Friday, October 31, 2008

Petraeus Assumes Leadership of U.S. Central Command

"By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Oct. 31, 2008 – Army Gen. David H. Petraeus assumed leadership of the U.S. military command charged with helping to build peace in a tough and war-torn part of the world today.
Petraeus took the reins of U.S. Central Command from acting commander Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey in a ceremony here.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates presided over the change of command held at the base’s Memorial Park. “General Petraeus, you are again taking responsibility for our precious sons and daughters,” Gates said. “I have no doubt they will continue to make you and me – indeed all Americans – very proud.” Petraeus now has responsibility for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He must deal with the threat that Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons poses to the region and world. He also must deal with an unstable government in Pakistan. U.S. Central Command reaches from Kazakhstan to Yemen and Egypt to Kyrgyzstan. "

DefenseLink News Article: Petraeus Assumes Leadership of U.S. Central Command:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Painting shows 82nd paratroopers in action ::

"FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The 82nd Airborne Division will unveil a new painting depicting some of its troopers in action in Iraq.
The painting of paratroopers from the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, will be unveiled Thursday at Fort Bragg. The unit, nicknamed the 'Thunderbolts,' established stability in an area south of Baghdad that had been controlled by enemy forces. "

Painting shows 82nd paratroopers in action ::

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wounded N.C. soldier gets new house from fellow vets

"FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. — A veterans group on Monday presented Sgt. Joey Bozik the keys to his new house four years to the day from when he was wounded in Iraq."
A roadside bomb in Iraq injured Bozik. The 26-year-old former sergeant with the 118th Military Police Company from Fort Bragg lost both legs and his right arm when an anti-tank mine exploded under his Humvee.
Paratroopers from Fort Bragg parachuted in Monday with the keys to his new home in Fuquay-Varina.

Wounded N.C. soldier gets new house from fellow vets ::

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Troops Well-Protected Under U.S.-Iraq Agreement, Gates Says

"By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2008 – Servicemembers should not be concerned about the status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
The secretary told Pentagon reporters that the agreement – now circulating as a draft in Washington and Baghdad – has adequate protections for American servicemembers.

Gates said former Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, current commander Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker have been deeply involved in the negotiations. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, approve of the agreement."

The agreement will allow American forces to continue to operate in Iraq and train the Iraqi security forces once the United Nations Security Council mandate expires on Dec. 31. “Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus, General Odierno and I are all satisfied that our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq are well-protected” by the agreement, Gates said. Gates is consulting with Senate and House armed services committee leaders about the agreement, which does not require congressional approval to become effective. “The four leaders I talked to from the armed services committees were generally positive, but clearly are looking forward to seeing the exact text,” Gates said. White House officials discussed the text of the agreement with congressional staffers this morning. The Iraqis want to assume control of their own security, and the draft agreement includes goals for withdrawal of American troops, if security conditions permit.
Related Articles:Gates Works with Congress on Iraq Status of Forces Agreement

DefenseLink News Article: Troops Well-Protected Under U.S.-Iraq Agreement, Gates Says:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Documents Say Iran Aids Iraq Militias

"WASHINGTON — They wake before dawn, with time to exercise, eat and pray before the day’s first class in firing Kalashnikov rifles.
Over the next eight hours, they practice using bazookas or laying roadside bombs, with a break for lunch and mandatory religious instruction.
There is free time in the evening to watch television or play Ping-Pong.
Lights out at 11 p.m.
Such is a typical day at a dusty military base outside Tehran, where for the past several years members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives have trained Iraqi Shiites to launch attacks against American forces in Iraq, according to accounts given to American interrogators by captured Iraqi fighters.

American officials have long cited Iranian training and weapons as reasons for the lethality of attacks by Shiite fighters in Iraq. Iranian officials deny that such training takes place.
Now, more than 80 pages of newly declassified intelligence documents for the first time describe in detail an elaborate network used by Iraqis to gain entry into Iran and train under Iranian supervision. They offer the most comprehensive account to date to support American claims about Iranian efforts to build a proxy force in Iraq. "

More...Documents Say Iran Aids Iraq Militias -

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Iraq Fact Check: Responding To Key Myths

  • Iraq Fact Check: Responding To Key Myths

    MYTH: The Iraqi Government is sitting on billions of dollars in oil profits while the American people pay for reconstruction and security costs in Iraq.

    FACT: The Iraqi government is taking over reconstruction funding – Iraq's 2008 budget for large-scale reconstruction projects exceeds that proposed by the U.S. by more than 10 to 1 and the U.S. military expects that Iraq will soon cover 100 percent of such expenses.

