Saturday, June 16, 2007

Combat Camera: On Deployment with the USS Nimitz

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PERSIAN GULF (June 6, 2007) - Aircraft line the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in Global War on Terror. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice David L. Smart (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 7, 2007) - Lt. Matthew Sklerov watches from the pilothouse as an E-2C Hawkeye, assigned to the "Wallbangers" of Carrier Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117, performs a touch-and-go aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice David L. Smart (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 7, 2007) - Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Christopher Nez and Jonathan Bellamy stand watch on the flight deck of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jake Berenguer (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 8, 2007) - Two F/A-18E Super Hornets from the "Tophatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14 move into position on the waist catapults during flight operations as the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) steams alongside nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristen Allen (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 8, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Sunliners" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 prepares to launch during flight operations aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristen Allen (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 11, 2007) - Airman Matt Nagurny and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class William Mikell clean an M61A1 Vulcan 20mm rotary cannon in preparation for installation on an F/A-18C Hornet aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew C. Haws (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 8, 2007) - Sailors participate in a group physical training session in the hangar bay aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice David L. Smart (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 11, 2007) - Sailors and Marines exercise during command physical training in the hangar bay of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eduardo Zaragoza (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 9, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Sunliners" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 prepares to land on the flight deck of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice David L. Smart (RELEASED)

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Combat Camera: React to Contact

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Pfc. Mike Cieslak, of Chicago, Ill., an infantryman with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, scans the surrounding area for a sniper after hearing shots fired while out on a patrol in Baghdad's volatile Adhamiyah neighborhood June 6, 2007. Photographer: Sgt. Michael Pryor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

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Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment try to get positive identification on a possible sniper after hearing shots fired while out on a patrol in Baghdad's volatile Adhamiyah neighborhood June 6, 2007.Photographer: Sgt. Michael Pryor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

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Sgt. Derrick Jorcke (foreground), of Charlotte, N.C., and Pfc. Mike Cieslak, of Chicago, Ill., scan the surrounding area for a sniper after hearing shots fired in their direction while out on a patrol in Baghdad's volatile Adhamiyah neighborhood June 6. Jorcke and Cieslak are with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. Photographer: Sgt. Michael Pryor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

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Pfc. Mike Cieslak, of Chicago, Ill., an infantryman with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, scans the surrounding area for a sniper after hearing shots fired while out on a patrol in Baghdad's volatile Adhamiyah neighborhood June 6, 2007. Photographer: Sgt. Michael Pryor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Combat Camera: On Deployment with the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group

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PERSIAN GULF (June 6, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 breaks out of formation high above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) prior to landing on the flight deck. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is participating in Expeditionary Strike Force Exercises consisting of three Strike Groups; the John C. Stennis Strike Group, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Wagner (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 12, 2007) - Sailors from Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) enjoy a camel trek as part of a day safari tour during a port visit in a Middle East. Stennis Sailors enjoyed several tours and activities provided by Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) and United Service Organization (USO) during the six-day port visit. John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in support of maritime operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Heidi J. Giacalone (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 4, 2007) - Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Bryan stands by a .50 caliber machine gun mount on an HH-60H Seahawk attached to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 8 during an exercise that tests the strike group's ability to defend itself against small boat attacks. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is participating in Expeditionary Strike Force Exercise consisting of three Strike Groups; the John C. Stennis Strike Group, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and the Bonhomme Richards Expeditionary Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Josue Leopoldo Escobosa (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 4, 2007) - Seaman Kevin Bruton, from the visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88), prepares to pick up the rest of the VBSS team after they complete the boarding of a local tugboat in the Arabian Gulf. USS Preble is conducting Interaction Patrols (IPATS). IPATS are an element of maritime operations and are conducted in Iraqi territorial waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region. Preble is part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves (RELEASED)

