Report from Iraq

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I just received a newsletter report from LTC Craig Osborne, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, in Iraq. Here is what he has to say:

FROM THE COMMANDER

     Hello from western Baghdad!  We have now completed our six month here and we have had a month filled with change.  As we were expecting, the battalion has moved locations in Iraq and we now call CAMP LIBERTY home.  We have been living in three different FOBs since the day we arrived in January, but we are all back together and it is great to have the team located in one place again.  CAMP LIBERTY is one of the satellite camps that surround the Baghdad International Airport on the west side of Baghdad.  It is much windier and dustier than where we have lived before.  For the next few days, we will be consolidating our equipment and preparing to accept responsibility for a new area of Iraq.  Our new address can be found on the last page of this newsletter — please note the only thing that has changed is the first five digits of our zip code. 

     In the last month, our combat operations continued to increase in intensity and we concluded our stay in southern Baghdad by capturing six national—level targets and two additional Brigade High Value Individuals.  Our Soldiers have amazed me at what they can accomplish with minimal guidance and the war is truly being won at the small—unit level — our platoons, squads, and individual Soldiers are the ones that are making the biggest difference. 

     Our work with 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, of the 6th Iraqi Division continued this past month and we completed our last operation with them on June 6th.  Over these past months, we have watched the 3rd Battalion develop their warfighting skills and I know they want to rid Iraq of the insurgents even more than we do.  We have conducted air assaults, raids, cordon and searches, checkpoints, fixed site security missions, ranges, and a multitude of other events with them and have attempted to train them in the ways of a professional army.  Iraqi Soldiers have fought, bled, and died beside us these past six months and they have our respect as fellow warriors.  As we assume responsibility for a new area in the coming days, we will partner with a different Iraqi unit for the remainder of the time we are deployed — this time, an Iraqi Brigade.

     This past month, we suffered the passing of a brother and several others were wounded in action.  We lost Corporal Bobby West of B Company in the late afternoon of May 30th when an IED detonated near him as he and other Soldiers were walking nearby.  Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family in Arkansas as they grieve for his loss.  We will never forget Corporal West's life, sacrifice, and service to the nation.  Although all of our wounded are expected to make recoveries and most were able to stay in Iraq to heal, First Lieutenant Brett Wellensiek (D Company), Sergeant Brian Hartman (B Company), Specialist James Lewis (D Company), Private First Class Siencio Galaraza (B Company), Private Second Class Calvin Davis (B Company), and Private Second Class Kenneth Ellis (B Company) have returned to the United States this past month due to the severity of their wounds.  I continue to be amazed at the medical treatment and evacuation system and I know that their skills have saved lives — I have watched it first—hand and I am always left with a sense of awe and I am very proud of these great men and women.     

   On June 13th, we completed the transfer of responsibility for our former operational area to 1st Squadron of the 10th Cavalry Regiment.  They are a unit from 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood and we wish them only the best as they take over that mission from us.  Our units got along exceptionally well during the relief—in—place process and I have every belief that they will continue the work that we began in that area. 

     As you know, we have been attached to 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) for the entire deployment...until now.  There have been countless acts of professionalism and personal friendship that have occurred between our units and we are thankful for having the opportunity to serve with them.  Those friendships will last beyond the days of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and we will keep those memories with us for the rest of our lives.  As of today, we are reassigned to 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division — our parent unit from Fort Hood.

     Over the past six months, our Soldiers have served in support of four different battalions and we have included members of other Divisions and services (Air Force and Navy) into our task organization.  Our Soldiers have made immense contributions and positively effected what has happened in southern Baghdad during these months and I am incredibly proud of each one of them and what they have accomplished.  No two companies have had the same tasks and each of our seven units has had a very distinct and challenging mission — every one of them important.

     Our combat operations have occurred while we have worked hard to improve the lives of the Iraqi people around us.  As we look back, we have helped them fix electrical problems, cleaned canals, dug wells, renovated schools, repaired roads, opened markets, and watched the development of a burgeoning civil government in our area.  During my last meeting with the local government and tribal leaders, I told them that we were moving to another area and they became visibly distressed — the council members asked me who they could contact to prevent us from leaving.  Since OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM began, they have seen twelve American units come and go and they told me that we were the first unit they have had faith in and trusted.  We have given hope to the people of southern Baghdad and gained the respect of the people through our professional and personal conduct, warfighting expertise, and a genuine concern for the people that we have encountered. 

     Leaving an area such as this is filled with mixed emotions for many.  There is an excitement and anticipation of a new challenge ahead but it is also mixed with elements of sadness.  We have become friends with many of the Iraqi people and we wish them only the best as they attempt to rid their country of the insurgency.  Our regret is that we will not personally see the mission through in that area as they continue the fight.  Additionally, we will always remember the brothers that we brought to southern Baghdad but were unable to take home with us — Specialist William Hayes, Specialist Sergio Mercedes, Private First Class Sean Tharp, Specialist Ronald Gebur, and Corporal Bobby West.  They will remain with us as Regulars regardless of where we fight. 

     In the coming days, you may start to hear names of places like Abu Ghraib, PATROL BASE COURAGE, and FOB CONSTITUTION.  Some of our Soldiers will live in these forward deployed locations but they are all still located within the area that our battalion will be responsible for.  Additionally, everyone will still have a living trailer on CAMP LIBERTY even if they are spending the majority of their time at a forward—deployed location.

