Screaming Eagles Through Time
December 2003
Lest We Forget
Iraq - 2nd Tour
Iraqi Freedom
Enduring Freedom
Desert Storm
Vietnam Diary
Veteran Stories

30 December 2003
  • Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) conducted cordon-and-search operations in northern Iraq Dec. 29, capturing two people wanted on suspicion of anti-Coalition activities and confiscating numerous weapons.
    During three such missions in and around the city of Al Qayyarah, the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) searched for people suspected of carjacking and rocket attacks. The brigade found two AK-47 rifles, 43 magazines, more than 1,000 rounds of 7.62-millimeter ammunition, and one 16-round linked belt for a machine gun. Later that day, one of the carjacking suspects turned himself in to Iraqi police after learning his house had been searched. In Mosul, the 2nd BCT searched a house, detained an individual and confiscated weapons and U.S. property. A patrol conducted the search after spotting empty U.S. Mail packages in the vicinity of the man’s house; the unit found High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle parts, two AK-47 rifles, and hundreds of pounds of artillery propellant powder. Also that day, 2nd Brigade detained an individual suspected of transporting weapons for use against Coalition Forces when he turned himself in at a U.S. compound. The 101st remains committed to establishing a safe environment for the ongoing reconstruction efforts toward a new, democratic Iraq.
  • The 101st Aviation Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division donated $10,000 toward the rebuilding of the Zalila Secondary and Primary School. The money follows an initial $2,500 donation from the regiment to rebuild six classrooms. The school is located 7 kilometers east of the "Q-West" Airfield, where the 101st Aviation Regiment is currently stationed. The 101st Aviation has been active in rebuilding more than 25 schools around the area of operation while continuing to provide security and conduct other reconstruction operations. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and

29 December 2003
  • Iraqi rebel suspects lobbed a grenade and fired on U.S. soldiers searching homes for insurgents Monday in the northern city of Mosul, precipitating a firefight that left three Iraqis dead and two U.S. soldiers wounded, the U.S. military said. Sgt. Robert Woodward of the 101st Airborne Division, which has its headquarters in Mosul, said the military suspected the attackers belong to Ansar al-Islam, a militant Islamic group that operates in northern Iraq and is believed to have ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network. The American troops were involved in a "cordon and knock operation. We knock on the door and give them a chance to surrender, but they fired small arms and threw a hand grenade at soldiers, who returned fire and entered the building and cleared it," Woodward said. Soldiers seized $30,000 worth of Iraqi dinar and a cache of arms including two grenade launchers, 11 rocket-propelled grenades, eight hand grenades, two assault rifles with 1,100 rounds, a 9-mm submachine gun, he said. The attack left three Iraqi men dead and two American soldiers wounded but in stable condition, Woodward said.

27 December 2003
  • U.S. soldiers killed four Iraqis in the northern city of Mosul after coming under rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms fire, U.S. military officials said. Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, which controls a large swathe of northern Iraq, said they were checking for improvised explosive devices which guerrillas have used against U.S. troops when they came under attack. Staff Sergeant Eldon Noble said U.S. troops returned fire, destroying a car from which they had been attacked and killing its four occupants. Iraqi paramedics pulled charred corpses from the car, which U.S. soldiers said was carrying RPG rounds.

26 December 2003
  • Three soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division were wounded in an ambush in Mosul when their convoy came under small arms fire, said Maj. Trey Cate, the division spokesman. The soldiers, who were searching the city's streets for bombs, returned fire but did not catch their attackers, Cate said. Witnesses claimed a taxi driver was killed in the firefight, but the spokesman could not confirm the report.

Christmas Day
  • Sgt. Paul Mauney recently trudged through crowds at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, pushing an artificial Christmas tree in a rolling cart and enjoying the attention onlookers are giving him. One week later, "the Freedom Tree" sits beside Mauney's office at the Division Main compound in Mosul, Iraq, where the 101st Airborne Division is headquartered. Now adorned with bright lights and bells of silver, blue, red and green, Mauney says his tree is a memory in the making -- a charming, spirited combat zone comrade to him and his fellow soldiers. "Christmas to me is very special," Mauney said. "It's different in Iraq because you're not with your family, but in a way it's the same because you're with your Army family." A personnel assistance clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 101st, Mauney is but one of the tens of thousands of troops in northern Iraq who are refusing to let the holiday season die -- combat zone Christmas or bust. Soldiers in Mosul, Tallafar and Qayarrah, the three main cities housing soldiers with or attached to the 101st Airborne Division, are immersing themselves in dozens of events celebrating the holiday season through New Year's Day. Live Nativity scenes, caroling, gift exchanges, raffle contests and even a "Best Grinch Contest" are among the activities spawned by troops. Capt. (Chaplain) John Stutz, commander of the 127th Chaplain Detachment, a two-man ministry unit out of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, attached to the 101st, said the work he's put in organizing events for the Christmas season "has been a joy." "I think it's so joyful to see that, no matter all the things we don't have here, the spirit of Christmas remains," he said. "A lot of the stuff we treasure in America, we don't have here. But what we're learning is that this stuff isn't what makes joy; it just makes big piles of material possessions. The true joy comes from the inside." While the bulk of 101st troops are enclosed in Christmas sentiment, soldiers in the more remote locales of northern Iraq are relying more on the inner strength and discipline they've acquired in Iraq to keep their spirits up until they return to the United States. Spc. Christian Hanna, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 187th, will spend Christmas on an isolate mountaintop in the Badush region of northern Iraq, on a mission to destroy unexploded ordnance in the area. The cold winter air and remorseless rain are the only signs of the season in the wooden building his platoon is lodged in. But his spirits are high, chiefly, he said, because of the division's forthcoming return in February and March. "We were looking to maybe get a Christmas tree up here," he said, "but we all sort of decided that no matter how we decorated this place, we're still alone. Our families are still back home. And it doesn't really bother me, because I should be home soon. I mean, our unit will probably do something for Christmas -- have a good dinner or something -- but my feelings aren't going to be hurt if nothing does happen. When I get home, that's when I'll start relaxing." Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and