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ARABIAN SEA (June 3, 2007) - Sailors from Helicopter Squadron Combatant (HSC) 23 attach a hook to the bottom of an SH-60 Seahawk during a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Bridge conducted underway replenishments and VERTREPs with nine U.S. Navy ships June 1-3. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua Cassatt (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 3, 2007) - Lt. j.g. Tom Hennessey, officer in charge of guided-missile destroyer USS Preble's (DDG 88) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team, contacts Preble to receive permission to return to the ship while an Iraqi coalition VBSS team follows close behind. Preble is conducting Interaction Patrols (IPATS), which are an element of maritime operations and are conducted in Iraqi territorial waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region. Preble, as part of John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is conducting maritime operations in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 2, 2007) - Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Shane Cooper inspects the inside of a jet engine after installing fuel sprayers on a jet engine's afterburner system in the jet engine shop aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Fuel sprayers inject added fuel into the engine acting as an igniter for the afterburners in the jet engine. John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is conducting operations in support of the global war on terrorism and is participating in an Expeditionary Strike Force Exercise consisting of three Strike Groups: John C. Stennis Strike Group, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and Bonhomme Richards Expeditionary Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 3, 2007) - Visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team member Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Kim Ditzel, attached to the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88), patrols in the ship's rigid hull inflatable boat. Interaction Patrols (IPATS) are an element of maritime operations and are conducted in Iraqi territorial waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region. Preble, as part of John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is conducting maritime operations in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 5, 2007) - Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Baldwin-Voeks (left) and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Juan Guedea both assigned to the Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) transport medical supplies from Stennis to the amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9) as part of a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Exercise in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Hyde (RELEASED)

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PERSIAN GULF (June 3, 2007) - Visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team member Enginemen 3rd Class Blain Churchill, attached to the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88), drives a rigid hull inflatable boat across the Persian Gulf during an afternoon of Interaction Patrols (IPATS). IPATS are an element of maritime operations and are conducted in Iraqi territorial waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region. Preble, as part of John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is conducting maritime operations in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves (RELEASED)

USS John C. Stennis Returns to OEF Missions Following Port Visit

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea, June 15, 2007 -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 returned to the North Arabian Sea June 14 following its third port visit in the Middle East.

Starting June 15, CVW-9 will conduct missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and will provide close air-power support and reconnaissance to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops on the ground in Afghanistan. ISAF is comprised of more than 35,000 troops, with contributions from 37 nations.

“We have met every operational commitment assigned to perfection and have maintained a level of operational readiness second to none,” said Stennis’ Commanding Officer, Capt. Brad Johanson. “Our support to the troops on the ground has made a decisive difference in the region.”

As a Combined Forces Air Component Command (CFACC) asset, CVW-9 integrates closely with multinational coalition forces to prevent and counter Taliban attacks. Carrier aircraft provide close air-power support and deliver ordnance on enemy positions designated by ground forces.

“CVW-9 will be providing a variety of effects, both kinetic and non-kinetic,” said Capt. Sterling Gilliam, commander, CVW-9. “We will be tasked with close air support, reconnaissance and other tactical missions while operating in support of OEF.”

Since arriving in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, CVW-9 has flown over 9,000 hours and has provided more than 65,000 pounds of ordnance in support of coalition forces operating on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq in approximately 200 engagements.

“Throughout our time here on station we have defeated time and time again the Taliban's efforts to launch significant offensive campaigns,” said Johanson. “As we continue to support troops on the ground in Afghanistan we revalidate the importance of coalition forces in bringing stability and security to this critical region.”

Stennis and its strike group entered the Arabian Gulf May 23, along with the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group and the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group.

While operating in the Arabian Gulf, the three strike groups performed Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) training along with conducting missions in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). It was the first time Stennis, Nimitz and Bonhomme Richard strike groups operated together in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

The ESF training demonstrated the importance of the strike groups’ ability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations as part of the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in the region.

Stennis left its homeport of Bremerton, Wash., Jan. 16 for a regularly scheduled deployment and began operating with coalition forces in 5th Fleet Feb. 19. The USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) has provided direct support to coalition ground forces participating in OEF and OIF, as well as conducting maritime operations.

Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists the use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

The CVW-9 squadrons include the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, “Blue Diamonds” of VFA 146, “Argonauts” of VFA 147, “Death Rattlers” of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 323, “Yellow Jackets” of Electronic Attack Squadron 138, “Golden Hawks” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, “Topcats” of Sea Control Squadron 31, “Eightballers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 8 and “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30.

