Saturday, February 28, 2009

Job well done, 6-4 CAV supporters

I've got some other posts I owe you guys, but Chap Ron sent this today.

I received an email from the 6-4 CAV chaplain, this morning. He had removed his name from anysoldier a while back.

"We have reached saturation point on care packages, the troops do not want to take any more from us! If you could make a note that the generosity of America was greatly appreciated by
The Raiders!"

He's asking that there not be any more care packages sent to the chaplain's office for 6-4 CAV. That's Maj. Ron Cooper, 6-4 CAV. Does not affect most anysoldier supporters, since we send directly to specific contacts within the units, but at one time Maj Cooper had been set up as a main contact for all of 6-4 CAV, too. They are very very grateful, and do not doubt, now that Americans support them. Good job, everyone. Yes Again, this only affects those packages sent through the Chaplain's office at Maj. Ron Cooper, TF 6-4 CAV.

Speaking as one of many who have been involved with people in "the forgotten" war OEF in Afghanistan for years, the response of Americans this year has been very emotional, and appreciated. Thanks to all, from me, too. Right Hug 6-4 CAV does not doubt that they have our gratitude and prayers

Monday, January 26, 2009

C Troop 6-4 CAV bridge access for Remote Afghans

Notice the credits for the pictures.

Army 2nd Lt. Michael Herndon and his squad provide over-watch security for workers below while they construct a bridge and improve a three-mile stretch of road in the Lal Por district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.

U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey

Army Staff Sgt. Olen Ice operates a Bobcat to widen, smooth and harden stretches of road between Lal Por village and Reneh in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.

U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey

Local Afghans stand by as Army Staff Sgt. Olen Ice lifts a plank to be used for a bridge in the Lal Por district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.

U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey

Afghan security forces, local residents and U.S. soldiers lay planks for a bridge in the Lal Por district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey

U.S. Soldiers Bridge Access for Remote Afghans
By Army Spc. Brandon Sandefur Special to American Forces Press Service

JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2009 - U.S. soldiers are building roads to remote areas in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province that are opening doors to a better way of life for local Afghans.
Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team are improving accessibility into the province's Lal Por district by building a bridge and improving three miles of road. Prior to the construction, access was limited to small vehicles and pedestrians, isolating the villages in the district's Reneh and Parchaw areas.
"Isolation creates a situation that can and will be exploited by enemies of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Army Lt. Col. Patrick Daniel, Special Troops Battalion commander. "People who are not reached by the legitimate government will be reached and exploited by the enemies of the government in an insurgency."
Since the completion of the project, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and large cargo trucks now can enter the area, enabling NATO's International Security Assistance Force to reach out to local people who may not have seen them before.
Daniel further explained how projects like this help establish trust and confidence in the Afghan government and the U.S. forces assisting them.
"The best way we can counter the enemies of Afghanistan in these areas is by assisting the government in creating access and reaching the people of remote areas like Reneh and Parchaw," he said. "This operation was a definite positive step in that direction."
Despite terrain and security issues, the project was completed in three days by soldiers from Charlie Troop, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment.
The troops also helped to widen, smooth and harden stretches of the road between Lal Por village and Reneh while working with Afghan security forces to establish security along the route.
"Because the road has been so restrictive, the government has not been able to provide large-scale projects in the area," Army Capt. Jay Bessey, officer in charge of the project, said. "As a result of this inability, the people have felt abandoned.
"We wanted to use this project to show them that, at the behest of their sub-governor, we could and would support them," said he continued. "Hopefully, this project ties them closer to the government and opens the door to increased security through a prolonged [Afghan security forces] presence."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

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Friday, January 16, 2009

DOD Announces Units for Afghanistan Force Rotation and Deployment

DoD Announces Units for Afghanistan Force Rotation and Deployment

The Department of Defense announced today that the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, based in Fort Richardson, Alaska, is scheduled to deploy as part of the next rotation of forces in Afghanistan. The 25th Naval Construction Regiment, based in Gulfport, Miss., will deploy as an additional unit in support of coalition operations in Afghanistan.

This announcement involves approximately 4,000 service members, and their deployments are scheduled to begin in February 2009.

The 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division will replace one active duty brigade currently on the ground, and continues the current U.S. commitment to providing three brigade combat teams in support of Regional Command East.

The 25th Naval Construction Regiment will provide additional expeditionary engineering and construction support to coalition forces in Afghanistan. This regiment was originally scheduled for deployment to Kuwait, but will now deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In consultation with Afghan officials and NATO, commanders continue to assess the situation to ensure sufficient force levels to best support the Government of Afghanistan, perform counter-terrorism operations, assist with reconstruction, and train and equip the Afghan national security forces. Afghan security forces continue to develop capability and assume responsibility for security, and this U.S. force rotation and deployment may be tailored based upon changes in the security situation.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Rides a Chinook to Eastern Afghanistan

A US Army Apache helicopter flies past snow covered mountains during a re-supply mission in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province December 23, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN)

A U.S. Army Chinook helicopter prepares to drop supplies during a resupply mission in eastern Afghanistan December 25, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN)

U.S. Army soldiers with 6-4 Cavalry keep watch from a lookout tower at Observation Post Hatchet near the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan December 25, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN)

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Lemuel Leach with the 6-4 Cavalry stands next to boxes of Christmas mail at the Observation Post Hatchet near the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan December 25, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN)

US Army personnel hold candles during a Christmas Eve church service on Forward Operating Base Bostick in eastern Afghanistan December 24, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN)

Soldiers with the US Army's 6-4 Cavalry stand around a bonfire and sing Christmas carols at Forward Operating Base Bostick, near the Pakistan border, December 25, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tree Lighting Ceremony at FOB Fenty

Col. John Spiszer, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, takes a moment to talk with the crowd before lighting the Christmas tree.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

By Combined Joint Task Force-101

JALALABAD AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, conducted a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 22 at the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan.

The ceremony was led by Col. John Spiszer, Task Force Duke commander, and hosted by Lt. Col. Bradley White, 201st Brigade Support Battalion commander.

“You are doing something important for yourself and for the Afghan people,” Spiszer said as he addressed Soldiers in attendance. “Take this time to think about the ones out on the frontline.”

The lighting ceremony not only afforded service members the opportunity to remember their fellow comrades spread throughout the country of Afghanistan, but to reflect on their family and friends back home as well.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mail arriving at COP Lowell

I will be able get you a detailed list later, just wanted to say thank you for everything you are sending to us. These pictures are not even ¼ of what we received.