24 December 2003
  • Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, along with other commanders in the division, met with local leaders last Thursday to discuss problems and challenges faced by the people of northern Iraq and to figure out solutions. The Tigris River Valley Commission meets every other week, said Col. Ben Hodges, commander of 1st Brigade of the 101st. "About 95 percent of the dialogue is Iraqi-for-Iraqi; we simply mediate," he said. Hodges added that the meetings allow the coalition and local leaders to come together and communicate in a way where all voices are heard. The 101st will continue to help the people of northern Iraq get back on their feet and eventually govern themselves. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and

23 December 2003
  • A US soldier was wounded in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul on Monday. "We had a drive-by shooting," a spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division, Major Hugh Cate, said. A car sped by and opened fire on a military foot patrol in the city 396 kilometres north of Baghdad, Major Cate said. The soldier was taken to hospital, but no further details were available.

22 December 2003
  • The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) opened a new downtown police headquarters in Iraq’s second largest city Sunday. The police headquarters will now serve as a nexus for the 4,200 policemen in Mosul, just seven months after it had been thoroughly looted following the defeat of Saddam Hussein in April. The station is located next to another police station and includes an auditorium and a command center upstairs, where all Mosul police operations will be organized. The new police headquarters station and the renovation of the contiguous station were made possible by $118,000 of Coalition Provisional Authority funds. The 108th Military Police Company from Fort Bragg, N.C., attached to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), has operated out of the police station since May while the facility underwent rebuilding. Sunday, with Brig. Gen. Frank Helmick, 101st Airborne Division assistant division commander (operations), the company opened the headquarters for business. Helmick played the role of Coalition ambassador, with Ninevah province Governor Ghanim al-Basso and Mosul Police Chief Muhammad Bahawi also in attendance. “This station will become a model for all others to emulate,” said Sgt. First Class Mason Causey of Moultrie, Ga. “This is an important step in transforming the police department.” Bahawi spoke during the ceremony, calling the new station “beautiful, like a flower.” The Mosul Police Chief also added some words of inspiration for his policemen. “By the hands of God, we are going to destroy the bad people because we are going to serve the citizens,” he said. Capt. Christine Whitmer of Billings, Mont., 108th MP Company commander, shared Bahawi’s optimism for the new force. All of the new policemen who have joined the force since the 101st Airborne Division began operating in the Ninevah Province have completed the Mosul Police Safety Academy, an eight-week training program administered by American soldiers, she said. Policemen have been armed with Glocks and AK-47s, issued new uniforms with internationally recognized ranks, and given additional equipment including cars. “They’re working with us, we’re working with them,” Whitmer said. “The wheels are turning.”

21 December 2003
  • In the northern town of Mosul, soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division detained a suspect for Baath Party activities, including continuing to hold Baath Party meetings, planning possible attacks on US forces and for "possible war crimes to include torture and murder", the military said.