JCSSG includes Stennis, CVW-9, Destroyer Squadron 21, USS Antietam (CG 54), the guided-missile destroyers USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and USS Preble (DDG 88) and the fast combat-support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10). More than 6,500 Sailors and Marines are assigned to JCSSG.

(Story by Lt. Nathan Christensen, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, USS John C. Stennis.)

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Update: Irresponsible Partisanship Damages Military

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid

Open thread:

UPDATE:
The Washington Post notes, when asked about reports of his disparaging remarks about General Pace, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid did not confirm the use of the word 'incompetent" to describe the general when talking with liberal bloggers, but he did not appear to dispute it, either. He said he told Pace "to his face" that "I felt that he has not done a very good job in speaking out for some obvious things that weren't going right in Iraq." Asked if he thought General Petraeus was incompetent, the senator said, "No, not as far as I'm concerned."

How can Reid, whose life revolves within the beltway -- sharing an orbit with liberal bloggers, lobbyists, and other Capitol Hill parasites -- beg to know more about things going on in Iraq than the military commander who has lived breathed nothing else since Congress approved his appointment?

ORIGINAL POST:
It's ironic on the 232nd birthday of the U.S. Army that the mainstream media finally decides it's time to report that the military has become the latest pawns in an increasingly virulent brand of partisan politics infecting Washington.

It's also a testament to the complicit relationship shared by the mainstream media and liberals that ongoing political targeting of the military has been largely under-reported, if not outright ignored. This isn't anything new, however. Recall Rep. John Murtha's anti-war rants or Sen. John Kerry's remarks about the state of the military. Just how IS it possible to support the troops without supporting the mission?

The difference now is that the attacks have become personal.

In any event, The Associated Press reports a Democratic challenge to Gen. Peter Pace indicates that uniformed officers no longer are exempt from the partisan fire on Capitol Hill once reserved for civilian policymakers.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the stunning announcement that he would not recommend Pace to serve a second two-year term as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Marine Corps four-star general had not been a target previously of Democrats' ire on the war, but Gates said lawmakers made it clear the confirmation process would be ugly.
John Bresnahan, writing at The Politico observed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Pace, "incompetent" during an interview Tuesday with a group of liberal bloggers, a comment that was never reported.

The Politico also notes that Reid made similar disparaging remarks about Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said several sources familiar with the interview.

This is but the latest example of how Reid, under pressure from liberal activists to do more to stop the war, is going on the attack against President Bush and his military leaders in anticipation of a September showdown to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, according to Democratic senators and aides.
Although House members lack the power to confirm military officers, they appear willing to break from the tradition of not criticizing the military leadership. Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher said Wednesday she thought Pace was guilty of a dereliction of duty because of his support for President Bush's Iraq policy.

Tauscher, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Pace lost standing among members in March when he said homosexual acts were immoral and that the military should not condone the behavior by allowing gays to serve openly. He later apologized, including in a personal letter to Tauscher, for expressing what he said were his personnel views.

It's also ironic that liberal Democrats would demonize Pace for supporting a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military -- a policy that was championed by Former President Democrat Bill Clinton.

In the final analysis, observers say it all boils down to the partisan struggle for power in Washington:

Reid, who [said] that the Iraq war was "lost," is lashing out at top commanders while putting the finishing touches on a plan to force a series of votes on Iraq designed exclusively to make Republicans up for reelection in 2008 go on record in favor of continuing an unpopular war.

Reid, the senators and aides said, does not expect any of the Iraq measures to pass but hopes the effort will drive a deep enough wedge between wavering Republicans and Bush that, by September, Republican senators will break with the president and help end the war.
In the midst of a war it's irresponsible for Congressional leaders to publicly attack those in the military who are charged with defending the nation from terrorists but who cannot at the same time defend themselves from the partisan manoeuvres of elected politicians. While Sen. Reid's behavior risks instilling a cancerous, demoralizing effect on the troops, there can be no doubt that his comments only serve to coarsen an already contentious dialogue on the Hill and ultimately demeans Congress as an institution.