Frank Hooker


Monday, December 8, 2008

Servicemembers prove themselves in ambush

Dec 08, 2008

BY 2nd Lt. Zack Moss

Lt. Col. James Markert, commander of 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, receives a Bronze Star Medal for Valor and a Purple Heart Nov. 27, 2008, for his actions during an attack on their convoy in northeastern Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. James Markert, commander of 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, and Sgt. 1st. Class Jody Thompson, 6-4 CAV, stand ready to receive their awards from Col. John Spiszer, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. They both received awards for acts of heroism in times of combat.

Our Fallen Comrade in Arms, Capt. Robert Yllescas

Our Fallen Comrade in Arms, Capt. Robert Yllescas
Story by Sgt. Charles Brice
Posted on 12.08.2008 at 02:00AM

By Sgt. Charles Brice3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

“Tip of the Spear” is an area well known to Bravo Troop “Blackfoot”, 6th Squadron, 4th Calvary Regiment in the Kamdesh District of the Nuristan province. The troops of 6-4 CAV have been in the area since 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, took over the area of operation in support of Operation Enduring Freedom IX.

“Capt. Robert Jose Yllescas watched over the Soldiers and the locals of Keating District,” Lt. Col. James Markert commander of 6-4 CAV, Task Force Raider, said. “He cared for those who were in need of help and security. Bringing what is so far apart and putting them closer together.”

During his time in service, Yllescas served under 1st Armored Division as both tank platoon leader and executive officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom I 2003 and returned and served again as a Military Transition Team Detachment commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom IV 2006.

“Yllescas was an extraordinary person to be around,” Markert said. “He brought that ‘lead from the front’ mentality into the work he was doing.”

After serving two deployments with 1st Armored Division, Yllescas was assigned to 6-4 CAV. He took command of Blackfoot Troop, who is now in support of Operation Enduring Freedom ending his career, when an improvised explosive device exploded near his unit during a foot patrol in the Kamdesh Valley. He later passed in the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, leaving behind a wife, Dena Yllescas and two little girls, Julia and Eva, from Osceola, Neb.

“Capt. Yllescas distinguished himself as the commander of Blackfoot Troop; putting his Soldiers first is how he works,” Markert said. “He proved to be a good solid man and a loving husband and father and a strong, courageous leader.”

Blackfoot Troop was chosen to serve in an area that was notorious for enemy attacks. Every Soldier knew the risk it would take in order to complete their missions daily. Yllescas pushed the belief that Keating can someday become a wonderful place where all can meet in peace.

“Capt. Yllescas immediately garnered the respect of his Troops,” 1st Lt. Joseph T. Mazzochi Blackfoot Troop, 6-4 CAV, TF Raider, said. “He was more of a visionary than a leader, because we are sitting here in his honor and respecting his wishes as our mentor and friend.”

“When Blackfoot Troop arrived at Combat Outpost Keating, they had very little to work with in bridging the gap between them and the locals,” 1st Lt. Ronald Briley Marine Embedded Training Team 7-3, said. “Yllescas brought together the Soldiers of Black Troop to build a building and dedicate it to the area, so we can all come together as a symbol of unity.”

“The building dedicated to the people of the Keating District will not just serve the purpose that we are here for today, but will be put to use amongst the relationship we will gain over the time here,” Briley said. “This was Capt. Yllescas’ vision for us all, to step forward and bring the people together.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

6-4 Families just keep the support coming

Today, I received an email from a 6-4 CAV B Troop wife.

"I was just emailing you to let you know that there are about a 100 fleece blankets on their way over to the troops. They were donated and sent by Ministry to the Armed Forces of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in Saint Louis, Missouri. They also got a few other donations of things but as far as what else I am not quite sure as I was out of town when the rest was sent out. "

The families keep the support flowing to their warriors.

We as Americans owe so much to the valiant warriors on the home front. They are our silent, sometimes unnoticed heroes. Their loved ones are away from them, and they carry the burden of their absence. Still, they get up every day, carry on with the life they have planned with their deployed warrior, and just keep spreading the word about the deployed warriors needs.

Thank you for reminding us there are so many families out there, and reassuring us there are more Americans doing their part for these deployed warriors.

Please know there are so many Americans helping to physically support your loved ones, and even more praying for all of you.

We will never forget. It is our duty as citizens. We owe all of you a debt that can never fully be repaid. You have all earned our enduring gratitude.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Today our hearts are heavy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Funeral Information
I just got word that Rob will be flown to Nebraska on Saturday. We will have a wake for the public on Sunday Dec 7th from 1-3pm in the Osceola Downtown City Auditorium. The funeral will be at 10am on Monday December 8th also at the Osceola Downtown City Auditorium. The address for this will be below. Also, I've got myself a PO Box while I'm at my parents for mail to be sent to me so you don't have to email me for the address. It is posted on the side of the blog. Again, thank you so much for all the support and prayers you've shown for Rob and our family.

Osceola Downtown City Auditorium
361 Central StOsceola, NE

Change of Address
Dena Yllescas
Osceola, NE 68651-0096

The blog has received emails asking for an update on the Marine who was injured with Cpt Yllescas. His wife has emailed that "He is almost completely recovered from his injuries and only has a headache here or there. . . He will be home VERY soon."

Today our hearts are heavy.

Rob is with God now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Computer Virus Hits US Military Base in Afghanistan

Computer Virus Hits U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan

U.S. military officials speculate the cyber attack may have originated in China
By Anna Mulrine
Posted November 28, 2008

KABUL—The largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan was hit by a computer virus earlier this month that affected nearly three quarters of the computers on the base, U.S. News has learned.
This wasn't the first such cyberattack, and officials said that earlier incarnations of the virus had exported information such as convoy and troop movements here. It was not clear precisely what information, if any, was being pulled from Department of Defense computers by this latest virus, they said.

Officials familiar with the computer attack characterized it as extremely aggressive and said that it originated in China. However, they haven't been able to determine whether the viruses are part of a covert Chinese government effort or the work of private hackers.