19 December 2003
  • As part of a nearly $30,000 project to supply heaters to local mosques and churches, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Friday delivered 100 kerosene heating machines to the Ninevah province Ministry of Religious Affairs. To date, 200 additional heaters have been supplied to the ministry office, where Imams and Priests pick them up to heat their mosques and churches during the cold winter months. Fifty of those heaters went to local churches. The initiative was directed by Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commanding general, as part of his continuing engagement policy, according to the division’s top chaplain.
    “He’s putting up the money for this. It’s money out of his office. I’m just the gopher to make it happen,” said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Chester Egert of Hampton, Va., division chaplain for 101st Airborne Division. Egert oversaw the Friday heater drop in Mosul. The heaters will of course serve more practical needs than just making goodwill with the citizens of Mosul. Mosques and churches with electrical heat will now have an insurance policy for when the power goes out. “It does make a dent in their needs,” Egert said. “They’re absolutely delighted to receive these heaters.” Egert and Dr. Saleh Khalif Saleh, Ninevah minister of religious affairs, have worked together for the heater drops and future plans to rebuild the ministry office, located just a block from the Mosul City Government Building. The building’s leaky roof has caused flooding in the basement, where archive files are stored, some of which are centuries old. “Some of their records and paperwork have been badly damaged,” according to Egert. Likely, not all of the 1,200 mosques in the Ninevah Province will receive a heater, but the efforts will continue. “On the sociopolitical side of things, I think it extends a hand to the local populace. You could say were both Guns and Roses,” said Chap. (Capt.) John Stutz of Austin, Tex., 101st Airborne Division chaplain.
  • When 11-year-old Caleb Taylor made a poster for his father who was deployed to Iraq, he never dreamed it would deck the halls of the Capitol building in Nashville. But that's what happened when state Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville, spotted his artwork at a support rally last spring. "People were standing out on Fort Campbell Boulevard with posters, and this one child's poster really caught my eye," said Kurita, who was taken by the picture of the boy's father, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shawn Taylor, flying a Black Hawk helicopter with the Statue of Liberty in the background. "The words on the poster said, 'My dad's got your back.' It was really simple and really communicated a message," she said. After Kurita asked Caleb and his mother at the rally if she could take the poster to work with her, it not only inspired legislators but also other elementary students on Fort Campbell to make posters of their own. "We probably had hundreds," Kurita said. Many were displayed in the Capitol. What made the project complete for Kurita was being able to hand the poster to Chief Taylor and his family Tuesday night while he was home on R&R from Iraq. "I saved that poster, and I wanted to give it back to him so he could see what his family did for him," Kurita said. The picture on the poster was taken by Chief Taylor's co-pilot while he trained at West Point, N.Y., prior to his deployment. After he left for Iraq, his wife, Missy, took a picture of Caleb's poster and mailed it to her husband. He kept it in the cockpit of his Black Hawk while flying combat missions. Chief Taylor said getting the poster personally delivered by Kurita was almost as special as the poster itself. "For her to take her time out to do that -- it's meant a lot to me and my son," said Chief Taylor, who is a pilot assigned to 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment. "He's never going to forget that. I'm so proud of him. Moreover, Chief Taylor said he's glad much of the fuss hasn't been about him, but rather his son and the other children making the posters. "It's tough on the men and women in Iraq, but the children are the ones that really suffer," he said. "It lets them express their feelings." Caleb said he is inspired by the whole ordeal and plans to make more posters for the 101st Airborne Division's homecoming in a few months. "It makes me feel proud that I can do something to help the soldiers and show my support," Caleb said. "I'm glad that it all happened. It was cool." Chantal Escoto covers military affairs and can be reached at 245-0216 or by e-mail at


Caleb Taylor, 11, left, with the poster he made for his father, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shawn Taylor, center. His brother, Bryan Taylor, 8, and state Sen. Rosalind Kurita are also pictured. Kurita displayed Caleb's artwork on Capitol Hill.

