Standoff
US facing wave of murders and gun violence

Fox News
Investigators Find Up to 6 Bodies Buried on Mo. Farm
Train Crash in Egypt Kills 51
Fifty Years Later, Town Marks School's Desegregation
Tiger Wins 12th Major
Stocks to Watch: Bob Evans
'Snakes' Tops Box Office

Reuters: Top News
Ethiopia relocates 16,000 marooned
Tight Chiapas vote adds to Mexico political crisis
Gunfights as Congo heads for presidential run-off
"Red Devil" squid, jellyfish point to ocean upsets
Food, biofuels could worsen water shortages: report
Guinea cholera deaths reach 143
Stones back on track
"Snakes on a Plane" fails to charm moviegoers
DexCom patent case on hold, shares soar
Contrarians betting on eBay
China rate hike to hurt stocks, bonds
Chile's Escondida mine makes union a new offer
Anglo American facing break-up bid: paper
Best option for Bristol-Myers may be new CEO
VW Mexico strike talks suspended indefinitely
Show & tell your kids about debt
Investors must seek value among chemical stocks

AP World News
Man confesses to killing 7 in Missouri
Calif. woman's gas survey a bellweather
Federline raps, and he's not half bad
Elvis pal's book shows King's human side
6-foot-8 Little Leaguer towers over foes
First Prempro suit goes to trial in Ark.
Could a blimp improve communications?
Minorities seek history class changes
Kenseth outruns Jeff Gordon for victory
Universities aim to avoid 'Freshman 15'
Japan expecting flood of new lawyers
Homeless youths throng Congo's cities
Bill targets state food label warnings
Ozone-friendly chemicals lead to warming
Bolts Swapped; Shuttle Schedule Stays on Track
At Guantanamo, Caught in a Legal Trap
How Much Risk Will We Take?
Al Qaeda Link?
Cold War Missiles Target of Blackout

CENTCOM: News Releases






Initial trial of Urban Resolve 2015 wraps up - podcast
Web-based system helping the joint warfighter with intelligence situational awareness

Department of Defense
Freedom Has Brought Hope to Many - Story
For Top News Visit DefenseLink

Iraqi Police Receive Protective Vests - Story

Iraqi, Coalition Squelch Violence in Ameriya
Iraqi Brigade Takes Lead in Mahmudiyah
Winning Hearts, Minds With a Medical Project
More Police in Iraqi Town Increases Security
Securing Baghdad No Short-term Operation

Chief Master Sgt. Praises Afghan Progress
Security Forces ‘Fly Away’ to Support Mission

Renewal In Iraq
Iraq: Security, Stability
Fact Sheet: Progress and Work Ahead
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq
Multinational Force Iraq
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (PDF)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Weekly Reconstruction Report (PDF)
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Update

Fact Sheet: Budget Request
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut
An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


Today in History
1831 - Nat Turner's slave revolt kills 55 in Southampton County, VA.
1841 - John Hampson patents the venetian blind.
1858 - Illinois hosts the first Lincoln-Douglas debate.
1878 - The American Bar Association organizes in Saratoga, NY.
1945 - President Truman ends the Lend-Lease program.
1959 - Hawaii becomes the 50th U.S. state.
1963 - Martial law is declared in South Vietnam.
1968 - After five years, Russia once begins jamming the "Voice of America" radio program; at 12:50 a.m., Radio Prague announces the Soviet-led invasion of that country.
1972 - The U.S. launches the Copernicus orbiting astronomy observatory.
1982 - Palestinian terrorists are dispersed from Beirut after Israel invades.
1987 - Clayton Lonetree is convicted - the first U.S. Marine to be court-martialed for spying.
1989 - Voyager-2 begins a flyby of the planet Neptune.
1991 - In the U.S.S.R., a Communist coup is crushed after 2 days.
2017 - The date of the next total solar eclipse visible from North America.

1165 - King Philip II Augustus of France (1179-1223)
1660 - Hubert Gautier, engineer, wrote the first book on bridge building
1765 - King William IV of England (1830-37)
1890 - Bill Henry, newscaster (Who Said That?)
1906 - William "Count" Basie, jazz pianist; Friz Freleng, animator (Bugs Bunny-Emmy 1982)
1909 - C. Dillon Douglas, U.S. Secretary of Treasury (1961-65)
1923 - Chris Schenkel, sportscaster (Monday Night Fights)
1930 - Princess Margaret of England (Queen Elizabeth's sister)
1951 - Harry Smith, TV host (CBS Morning Show)

1971 - George Jackson, Black Panther, murdered
1982 - Benigno "Ninoy" Simeon Aquino, Jr., Philippines opposition leader, assassinated

Reported Missing in Action
Johnson, James R., US Army (IN); drowned when he fell in river while crossing bridge, Killed, body not recovered

Budd, Leonard R., Jr., USMC (MA); released by DRV March, 1973 - alive as of 1998

Buckley, Jimmy L., USN (IA); A6A shot down (pilot, w/Flynn), PRG returned ashes December, 1975

Eby, Robert G., Civilian; presumed killed in plane crash

Flynn, Robert J., (MN); (w/Buckley) released by China - alive and well as of 1998

Guenthre, Harry, Civilian (Germany); Communications Engineer in Saigon, killed in plane crash

Hardman, William M., USN (WV); A6A shot down (w/Profilet), released by DRV march, 1973 - alive as of 1998

Morrill, Merwin L., USAF (CA); F105D shot down, remains recovered June, 1983 (Morrill's brother David was also KIA in Vietnam - USMC, KIA 6/18/67)

Profilet, Leo T., USN (IL); A6A shot down (w/Hardman), released by DRV March, 1973 - alive and well as of 1998

Powell, Lynn K., USAF (UT); F105D shot down, remains recovered June, 1983

Scott, Dain V., USN (PA); A6A shot down (bombadier / navigator, w/Trembley)

Trembley, Jay F., USN (WA); A6A shot down (pilot, w/Scott)