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Archives: March 2012


Embed update: Hard choices with armed contractors

SURRY, AFGHANISTAN – It’s confusing out there.

Today we accompanied a Joint Base Lewis-McChord infantry platoon as it tried to make sense of several Afghan security contractors who were carrying illegal weapons and executing independent patrols in such a way that they looked suspicious to American forces here.

The Afghan security guards – ASGs for short – used to be hired to protect supply convoys that in some cases supported NATO bases. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for a ban on security contractors, and the American troops believed that included the ones outside Forward Operating Base Wolverine today.

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Another Stryker brigade headed to Afghanistan

Another Stryker infantry brigade based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is on its way to Afghanistan.

The 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division held its deployment ceremony Friday, casing its unit colors as it reached the end of its preparations for a nine-month tour. Hundreds of family members watched the 30-minute ceremony as about 4,000 soldiers stood at attention on the base’s parade ground muddied by spring rains.

The brigade will deploy to southern Afghanistan with the main focus of advising Afghan force to take more control of their own security.

“When we return, I pledge we will return with honor, having

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Embed update: New Kevlar layer has one thing in common with minor league baseball

Yesterday I got my first look at ballistic underwear, the shrapnel-blocking body armor extension that fights one of the most psychologically damaging wounds caused by Taliban mines.

The new armor comes in layers. One goes underneath your pants, another wraps from your front and on under to your rear – hence the nickname, “Kevlar diaper.”

Watching soldiers get acquainted with the protection was a little like the elaborate adjustment process you might witness near the dugout at a single A baseball game. Never quite comfortable.

As you can imagine, a discussion on Kevlar underwear triggered some colorful

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Puyallup D-Day hero and other veterans will get car emblems

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed a bill that will allow veterans and current military service members to put an emblem recognizing their heroic actions on display on their vehicle license plates.

House Bill 2312, which The News Tribune wrote about in January, will let recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star purchase special emblems for their license plates. Proceeds from the sales will go into a fund at the state Department of Veterans Affairs to honor veterans.

“This law is a small gesture of acknowledgement for those who have

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Embed update: I can’t wait to get back to Alaska, land of beer and Taco Bell

Space is tight here at Combat Outpost Mizan.

A platoon from Fort Wainwright’s 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment is on its way out. Two platoons from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment are just getting settled in.

The Wainwright guys have been here a year. They seem proud of their work, and they’re ready to get home. Their mood is best summarized by the soldier who declared several times today, “I can’t wait to get back to Alaska, land of beer and Taco Bell.”

He’s not asking for much.

The folks from Lewis have been on the ground

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Embed update: I’ll trade you two pomegranates for five Shark Week videos

Here’s the handoff.

Stryker soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment are taking on a little more territory this week. They’re moving into Combat Outpost Mizan, a base that shares walls with compounds for the Mizan district governor, the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

It’s a post that American forces believe is ripe to be turned over completely to Afghan control. The Afghan army here plans and carries out its own missions – including one last week clearing nearby villages – with relatively little

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Fort Wainwright team a “one man band” in sending up supplies by air

How do you keep an army supplied in mountainous terrain used as supply lines for enemy insurgents?

More or less like you see there in Peter Haley’s image above, albeit with a lot of help from the Air Force’s big cargo jets.

This crew from Fort Wainwright, Alaska notched its 400th injury-free helicopter sling hook-up on its yearlong deployment to southern Afghanistan. They believe that’s a record dating back to Vietnam.

They’re responsible for preparing landing zones and setting up cargo lifts they can do endure a long ride hanging from a helicopter’s belly.

Staff Sgt. Rusty Bray called the

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