- Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee visited the Screaming Eagle soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division Friday, September 26, assessing the progress of postwar northern Iraq. Brownlee, who himself won two Silver Stars in Vietnam, awarded six Bronze Star medals and three Purple Hearts to division soldiers during the visit. During his visit, Brownlee addressed soldiers' questions relating to unit rotation. "A lot of new changes are being made in the midst of our transition to a new Army, in order to prepare for these rotations," Brownlee said. "This includes combat support and combat service support." Brownlee discussed a plan to convert National Guard artillery personnel into military police to help ease an anticipated shortage in theater once rotations are complete. Brownlee apologized to reservists who recently learned their tour in Iraq would be extended to a full year. "I know that some of you were mobilized for up to four months before you deployed," Brownlee said. "The decision was made, for the sake of continuity and stability, to keep the team together." Brownlee, who began his military career in the 101st, also praised the soldiers for their hard work far from home and promised to work to grant more bonuses to those who re-enlist while in Iraq. "What you're doing is critically important," he said. "America knows that the only people standing between them and the terrorists is you. I want to thank you for your service to the Army and the nation. "You are highly skilled combat veterans, and we want to keep every one of you in the Army."
- American troops are getting a much needed vacation from their duties in Iraq. It`s all part of an R&R program being revived for the first time since the war in Vietnam. Close to 200 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell arrived in Baltimore, Maryland this morning. Loved ones were there to greet them with warm hugs and tears of joy. The group is the first of thousands to be flown out of deployments. Fort Campbell officials had been asking for the leave since the deployments have lasted longer than expected for some of the troops. The vacation is for all troops who have been given one-year tours of duty in Iraq and supporting roles in neighboring countries. They get up to 15 days leave.
- Movie star Bruce Willis brought a rock concert to a desert airfield, with his band entertaining hundreds of soldiers some 35 miles from the Syrian border. Hundreds of soldiers - some sitting atop helicopters, others lounging in Humvees - sent cheers and whistles into night air Thursday as Willis and his band belted out rock and roll and the blues. Most soldiers here said they didn't know Willis was a singer, but they approved of what they heard. "Somebody that supports the military like he has and that comes to visit soldiers - that's important to us," said Spc. Greg Pagan, a bus driver and a postal officer with the 3rd Brigade of the 101st's Airborne Division in northern Iraq. "It's awesome. It's great for morale" said Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the brigade's "Iron Rakkasans" - the 187th Infantry Regiment.
- Seven US soldiers were wounded, three seriously, when a US convoy was ambushed with bombs and small-arms fire in this northern Iraq city, a US military spokesman said. Major Trey Cate, spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, said that a US military vehicle was destroyed and another damaged in the attack on a main road in front of the local telecommunications center. "Seven soldiers were injured, one very seriously, two seriously," Cate told AFP. He said the convoy had been hit first by two roadside bombs and then small-arms fire, before the attackers fled when US troops returned fire. About 10 witnesses reported earlier seeing what they said appeared to be the bodies of four US soldiers after the ambush about 9:30 am (0530 GMT) in this city which has seen frequent attacks on US occupation forces. One witness, Mohammad Ali, told AFP: "An American jeep was blown up at around 9:30 am and an American car. I saw the bodies of four Americans who had died, one of them without legs." Another resident, Ahmad Ali, said he saw three or four American soldiers on the ground after the vehicle exploded. "I saw US soldiers taking away the bodies of two others," he said. Yunis Yassina, 31, said that after the vehicle exploded, "some Iraqis began to shoot at the American truck and the Americans retaliated." US soldiers cordoned off the scene.
23 September 2003
- The U.S. Central Command said Spc. Paul Sturino, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, was killed by what the government said was a nonhostile gunshot wound. The 21-year-old Sturino was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell. He died Monday in an area south of Mosul in northern Iraq. The death is under investigation.