18 December 2003
  • Many families of 101st Airborne Division soldiers are being told to hold off on sending packages to Iraq after Christmas because the troops will be preparing to come home and may not receive them. No official word has come down from the division, which is scheduled to return to Fort Campbell in February and March. The manpower required to break down and clean equipment and move to a Kuwaiti port for loading could take up to a couple of months. "We will begin moving some of our forces south from Mosul in early January to begin the redeployment and outprocessing procedure," division public affairs officer Maj. Trey Cate responded in an e-mail from Iraq. No specific dates could be given for security reasons, Cate added, however, it will most likely take the division the same amount of time to leave the Middle East as it did to deploy there, he said. Retired Col. Tom Skrodzki of Clarksville was the division's logistics officer during the first Gulf War and said moving 18,000 soldiers and their gear is a massive undertaking that requires extensive preparation. "It depends on the air movement (availability) of equipment and people, and the other piece is getting the equipment ready for port to ship back," Skrodzki said. "It certainly would take more than a couple weeks. One of the big things is cleaning everything up and going through customs and passing the agricultural inspections. It's a major exercise." According to defense officials, starting in January and continuing through April, 130,000 American service members now in Iraq will be processed at a camp near Kuwait City, Kuwait, and start moving back to their home stations. Many of the replacement troops will be reservists, National Guard and Marines.
  •  Elements of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) conducted numerous operations, both civil and military, over the past 24 hours in northern Iraq.
    All of the operations focused on security and civil-military operations designed to assist the local population and maintain the progress of reconstruction in the division’s area of operations. Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) found a weapons cache at a fire station in the vicinity of Tal Afar. The cache was a mix of 20 total live rounds (RPG rounds and hand grenades), and some display rounds used by the locals to help children identify the different types of ordnance in Iraq. It was not an enemy cache. Locals had been using the station as a drop-off point for about two weeks and led Coalition forces to the location. Explosive ordnance disposal teams disposed of the cache. Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade also completed a cordon and knock operation in Domice to detain personnel believed to be involved in a rocket attack against a tactical operations center in the area. They searched four houses and detained seven people. There were no U.S. casualties reported. Soldiers from 1st Brigade discovered 25 mortar rounds near the city of Qayarrah. An individual led them to the site and will be rewarded for his assistance.
  • The division’s 1st Brigade also opened a newly renovated school in its AO.
  • Soldiers from 2nd Brigade killed three attackers and wounded one who conducted a drive-by shooting in Mosul. Five individuals in a white car conducted a drive-by attack with small arms. Soldiers returned fire with a .50 cal. and M249, which stopped the car. One individual fled on foot. Soldiers evacuated casualties to the 21st Combat Support Hospital, where one died later. No U.S. casualties were reported. Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade also reported that they had detained an individual with possible ties to Fedayeen and Wahabi during a cordon and knock search in Western Mosul. Soldiers also found two AK-47s and three full magazines. Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade also conducted a series of cordon and knock operations to detain individuals wanted for planning and conducting attacks against Coalition Forces. The brigade captured all nine individuals with no U. S. casualties reported. In addition to security operations, the Mosul Public Safety Academy, which is over watched by 101st soldiers, graduated 70 policemen from an investigation course at the Mosul Police Academy.
  • An Iraqi Civil Defense Corps company, trained by soldiers of the 101st, also graduated today and will work in Mosul. The 101st is committed to providing a secure environment while maintaining progress on reconstruction activities in Northern Iraq.

  • Soldiers, locals and international media earlier this month danced traditional dances, sang customary songs and ate a feast of both American and Iraqi food in Hatra as the sun went down on the ancient city. The celebrations ended Ramadan and brought in the Christmas season Dec. 6. Events throughout the evening included a presentation from Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general, 101st Airborne Division, and Hatra's mayor, Nofil Hamade Sultan, and a dinner with seasonal music and a slide show, which ended the festivities for the evening. The evening at the Hatra ruins was a celebration to show the friendship and the working relationship between the Iraqis of Hatra and the Coalition forces, Petraeus said. "The walls of Hatra remind us of Iraq's past," Petraeus said. "This evening we celebrate that past, your history and your traditions. "We celebrate the end of Ramadan, the beginning of the Christmas season and our part in your history." In the presentation given by the 101st commanding general, he spoke about the progress the people have made in the city of Hatra. Petraeus said the people of Hatra have grown because they have opened their eyes to new people and new traditions. With all the participants in the celebrations sitting at tables throughout the courtyard of the ruins the mayor also gave a presentation to those who have helped make the festivities possible. "I give thanks to the soldier's effort for making Hatra better and better every day. We hope to continue this for a new and better Iraq," Nofil said. The towering walls and pillars of crumbling stone gave a surreal feel to the traditional dance and food and conversation between the different cultures. Hatra, the ancient city just southwest of Mosul, and dates back to 300 B.C. has been re-opened to tourism after many years. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborned Division Public Affairs Office and

15 December 2003
  • About 180 weary members of the 101st Airborne Division were actually airborne and on their way home from duty in Iraq when they got the news that Saddam Hussein had been captured. An air traffic controller noticed the flight was military, and radioed the pilot to pass on what had happened. Speaking by phone after the plane landed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Master Sergeant Kelly Tyler describes what happened next. "The entire plane went nuts. Everybody cheered. The ones who were asleep woke up and cheered." A Fort Campbell spokesman says the only better Christmas present they could get would be finding Osama bin Laden. Associated Press

14 December 2003
  • "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE GOT HIM." Without firing a shot, American forces captured a bearded and haggard-looking Saddam Hussein in a dirt cellar under a farmhouse near his hometown of Tikrit, ending one of the most intensive manhunts in history. The arrest was a huge victory for U.S. forces battling an insurgency by the ousted dictator's followers.  "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer told a news conference Sunday, eight months after American troops swept into Baghdad and toppled Saddam's regime. "The tyrant is a prisoner." Saddam was captured at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in a walled farm compound in Adwar, a town 10 miles from Tikrit, said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq. The cellar was little more than a specially prepared "spider hole" with just enough space to lie down. Bricks and dirt camouflaged the entrance. In Tikrit, U.S. soldiers lit up cigars after hearing the news of Saddam's capture. Some 600 troops from the 4th Infantry Division along with Special Forces captured Saddam, the U.S. military said. There were no shots fired or injuries in the raid, called "Operation Red Dawn," Sanchez said.

