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dixicritter
2003-08-30, 13:50
I will be posting all Squadron News updates here from now on (as soon as I move the older ones over here).

dixi

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 13:56
Got an email today from the Squadron Commander's wife. Here's what she told us....

1. All airplanes are now in the air, the last two are expected in Kuwait sometime this evening.
2. Everyone is well.
3. Tomorrow, April 5th the Squadron will move North for their first mission.
4. SCO will call again once the first mission is complete.


This is the latest news from here. Still no word from SGT Rock himself, but this was a comfort to me.

dixi

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 13:59
The status update for today was really unexpected by me, but here's the official statement...

*The unit is close to Baghdad conducing reconnaissance and security operations *They are driving around and meeting a lot of people *Everyone's performance has been great *The troopers will begin to be able to phone home soon. *The expectation is that mail service will begin soon. The troopers have been sending mail out and we should begin receiving it.


Also got a call yesterday from the CO's wife letting me know that the RCO (Regimental Commander for us lay people) has been with Rock's unit for the past few days. He sent word that everyone is doing a fine job, no accidents and no injuries to report. For which I'm extremely thankful.... yet not surprised.


The only other thing I should report, and I'm not sure if it'll affect the site or not (it's his job to know these things not mine), is the hikinghq email server is being taken offline tonight to switch it out for a better more efficient one. This could affect email notifications of new posts or PM's. They assure us that it'll be a quick and painless process.

dixi

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:00
Following is a news update sent to me by the SCO's wife. We had a very nerve wracking afternoon here.

"I just received a call from the Regimental Rear D commander. He advised that the news reports on CNN, Fox etc that you see today are incorrect. The soldier who was killed in Baghdad today was not a 2ACR soldier. "

I haven't heard from SGT Rock since Saturday morning. I keep hoping the next call that comes thru would be him, but so far no such luck.

dixi

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:00
Just received this official status update from the SCO's wife....

The following report was provided by LTC Joel Armstrong, Cougar Squadron commander.

*Joel apologized for not calling us earlier yesterday to discount the stories that were appearing on Fox News and CNN. He had no idea that the media was associating the death with 2ACR.
*The soldiers are still housed in the cigarette factory and through their ingenuity are making life a little better each day.
*The troopers continue to clear schools and provide supplies for Iraqi children.
*There are still Iraqi criminals that test the patience of the troopers. Our soldiers are well trained and very aware of their situation.
*Mail is beginning to flow through and makes a huge difference in morale....keep writing.
*Joel urges us to believe in his commitment to take care of soldiers and family members by providing as much information as possible in the most timely manner possible. Believe in your FRG leaders and Rear D and their commitment to honor the commander's wishes. End of Report

We had a few tough hours yesterday but we all made it through. Be skeptical of everything you hear or watch on the news - verify with your FRG leader or Rear D. Thank you for supporting each other yesterday. Continue to believe in the professionalism of our troopers. There are none better suited for the job at hand.

dixi

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:01
LTC Joel Armstrong provided the following report:

*The squadron headquarters is still located in the cigarette factory in NE Baghdad. *There is an embedded reporter with the Squadron from the Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com) whose name is Warren Richey. He has filed a number of stories about members of the Squadron which can be found on the website. *The Squadron is working with Iraqis to clean up the streets and town. *To date,over 100 schools have been cleared and are now open due to the Squadron's efforts. *They have moved 200 semi trucks of ammunition out of the capital, removed 170 unexploded bombs, stopped 100s of crimes and confiscated over 300 weapons from the streets of Baghdad. *There are now more humanitarian groups in the Squadron's area. *Electricity (including in the cigarette factory) in Baghdad is now on about half of the time. *The squadron is continuing joint patrols with the Iraqi police. *Tomorrow the Squadron is participating in a UNICEF project and will be escorting the Japanese Ambassador around Baghdad. *The troopers receive one hot meal a day (T ration). *Mail is now flowing. *The troopers are working very, very hard and Joel is proud of their accomplishments.

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:01
LTC Joel Armstrong reports the following:

*A Cougar trooper received a gunshot wound to his finger today while conducting operations in Eastern Baghdad. The trooper is expected to fully recover. It is unclear at this point whether the trooper will return to the States or go back to the unit. FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN INFORMED. *All other troopers are doing fine and Joel is proud of their efforts. End of Report

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:02
LTC Armstrong provides the following report:

*Camp Cougar is now at 100%. The Regiment arrived in Baghdad along with the remaining Cougar troopers today.
*There are now 1100 people that occupy the Cougar camp. Adjustments for the additional troopers will have to be made but the Squadron is glad to be whole again. *Everyone is doing well. *The Squadron continues to work with Religious factions on stabilization of the area. *The troopers are very busy and continue to work hard. The presence of the Regiment will allow relief to the Squadron as the area that they have been covering will be split. *The Squadron is working as a liason to build a soccer field for Iraqi civilians across from Cougar camp. *The Squadron continues to make a difference in the lives of many Iraqi people. *Joel continues to praise your husbands efforts and work.