U.S. military officials on the base took the step of prohibiting the use of portable flash memory, or "thumb drives," as they learned more about the virus. The move reflects the concern that the portable drives can inadvertently spread viruses through separate computer networks in the field. Late last week, Pentagon officials also banned the use of thumb drives because of concerns that they were spreading a virus through the Department of Defense computer networks.
U.S. military spokesmen at Bagram declined to comment, citing operational security.
But privately, U.S. military officials express grave concerns. The Chinese "learn a lot from these attacks," says one U.S. military intelligence official. "Like how our logistics and other systems work."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Duke Brigade Leading Charge to Charity

"You make a living by what you get.
You make a life by what you give."
Winston Churchill

By Pfc. Charles Wolfe
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, are donating some of their pay to help others and they are breaking records doing it.

3-1, dubbed the “Duke Brigade,” has pledged more than $86,000 to the Combined Federal Campaign in five weeks, surpassing their annual goal with three weeks left in the annual charity drive.

“I’m always about helping people and giving myself to others to help people,” said 1st Lt. Joy Crowder, a native of Harker Heights, Texas. “There are people out there who really need that money for whatever it may go to - healthcare or food, whatever it is.”

To stress the importance of the chance for so many to donate to a worthy cause, Crowder turns to one of her favorite historical figure

“I would have to quote one of the great leaders of our time, Winston Churchill, who said, ‘You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give,” Crowder said.

Crowder is just one of many Soldiers who donated to the CFC this year. The CFC ensures the Soldiers’ money goes only to the charity of their choice. There are 2,260 organizations in the CFC’s most recent catalog, giving participants in the drive a wide range of causes to support. According to the CFC’s official website, an organization need only be recognized as a tax-free, non-profit group by the Internal Revenue Service to apply for a spot in their roster of charities. With groups supporting everything from medical supplies for poor countries to saving music programs in public schools, the CFC is the largest annual workplace charity campaign in the world. Federal employees working in all corners of the world can find the right outlet for their philanthropy.

Deployed throughout Eastern Afghanistan, Soldiers from 3-1 are focused on a broad mission, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the Afghan people. However, they continue to support important causes back home.

These troops have surpassed last year’s earnings and have a chance to lead all Fort Hood units for the second straight year. Soldiers from all over the brigade are making their contributions felt.

“I know Duke Brigade Soldiers are into giving because they give 100 percent every day,” said brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Orosz. “The program is successful because leaders are contacting Soldiers and telling them about the Combined Federal Campaign.”

With the CFC drive not yet over for 3-1, Orosz encourages his Soldiers to continue their generous streak.

“With a little more than two weeks remaining, I know the Duke Brigade can be number one at Fort Hood and throughout Operation Enduring Freedom,” Orosz said.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Love and Support from the 6-4 FAMILY

Our son is part of 6-4 CAV.

I wanted to let you know that to date we have sent 33 pair of size large socks to Keating and asked that they be shared. This way you can update your numbers.

We would also like to tell you and Tankerbabe "THANK YOU" for all that you have and will do for our soldiers.

Please let us know if there is anything that we can do for you.

Proud Parents and Sister

Thank you and your family for your service to our country. We appreciate you and your family. It has been wonderful to see how all the 6-4 CAV families, no only support their trooper, but go the extra mile for their comrades. You are all an inspiration.

For you and the other military families, please accept our Thanksgiving prayers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Briefing with Col Spiszer, from Afghanistan

Presenter: Commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Colonel John Spiszer
November 18, 2008
DoD News Briefing With Colonel John Spiszer, Via Teleconference From Afghanistan, at the Pentagon Briefing Room, Arlington, Va
COL. GARY KECK (director, Department of Defense Press Office): Well, good morning, everyone. According to my watch it is 9:30.

And as you all probably know here, I'm Colonel Gary Keck, the director of the Press Office. And Mr. Whitman asked me to moderate this press conference for him today with Colonel John Spiszer, who is the commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. He and his men and women of Task Force Duke are responsible for security and stability operations in the northeastern area of Afghanistan, along the Pakistan border.

Colonel Spiszer has been commanding his unit in Afghanistan since July of this year. And this is his first briefing with the Pentagon press corps. He is speaking to us from Forward Operating Base Fenty, in the Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan.

Let me just make sure Colonel Spiszer can hear us. John, can you hear me okay?

COL. SPISZER: Yeah, I hear you great.

COL. KECK: Super. All right. Then, as is our normal format, we'll turn it over to Colonel Spiszer for some opening comments and then we'll go into Q and A.

So with that, let's turn it over to Colonel Spiszer. Go ahead, John.

COL. SPISZER: Okay, good. Good morning. I'm Colonel John Spiszer, commander of Task Force Duke, as already stated. And we hail from Fort Hood, Texas, where we built this brigade starting in April of last year and we deployed it here in June.

We're responsible for four provinces here in the northeast, which is known as N2KL, which includes the Nangarhar, Nuristan, Konar and Laghman provinces. This area here is important because of its resources. These include water and agriculture, timber, gems, its dense and relatively well-educated population of 3 million and its strategic location, which links Kabul and Islamabad and ultimately the west to the east through the historic Khyber Pass.

We're conducting a counterinsurgency mission here in Afghanistan, focused on the security, governance and economic development and information activities. We're doing the security mission essentially with four brigades, which include the 2nd Brigade, 201st Corps of the Afghan National Army, the first zone command of the Afghan Border Police, the district and provincial Afghan Uniformed Police and, of course, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

In addition to the elements that we brought with us from Fort Hood, Texas, we also have the 1st of the 178th Infantry of the Illinois Army National Guard, four Provincial Reconstruction Teams and an Agribusiness Development Team here from the Missouri Army National Guard, the first of its kind.

We have very high hopes for our area. We see great potential in N2KL. A lot of progress has already been made through CERP and by good coordination and the hard work of all of our PRTs, which just rotated over the past few weeks.

In FY 2008, they worked numerous projects to the sum of $160 million toward the advancement and development of Afghanistan.

All the provinces were very heavy into road building, as was Nangarhar, which was also focused on some of its irrigation projects and bridges. Kunar developed a trade school to teach Afghans necessary skills for carpentry, painting, road construction, welding and masonry. Nuristan has started a forest conservation program. And Laghman is working on its agricultural capabilities. It has three rivers that actually run through it, that have water in them year round.

So we didn't want to overpromise. But progress is definitely in motion, despite the ongoing combat operations. Concerning that combat, most of our fighting takes place in the remote areas of N2KL, including Kunar's Korengal Valley, which has been in the news quite a bit lately, the Kamdesh district in Nuristan and sometimes in the foothills of the Tora Bora and Spin Ghar mountains in southern Nangarhar.