13 December 2003
  • Members of the 101st Airborne Division and local Iraqi attorneys have been organized into a group called the Mosul Anti-Corruption Commission. "Their mission is to target, investigate and prosecute corruption at all levels of government in Ninevah," said Lt. Col. John Bell, a reserve officer attached to the 101st Airborne Division Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. "It doesn't matter if they are at the highest level of government or the lowest level." Bell, a civilian judge in Cocke County, has worked with the commission since its inception. The commission is composed of 16 people, all local attorneys, and organized into three five-member teams. Walid Kashmooli chairs the commission. "It's the first one of its kind," Bell said. "It's the first separate agency to work strictly with corruption in Iraq." Corruption will be fought in six categories, according to Bell: bribery, embezzlement, unlawful imprisonment, tampering, abuse of power and hindering prosecution. Corruption cases can be reported at the commission's office, by a simple letter or by a hotline that has been established, according to Kashmooli. False accusations will themselves be charged with hindering prosecution. "It's an ambitious project, but we'll do this one case at a time," Bell said. "You'll never stop all corruption, but it will slow it down." The idea for the commission came from Lt. Col. Richard Whitaker, 101st Airborne staff judge advocate and was blueprinted by Capt. Rick Taylor. Coalition and local officials in Baghdad are now looking to the Mosul commission as a model for future anti-corruption commissions. Because of possible security threats, 16 bodyguards have been trained for members of the commission. The members themselves said they are more concerned with fighting corruption than potential risks. The commission met for the first time last month. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and
  • High-ranking members of the Kurdish Regional Government attended a recent ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate renovations of the Hawler International Airport in Erbil, Iraq. Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, 101st Airborne Division and other leaders from the division also attended the ceremony. The construction at the airfield was a four-month project, undertaken jointly by civilian engineers and construction workers, Kurdish Peshmerga Special Forces and soldiers from four engineer units -- the 37th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Group, 877th Engineer Battalion and 52nd Engineer Battalion, all of which are attached to the division. The work done at the airport was divided into three major projects, all conducted simultaneously. In an effort to give back to the Kurds, who helped fight alongside coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the military engineers worked long hours in the heat, rain and cold to build roads for the airport, said Capt. Jason Talliaferro, commander, C Company, 37th Engineer Battalion. "We really appreciate the help," said Sardar Barzani, airport commissioner. Barzani hopes that by creating an international airport in Hawler, he will be able to improve the economy with tourism, exporting, importing and jobs. "It's a great way to get tourists to Kurdistan," he said. "It's a gate for this region." Erbil is the biggest city in Kurdistan, with a population of 1.5 million, and an airport would bring large revenue to the city, he said. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and

12 December 2003
  • The 101st Airborne Division captured numerous Fedayeen, Saddam and other former regime elements during two operations in northern Iraq. The Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) conducted simultaneous cordon-and-knock operations against 34 targets across Mosul early Wednesday. Fifty-two people were detained, including a former Fedayeen brigadier general, other former Fedayeen officers, and Ba'ath Party loyalists. During a second operation, elements of the 2nd BCT air assaulted into the village of Salamiyah, east of Mosul, where they searched 110 houses and confiscated weapons and munitions. Additionally, the brigade detained 11 people in Mosul on Tuesday for suspicion of illegal weapons sales. No casualties were sustained during these operations. The 101st continues to work with local officials and populations to find and remove threats to Coalition Forces and new Iraqi governmental agencies. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and

11 December 2003
'Wrap These Guys Up'
As an occupier, General Petraeus did everything right. Then a lot went wrong

By Christian Caryl and John Barry

Dec. 8 issue - No U.S. commander in Iraq has done a smarter job than Maj. Gen. David Petraeus. Practically every military observer agrees: in the seven months since his troops took charge in the northern city of Mosul, the 101st Airborne Division commander has put in a flawless performance. That's what's most troublesome. PETRAEUS AND HIS TROOPS have produced a textbook example of waging peace, empowering the civilian populace, repairing the economy, even sending local kids to summer camp. Mosul had the first functioning city council in post-Saddam Iraq. Petraeus has ordered big signs posted in every barracks: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO WIN IRAQI HEARTS AND MINDS TODAY? But for the last month or so the public's mood has turned hostile. Guerrilla attacks, once rare, have become routine. In the past six weeks, 31 of Petraeus's soldiers have died in action, including one who was killed last Friday in a direct mortar hit on division headquarters. As the general remarked to NEWSWEEK last week, "It's difficult to be kind when you're getting shot at." Now the cash is gone, and the first installments of Congress's new appropriations have yet to arrive. The people of Mosul feel cheated. "We're all contending with the `man on the moon' problem," says Petraeus. "The locals say, `You're capable of putting a man on the moon, and you haven't given me a job'." The general is philosophical about their resentments. "Try as we will to be an army of liberation, over time they will take you for granted. And as hard as you may try to repair any damage that's ever done, or avoid inconveniencing people, it's inevitable when you're conducting military operations that there will be some of this." No one understands better than a career soldier the limits of what armed force can achieve. It's one of the fundamental axioms of guerrilla warfare: an insurgency can be contained by military means, but it can be defeated only by political means. Petraeus has devoted serious thought to the subject. The Army sent him to Princeton for two years in the early 1980s to earn a Ph.D. in international relations. The topic of his dissertation was how Vietnam reshaped the military's thinking on the use of force. The 50-year-old Petraeus, who graduated from West Point in 1974, never served in Vietnam; Iraq has been his first combat assignment. But the Army's experience in Southeast Asia is a key to understanding its approach to Iraq. Officers on the ground in the present conflict, all the way up to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, make no secret of their tactical need for more troops. They talk of patrols they can't conduct, roadblocks they can't mount, crossroads they can't control for lack of manpower. Yet the senior brass has an overriding strategic objection. It wants no part of another Vietnam, and worries that if it asks for reinforcements, the civilian leadership will seize upon the notion that the military can "solve" Iraq. Petraeus likes to quote a maxim of his old boss, Gen. Hugh Shelton, the former Joint Chiefs chairman: "The military makes a great hammer, but not every problem is a nail."