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:03
LTC Joel Armstrong reports the following:

*The Squadron (as a whole) is now settled.
*The troopers have successfully emptied the remaining schools of all ammunitions stored by the Iraqi regime. All schools are now open in Cougar's area of operation.
*The trooper's have pulled over 300 weapons off of the street.
*The squadron continues to provide security support by patrolling the streets. The soldiers are on high alert at all times of patrol due to the criminal elements that still remain in the city.
*The Squadron has begun to assist with the establishment of local Iraqi government. Each troop has and continues to meet with Iraqi citizens, building local area councils.
*Recently mailed packages and letters are flowing smoothly to the troopers. There is still a back log of packages and letters mailed in April that the troopers have not yet received. The command is working on this issue.
*Joel is proud of the trooper's dedication and hard work making Iraq a better place for the underprivileged citizens who work and live around the Squadron's compound.
*All troopers are healthy and we have no unreported injuries.


Update from the Regimental Commander COL. Wolfe who is now on email.

Got my first email connection since 5 May. Things are going well here. The Regiment has arrived in force and have gotten settled the past five days.

We closed all of the squadrons on the 17th. RHHT and 1/2 arrived on the 15th and immediately began setting up camp. The facilities we are using are old regime facilities which have been vacated so we've moved in. They are "fixer uppers" and the soldiers have been busy making them liveable. Each sqdn and RHHT have their own compound (except 4/2 and RSS who share).

It has been good getting the team pulled back together here for the first time. Have remained busy as we are putting in 18 hour days. Troopers are staying safe but we are still getting shot at about once a day in the Regimental area.

We plan to celebrate the Regiment's Birthday on the 23rd and have even found a local chef to cater the meal with a cake per squadron. Don't think it will match the dining-outs.

Been hot here with temps at 104. Doesn't cool down much below 80 at night though.

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:03
LTC Joel Armstrong reports the following:

*The Squadron continues to work on improving the quality of life in their area.
*There are now 131 schools that have been cleared and are open due to the Squadron's efforts.
*Cougar is now working on the getting the sewage problems resolved.
*The Squadron implemented a large trash clean up effort which is going well.
*Progress on establishing the soccer fields across from the cigarette factory is being made. Joel says this is one of the coolest things that they have been able to get going. The locals are excited to have the Squadron's support.
*Cougar has pulled 318 weapons off of the street.
*The Squadron continues to provide combat patrols with local police. They continue to work with local authorities on establishing the Iraqi force.
*The Squadron is still located in Northeastern Baghdad but their zone has been cut in half due to the arrival of WarEagle (1st Squadron). In the next couple of days the zone will again be reduced. The Squadron will be in the most dense part of the city but the reduction in area will allow the troopers to do more detailed work.
*Packages from April have finally begun to arrive. Joel has received 4 in the past week

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:03
LTC Joel Armstrong provides the following:

There are a few rumors going around that need to be discredited.
*The Squadron is NOT coming home in August. Nothing has changed to make the command believe that the unit will come home any sooner than originally thought which was first quarter next year.
*The Squadron is NOT drinking river water. They have bottled water.
*COL Wolfe is NOT being relieved of command. His change of command is scheduled for June 18th and has been on the calendar for quite some time.

*The Squadron is moving their humanitarian effort focus to local hospitals.
*The Squadron now has tanks in the compound.
*Ghost and Hawk have moved into warehouses within the walled cigarette compound. The remaining T/C/Bs will move shortly. The cigarette factory will be opened for production in the near future which requires the Squadron to move from the offices.
*Howe Battery provides the security for the compound, maintaining the gates and walled security. They are doing a great job.
*The Squadron now has a gym and basketball courts. They still have outdoor plumbing for the most part with homemade showers. They are trying to get some wheeled showers into their area.
*The troopers have one hot meal a day.
*Cougar continues to provide duel patrols with the Iraqi police force. Today they had 49 daytime patrols and 31 nighttime patrols scheduled.
*CPT Jeff Schrick, Ghost troop commander changed command to CPT Brian Mescall today. CPT Scott Schumacker will hand over command to CPT Chris Danbeck tomorrow.
*The Squadron continues to meet and exceed all missions and Joel is very proud of the efforts and dedication of the troopers.

