Cav Soldiers Circumvent Insurgent Attack On School

April 30, 2007

One thing that is commonplace in the news, is stories about the insurgents attacking innocent civilians in Iraq, as a way to strike fear into the hearts of the citizens. More often than not, the insurgents resort to these cowardly attacks, as a way of making a statement and to frighten the citizens enough for them not to cooperate with authorities who are trying to make their neighborhoods safer. These cowards attack unarmed civilians, many whom are women and children, in places like markets and schools. Saturday, alert Cav troops prevented an incident like that from occurring. Sadly, attacks such as this have become commonplace in Iraq. These incidents not only strike fear in the hearts of the Iraqi citizens, but maim and kill innocent citizens. People can claim that it’s our fault because we have soldiers in Iraq, but is just simply making excuses for the insurgents and their actions and adding more fuel to their twisted agenda. Incidents like this just emphasize how truly evil the al-Qaeda insurgency is and how little they care about the well-being of the most precious commodity the country has…. it’s children.

On Saturday, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, 1st Cav discovered a command wire leading from the outer perimeter of the Huda Girl’s School in Tarmiyah, Iraq. The wire led to one of the rooms inside the school. Inside the room, soldiers discovered five artillery shell explosives. The insurgents planned the attack, to voice their opposition to the construction of the school. Also discovered were two large explosive filled propane tanks that had been buried under the fllor along with numerous projectiles placed underneath electrical conduits located at the front of the classroom.

It’s very apparent that the goal of al-Qaeda operatives in the area, is to halt progress and improvement in the area, that the Coalition forces and the local Tarmiyah government are implementing to improve the lives of the citizens of the area. This particular school that the insurgents had targeted had recently been reconstructed and was scheduled to open in the coming weeks. This is the second time in the past month, that explosives have been found in the school. As soon as the explosives were discovered, an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team was dispatched to the scene. The EOD team transported all of the explosive rounds out of the school for safe disposal.

“This is a testimony of how little the al-Qaeda of Iraq truly care about the citizens of Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Scott Efflandt, commander of 2-8th Cavalry.

This last quote from LTC Efflandt says it all to me. Al-Qaeda has made it very obvious that they could care less about the lives of innocent citizens, children or adults.

1st Cav Daily Charge, Apr. 30, Page3

Essay Contest Update

April 30, 2007

One final update! Essay contest submissions end today. Any essays received after 2359 MST will not be accepted. There are some great essays in the competition, I’d love to see a few more. If you want to tell the world what ‘Support the Troops’ means to you, submit an essay. Good luck to everyone, judging will begin tommorrow!

[UPDATE] by Terri: As I’ve stated in the past, I am planning to copy the essays and send them back with Marty to share with his fellow soldiers in 3BSTB, 1st CD. Several others have expressed the wish to share the essays with their soldiers as well. Anyone who does not wish to have their essay shared with our troops, please let me know. Thanks!

A Soldier We Should Know About….

April 30, 2007

This story got my attention, as it was about yet another US Soldier, who because of his actions, was recognized and awarded for his efforts by another country. This story just emphasizes the committment, professionalism and dedication of our troops. This story, reminds us once again, how very lucky we are to have such brave men and women serving in our Nation’s Armed Forces.

A US Special Forces soldier was awarded the highest medal that can be given by the German Army to a foreign enlisted soldier. SSG Jonathon A. Zapien, 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, NC was presented with the Ehrenmedaille, or Honor Medal in a ceremony in Berlin. Zapien accompanied a special forces unit from Germany from June to October 2005, during missions in southeastern Afghanistan. Zapien is a senior weapons sergeant and acted as a liason between the US and German special forces groups while also engaging the enemy during combat operations.

“They were an exceptional group of soldiers,” Zapien said of his German counterparts. “It was far beyond your average soldier, even a cut above special operations.”

According to John Tomassi, who is a spokesman for the US European Command, Zapien was credite with saving the life of a German soldier, when he called in air and ground medical support during one combat operation.

“On my last rotation, I lost two friends when I was there,” Zapien said. “This really should go more to them.”

