Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Do you think he'll notice?

I was just doing the last loads of laundry here at the Residence Inn. One sock insisted on remaining in room for this process.

If I just fold that one dirty sock up with its clean mate, do you think Jack Bauer will notice? Heh.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why do I do this?

Here were are about to leave for our new duty station and embark on a big trip and whole set of unknowns once we get there.

And Jack Bauer's parents came to town to see him graduate.

So why is it that I took on a big project that had be work nearly 40 hours in the last week and really needs to be done before I leave in three days???

There is a hundred little things that need to be done before we leave, but I can't remember what they are right now.

This makes me grouchy! At least I don't have to babysit the in laws. But I do like spending time with them.

Right, right, right. I'll do what I can and that will have to be good enough. The less I worry about it, the more I'll get done. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I am sure I have a million other little sayings that would apply to this situation, but I can't remember them right now.

I'm off to do the USPS address forwarding things. At least that is one thing done. Can someone remind me what the other 99 are?

Good News from Iraq: 29 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Continued Progress: Security Allows Opening of West Baqubah Road.

BAQUBAH — A ribbon cutting ceremony recently took place in a western Baqubah neighborhood to reopen a road that had been closed to the locals in the area for more than a year.

"This was in the workings since early May," said Capt. Kevin P. Ryan, the officer behind coordinating the opening. "My idea is to transition this area of operations (AO) back to the Iraqi people and to open the roads up, to give something back to the people."

To do that, though, he had to work with Iraqi security forces (ISF) to set up some conditions, which were to set up a series of checkpoints, Ryan said. There were three set up.

"The three of them lead into the west side of the AO," Ryan said. "From here, Iraqi security forces with their Sons of Iraq brothers can search the vehicles and allow the vehicles to come in. Traffic has not been allowed inside the western part of this AO in over a year, so today was a big day giving something back to the people."

Traffic had not been allowed in for so long due to security reasons, Ryan said.

"This was the foothold of al-Qaida in Iraq," Ryan said. "So, they banned all traffic due to clearing operations and never allowed traffic to come back in because the situation didn't allow it."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Time in C-ville is winding down

Fall. The temperature has dropped. The windows are open all day and all night. Change is coming.

Just a few more days left here in C-ville. My time living in a hotel with no oven is coming to an end. I've struggled with changing from struggling to feed just myself to struggling to feed me and Jack Bauer. My jeans got tight. It is back to Weight Watchers when get to our new home.

Change is around the corner.

Our time here has really given Jack and I the opportunity to know each other again. We shared nearly every meal together here. We've watched a lot of TV together; I've started watching more news and he's started watching more Project Runway. We've spent a lot of time laughing. Some things haven't changed at all, like our perpetual debate over what to do for dinner. (Neither of us likes to make that decision. It is a discussion that can begin shortly after breakfast.)

Hopefully some things won't change. But I am really hoping for our new home to have a proper kitchen. With an oven.

Good News from Iraq: 28 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Rashid Olympics Closes Summer with Championship Soccer Match.

BAGHDAD — The Rashid Olympics in southern Baghdad came to as end as more than 330 teams from 14 neighborhoods competed in friendly soccer games spanning the course of the summer.

The Rashid District Sports and Youth Committee hosted the championship soccer match and closing ceremony Sept. 9, at the Jaza’ir Oil Refinery soccer field to pit the champions of the East and West Rashid beladiyats against each other in the contest to crown a winner and relish the success of the district’s first sports program since the war began.

A team from eastern Rashid Abu T’shir earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the team from Risalah in a spirited match during the championship game that represented the zenith of more than four months of youth soccer throughout the summer.

Hard work from volunteers, coaches and all the neighborhoods in the district took care of thousands of kids competing throughout the tournament, said Lt. Col. Dave Hill, commander, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.

Events like these are the cornerstone of Iraq’s future, said Maj. Joe Berthelotte, brigade information officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday Night War Story

Last night I found myself alone in our hotel room. Jack Bauer was out in "the field" until 10:30 PM. Completely depressed about the financial news of the day, my stomach was in knots as I thought about the implications for me. I couldn't stand it any more. I turned the channel, but Bravo had on 48 Hours. Not interested in criminal movies, so I decided to channel surf. The next channel was IFC.

The film, shown uninterrupted although I clearly was picking it up in the middle, was filled with lush green hills, sweeping blue skies, the winds and clouds sweeping light and air across the celluloid canvas. Within minutes I was captivated by the scenery. A soldier was yelling orders into a radio. Others were responding and taking action. But I couldn't get over the beauty of this movie. The attention to details in what the soldiers saw, the way they noticed things, was not what I have seen in a war movie before. Maybe I've changed.

I never watched war movies while Jack was deployed. Even before then, I was never a big fan of them. I have no idea how authentic this movie is, whether the uniforms, the battle, the history are correct. But I heard many things in it with the attitudes, the speeches, the motivations, that I recognize in my husband. And seeing that has its own type of beauty.

Good News from Iraq: 27 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Iraq Assumes Bulk of Security Mission Northwest of Baghdad.

WASHINGTON — Iraqi Soldiers and ‘Sons of Iraq’ civilian security members are now performing the bulk of security duties northwest of Baghdad, a senior U.S. military officer in Iraq said today.

“All in all, security in the area is vastly improved as the result of the great work of our Soldiers and their increasingly confident and capable partners, the Iraqi security forces,” Army Col. Todd McCaffrey, commander of the U.S. 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, told Pentagon reporters during a satellite-carried news conference.

The U.S. Soldiers under McCaffrey’s command do not patrol much anymore, he said.

“The basic security that prevents the enemy’s freedom-of-movement through the area is really executed by the Iraqi Army and by the Sons of Iraq,” McCaffrey said. “That is no longer a task that we participate in and there’s no need for us to do that.”

And, more and more, all U.S. operations against insurgents are conducted in unison with Iraqi forces, McCaffrey said.

Read the rest here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Banned items

Now that I am out Middleville, I am getting things ready to move out of C-ville. Which means, I am go through the boxes I brought back with me.

When I went to empty the house, I knew I had to collect all our liquids and decide what to do with them. I brought most of them back here; I would hate to have to buy all these cleaning supplies once we got to our next station.