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:04
LTC Joel Armstrong reports the following:

*He will check into the 84th Engineer's spouses' concern that the soldiers attached to other units are not getting enough bottled water and not getting hot meals.
*Mail backlogged from April is flowing.
*The troopers have cleared munitions out of 274 of the 304 area schools.
*There are 1.8 million people who live in the Cougar reduced area of operation. It is one of the most dense sections.
*The Squadron continues work with their established infrastructure repair teams working on roads, sewers etc.
*The trash clean-up project is on-going.
*Continued progress is being made on the soccer field.
*Cougar is working with officials to get propane and gas into their sector.
*Cougar troopers have confiscated 408 weapons to date.
*Joint security patrols with the Iraqi police force are ongoing. Joel has daily meetings with the Iraqi Chief of Police.
*The Squadron is working on establishing a City Municipal Building. The troopers continue to assist in standing up the local government. To date 6 local councils have been established. One representative from these councils will participate in the District Council which in turn will have representation at the City Council.
*Cougar operates an ammunition supply point. To date, the troopers have removed six thousand tons of munitions and 224 UXOs.
*Cougar continues to battle with subversive elements but the soldiers are well trained and very good at what they do.
*Joel is very proud of the way the Cougar troopers are executing all missions and sends his thanks back home to the spouses and family members who are supporting them.

End of Report

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:04
LTC Joel Armstrong reports the following:

*COL Terry Wolfe relinquished command of the Regiment to COL Brad May on June 18th in Iraq.
*The part of town that Cougar is living in is pretty calm. Crime is decreasing and the Squadron is making less arrests than before.
*The government functions that Cougar is supporting continue to move forward.
*The Squadron is obtaining weight sets. These sets will be helpful in training for the current football season. Every troop has a team. Early season favorites are Support and Eagle.
*Cougar is planning a sports day on July 4th. Teams will compete in a number of different areas. The Squadron is planning a barbecue to finish the day. They are hoping to be able to offer hotdogs and hamburgers.
*The Squadron continues to work on the warehouses that are in the Marlboro compound. Once the structures are ready the troops will move from the cigarette headquarters into the new "barracks."
*Cougar had two large operations this week to shut down black markets in their area of operations. They took 67 prisoners and confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods.
*The troopers continue to excel at their peacekeeping efforts. They are working very hard and the command is proud of their efforts.
End of Report

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:05
LTC Joel Armstrong reports the following:

*Baghdad is nine hours ahead of the United States Central time zone. This report was made at 2:00p.m. Baghdad time. The current temperature is 112 degrees which is relatively cool for the area this time of the year.
*Despite the heat, ALL Cougar troopers are doing fine.
*The living situation in Iraq is still difficult - there are not many extras. The Squadron is still working on getting portable showers to replace the handmade units they currently are using. But there is plenty of water and food. The full weight set requested by the squadron has been received. The soldiers are able to work out.
*Mail delivery continues to improve. Keep writing and sending packages, mail is a huge morale booster for the troopers.
*The soccer field the soldiers assisted in building is on target for completion and opening ceremonies are scheduled for July 5th. The Iraqi players were outfitted with new uniforms for the season. Projects such as these continue to build favorable relationships with the locals in the Cougar area of operations.
*Clean up in the Cougar area of responsibility is ongoing. The Squadron area of the City looks pretty good and continues to improve. More shops are opening and crime continues to decrease in the area.
*The troopers continue to assist in the establishment of the local government and police force. They are working hard to establish these relationships and are doing a great job.
*A local ambassador will visit the Squadron today and a Senate committee will visit on July 2nd.
*Plans for the 4th of July "field day" are moving forward. A variety of sporting events will be offered to the troopers and the day will finish with a cookout.
*The news from Baghdad lately has been scary. There are still elements in Iraq that challange the US forces. The Squadron is taking all precautions to ensure the safety of the troopers. The soldiers are well trained and good at what they do. The troopers are working hard each day to improve the lives of the Iraqi citizens. They take pride in their work and accomplishments and the command is proud of their efforts.

End of Report

In other news, SGT Rock is going to try to start doing a newsletter for his troop from over there. If he is able to do so, I will share his updates as well with you all.

dixi

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:12
The Cougar Change of Command is scheduled for 10:00p.m. Central July 7th in Baghdad. Baghdad is 9 hours ahead so the change will occur on July 8th at 0700hrs for the troopers. LTC Joel Armstrong will change with LTC Chris Hoffman.

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:15
Here are some of the things going on at Camp Marlboro:
New shower trailers are being set up right now so that each trooper can get a shower whenever they are able.

The Internet Caf is still in the works with an estimated online time-frame of late August.

A new building is being worked on to move troops into. All troopers should be in air conditioning soon if they aren't already.

The troop areas are getting more TVs with satellite connections. Right now everyone does have the ability to watch FoxNews so they can keep up with what is going on in the world. Most TCBs have DVD players and have access to DVD movies.

The troopers are all getting two hot meals a day and bottled water is plentiful. And there is now a ping pong table in the mess hall.