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Combat Camera: Marine Tankers Patrol Main Supply Routes

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 prep their M1A1 Abrahms Tank before heading out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah Iraq on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - A M1A1 Abrams Tank with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 patrols the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah, Iraq on June 5th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Cpl. Ryan S. Lebat from Kansas City, Miss. with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 preps his M1A1 Abrahms Tank before heading out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah Iraq on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi Security Forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 prep their M1A1 Abrahms Tank before heading out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah Iraq on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti Coalition Force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Jonathan L. Rodriguez from Marietta, Ga. with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 performs a final inspection on his M1A1 Abrahms Tank before heading out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah Iraq on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 prep their M1A1 Abrahms Tank before heading out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah Iraq on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. (Official USMC photograph by Cpl. Samuel D. Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center)

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 prepare to head out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah, Iraq in their High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicle on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. (Official USMC photograph by Cpl. Samuel D. Corum) (Released)

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 prepare to head out to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah, Iraq in their M1A1 Abrahms Tank on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 depart the staging area to patrol the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah, Iraq in their M1A1 Abrahms Tank on June 6th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of Anti- coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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FALLUJAH, Iraq - A M1A1 Abrahms Tank with 2d Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6 patrols the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah, Iraq on June 5th, 2007. The Marines with 2d Tank Battalion are tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of anti-coalition force activity. Regimental Combat Team 6 is deployed with Multi National Forces-West in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi reconstruction. Photographer: Cpl. Samuel Corum, Joint Combat Camera Center

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Combat Camera: "Haifa Street Project” Rocks FOB Prosperity

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Guitarist, 2nd Lt. J.P. Hare from Oakland, Calif., and bassist, Spc. Stephanie Gould from Naples, Fla., both members of the “Haifa Street Project,” practice at the FOB Prosperity Chapel June 8. The band is made up of five Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They are practicing for their upcoming fourth of July debut concert. Photographer: Spc. Robert Yde, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

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Drummer, Spc. Zak Deckard from Bloomington, Ind., and bassist, Spc. Stephanie Gould from Naples, Fla., both members of the “Haifa Street Project,” practice at the FOB Prosperity Chapel June 8. The band is made up of five Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They are practicing for their upcoming fourth of July debut concert. Photographer: Spc. Robert Yde, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

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Members of the “Haifa Street Project,” keyboardist, Capt. Jason Lewis from Santa Barbara, Calif., guitarist, 2nd Lt. JP Hare from Oakland, Calif., bassist, Spc. Stephanie Gould from Naples, Fla., and drummer, Spc. Zak Deckard from Bloomington, Ind., practice at the FOB Prosperity Chapel June 8. The band is made up of five Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They are practicing for their upcoming fourth of July debut concert. Photographer: Spc. Robert Yde, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

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Members of the “Haifa Street Project,” guitarist, 2nd Lt. J.P. Hare from Oakland Calif., bassist, Spc. Stephanie Gould from Naples, Fla., and drummer, Zak Deckard from Bloomington, Ind., practice at Forward Operating Base Prosperity’s Chapel, June 8, in central Baghdad. The band is made up of five Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They are practicing for their upcoming fourth of July debut concert. Photographer: Spc. Robert Yde, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

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Members of the “Haifa Street Project,” drummer, Spc. Zak Deckard from Bloomington, Ind., bassist, Spc. Stephanie Gould from Naples, Fla., guitarist, 2nd Lt. J.P. Hare from Oakland, Calif., leader singer, Capt. Patrick Miller from Buffalo, N.Y., and keyboardist, Capt. Jason Lewis from Santa Barbara, Calif., practice at the FOB Prosperity Chapel June 8. The band is made up of five Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They are practicing for their upcoming fourth of July debut concert. Photographer: Spc. Robert Yde, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

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Members of the “Haifa Street Project,” lead singer, Capt. Patrick Miller from Buffalo, N.Y., guitarist, 2nd Lt. J.P. Hare from Oakland, Calif., and drummer, Spc. Zak Deckard from Bloomington, Ind., practice at the FOB Prosperity Chapel June 8. The band is made up of five Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They are practicing for their upcoming fourth of July debut concert. Photographer: Spc. Robert Yde, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

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Combat Camera: Haifa Street Project Concert

‘Haifa Street Project’ Set to Debut 4th of July
By Sgt. Robert Yde
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
06.14.2007


FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – When most Soldiers with the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division hear the name, “Haifa Street Project,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is the brigade’s ongoing work to restore the former battleground in Baghdad’s city center. However, within the brigade there is another Haifa Street Project that has recently begun and is hoping to make a name for itself.