This is due to the mountainous and rugged terrain, along the border and in the Hindu Kush mountains, which offers protection for the enemy and a challenge for us to move in, due to the lack of roads and helicopter landing zones.

In these areas, the enemy is able to hide, move and continue resupply of weapons and money that they need to operate. But they are largely in the remoter capillary valleys, where there are few people, and farther from where progress is occurring.

While at this time, we can't fully prevent them from operating in these remote areas, it is easier to fight them there than these mountains and capillary valleys, because it's away from the populace. And we can safely bring to bear our advantages in artillery and combat air support.

While the Kunar province by itself accounts for one-third of all kinetic activities, in Regional Command East or CJTF-101's area, and is also the most violent province in RC East, at this time, the violence is occurring away from the vast bulk of the population, which is protected.

(Audio break.)

Furthermore in our area of operations, the border is becoming less and less of a transit zone, as Afghan national security forces, U.S. troops, the Pakistani military and the Pakistani frontier corps continue to conduct complementary operations against our joint enemy.

Speaking of that, we began Operation Lionheart this past month, where we're conducting these complementary operations with the Pakistani military and the frontier corps. The objective is to share intelligence and prevent the enemy from transiting the border, as they continue operations to defeat the insurgents in Bajaur agency.

By conducting near-simultaneous operations on both sides of the border, we're making it difficult for the enemy to operate and eliminating his essential safe havens. I just had a very successful meeting yesterday at the border with the Bajaur Scouts commander and the ABP zone commander as we work to further improve coordination and prepare future operations.

We're also executing more aggressive combat operations throughout CJTF-101's winter campaign -- (audio break) -- partners to keep the pressure on the enemy and prevent his preparations for the next fighting season. We're continuing our operations along the border and in the capillary valleys and mountains throughout the winter to give the enemy no respite, and along with the ANSF further development and the arrival of elements of the 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, we will present the enemy with a transformed environment next spring where he will be hard pressed to operate.

As mentioned earlier, we've done a lot for development, but we've also done quite a bit with governance. We have a sound relationship with all four governors in our provinces. Governor Wahidi in Kunar has done a fantastic job, including handling a mini refugee crisis that began in September, when the Pak -- Pakistani military began their operations, where we had approximately 30,000 displaced civilians come into his province from Pakistan's Bajaur agency. Also have noticed the tremendous job Governor Sherzai has done this past year of making Nangarhar a poppy-free province.

This month we also successfully completed voter registration in Kunar and Nuristan despite the ongoing combat. It has been very rewarding to support the people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as they prepare for their elections, which come up this next year. Our primary role in voter registration was to aid in providing materials for site protection, such as wood, sandbags, concertina wire, security wands; and also to provide security with quick-reaction forces if required, which they were not.

We also assisted in the movement of personnel and supplies to remote locations. These resources allowed all 24 voter registration sites within these two provinces to fully function in a secure manner for over a month. Also, the Afghans and the Independent Election Commission did the vast bulk of the work.

I'm happy to say that voter registration in these provinces went very well. We had over 130,000 people register in Kunar and over 20,000 in Nuristan, which represented about 34 percent and 20 percent of their total populations. Now, you got to note that they also have registration that's still current for the -- most of the voting-age population since 2005.

Also in December we kick off voter registration in Nangarhar and Laghman, where we anticipate even greater success.

Okay. I'll be glad to entertain your questions at this time.

COL. KECK: Okay. And as usual, please let him know who he's talking to and what news organization you're from, because he can't see us.

Jeff, go ahead.

Q Colonel, Jeff Schogol with Stars and Stripes. I'm interested to know, are you working with a human terrain team, and if so, what value do they -- does the data they provide bring you?

COL. SPISZER: Well, yes, we do have a human terrain team, got a very good officer on my staff who in his training prior to this point had some good relationships with those guys as they formed out of Fort Leavenworth and out in Monterey. And it's a been a great value added to us. It provides kind of the critical element to our staff that we need to help us understand and gather some of the data that we need to get a full picture of the environment that we're operating in.

The counterinsurgency environment is all about the people, and understanding how to connect to the people, to provide them security and to provide them good governance. And without that understanding, we have a really hard time. And these guys are giving us some of that critical effort.

The thing that we've done mostly is to push them down to the lower unit so they could start interacting and engaging in gathering that information that we need, so that we can further our plans and coordination.

But there's definite value added, and I wish I had more of them, in fact.


Q Colonel, this is Jim Mannion from Agence France-Presse. You said that the -- of -- a brigade from the 10th Mountain Division will help you transform the environment in your area by the spring. What is it that they -- you know, what it is that they're going to be doing that can't be done now?

COL. SPISZER: Okay. Yeah, the 10th Mountain -- the brigade from the 10th Mountain coming in, they're not going to be doing anything different, certainly not in my area, than what we're doing now. They're just going to provide us more capacity to do it and, I think, will give us the capability to do things faster, to make a difference quicker.

I think we're making great progress, but there's just too few of us. I think the potential is there. We're moving forward. But with the additional troops that they're going to bring, it's going to get us into some of the areas that we're a little bit challenged right now -- kind of a little bit of economy of force.

And it's going to be able to allow us to put the pressure on the enemy in more places. So instead of doing sequential-type operations and attacking things slowly over time, we're going to be able to do many more things simultaneously.

For us here, I definitely anticipate being able to do much more along the border. Most of where we have problems now is further inland in the Konar Province and in Nuristan Province. What we haven't done -- what we have a challenge with is working to interdict along the border. And that's put a stretch on us as we work with the Pakistan military as well, but we're doing a lot more there now. But I anticipate when we have some additional forces from the 10th Mountain that we're going to do a much better job, both with our partners across the border and also interdicting and lessening, ultimately, the conflict that we have further inland in our AO.


Q Colonel, this is Jim Garamone, from American Forces Press Service. Two questions, really. Do you have the coordination centers set up where you work with the Pakistani army and Frontier Corps? And second, what's the trend in violence right now? Has the winter sort of cut down on the number of violent episodes in your AO?

COL. SPISZER: That was a little hard to understand. I think you're asking me if I've got the Border Coordination Center in my area. Is that correct?

Q That's right.


