Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kansas City Soldiers Weekly

News and Views of Soldiers, War and Related Topics from Kansas City and Bi-State Area

Welcome to Kansas City Soldiers Weekly, a weekly round up highlighting soldiers, the military or the war on terror from the Kansas City area and the states of Kansas and Missouri. The Middle Ground will feature this round up of local media, bloggers and general commentary every Sunday.

Please see "Operation Local" for information about contributing to this weekly project.

Thank you.



Ft Leonard Wood, MO - Dogs of War

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (AP) -- Their training is intense, their deployment dangerous.

They are sent to barren fields and dusty roads far from home to search for a major threat to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan: land mines and other hidden explosives.

Increasingly, the U.S. military is relying on dogs to reduce war casualties.



Sending a Message Home
NTC also had other exciting training. Soldiers trained in two live fire exercises. One was a convoy live fire and the other was an urban dismounted event. This training allowed the Soldiers to fully realize the importance of muzzle awareness and communication. Several Soldiers also took part in a learning exercise on how to operate high tech robots that have cameras mounted to mechanical arms. With the robot technology Soldiers can inspect cars and other suspicious objects from a safe distance. Though the days were extremely long and Soldiers averaged 4-5 hours of sleep a day, everyone stayed mission focused and took the training seriously. It was time well spent.

We are currently at our forward operating base in Iraq. On behalf of the Soldiers of the 110th, we would like to thank our families and our employers for their support, and it won’t be long before we make it home.

Missouri Democrat Rejects Timeline For Troop Withdrawal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton is rejecting the idea of a quick pullout for U.S. forces from Iraq.

But he says the Bush administration must be clear about the conditions that will allow redeployment of American troops.

"Graduation" The Iraq Army Way

In the predawn shadows, a squad of Iraqi police officers in black ski masks and flack jackets rapped loudly on the metal gate of a walled-in compound. All around them, hundreds of other Iraqi police officers and army soldiers pounded on gates across this volatile Sunni village in northern Iraq. [snip]

"It can be considered a graduation exercise for all the Iraqi forces in the region," said Lt. Col. Todd Wood, 42, of Indianola, Iowa, the 2-7's commander. "It's nice to see it all come together. A year's worth of work."

Iraq's Version of the Hatfield and McCoys

Three armored humvees rolled into the backyard of the al-Tair family compound and out poured heavily armed American soldiers. They handcuffed three al-Tair brothers and ordered the young men to kneel in the dust facing the wall of their rundown mud-brick house.

"We're gonna do a little conflict resolution here," explained the soldiers' commander, Lt. Col. Todd Wood, 42, of Indianola, Iowa.

The al-Tairs weren't suspected insurgents, or even insurgent sympathizers, so far as the American soldiers knew. Instead, they are engaged in a decades-old feud with the Fathuls, another poor farming family, who live just yards away in this small Sunni village.

Iraqis In KC Fear Hussein May Go Free

Imagine your brother was killed for escaping service in the Iraqi army.
Or think of yourself as a Kurd, and Saddam Hussein attacked your people with poisonous gas.

Picture having spent your teen years hounded by the secret police, locked in a prison and tortured by the dictator’s thugs.

Then flip on the TV and listen to Hussein complain about having to take the stairs.

“Since we have a new Iraq we are supposed to show the world that we treat Saddam Hussein humanely, even though he didn’t do that for anybody, not any body,” said Rizgar Hamawandy, a Kurd-ish Iraqi living in Kansas City.

“I think we should use his type of justice against Saddam,” he said, “and then start the new way.”
Joplin, Mo-Paying for Stories in Iraq(opinion)


Middle East
Assumptions take their lumps as West meets Middle East: Journalists: Comparing notes

Take a dozen journalists, half from the United States and half from countries throughout the Middle East.

Put them together for a week of workshops and reporting in war-scarred, volatile Lebanon.

Then watch the sparks fly -- and assumptions die.[snip]

Fran Quigley, a civil-liberties attorney and free-lance reporter from Indianapolis, was startled that Israel loomed so large in how the Middle Eastern journalists saw U.S. policies in the region.

"Our colleagues viewed all U.S. actions in the region through the prism of U.S. allegiance to Israel," Quigley said - more important than talk of spreading democracy or even access to oil.

War on Terror

Secret Service Not So Secret

Nevertheless, records compiled by human-rights organizations show that more than a dozen aircraft with links to the CIA have landed in Canada in the past four years. Some aircraft have repeated changes of ownership and registration numbers and most are painted white with no evident markings, all characteristics indicative of clandestine use. A few seem busily engaged in shuttling for the CIA, others seem to have made only one or two flights that raise questions.


