Battle Blog 6 - 12 June 2004

The last week has seen the Armed Forces of the United States execute the week—long ceremonies honoring President Ronald Reagan in a flawless manner.  We owe our gratitude to all of our service men and women who supported all of these events in Washington, DC and California.  Your professionalism and devotion to duty are the best in the world.

Military operations in Iraq remain focused on reconstruction and training Iraqis to take over a greater share of the security burden.  Roadside bombs, assassination of key Iraqi officials, and sabotage of infrastructure betray the intent of extremists to delay the establishment of democracy in Iraq.  In Afghanistan, there appears to have been a major victory over the Taliban by US Marines.  However, Battle Blog will maintain its prohibition on use of the major wire services, and will wait until alternative news sources develop the story in the coming days.  Look for accounts of the engagement in next week's Battle Blog.

What could be more apropos concerning last week's remembrance of our beloved 40th President, than the news of the US Navy's newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier's voyage to its new homeport?  Strike Group Sails with Reagan outlines the historic voyage of the USS Ronald Reagan and its Strike Group as it sails from Norfolk, Virginia to its new homeport of San Diego California.  The Reagan Strike Group will sail around Cape Horn, and along the way will train with elements of South American navies.  During this voyage, the air wing will only have 25 percent of its normal complement of aircraft, but the goal is to get as much training for the aircrews as possible during the transit.  Once the voyage is complete, it will only be a matter of time before the USS Reagan sails into harm's way to do her duty in the War on Terror.  We are sure the sailors and aircrews will make President Reagan proud of their ship and their country.

A key component of the Coalition's efforts to foster security and prosperity in post—war Iraq is the effort to ensure Iraqis' ability to maintain their own security forces.  The article Stryker Brigade Soldiers train Iraqi recruits, describes how the 3d Brigade of the 2d Infantry Division is training their second battalion of new recruits to become part of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC).  The soldiers are repeating a successful formula from when they trained the Iraqi 102d Battalion; that is, they emphasize the training of the non—commissioned officer (NCO) cadre in order to have a professional corps of small unit leaders. 

More importantly, given the apparent desertion of many Iraqi units in the battles for Fallujah in April, the screening process has become much more rigorous.  According to one new recruit, his 'quest to become a soldier began in April when he and 7,000 other men applied to join a new ICDC battalion that is being formed in the Tigris River Valley area.  After background checks and interviews, 900 recruits were selected for the battalion.  ICDC leaders spent a week with the newly enlisted men to ensure they wanted to be Soldiers.'

The 2d Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division is also busy training units of the ICDC while protecting the town of Kirkuk from terrorist infiltrators.  In 2nd BCT funds new ICDC Battalion headquarters, Spc. Sean Kimmons describes how Task Force 1—21st Infantry decided to kill two birds with one stone.  The old headquarters building was in need of repair, plus there was no ICDC presence in an area of the city that was used by insurgents as an infiltration route and staging area.  Therefore, the soldiers built a new headquarters building in the troubled area for the 208th ICDC Battalion.  Capt. Kealii Morris, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force 1—21 Infantry, said "This new building puts the ICDC headquarters in the southern sector of the city.  It will provide another stabilizing force in this area, where a lot of insurgent activity comes from."

The Air Combat Element (ACE) of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is headed to the CENTCOM area of responsibility aboard the USS Kearsarge.  Journalist 1st Class (SW) Chris Hoffpauir describes the actions necessary to ready the multi—purpose amphibious assault ship in Kearsarge Makes Surge Deployment.  The Kearsarge was ordered to quickly transport additional assets under the Navy's new Fleet Response Plan, and will deploy needed Marine fixed and rotary wing aircraft to the theater to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The Kearsarge has also deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom, and had earlier supported Operation Iraqi Freedom by flying combat re—supply missions with Marine heavy lift helicopters.

Link to Battle Blog 30 May — 5 June, 2004
Link to Battle Blog 23 — 29 May, 2004
Link to Battle Blog 16 — 22 May, 2004

Douglas Hanson is our Military Affairs Correspondent

The last week has seen the Armed Forces of the United States execute the week—long ceremonies honoring President Ronald Reagan in a flawless manner.  We owe our gratitude to all of our service men and women who supported all of these events in Washington, DC and California.  Your professionalism and devotion to duty are the best in the world.

Military operations in Iraq remain focused on reconstruction and training Iraqis to take over a greater share of the security burden.  Roadside bombs, assassination of key Iraqi officials, and sabotage of infrastructure betray the intent of extremists to delay the establishment of democracy in Iraq.  In Afghanistan, there appears to have been a major victory over the Taliban by US Marines.  However, Battle Blog will maintain its prohibition on use of the major wire services, and will wait until alternative news sources develop the story in the coming days.  Look for accounts of the engagement in next week's Battle Blog.

What could be more apropos concerning last week's remembrance of our beloved 40th President, than the news of the US Navy's newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier's voyage to its new homeport?  Strike Group Sails with Reagan outlines the historic voyage of the USS Ronald Reagan and its Strike Group as it sails from Norfolk, Virginia to its new homeport of San Diego California.  The Reagan Strike Group will sail around Cape Horn, and along the way will train with elements of South American navies.  During this voyage, the air wing will only have 25 percent of its normal complement of aircraft, but the goal is to get as much training for the aircrews as possible during the transit.  Once the voyage is complete, it will only be a matter of time before the USS Reagan sails into harm's way to do her duty in the War on Terror.  We are sure the sailors and aircrews will make President Reagan proud of their ship and their country.

A key component of the Coalition's efforts to foster security and prosperity in post—war Iraq is the effort to ensure Iraqis' ability to maintain their own security forces.  The article Stryker Brigade Soldiers train Iraqi recruits, describes how the 3d Brigade of the 2d Infantry Division is training their second battalion of new recruits to become part of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC).  The soldiers are repeating a successful formula from when they trained the Iraqi 102d Battalion; that is, they emphasize the training of the non—commissioned officer (NCO) cadre in order to have a professional corps of small unit leaders. 

More importantly, given the apparent desertion of many Iraqi units in the battles for Fallujah in April, the screening process has become much more rigorous.  According to one new recruit, his 'quest to become a soldier began in April when he and 7,000 other men applied to join a new ICDC battalion that is being formed in the Tigris River Valley area.  After background checks and interviews, 900 recruits were selected for the battalion.  ICDC leaders spent a week with the newly enlisted men to ensure they wanted to be Soldiers.'

The 2d Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division is also busy training units of the ICDC while protecting the town of Kirkuk from terrorist infiltrators.  In 2nd BCT funds new ICDC Battalion headquarters, Spc. Sean Kimmons describes how Task Force 1—21st Infantry decided to kill two birds with one stone.  The old headquarters building was in need of repair, plus there was no ICDC presence in an area of the city that was used by insurgents as an infiltration route and staging area.  Therefore, the soldiers built a new headquarters building in the troubled area for the 208th ICDC Battalion.  Capt. Kealii Morris, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force 1—21 Infantry, said "This new building puts the ICDC headquarters in the southern sector of the city.  It will provide another stabilizing force in this area, where a lot of insurgent activity comes from."

The Air Combat Element (ACE) of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is headed to the CENTCOM area of responsibility aboard the USS Kearsarge.  Journalist 1st Class (SW) Chris Hoffpauir describes the actions necessary to ready the multi—purpose amphibious assault ship in Kearsarge Makes Surge Deployment.  The Kearsarge was ordered to quickly transport additional assets under the Navy's new Fleet Response Plan, and will deploy needed Marine fixed and rotary wing aircraft to the theater to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The Kearsarge has also deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom, and had earlier supported Operation Iraqi Freedom by flying combat re—supply missions with Marine heavy lift helicopters.

Link to Battle Blog 30 May — 5 June, 2004
Link to Battle Blog 23 — 29 May, 2004
Link to Battle Blog 16 — 22 May, 2004

Douglas Hanson is our Military Affairs Correspondent