COL. SPISZER: Yeah, the Khyber Border Coordination Center isn't in my area. Khyber Pass and Torkham Gate fall into my area, and they are actually co-located, essentially, on one of our forward operating bases, Torkham Base, right there. The actual site itself for the Border Coordination Center falls under the command of the Regional Command East and we provide them support.

That being said, I'm out there pretty frequently. There are -- there are representatives of obviously the coalition there -- our guys, including a couple out of my brigade. There's representatives from the Afghan National Army, the Afghan Border Police, the -- (off mike) -- that operates across from us and then the Frontier Corps.

They're -- they are really working through their procedures now. And the linkages now exist from all areas along the border to flow through there. And what it really does is it provides us -- if we can't connect across the border from where the actual problem may be -- the border is covered in 10,000-foot-high mountains -- we are able to go to the Border Coordination Center and reach through them and figure out what's going on and coordinate our activities.

So I think there's a lot of potential there that we can make use of, and better, in the future. But so far, it's doing pretty good.

And the other aspect of that was the winter decline. I think here it's a little bit different every year, and there's a number of factors in that. When winter arrives -- winter has arrived here. I just flew up to Nuristan, and there's snow on the ground. Many of our passes are probably closed above the 7,000-foot level, which closes a pretty good number of them up in Nuristan and in the Tora Bora mountains, Spin Ghar mountains.

But I have not seen a real reduction in the level of violent acts. But it -- you know, I compare it from last year to this year, and May and June were higher. July and August were lower. September was about the same, and October was actually higher. So this past month in my area it was actually higher, despite what was going on with the Pak military in the Bajaur Agency. I think part of that is because of what's going on. Initially we saw a drop when they started their operations, and now I think they might actually be pushing some guys back this way, which might account for some of the rise.

So it's hard to categorize when you compare from one year to the next, and it's also a matter of qualitative differences. Many of the contacts we see now are much less in duration or intensity as well, almost more just -- just to do something is kind of how I characterize it. They're out there just trying to do something. They haven't had very great effect on us at all, in fact, in the last month, despite the levels.

So overall we've had a slightly more this year than last year, but it's been different. I think one of the reasons October was more was that Ramadan was in September. So Ramadan moves two weeks earlier each year, and what happens is, is that in the past years here, Ramadan's fallen up close to winter, so they can't do many operations afterwards. This year there was a significant -- a whole month of good fighting weather after Ramadan, and I think they took advantage of it in October.

So it's hard to characterize, and like I said, the operations Pakistan's doing is having an impact, both good and bad. And then Ramadan had an impact. But now I think the early winter coming here is going to have another impact, and I think -- (audio break) -- could change.

So I hope those -- that answers your questions.

Q Thank you.

COL. KECK: Gordon?

Q Sir, Gordon Lubold from the Christian Science Monitor. You mentioned roads earlier. Do you see a change at all in the tactics of the insurgents, whereby they have begun to target the newly paved roads as much as they were the unpaved roads in the past?

COL. SPISZER: In our area -- I think every area here -- you've got RC South and then you've got southern RC East and you've got northern RC East; I think it's a little bit different in each area because of -- you're facing a different type of enemy.

In our area they have not targeted the paved roads, although we did have a couple of culverts in southern Nangarhar destroyed just recently. But those are the only ones since we've been here for five months now. We had one other instance up in the Pech River Valley in central Kunar where an IED was turned in that was in a culvert, and that's it. That's the entire sum (of ?) attacks against our paved roads: three since we've been here.

So I think that there's a -- one, there's a great value in the infrastructure that's going into this area that the local populace is placing on it. They see the difference it makes in their lives very rapidly; they haven't had these roads in the past, and there's a lot of people who want them. And they've created an environment where the enemy so far has not been able to impact them.

Now, I am worried that as the enemy becomes more desperate, he's -- he might be willing to try and do that. But so far up here, the roads have been relatively sacrosanct once they've gone in. So we see the IEDs mostly in the dirt roads, and unfortunately, that's mostly in the narrow roads, very hard to operate -- places we can't take MRAPs. So one of the changes that we've seen this year in the tactics of the enemy is an increase in the lethality of the IEDs on the dirt roads in our area. And that has been problematic.

But overall, though, the paved roads -- and what we see here is the people see them as progress and they help protect them. And they're also furthering our ability to provide security, and they're also furthering the ability of the government to get out and do things for the people.

COL. KECK: David?

Q Colonel, this is David Morgan from Reuters. Would it be accurate to say that one of your main objectives is to make it difficult for militants to spend the winter in Afghanistan, in order to head off a larger spring offensive next year?

And what have you been seeing in terms of attempts by militants to supply those that are already in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan? What sorts of movements are you seeing?

COL. SPISZER: Yeah, I had a hard time understanding the first part of that. I think I got it, though, about making it difficult for the enemy to stay here in the winter. I would like to do that.

Unfortunately, I think what we're going to see is us -- our ability -- and we actually designed some operations to drive the enemy out of Afghanistan. And unfortunately -- or fortunately, I guess, in some ways, the Pakistan military's doing operations that really, ultimately, are in some ways designed to drive them out of Pakistan. So working together, somebody's -- you know, they're running out of options on places to go, which I think is a great thing in the long run.

In the short run, I think that some of the places that he's operated in the summer in our central areas in the (capillary valleys ?) of Kunar might end up being where he is for the winter, which, as General Schloesser said, he anticipates potentially some more of these guys staying around and possibly -- and we are certainly going to continue our offensive operations in the winter. So we may see some increased violence trends over the winter that we haven't seen in the past. But I think if that is the case, it'll be because the Pakistan military is taking away their safe havens in Pakistan.

So that's going to be a great thing for us in the long run. It may make it a little bit more challenging for us, in the short term, but I think we've got the plans and the capabilities in place to deal with that, and it would -- just -- as we further synchronize our efforts with the Pakistan military and develop our capabilities along the border, any of that trans-border movement -- which includes weapons and money, which is really what they need is weapons and money, when we start interdicting that, then these guys are going to start dying on the vine.

And what was the second part?

Q Can I follow up? If you could -- can you please tell us what sort of volumes you're seeing in terms of militants coming across the border? And are they Afghan, Taliban returning to Afghanistan? Are they foreign fighters? Who are they?

COL. SPISZER: Okay, well, if I saw them all, they wouldn't be around anymore. So I can't give you real definitive figures on what I see happening there. We have a very broad mix up in this area.