Daily highs in Baghdad continue to be about 108-109 degrees F.

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:16
Here are some notes from the SCO dated August 5th:


It is hot here, around 116 today. The troopers are doing great even though it is getting hotter. The locals tell us it will start to cool down in the next month. The Squadron continues to conduct patrols in our zone. We still interact with the local governments and community to help them establish themselves as they become more self sufficient. We are in the beginning stages of building qualification ranges. We believe we will have time in the future to start training so we can maintain proficiency in the tasks we don't do on a daily basis.

As you have seen in the news Baghdad and Iraq are still dangerous. We take serious precautions as we conduct operations and the troopers are well
trained as they move throughout the city. We are conducting operations
against the individuals that are still hanging on every day. We also are assisting the new Iraqi police as they stand up, so for now we still take actions against crime and criminals as we find them.

Quality of life in the camp is improving and we work to make life better daily. The generator for the renovated buildings that will allow everyone in the Squadron to live in quality air conditioning arrived yesterday. We
hope to have it on line in the next few days. In our mess hall we have
added an additional ping pong table and two pool tables and of course every evening there is a football game or two. We are still serving two hot meals a day and bottled water has not been a problem. In the near future, contractors will start providing our morning and evening meals. This will give everyone a much needed variety. I will keep you updated as to the progress of this. The Internet cafe should be up and running within the
next week or two. It will provide 20 free computers for use and dedicated
days will be rotated among the TCB's.

I am sure you have heard of the R&R programs that are in place now. The
main one that will affect the Squadron is a 4 day trip to Camp Doha, Qatar. This will allow the soldiers to depart out of Baghdad International Airport and arrive there to relax and get away from the stress of operations in Baghdad. The Squadron has high priority for this and we should start
sending troopers within a month. As I know more I will let you know. I
also know that you have heard rumors of 2 week leaves back in the United
States. There is no official word or policy out on this. If something
develops on this I will let you know as soon as possible.

I really appreciate all of the support you are giving you trooper. Every bit helps, even though we try to make life comfortable, it is nothing compared to them being home safe with you. In case no one has said, you are making a great contribution to what we are doing over here, and I would like to personally say thank you for all you do!


LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:18
We continue operations in Baghdad. It has been very hot here, as high as 131 degrees, but today was a much cooler 115. I know that you have seen in the news that a lot is going on in our area, yet we are experiencing no major issues yet. We continue to talk and work with the local religious and police leaders to maintain progress on our mission.

I must regretfully report that SPC L.K. passed away last Saturday. This Thursday we had the memorial service for him, we all here extend our deepest sympathies to his family in LA and his friends back at Fort Polk.

All troopers in the Squadron now have air conditioning. Our first large generator that powered the new buildings burned up. We have since recieved another one that keeps the buildings cool for 7 hours at a time then we must let it cool down for 1 hour and then start the process over again. This is helping the morale here a great deal. The new showers are up and running and are a big hit. They are air conditioned as well, and some have been known to sit in there and read a book.

Our internet cafe is up and running. We have 20 new compurters. 16 are available for the TCB's to use during their assigned day, 2 are available 24 hours a day for walk-ins and 2 are available for education purposes and correspondance courses.

Fox troop is now out in the desert to our east providing security for the construction of new training ranges. Their living conditions are comfortable and air conditioned as well. We should start gunnery training over the next couple of months.

There is still no official word about a 2 week leave back the the United States. If any official policy comes out I will immediately get word back to Fort Polk so you can make your plans. This week we recieved 11 new soldiers in the Squadron here and they are being taken care of well and getting climatized to the heat.

Again, I would like to thank you for all you do to support your trooper and the sacrifices you are making. Please send mail and keep in contact with them.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:19
We are still operating in northeast Baghdad. It is cooling down a little here making it much easier on everyone, was 115 today. You have probably heard about the truck bombing of the UN complex in Baghdad. It was about 3 miles from where we are and we could feel the shock wave from the blast. Some of the troopers from the Squadron were in that area at the time and responded in gallant fashion. I assure you everyone in our squadron is okay and no one was hurt. A lot of damage occurred to the complex however and we are assisting the coalition effort there in any way we can when requested.

Our day to day operations still have us patrolling and assisting the city government to continue making progress. We are starting to work with the Iraqi police a great deal and are helping them as they are helping us. Some very good relationships are developing between the TCBs and their respective police stations in their areas. Everyone in the Squadron is doing great work in very difficult and still dangerous conditions. The threat from terrorists and former regime members still exists but we take action against them at every opportunity. All troopers are prepared and ready to meet these challenges no matter what their MOS may be.