“We were just sitting around and somebody said, ‘Haifa Street Project,’ and it was just like, that’s perfect,” Capt. Jason Lewis, the brigade’s civil affairs officer said.

Lewis and four other Soldiers have recently formed a band and adopted the civic project’s name as their own.

“We have an ongoing Haifa Street Project in the Karkh District right now that’s a really big deal,” the Santa Barbara, Calif. native explained. “We just felt like that’s a project, and we’re a project; they’re growing, we’re growing, and so we named the band that.

“Plus we get duel publicity,” he added. “Our own and every time somebody mentions Haifa Street, you don’t know if they’re talking about the band or the street project in Karkh.”

The original idea to form a band while in Baghdad started back at Fort Hood, Texas, with guitarist, 2nd Lt. J.P. Hare who is with Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment and lead singer, Capt. Patrick Miller who is with the 5-6th Military Transition Team. At the time, both Soldiers were with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion and assumed they would be living at the same base.

“At the last second I got thrown onto the MiTT at Prosperity [FOB Prosperity] while [Hare] was at Falcon,” explained Miller, a Buffalo, N.Y., native. “So, it never really came to fruition.”

While at FOB Falcon, Hare started playing with two other Soldiers: bassist, Spc. Stephanie Gould who was also with the 15th BSB, and drummer, Spc. Zak Deckard, who was with one of the Black Jack Brigade’s attached units, 1st Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment. In March, both the 15th BSB and 1-14th Cavalry relocated to the International Zone, and Hare and Miller were able to pick up with their original plan of forming a band.

“We ended up coming here to Prosperity, and we were all able to come back together with Capt. Miller and Capt. Lewis, and now we’re ready to rock the IZ,” Naples, Fla., native Gould said.

All of the Soldiers said they have been involved with music for quite sometime, and most of them have played in other bands before.

“J.P.’s been in numerous bands in California, and I’ve been in a few bands,” Miller said. “The last time I was deployed to Iraq, I was in a band, and we toured around the Green Zone. It’s just something we love doing.”

For Lewis, however, this is his first stint in a band, and he said that so far he’s enjoyed the experience.

“It’s awesome. I love music,” he said. “I did play in one of the church services, but it’s a little different flavor now – a little different music. It’s very loud, and I’m kind of an older guy, so if I lose my hearing, then, oh well, it’s for a good purpose.”

Since forming about a month ago, the Haifa Street Project tries to find time to practice about 10 hours a week, usually in the evening at the Prosperity Chapel.

“We’re very passionate toward what we’re doing because it’s very time consuming,” Miller said. “We work on top of this, too. So it’s hard to find the time to come here to the chapel at a reasonable hour and not wake people up.You’ve really got to want to do it to be able to do it.”

Although it can be difficult for all five Soldiers to find the time to get together, Lewis said that the time he is able to spend playing music is worth it.

“You just blow off steam,” Lewis said. “All we do is work and focus on military activities and operations and missions. That’s our primary job over here, but if I can get an hour to blow off some steam and play with the guys then I love doing that.”

The band hopes to help other Soldiers blow off some steam on the fourth of July when the Haifa Street Project makes their debut with an outdoor concert at Prosperity.

“It’s going to rock,” Gould said of their upcoming concert. “We’re really looking forward to it. We’ve been practicing hard. We’re playing songs that everyone knows and everyone’s familiar with. We’re just going to play and have a good time and just enjoy it.”

The music is primarily mainstream alternative, which all the band members, with the exception of Lewis, said is what they listen to.

“That’s all them,” Lewis said. “If I had my choice we’d be playing all Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but I couldn’t even get the Bee Gees in there. I’ve got to go with the band, though.”

Along with practicing several times a week for their upcoming concert, the band has been busy advertising their concert by printing and posting up flyers all over Prosperity and throughout the International Zone.

“There’s a lot of time, money and effort going into it, and we’ve got a lot of people supporting it,” Miller said. “I have no idea what to expect, but whether it’s 700 people or it’s 30 people, we’re going to play the same. It’s going to be a good show.”

