Greetings from Afghanistan!
This is Eagle 6 Update (#19).
The past two weeks have continued to be busy. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of battlefield circulation to see many of the great things our Soldiers are doing. I have met with several key Afghan and US leaders and have been interviewed by several media outlets. I also had the opportunity to attend a solemn memorial service for our six Fallen Heroes in 2-327 IN, TF Bastogne (1BCT, 101st). Unfortunately yesterday we lost five more Soldiers yesterday from a suicide bomber; notification for next of kin is complete but we're still working thru many details so I won't go into much detail but will discuss it in the next update. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families though.
To give you an idea how busy CJTF-101 forces have been over the past couple of weeks we have conducted a total of 38 named operations plus all of our regular enduring operations/patrols. Our Soldiers conducted
35 Air Assaults...9 battalion level, 4 company level, and 31 platoon level. Our partnered forces...Afghan with coalition forces...conducted nearly 600 combined day and night patrols. Insurgents conducted less attacks this week than the week prior, and only 21% of those were effective...this continues the trend that we have seen over the past year. This also indicates that our operations during the winter months were effective in achieving our goals in disrupting insurgent activity this spring. We currently have an ongoing operation, using four of our Brigade Combat Teams to expand the Kabul Security Zone.
One of the insurgent trends we have seen during February and March of this year is that insurgent attacks on civilian populations have increased 330%, compared to the same period last year. During February and March 2010, insurgents killed or injured 82 civilians. Through the same period this year, insurgents have killed or injured 353 civilians.
The time period represents the beginning of the spring thaw and the start of the fighting season. The enemies of Afghanistan are targeting Afghan civilians. In Bermal District, Paktika Province on March 27, insurgents killed 23 innocent civilians and wounded 60 others when they attacked a former Madrassa used to house local contractors. The enemies of Afghanistan drove explosive-filled vehicles into the building, where they were detonated.
On March 6, in Terwo District, Paktika Province, an Afghan citizen's vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, resulting in the death of
17 local citizens. Seven others were injured in that attack. Afghan Uniformed Police responded and the wounded were treated at a coalition hospital. An insurgent-led attack at a bank in Jalalabad on Feb. 19 with small arms fire and suicide vests, left 21 innocent Afghan citizens killed and 70 others wounded. It is clear the insurgents' spring campaign is to kill and intimidate the Afghan populace.
On 4 April, I visited with BG Jean-Francois Hogard and several of his units. Jean-Francois and his brigade have extended their deployment to Afghanistan and will transition just before our TOA with the 1st Cavalry Division. In the time that this rotation of TF Lafayette has been in Afghanistan, Jean-Francois' forces have aggressively sought out the insurgents, rooted them out of their safe havens, and captured many of the insurgents' caches. TF Lafayette has executed complementary operations with Task Force Red Bulls (2-34 IBCT, IA NG), and together these units have achieved great effects. During the past week, TF Lafayette completed Operation Eternal Blacksmith in the Alah Say Valley.
Partnered with the 3 Brigade, 201st Corps ANA, this operation disrupted insurgent networks operating in the area. I am very thankful for the superb service of our French forces.
I also had the opportunity to meet with Governor Sarabi of Bamyan and the Logar Governor, Governor Ludin, on the same day. Governor Sarabi is the only female Governor in Afghanistan and has held her position since 2005. She is a charismatic leader who has pushed for great governance and development in her province. Her efforts for her province have led to Bamyan being selected as one of the first Afghan provinces to transition to full Afghan control. Governor Ludin is also a charismatic leader who has great education programs, and leading Logar Province to create a more secure environment while expanding governance and development.
On the 101st day of the year...11 April...GEN Petraeus visited Task Force Bastogne to recognize Soldiers for their actions during Operation Strong Eagle III. He presented Silver Stars and Bronze Star Medals for Valor, and conducted a mass re-enlistment of our Bastogne Soldiers.
General Petraeus awarded Silver Stars to CPT Edward Bankston, SPC Steven Trimm, and SGT Joshua Bostic. He awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor to 14 Soldiers, including CSM Chris Fields, MAJ Jeffrey Hinds, and 1LTs Jason Pomeroy and Jacob Sass. Of note, SSG Jeremy Sizemore received two Bronze Star Medals for Valor in this ceremony...one for his actions during Operation Strong Eagle II and one for heroism in another engagement. GEN Petraeus also presented six Purple Hearts. Here are links to news stories about these awards:
* Gen. David Petraeus Honors Fallen Heroes in Kunar Battle
* Honoring the Fallen:
On 12 April, I visited with Task Force White Eagle (Polish Brigade). I met with both of their battle group (battalion) commanders as well as BG Andrzej Reudowicz the Task Force White Eagle Commander. With Andrzej was BG Slawomir (Slav) Wojciechowski. Slav is the incoming commander for the 9th rotation of Task Force White Eagle. The transfer of authority between the 8th Rotation and the 9th Rotation will occur during this coming week. During their deployment the 8th Rotation has conducted nearly 450 operations and has executed over 4,000 patrols.