Our quality of life in the camp continues to improve. First I would like to assure you that there is plenty of bottled water for everyone, especially the troopers operating outside of the camp in body armor in this heat. Food is getting better with more variety. We had steak tonight and actual fresh salad. It was a good change. We have a building now dedicated as a laundry mat with the ability to have Iraqi contractors do our laundry for a small fee.

On the subject of R&R passes, Ghost troop sent the first 22 troopers to Qatar. Their report back was it was a great place to relax. There have been questions raised regarding whether spouses can join their troopers while they are in Qatar. There is no official policy that says spouses can't travel to Qatar. However, there is no couples billeting and although spouses would have access to the MWR compound the troopers ability to leave the facilities is limited.

Again thanks for all you do to support everyone over here. Please remember if you get the chance to drop your trooper a note from home.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-08-30, 14:20
All is quiet in the Squadron zone this week. We continue to run patrols, establish check points looking for weapons and terrorists, and work with the local Iraqi government officials. It was 109 today and we hope the temperature keeps dropping. We are also training Iraqi's for their civil defense corps who will work with us as we move in the zone and will be able to help us with the cultural and language differences we have. I would like to add that every patrol we send out has an Iraqi translator with them to provide any assistance needed. We have had great success with all the Iraqi's we have trained for security duties thus far and expect this to work as well as previous programs. The TCB's in conjunction with our civil affairs teams are working with contractors that are starting to build sports fields for the Iraqi youth so they have some diversity and something to look forward to as they go about their daily lives.

This evening was the Camp Marlboro Super Bowl. Eagle troop was victorious in the final game winning against the Support Platoon for the championship. The internet cafe has been a great success here as far as we can tell. We were off line for about 12 hours due to some sort of computer worm or virus. It has since been fixed and is now operational. We have experienced some mail delays due the the bombing of the UN complex. We had two days where we did not receive mail, but now that the situation has stabilized the mail is flowing, although somewhat slowly.

Most of you probably worry about our force protection levels on the camp. The camp is very secure, and the best troopers in the Army are pulling the security. We also have M1A1 tanks attached to the Squadron which provide great flexibility and firepower. Everyone works to improve our defenses everyday and we constantly look at how we conduct operations to ensure everyone remains as safe as possible in this environment.

I know the second set of DCU's is a subject that everyone back there is concerned about. We hope to have them available to issue in the next two weeks. To help with this, the Iraqi's that run our laundry also are repairing the tears in uniforms for the troopers as needed for free. Though not a perfect solution it is alleviating some of the problems.

Please drop you trooper a note if you get the chance, it is a great boost of morale for them. We all over here appreciate the sacrifices you are making back there, and we know it is difficult, but we couldn't do our job without you and your support.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-09-10, 00:42
Here is the latest update from the Squadron Commander:


Our operations continue in Baghdad and the temperature is decreasing. Today the high was 112.

Yesterday, 5 SEP, three members of FOX troop were injured by hostile forces. SSG H, SPC G, and PFC W, while securing a resupply convoy were engaged by a command detonated explosive devise placed underneath a bridge. Their injuries were immediately cared for and they were evacuated by a MEDAVAC helicopter. Myself, the Regimental Commander, the Command Sergeant Major and their troop Commander have visited all three at the field hospital they were initially taken to. They will soon be evacuated to follow-on medical facilities for further care. Their families have been notified and I would ask that you keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers.

This week CSM Waters held a promotion board resulting in six new promotable troopers. He also held soldier and NCO of the Quarter boards. Congratulations to SPC I from HHT, and SGT T from the 84th Engineer Company. Both will represent the Squadron at the Regimental boards later this month.

September 11th is approaching soon and our troopers continue to fight the war against terrorism. Thank you for your support of your trooper and our mission as we continue this important task.

It is always great to hear from home so please keep the notes, letters and packages to your trooper coming! It is all very appreciated.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-09-24, 00:17
Update received from the Squadron Commander, dated 12 September:


Everything is going well in the Squadron this week. We continue operations against the former Iraqi regime and conduct security operations in our zone. It was 102 today. I know that sounds hot, but it was actually pleasant compared to a month ago. Fox troop has returned to Camp Marlboro after conducting their security missions during the construction of a training area we will use in the upcoming months. We have started training the Iraqi civil defense corps here at Camp Marlboro. They receive basic military training and will start to work with us in our zone. Most units in Baghdad are doing this and it is the beginning of the Iraqi's taking some of the responsibility for securing themselves. It is a great deal of hard work for the TCB's now, but it will pay off in the end.

Quality of life continues to improve, the new barracks for the troops that were living in the cigarette factory have now been modified and partitioned. It is amazing what these troopers are doing to make life more like home. We received more weights for our outdoor gym this week as well as a foosball table for the dining facility. We will continue working to improve the camp until the day we leave.

