Saturday, April 25, 2009

OEF Summary, April 25, 2009: Troops Detain 3 in Khowst

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan , April 25, 2009 -- Afghan national security forces and coalition forces detained three men overnight April 24 in eastern Afghanistan during an operation to capture a militant associated with the Haqqani Network and the Baitullah Mahsud Group in Pakistan.

In Khowst province, approximately six kilometers west of Khost City, the combined force conducted a vehicle stop to capture a terrorist known to facilitate suicide attacks against Afghan citizens and coalition forces in Khowst and Paktia provinces.

As the targeted individual's vehicle approached an intersection, Afghan forces signaled the vehicle to stop and successfully called for the passengers to exit the vehicle. Without incident, all occupants complied. The targeted individual and two men traveling with him were detained. Afghan national police were called to assist a woman and child who were passengers in the car, ensuring they safely arrived at their destination.

In other operations, Afghan national security forces and coalition forces killed 14 insurgents in a battle lasting six hours in Sangin District, Helmand province April 23.

The combined elements were conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol in a known area of heavy insurgent presence when they were attacked by armed insurgents with small arms fire from multiple locations. After ensuring there were no non-combatants in the area, ANSF and coalition forces positively identified an enemy position and called in for close-air support, resulting in six insurgents killed.

The patrol then began to receive rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire from another enemy position. ANSF and coalition forces engaged the insurgents with small arms fire and called for close air support on the enemy fighting position killing eight more insurgents.

One wounded insurgent, equipped with an RPG launcher, surrendered to the Afghan-led force and was evacuated to a coalition medical facility for treatment. Two other insurgents were detained in the operation.

No ANSF, coalition forces or civilian injuries were reported as a result of the engagement.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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Turkish Navy to Assume Command of Counter-Piracy Task Force CTF 151

Dispatches from the Front
News from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet Combined Maritime Forces.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2009 -- The U.S. Navy will transfer command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 to the Turkish Navy on Sunday, May 3, 2009 in a ceremony aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain.

CTF 151 was established in January 2009 and initially commanded by the U.S. Navy. Turkey will be the second nation to command the counter-piracy task force. This also marks first time Turkey will command a Combined Maritime Forces Task Force.

Turkish Rear Adm. Caner Bener will relieve U.S. Rear Adm. Michelle Howard.

(Report from a Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs news release.)

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Head of Joint Chiefs Discusses Taliban in Pakistan

News in Balance

News in Balance:

QALAT, Afghanistan, April 25, 2009 -- The Taliban’s growing strength in Pakistan is frustrating to the United States, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters traveling with him that Pakistani military leaders are very concerned with the progress of terrorists groups inside Pakistan.

Last month, Pakistani civilian leaders worked out a deal with the Taliban that essentially recognized them in Swat – a tourist area north of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. Lately, the terrorists have begun attacking in Besur, a region only 60 miles from the capital.

Thursday, Mullen visited military leaders in Pakistan, and discussed the situation in the country with them. He said the discussions he had with Pakistani Army Chief of General Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani were more focused on Swat, where the Taliban already are breaking their deal with the Pakistani government. “It was very clear that General Kayani is very concerned about the Taliban activity,” a military official familiar with the talks said.

The United States has continued to offer training and equipment help to the Pakistanis to counter the Taliban threat. “It’s safe to say we want them to do more,” said the official. “The admiral came back from the meetings very concerned and increasingly frustrated with the situation.”

The Pakistani military does understand the seriousness of the situation. While in Pakistan, Mullen observed two Pakistani military divisions going through counterinsurgency training. The two divisions were in the sixth week of a 14-week course. Once done, the units will deploy to the border area. “What they are going to do about Besur or Swat is really a Pakistani civilian decision that hasn’t been made,” Mullen said.