But there were several items that I totally spaced on.

Batteries. There are in stinkin' everything. EVERYTHING. 4 AAA batteries. 20 AA batteries. (I know what you are thinking, and NO, these are not from those items, so shush! Besides, I was thinking ahead.)

Matches. 19 books.

Bic Lighter.

Fuel in Coleman stove, which has probably been there for years and years and years. Luckily they let me empty the container and rinse it out. Won't say how.

No stray bullets were found. And while I was told that no chemicals were allowed, I was able to convince them that OxiClean and Cascade powder were not in that category.

For a first PCS, I think that is pretty good.

Good News from Iraq: 26 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Kirkuk Police Force Grows by 3,000.

KIRKUK — More than 3,000 Iraqis, including 58 women, joined the ranks of the Kirkuk province’s police force during a graduation ceremony held Tuesday at the Kirkuk Police Academy.

Referring to the unprecedented number of graduates, Maj. Gen. Jamal Thaker Baker, the Kirkuk provincial police chief, hailed the moment as “an historic event for the people of the Kirkuk province.”

“This is the direct result of the combined efforts of our Coalition friends and the Ministry of the Interior,” Baker said.

Baker pointed out the number of high-ranking Multi-National Division - North leaders in the audience, including U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, commanding general, MND-North; Brig. Gen. James C. Boozer Sr., deputy commanding general-operations MND-North; Brig. Gen. Tony Thomas, assistant division commander-support MND-North; and Col. David Paschal, commander, 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

Baker said he considers these men to be among a unique brotherhood. He credited the recent gains in security throughout the province to this brotherhood, whose main concern is for the people of the Kirkuk province and providing “security and stability in this region for them.”

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts on an empty house

Well, now the house is empty. I honestly thought I would have a stronger reaction to locking up and leaving than I did. I wasn't upset at all. We lived there for almost six years. It was a good house to us. And it is house filled with charming details.

But I wonder about it being a house filled with memories. In some ways I think the memories attacked to the things that the filled the rooms rather than attaching to the walls, the floors, the ceilings.

Maybe it is like a cute vase filled with a gorgeous flower arrangement from someone you love. Once the flowers are gone, what specialness does the vase hold? It is time for someone else to put their flowers in it.

So. Do you know anyone who wants to buy a cute little four-bedroom, 1.5-bath house in Saint Louis, Missouri?

Good News from Iraq: 25 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Joint Air Operation Tightens Clamp on Remaining Few AQI.

BALAD — In 2006 the city of Balad was a melting pot for sectarian violence. Today, it’s an example of security and economic progress.

This progress is a direct reflection of 12 months of successful Coalition and Iraqi operations which have placed a clamp on major insurgent activities in and around the predominately Shia city.

With the organization of ‘Sons of Iraq’ (Sawha) groups, and the ever increasing capabilities of the Iraqi security forces, criminal activity in the once restive city has decreased dramatically.

Even with the overall successes in the Balad Qada, the enemy is still actively pursued. Operations aimed at maintaining a secure atmosphere in the Qada remain a priority.

In an effort to continue the positive trend, U.S. Soldiers and members of the Iraqi National Police’s Justice Battalion, conducted Operation Abbeville, Sept. 19.

Abbeville was an air assault operation targeting Al Qaeda in Iraq facilitators in the village of Darwish.

“This operation confirmed reporting that the people of the village were intimidated into providing sanctuary to AQI members,” said Capt. Tony Keller, Bravo Troop commander. “Hopefully the intelligence we received from this operation will allow us to develop future operations targeting these AQI elements.”

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Operation Eagle Eye AAR, Part 2

Day 2
After the apparently smooth sailing from the day before, I am hoping for another day without bumps as all of our stuff gets loaded on to the truck.

The day begins with another set of fresh bagels and coffee. The day before, I talked to my neighbors to make arrangements for no cars to be in front of the three houses this morning. That means I spoke to one of my neighbors for the second time in six years.

I arrive back at the house in time to sit out on my front steps and enjoy the cool morning air and wonderful caramel latte. As I sip to my content, I wonder about the what the man in charge the day before said about an 18 wheeler begin able to make it down this street. Now, I don't recall ever seeing one. The biggest vehicle I can think of ever coming through here is the fire department's ladder trucks. And about as soon as I these thoughts clear my head, I see an 18 wheeler turn on my street going the other way.

"See, 18 wheelers come through here. Oh, wait, I bet if they did they wouldn't have brushed up against the trees like that. Hmmm. I wonder ... Yep, I bet that's MY truck."

Five minutes later, the same truck pulls up in front of my house.


Hmmm. So sending my stuff on this truck is a gamble??? Do I really want to put my precious fiestaware, Waterford crystal, and 42" Sony on this craps table of a van line? I wonder what the Vegas odds are on my household goods arriving safely. I swear that is the real name on the truck. At least they had the "dice" showing 7s. I mean, that's something.

I greet today's operatives as eagerily and cheerily as I did yesterday. The reception is a little cool, but that is OK, right? The driver-mover-man-in-charge and his wife (yeah! a woman!) and two men from a moving company "across the river." All my prejudices about that need to fly out the window. Right now. I am sure my house will be just fine even though they know where it is and that it is empty. Just because people are going into empty houses on that side of the river and ripping out the copper piping, I am sure that won't happen to me.

Just like yesterday, the operatives get to work promptly. Knowing that my things were well packed the day before, I am reasonably comfortable with the way they handle the boxes as though nothing were in them. Besides, they don't drop any of them. Which is good.

Everything that can be disassembled is done quickly and the parts are placed in ziploc bags. This includes things I had never taken apart to move, like my grandmother's 65-year-old kitchen table. I sure hope, like I was told as these things were removed of their legs and slides, that someone is there to put it all back together. What do you think the chance of that happening are?

So really. The day goes pretty smoothly. That is, right up until it was time for my 42" Sony to be wrapped up and carted off. As I watched these strangers carefully place blankets around it and then cardboard, I was overwhelmed with emotion. They were boxing up my battle buddy. Don't they know how precious my battle buddies are to me? (Did I know that my TV was one of them until that exact moment? Uh, no.) The tears well up in my eyes and I have to leave the room, lest I become a balling mess on the floor clinging to my TV, dragging behind it, as they carry it out the front door and onto the truck. And that would be just too embarrassing for me to handle.