Chaplain S held a prayer breakfast yesterday, September 11th to honor those lost during the terror attacks two years ago. We also had a Wall Street Journal reporter here this week so you can look to see if it comes out on line.

Please write your trooper and keep in touch.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-09-24, 00:17
Update received from the Squadron Commander, 21 September:


The temperature is cooling down and most days the highs are around 102. Everyone in the Squadron has been very busy with current activities, which involve operations against the former regime, patrolling, and continuing to improve the infrastructure of Sadr city. This is the newly approved name of the Baghdad suburb we are operating in. The Iraqi's in Sadr city are very concerned for their safety and especially when they worship at the local mosques. We have been conducting check points and patrols focused on the terrorists that are threatening both the coalition and believe it or not, the local citizens as well. The Squadron has had direct fire contact on a couple occasions over the past week. The units training and discipline as well as the troopers' individual bravery resulted in exceptional performance by all.

We have experienced some setbacks in our living conditions this week. Our large generator for our new barracks failed. While it is being repaired the replacement generator has also failed. Currently we are trying to get a rental, but most of these are stolen property and are not reliable. Another option we are pursuing is splicing into the city power grid, however the city power is intermittent. The original generator is being fixed and we expect it to be up in a couple more days. Even though the temperatures drop to the 70's at night, resolving this problem is a high priority. On the bright side, satellite TV is allowing the troopers to watch football games when they get a chance. Seems like every meal has a game on in the dining facility.

We have recently had visits from the units that are due to replace us next spring. They are conducting their initial reconnaissance so they can develop their training plans. Please do not think this will have us home sooner, this process is quite normal. We are still scheduled for a 1 year deployment.

Thanks again for all you are doing to support us.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-09-26, 20:13
In reference to the newly approved leave policy for troopers deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom the Squadron commander sent the following guidance:

-Each TCB will determine which troopers are eligible and when they will be able to go.
-Not everyone will get the chance to participate in this program. -Troopers who will PCS prior to 12 months deployed will not be eligible.
-The leave time will be for 15 days.
-At this time it looks as though about 7 troopers will be able to go home at a time.
-As the schedule is worked out it will be sent out.
-Expected travel will be from Baghdad to Kuwait and then into Baltimore. All travel expenses from Baltimore to leave destination and back to Baltimore must be paid for by the trooper.

Please expect some initial problems with the first couple of groups coming home. As this program matures we will work out and send out more details. LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-10-09, 01:08
Update received from SCO, dated 7 Oct:

All has been going well in Second Squadron. The temperature has cooled down significantly and it is actually quite pleasant now. We still are having problems with the former regime placing explosive devices on the roads around Baghdad to include our area. Our patrols have been doing an awesome job finding the explosives and we have also had quite a bit of help from the locals warning us whenever strangers drive and stop in our zone. There have been some minor skirmishes around the camp, mostly due to disputes between tribal clans. They usually attempt to settle their differences with gunfire and our troopers must put a stop to it. Our patrols and PSYOPS teams have talked to the locals expressing our concern and they say they will stop. We have also discussed this problem with the Iraqi police and they will be assisting us

This week the Squadron will start a gunnery density. The TCB's will rotate through our local gunnery range for live fire training and then back to Camp Marlboro. We will shoot all of the weapons mounted on the vehicles and the mortars and howitzers as well. This is great training to maintain skills on the systems that we do not use daily.

Many troopers have recently begun to return to the States on their environmental leave. The TCB's are determining who to send and when. They are managing a tough decision very well. As I have said before, I do not believe everyone will be able to get home on leave before we redeploy, but we will work the issue as best we can.

There will be two changes of command this month. CPT M of Hawk Company will change command on October 14th with CPT Z who is currently an S3 battle captain. HHT's commander, CPT J will change command with CPT H who comes to us from 1st Squadron. HHT's change of command will be October 15th. You should be receiving an update from the incoming commanders as they get on board. After changing command, CPT J will redeploy and become the rear detachment commander until the rest of the Squadron returns. He should be returning at the end of October and is looking forward to working with all of you. 1LT C, who has done a great job as the Squadron's rear detachment commander, will deploy forward the first part of November and be assigned to Howitzer Battery.

We have some new additions coming to Camp Marlboro and the Squadron. A Quartermaster laundry platoon from the Puerto Rican National Guard is being assigned to us which will provide us with a greater laundry capacity (300-600 bundles daily) and the capability to wash sleeping bags, sew patches on the new DCU's the troopers were just issued and make repairs to uniforms as needed. We have also been assigned an additional Civil Affairs team from the Army Reserves out of Texas. They will provide additional capability as we continue to work the infrastructure issues in Sadr city. We welcome them all.

Thanks again for all you do for all of us!

