View Full Version : Newsletters from Iraq (part two)

2006-01-31, 22:20
I just got the following newsletter emailed to me today from the COL of SGT Rock's unit. I will post future ones here in this thread as the deployment continues.

SPTT Newsletter 3 (yep I missed the first two due to email problems)

Our mission is called SPTT. That stands for Special Police Transition Teams. The Iraqis have the Iraqi Army, the Special Police, Border Police and the Police as their four basic building blocks of organization. The Army focuses only on conventional warfare and protects against attacks from their neighbors. The police perform the roles we would normally associate with a police force in any town here in the US. You can guess what the Border Police do. We are responsible for the training and employment of the Special Police. The Special Police are units that fight the insurgency, and they are organized into Public Order units (PO). They assisted with security for the elections, interface with the community to identify insurgents, arrest and detain all categories of bad people, find bomb makers, etc.

All of the missions you have been reading about for the past 2 years that the US Army has been performing. Most of us will be working with a PO division or a Mechanized Brigade. Both have the same mission around the Baghdad area. They're organized much like a US division and they are commanded by a two-star Iraqi General. We have teams that will link up with their units and work with them on a daily basis. I can't go into much more detail without making this a classified document, but I hope this gives you a better understanding of what we will be doing.

If you get a chance to read the Army Times this week, you'll see a story on page 8 about MTTS. These are Military Transition Teams which is the larger heading for the teams that go with the Iraqi Army, Special Police, Border Police, etc . So they're talking about us. They talk about the kinds of things we will be doing. There is a lot of confusion about what to call the teams, SPTT, BTT, MTTS, etc. but it's not important. We all perform the same mission. They talk a lot about special benefits, a career booster and considerations for assignment, etc. Remember, the Times is not an official publication. But I sure would like to see some of those _benefits and promotions._ Ha ha! They did not overstate the importance of the mission though, and they did not exaggerate when they said the teams were hand-picked.

I got in a lot of trouble when you told your love ones that you knew they had lobster, crabs and steak for lunch last week. I'm now labeled a traitor. But they had it again a few days ago. Did I mention there is desert every night? We're going to have to get out of here or we'll all be on the overweight program.

Speaking of departure, our dates are classified because we don't want the insurgents knowing when units change out. If they know that, they can target the new guys before they get their feet on the ground and know all of their tricks. But we will be leaving in a few weeks. Everyone here is anxious to get into theater and get started with the mission. Everyone is equally excited about getting their 365 day clocks started so we can all get back quickly. I'm sure you're interested in that too. Just a little expectation management. The rule is that soldiers do not spend more than 365 days in theater. Theater is described as Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and a few others. There is a two week extension policy to allow for the coordination of flights home. Medical patients have priority, then soldiers redeploying, then soldiers going on leave. So it may not be exactly to the day, but it will be very close. The Secretary of Defense has to personally sign a document for us to stay longer than that unless the individual, not the unit volunteers. So they are very serious about the time on the ground.

You will hear it called BOG. That's boots on the ground. It starts the day we land in Kuwait. Current policy says that soldiers get 10 days at home, not counting travel time, during their year long tour. You have to be in country for at least 4 months before you can leave and have at least 2 months left before the end of the tour. Our leaves will fall into those windows, but I don't have exact dates yet. I'll discuss that with my boss when we get on the ground and try to meet everyone's desires. Of course we won't be able to send everyone home exactly when they want to go, but we will try our best. We have to keep the teams intact so we can perform our mission. Inevitably, someone will have to go at a time that is inconvenient. But they'll all be back.

Some soldiers with small children elect not to come home so the kids won't be confused when dad leaves again. For these soldiers, there are other options on places they can visit instead. I think Qatar and Germany are still on the list, but I'm not positive. If you are in this situation, discuss options now. Maybe the kids can stay with the grandparents and you and your spouse can meet at a vacation site. There are a lot of options, and it's not too early to plan. It will give you something to think about and work on too, and may help ease some of the emptiness you must be feeling.

Things are going well here at Ft Hood, and you should be very proud of what your loved one is doing here and what he will do in country shortly. How well we do our jobs there and transition the Special Police to take over their country will be the determining factor on when we as a Nation can come home. So we are all going to do our best. Thanks for your support.

2006-03-29, 23:55

I’m sure you realize it already, but today marks the completion of our first month in theater. Now I realize February is a short month, but it counts as a month. 11 to go! We’re all still doing fine and I’m like a proud dad every time I see our guys at work. We’re all trying to deal with meetings that seem to last forever. The translation makes them twice as long anyway, and the social orientation of the culture makes them longer. We knew that from our training, but it’s still a little frustrating at times. But or Iraqi counter parts by and large, want to do the right thing and perform the tasks we ask them to do. They fully understand that in order to make Iraq whole again that it will take our help. Our reputation as the World’s best Army makes us credible to them and they want to follow our example.

The guys we replaced finally left. We were all ready to see them go. We needed all the information they provided, but we were all ready to get the mission under way. We’re settled in now, and I’d like to say we have a “battle rhythm” but we’re all still trying to get our schedules figured out. Then, just when we think we’ve got it, we get a late notice mission of some kind and stay up late anyway. We’ll get it figured out soon. All the more reason to look forward to coming home. Remember, only 11 months.

My wife asked an interesting question the other day, and I’m sure you have the same one. She asked “what is it that you do?” Good question. It’s taken me nearly a week to come up with an answer. I really command the Public Order Division, with the help of the real commander. The division HQ is only six months old and they are still trying to get all of the people, equipment, training and facilities they need. They’re also in the middle of fighting the war. The best analogy is that they’re building an airplane in flight. Pretty tough. I say I’m the commander because all of the things we take for granted about how to run an organization is foreign to them. The don’t understand command and control because most are from the old Saddam Army. He dictated every action so they never had to learn how to control units. They don’t know how to report because any negative reports to him meant death. The accurate reporters are no longer with us. They don’t know how to supply food and water or fix vehicles because those were never issues. I think your loved ones are performing to the same capacity in their jobs. If they’re in operations, they’re the S3 or the S3 SGM. Same for all the other positions. That’s why we’re so busy. Again, it’s not the Iraqi’s fault, it’s just that they have to learn the US ways of doing things to be successful. Remember, in the US we organize and train new units for a year before we send them out on missions. Then we go to NTC, not to war. It’s a monumental task, but one they readily accept to get control of their country and their own affairs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for anyone’s actions, but it’s a different world here sometimes. The real reward is seeing the Iraqis work through problems and the pride they have when they are successful. The waves from the folks in Baghdad, especially the kids help a lot too.

I hope to keep these up regularly, but I’m still not sure how often I will have something to say. If it is your custom to pray, please keep us in your prayers. If not, continue to send your best wishes. They help a lot.

2006-03-31, 07:21
Great posts, really informative, look forward to more...it's especially good to hear about the good, hard work you're doing over there, something that we don't always get in the mass media.

Just Jeff
2006-03-31, 11:28
Seriously - good stuff. I even used the airplane analogy in my "Stability Operations" class yesterday!

It's (not really) funny how the story you get from the media is so different from the story you get from people who are actually there. Bad news is big news, I guess. I'm sure there is some bias on both sides, but the media gets to publish theirs...so it's good to have stuff like this out there to counter it.

Good to know Rock got some good eats, too! All the best to you guys.

2006-04-01, 00:00
Just so y'all know, Rock isn't the one writing these newsletters this time around. The COL is the one taking care of it so far.

Thank you for the good words though, they are appreciated.