Nothing demonstrates how interconnected Afghanistan and Pakistan are than operations in Afghanistan’s Zabul province. The region is tied together by tribe and family, and the people of the region historically pay no attention to the Durand Line, surveyed by the British in the 1920s, which forms the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The Taliban take full advantage of this situation.

“Our focus on the border since we’ve been here is tied directly to the freedom of movement that the Taliban has, whether it’s farther north in [Regional Command East] or here in the south,” Mullen said. “That’s something that has to be dramatically reduced.”

An effort to stem the flow has to involve Afghanistan, Pakistan and the coalition to be effective, Mullen said. “This is the time of year where their influx is considerable, and Zabol, in particular, is a path they use,” the admiral said.

Mullen met with the governor of Afghanistan’s Zabol province, who has a good grip on the situation despite being in office for less than a month, the admiral said. “I think we can get the security piece right here, and by doing that we can enable the other things that must be done here,” Mullen said.

Within the province and Regional Command South there is very broad agreement on what the challenges are and how to approach them, Mullen said. “Clearly, security is a key issue here,” he said. “But it’s not just security; there are other needs tied to it.” Development, agriculture and governance also are part of a winning strategy, he said.

“I’m very optimistic and buoyed by the spirit and the leadership of the provincial reconstruction team, which is very focused on the needs as well,” he said. “But the challenges are significant. We know what they are. We have to move forward and execute.”

This will mean sacrifice, the chairman acknowledged.

“I saw a sign on one of the [forward operating base] walls today with names of seven American soldiers who lost their lives in this province,” Mullen said.

The U.S. troops understand the challenges, and they are “incredibly patriotic, dedicated to the mission and dedicated to each other,” the chairman said.

The chairman made it a point to visit the provincial reconstruction team in Zabol to highlight the necessary cooperation among many agencies. The soldiers and federal civilians assigned to the team “are at the heart of what really matters, which is development and really helping the Afghan people,” Mullen said. “They are proud and excited about doing what they are doing. It makes me proud and humble to be associated with them and serving with such a great group of people.”

Mullen said he thinks of the sacrifices American servicemembers and their civilian colleagues make. He comes to the area of operations, he added, to thank them for their service and “to better understand what we ask them to do, and then do everything in my power to help them succeed in the missions.”

U.S. servicemembers understand their new strategy. “What struck me was how much our people understand the execution requirements of counterinsurgency,” Mullen said. “I’ve described it as part of our DNA, and a couple of years ago, that just wasn’t the case.”

The troops know that success is not just about combat operations, Mullen said.

“They know it’s about the Afghan people,” he said. “They know it’s about information operations and the messaging and getting out in front of the enemy. They are living and breathing it, rather than just studying it and learning how to execute it. That’s a huge change for me over the past year.”

(Report by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.)

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Pentagon Discusses Release of Detainee Photos

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2009 -- The U.S. Defense Department soon will release a substantial number of photos associated with concluded past investigations of alleged abuse of detainees, a senior official said here yesterday.

The photos were used as part of internal military investigations conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, not including the photos used during allegations of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

The pending late-May release of the photos comes from an agreement reached between the American Civil Liberties Union, the Justice Department and the Defense Department, Whitman said. The ACLU had sued the U.S. government for release of the photos.

A Justice Department letter filed Thursday in a New York District Court stated that the Defense Department would furnish 21 photographs ordered for release by the court and 23 other images involved in the lawsuit.

Additionally, the Justice Department letter stated, the Defense Department also will release "a substantial number of other images" contained in Army Criminal Investigation Division reports that have been closed. The Defense Department is to furnish all cited images by May 28, the letter said.

A number of the images being released in May were part of more than 60 investigations conducted by the U.S. military between 2003 and January 2006, Whitman said.

Since 2001, more than 400 military members charged with detainee abuse were found to be guilty of some form of misconduct, Whitman said. Punishment, he noted, ranged from imprisonment to bad-conduct discharges, reduction in rank and other types of punitive actions.

Defense Department policy always has advocated humane treatment of detainees, Whitman pointed out.