LTC Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-10-21, 02:13
Update received from SCO, dated 19 October:

The Squadron has been busy this past week. Operations have been intense, yet the troopers continue to do an awesome job. I regret to report that we had two of our own, SSG Christopher Swisher and PFC Sean Silva from Eagle troop, killed in action on the 9th of October in an ambush in the middle of the city. Four other Eagle troopers, CPL Eric Ridley, PFC Robert Rogers, SPC Phillip Davis, and PV2 Jason Milan were wounded in the same incident. I must tell you that every man on that patrol fought gallantly throughout the engagement and brought everyone out. All of you would be very proud to see how all in the Squadron reacted and rushed to help, everyone was involved and everyone was touched somehow. Later that evening tanks were sent in, no hostile forces came out for a fight with them. Also that evening the camp received a mortar attack with 2 rounds actually landing within the confines of Camp Marlboro.

I know all of you are concerned, but first let me assure you that the defensive plan for the camp is designed to protect everyone as best as possible in this environment. We have been conducting intensive reconnaissance operations in the city and running checkpoints and resupply runs since the attack. The Squadron moves throughout the city to include the area where the ambush occurred, but we also have tanks with us on these patrols. We have been taking offensive action but I will not go into the details. Our troopers are highly trained and are ready for the operations we must accomplish.

You may have seen our Squadron in the news lately. We, in conjunction with Iraqi police arrests have secured some government buildings in the city that a rival group was using to protest in their own interest. Thus far this operation is going smoothly. There has also been media coverage of the unrest in the cities of A Najaf and Karbala, both Shia Muslim towns. The unrest occurring there however, has not spread to Sadr city and with your troopers here, we will do our best to keep it stable and secure.

Again, thanks for all of your support back there. Please focus your thoughts and prayers for the families of those killed or wounded on 9 October.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-11-05, 16:26
Update received from the SCO, dated 1 November:

The Squadron has been very busy over the past couple weeks. We have been conducting significant operations at a fast pace and the troopers are doing a great job. Our operations have focused on stopping the former regime and terrorists. I'm sure you have seen in the media all of the attacks that have been occurring around Baghdad. The troops have been successful is stopping these attacks in our area. Explosive devises have been found in our zone. Once we secured the area we had EOD come to the site to conduct controlled detonations to eliminate the threats. Patrols and security operations on two government building fixed sites continues daily. We have really not changed our pace as much as I thought would be the case during Ramadan, the traditional Muslim holiday.

The temperature has drastically dropped over the past couple days. The high today will be 75 degrees. The heaters for the barracks are starting to come in and we have contractors making repairs to the buildings to make them more weatherproof. We are taking every measure we can to to make life as comfortable as possible for everyone.

New improvements to the camp include a Sports Bar, barbershop, and gift shop. All of this was renovated in what used to be the factory workers daycare center. The Squadron had a Halloween party last night in our new indoor basketball and volleyball warehouse. The troopers put on an amazing show with both costume and talent contests. Our weight room has also been enclosed in preparation for winter. A postal unit will come to the camp on the 6th and 8th of November so we can mail packages home prior to the holidays.

Everyone in the Squadron remains vigilant and is doing an incredible job. You can all be proud of the troopers in our Squadron. Thanks for your continued support!
LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2003-11-19, 08:57
Update from the SCO, dated 17 November:

The Squadron has been busy with Operation Iron Hammer. We have been conducting significant raids and other offensive operations against the former regime over the past two weeks. Some of these operations have been successful with us capturing arms and munitions, although some have turned up nothing. Every move we make helps in eliminating the threat here. We continue to secure the District Advisory Council building in the center of town as well as conduct our secutity patrols. The troops have reacted to numerous improvised explosive devices and with their training have managed to ensure we get either Iraqi EOD or Army EOD on site to defuse the devices. All the TCB's are working with our Iraqi Civil Defense Corp soldiers that we trained. We have found out they work great for crowd control and in helping us during operations when we must deal with the Iraqi population for a significant period of time.

The weather is cooling down, but generally it has been pleasant during the day. We are serving lunch at Camp Marlboro now. This has been a great change for everyone and a big plus. We are currently working on improving the armor on our Humvee's, and we continue to implement this upgrade. Though this is still in the initial stages, I will keep you posted as to the progress we are making. The Quartermaster laundry team with showers I told you about previously is scheduled to be on the camp within a week.

Your packages for the holidays are starting to arrive, by the truck loads. This is great for everyone here, and soon I am sure holiday decorations will start showing up around the camp. We had a huge wind storm a couple of days ago, so some may have lost Internet contact with their trooper for a couple of days, but the satallite dish was repaired or realigned and is now operational again. We held a small Veterans Day ceremony here on the 11th with those in the Squadron who were not pulling security, everyone did a great job putting it together.