In the south, we have what's called the Taliban front, or, correction, the Tora Bora front, which is kind of successors of the Hezb-i-Islami Unis Kalis (ph) faction. We also have a lot of drug smuggling. Then as you work your way up to the eastern side, we have TNSM, which is a Pakistani -- Islamic fundamentalist group that's associated with the Pakistan Taliban. Then we also have Taliban and we also have LET (ph) the Kashmiri separatists.

And they all kind of come across and do different things. Some of them come over here and basically train. They fight us to train to go do things in Pakistan or in Kashmir. Some of them come here because they're paid to. So there's a lot of different reasons and different groups here that don't coordinate their activities very well, which in fact gives us an advantage here.

But I don't see large numbers of foreigners. We hear lots of rumors of foreigners. And you got to remember, up in Nuristan, a foreigner is anybody not from that valley. So it gets very hard to sort some of that stuff out, because it's very isolated. But, you know, and a foreigner is definitely a Pakistani or Punjabi, which we -- is not what we're thinking of when we talk about it. We're talking about Arabs and Chechens and Uzbeks. We hear about them quite a bit, but finding good, solid evidence is very rare.

That being said, I think most of the guys that'll be here in the winter will be Afghans, and most of the Pakistanis will be elsewhere and there'll probably be some other folks here and there. I think what I might not see this year is the Afghans that go to winter in Pakistan. I think they're going to stay here.

Q Hi, sir, it's J.J. Sutherland with National Public Radio. My question is, the Khyber Pass is in your area, and given that it was closed briefly and just reopened recently, I was wondering, what is your view on the security of the Khyber Pass? And also, just as a separate question, you mentioned the refugees that came into your area recently. And I was wondering, what happened to them? Are you seeing more, or how is that playing itself out?

COL. SPISZER: Well, obviously, the Khyber Pass is pretty vital, and it has been for thousands of years. Fortunately, it was only a very limited interdiction. We do get lots of reports of what happens there, because we're right across the border.

I have not, we have not seen anything since we've been here significant enough to cause me any great concern.

The Pakistani military promptly has taken action to ensure the security of the convoys that come through there that are pretty much essential for the ISAF forces here. In addition, the logisticians here have done a great job. We are really not too worried that if there is -- if it does get any worse that we wouldn't be able to handle it.

So I feel pretty confident about both the Pakistanis taking care of it, and also if there is a little bit more of an interdiction that our forces here will be able to take care of it as well over here, we'll be able to handle the (situation ?).

As to the refugees that came in, I think that's a tremendous success story. It highlights some of the capacity that's grown here kind of unnoticed over time. And I think it has to do with President Karzai, and he's got a new Cabinet, function (of the ?) IDLG, the independent directorate of local governance, and they've started getting some really superb governors, both Governor Mashal in Laghman and Governor Wahidi in Konar are appointees of the IDLG within the last year; in fact, Governor Wahidi's been on the job for one year.

And granted, with some of the PRTs' mentorship early on this year, they prepared their disaster relief committee to handle flooding because they've got the Konar River, they traditionally have spring floods and summer floods from the snow melt. That didn't really materialize this year, but they had the structure in place.

So when the refugees started coming across from Bajaur because of the combat operations in Pak -- (audio break) -- Wahidi formed his council on his own, they determined where the refugees were and where they were coming, they contacted UNHCR and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, and said, hey, we need some help, we need some relief efforts. They coordinated with the local authorities, found these people places to stay without having to develop camps -- a lot of tribal connections on both sides of the border -- and they have, so far, since September, been able to keep them fed and clothed and housed successfully.

Now, I think they might be at the limit of their capacity, and fortunately, it's topped out at about 30,000, but I think it's a great success story so far. And unfortunately, also I think it's something that they're probably going to have to continue dealing with through the winter. As the snows are falling, I don't think they're going to go home before spring, especially since the Pakistan military is still doing operations in those areas.

COL. KECK: Come back to Luis.

Q Colonel, it's Luis Martinez with ABC News.

I had a specific question about -- there was a report about a joint U.S.-Pakistani operation called Operation Lionheart. And just wanted to see if that is actually an accurate report, sort of like talking about increased ISR links with the Pakistanis and with your forces and that your forces, in turn, are pretty much doing blocking efforts from the Bajaur operation.

COL. SPISZER: Roger. Yeah, no, Operation Lionheart has taken place in our area. We are in coordination on a daily basis with the Frontier Corps. It has been a challenge for us because we are largely committed. It's not like I've got a lot of extra troops available. But what we have done is work very hard to refocus our ISR assets, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance assets, to do everything we can to identify transiting across the border. And with that information with -- (audio break) -- we do have available, predominately mobile forces, we're working along the Konar River Valley and up into some of the passes to interdict and ambush any enemy forces that are either coming this way, trying to escape Pakistan, or going that way, trying to reinforce into Pakistan.

The biggest success I'll tell you straight up is the cooperation and coordination that's developing between the Pakistani military. I wish I had more resources to devote to it, and we will have more over the -- over the coming months, but it's also paving the way in this cooperation. Yesterday, when I met with the commander of the Bajaur scouts, we had a very good meeting up at Nawa Pass, which is basically in the center of the Konar province, and the 170 kilometers of border between Konar and Pakistan. That's about the central point, significant place there that we're building a new road to connect to Pakistan, a bridge across the Konar River, probably the third border coordination center, it will end up going up there. And we are starting to really -- they've had good connections in the past, and we're taking those to the next level with Lionheart: the sharing of the intelligence, the contact numbers, company commanders meeting face-to-face up there at Nawa. Can't do that many other places because, I mean, there are some pretty forbidding mountains, but where we can we're doing that.

We're getting ready to -- we -- this has spilled over into cooperation further to the north. I've had commanders in meetings north of Bajaur, north of Konar, that hadn't been meeting in the past because of this. And I think it's going to spill throughout the border area and in cooperation between both the ISAF forces and the Pakistani military and the ANSF, more importantly the Afghan forces and the Pakistan forces.

So I think Lionheart provides us a good start.

It's starting to work, and more importantly, it's going to be better in the future for whatever comes after Lionheart.

COL. KECK: Courtney.

Q Hi, Colonel. This is Courtney Kube from NBC News. Two very quick questions.

With the exception of the terrain, which is an obvious impediment to security along the border, what is now your biggest hindrance when it comes to stopping interdiction across the border and security in that area?