Trying To be Me (Soldier Returned from Iraq
This is kind of a odd thing to talk about for me. But it is something that is important. I am in my transition to being home.

One thing I am that is new is clean air. The Army Medics warned us that when we get home we could find ourselves coughing for a couple weeks as our lung adjust to having air without dirt and dust in it. I have been coughing in the morning. I hope this doesn't last very long.

Home Front

Soldiers' Angels In Kansas City

12/4/05 - Some local volunteers spent the day sorting cards, and stuffing stockings to send to our troops overseas. The Soldiers Angels is a nationwide organization that collects and sends letters, cards and gifts to the men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Korea. If you would like to get involved, visit Soldiers' Angels

Jefferson City, MO - Toy soldiers invade National Guard headquarters

Toys that have been a Christmas staple for hundreds of years return for a seasonal encore at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City.

The Missouri National Guard dedicated a large display case of military toys at its headquarters building. It is available for public viewing until the last week of January.

Dec 7 - Two ST Josephs Vets Remember WWII

Bombs fell from Japanese aircraft onto United States Naval Forces 64 years ago today. The attack on Pearl Harbor launched the United States into World War II. KQ2 met up with two survivors who have been through a lifetime together, starting when they enlisted in St. Joseph`s Army National Guard and continuing through their time as prisoners of war.


Missouri Guardsman Takes a New Oath
In a courtroom filled with friends and fellow National Guardsmen, Spc. Ruben Sustaita raises his right hand to give his Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America for the first time. His journey to become an American citizen began 13 years ago when he moved to the United States from Mexico.



Clay Center, Kansas Soldier Receives Medal

1st Lt. Dennis Sewell, Clay Center, has been awarded the U.S. Army Air Medal for a special mission performed in Iraq.Army officials said Sewell "distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious achievement in aerial flight."

Sewell's recognition came while performing service for the United States as the Physicians Assistant of Forward Support MEDEVAC Team 5 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On Sept. 12, Base Camp Adder in Iraq came under attack in the form of direct fire, consisting of multiple 107mm rockets. All personnel were instructed to take immediate shelter. Officials said the attack was initiated by an insurgent cell located just outside of the northeast perimeter of the base camp.(read the rest)

Time In War Zone Makes LA Harpe, KS Soldier Appreciate Freedom

LAHARPE -- It was a bittersweet moment for Maj. David Lee as he left the Middle East following his yearlong tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Kansas Army National Guard officer in the Olathe-based 169th Corps Support Battalion was leaving behind friendships and working relationships forged by months of toiling shoulder-to-shoulder, and for a common goal, with American soldiers, Iraqis and contractors under intense, combat circumstances.[snip]

Others at Log Base Seitz were from Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Bragg, Calif., Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Hood, Texas, and Hamburg, Germany, as well as private contractors and Iraqi troops and civilians. The latter were the source for Lee's early lessons in humility, he said.

"These guys were doing what they were doing at the risk and expense of their own lives," he said. "If the insurgents identified them, they'd go to their homes and kill them."

Another lesson was driven home the day the Kansas group arrived at their supply base. Iraqi insurgents staged a mortar attack, an every-other-day affair at the time, as they arrived.

Ironically, Log Base Seitz was targeted again on the November day the 169th was leaving. "It was like they were saying 'hello' and 'good-bye,'" Lee joked. (read the rest)

Ft Leavenworth, KS - Soldier's Family Attends Promotion Via Video

Christmas came a little early for one Fort Leavenworth family.

On Dec. 1, Master Sgt. Richard "Dickie" Shafer was promoted at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while his family watched the ceremony through a videoteleconference in Sheridan Hall at Fort Leavenworth.

"It's the best Christmas present," said Kristin Shafer, who viewed the ceremony with her sons Andrew, 15, and Eric, 6."We just feel very blessed that we had an opportunity to do it." Lamp photo by Prudence Siebert.


Lansing, KS - Local Guard unit competes in national food service competition Every Job Supports the Mission

The U.S. Army is known around the world for its war-making capabilities. What it is not generally known for are its culinary standards.

An annual food service competition members of the Army National Guard 35th Infantry Division participated in Saturday aims to change that second fact.[snip]

In camouflaged tents in a remote, wooded area of Fort Leavenworth, the food service teams of the Leavenworth-based 35th were evaluated as they prepared meals for fifty soldiers. The judges included two officers and one civilian, all of whom had worked in food service.[snip]

He said the competition and its purpose was important because the food soldiers receive “does a lot for morale.”

