3-4 CAV - SCO`s DISPATCH 08 MAY 09

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3-4 CAV - SCO`s DISPATCH 08 MAY 09
3‐4 CAV ‐ SCO’s DISPATCH
08 MAY 09
Aloha Raider Families and Friends,
Happy Mothers Day!!!
First, it is my duty to officially proclaim that this dispatch does, in fact, count as a
Hallmark equivalent “blanket” Mother’s Day Card sent on behalf of all of the deployed Troopers
in the Squadron. (It also counts as a belated Valentine’s Card if you never did receive one). I
write this dispatch on our 201st day past our official “Squadron boots on the ground” date.
While yesterday passed without fanfare, it certainly seems like a milestone worth mentioning.
I reported last month of ongoing planning
efforts for multiple combined operations targeting
terrorist sanctuaries within the Task Force Raider
Area of Operations. Truth be told, the first of those
operations began within hours of your receipt of last
month’s dispatch, and the pace remains steady. You
may have heard of a recent increase in suicide
attacks throughout Iraq, the first of which occurred in
our own area of operations resulting in civilian
casualties. I maintain that when threatened, the
enemy seeks to regain the offensive. Many share in
the opinion that the terrorist networks sense the
momentum gained by an Iraqi government trying to
exert its influence as well as by the Iraqi security
forces gaining confidence in their own ability to
secure the civilian population. Your Raider Troopers
encourage these efforts and in most cases, are the
driving forces behind this renewed confidence…all
while seeking to maintain transparent in their support.
Task Force Raider maintaining
overwatch during recent operations
The first of our combined operations began a few weeks in
advance of the attack I previously mentioned. Troopers from
Apache Troop, the 3rd National Police Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 14th
Iraqi Army, the Duluiyah Police, and the Duluiyah Emergency
Response Unit conducted a dawn air assault operation into the heart
of one of the areas known to harbor terrorist networks. The
operation literally began with a bang…one of the determined
insurgents detonated a homemade explosive device as 6 of our
partnered Iraqi Army soldiers entered the house immediately felling
the house, killing the insurgent, and wounding the Iraqi Army
soldiers. Fortunately, all were rapidly evacuated and treated in a
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remarkable display of combined medical efforts at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Paliwoda. As
some Iraqi medics treated some of their casualties, our medics treated the others and all 6
returned to full duty within the week of the incident. The operation resulted in the detention of
several enemy network personnel (to include one of their leaders) and further demonstrated Iraqi
partnership with the execution of a combined patrol base in the dense orchards where the
insurgents often camp. At one point in the operation the three Battalion level Commanders from
the Iraqi Army, Emergency Response Unit, and this Squadron were co-located to conduct faceto-face coordination during the operation. This visibly demonstrated combined Iraqi/U.S.
security force partnership to the onlookers who were clearly encouraged by the operation and
obvious teamwork.
The Squadron followed this operation with another combined operation that continues
even as I write this letter. Based on intelligence gained from the previous operation as well as
combined information gathered during our Joint
Security Working Groups (JSWGs), we identified
an area between AO Raider and our neighboring
province that most likely constituted an enemy
sanctuary based on a variety of factors including a
lack of road networks leading to it, river valleys
that further limit vehicular traffic, and dense
orchards that mark our rural agricultural
communities and limit visibility to no more than
25 meters. Our plan was simple…build a road.
Troopers and Iraqi counterparts infiltrate
We partnered with the nearby Engineer unit and
by air and land in pursuit of Al Qaeda
elected to build a road into the heart of this
previously inaccessible territory. The intent of
this road was to provide an enduring signature of
the local government’s influence, better connect
the rural farmers to the more bustling markets,
and allow our Iraqi security force partners to
routinely patrol these areas and disrupt future
enemy activity. The first phase of this effort
began with Army engineers and within the
coming months will end with actual road-paving
through a local contractor providing much needed
jobs. This ongoing effort will most likely go through the summer and we will provide subsequent
reports as to the progress.