"We have, obviously, over time, found instances where performance has not matched policy," Whitman said. "And when the performance hasn't matched the policy, we've held people accountable for their actions."

"There are a number of [lawsuits] that we're dealing with for detainee photographs and so on," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said to reporters Thursday during his visit to Camp Lejeune, N.C. "There's a certain inevitability, I believe, that much of this will eventually come out; much has already come out."

(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)

Related: Justice Department Letter

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Unpaused

Klaatu barada nikto

Faithful readers, I'm back and catching up with all that's been going on.

I've turned off comment moderation for new articles.

Since you are already here, please take a moment to support the blog by clicking through the ads.

Respectfully,
Steve Moyer
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Combat Camera: US Marines Patrol Helmand Province, Afghanistan

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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Garrett Coxwell breaches a door to set up an overwatch position during a local security patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 9, 2009. Coxwell is assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. The Marines are conducting security patrols to prevent enemy freedom of movement. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Todd Pedilla enters a compound to set up an overwatch position during a local security patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 9, 2009. Pedilla is assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Travis Carper maintains security from a roof during a local security patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 9, 2009. Carper is assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marines conduct a local security patrol through the abandoned marketplace of Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 12, 2009. The Marines are assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marines conduct a local security patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 12, 2009. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachery Maltman uses his weapon's scope to scan the area and maintain security during a patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 12, 2009. Maltman is assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marines conduct a security patrol through the abandoned village of Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 12, 2009. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathon S. Mathews looks at a map during a local security patrol in the abandoned village of Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 12, 2009. Mathews is assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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Wire: CIA Confirms Waterboarding Obtained Intel Thwarted 9/11-Style Attack on Los Angeles

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2009 -- Newswires reported Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of "enhanced techniques" of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) -- including the use of waterboarding -- caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, "Soon, you will know," the CNSNews.com report noted.

CNSNews.com also reported the following details:
According to the previously classified May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that was released by President Barack Obama last week, the thwarted attack -- which KSM called the “Second Wave”-- planned “ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.”

KSM was the mastermind of the first “hijacked-airliner” attacks on the United States, which struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia on Sept. 11, 2001.

After KSM was captured by the United States, he was not initially cooperative with CIA interrogators. Nor was another top al Qaeda leader named Zubaydah. KSM, Zubaydah, and a third terrorist named Nashiri were the only three persons ever subjected to waterboarding by the CIA. (Additional terrorist detainees were subjected to other “enhanced techniques” that included slapping, sleep deprivation, dietary limitations, and temporary confinement to small spaces -- but not to water-boarding.)

This was because the CIA imposed very tight restrictions on the use of waterboarding. “The ‘waterboard,’ which is the most intense of the CIA interrogation techniques, is subject to additional limits,” explained the May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo. “It may be used on a High Value Detainee only if the CIA has ‘credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent’; ‘substantial and credible indicators that the subject has actionable intelligence that can prevent, disrupt or deny this attack’; and ‘[o]ther interrogation methods have failed to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack.’”

The quotations in this part of the Justice memo were taken from an Aug. 2, 2004 letter that CIA Acting General Counsel John A. Rizzo sent to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

[. . .]

Before they were subjected to “enhanced techniques” of interrogation that included waterboarding, KSM and Zubaydah were not only uncooperative but also appeared contemptuous of the will of the American people to defend themselves.

[. . .]

After he was subjected to the “waterboard” technique, KSM became cooperative, providing intelligence that led to the capture of key al Qaeda allies and, eventually, the closing down of an East Asian terrorist cell that had been tasked with carrying out the 9/11-style attack on Los Angeles.
In related news, President Obama today announced that he has left the door open to prosecution of Bush administration officials who devised harsh interrogation tactics.

(Report from commercial news sources.)