John B. Dwyer   6 15 06

I just received a newsletter report from LTC Craig Osborne, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, in Iraq. Here is what he has to say:

FROM THE COMMANDER

     Hello from western Baghdad!  We have now completed our six month here and we have had a month filled with change.  As we were expecting, the battalion has moved locations in Iraq and we now call CAMP LIBERTY home.  We have been living in three different FOBs since the day we arrived in January, but we are all back together and it is great to have the team located in one place again.  CAMP LIBERTY is one of the satellite camps that surround the Baghdad International Airport on the west side of Baghdad.  It is much windier and dustier than where we have lived before.  For the next few days, we will be consolidating our equipment and preparing to accept responsibility for a new area of Iraq.  Our new address can be found on the last page of this newsletter — please note the only thing that has changed is the first five digits of our zip code. 

     In the last month, our combat operations continued to increase in intensity and we concluded our stay in southern Baghdad by capturing six national—level targets and two additional Brigade High Value Individuals.  Our Soldiers have amazed me at what they can accomplish with minimal guidance and the war is truly being won at the small—unit level — our platoons, squads, and individual Soldiers are the ones that are making the biggest difference. 

     Our work with 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, of the 6th Iraqi Division continued this past month and we completed our last operation with them on June 6th.  Over these past months, we have watched the 3rd Battalion develop their warfighting skills and I know they want to rid Iraq of the insurgents even more than we do.  We have conducted air assaults, raids, cordon and searches, checkpoints, fixed site security missions, ranges, and a multitude of other events with them and have attempted to train them in the ways of a professional army.  Iraqi Soldiers have fought, bled, and died beside us these past six months and they have our respect as fellow warriors.  As we assume responsibility for a new area in the coming days, we will partner with a different Iraqi unit for the remainder of the time we are deployed — this time, an Iraqi Brigade.

     This past month, we suffered the passing of a brother and several others were wounded in action.  We lost Corporal Bobby West of B Company in the late afternoon of May 30th when an IED detonated near him as he and other Soldiers were walking nearby.  Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family in Arkansas as they grieve for his loss.  We will never forget Corporal West's life, sacrifice, and service to the nation.  Although all of our wounded are expected to make recoveries and most were able to stay in Iraq to heal, First Lieutenant Brett Wellensiek (D Company), Sergeant Brian Hartman (B Company), Specialist James Lewis (D Company), Private First Class Siencio Galaraza (B Company), Private Second Class Calvin Davis (B Company), and Private Second Class Kenneth Ellis (B Company) have returned to the United States this past month due to the severity of their wounds.  I continue to be amazed at the medical treatment and evacuation system and I know that their skills have saved lives — I have watched it first—hand and I am always left with a sense of awe and I am very proud of these great men and women.     

   On June 13th, we completed the transfer of responsibility for our former operational area to 1st Squadron of the 10th Cavalry Regiment.  They are a unit from 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood and we wish them only the best as they take over that mission from us.  Our units got along exceptionally well during the relief—in—place process and I have every belief that they will continue the work that we began in that area. 

     As you know, we have been attached to 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) for the entire deployment...until now.  There have been countless acts of professionalism and personal friendship that have occurred between our units and we are thankful for having the opportunity to serve with them.  Those friendships will last beyond the days of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and we will keep those memories with us for the rest of our lives.  As of today, we are reassigned to 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division — our parent unit from Fort Hood.

     Over the past six months, our Soldiers have served in support of four different battalions and we have included members of other Divisions and services (Air Force and Navy) into our task organization.  Our Soldiers have made immense contributions and positively effected what has happened in southern Baghdad during these months and I am incredibly proud of each one of them and what they have accomplished.  No two companies have had the same tasks and each of our seven units has had a very distinct and challenging mission — every one of them important.

     Our combat operations have occurred while we have worked hard to improve the lives of the Iraqi people around us.  As we look back, we have helped them fix electrical problems, cleaned canals, dug wells, renovated schools, repaired roads, opened markets, and watched the development of a burgeoning civil government in our area.  During my last meeting with the local government and tribal leaders, I told them that we were moving to another area and they became visibly distressed — the council members asked me who they could contact to prevent us from leaving.  Since OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM began, they have seen twelve American units come and go and they told me that we were the first unit they have had faith in and trusted.  We have given hope to the people of southern Baghdad and gained the respect of the people through our professional and personal conduct, warfighting expertise, and a genuine concern for the people that we have encountered. 

     Leaving an area such as this is filled with mixed emotions for many.  There is an excitement and anticipation of a new challenge ahead but it is also mixed with elements of sadness.  We have become friends with many of the Iraqi people and we wish them only the best as they attempt to rid their country of the insurgency.  Our regret is that we will not personally see the mission through in that area as they continue the fight.  Additionally, we will always remember the brothers that we brought to southern Baghdad but were unable to take home with us — Specialist William Hayes, Specialist Sergio Mercedes, Private First Class Sean Tharp, Specialist Ronald Gebur, and Corporal Bobby West.  They will remain with us as Regulars regardless of where we fight. 

     In the coming days, you may start to hear names of places like Abu Ghraib, PATROL BASE COURAGE, and FOB CONSTITUTION.  Some of our Soldiers will live in these forward deployed locations but they are all still located within the area that our battalion will be responsible for.  Additionally, everyone will still have a living trailer on CAMP LIBERTY even if they are spending the majority of their time at a forward—deployed location.

John B. Dwyer   6 15 06