“There are a lot of soldiers who on a daily basis, do a lot of things but don’t receive any awards. I’m receiving this on behalf of them.”

Improving The Lives Of Iraqi Citizens… Thousands At A Time

April 30, 2007

Here at ASM, we’re constantly attempting to share the positive things that are occurring daily in Iraq, due to the presence of our troops and our Coalition partners. Such as improvements to the nations infrastructure, that wouldn’t be possible if the troops weren’t committed to not only sharing the gift of freedom with Iraqis, but also assisting them in improving basic living conditions for their people.

Can you imagine living without running water that is safe to drink? Can you imagine not having running water to shower with, or to flush your toilets, or wash your clothes with? Until recently, that was a daily reality for citizens in 13 villages in Iraq. For many it was something that they could only dream of until recently. Running water is something that we all take for granted here in the United States. Something that we scream and holler about, if it gets shut off due to a water main break. Running water is something that we here feel that we deserve, something that the people in these 13 villages considered a luxury that they might never be able to have.

Iraqi children in the Northern Iraq province of Erbil playing with a water hose

Over 26,000 residents in 13 villages across Iraq now have potable water, due to a water well project that was just completed by the Army Corps of Engineers, as part of the Iraq Reconstruction Program. The US Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) because this project last year and it was completed last month. Each project in the 13 villages consisted of constructing deep water wells, providing a supply of generators and immersible pumps, constructing steel and concrete water tanks, installing miles of pipeline, building water taps and expanding the distribution system, to reach more residents.

“Kurdistan is suffering from a shortage of clean water and lack of water sources and water pipe,” said Younis Talib, an Iraqi electrical engineer employed by the USACE Gulf Region North’s Erbil Resident Office. Talib was responsible for quality assurance and quality control of the project. “This project is one of the many that are essential to solve water problems in the Erbil Province, designed to stabilize the water source in 13 villages.”

Until these projects were completed, the people inhabiting these 13 villages didn’t have enough water. Some depended on spring sources for their water, a source that couldn’t be guaranteed to be potable. Others were dependant on delivery of water by trucks or they personally carried water containers in their vehicles, according to Talib.

Nawzad Hadi, the governor of Erbil said, “The water that US Army Corps of Engineers (made possible) to Bnberzi Bchka has allowed many village people to move back to their village. I am grateful for all other projects which are done and which are under construction by US Army Corps of Engineers that positively impacted the Kurdish people.”

Maj. Jennifer Munro, deputy area engineer in the Gulf Region North distict Mosul area office added, “This is an exciting program that has provided water to 26,000 people. It revitalized communities that had stagnated when families were forced to leave their homes during Saddam’s era. [Now] these villages are growing and thriving.”

According to USACE sources, many years of neglect to the infrastructure, violence and sabotage had created critcal shortages of potable water in Iraq, which is home to some 30 million citizens. Since the sovereignty in 2004, the Iraqi Reconstruction Program has brought improvements in that area, allowing an estimated 2.4 million citizens across Iraq to have access to approximately 120 million gallons of treated water on a daily basis. It is further estimated that when all of the water improvement projects are completed across the nation, that some 8.4 million Iraqis will benefit from around 300 million gallons of treated water daily.

Defend America

Wanted: Authors

April 29, 2007

First, I’d like to appologize for my absence. I think I just did this last week as well. Currently, I have a lot going on and have been running low on blogging time. Anyway, that is not the point of this post.

A few months ago I announced that ASM was looking for additional authors. Terri came on board during this first recruiting effort. Since then the blog has increased in size/readership over 400 percent. I would like to announce that we are still looking for additional authors.

There are a few things I require of all authors, but don’t worry they are no big deal. The first thing, I would prefer an author who has some sort of connection to the military. Current or prior service members would be great, but anyone who is somehow related to the military (spouse/family member/friend) will be acceptable. Secondly, there is no requirement on post quantity, however, post quality is a must. Some basic knowledge of blogging software would be preferable, but not necessary. WordPress is very simple and myself or Terri could spin any new author up in a matter of minutes.