Still, Petraeus is not shy about using the hammer when he has to. Since the recent spate of attacks began, the 101st has cracked down hard, raiding houses and carrying out "cordon searches" in which entire neighborhoods are roped off and thoroughly combed. The division's detention centers are filled to bursting, but new prisoners keep coming in. "The enemy is not shrinking at anything," says Petraeus. "They will go after any target that's out there. Our imperative is, as quickly as we can, to wrap these guys up." Even Kurdish authorities, some of the most loyal friends the Coalition has in Iraq, have begun criticizing the latest offensive for being too heavy-handed.

Petraeus knows the crackdown will almost surely add to Mosul's grievances and boost support for the insurgents. He only hopes the surge in guerrilla attacks won't last much longer. "We've had periods before when there have been spikes in activity," he says. "What we've had starting a month or so ago is a sustained spike. Arguably the spike has already gone down." If that's the case, Petraeus may succeed in minimizing the damage to Mosul's hearts and minds. British military officers, who in private are deeply critical of the U.S. Army's counterinsurgency tactics, single out the 101st as the exception. In any occupation, it's never easy to find the right balance. "You live sort of a roller-coaster existence," Petraeus says. "The highs are very high, and the lows are very low. The night the two helicopters crashed, we really felt like we were on the upswing. We'd been aggressively wrapping these bad guys up. And then you have this terrible, beyond-belief loss of life." The only way to deal with such setbacks is to keep going, the general says. "You move forward with more commitment, because we believe that's what the soldiers would have wanted. One soldier came up to me at the memorial service for the guys who died in the Black Hawk crash and said, `Hey, sir, we just got 17 additional reasons to get this thing done right'." Yet even as Petraeus recounts the story, you know that he didn't need even one more reason than he already had.

10 December 2003
  • A drive-by gunman shot and wounded two US soldiers on Wednesday before being killed himself in Iraq's northern capital Mosul, a spokesman for the 101st US Airborne Division told AFP. "This morning about 11 (0800 GMT) we had an attack, a drive-by shooting that wounded two of our soldiers," said Major Hugh Cate. "They returned fire and killed the attacker," he said of the shooting on the east side of the Tigris river. "The wounded were moved to the 21st combat hospital in Mosul." At another Mosul gas station, 1st Lieutenant Neil Forbes, of the airborne's 1st 502 Battalion, said there had been two attacks on gas stations on Wednesday and another on a US convoy near a gas station. Forbes said US troops were on full alert in the city after a wave of attacks, including a suicide car bombing that left 58 soldiers and an Iraqi translator wounded at a nearby US base on Tuesday. A soldier from Forbes' battalion died in a drive-by shooting in Mosul on Monday. "I was in the same company," the lieutenant said. US soldiers say they are uncomfortable trying to sort out huge traffic queues backed up at gas stations amid fuel shortages across the country. "We like to be moving around and we don't like to be sitting around as I think no one would," he told AFP. "I wouldn't say we are sitting ducks. We like to make our firing positions better but it can never be perfect," said Forbes. Cate said he had no report so far on the two other attacks.
  • U.S. troops shot and killed a senior officer of the paramilitary group Saddam Fedayeen after storming his house in this northern city on Wednesday, his neighbors said. The U.S. Army confirmed there were raids early Wednesday in Mosul but refused to comment on the reported death of Col. Ghanem Abdul-Ghani Sultan al-Zeidi. Two of al-Zeidi's neighbors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. troops stormed his one-story house in Mosul's central neighborhood of al-Sukar at about 4:00 a.m. and shooting was heard later. Helicopters took part in the operation, the neighbors said. The gate of al-Zeidi's house was locked Wednesday afternoon. There were several bullet holes in the gate. A black banner nearby read: ``The heroic martyr Colonel Ghanem Abdul-Ghani Sultan al-Zeidi was martyred during a blatant aggression by American forces at his house on 12/10/2003.'' Capt. Brian Cope, a spokesman for the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, refused to comment on al-Zeidi's death.
    Cope confirmed that the army carried out raids Wednesday against ``35 separate targets'' in Mosul. Cope, whose brigade controls Mosul, said dozens of people were captured in the raids including suspected members of Saddam Fedayeen and other former regime loyalists. Hours after the raid, insurgents carried out two separate attacks in Mosul, killing two soldiers and wounding four. Members of the Saddam Fedayeen, the paramilitary group that was run by Saddam Hussein's late son Odai, are believed to be taking part in attacks against U.S. occupation forces in Iraq.
    Odai and his younger brother Qusai were killed by U.S. troops in
    Mosul in July.