Please send your Christmas cards early, and thanks again for all you do for us.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2004-01-02, 01:21
Update from SCO, dated 12-22

Merry Christmas from Iraq to all of you that support us here! The Squadron is in the Christmas spirit and we are making the best of the holiday season when we get the chance. We continue our operations here for the most part as in past weeks. As you can imagine we remain busy, especially after the capture of Saddam Hussein. Raids and patrols are still oriented on the former regime as well as keeping the city safe. We have also focused on the distribution of gasoline. There are huge shortages here and our troopers are assisting in getting the fuel into the city as well as organizing its distribution. For those of you that can remember long gas lines in the states during previous oil shortages, those pale in comparison to what we are experiencing here.

We have had one IED attack in the past week close to Camp Marlboro. SGT K from the Squadron FSE (Fire Support Element) was wounded as well as three of our Civil Affairs soldiers. All are doing well and were returned to duty. We continue to search for and take action against the perpetrators of these attacks. We have also been conducting large operations in support of 1st Armored Divisions Iron Justice with cordon and searches, raids, and reconnaissance focused on counterfeiting, blackmarketing, and the organized crime that is supporting the terrorist activities occurring around Baghdad. We have sent a Cavalry troop out to support the division in looking for the persons that are shooting anti-aircraft missiles in and around the Baghdad area.

For the holidays we have scheduled events around the 12 days of Christmas, trying to do an event each day to allow everyone the opportunity to participate if they wish to. We started out with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, followed by a Santa Sleigh race fabricated from various donkey cart parts and anything else troopers could think of. Eagle Troop was victorious in this event with HHT taking second place. There was also a talent contest, Howitzer Battery took first place with their rendition of "Sweet Home Camp Marlboro".

Tonight we held a bonfire out by the warehouse barracks put together by the Squadron FSE with our PSYOPS team loudspeaker truck supplying the music. Also this week the Squadron sponsored 25 orphans from a local orphanage and brought them to the camp and gave them Christmas stockings and presents. They were very thankful. Attached are some pictures of some of these events which hopefully you are able to view.

We will be conducting missions through the remainder of the holidays. The troopers in the Squadron understand what must be done and do it with style and precision. Trust me, you have the best over here and I feel thankful every day to have the great fortune to work with such talented folks. Your efforts back there as well as all the Christmas items you have sent are much appreciated. Again, have a Merry Christmas and thanks for all you do.

LTC Chris Hoffman

dixicritter
2004-01-09, 13:06
Update from SCO, dated 6 January:

Happy New Year from Iraq. The holidays have come and gone and the Squadron is doing well though very busy. Attacks around the Baghdad area have been steady, but everyone is doing great work. In the past days we have been focusing on escorting fuel trucks into Baghdad once again. This is to ensure a steady supply in the city and it has been working well. The past problems have greatly diminished and our fuel stations in the city are for the most part self-sufficient.

In the past two weeks we have been attacked by IED's on three different occasions and have had one small arms attack. On Christmas day an HHT patrol was attacked enroute to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport). MAJ R and SPC A were wounded, but returned to duty. On 28 DEC a Fox Troop patrol was attacked by an IED with SSG B, SGT M, SPC S, and SPC R wounded but returned to duty. On 30 DEC an Eagle Troop patrol was attacked by an IED around BIAP with SFC H and SPC S wounded. SFC H was seriously injured and evacuated to Germany, PFC S will be returned to duty. On 5 JAN an HHT resupply convoy was attacked by small arms fire from an overpass. 1LT R was wounded and returned to duty.

We constructed a small arms range on Camp Marlboro and now have the ability to conduct small arms training on the camp to maintain proficiency. Quality of life remains high with sporadic power outages being the biggest issue. We fix the problems as soon as we can when they occur and will continue to do so. More phones and internet access have been installed. We have a local entrepreneur we call "Bob Villa" who does some of our light maintenance work around the camp and he has helped to get these installed. The Quartermaster laundry unit mentioned previously that was to move to the camp did not occur. This has not been an issue though as our local Laundromat is now quite efficient.

HOWBAT and all of the troops mortar sections moved to Butler range and conducted qualification gunnery. It was good for them to get off the camp and train and they all did a magnificent job. Our operations will continue with our focus on eliminating the former regime still holding on and maintaining safety and stability in Sadr city. We are starting to work redeployment. Initial planning has begun and we are starting to prepare for this with our unit movement officers getting the latest training. I do not know exactly when we will redeploy, but I assure you as soon as I get a definite timeline that is accurate I will let you know. Everyone is doing a great job and holding up extremely well, even though they miss you at home. Please remember those wounded in your thoughts and prayers .

I thank you all for the great work you are doing, especially the FRG leaders in providing us support over here and again I wish everyone a Happy New Year.
LTC Chris Hoffman