Shortly after lunch, which they mostly ate on their own, hardly touching the pizza I ordered, a third mover from across the river arrives.

Woman-in-charge (to me): We hired only two workers.

BW: Well, I have no trouble telling him to leave my house. Just let me know what you want me to do.

WIC: Let me check with my husband.

A few minutes later, she returned. Apparently, they have run into this before in other locales. They call a local moving company they've worked with before and had good results with, requesting one or two movers to help load. Then when they arrive, there are three or four movers there for the job. If they put up too much of a stink about taking only the number requested, they run the risk of having no workers. Nice. Good business practices. At least if there is a problem later on, this third guy was a dead-ringer for Cuba Gooding, Jr.

The day winds down and I sit down on the floor with the WIC and we go over the paperwork. Apparently all of my goods are soiled, stained, and/or badly worn. Living with dogs is hard.

Camp Toenges is on a narrow street in an old neighborhood built before the days of 53' tractor-trailors. They have to back out the same way they came in. And as I see them pull away from my house, I get emotional for the second time. I mean, that is all my stuff that helped me get through some really tough times the last three years.

After they leave, I go through the house cleaning one last time. Magic Easer is good at getting most of the rub marks off of the bright white paint in the stairwell. Still looks freshly painted. I don't see any new scratches or gauges in the hardwood floors. Until I get to the entryway. They had some trouble getting my sleeper sofa out of the living room and into the entryway (brainiacs) and some of the plaster was chipped off the corner of the arch. Now since this was one of the first things out of the house and I walked past this corner in this condition at least a dozen times, I am hoping that it will be hard to notice.

I lock up and leave. My house is empty.

Good News from Iraq: 24 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, MND-C Soldiers secure weapons cache near Salman Pak.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE Hammer – Soldiers from Multi-National Division – Center’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, secured a weapon cache near the town of Salman Pak, Iraq, Sept. 18.

An Iraqi citizen reported that he knew the whereabouts of a weapons cache to Soldiers at Combat Operating Post Carver.

The Soldiers found a weapons cache containing 60 25 mm high explosive rounds, 23 82 mm mortars, 12 60 mm mortars, and a 60 mm mortar tube.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal control detonated the explosives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Operation Eagle Eye AAR, Part 1

Day 1
Three male operators are sitting in the front seat of a panel van in front of Camp Toenges upon my arrival from picking up bagels and coffee for breakfast.

XXX Moving Company
Moving is our middle name

With a big eager smile across my face, I step up to the van to greet the operators who appear to be dosing off. Intel from the previous day indicated these operators were coming from 160 miles away. I'll cut them some slack.

A loud and cheery "Good morning!" seems to stir them from their slumber and they exit the van. I extend my hand, introduce myself, and welcome them to my home (I want them to make sure that they know they are stepping into my HOME). After a quick tour, indicating what stays and what goes, I take them into the kitchen and show off the coffee, bagels, cream cheese, sodas, and water, letting them know that they can help themselves to anything. This seems to put them in a good frame of mind to start working. And they promptly get to work.

The senior operator is a very large man who has been working for XXX Moving Company for 44 years. While not the fastest of the workers, he appears to be diligent, thoughtful, and creative in his packing endeavor.

The other two operators have less experience, but who wouldn't. They have been working for this same company for 12 and 15 years each. I guess I should be able to trust them to pack my precious fiestaware and crystal.

I wish I could say I was completely relaxed about the whole experience, but having heard and read days worth of agony over the these moves, I was a tad wound up. But I didn't want that to show too much. And I didn't want them to know that this was my first move, lest someone tries to pull a fast one on me.

So I hover. At first. But I am (1) worried about my stuff and (2) interested in the actual techniques they will use to pack the crystal stemware and my precious plates (heaven forbid I learn something). The night before I took the time to inventory every single piece of fiesta: 40 dinner plates, 16 cake plates, 26 demitasse cups (AD cups for those in the know), 12 platters, 24 serving bowls, 6 pie plates, 4 vases, 2 teapots, a coffeepot, 4 pitchers, candlesticks. I have things that the manufacturer would deny the existence of, like a Juniper ring-handled AD cup and Juniper Harlequin plates. I have an entire collection of the modern colors of the stick-handled AD cups, that's all 16 colors that they were made in. (Is this a tad much for a household of two humans who never have people over for dinner?)

So, yeah, I hover over the poor guy. But once I see how much paper he is using, I begin to relax. I only ask him to keep the items from one set in the same box. That will make my life easier on the other end.

After an hour of watching the operator wrap the glassware I am not particularly concerned about, I point-blank ask him how he is going to wrap the stemware. I couldn't wait any longer to find out. "Two together. That way they support each other." A-ha! That makes sense to me. I sure hope the Tiffany & Co. and the Waterford pieces agree with this packing philosophy. (Yeah, we don't have the original boxes any more, just in case you were wondering.)

Once all the fiesta and crystal are packed, I find I am exhausted. They started about 2 hours earlier but this supervising thing is hard work. There were two other items in the house I was concerned about being packed: an antique chest and my 42" Sony TV. I ask the guy in charge about packing those. "The TV will be packed by the movers tomorrow. I'll wrap the chest and create a box for it." Unfortunately, I don't watch him wrap the chest, but I take his word on how it is done. I will have to wait until tomorrow to worry about the TV. Or more accurately, I get to worry even longer about the TV. "If it's not a plasma, we don't crate it." It is an LCD.

They break mid-morning for a snack and then hop right back to work. These operators are hard working folks and do not appear to be careless in any way with our stuff. At one point I step into the bedroom where I had placed a laundry basket of clothes I brought back from C-ville. Once he realized that there were ladies' undergarments in there, he just dumped the whole basket into a box. (Heh! Personally, I don't care about that kind of thing. I figure he has probably come across much worse than my underwear.)

After Pizza Hut and Cokes for lunch, they box up the mattresses. Yes, box up mattresses. Didn't know they made boxes for mattresses, but now I do. They even get the queen-size mattress and split box springs down the narrow and steps stairs and box them as well.

I watch the man in charge place blue stickers on all the boxes and write down the contents. Clothe's, dish's, book's, video's, glass's, printer's, decoration's. Yes, I am going to have a sale on apostrope's when I get done with this move.

By 3 PM they are all done. Which is good, because someone wants to come see the house tonight and I need to do some cleaning since the house hasn't been cleaned in two months. (Think toilet bowls that haven't been cleaned in two months. Yeah, not a pretty sight.)

Over all, a pretty good first day of Operation Eagle Eye. But like LAW said, I won't really know the results until I unpack.

More later.

Good News from Iraq: 22 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, U.S. Soldiers Train the Trainers with Iraqi Border Patrol.

COMBAT OUTPOST HEIDER — Mounds of loose dirt span the horizon for miles. A group of Soldiers move tactically through the night while looking for signs of illegal border crossing. In the distance, a group of lights shine from a nearby Syrian town. Soldiers look for vehicles moving along a Syrian border road and report suspicious activities.

The small team must be sure vehicles do not suddenly turn toward the border to pose a threat to a guard post nearby. This is what Iraqi Border Patrol trainees experience while patrolling the border between Iraq and Syria.

The Border Transition Team will take the class out on night patrols during the five-day Iraqi Border Police Leaders academy. The goal during this training course is to train a new group for the Iraq Border Patrol. In turn, the new group will train the next group.

The Iraqi Border Patrol trainees are taught everything from AK-47 disassembly and assembly, dismounted and mounted patrolling, react to enemy contact, looking for signs of personnel illegally entering the country and how to react as a Border Patrol Officer, said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Motter, the operations sergeant in charge for the Border Transition Team-4231, also known as the Guardians.

The course also teaches them the overall staff functions, what the staff members do and how they do it, Motter added.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Operation Eagle Eye: Day 2

Status: Underway

Mission: Ensure all boxes packed yesterday are accounted for today. Ensure items labeled "THIS STAYS HERE" in fact stay here. Ensure wooden furniture is not dragged out to moving van.Ensure TRASH remains behind. Per intelligence received yesterday, ensure toilets are not clogged with whoknowswhat by youknowwho operators.

Equipment: Same as Day 1 of Operation.

Sustenance: Same as Day 1 of Operation.

Must return to duty immediately.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Operation Eagle Eye: Day 1

Mission: Ensure safe packing of household goods. Ensure items to remain with house are not packed. Ensure toilet paper and toilet paper roll holders are present at the end of the day. Ensure light fixtures and ceiling fans are not disassembled. Ensure valued and valuable fiestaware collection and crystal collection are not damaged before my eyes.

Equipment: LASIK eyes and a keen sense of misbehavior. Attention to detail and a hawkish ability to observe mishandling from three rooms away. Ears that can hear a pin drop on carpet. Liquid soap (which they will not pack) and paper towels not to be packed supplied at each sink. One trash bag labeled "TRASH" is the only place in the house where trash may be disposed. Run air conditioning at 67 degrees to keep hot workers happy.

Sustenance: Coffee and bagels and cream cheese to encourage the morning gaggle to work hard from the get-go, and pizza and soda to get the troops through the afternoon.

Other pertinent information: Signs for "DO NOT OPEN" and "THIS STAYS HERE" placed strategically around the house. Inform each member of packing team of what stays here. Secretly run background checks on each packer.

Good News from Iraq: 17 Sept. 2008

From MNF-I, Soldiers Promote Iraqi Economic Opportunity, Self-reliance for Future Success.

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST — Coalition forces here are working to help Iraqi entrepreneurs learn the skills needed to earn the money to remain successful after the coalition leaves.

The Iraqi-based Industrial Zone initiative is helping 14 Iraqi-owned businesses - six of them industrial and eight retail - operating on Q-West.

The businesses were awarded land-use agreements to operate on the contingency operating base and sell goods and services to Soldiers, contractors, local nationals and foreign nationals.

Some also are awarded contracts. As of, Sept. 1, 2008, the base had paid out $7.9 million in contracts for the fiscal year, with a monthly impact of $274,433 going back into Ninevah province, according to the badging office at Q-West, which tracks IBIZ contracts and impact.

"As the local population becomes more invested in the growth and prosperity of their local economy, they are less likely to join the local insurgency," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Shanahan, events and communication non-commissioned officer in charge.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Up down Up down

Can you hear my knees creaking from all the times I walked up and down my stairs yesterday? Or perhaps you can hear my thighs screaming in burning pain?

You see, I decided that the best thing I could do with my limited time and resources was to take all the boxes my mom and I packed up two months ago and take them from the storage area in our upstairs and place them in the appropriate room downstairs. That was a good 50 trips up and down a very narrow 75-year-old stairwell.

By the time I crawled into bed last night, I was so sore I thought I might not be able to move this morning. A couple of Aleve and a few hours of rest and I seem to have recovered sufficiently.

Today I am unpacking all the kitchen boxes and photographing all my fiestaware. Good thing Jack Bauer cleared out his digital camera and changed the settings so I could have space for 800 pictures. I might use it all. Heh.

Also need to move stuff that I don't want the packers to touch out to the garage, which I am going to use as my off-limits area. Think that will work?

Time to finish sucking down this triple venti nonfat caramel macchiato and get to work. Catch you later.

Good News from Iraq: 16 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Successful Anbar Model Validates Security Approach in Iraq.

WASHINGTON — When security responsibility for Iraq’s Anbar province was turned over to the Iraqi government this month, it validated the security model that has been applied throughout the country, a Coalition spokesman said Sept. 11.

Successful coordination of a surge in U.S. forces, the emergence of the Awakening movement, and political movement by the Iraqi government resulted in the weakening of the al Qaida in Iraq terrorist network into a more containable scattering of individual cells, said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, director of strategic communications, Multi-National Force - Iraq.

Anbar province, Driscoll said, is “now kind of the model for how Iraqis have made the transition from really chasing al Qaida out of the cities and main areas and putting them on the run.”

The next steps in the process for Anbar residents involve embracing the political process and focusing on reconstruction and restoration of essential services, Driscoll said.

On Sept. 1, Iraqi civilian authorities assumed responsibility for security in Anbar through a transfer Coalition leaders call “provincial Iraqi control.” Anbar is the 11th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to gain that status, and the transfer is significant because Anbar is where the Sunni “Awakening” movement began when former insurgents turned against al Qaida in Iraq.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Call me Tina

So yesterday I took to the open road across this beautiful country heading toward the middle. It was a nice easy drive with few cars on the road. That is, until I got to northern Kentucky, when the winds picked up and up and up and up. At one rest stop, the power was out. I drove on to the next exit to take care of my business and all the power was on. I assumed the power outage at the rest stop was a fluke. And I kept on driving west.

My plan was to stop in Louisville for the night. Sarah, familiar with my route, suggested a hotel and everything. As I pulled off the highway, the street lights were not functioning. Not a good sign. The businesses were dark inside. Hmmm. I arrived at my destination early and tired. And they too were without power. The winds were light and hardly any rain had fallen during the drive. I had another four hours or so to reach Middleville.

I called Jack Bauer and my friend in Middleville to get a handle on what the weather was doing. "Like a monsoon," was the description of the rains that past through Middleville earlier in the day. But from the sounds of it, the rain was now to the north of my path. So I drove on. A little wind, a little rain, but nothing more.

I arrived in Middleville after dark and physically tired but safe. The house is intact. And I got to sleep in my very own soft cozy bed last night for the first time in two months.

So just like Tina Turner, Ike can't keep this woman down!

Oh, and I am able to mooch a wireless Internet connection off of some kind neighbor. Heh.

Now I am off to work unpacking boxes and starting an inventory of sorts and taking pictures.

Catch you later.

Good News from Iraq: 15 Sept. 2008

From MNF-I, Micro-Grants Revitalize Northern Baghdad Furniture Market.

BEIDHA’A — “At first, when we would come to the market, people just stared at us,” said Spc. Jose Perez, originally from Orlando, Fla., and now a driver with Team Steel’s Red Platoon, “and I think they just weren’t used to us being here.”

In late February 2008, Perez and his platoon conducted an initial reconnaissance of a furniture market, located on the southeast side of Beidha’a neighborhood in northern Baghdad, with the intent of determining its viability for future rehabilitation.

What they found was a disappointing level of unemployment, dirty streets and businesses that were rapidly failing.

A lack of technology in the furniture workshops was partly to blame as local businesses were attempting to produce high-quality furniture with only handsaws, planes and a few outmoded and frequently damaged power tools. The lack of electricity in the area prevented the store owners from effectively hiring employees, and the irregular timing of the power grid forced the businesses into intermittent and almost random operating hours.

Today, the market is a different sight. Micro-grants were issued by Coalition forces to a number of furniture production businesses along the area, and Team Steel’s Red Platoon spearheaded that effort with an eye toward developing an area that was capable of sustained economic progress. Thus far, it appears to be working.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hitting the road

It's that time. Time to hit the road, head back to Middleville to finish getting the house packed up.

In some ways this PCS thing is a rite of passage, don't you think. I mean, if I can survive this, I will be on my way to become a fully indoctrinated Army wife. I'll be a member of the club.

And all the horrible, funny, and down-right scary moving stories won't be something for me to just read about.

Of course, I am going to have the most boring PCS ever. And that is just fine with me.

Gotta go pack the car.

Not sure what kind of Internet access I'll have this next week. So be sure to VOTE (for me, of course) for your favorite milblogs by midnight tonight. And be sure to check out some of the milspouse blogs in the right-hand column while I'm gone. I can't wait to hear the stories from the milblog conference in Las Vegas.

Good News from Iraq: 14 Sept. 2008

From MNF-I, Colonel Notes Reduced Attacks, Economic Gains in Iraqi Province.

WASHINGTON — The economy in Iraq's Salahuddin province has made significant gains over the past year due to the rise in agriculture and the improvement of Iraqi security forces, an Army colonel serving there said yesterday.

"What we've seen over the past year is a marked increase in security," Col. Michael McBride, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, told to bloggers and online journalists during a teleconference. "From this time last year to today, our attack levels are down approximately 75 percent."

McBride said the security continues to get better across the board, and he emphasized the notable improvements in Samarra, Beiji and in deposed dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

"We've come to a point here now, with the security level as it is, where we are being able to now focus more on reconstruction than we were ... five or six months ago," McBride said.

Up to this point, the main focus always had been security. Now, the focus is shared equally among security, reconstruction and governance, the colonel said.

Read the rest here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get out the vote!

Thanks to everyone who nominated me into the top 5 in the milspouse category. I am really honored to be in the company of such fine blogs as ArmyWifeToddlerMom, SpouseBUZZ, Non-Essential Equipment, and My Crazy Amazing Military Life.

Click here to get started. You can vote for one blog in each category. Voting closes on Sunday evening. So you have plenty of time to read all the blogs and make an informed decision, right?

And I strongly encourage readers to check out the service branches to read "free speech from those who make it possible."

Happy reading and happy voting!

Good News from Iraq: 12 Sept 2008

From USA Today, Safer Iraq draws foreign investors. (h/t Sara Horn: Faith at the Front)

BAGHDAD — Iraq is poised to receive a flood of foreign investment, thanks to improved security. More than $74 billion in projects have been submitted for government approval in just the past five months, according to Iraq's state investment regulator.

The investors include companies from the U.S., Europe, and Gulf Arab states. Their proposals all involve sectors other than oil, including a $13 billion new port for the southern city of Basra, several hotels and thousands of housing units nationwide, says Ahmed Ridha, the chairman of Iraq's National Investment Commission.

The biggest project, submitted by investors from Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, calls for an entirely new city to be built just outside the holy Shiite city of Najaf at a cost of $38 billion.

Only one of the projects has broken ground, while most others are still awaiting government approval, which has been difficult to obtain. The scale of the proposals — which, combined, equal almost as much foreign investment as China receives in a year — has drawn skeptics who say the final amount spent will be much smaller.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I stayed up late last night doing some work. Maybe subconsciously I was hoping that I would just magically sleep through this day.

When I finally got my feet on the floor this morning, I wasn't sure why I was getting up. I don't feel so good: a combination of cold medicine and lack of water overnight has my head feeling like tight, hallowed-out coconut. But as is my routine, I got up and turned on Fox News. And it occurred to me that I really don't want to relive this day. Within minutes of listening to the sober news coverage, I was crying, just I was seven years ago.

I was thinking I might write about where I was seven years ago today. But where I was physically, driving between New Orleans and southern Illinois, is not particularly important. Where I was metaphorically, isolated from the rest of the world, is probably what had the greatest impact on me. And in many ways, it is where I remain today.

Jack Bauer and I were driving back from a long weekend trip with his parents in New Orleans. After a weekend of good eating, we got into the car and were on the road by 7 AM listening to CDs the whole way. We arrived in West Memphis, AR about lunch time. Jack had mentioned seeing flags in Mississippi and Tennessee flying at half-staff.

"I wonder if Dick Cheney died," he mumbled.

We pulled into a KFC/Taco Bell/gas station to get something to eat and stretch our legs and relieve our coffee-filled bladders. As I waited to place our order, a guy walked up to his friend working behind the counter.

"Gas has already gone up $.50," he said, shaking his head with a wry smirk.

Not normally one to talk to strangers, but flags at half staff and gas prices going up, piqued my interest.

"What's going on? Why is gas up?" I innocently asked.

I was stunned by his response. I thought he was joking with me at first, but I could see from the reaction of those around him that something serious had happened. I mean really, how could two of the largest buildings in the world be taking down with planes. It seemed like someone's imagination run amock.

Jack and I ate mostly in silence and disbelief. Someone helped us find a local radio station so we could hear about what was going on. As Jack drove, I sat in silence, tears unable to stop streaming down my cheeks. I knew what he was thinking about.

The best man at our wedding, a NJ National Guardsman, worked across the street from Ground Zero in the World Financial Center. Our thoughts turned to him and his family, a wife and two little girls. An MP, our friend was the type to run into danger. We didn't have any phone numbers for them with us. We'd have to get home first. The next day we learned that they were in Florida. On vacation. They were safe.

I didn't know any one who was killed that day. But my life has been forever altered. Seven years later, I sit in a hotel room alone typing to strangers. My husband is attending school. Just as he was seven years ago.

In the years since 2001, Jack was pulled out of the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) and placed in the Army Reserves. He has deployed to Iraq and stayed on for another tour. He has now returned to Active Duty Army.

The isolation along the way has been self-imposed, a comes from desire to find people who understand and live the lasting significance of that day. It took a while. You people were not easy for me to find.

And as I reflect on this day seven years ago, I keeping thinking that 9/11 was the day we as a country woke up. As I reflect on the last seven years, I keeping thinking that most of America has fallen back asleep, only reminded occasionally that things go bump in the night, but are easily fixed with a bit of parental magic. I hope, sincerely hope, that at least one day a year, most people remember that they were awake once and think about those who still are on their behaves.

No matter how much I wanted to sleep in this morning, I knew I couldn't sleep away this day. I am wide awake.

Fox News is running its ticker with just the names of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. When I started writing this post, they were on the C's. Now they are just getting to the M's. *sigh*

UPDATE 1209: Fox News is on the S's.

Good News from Iraq: 11 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Iraqi Businesses Show Resilience.

BALAD — It takes money to make money.

The Al Bayda center near Balad is a non-governmental organization that provides assistance in the form of micro-loans and education for small business owners in and around the once restive city of Balad.

The grants are part of a package approved in the last several weeks by the government of Iraq. Parts of Iraq’s plan to re-energize its economy, Iraqi Emergency Relief Funds allocate money from the national government’s surplus to local leaders at the provincial level. The funds are then made available to Iraqis wishing to start up small businesses.

The micro-loans can be the deciding factor in whether a business survives. Hawed Muhammad Ayid, a well digger from Muhatta, is a recipient of a micro-loan, and plans to keep his well digging equipment up to par with the money he is loaned.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This and that and something about ROADTRIP!!!

First, today is the last day to nominate your favorite milblog. Starting tomorrow, the top 5 in each category will be up for voting. Get started here. If you are new to the milblogging community, check out the branch rankings for to see the variety this community has to offer. (I can't state strongly enough how much this community means to me.)

Now that I have that out of the way, what has been going on with BW since the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that pool closed? Well, I am glad you asked.

I started a project that is paying me actual money! That is very exciting. But that's all I'll say. Sorry for the tease. not. *snicker*snort*

I am beginning to freak out about the next step in this adventure. Soon I am heading back to Middleville to oversee the packers/movers. Our house has been sitting all dolled up, or rather all straightened and staged up, so it could be is showable condition to sell. No offers yet. But I need stuff when we get to our first duty station, so back to Middleville I go. Most of our stuff is in boxes in the finished attic. I am giving myself two days and unlimited amounts of coffee and diet coke to go through and document it all. I am taking Jack Bauer's camera to photograph some of the more valuable stuff. (Someday I will get my own digital camera. Someday.)

And I have to drive to Middleville by myself. It is a long-ass drive for one person to do in one day. At least going west from here I get the curvature of the earth to help and I go back into central time zone. Coming back? I'm not sure I want to think about that yet. I might be kind to myself and stop on the road.

But what am I complaining about? I've got a sweet new ride, XM radio, an assortment of books on CD, a cell phone. If only I could cruise the Internet while I drive, life would be almost perfect.

For the books on CD, I went to the local library and checked out Danielle Steel's Sisters, Dick Francis' Dead Heat, The Heidi Chronicles, April in Paris [note: I am in love with the idea of Paris, which is easy to be when you've never been], The Voice of the Poet: TS Eliot, and The Voice of the Poet: e.e. cummings. These last two are only an hour long. I got them to "broaden my horizons." I just hope they don't put me to sleep. The other stuff should be entertaining enough.

Any of you taken long road trips by yourself? What do you do to entertain yourself in the car?

Good News from Iraq: 10 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Basra Neighborhood Pleased with New Primary Healthcare Clinic.

BASRA — Thousands of residents in the al-Risala neighborhood in Basra no longer have to walk or drive up to 20 kilometers to get medical care for their families, since the Iraqi Ministry of Health opened a new Primary Healthcare Center here in July.

Dr. Alia Al-Hassan, the clinic administrator said, “We’re providing healthcare to about 300 patients daily, newborns to the elderly. This community, which has been neglected for a long time, is thrilled to have this new, modern medical facility.” She pointed out they currently have a staff of 40 personnel. “We hope to increase that number in the near future to offer additional medical services.”

Physician Assistant Hussein Na’ma said the new healthcare center features state-of-the-art equipment and for some patients “it’s the first time their families have had access to preventive medical services, as well as certain high tech services.”

James Hodges, Gulf Region Division construction representative, said, “It’s great to see their smiles of appreciation. They are very happy to finally have local access to comprehensive medical care.”

Gulf Region Division, which has built six other healthcare centers in Basra Province, has three additional ones under construction. “These projects are seen as a very positive thing, especially since they affect the lives of the people so directly,” Hodges said.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Offers of help

I learned a lesson yesterday.

Saturday at SpouseBUZZ Live my throat started getting itchy. By the end of the sessions, it was clear that I had some serious postnasal drip that was going to cause a more serious problem for my drive back to C-ville.

By the time I hugged everyone good-bye (and hopefully did not spread my germies to anyone), I my sinuses were beginning to rebel as well.

Having just listened to many of my favorite people talk about the importance of asking for help, I decided to do the same. Typically, if I were someone's guest on my way out of town, I might just have them point me in the direction of a drug store so I could stop as I left, and not bother that person any. But this time, I asked my hostess, Sightly Salty, to help me. She took me directly to the local CVS. I got my sudafed, throat lozenges, bottled water, and Coke Zero (in case the sudafed wasn't enough to keep me buzzed for the three-hour drive, surely, the caffeine would help).

I stayed in bed asleep most of Sunday with aches and sinus pressure like I'd rarely ever experienced. Jack Bauer took good care of me, running to the grocery store so I could have OJ and toast, and always asking me if there was something more I needed. When I needed more juice, I simply piped up. (Whined might be a more apt description if you asked Jack.)

Monday came, and while I was feeling a little better, I still could not shake the aches all over my body, despite dosing with Tylenol every four hours. But there was a pile of laundry that needed to be done, and that meant I had to venture out in the world.

One of the first people I ran into was a wife who was residing in the same hallway of the hotel as me and Jack. With my first words, anyone could tell I was sick. She is a very kind and generous woman, but I don't know her particularly well. We haven't spent much time together here in C-ville. She asked if I needed anything, and said she was going to the grocery store in a few minutes and asked if I needed anything. I thought to myself that I could really use some limes (I like to drink a lot of diet tonic and lime), but Jack would be back later and he could go to the store for such a silly (and rather expensive) request. Since I was set for medicine, OJ, and bread for toast, I declined her offer.

About an hour later, I ran into another wife and her two kids. I've been spending much more time with these three. She's probably the wife that I've become the closest to in the seven weeks we've been here, and someone I would likely keep in touch with after we go our separate ways in a few weeks. She too asked if I needed anything. And again, I declined.

Then she said, "Do you have any Emergen-C?"

I shook my head.

"Let me bring you some." And I accepted her help.

This all reminded me of asking for help during deployment. Like many people, I was not very good about asking for help. Obviously, I'm still not. I don't want people to think I am taking advantage of there generous nature.

After Jack left, my mother offered to come out and help me get things (i.e., our financial situation) set up so I could run them in a way that made sense to me. While that required me to swallow my pride, I knew I really needed the help. And it is pretty easy to accept help from my mom, she is such a wonderful woman.

A few months later, the weather warmed up and the grass in my front yard needed to be cut. Jack had always taken care of this, usually borrowing a neighbor's lawnmower or their kids. But, um, I never bothered to get to know my neighbors. One day, I heard my next-door neighbors' adult son (a lieutenant in the police department) mowing his parents' lawn. I raced outside and asked him if he would be able to help me out this one time. (I don't think I had said more than "hello" to him in the previous three years.) I offered to pay him or donate money to his favorite charity, anything to get him to help. He agreed to do it, suggesting I could help out with gas money. No problem. (His parents later refused.) But when he agreed, him seemed reluctant, and that affected me asking for more help, especially from people I don't know well.

While I am sure this may seem obvious to some people, I never really thought about until yesterday. I learned two things about help. First, I don't like to accept help from strangers. That would mean letting them in where they could see my vulnerability, and that, of course, would be bad. The second thing I learned was that when specific help is offered, it is much more likely to be accepted, just like the Emergen-C.

As I move on from C-ville to our first duty station, I need to make sure I meet my neighbors and make more friends. Not just so I can receive their help, but so I can help them in return. And when I know people better, the more specific help I can offer, and the more comfortable they will be in accepting it.

I sure hope I remember these lessons.

Good News from Iraq: 9 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Fallujah Paves Path for Commerce.

FALLUJAH — Coalition forces and the Fallujah City Council are overseeing a road construction project to better facilitate commercial truckers entering the city.

Civil Affairs Team 2, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, in direct support of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, and the FCC are three weeks into repaving the route through Entry Control Point 1A, a checkpoint on the outskirts of Fallujah designed to safeguard the commercial truck entrance into the city.

“[The previous route] became a deterrent for people bringing all the commerce into the city,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Colling, team chief, Civil Affairs Team 2, who is responsible for the reconstruction project assessment and tracking its progress.

Colling said the new road is a straight shot, improved from the old route that was winding, torn up with potholes and filled with bumps and debris. Improving the road’s structural integrity also prevents insurgents from using it as a means of attacking local nationals.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Award Season

As I said at SpouseBUZZ Live this past Saturday, this community of milbloggers saved my sanity through my deployment. When there was no local support system for me in Middleville, I found people who understood online.

Now is time for payback. The last Milblog Conference was held in DC in May 2007. This year, they waited and are combining it with Blog World Expo in Las Vegas, which will begin in just a few days. Recognizing the diversity and contributions of the milblogs, is holding it's third annual award contest.

This is essentially a two-part process. The nomination phase is under way. The top 5 blogs in each category will then be up for a second round of voting. Due to the upcoming BWE, the whole process is short. So get busy nominating today and voting starting Thursday!

Here's a little more information.

Nomination and Voting Overview

1. A military blog can be nominated ONLY once by the same registered user. However, a user can nominate as many military blogs as they wish.

All nominations must be submitted online through by 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008.

2. The top five nominees in each branch category will be announced on Thursday, September 11th, 2008 and those nominees will move into the Voting Phase beginning September 11th, 2008.

3. Nominees may be military blogs that belong to the following branch categories in the database:

U.S. Air Force
U.S. Army
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Military (Parent)
U.S. Military (Spouse)
U.S. Military (Veteran)
U.S. Military (Supporter)
U.S. Navy
Just remember, in this nomination phase, you can nominate for as many blogs as you like, and the five with the most nominations will be up for a final voting starting Thursday. Get started here.

And you can see the current standings here.

Good News from Iraq: 8 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, Soldiers discover munitions caches in eastern Diyala.

EASTERN DIYALA PROVINCE, Iraq – Soldiers from the 5th Engineer Battalion discovered two caches while conducting clearing operations on a construction site for a patrol base in eastern Diyala Sept. 4.

At approximately 9:p.m., Soldiers serving with the 55th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, found two munitions caches in Eastern Diyala, while clearing a building that will house Soldiers at the new combat out post.

The caches contained four 62 mm and 40 mm mortar rounds and five 62 mm mortar mechanical fuses.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I had so much fun yesterday I made myself sick. If any of you come down with a horrible cold thingy, just blame me. As for me, I blaming the two Slightly Salty paws, who are the next two cutest and well-behaved doggies in the world, after mine of course. I suppose I could blame TS Hanna, but the paws are much cuter and slightly less destructive. (I could go on for hours about these dogs, but I'll let there mommy do that instead.)

The SpouseBUZZ Live event was great. Slightly Salty gives her review here. Here are the links to Liveblogging Panel 1 and Panel 2.

Here are the links of the blogs of some of the great women I met up with yesterday. (And if I forgot someone, just remember I am typing in a fog.)
Wife Unit
Guard Wife
Slightly Salty
Susan (AKA Pot & Kettle)
LAW (I even met Mr. LAW!!!)

For more military spouse blogs, check out the "Milspouse" listing in the right-side column or check out the listing.

Live but not actually liveblogging

I'm live in Norfolk at the SpouseBUZZ Live event. Holy cow!

Already metup with AWTM, Sarah, Andi, Guard Wife, Joan D'Arc, Wife Unit, AFW, LAW, Susan (Pot& Kettle), and Slightly Salty.

Hurricane Hanna be damned! As a bunch of milspouses, we won't let a little rain and wind get in our way. We've dealt with much worse during deployment.

Since I'm not good at listening and typing, I've got to go! See you later.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Off to SpouseBUZZ Live

I'm off to the Norfolk area later today to see some of my favorite imaginary friends, including meeting some for the first time, and to meet completely new people too. But one thing we'll all have in common is that we are milspouse sisters.

Now, I will say that I am not really a naturally outgoing person. I do it in these circumstances because I know it is good for me and it is what I actually want. But that doesn't not mean it is easy or comfortable for me. So it is all an act. Well, at least at first.

Here's my MO. I meet someone for the first time in person, I am reserved at first. Some people might describe it as being standoffish. (I'm working on that.) I don't why I do this. Some self-protection I suppose. Chances are if you are a talker, I will just let you talk. I promise I warm up after a while, and the next thing you'll know I am a regular Chatty Cathy. You'll know I am really comfortable when I start dropping f-bombs or start snorting when I laugh.

And for those who will be there and haven't met me before, you will recognize me by my butterfly necklace. If I don't recognize you, please come introduce yourself to me. I promise I won't bite. (Everyone knows butterflies don't bite!) See you soon!

Good News from Iraq: 5 Sept 2008

From MNF-I, New Maysan Surgical Hospital taking shape (Amarah).

AMARAH, Iraq–A new $12.7 million surgical hospital in Maysan Province is under construction.

“This project will provide the only state-of-the-art modern surgical hospital in Maysan and is viewed by the Minister of Health as the single most important development here,” said Iraqi Engineer Ali Abdul with the Gulf Region Division who is overseeing the work.

The 100-bed hospital is located in Amarah, Maysan’s provincial capitol. “Maysan’s governor recently visited the work site and was very happy with the construction quality,” said Ali.

The 62,500-sq.-meter hospital will include four operating rooms, a delivery room, an emergency room, a pharmacy and various labs. The facility will house clinics for Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics-Gynecology, Dental and Nuclear Medicine.

“This new facility will improve medical care for 250,000 residents living in Amarah,” Ali noted. “It will serve as a teaching hospital for students attending Maysan University’s Medical College. I am very proud to be involved with this effort.”

Currently the construction crew consists of 65 local Iraqi laborers with that force expected to increase as progress continues.

Construction on the new hospital, located in north Amarah, is scheduled to be completed in August 2009. It will include a residence building providing housing for 16 physicians.

“We’re overseeing several other projects improving essential services here and this is my favorite,” said Ali, a lifelong resident of Amarah. “Other projects we’re managing include the renovation of the Amarah landfill with a new bio-medical waste incinerator, and 25 kilometers of new road between Amarah and Maymona creating a 4-lane highway there.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Horror of horrors

They closed the hotel pool already.

So what if Labor Day has passed. It is still summer!

Yesterday's high? 91.

Today's expected high? 93.

Weather forecast expect temps in the mid-80s for another week.

I am sad. This means summer is coming to an end.

And this means PCSing is coming up. And that makes me whiney. (I don't wanna! I don't wanna!)

Good thing SpouseBUZZ Live is this weekend. And I am going to meet some wonderful people and reconnect with some of my other imaginary friends.

Good News from Iraq: 4 Sept. 2008

From MNF-I, MND-B Soldiers seize munitions caches in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers seized munitions while conducting operations to increase security Sept. 3 and 4.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. Sept. 3, Soldiers serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, MND-B found a cache northwest of Baghdad. The munitions seized included six pounds of unidentified bulk explosives, a DSHKA gun mount, two DSHKA heavy machine guns, a rifle stock, two rifle barrels and an anti-aircraft gun mount.

While on patrol Sept. 4, Soldiers serving with Company D, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, attached to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B found a 155 mm round, a 120 mm round and two Italian manufactured anti-tank mines in the East Rashid district of Baghdad at approximately 12:30 a.m.