Source: CIA Confirms: Waterboarding 9/11 Mastermind Led to Info that Aborted 9/11-Style Attack on Los Angeles

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OEF Summary, April 21, 2009: Troops Destroy Anti-Aircraft Weapons System in Helmand

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2009 -- One militant was killed and a suspect was detained during a joint operation today by coalition and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan.

The operation’s target was an associate of a local Taliban leader suspected of aiding the transport of weapons, ammunition and fighters into northern Kandahar province.

During the operation, forces searched an isolated compound in Maywand district, about 40 miles northwest of Kandahar City. Five women and 15 children found in the compound were moved to a safe area, and forces tried to question several men believed to be under the influence of opium, officials said.

One man barricaded himself inside the building and refused to surrender. Troops forcibly entered the building, and the man was killed.

Forces found about 10 pounds of opium at the compound and detained one man for questioning.

In other Afghanistan news, coalition forces today destroyed two anti-aircraft weapons systems in southern Helmand province’s Nad Ali district.

The first system was destroyed in the early morning hours after troops learned that local militants were staging an anti-aircraft gun on the back of a truck to use against coalition helicopters. Coalition forces located the gun, which was loaded and ready to use, and destroyed it with a precision strike.

The second anti-aircraft gun also was mounted on the back of a truck, and militants were seen firing the weapon near a local bazaar. It also was destroyed by coalition forces.

In recent months, enemy fighters in the area have tried unsuccessfully to use surface-to-air strikes against coalition aircraft, officials said.

No coalition force casualties were reported from the two strikes.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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US Air Force Predator Crashes in Eastern Afghanistan

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An MQ-1 Predator, like the one shown here, has crashed in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt Col Leslie Pratt.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 21, 2009 -- An Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan April 21 in the early morning hours. The crash was not due to hostile fire.

The aircraft is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. The MQ-1's primary mission is conducting armed reconnaissance.

A board will be convened to investigate the incident.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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US Airpower Summary, April 21, 2009: Tankers Fuel the Fleet

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KC-135 Stratotankers, like the one shown here refueling F-16 Fighting Falcons, off-loaded approximately 3.3 million pounds of fuel while refueling 252 coalition aircraft April 19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerry Fleshman.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 21. 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan during operations April 20, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, an Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber destroyed an anti-Afghan fighting position in a building near Oruzgan. The weapon, a guided bomb unit-38, was set to a tightly constrained fusing configuration to restrict damage to surrounding structures.

In Lashkar Gah, a pair of Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs engaged an enemy truck armed with an anti-aircraft machine gun. The A-10s used their 30mm Avenger cannons to destroy the truck and the machine gun. Also in the area, a Navy F/A-18C Hornet flew a show of force and launched flares to deter enemy suicide bombers after a source warned coalition forces of enemy preparations.

Near Asadabad, a B-1B dropped a GBU-38 and -31 to destroy an anti-Afghan position containing a recoilless rifle position. An Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle also provided overwatch in the area.

An F-15E and an A-10 flew shows of force to deter enemy actions during two operations in the Kabul area. The F-15E performed its maneuver after a coalition air-assault unit began taking small-arms fire. The A-10 executed a show of force just outside a coalition forward base that had been engaged by enemy gunmen. Anti-Afghan personnel ceased fire and withdrew after the shows of force.

In the Kandahar area, a coalition aircraft executed a show of force after a friendly helicopter made an emergency landing. The aircraft provided aerial overwatch as the crew evacuated and helped secure the landing site until a recovery team reached the area.

A coalition aircraft performed shows of force and launched flares to deter enemy attackers after a coalition mounted patrol had a vehicle disabled by enemy fire. Enemy forces had been firing at the patrol with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and assault rifles but were deterred by the arrival of the aircraft.

A-10s conducted shows of force and launched flares to deter enemy aggression near coalition forward bases near Bagram and Asadabad. The additional air presence served to discouraged hostile actions and prevented enemy forces from interfering with local security operations.