  • A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives at the gates of a military barracks on Tuesday, injuring 41 American troops and six Iraqi civilians. The attack at the army base occurred at 4:45 a.m. local time when a car drove to the gate of the base in the town of Talafar, 30 miles west of the northern city of Mosul. Guards at the gate and in a watchtower opened fire on the vehicle and moments later it blew up. The bomb left a large crater at the gate's entryway. Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the 3rd Brigade which controls the area west of Mosul and all the way to the Syrian border, said the attack was a suicide mission and that the attacker's remains were "all over the compound." "Right now we have four soldiers that were evacuated and are being treated for blast injuries. In addition, 37 soldiers have nicks, cuts, bruises and some broken bones," he said. A base translator was also injured in the blast, which damaged nearby homes. Several other civilians, including a 2-year-old girl, were hurt by flying glass. The early morning blast occurred when most soldiers were still in their barracks, and there was no traffic around the gate. Pieces of the attacker's car were scattered hundreds of meters away from the site of the blast. A school across the street from the military compound was heavily damaged, but no pupils were injured because the bomb exploded before classes began.

8 December 2003
  • The 101st Airborne Division in conjunction with Iraqi police forces detained six individuals suspected of involvement in attacks on coalition forces during raids in northern Iraq Dec. 7. The division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team detained one person wanted for attacks on coalition forces during a “cordon-and-knock” south of Mosul. Later in the day, the 1st BCT captured a person, four AK-47 magazines, binoculars and communication headsets. A joint patrol with local police determined a house in the town of Hammam Al Alil was the launch site of an RPG attack that occurred during the previous night, officials from the 101st Airborne said. The 2nd BCT in Mosul apprehended a man wanted for being a Fedayeen Cell leader, division officials. He is being questioned to exploit intelligence opportunities, officials said. Three more individuals were captured in Sinjar by the 3rd BCT later that night. They were sought in connection with three explosions near a U.S. camp the previous night. Caches found or turned over by civilians included two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 10 RPG rounds, one 60 mm mortar tube, and one pair of night vision goggles. The 101st Airborne Division continues to work with Iraqi security personnel and local populations to remove threats to coalition forces and new Iraqi government agencies.

7 December 2003
  • Insurgents attacked a U.S. military patrol in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing one soldier and wounding two, the U.S. military said. A bomb also was detonated on a railway, derailing half the carriages on a freight train but causing no injuries. Guerrillas set off a roadside bomb as an American convoy passed through the center of Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, at around midday, Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler said. The slain and wounded soldiers were all from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky. In the capital, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq said such attacks should be expected to rise as the June 30 deadline for a transfer of authority from coalition officials to a new Iraqi government approaches. "We're prepared for that ... but I think we ought to expect that we'll have some periods of increased violence," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said at a news conference. Sanchez also said the hunt for Saddam Hussein continues, but offered no indication that U.S. forces were getting closer to the deposed dictator. "It's a needle in a haystack. Clearly we haven't found the right haystack. We're all focused on finding that needle," he said. "We are moving under the assumption that he is still in the country, that he is still operating."

5 December 2003
  • American engineers in northern Iraq are using their skills to keep the water flowing into the people's houses in Mosul -- and to keep the oil out. In October a crude oil pipe ruptured, spilling an "unknown quantity" of oil into a dry creek bed 15 kilometers above the Tigris River. The Tigris is the source of water for millions of people in northern Iraq, said Maj. Scott Vick, group plans officer, 926th Engineer Group, attached to the 101st Airborne Division. The oil pooled in the creek bed until Thanksgiving weekend, when large torrents of rain created an intermittent creek, flushing much of the oil into the Tigris, Vick said. The oil was then sucked into the intake duct filters at the nearby water treatment plant. The crude clogged the system, forcing plant workers to temporarily shut it down, said Maj. John Gossett, the 926th's chemical officer. . Shutting down the plant, the clean-water source for Mosul and the surrounding region, affected food preparation and people's ability to drink and bathe. Cleaning oil out of the water tanks was a complicated job. Because the treatment plant was built on an old design, the water tanks are concrete. The oil soaked into the concrete and made the scrubbing process that much more difficult, Gossett said. To keep that incident from repeating, engineers attached to the 101st built a dam to keep the water from being contaminated again, Vick said. Using their own construction equipment and with supplies provided by the Mosul government, engineers from the 926th Engineers Group and 877th Engineer Battalion built a dam in two days. "Everyone agrees that this is the best alternative to prevent oil from reaching the Tigris," Vick said. Spc. Joshua Hutcheson American Forces Press Service