They have also captured many insurgent caches. Their great success has not come without loss...they suffered 3 Fallen Heroes...and we mourn with them for their losses. Task Force White Eagle Rotation 8 has made significant improvements for the Afghan people of Ghazni and their contribution to the coalition effort is greatly appreciated.
This past week, the BCT Commanders joined me here in Bagram for the
CJTF-101 Commanders Conference. On the first day we started with a Commander's dinner in the DFAC, and the staff conducted presentations on new equipment. On the second day, our Afghan commanders joined us to discuss assessments, the way ahead for the next 12 months, and an overview of summer operations. Other topics we discussed were community based security solutions and reintegration.
On Saturday, I joined some of our Special Operations Forces for the Afghan Local Police validation shura in Sabari District, Paktika Province. ALP is an initiative for local Afghans to secure their villages. We are in the beginning stages of this, but I believe this will be a game changer here in Afghanistan. Joining us for the shura was the Governor Muheeb Ullah Samin from Paktika.
Several key leaders have been to visit during the past two weeks:
* The Honorable Michael G. Vickers, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence visited on 4 April to gain information and provide the Secretary of Defense with an assessment of the war as we enter into the spring fighting season.
* LTG Larry James, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR visited on 5 April to examine our use of ISR.
* SES-5 Lonny Anderson, from the NSA to get a first-hand look at the status, progress, and plans of NSA technologies and capabilities at various sites and to assess further needs to support ongoing operations.
* GEN Hamm, Commander of US Africa Command, and Maj. Gen. Salvatore F. Cambria, Deputy Director, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command visited on 15 April.
* We also had a visit from Paula Broadwell, an author and research associate. She accompanied me on battlefield circulation to Margah COP and to the Sarobi ALP Validation Shura.
I have attached a photo that I received a couple of weeks back. The photo shows the 101st Airborne Division Memorial sign placed on US Highway 101 in California. This highway stretches from Los Angeles to Oregon, and the portion through Ventura County has been named the "101st Airborne Division Memorial Highway". Should you find yourself driving on this highway, think of all of the great Screaming Eagles...past, present, and future...who have worn Old Abe on their shoulders. Thanks to Frank Campo for sending in the photo of himself with his friend, Jim Adames. Frank's son, SPC Christopher Campo serves with the Currahees at FOB Sharana.
I also included a picture from Operation Bull Whip, a Task Force Red Bulls operation that I visited on 28 March. The photo illustrates our phenomenal Aviators and what they consistently contribute to our fight.
This is a picture of CW3 Elmer Bayer, my command pilot from the 101st CAB, taking off from the ridgeline after he had just inserted me and my team at the Task Force Red Bulls TAC where I met with COL Ben Correl.
This week the Army Aviation Association of America is meeting in Nashville. I sent them a message that can you can view at this link:
http://www.dvidshub.net/video/113055/quad-conference-intro-maj-gen-john-campbell . One thing I would like to emphasize is that the fight here is an air-centric one, and we could not do all that we do without our superb Aviators. Our Aviators perform missions at an operations tempo which not long ago was impossible, and they truly make the remarkable look routine.
During the past couple of weeks, I have also had several media engagements.
* Here is a link to an interview I did with Cheryl Jennings of ABC7 in Los Angeles. *NOTE* You cannot hear the reporter's questions on this clip. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/videoid=8060337
* I did an interview with Meg Prior from Requiem Films. Meg has been to Afghanistan and Fort Campbell several times and is doing documentary work.
* Mike Boettcher has been embedded in CJTF-101 for quite some time and here links to some of his clips:
o Soldiers in Deadly Afghanistan Battle Honored:
o US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan:
o The Most Dangerous Mission in Afghanistan:
* I also did an interview with Laura King from the L.A. Times and
we look forward to seeing more coverage from them over the coming months.
There are many ways to keep up with your Screaming Eagles:
* Visit our Web site at www.cjtf101.com
* Become a fan of our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/RCEast
* Or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rceast
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As I close this update, I ask you to remember our Fallen Soldiers. We have had some difficult days since our TOA on 14 June 2010, and the Families of our Fallen have had their lives drastically and permanently changed. As of this writing we have lost 122 Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and 86 from our CJTF-101 units. Each loss is hard, and with our Families we mourn each loss. We must always remember the sacrifice of our Soldiers and their Families, and we must take care of these Families for the rest of their lives. Please keep all of our Soldiers and our Families in your prayers.
Thank you for your continued support of our Service Members.
JOHN F. CAMPBELL
MAJOR GENERAL, USA
CJTF-101/ REGION COMMAND-EAST