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08 MAY 09
As our Troopers and Iraqi Army counterparts first landed by helicopter deep into this
region, the locals were clearly surprised by our extended presence in the area. As intended, this
operation forced the enemy to respond. The first of which was the initial series of suicide attacks
I mentioned at the start of the report. While this was certainly tragic, the local response of our
Iraqi first responders required no assistance from us, and the subsequent movement of the enemy
enabled joint U.S. efforts to target them in a lethal manner that ultimately resulted in the
elimination of a sizable Al Qaeda cell operating in these orchards. The news of their defeat
made international news, resulted in the recovery and rendering harmless of multiple suicide
explosive vests that could easily have inflicted dozen of civilian casualties, and also resulted in
the discovery and exploitation of multiple underground hide sites and staging areas that our
Troopers subsequently destroyed. We’ve since continued this cycle with another joint operation
resulting in additional lethal blows to the network. In every respect, our Troopers performed
courageously and demonstrated they will pursue the enemy regardless of the conditions. The
Squadron staff coordinated these operations with both our local partners as well as with U.S.
Special operations forces and Iraqi Emergency response forces from well outside of our local
districts.
Task Force Raider Troopers cross the Tigris in search of enemy hide sites in the
dense river reeds and islands (above, left). The new road built in the heart of this
former enemy sanctuary (above, right). SPC(P) McIntosh (below) crosses back across
the Tigris after locating and destroying one of the insurgent hide sites
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The best part of the story resonated in the response of the local
population that previously lived in fear of this local Al Qaeda cell
residing in their farms and orchards. The celebrations went through the
night and long into the next day where locals literally partied in the
street, shot celebratory fire, and gathered in mass to wave at each of our
patrols that passed to and from the objective area. Within the first week
of the operation some families brought lambs (not cooked, still walking,
grazing, and other things…) to the Joint Coordination Center to show
their appreciation. As the heavy Engineer vehicles arrived on scene they
sensed the level of combined commitment which encouraged some of
the previously intimidated population to come forward and agree to
provide information as to any future enemy activity in the area.
Our Task Force Raider Medical team
continues to leave an enduring impact on the
citizens of the Balad and Dujayl districts.
Our surgeon, MAJ Brent Lechner, recently
met a young girl, Amina, when her father
brought her to FOB Paliwoda seeking
medical care for his 13 year old daughter.
Amina:Before
Amina:After
She suffered from an IED blast from 2005
that took her right eye. Our medical team conducted an initial assessment and coordinated with
Ophthalmologists in theater to create a prosthetic eye. Our efforts paid off as they accepted her
case and fitted her for her prosthesis. Amina’s father brought her back to FOB Paliwoda to show
off the results. We were happy for their family and continue to provide assistance in this critical
area. While I boast of our medics efforts, it’s worth noting that SFC George developed one of
the most comprehensive Emergency Medical Training (EMT) programs for our local hospital
that will undoubtedly
become an example for all of
the neighboring hospitals
and clinics in the Province.
Since this report, Doc
Lechner returned to Walter
Reed Army Medical Center
based on his expertise in his
field. We’ve since
welcomed MAJ Andreas
Lindberger as our new
Raider surgeon.
Part of our Medical Team at FOB Paliwoda. SPC DeGuzman
(w/Purple Heart) DOC Lechner and SFC George flank him
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This month we also hosted some guests from the United States who travelled to Iraq in
support of Operation Iraqi Children (OIC). By way of background, Operation Iraqi Children is a
grass-roots program founded in early 2004
by actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump,
Apollo 13, CSI: NY) and author Laura
Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American
Legend). Sinise and Hillenbrand created
OIC to give concerned Americans a way to
reach out to war-stricken Iraqi children and
support American troops in their efforts to
assist them. Since its inception, OIC has
delivered to Iraq over 200,000 school
supply kits, along with more than half a
million toys and thousands of ArabicMayor Ammer (above) hands out school
language books, shoes, blankets,
supplies while an IP (below) does the same
backpacks and sets of sports equipment, all
of which have been distributed to Iraqi
children by our troops. While their focus
remains on Iraq, in recent months, OIC has
extended its reach, sending shipments of
school supplies to Afghanistan and the east
African nation of Djibouti, where
American troops are distributing them to
children in need.