So, if you are interested in authoring articles at ASM, please send me an email. Even if you only have one article in mind, let me know.  You do not have to be a “full-time” author if you don’t want to be, just post when you feel like it or have something to say.  ASM is growing by the day and we want you to be a part of it.

Despite What The Detractors Say…. Muslims Say “God Bless America”

April 29, 2007

Some people delight in attempting to convince us that Iraqi’s want us out of their Country. Some of us, after seeing this video will say even louder that these people have NO clue what they’re talking about. Like the story I posted yesterday about the Iraqi’s turning in the terrorists in Diyala Province, this video states emphatically that many Iraqi people are extremely grateful for the presence of our troops and the freedoms that they have been given, because of the presence of our troops. Like the citizens in Diyala Province who are tiring of the continuous presence and threat of the terrorists in their neighborhoods, this gentleman is standing up against these tyrants and saying loud and clear how much he appreciates the sacrifices of the American and Coalition troops. How much he appreciates them for bringing freedom to their country.

Red, White & Blue Americans by Mark Leland

April 29, 2007

Sometimes you come across a song that really hits home. The latest song that we’re featuring here at A Soldier’s Mind, Red White And Blue Americans by Mark Leland is one of those songs. Not only does this song capture the spirit of our troops and the sacrifices that they daily make, but it also captures the thoughts and feelings of so many of us who devote ourselves to supporting our troops.

It’s with great pleasure that I introduce our readers to another great artist, Mark Leland. An artist whose passion for life and the things that many of us face in life are quite evident in every one of his songs. Mark Leland isn’t a stranger to the music scene, having released several CD’s. Not only does Mark have a fantastic voice that will captivate listeners, but his skill as a songwriter is top-notch. Every one of his songs, skillfully tells a story about life and the ups and downs that are so typical in life. Mark fell in love with music when he was very young, singing in a church choir at 7 years old. At 15, Mark picked up his first guitar and his journey began. Later that week he wrote his very first song and he’s continued to write, perform and share his gift of music with the world ever since.

Mark Leland has made it his quest in life to “give back” through his music and he does this in many ways. Not only has he written a fantastic tribute to our troops, a song that is full of hope and encouragement for our troops, he has also dedicated himself to bringing awareness of Autism to the forefront and tells of the challenges that families who have a child with Autism face every day, as well as the struggle that these children must face, as they journey through life. A portion of his latest CD, Missing Pieces is donated to organizations that can assist families in affording the treatment needed to help their autistic children succeed. As the song Missing Pieces is being played more and more, Leland is frequently asked to perform at autism benefits across the country. Parents of autistic children who have heard his song are sharing his enthusiasm with other members of their community. Together, Leland and his fans are spreading autism awareness across the nation and possibly, the world. I sent Mark an email last night, after hearing Red White and Blue Americans and he kindly responded.

Thank you for the email and the website that you have to support our great troops. It is my honor to write you back and tell you about the song and how it came about. I was nearing the end of completing my 2nd cd in Nashville, and felt a strong desire to write a song of encouragement for our soldiers that were overseas and on the homefront. When the war began, it seemed everyone was so involved with staying up with it, and over time, the more the media covered it, the less Americans were concerned. I have a duty as an American, not just a Nashville country artist, to do my part in standing behind these men and women. So I sat down with my guitar and pen and paper and started with a catchy melody to find the feel for the song. After I found it, the words almost came like running water. I wanted the soldiers to know that this song was for them and not necessarily about them. It was written for encouragement and thankfulness to them for all the great sacrifices that they give. We all want to see them come home quickly and end the bloodshed that occurs in every war. There are just too many lives being lost for a country that doesn’t really appreciate the sacrifices that are being made for their own Freedom. Red, White and Blue Americans is a song of hope, encouragement and the message that we are very proud to be Americans. I have plans to make a music video for the song in the near future and the song will be released out to country radio in a couple of months nationally. I want the troops to know that no matter what, I am behind them 100%, and will always be. I now have a son that is serving in Army Airborne over in Tallil, Iraq. So yeah, my prayers and support are strong for our troops. Their commitment and safe return are vital to this great nation. Thanks for the opportunity to email you about the song.