Joint terminal attack controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 84 close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Twenty Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. In addition, two coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 26 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized with coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities, and helped to deter and disrupt hostile activities.

Twenty-six Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. In addition, three coalition and Navy aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

Approximately 150 airlift sorties were flown, 450 tons of cargo were delivered and about 2,900 passengers were transported. Airlift included approximately 71,700 tons of aerial resupply dropped over Afghanistan.

Coalition C-130 crews flew as part of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On April 19, Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 46 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.3 million pounds of fuel to 252 receiving aircraft.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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Combat Camera: Dismounted Patrol in Mosul, Iraq

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Batt and Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Rinaldi, both of San Diego, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conduct truck searches while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Roman Rozell of Apache Junction, Ariz., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, searches an abandoned building while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Roman Rozell of Apache Junction, Ariz., searches the top of a truck as Pfc. Edgar Soto of Tulare, Calif., provides security while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. Both soldiers are assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Pfc. Edgar Soto of Tulare, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, finishes a truck search while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Pfc. Edgar Soto of Tulare, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, checks radio operations while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Rinaldi of San Diego, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and an Iraqi interpreter, speak with an Iraqi citizen while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Johnny Albinovega of Bronx, N.Y., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and an Iraqi interpreter, speak with an Iraqi man while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Batt of San Diego, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, searches an Iraqi truck while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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An Iraqi man waits as U.S. soldiers search through trucks while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Spc. Abdurahim Sharif of Portland, Maine, assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, provides security during truck searches while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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An Iraqi man removes a tarp from a truck to be searched by U.S. soldiers during a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Batt of San Diego, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, clears an Iraqi truck as U.S. Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Rinaldi, provides security while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Batt of San Diego, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, clears a suspicious area while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Spc. Abdurahim Sharif of Portland, Maine, assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, searches the top of a truck while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army Pfc. Edgar Soto of Tulare, Calif., assigned to Delta Troop, 8th Squad, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, searches the top of a truck while on a dismounted patrol through the Al Uruba District of Mosul, Iraq, April 20. (Photo by Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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Combat Camera Video: Troops Conduct Cordon and Search Operation in Ken, Iraq

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of U.S. soldiers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, supporting Iraqi soldiers conducting a cordon and search in Ken, Iraq, April 8. (Produced by Spc. Neil Stanfield; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq. Length: 7:41.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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Monday, April 20, 2009

OIF Summary, April 20, 2009: 3 Killed, 19 Wounded in Baquba Suicide Vest Attack

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq, April 20, 2009 -- A suicide vest bomber killed three civilians and wounded 19 others, during an attack near the mayor’s office in the Diyala provincial capital, Baquba at approximately 10 a.m. April 20.

Among the 19 injured were eight U.S. soldiers, two members of the local embedded provincial reconstruction team and three Iraqi police.The bomber, reportedly dressed in an Iraqi police uniform, detonated the vest as members were on their way to visit the municipal leader.

The mayor was not wounded in the attack, and there are no reports of U.S. personnel deaths.

Immediately following the explosion, shots were fired at the U.S. team. Soldiers identified a single gunman and returned fire. There are no reports of the gunman being wounded or captured.

An investigation is ongoing, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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US Airpower Summary, April 20, 2009: C-130s, C-17s Sustain Fight

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A C-17 Globemaster III touches down at an air base in Southwest Asia upon returning from a mission. The C-17 performs tactical airlift and airdrop missions, transports passengers, delivers troop resupply and all types of cargo throughout Southwest Asia in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clark Staehle.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 20, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan during operations April 19, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet flew a show of force over a suspected anti-Afghan forces ambush position which caused several enemy personnel to flee the area. The aircraft then stayed overhead to provide aerial overwatch of a coalition convoy as it passed through. A joint terminal attack controller assigned to a coalition ground unit verified the success of this mission.

In total, 76 close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Twenty-two Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. In addition, four Navy and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 22 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized with coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities, and helped to deter and disrupt hostile activities.