    Since 2003, the Government of Iraq (GoI) has appropriated $85 billion for reconstruction and security costs. The U.S. appropriated $50 billion and has not appropriated any funds for major reconstruction since 2005.

    The U.N. and U.S. are focused on providing Iraqis with technical assistance to keep Iraq's economy growing and improve budget execution.

    The GoI increased its budgets across the board in 2008 – a base budget followed by a supplemental passed in August of this year brought the total to $72 billion, a substantial increase from 2007's $41 billion. The capitol budget which pays for reconstruction projects increased to $21 billion.

    FACT: Iraq's security ministries will pay for more than 80 percent of the annual cost of the Iraqi military and police under the 2008 budget.

  • Last week, the GoI took over responsibility for paying the salaries of about 51,000 Sons of Iraq serving in the Baghdad area.

    · FACT: The GoI's budget execution has picked up in 2008 – the total GoI expenditure through June 2008 was $19 billion, compared to $10 billion through the same period last year.

    · FACT: The GoI does not have $79 billion from oil profits sitting in the bank. Iraq's year-end surplus for 2008 is expected to be about $30 billion. Combined with the previous 3 years, the surplus is expected to be about $60 billion.

    MYTH: Iraq has made little progress on the political front.

    · FACT: Since September 2007, Iraq's parliament has passed significant legislation dealing with reconciliation and nation building, including:
    Ø A Provincial Elections Law enabling elections to be held in Iraq before January 31, 2009.
    Ø A pension law
    Ø De-Ba'athification reform
    Ø An amnesty law
    Ø A provincial powers law
    Ø A 2008 budget and a supplemental budget that includes record amounts for capital and security expenditures

    · FACT: Recently passed legislation is already having an affect – Iraqis held under detention for non-series crimes have been released under the Amnesty law.

    · FACT: The national government is sharing oil revenues with provinces despite the absence of a hydrocarbon and revenue-sharing law.

    · FACT: Iraq's neighbors are re-establishing diplomatic relations – Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, and the League of Arab States have all named Ambassador's to Iraq. The U.A.E. became the first Arab nation to post its Ambassador to Baghdad and give 100 percent debt relief to Iraq of approximately $7 billion.

    · FACT: Regional leaders are traveling to Iraq to pursue productive dialogue – Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, King Abdullah of Jordan, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit have all visited Baghdad.

Source: Office of Public Liaison - Military Affairs -

Monday, October 06, 2008

DoD Revises Purple Heart Eligibility Criteria To Allow Award To POWs Who Die In Capivity

DefenseLink News Release: DoD Revises Purple Heart Eligibility Criteria To Allow Award To POWs Who Die In Capivity: "DoD Revises Purple Heart Eligibility Criteria To Allow Award To POWs Who Die In Capivity

The Department of Defense announced today it has expanded the Purple Heart eligibility criteria allowing prisoners-of-war who died in captivity to receive the award.

The revised department policy presumes, for service members who die in captivity as a qualifying prisoner-of-war, that their death was the 'result of enemy action,' or the result of wounds incurred “in action with the enemy” during capture, or as a result of wounds incurred as a “result of enemy action” during capture, unless compelling evidence is presented to the contrary.

The revised policy allows retroactive award of the Purple Heart to qualifying prisoners-of-war since Dec. 7, 1941. Posthumous award will be made to the deceased service member’s representative, as designated by the secretary of the military department concerned, upon application to that military department.

Each military department will publish application procedures and ensure they are accessible by the general public. Family members with questions may contact the services: Army: Military Awards Branch, (703) 325-8700; Navy: Navy Personnel Command, Retired Records Section, (314) 592-1150; Air Force: Air Force Personnel Center, (800) 616-3775; Marine Corps: Military Awards Branch, (703) 784-9340. For further information, media representatives should contact Eileen Lainez, (703) 695-3895,"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

N.C. troops' role in Iraq to grow

"Jay Price, Staff Writer Comment on this story In Washington, on the campaign trail and in Baghdad, there has been talk for months about cutting the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. For North Carolina-based troops, though, 2009 is shaping up as another big year there -- maybe the biggest since the war began in 2003."

The Pentagon formally announced last week that three more major units from the
state are to be sent to Iraq in 2009 -- two combat brigade teams from the 82nd
Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the headquarters unit of the 2nd Marine
Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.

That makes a total of seven major units and more than 25,000 troops from North Carolina scheduled to be in Iraq at some point in the coming year.

more... N.C. troops' role in Iraq to grow: