Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: June, 2010 (28) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 28

June 1, 2010 at 11:50am

5-20 Inf, Strykers, on a cache hunt

DIYALA, Iraq - The morning of May 28, proved to be a sweltering one throughout all of Diyala province, Iraq. This was especially true for the palm groves of the area, which provided a canopy that trapped humidity making the heat index underneath at 115 degrees Fahrenheit as Gen. Khalis, the division headquarters Iraqi police commander for Abu Sayda, led his men through on the hunt for weapon caches.

Advising and assisting Gen. Khalis and his men was Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, along with military working dogs, an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team, and scout weapon teams from the U.S. Forces.

"We were there because history has shown us that Abu Sayda and the surrounding areas are littered with caches," said Capt. Preston Aaron, commander of Company C, 5/20 Inf.

According to Aaron, three weeks prior to this mission, a wild fire devastated the palm groves in the area. As the fire spread, three weapon caches exploded, contributing to the rapidly growing flames as they went on to destroy crops, homes and personal property of Iraqi civilians. This, along with a rise in improvised explosive device attacks in the area prompted Aaron to do a clearing operation in the area.

"I brought up the idea to Gen. Khalis," said Aaron. "He was very energetic about the idea and wanted to do it right away. We did it literally two days after initial planning."

The movement plan through the groves and how to utilize assets was done by Gen. Khalis. Everywhere he went Aaron was two steps away, there by his side to give him advice or assistance if needed.

"We're really starting to transition to an advise and assist role with them," said Aaron. "We're stepping back, seeing how they want to do these missions, and coach, teach and mentor them. So far, it's working well."

No weapon caches were found in the particular palm groves they searched, but Aaron does not view this as a failure because he believes this has helped to strengthen his partnership with the policemen and show a presence in the area.

"It was a huge step in the right direction," said Aaron. "It was a success because our number one task of continuing intelligence driven missions in the area was achieved."

As U.S. Forces move into this advise and assist role, many Iraqi security forces in the area are going a step further and operating completely independently during unilateral operations.

"Many of the units in this area are doing so many missions, so many raids, that unless we keep up with them on a daily basis, we lose track of what they're doing," said Capt. Aaron. "They're starting to get ahead of us."

The Sykes Regulars of C Company plan on assisting Gen. Khalis and his men with missions coming up to make Abu Sayda a safer place. Even though there is more work to be done to rid the area of weapons and criminals, Gen. Khalis has seen what the work done in the past has done for this place.

"The situation here is very good, it has improved greatly in the past months," said Gen. Khalis. "I credit this not only to us, but to our strong relationship with U.S. Forces."    

June 4, 2010 at 4:42pm

Soldier charged with premeditated murder in Afghan deaths

Charges were preferred today against a soldier who is accused in the deaths of three Afghan civilians.

Charges against Specialist Jeremy Morlock include: three specifications of murder under Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 118 - Premeditated Murder; one specification of assault under Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 128, Assault.
JBLM officials emphasize that the charges constitute an accusation and that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Morlock, 22, from Wasilla, Alaska, is an infantryman assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. He entered the military in June 2006 and reported to JBLM in December 2006, after receiving initial entry training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga.

Morlock deployed in July 2009 with his unit in support of Operation
Enduring Freedom. He redeployed on June 3, and was placed in pre-trial
confinement. This was his only deployment.

Jurisdiction of Morlock's case was passed to JBLM upon his redeployment.

Criminal Investigation Command officials are continuing their
investigation into the case.

Filed under: Afghanistan, Crime, Infantry, Strykers,

June 7, 2010 at 3:14pm

Jacoby says farewell

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord is holding a relinquishment of command ceremony on Tuesday for Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr.

He took command of I Corps in June 2007 and led the headquarters unit to Iraq in March 2009 for a yearlong deployment in which he was the No. 2 U.S. commander, in charge of operational forces.

Jacoby is moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as director of the strategic plans and policy section on the Joint Staff.

Maj. Gen. John D. Johnson will serve as interim commander of I Corps until the Pentagon announces Jacoby's replacement.

Jacoby was the 62nd commander of the military base near Tacoma

June 7, 2010 at 8:08pm

Our soldiers are coming home...

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - About 300 Soldiers from the 2nd
Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry
Regiment will be reunited with their families and friends at a ceremony
currently scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Sheridan Gym on JBLM Lewis
Main.

The two battalions deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom last
August, as part of the larger deployment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade
Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

By mid-July, most of the more than 1200 Soldiers assigned to the 2/3
Infantry and 1/23 Infantry battalions will have returned from Iraq. The
brigade headquarters and remaining battalions of the 3rd Stryker Brigade
are scheduled to return later this summer.

June 7, 2010 at 8:14pm

Five 5th Brigade soldiers implicated in killings

FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Five soldiers from the same Washington state-based unit have now been implicated in the killing of three Afghan civilians, an Army spokeswoman said Monday.

The Army said Friday that Spc. Jeremy Morlock had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and one count of assault.

On Monday, Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord spokeswoman, said "there is enough evidence to say that five may be charged," although Morlock is the only one charged so far.

A second soldier is being held in confinement in Kuwait, and the others three remain with their unit in Afghanistan, she said.

Like Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, the others are assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Morlock deployed in July 2009 with his unit in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He returned to the Washington state base Thursday, was charged Friday and has been placed in pretrial confinement.

The charges against Morlock involve three separate events alleged to have occurred between January and May at or near Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Afghanistan, Parker said. She said she had no further details on the victims or circumstances.

Parker said she could provide no additional information on the other four soldiers because they are not under Fort Lewis jurisdiction.

"Because they are from the same unit, we anticipate the others may return here but we don't know," she said.

A senior military official said last month that about 10 members of an Army unit based at Fort Lewis have been under investigation for as many as three civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

The official did not have details of the investigation but confirmed that the 5th Stryker Brigade was under scrutiny.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of an investigation being conducted in Afghanistan.

The maximum penalty for conviction for premeditated murder would be life in prison or the death penalty, Parker said. Army prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in Morlock's case.

Parker said she has asked whether Morlock's Army trial defense counsel wants to make a statement on Morlock's behalf but has not yet received a reply.

Filed under: Crime,

June 8, 2010 at 2:34pm

SF change of command

Group Support Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Change of Command

Outgoing Battalion Commander, LTC Lee G. Hudson

Incoming Battalion Commander, LTC Anthony L. Haycock

17 June 2010 at 1000 hrs

Location: Watkins Field, Fort Lewis, WA

Soldiers' Field House (Inclement weather)

A reception will be held following the ceremony across the street from Watkins Parade Field

June 8, 2010 at 4:12pm

Memorial for Shane Barnard

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Family, friends, Service members and

the Joint Base community will remember a Soldier who died while in

support of Operation Enduring Freedom with a ceremony to be conducted

Wednesday, June 9, at 3 p.m. in the JBLM Lewis North Chapel.

Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard, 38, of Desmet, S.D., died May 19 in Zabul

Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he stepped on a secondary

improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 787th Ordnance

Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD),

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

June 9, 2010 at 2:27pm

Medals for Rangers

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - Twenty-four Rangers from 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment will be recognized for their combat actions in a combat awards ceremony Thursday at 1 p.m. Among the awards scheduled to be presented are Bronze Star Medals for valor, Army Commendation Medals for valor, Purple Hearts and Bronze Star Medals for service.

The ceremony will be held at the Battalion Memorial.

The Rangers returned earlier this year to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  This marks the 13th deployment of the battalion to Afghanistan and Iraq in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

June 10, 2010 at 9:51am

3rd Bde Strykers discuss Fathers

Staff Sgt. Justin Hill, from Abilene, Texas, a platoon sergeant with Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, plays with his two daughters during a family bowling outing. Apache Company

DIYALA, Iraq - Throughout the United States Armed Forces there are numerous examples of service members who are living proof of the strong impact a military father can have on his child's willingness to serve.

This Father's Day, the Soldiers of 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, reflect upon the influences of their fathers, grandfathers, and their shared commitment to protect the citizens of the United States.

Of those who choose to serve their country, many attribute the road they have taken in life to the inspiration and guidance they received from their fathers. 

"Both my grandfathers served in World War II, and my father served during Vietnam," said Sgt. Christopher Bowles, from Salem, Ore., a squad leader for Attack Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd SBCT, 2nd ID. "I joined the Army because it was always what I had wanted to do, and it was always in our family."

Even for those who only have one generation to look back on, their fathers' military service was an important factor in their decision to become a Soldier. For one it was almost as though the genes were passed on directly to him.

"My dad was in for a total of 22 years as an 11 Bravo [infantryman] like myself, and he served in the Korean War, earning three Bronze Stars while he was there," said Staff Sgt. Rick Hurt from Cincinnati, Ohio, a team leader for Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd SBCT, 2nd ID. "I tried to rebel at one point and say I wasn't going to be exactly like him, but as I grew up it was almost like it was inevitable and I felt like this was where I belonged."

One of the many benefits these men said they received was very valuable on an emotional level. They discovered a deeper connection and admiration of their dads commitments through the training, fighting, highs and lows.

"After our last tour, I gained a better appreciation for what he and every other Vet had to go through," said Hurt. "Once I saw what that was like, and had been through the lifestyle, it was unavoidable for us to become closer."

That type of connection gives these Soldiers a better understanding of what it means to celebrate Father's Day. Their experiences represent a bond that strengthens the desire to honor the men that inspired them to walk this path. 

"This is an opportunity to honor your dad, or fathers anywhere who have stepped up and said, 'this is what it means to be a dad, and I am going to do the best that I can'," said Bowles. "Looking back on my grandfather and father, I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. They've given me tremendous lessons and blessings and this is an opportunity for me to thank them for that and hope I can do the same."

The Soldiers from Apache Company are scheduled to return home this month, making the potential for Father's Day activities a bright possibility. Some look forward to the opportunity to celebrate with their fathers.

"When I get home I am planning to get my car that my dad took care of while I was gone, and drive it back [to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.] on a cross country trip with him," said Hurt. "Even if we aren't able to make it back in time for Father's Day, that would be a great reunion."

For other Apache Company Soldiers who have children of their own to guide through life, the greatest Fathers' Day gift will be to spend it with their families.

"This would be one of my kids' first Father's Day, and the second or third that I have actually spent at home," said Staff Sgt. Justin Hill from Abilene, Texas, a platoon sergeant for Apache Company, 1/23 Inf. "Usually it would be my day to do whatever I want, but to get home to be with them would be really awesome."

June 10, 2010 at 3:07pm

Chief of Staff here tomorrow

The Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. visits Joint Base Lewis McChord on Friday, June 11. Media are invited at 4:45 p.m. to watch Gen. Casey award the Purple Heart to a Soldier who was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan while serving with 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Following the presentation, Gen. Casey will take questions from media on any topic within his purview.  To learn more about Gen. Casey please go to this link:  http://www.army.mil/leaders/csa/

During Gen. Casey's visit to JBLM, he will visit cadre and future Army leaders at Operation Warrior Forge, spend time with providers and wounded warriors at the Warrior Transition Battalion and meet with senior I Corps leaders.

The Leader Development and Assessment Course, also known as Operation Warrior Forge, is U.S. Army Cadet Command's capstone training event. The purpose of the course is to train U.S. Army ROTC cadets to Army standards, to develop their leadership, and to evaluate their officer potential. Army ROTC cadets must successfully complete LDAC before they can be commissioned as Army officersThis summer, 14 regiments will take part in the course - with nearly 500 cadets in each regiment. JBLM is the only location where this event occurs.

The Warrior Transition Battalion provides medical care, advocacy, and leadership to Soldiers who are wounded, ill, or injured in an effort to transition them back to duty or into civilian life. They care for Soldiers from all components of the Army- active-duty, guard, and reserve.  They have about 440 Warriors in the JBLM WTB and about 240 with a Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU), with more than 225 staff members supporting them.

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