- Sultan Hashim Ahmad Al-Jabburi Al-Tai, number 27 on the coalition's list of most wanted government officials, is now under custody of coalition forces. The former Iraqi Minister of Defense turned himself in to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on Sep. 19. Coalition forces will continue to work at apprehending former members of the Saddam Hussein regime
18 September 2003
- Efforts are now underway to repair the nearly obsolete water pumping system that provides water for over 325,000 citizens of Northern Iraq. In the interim, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) have contracted 32 trucks to carry over 10,000 liters of water every day to villages that the water system is unable to reach. 101st AAD civil affairs and engineering soldiers are working to fix the water system, which draws its water supply directly from the Freedom (formerly Saddam) Lake in Northern Iraq. With the broken down water pumps, many areas around northern Iraq are nearly dry without the water trucks.
- Soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion recently gave a group of Iraqi orphans a day filled with fun and games at the Civil Military Operations Center in Mosul. The purpose of the event was for the kids to be able to have fun in a safe environment and spend quality time with the soldiers. Soldiers volunteered time and services to help set-up and run different events of the day. Some soldiers also served as lifeguards at the pool. Children from three separate orphanages arrived to participate in the events. Each group was greeted upon arrival and given a gift of a towel with the Screaming Eagle insignia on it. The children then went swimming in the pool, participated in relay races and played games such as pin the tail on the donkey. Winners of the games got candy and snacks. Each child was also given a lunch of hamburgers, french fries, soda and ice cream. The restaurant on the CMOC grounds provided the meals. The restaurant also provided many of the decorations on the grounds. Another event of the day was face painting. A local caricature artist painted designs on the childrens faces and colored the skin of a few soldiers as well. Soldiers interacted with the children, swimming with them, playing soccer and simply being a friend. The children each received a gift bag when it was time for them to leave. The bag contained items such as a t-shirt with the 101st insignia, a beanie baby, a soccer ball and personal hygiene items.
17 September 2003
- A US soldier from the 101st Airborne Division, based in the northern region of Mosul, has died of gunshot wounds, the military said Wednesday. "On September 15, a soldier from the 101st Airborne Division died of non-hostile gunshot wounds," spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said. She could not provide details on where the incident occurred nor give any further information on the circumstances of the American soldier's death.
- At least four soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) were injured in Iraqi guerilla attacks last week just days after the division completed what the Army is calling the biggest anti-terrorist raid of the war. Early Saturday, three soldiers were injured when they were attacked by grenade and small arms fire while helping to break up a fuel black-marketing operation in Mosul. According to The Associated Press, one soldier had a leg amputated and the other two suffered shrapnel wounds to their legs. Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler, a public affairs spokesperson with the division in Mosul, said guerillas lobbed six to eight grenades at the soldiers from atop a building during the ambush. "As the soldiers were leaving the attack site, a grenade was tossed into the passenger side of the tactical vehicle," Tyler said. The Army has not released the names of the injured soldiers or the unit to which they belonged. Another unidentified 101st soldier was injured late last week in an attack on a hotel in Mosul, which lies 240 miles north of Baghdad. According to the Agence France-Press, the soldier was hurt in a rocket-propelled grenade attack that took place early last Thursday. Meantime, anti-guerilla operations targeting terrorists and illegal weapons netted two big scores in recent days.
- Earlier in the week, 79 suspected terrorists were rounded up in a raid on their training camp in southwest Iraq. According to a release from the 101st public affairs in Mosul, the division was called in to conduct the raid last Wednesday after military intelligence located the camp. Because of the rapid assault capabilities of the 101st, they were called in to carry out the raid in an area controlled by the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. "Soldiers swooped down quietly in the early dawn and used amazing precision to capture the suspects and secure the place," said Lt. Col. Steve Countouriotis, commander of the 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Brigade. "The raid was just like one in the movie Apocalypse Now.' It was a pretty awesome mission." Using helicopters to transport soldiers and offer protection from above, the raid uncovered a large weapons cache, $60,000 in U.S. dollars and $1 million in Iraqi currency, in addition to the suspected terrorists. The following day, seven more suspected terrorists were taken into custody in a follow-up raid. No shot were fired in either mission. In addition to troops from the aviation brigade, soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment also participated in the operation.
- A report says three US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell have been injured by rocket-propelled granades and small-arms fire. The wounded were part of a convoy that was moving through the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday. Names of the soldiers have not been released.
- A recent operation by the 101st Airborne Division in the western Iraqi desert resulted in the detention of several individuals and the discovery and destruction of four weapons caches. The caches, found on Aug. 30, included 12 SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, 100 rocket-propelled grenades, three mortar systems, more than 10,000 rounds of small arms and mortar ammunition, more than 100 anti-tank rockets, and a variety of other arms and ammunition. More than 1,000 soldiers of the division's 1st Brigade Combat Team participated in the operation, which also involved 98 of the division's attack, scout, assault, medevac and heavy lift helicopters. Intended to disrupt terrorist activities in west-central Iraq, the operation was launched before dawn Aug. 30. Four infantry companies and elements of an anti-tank company were taken by air to five locations to cordon and search several villages in an area centered about 50 kilometers north of Iraq's border with Saudi Arabia. No U.S. forces were injured. According to Maj. Brian Hayes, assistant intelligence officer, 1st Brigade Combat Team's plans, satellite imagery and other intelligence acquisitions led to the conclusion that the villages were being used as a terrorist training camp. It was believed that the organizers of the terrorist cell slept in one village, while trainees and instructors stayed at a former border guard barracks at the southern edge of the second village, and nearby wadis were used for the actual training. "It was an impressive endeavor," said Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. "Our soldiers did a wonderful job once again and demonstrated the division's unique ability to rapidly project combat power over substantial distances to attack a time-sensitive target."
- Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) confiscated weapons and vehicles during a bridge repair mission Tuesday, September 9. The soldiers were en route to the bridge when they encountered a group of vehicles. When the vehicles were approached by the soldiers, several of the occupants attempted to run. The engineers detained the group, including seven passengers and two trucks. During a vehicle search the soldiers recovered seven AK-47s, $220,000 in U.S. currency and $86.5 million in Iranian currency. The detainees were turned over to the nearest police facility, and the group returned to the bridge site where they detained eight more passengers in two vehicles, each with an AK-47. The two groups were believed to be traveling together.
5 September 2003
- Secretary Rumsfelds's Comments to the 101st Airborne: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Well, what a greeting. How many of you have seen that video? Most of you, half of you, a third of you. It is impressive, and I hope that those of you who have not seen it do see it. General, you're doing a great job. Your leadership team and the troops here. I've heard it in Washington, I've heard it in Baghdad. I've now been here and been able to get fully briefed. I want you to know that what you're doing is enormously important. It is important to the Iraqi people to be sure. You've helped to free some 23 million people. That's an enormous accomplishment. I don't think you'll ever forget it. I would like to say also that in addition to General Petreus and his group, I'd like you to meet Jerry Bremer. Ambassador Bremer is the Coalition Provisional Authority in this country. Jerry, would you stand up? (Applause.) He is doing a wonderful job for our country and for the coalition, and if I could be so bold, I'd like you to give him the kind of a greeting you gave me. (Greeting from troops.) Air Assault! (Applause.) Thank you. How about that, Jerry? Bremer: I say its only here with the 101st. Rumsfeld: That's terrific. Let me just say a few brief words and then I'll stop and maybe respond to some questions that you might have. I've been, needless to say, engaged and watching and observing and interested in everything you've been doing. The difficulties of what you're doing are well known. The fact that you've lost some of your colleagues is well known. The accomplishments, however, that you have achieved are less well known and as I just met with the Governor and the Vice Governor of the province and they were enormously complimentary about the contributions that have been made here to schools and hospitals and to universities and to helping with roads and doing so many things that are important to the success of this country and the success of this particular province. So I hope that as you go forward those accomplishments become as well known as the difficulties because each are important. We're on a path, I believe, that will ultimately succeed. I'm convinced of it. Ambassador Bremer is convinced of it. General Sanchez is convinced of it. The President of the United States has no doubt at all but that what we're trying to do here is hard, it's difficult, it is a country that for several decades has experienced a totally centralized, vicious, dictatorship where everything was controlled from Baghdad, where private enterprise was banned and everything was nationalized and controlled by the government. They're a people that have not had a great deal of experience with democracy or entrepreneurial activity. So that the path from here to where they're going is a tough one. There have been bumps in the road and there will be bumps in the road going forward. But when it is successful it will not only be enormously important to the people in this country, and this is an important country, let there be no doubt. These people are intelligent, they're educated, they're industrious, and they can make a big difference in the world. But it will also be important in the region and this is an important region. It's an important region for not just the people here, but for the entire world. And to the extent this country can in a relatively short time be put on a path towards representative government, be put on a path towards reasonably private economic system in a way that it will be hospitable to investment and to enterprise on the part of people here but also on the part of people from outside, the effect will potentially, as a model, be important to the entire region. So when you go out there and it's 110 or 120 degrees, and when there are difficulties, as there will be, remember how important your work is. The important thing I would also add is that every one of you is a volunteer. You all asked to do this, and that is impressive and it's appreciated.
4 September 2003
- City council members and muktars tribal group from surrounding communities gathered Aug. 26 at a school in Qayarrah to elect an interim mayor. The ballots, representing 13 candidates for the office, were printed in English as well as Arabic. To further eliminate any confusion, a picture also accompanied each candidate's name. Soldiers of 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, were on hand to keep order and to oversee the election, said Lt. Col. Marcus DeOliveira, commander, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. Soldiers explained the voting process with the help of interpreters to make sure they understood the instructions. Before casting a ballot, each voter had to be registered at the site. The process was a slow one, taking up half the day before the final ballot was cast. Soldiers, accompanied by interpreters, counted out the votes one by one.
- The 101st Airborne Division recently purchased 49 hand-held radios for the Mosul Police Department. The radios will be used to help the newly trained police force communicate throughout the Ninevah Province. Additionally, the 101st is helping the Iraqi Public Safety Office draft a contract for $10 million in communications assets to go to ambulance services, fire departments and the Ministry of Civil Defense, as well as other police officers.
3 September 2003
- The 101st Airborne Division and the Public Safety Team from the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, which is attached to the division, are working together to repair fire stations in the greater Mosul area and purchase the necessary equipment for Iraqi firefighters. With the purchase of the equipment, the Mosul fire department should soon be able to handle potentially dangerous grass and garbage fires. This is another step toward stabilization in the division's area of operations. The military has bought 600 firefighter jumpsuits, at $9.50 each, for the Mosul fire department. These uniforms are due to arrive between Sept. 9 and Sept. 15. In addition, $20,237 has been spent on computer equipment, $5,220 on generators and $30,000 on mechanic tools. The next phase calls for gloves, boots and helmets to be bought and distributed. Lastly, masks, fire extinguisher and other firefighting tools are to be purchased.
- The 101st Airborne Division's Division Support Command has helped organize and bring together dozens of sports clubs all over the greater Mosul area. With the sports equipment purchased by the division during the last three months, the Mosul youth sports program has flourished. This has fostered good relations between the division and the citizens of the city. In response, 35 city sporting federations have decided to hold tournaments for various sports, including tae kwan do, power lifting, swimming, indoor soccer, wrestling, volleyball, table-tennis, basketball, gymnastics and more.
- With a traditional snip of a ribbon, the village of Zumar opened its newly refurbished clinic Aug. 26. Before its restoration, the Zumar Primary Health Clinic was in disrepair, according to 1st Lt. Michael Lefler, Executive Officer, B. Battery, 3-320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and project officer for the clinic refurbishment. The clinic was falling apart, Lefler said. The walls were cracked, the foundation was separating from the rest of the building, and there was very little workable space inside. Lefler and the doctors who work in the clinic prioritized the clinics needs. My first priority was structural, Lefler said. They needed electricity, they needed fully functional plumbing, and they needed hand washing stations in all of the treatment rooms. After that we were able to worry about furniture. While the Army doesnt actually lay hands on the buildings, they determine the needs of the building, and then hire contractors to come in and do the necessary repairs.