3 December 2003
  • In an effort to bolster military morale, the Pentagon soon will begin paying travel expenses for troops to get all the way home on leave from Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of that extra leg for tens of thousands of soldiers: $55 million. Until now, the largest R&R program since the Vietnam War has flown soldiers only to three cities in the United States and two in Germany, leaving them to pay airfare for connecting flights if they want to go farther. Some airlines offered discount fares to help, and a congressman started a program in which Americans donated millions of their frequent flyer miles for servicemembers to use to get home. But officials said Tuesday they were working up a plan for the Defense Department to begin reimbursing troops for the connecting flights with the $55 million authorized recently by Congress for the coming year.

2 December 2003
  • Combined Joint Task Force-7 and V Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth O. Preston recently visited senior noncommissioned officers of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq. "I'm very, very proud of all of the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division," Preston said. "You've got great leaders, and great soldiers. You have all taken part in an historical mission during this operation. "I'd like to think that in 10 or 20 years, when they are interviewing soldiers on the History Channel for their accomplishments during this conflict, that those who served will remain proud of their contributions to this operation and the Iraqi people," he added. "His visit couldn't have come at a better time," said 101st Airborne Division Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill. "His visit was scheduled prior to his selection as the Army's top soldiers and he insisted that it remain on his schedule." Preston, who served as the CJTF-7 command sergeant major since the war began, is expected to arrive at his new position before January. However, his departure from the theater of operations doesn't mean the soldiers here will be forgotten. "This operation right now is the most important thing going on in the Army," Preston said. "Having been here through the ground combat and the post-war reconstruction and operations, I have an understanding of what the soldiers have been through. I know where we had shortfalls and problems with this deployment," Preston said. His experience will lend him more power and credibility when he testifies before Congress and talks to senior leadership stateside about the mission here. "I can continue to get the dollars we need to continue this fight, and still accomplish the transformation mission," he said. Preston's visit to the 101st was also significant for all of the soldiers of the 101st, Hill said. "Soldiers in the foxhole need to know they have a sergeant major of the Army who has soldiered with them, fought with them, laughed with them and cried with them," Hill said. "He has heard their concerns. I am confident he will voice their concerns with the same passion as he received them," Hill continued. Compiled by Leaf-Chronicle staff military reporter Chantal Escoto. Sources: 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office and
  • A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Monday to celebrate the completion of the 101st Airborne Division's involvement in renovations of the Hawler International Airport in Erbil, Iraq. High ranking members of the Kurdish Regional Government, including the ministers of Agriculture, and Public Works and Housing and Prime Minister Nichirwan Barzani, attended the ceremony. Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and other leaders from the division also attended the ceremony. "(The ceremony) recognizes the start of another chapter in the long history of this city," Petraeus said, speaking to those assembled. The construction at the airfield was a four-month project, undertaken jointly by civilian engineers and construction workers, Kurdish Peshmerga Special Forces, and soldiers from four engineer units; the 37th Engineer Battalion, 926th Eng. Group, 877th Eng. Bn. and 52nd Eng. Bn., all of which are attached to the 101st.
  • Mothers-to-be will find a new addition at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital when the mother and baby wing becomes available to patients next month. The opening will be just in time for post-Operation Iraqi Freedom babies expected to be born late next year when 101st Airborne Division troops return in February and March. In October, 172 babies were born at the post hospital, the highest monthly number in several years, said BACH doctors, who attribute the baby boom to soldiers returning from Afghanistan and preparing to leave for Iraq. Col. Steve Jones, Medical Department Activity and BACH commander, said his staff readies itself for the baby boom by figuring when the troops are home and counting out nine months. The average number of babies born at BACH each month is 140, but doctors are expecting a major dip in deliveries next month, maybe 50, because of the long deployment. The more than $12 million expectant mothers wing project comes with a goal of the MEDDAC staff to bring total wellness to not just babies and mothers, but to the entire family. 

1 December 2003
  • The deadliest month of combat for Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) since Vietnam has finally come to a close, much to the relief of the division's commander. "I am happy to see the end of November," Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus told The Associated Press on Thanksgiving. "We've taken some real blows during this time. We've had some terrible losses." Twenty-seven Fort Campbell soldiers were killed during the month, just one shy of matching the total losses for the entire Iraq war prior to November. A total of 55 soldiers from units based at the Army post have been killed thus far in Iraq.