Kansas City, Kan. native Staff Sgt. Christopher Wise and contractor Randy Dilbeck, 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, feeds cable for the base dormitory telephone system recently in Kuwait. The new cable is being installed for the 10 new dormitories currently under construction. Sgt. Wise is deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Smaller Missions for Iraq Bound Troops

The Pentagon's tentative plan to halt the scheduled deployment of Fort Riley's 1st Brigade to Iraq involves sending in smaller teams to support and train Iraqi forces, defense officials said Wednesday.


War on Terror

Military and the Media
Training For the Media War

Meet the press - Professor Doug Sudhff of Missouri Northwestern University, fires questions at Maj. David Snow, a student in the Command and General Staff School, during the end-of-course exercise last week. Press conferences allowed students to respond to reporters' questions concerning unit missions. Submitted photo by Michael Dye.

Home Front
Witchita Marines Reserve - Toys For Tots Find out where you can drop off toys in the Witchita area for the Marines Reserve Toys for Tots Drive

Gov. Sebelius Returns From Iraq Nov 29

TOPEKA — After visiting Kansas troops in the Middle East over the Thanksgiving holiday, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius returned with a pocketful of personal notes to deliver to family members and expressed admiration for the job that the soldiers’ were doing.

“I am so proud of their efforts,” Sebelius said today.

It was a whirlwind trip with three other governors, covering six countries in six days.

JROTC Performs at Recruiting Assembly

It may be a short tour, but members of the Leavenworth High Junior ROTC program will be able to reach hundreds of students as they visit local middle schools.[snip]

"JROTC is a high-school class and it isn't any more difficult than any other, but it will definitely leave you with many more memories and skills that you will use for the rest of your life," Ian Tracy, a cadet command sergeant major in the program, told Warren students Tuesday.[snip]

An armed drill team of male students performed a drill routine with rifles under the command of Cadet 1st Lt. Travis Jennings.

King called the Leavenworth High School JROTC unit the oldest one in the nation. It was officially formed by an act of Congress in 1917. She also said Leavenworth High School has one of the largest JROTC programs in the nation. The Leavenworth High School program is said to have about 260 students.

Honor the Soldier

Fallen Neighbors: Staff Sgt. Gary L. Collins

Staff Sgt. Gary L. Collins, 1st Bn., 16th Regt., 1st Infantry Division, Nov. 8, 2003

Those close to Gary L. Collins remember a man with a strong sense of honor and personal duty, a man who chose a military career because he wanted to protect the world.

"He was just a hell of a man," said his father, Don Collins. "Very dedicated ... felt like he was fighting for the just cause."

Tonganoxie, KS - Ceremony Kicks off Holiday Season

On a frigid night at Veterans of Foreign Wars Park, Kelly Frantz's words warmed a group of nearly 200 people who were gathered for the Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor invited Frantz to act as honorary tree-lighter for this year's ceremony at VFW Park, held last Thursday. Frantz's husband, Lucas, was killed in October while serving in Iraq.[snip]

Fighting back tears, Kelly Frantz said the last two months have been the most difficult of her life, but added she was thankful for the community's response after her husband's death.

"With your support, I can stand here tonight," Frantz said during a speech before lighting the tree.

Frantz appreciated the community's support of the troops in Iraq.

She spoke about Christmas and the symbolism of the holiday tree -- each light representing one person, but all connected to form the lighting of one tree. And those lights don't just represent citizens here in America, but troops serving overseas as well, she said.

Witchita, KS - Never Forget Iraq War Wounded

A few minutes spent talking to B.J. “Stumps” Jackson bring into focus one little-understood legacy of the Iraq war. As the double amputee from Iowa told The Eagle editorial board, injuries that would have been fatal in any other conflict are survivable now, and the troops are returning to their communities with life-changing disabilities. The organization that Jackson promotes, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, is the designated beneficiary of the Amateur Texas Hold ’Em tournament today and Sunday at Century II. But all Americans should make it a priority to help these vets meet their unique and pressing needs, such as for job training and placement, as they move into civilian life.

Witchita, KS - Phelps Clan Up Close And Personal

My column today looks at the Phelps clan’s protests at military funerals and asks for more space for grieving families in the form of a no-protest buffer zone around funerals. I strongly believe in First Amendment rights, but I also feel strongly that mourning families trying to bury a loved one shouldn’t have to endure such harassment. Give them their space.