Thirty Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. In addition, a coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

Approximately 135 airlift sorties were flown, 775 tons of cargo were delivered and about 2,100 passengers were transported. Airlift included approximately 137,200 tons of aerial resupply dropped over Afghanistan.

Coalition C-130 crews flew as part of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On April 18, Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 37 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.4 million pounds of fuel to 143 receiving aircraft.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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CMF, NATO Warships Help Thwart 2 Pirate Attacks

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GULF OF ADEN (April 18, 2009) The British military support ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight (A389) working in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), thwarted a pirate attack on the Merchant Vessel Handy Tankers Magic in the Gulf of Aden, April 18, which resulted in the release of 13 hostages and disrupted the activities of 7 Somali pirates. CMF is comprised of 23 nations whose role is to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) throughout the region to help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. Maritime Security Operations help develop security in the maritime environment, which promotes stability and global prosperity. (Official Royal Navy photo.)

Dispatches from the Front:

MANAMA, Bahrain, April 20, 2009 – The British military support ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Knight, working in support of the Combined Maritime Forces, thwarted two April 18 pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, resulting in the release of 13 hostages and disrupting the activities of 14 Somali pirates.

"This is a clear demonstration of how cooperation between more than a dozen international naval forces can result in the successful disruption of piracy activity," said Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces. "In the last 72 hours alone, coordinated efforts of six different nations resulted in the release of 49 innocent merchant mariners who had been held hostage by armed pirates, as well as the interception of 46 suspected pirates."

Lowe cautioned that naval forces will not be the sole solution to piracy, but said coordinated international naval efforts would continue to disrupt criminal acts of piracy.

While working in conjunction with international naval forces deployed to the region, Wave Knight’s crew received a distress call at about 8 a.m. from Merchant Vessel Handy Tankers Magic, which was under attack by pirates.

The attack broke off before Wave Knight arrived, but the ship followed their skiff to a fishing dhow, a sailboat commonly used by natives along the African and Indian coasts. The dhow was later confirmed to be a pirate "mother ship." Via radio, Wave Knight ordered the dhow to stop and used a Royal Navy armed force protection team as well as the ship's own weapons team to provide cover. The pirate vessel complied.

Dutch warship HNLMS De Zeven Provincien, deployed as part of NATO's Standing Naval Maritime Group 1, arrived and its crew determined no pirates or hostages were aboard the vessel. Ultimately, 13 fishermen who had been held hostage by pirates since April 12 were freed and able to return home to Yemen.

Since the seven suspected pirates aboard the dhow were not captured in the act of piracy, they were released, but they were disarmed and their weapons were destroyed.

Two hours later, Wave Knight received a second distress call from Merchant Vessel Front Ardennes. Wave Knight arrived and successfully deterred the skiff, preventing the pirates from boarding the tanker. Following repeated warnings to move away, Wave Knight fired warning shots, which caused the pirates to break off their attack and flee the scene.

With the assistance of helicopters from the NATO task group ships HMCS Winnipeg and USS Halyburton, Wave Knight followed the pirate skiff for six hours, until relieved by the Winnipeg crew, who boarded the skiff.

Wave Knight provided fuel and landing facilities for the NATO warships' helicopters and was able to maneuver into a position to stop the suspected pirates, allowing Winnipeg's boarding team to disarm and then subsequently release the suspected pirates.

"RFA Wave Knight is a modern replenishment ship designed to be able to support a myriad of coalition maritime operations," said Royal Fleet Auxiliary Capt. I. N. Phillips, Wave Knight's commanding officer. "Our primary role is refueling and aviation operations, but we are fully capable of conducting anti-piracy operations in and around the Horn of Africa. We have been on station for over a year providing support to many nations, and we remain committed to helping ensure maritime security."

Twenty-three nations participate with Combined Maritime Forces to conduct maritime security operations throughout the region and help to set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment.

(Report from a Combined Maritime Forces news release.)

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