During their recent trip to AO
Sharlene Hawkes, President, Remember My
Raider, American Airlines graciously flew
Service, enjoys a moment with the children
the entire contingent (and their school
supplies) to theater and we received 17
excited volunteers representing 6 different
organizations from across the country at
FOB Paliwoda to participate in what was
most likely a life-changing experience for
the participants. Their effort facilitated
delivery of 3,500 school kits throughout
our area of operations, and our guests
personally delivered 744 of them to excited
school children. The local government leaders and Iraqi security force personnel also
participated in the distribution of these much needed school supplies. Three different Arabic
news channels covered this emotional event. The Balad District Mayor, Mayor Ammer,
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08 MAY 09
commented, “Today hundreds of people know the joy we brought, tomorrow thousands will
know.” I’d like to extend my personal thanks to the great Americans who participated in this
visit.
In our continuing efforts to reinforce local government, you now can walk in the heart of
AO Comanche in the remote town of Jumuriah where you would notice a road pavement project
underway, a completed 2-story primary school (the nicest rural school I’ve seen in all of Iraq), a
Water treatment facility project, and the groundbreaking for the new Iraqi Police Station that will
replace the station previously destroyed by terrorists. This new Police Station essentially blocks
one of the well known enemy smuggling routes with the intended purpose of denying the traffic
of arms and ammunition. The strategy of enabling friendly networks to compete directly with
enemy networks continues to take hold and is clearly visible to the rural population.
We recently bid farewell to both CPT Bill
Ferraro and CPT Jay Polk as the former Commanders
of C Troop and Headquarters Troop. We welcomed
CPT Paul Cutts to C TRP and our own CPT Nate
Costa, formerly the Squadron Fire Support Officer to
HHT. We also bid farewell to our Squadron
Operations Sergeant Major, CSM Royce Manis. The
Commanding General, MG Caslen, and the Division
Command Sergeant Major, CSM Leota, recently
appointed CSM Manis as the Battalion Command
Sergeant Major for 2-27 Infantry “Wolfhounds” up in
Bayji. We’re very proud of CSM Manis and we truly
appreciate all that he’s done in support of the Raider
Squadron in combat. We look forward to hearing of
his Battalion’s accomplishments up north.
CPT Nate Costa proudly assumes
command of Headquarters Troop
SSG Aviles, SSG Phasadavong, & SGT Hovey, D TRP (left) prepare for their combat
logistics patrol. 1LT Schade, B TRP Platoon Leader (right) with an Iraqi Army Soldier
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08 MAY 09
MG Caslen, (center) Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division and Multi-National DivisionNorth commends the Troopers of Task Force Raider at FOB Paliwoda
In closing, please keep on the lookout for a special late May edition of NEWSEEK that
will feature our very own 1LT Pat Hyde in what will undoubtedly be a touching and
heartwarming tale of his personal vignettes from Iraq. Pat’s brother served a previous tour in
Iraq (the story is billed as “Brothers in Arms”), but Pat deserves the credit for befriending
Newsweek’s Jessica Ramirez during a late night discussion in the passenger compartment of my
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle en route to FOB Paliwoda. He previously
shared his credentials of actually dating Chuck Norris’ daughter (we learned of this on the eve of
his R&R leave to Brazil), and we’re eager to learn of other
family secrets in the upcoming publication.
Unfortunately, the Newsweek photographer (right) was
late in arriving to Iraq and didn’t show up to AO Raider
until after Pat’s birthday (and the head-shaving that
accompanied that event). It’s no wonder why he wore his
helmet for the photo shoot.
Again, Happy Mother’s Day!
Lastly, as we approach this Memorial Day, know
that we will think of our families at home, we will be
proud of our role in allowing our fellow Americans to
enjoy the holiday as they see fit, and we will pause in
remembrance honoring those who died defending our
Great Nation.
Prepared and Loyal!
DAVID M. HODNE
LTC, IN
Commanding
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