Based on how their first show goes, Miller said he hopes that the band will be able to play at other venues around the IZ and possibly Baghdad.

“Nothing is set in stone right now,” Miller said. “But we plan on playing at Freedom Rest. The embassy’s got a little auditorium and just around the Green Zone, or even outside the Green Zone at different FOBs. There’s a lot of logistics involved getting there, but who knows, we’re open to whatever and we’ll just take one step at a time. Right now we’re just looking forward to the Fourth.”
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Irresponsible Partisanship Damages Military

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid

Open thread:

It's ironic on the 232nd birthday of the U.S. Army that the mainstream media finally decides it's time to report that the military has become the latest pawns in an increasingly virulent brand of partisan politics infecting Washington.

It's also a testament to the complicit relationship shared by the mainstream media and liberals that ongoing political targeting of the military has been largely under-reported, if not outright ignored. This isn't anything new, however. Recall Rep. John Murtha's anti-war rants or Sen. John Kerry's remarks about the state of the military. Just how IS it possible to support the troops without supporting the mission?

The difference now is that the attacks have become personal.

In any event, The Associated Press reports a Democratic challenge to Gen. Peter Pace indicates that uniformed officers no longer are exempt from the partisan fire on Capitol Hill once reserved for civilian policymakers.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the stunning announcement that he would not recommend Pace to serve a second two-year term as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Marine Corps four-star general had not been a target previously of Democrats' ire on the war, but Gates said lawmakers made it clear the confirmation process would be ugly.
John Bresnahan, writing at The Politico observed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Pace, "incompetent" during an interview Tuesday with a group of liberal bloggers, a comment that was never reported.

The Politico also notes that Reid made similar disparaging remarks about Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said several sources familiar with the interview.

This is but the latest example of how Reid, under pressure from liberal activists to do more to stop the war, is going on the attack against President Bush and his military leaders in anticipation of a September showdown to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, according to Democratic senators and aides.
Although House members lack the power to confirm military officers, they appear willing to break from the tradition of not criticizing the military leadership. Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher said Wednesday she thought Pace was guilty of a dereliction of duty because of his support for President Bush's Iraq policy.

Tauscher, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Pace lost standing among members in March when he said homosexual acts were immoral and that the military should not condone the behavior by allowing gays to serve openly. He later apologized, including in a personal letter to Tauscher, for expressing what he said were his personnel views.

It's also ironic that liberal Democrats would demonize Pace for supporting a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military -- a policy that was championed by Former President Democrat Bill Clinton.

In the final analysis, observers say it all boils down to the partisan struggle for power in Washington:

Reid, who [said] that the Iraq war was "lost," is lashing out at top commanders while putting the finishing touches on a plan to force a series of votes on Iraq designed exclusively to make Republicans up for reelection in 2008 go on record in favor of continuing an unpopular war.

Reid, the senators and aides said, does not expect any of the Iraq measures to pass but hopes the effort will drive a deep enough wedge between wavering Republicans and Bush that, by September, Republican senators will break with the president and help end the war.
In the midst of a war it's irresponsible for Congressional leaders to publicly attack those in the military who are charged with defending the nation from terrorists but who cannot at the same time defend themselves from the partisan manoeuvres of elected politicians. While Sen. Reid's behavior risks instilling a cancerous, demoralizing effect on the troops, there can be no doubt that his comments only serve to coarsen an already contentious dialogue on the Hill and ultimately demeans Congress as an institution.

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Happy 232nd Birthday U.S. Army / Happy Flag Day

OLD GLORY
Happenings today:

  • U.S. Army Birthday
    Since its birth on 14 June 1775 -- over a year before the Declaration of Independence -- the United States Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of our Nation. Soldiers have fought more than 10 wars, from the American Revolution through the Cold War, the Gulf War, to the current War on Terrorism. This 232nd Birthday is a recognition of The Army's history, traditions, and service to the Nation, a Call To Duty, 232 Years of Service to Our Nation.
  • Flag Day Observed
    The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday,' or 'Flag Day.' Read it.
Note to Democrat leadership: The celebration of Flag Day doesn't involve proudly waving the white flag of defeat.

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