And then also, we've heard reports of an increase in attacks on convoys, supply convoys. Are you seeing that all in your area? And can you quantify that if you are?

COL. SPISZER: Well, I -- you know, along the border, terrain's a pretty big impediment. (Laughs.) Everything else seems to pale beside the terrain.

We've got -- let me take a look at my -- 470 kilometers of -- (audio break) -- N2KL and virtually all of it's above 5,000 feet. So it can't get much worse than that. And then you've got about 10 kilometers of mountains stretching into Pakistan and 10 kilometers or so stretching into Afghanistan. So it's a pretty big mountain range with very few roads and trails through it.

And then, like other places, the enemy's actions as he goes through there and attacks different sides, it makes it hard for them to trust each other and work together because they're never sure who's who. It's very difficult. So the enemy's actions themselves in targeting the border posts make it the next most difficult thing, I think.

We're going to -- the border's going to drastically change in N2KL. Our predecessors made great strides with the Afghan border police, tripling their capability in the -- (audio break) -- in this area.

I think General Cone talked to you a couple of days ago. Focused border development is ongoing. We've sent out of this area -- 400 out of the 2,400 border police that we currently have are in training right now. We're going to train the entire force, plus recruit the additional 400 or so that we need. So we're going to increase the numbers and the capabilities of the border police over this winter.

In addition, the Afghan National Army is growing in N2KL and they're predominately going to be down in the Nangahar area of the border, whereas the biggest increase of the border police is probably going to be in the Konar area.

And then the third thing that's going to change is we are going to get elements of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain, and I'm going to focus them on the border.

So despite the difficulties and challenges in terrain, overcoming some of the challenges in coordination, which we're doing now through Lionheart, and the challenges of the enemy's actions, trying to cause us to distrust each other -- (audio break) -- borders in N2KL especially is going to be completely different next spring.

COL. KECK: Jeff, last one.

Q Okay.

Colonel, you're talking about Pakistani military operations. What is it -- what is it that the Pakistanis are doing now that they haven't done before?

COL. SPISZER: Well, I could really only talk about now. I saw things in the news, but I have firsthand knowledge of what they're doing now.

What they're doing now is a sustained operation to clear -- clear, build, hold. They're definitely in the clear phase in the Bajaur Agency right now. And they're working fairly slowly, but deliberately with both regular Pakistan military and the Frontier Corps in a sustained fashion over the course of almost two months now. And the operations aren't done yet, and I anticipate that they'll probably extend -- (audio break) -- to other parts of the border.

So from my perspective, what they've been doing over the last two months is a sustained offensive that's really put the pressure on the enemy in a way that I don't think, from what I've learned in the past, has happened before. So I think that's the biggest change.

COL. KECK: Okay. Well, we are at the end of our time. And we would like to give you an opportunity, Colonel Spiszer, to provide us with any final observations or closing remarks.

COL. SPISZER: Okay. Well, nothing of great import, I guess, but just a couple of thanks.

I'd like to thank the Pentagon press corps and yourself, sir, for helping me to keep the American and international community informed of what we're doing here in Afghanistan.

I'd also like to take this time to thank the families and loved ones who've been taking such good care of us over here with care packages, letters, support that they provide -- (audio break). And that's one thing that -- we have a challenge moving stuff around here a little bit. It's very mountainous. We have to use a lot of helicopters. And the one thing that we're always having a hard time about is all the mail and good wishes, and we've got to get those moved around. And that's a good problem to have. And it's just been really tremendous, all the support that we have over here, and it's very much appreciated.

So thank you very much from FOB Fenty, and duty first.

COL. KECK: Thank you very much. And we hope to hear from you again down the road and get another update on operations.

Thank you much. Thanks for coming.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Commander and supporter of Troop A featured in news article

Groups aim to brighten troops’ holidays

By Bryan McKenzie

Published: November 15, 2008

While Washington politicians figure out how to end the Iraqi conflict with peace and honor, the soldiers there and in Afghanistan are still fighting for their lives and those of others.

As long as they’re dodging bullets and rocket-propelled grenades far away, some folks nearby are going to keep finding ways to support them.

Have little, but need much

“I was hoping I could cut back to maybe a soldier or two, but it didn’t work,” said Mary Ellen Wooten, the power behind the one-woman troop support mechanism From Us To You. “I ran across this unit that’s living on rock in Afghanistan, in an area so remote that everything comes in and out by helicopter. These guys have nothing and needed everything, so the next thing you know …”

“Most of us have family members over there or are in contact with troops and we want to do our best to keep up their morale,” said Katherine Warren, of Blue Star Families of Central Virginia. “We want them to know people haven’t forgotten and still care.”

Welcome to the world of the civilian military support organization. Like the soldiers they support, once they get involved, they can’t seem to get out.

For the Blue Star Families, the conflicts and family members in the thick of it are always on their minds. For Ms. Wooten, who has sent specific items to specific troops for five years ago, it’s taken over much of her house and her life.

“I guess I can’t really get out of it until they are,” she said, sounding a bit weary. “They can’t just pack up and leave and I can’t abandon them.”

Both groups, and others, are rushing to get goods out for Christmas. The Blue Star group is sending Christmas decorations to a troop center in Kuwait and packages to other soldiers. Ms. Wooten is shipping long johns to American troops in the Afghan mountains. She’s also working with Starbucks at Berkmar Drive and U.S. 29 to send coffee to the guys in Apache Troop, 6th Battalion, 4th Cavalry of the 1st Infantry Division who are sitting in the rock-pile boondocks.

Every bit helps

“The guys are freezing up there and a $5 donation will get a soldier quality long johns,” she said, adding that Hanes has agreed to a discount and to ship the undies directly to Afghanistan.

Like Ms. Wooten, the Blue Star Families can’t seem to quit until the wars are over, and so they continue collecting goodies and cash donations.

“It’s our way of spreading a little pleasure in what can be a tough situation and providing simple joys throughout the year,” Mrs. Warren said.

For the troops, every little bit means they’re remembered.

“[They] are wonderful organizations that help to remind the soldiers that they are not forgotten and that there are people other than our families that worry and care for us,” wrote Capt. Frank Hooker, of Apache Troop, from its remote Afghanistan post. “The generosity of the American people never fails to amaze me.”

It’s not just the American troops involved in the conflict, Capt. Hooker noted.

“As the winter approaches, anything that can be donated to assist the local nationals in our area would be greatly appreciated,” he wrote.