God Bless,
Mark Leland
Mallory Records/Nashville

I’m asking all of our readers to take a few moments to visit Mark’s website and his and listen to even more of this talented musicians songs. I guarantee you, that you’ll be glad you did.

Red, White & Blue Americans

Delays In Funding Delay Much Need, Lifesaving Equipment

April 29, 2007

I’m angry right now…. very angry. I’m angry because the actons of lawmakers in Washington DC is putting the lives of our troops at a terrible risk. I’m angry because while they continue to play their political games, our troops are sufferig. I’m angry because every delay, means more soldiers lives put at risk. I’m angry because these people could care less about our troops, to them it’s all a game about which political party comes out on top, and nothing about the safety and well-being of our troops.

Awhile back, I did an article about the Buffalos. The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles with the v-shaped hulls that when hit by an IED, directs the blast out and away from the passengers in the vehicle. To date, NO U.S. troops have died while riding in one of these vehicles. Just last month at a hearing in Washington DC, lawmakers urged the Army to get more of these vehicles to the warzone as soon as possible. Now, that effort could be delayed as lawmakers continue to battle over the war spending bill. HELLO! Our troops need these vehicles NOW!

According to military leaders in both the Army and the Marines, these vehicles have reducd roadside bombing casualties in Iraq alone, by as much as 2/3. That’s saving a whole lot of lives that might otherwise not be saved. Currently, there are around 1,100 of the vehicles in Iraq. The Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Ops forces want thousands more. The goal for all branches combined is more than 7,700.

Because of the current battle over the war spending bill, the Pentagon says that there isn’t enough funding to purchase as many as the commanders say that they need. According to General Peter Scoomaker who spoke at the hearings with lawmakers last month, that getting more of these vehicles out on the frontlines, solely based on funding. Speaking for the Army, he said that they not only need the MRAP’s now to provide better protection to the troops, but that it is necessary to stay on a path of developing an even better vehicle, because the enemy continues to adapt their methods of attack. At the hearings, Senators pressed to get more of the vehicles into the frontline.

“We’re buying far too few of them,” said Sen. Bryon Dorgan, D-North Dakota. “If we have that capability, why would we not do everything to mobilize, to move as many of them into the field as is possible?”

Good question Senator, I’m asking the same thing myself. I think may have possibly even come up with an answer to your question…. Because the people we’ve elected to National office, find it more important to continue to play their political “power” games, instead of focusing on the fact that our troops need these vehicles as well as other equipment NOW instead of later, when lawmakers tire of the games.

In January the military contracted to purchase 4,100 of the vehicles from various companies who manufacture them. According to the Army, dollars that have already been approved and in the pipeline are not affected by the battle over war spending that is currently raging in Washington DC. However, that still leaves them short of the vehicles that are needed.

While this battle in Washingron DC continues to rage, Marines out on the dusty roads of Anbar provnce in Iraq, say that these vehicles have more than proven their worth. According to Marine SSG Tim Kessler, Marines were riding in one just this month and took a hit from a roadside bomb. Though the blast blew out a tire, NO ONE in the vehicle was hurt or killed. A few days earlier, another of the vehicles carrying 6 Marines was hit by 2 roadside bombs. Two Marines suffered broken bones, but not one of them died. All of them survived.

“It’s an extremel survivable vehicle. I guarantee it saves lives,” said Kessler, pointing to the scars on the side of the MRAP. He added that had the Marines been riding in a Humvee or another vehicle, they would have all been dead.

Tips From Iraqi Citizens Spell Success In Baqubah

April 28, 2007

The local citizens of the Tahrir neighborhood in Baqubah are tired. Tired of living daily under the constant fear that they might be the next innocent victim at the hands of the insurgents. Because of this, they’ve decided that they’re going to do something about the insurgents.

These brave citizens led Iraqi Army, police and Coalition forces to over 20 weapons caches and aided them in the capture of 5 suspected terrorists and around 25 of the terrorists dead. More than 20 IEDs that were emplaced throughout the neighborhood were also discovered.

The weapons caches contained small arms weapons, over 5 mortar tubes, close to 140 artillery and mortar rounds, over 10 rocket propelled grenade launcher, 55 RPG rounds, over 10,000 small arms ammunition, grenades and material to construct IED’s including several hundred pouds of home-made explosives, times and blasting caps.

“As we continue our aggressive and persistent operations, the discovery of these caches shows that our forces have entered yet another perceived safe haven,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, 3-1 Cav. commander and senior U.S. Army officer in Diyala. “The enemy shows nothing but hatred and disdain toward the innocent people of Diyala, and these weapons systems are clear indicators of that. The ongoing operation will allow the Iraqi Security Forces to maintain a permanent presence in the area while simultaneously providing security for the people of Tahrir.”

“As in Buhriz, the citizens of Tahrir are gaining more and more confidence in the Iraqi army and police,” Sutherland added. “It is vital that their security forces maintain a permanent presence as they are the true defenders of this country. Together with the ISF, we remain focused on targeting the enemy and disrupting their operations.”

I would have to agree with Col. Sutherland. Anyone who implants IEDs and hides weapons in neighborhoods, has no value for the lives of innocent citizens, many of whom are children. Their only goal is to induce terror into the innocent and use them to achieve their evil and twisted goals. They don’t care, if a small child stumbled across these items and ends up a victim of their depravity. They almost gleefully target the weak and innocent, in hopes that by doing so, they can gain their support, through fear. I’m impressed to hear that the people of this neighborhood, as well as many others are standing up to the terrorists and doing what it takes to rid their neighborhoods of them.


“I’m Still Willing To Die For That Inch…”

April 28, 2007

Has anyone ever wondered about the personal strength and dedication it takes to be a soldier, fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan? Has anyone ever wondered where our troops have the intestinal fortitude to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds, against the terrorists in those countries? Has anyone ever wondered how our troops manage to continue to “soldier on” when all they hear in the media is about how they should give up the fight and come home? Has anyone ever wondered, how our troops manage to fight for yet another day, even after seeing their friends injured and killed? Has anyone ever wondered how our troops manage to keep going, when they hear in the news that the politicians are withholding the funding that is needed to continue to provide them with the equipment they need to perform their duties? Has anyone ever wondered how our troops can manage to remain steadfast, in the face of constant criticism from the press, the public and sometimes their friends and neighbors? Has anyone ever wondered where our troops find the courage to face down the enemy that is set on destroying them and their brothers and sisters in arms? Has anyone ever wondered how despite all the negative things that they are constantly bombarded with, that our troops serve this nation with pride, courage, and dedication? Has anyone ever wondered, why, in the face of all of the negative publicity, in face of all the hatred from their fellow Americans, our troops continue to risk their lives to ensure that their fellow Americans can continue to speak badly about them and their mission and sometimes even hate them? Has anyone ever wondered how our troops, can love their country and their fellow Americans so much that they’re willing to lay down their own lives, to protect them? Has anyone ever wondered why our troops are so willing to lay down their lives to share the freedoms we enjoy as Americans with those less fortunate than us, in other Nations?

Even though Al Pacino’s words in this narrative are from the movie Any Given Sunday, about a professional football team, perhaps it will shed some light on those questions. Perhaps by watching this clip, a person can understand the mindset of our troops, so very much like a football team. Perhaps is will shed some light on the internal strength, courage, committment and honor that our troops rely on each and every day, to continue their jobs, despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Perhaps it will shed some light on the ideal that as a team, they can overcome any obstacle, any challenge, any evil and come out on top. The thought that the very ideals our country was founded on are worth fighting for and worth risking their lives for. The ideal that the precious gifts that our forefathers have given to us, is worth fighting to ensure that people of other nations have the opportunity to taste even a small portion of the freedoms that we so easily take for granted in our country. Some of us understand this dedication very well, others still haven’t figured it out. Regardless of where you’re at, think about all of this, REALLY think about all of this, as you watch this video….

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