Combat Chapel Team Goes Outside Wire for Duty
Chaplain (Capt.) David Haltom, 732nd Air Expeditionary Group, provides spiritual guidance to a Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airman in a combat zone. As one of the only ‘combat’ chapel teams, Chaplain Haltom and Staff Sgt. Porscha Howard, the chapel team for the 732nd AEG, provide chapel support to Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen, who are filling Army positions in unique locations.
South America, Iraq and Afghanistan: US Military Around the World
Sgt. Stryker here, hoping wherever you are in the world things are going well. Progress continues in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Also in Afghanistan, soldiers are learning to bond with the locals to help prepare them to take over full control of their country. Finally, Latin America is going to have to be handled differently in the future according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On March 3, 2009, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen spoke with American Forces Press Service on his way to Lima, Peru during a trip that also has taken him to Brazil and Chile and will include visits to Colombia and Mexico.
“I grew up in a polarized world that was basically East-West. That’s the Cold War,” Mullen said. “Here it is 20 years later, and we’re still breaking out of that.” The Cold War dominated U.S. military thinking for generations, the chairman added, and military planners still look to Europe and Asia before looking to Latin America.
The need for the United States to focus on Latin America is obvious, Mullen said. South America is the United States’ largest trading partner. Brazil, alone, is the fifth-largest country and 10th-largest economy in the world.
The bottom line in U.S. engagement with countries in the region is the security risks the area presents, according to Mullen.
“This really is a global risk,” he said, “and I think engagement and attention does an awful lot to mitigate and reduce that risk so we don’t get into a big crisis.”
Updates from Iraq:
In Iraq over the last few days U.S. and Iraqi forces deterred several potentially deadly incidents by confiscating two large weapons caches and dismantling a homemade bomb, according to Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.
At least one cache was discovered with the help of an Iraqi civilian who led a combined Iraqi police and U.S. Army patrol February 28 to a large cache west of Samarra. The cache contained more than 200 mortar rounds and about 1,500 pounds of explosives, which were safely disposed of by explosive ordnance technicians.
A joint patrol of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers seized another cache March 3, 2009 during a patrol in the Mumbar Garhat district of Kirkuk province. The cache consisted of launchers, 120 mm shells, 60 mm mortars and firing systems, machine-gun rounds, improvised mortar tubes, blasting caps and several other supporting items. A joint U.S. and Iraqi army team safely disposed of the cache.
Also on March 3, 2009, Iraqi security forces and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers discovered a homemade bomb while on patrol west of Baghdad. The troops immediately cordoned off the area to prevent injuries, and safely disposed of the bomb.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan on March 4, 2009, three contractors suffered minor injuries in a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack this afternoon near Bagram Airfield, according to Combined Joint Task Force 101 officials.
The attack occurred outside the perimeter of the base when a vehicle exploded near an entry control point. The driver, who was carrying explosives, abandoned the vehicle before it detonated. The explosive he was carrying detonated as he ran away from the vehicle. The attacker was killed in the second explosion. It is unknown if there were additional personnel in the vehicle.
No military or Afghan civilian casualties have been reported. The injured contractors are being treated in the hospital on base.
It’s actions like this that are helping win the real war in Afghanistan.
For example, Task Force Spartan soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, have been working closely with the local populace and security forces in Afghanistan’s Vardak province since their deployment to Regional Command East two months ago.
The “Catamount” battalion has had recent success with the Afghan security forces in the province’s Jalrez and Sayed Abad districts. During a recent visit to the village of Kololan, one team learned that the majority of the villagers are farmers who sell their produce in the local market. But while the town is agriculturally strong, it doesn’t have a resident doctor, which caused the villagers to have to travel long distances to receive medical care. Once the soldiers learned of the town’s plight, they arranged to bring basic medical care during their next patrol.
“Providing humanitarian assistance to Vardak citizens is one of the most important steps we can take in forming positive relations that will lead to a cohesive struggle against economic decline and ultimately the defeat of enemy forces in their area,” said Army 1st Lt. Christopher Stachura, an infantry officer with the Catamount battalion.
The team is helping in other ways as well. After only a few short weeks in the Sayed Abad district, Team Comanche formed a successful partnership with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.
In an effort to strengthen efficiency and professionalism within the police force, Team Comanche has developed a five-day program that instructs police officers on weapons maintenance and safety, how to properly search personnel, room clearing, first aid, vehicle maintenance and combatives training.
“During these unstable years of war in Afghanistan, corruption has been an issue in the local government and among the ANP and even the ANA,” said Army 2nd Lt. Chris Wallgreen, Team Comanche platoon leader. “These younger police officers are inspirational, because they want to represent their community and are honest about helping Vardak become more secure.”
The U.S. military is bring the American way (of helping each other) to people all over the world. That’s something to think about.
This is Sgt. Stryker … signing out.