Donations for 6-4 CAV can be sent to MaryEllen Wooten at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Convey for supplying 6-4 CAV and other 3-1 ID Battallons Check out the CNN video with Nic Robertson showing getting supplies into the 6-4 CAV.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Face of Defense: Soldier, 19, Tracks Afghan Airspace

Face of Defense:

Soldier, 19, Tracks Afghan Airspace

By Army Spc. Brandon SandefurSpecial to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Nov. 13, 2008 – While many young men his age are just thinking about their next step in life, 19-year-old Army Pvt. Ryan Masterson is keeping an eye on the airspace in a combat zone.

Army Pvt. Ryan Masterson, aviation operations specialist with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, responds to a call from an outlying unit. Masterson tracks the airspace for all the brigade’s units so they get supplies and air support when needed.

Masterson, from McHenry, Ill., is an aviation operations specialist for the Air Defense and Airspace Management Cell here.

“We track the airspace for our brigade’s area of operations and get real-time video feeds of what’s going on with our airspace,” he explained.

“It gives us a better idea of where each aircraft is and what they are doing so we can track everything a lot better.”

Masterson, who has been in the Army a little more than two years, coordinates air support with troops on the ground via radio and phone systems. He coordinates through a liaison officer to find out what the soldiers on the ground need -- whether it’s air support, supplies or reconnaissance flights from unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We make sure that the infantry soldiers have whatever they need as far as air support,” he said, whether it’s firepower from an Apache attack helicopter or a Chinook helicopter delivery of food or water.

Masterson said he rarely has a free moment while working, but that he finds the job very rewarding. With his limited free time, he said, he likes to watch movies, go to the gym and talk to his family on the Internet.

But when free time is over, Masterson is all business, and he said he feels good about what he does.

“It’s good to know that you played a role in winning a battle or helping soldiers by getting them the air support or supplies they needed,” he said.

“I think it’s a good feeling to know that I may have helped some soldiers and possibly save some lives by getting them what they needed as fast as I could.”

Masterson plays an important roll in the majority of operations that require air assets -- which, considering Afghanistan’s terrain, is almost every operation.

“He is very important to the ADAM Cell and continues to improve on a daily basis,” said Army Staff Sgt. Simeon Burns, from Oakland, Calif., Masterson’s supervisor.

“He’s tactically and technically proficient at his job.”

Masterson said he wants to pursue a career in law enforcement when his military service is finished, but that for now he’s happy to be part of a team that controls the skies over Afghanistan.

(Army Spc. Brandon Sandefur serves with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Troop A Needs a Shop Vac

Thanks for all for the suggestions ! ! !

But a special thanks to MIKEenTexas. He's sending what the Commander requested.

Thanks to all who responded with suggestions as to types, and sources. You are all great ! ! !

I've heard from the 6-4 CAV Troop A commander:

Ops NCO tells me that we could use a Shop-Vac (I have noIdea what that is).

Anyone that needs the address to send a shop vac to A Troop, email me, and I'll send you the address.

B Troop 6-4 Cav Trains ANSF forces

Soldiers in the Nuristan province training Afghan National Security Forces in order for them to eventually be on their own.

If the video says it is unavailable at this time try link:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jingle Bells Not Jingle Trucks

The FRG elves have been busy at Fort Hood ! ! ! They could be seen scurrying from FRG group to FRG group. Sometimes taking time out to just rest beside the sleighs on the still green grass.

Rumor has it one troopers mother drove from West Texas with a sleigh full of over 70 stockings she had sewn. Those were added to the already accumlated totals of hand stitched, others purchased and donated, all lovingly filled stockings.

What a great group EFFORT.

When are those mailing deadlines?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thank you God, we love baby steps

So, depending on how he does between now and then will determine if we fly Tuesday. The other update is really quite exciting. They told us this morning that he had been quiet during the night and did not move. However, when I walked into the room and started talking to him, you could see his eyes moving behind his lids and he started moving his shoulders!!!! I couldn't believe it! I talked to him about the girls and he would move them even more. He even had tears coming from his eyes when Barb and I spoke to him. I asked him to squeeze my fingers and he would ever so slightly. The neuro dr came in and examined him and said that with everything he's been through, things are just going to take time. I told him to try to open his eyes. You could see him moving his shoulders up and down like he was trying to get them to open. You can only imagine how heavy is eyes are. They did have to sedate him a little when they thought we were flying, so he did go back to sleep for awhile. But right before we left him so he could go to surgery, I started rubbing his cheeks and forehead with my fingers and he again fluttered his eyes and moved his shoulders! This is such exciting news. I know it's baby steps but anything positive like this is HIGHLY encouraging! So, please keep praying that they will find what's causing his levels to be high and be able to fix the problem and that his neuro status continues to improve. God is good and He will provide.

Friday, October 31, 2008

B Troop Commander, 6-4 CAV, 3-1 ID Cpt Robert Yllescas Injured in IED

Dena Yllescas has a blog to keep everyone updated on Rob's condition.

Rob and Dena have touched so many lives, and there has already been much outpouring for this family.

We all continue to surround Rob, Dena, Julia, and Eva with our prayers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holiday Mailing Deadlines

Express 18 Dec
1st Class 11 Dec
Priority 11 Dec
Parcel post 13 Nov

Express N/A
1st Class 04 Dec
Priority 04 Dec
Parcel Post 13 Nov

Express 18 Dec
1st Class 11 Dec
Priority 11 Dec
Parcel Post 13 Nov

Express 18 Dec
1st Class 11 Dec
Priority 11 Dec
Parcel Post 13 Nov


Express 18 Dec
1st Class 11 Dec
Priority 11 Dec
Parcel Post 13 Nov

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hoping for Chocolate Cakes THIS MONTH

UpDate: The October birthday cakes were made, and enjoyed. Pictures promised.

Chaplain Ron says the renovations to the DFAC at Bostick are moving ahead, and asks that we all hope they are finished in time for him to fire up the new mixer (thanks Mary Ellen) for the chocolate cakes for the Oct birthdays.

He's bumping it up to 3 cakes this month, because of pop demand (They love his chocolate cake). I'm with them, especially the chocolate icing.

Okay, enough chocolate talk. It's cool enough we can now send some M&M's, and some other tastes of chocolate.

Speaking of which, I'm off to get a handful of M&M's. I can only take so much chocolate talk, without indulging. Imagine how much they would appreciate some good chocolate.