A funeral protest isn’t free speech -- it’s cruelty.

I went to the Phelpses’ protest this morning at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wichita -- I wanted to see one of these protests up close. Believe me, it was way too cold for an outdoor protest.[snip]

About 150 Patriot Guard members were there, too -- some had traveled many miles in bone-chilling weather to offer support and try to shield the family. I salute them.

Ray Thomas of Patriot Guard Speaks Out

As a member of the Patriot Guard, I can assure you that many of us would like nothing more than beating the &$^@# out of those people. With many combat experienced vets, you can be assured that we could make short work of them.

However, that would play into their hands. They would sue and use the funds to continue spreading their hatred. We show up at the invitation of the family to shield them from that disgusting hate. And, we do. Nothing could be seen or heard by the grieving family.

After the service as the casket was carried out, over 100 very young school children from the attached parochial school streamed out and stood along a fence across the street---all standing there with American flags.



Testicular Fortitude soldier wounded and returned from Iraq)
You know, once upon a time, Iraq had a nuclear (or was it nuculear?) weapons program. Realizing that it was a threat to their own security, Israel (the Jooos) bombed the Bejesus out of it, destroying the Osiraq Facility. The Arab world flinched, and did not counterattack Israel. So much for brotherhood. Or was it something else, perhaps? Maybe everyone in the region was secretly relieved that his utter batshittines, Uncle Satan, was stripped of his atomic toys. I'm sure that the course of Iran/Iraq, Persian Gulf I and II would have been MUCH different had the Israelis not stood up for themselves and the rest of the world. That takes Balls.

Operation Push Back

Witchita Prepares For Presidential Visit

Wichita is preparing for a presidential visit. Former President George H.W. Bush will speak at Century II.

More than 3,500 tickets had been sold by Wednesday afternoon.

Along with President Bush supporters there will also be protestors. At least three anti-war groups will be outside of Century II. There message will be to bring troops home from Iraq.

Economy Pushing Bush Ratings

U.S. President George Bush's slumping approval rating got a boost based on economic performance in a New York Times/CBS News poll published Thursday.

The survey, conducted Dec. 2-6, showed Bush's approval rating at 40 percent, up from 35 percent a month ago, which was the lowest point of his presidency, the Times said

On the issue of Iraq, 32 percent want the number of U.S. troops reduced, and 28 percent want a total pullout.


Justices push law schools to defend Pentagon recruiting ban

Vigil to coincide with protests in Cuba

The Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation will hold a vigil Saturday in support of 25 U.S. activists marching from Santiago, Cuba, to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The marchers are protesting U.S. policy on prisoner detention, as well as alleged torture. Solidarity events are planned throughout the United States on Saturday, which is International Human Rights Day.[snip]

The marchers want to draw attention to the U.S. military’s treatment of prisoners of war. The group, called “Witness Against Torture,” started its 50-mile journey Wednesday. Marchers are expected to reach Guantanamo on Monday. The marchers include members of Christian Peacemakers, an organization to which four U.S. hostages in Iraq belong.

Operation "Local"

The media, for various reasons, does not provide in depth news regarding soldiers, their families or on the ground information regarding operations of local units currently deployed or serving stateside. When it is covered it is often about the wounded, the dead, deployments, redeployments and general stories featuring explosions or politics. I have not found any local media source that aggregates any other news regarding local units and soldiers. Most stories are carried in small local papers with limited readership and availability on line.

The goal of "Operation Local" will be to seek out information directly from or related to soldiers, family or units and give them a place to be seen and heard.

I'm asking any readers to provide information or contacts that will satisfy the goals of this operation. If you know of any military or military family blogger in or from Kansas City or the Kansas and Missouri state area that I can add to this round up, please contact me by email with links to kehenry1-at-hotmail-dot-com.

I will also consider featuring email, letters or other commentary from friends, family and soldiers. I would like to feature stories about individual soldiers and units including deployments, operations, redeployment, awards, promotions, life as a military spouse, parent or child, local support or charity programs for soldiers and their mission, adjusting to life as a civilian, recovery from wounds, and any other related topics.

If any reader knows of any person that would like to contribute a story or would like to contribute a story or comment directly, please contact me at kehenry1-at-hotmail-dot-com.

All emails or stories must be received by Friday 12 AM CST every week to make it into the weekly Sunday edition.

Help me tell our soldiers' stories.

Give them a face and a voice.

Thank you.

PS..Suggestions on formatting and where to find other information would be appreciated.

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