Monday, May 19, 2008


Idea sparks debate among troops, defense officials

A quick question tossed at Defense Secretary Robert Gates — Should veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder receive the Purple Heart? — has created a maelstrom in the blogosphere.

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writerPosted : Monday May 19, 2008 11:59:13 EDT

It seems the reasoning behind the idea — to lessen the stigma of mental health disorders — also works against the proposition.
“It would lessen the meaning of the award,” a Marine said about the military’s oldest combat medal.
“I’d be ashamed to wear it,” chimed in a soldier.

“It’s an insult to those who have suffered real injury on the battlefield,” wrote an Army intelligence officer.

The dust-up began May 2 when Gates was on a visit to Red River Army Depot, Texas. During a brief media availability, a reporter asked Gates if the Pentagon might consider awarding Purple Hearts to troops with combat-related PTSD.

“It’s an interesting idea … I think it’s clearly something that needs to be looked at,” Gates said.
John Fortunato, who directs the Restoration and Resilience Center in Fort Bliss, Texas, added fuel to the fire by saying the medal could help service members understand that PTSD is a common by-product of war.

“These guys have paid at least as high a price, some of them, as anybody with a traumatic brain injury, as anyone with a shrapnel wound,” Fortunato said, adding that not recognizing PTSD as a wound deserving of the Purple Heart “says this wound isn’t worthy.”
Fortunato made his comments to the Pentagon’s internal American Forces Information Service, which folded them into an article posted May 5 on the official Defense Department Web site. But by Thursday, calls to Fortunato were being referred to the Pentagon — he was no longer talking about the issue.

At a news conference Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Gates will, in fact, look into the issue.

“I should point out that they’ve looked at this before and they determined ... that it was not appropriate to make PTSD a qualification for the Purple Heart,” Morrell said. “But I can tell you that the department is exploring PTSD as a qualifying wound through the [Defense Department] Awards Advisory Group. There is no timetable at this point for them to provide a recommendation.”

Gen. George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit to honor anyone who served with distinction during wartime. In 1932, Gen. Douglas MacArthur decided it would go only to those wounded or killed in action. Rules for who may receive it are strict: The injury must occur during combat, can’t be self-inflicted and can’t result from an accident.

But illnesses don’t qualify — and PTSD is considered an illness, not an injury.

“I thought it was a brilliant idea when it first came up,” said Charles Figley, who co-edited “Combat Stress Injury Theory Research,” and is a professor at the Florida State University Traumatology Institute. “But the science is just not there to be able to determine if there was an injury.”

Figley had hoped that considering PTSD a combat injury would reduce some of the stigma associated with it. In fact, many of the bloggers attacking the idea say it would denigrate the medal — and they don’t consider PTSD the same thing as a battle wound.

Click on link: to read the full story.


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's most powerful Sunni Arab political party on Monday said a U.S. soldier's desecration of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, requires the "severest of punishments," not just an apology and a military reassignment.

The Iraqi Islamic Party, the movement of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, condemned what it said was a "blatant assault on the sanctities of Muslims all over the world."
An American staff sergeant who was a sniper section leader used a Quran for target practice on May 9.

The U.S. commander in Baghdad on Saturday issued a formal apology and read a letter of apology from the shooter.

The sergeant has been relieved of duty as a section leader "with prejudice," officially reprimanded by his commanding general, dismissed from his regiment and redeployed -- reassigned to the United States.


The Chicago Tribune is reporting the death of a soldier, Staff Sgt. James P. Snyder was wounded in a roadside bombing, in Baghdad in January, 2008. He died Sunday, May 10th at Fort Benning Georgia six surgeries in three weeks. No other details were released.

Marine Sgt. Jake Knospler has endured 22 surgeries since a grenade tore through his face during the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq in 2004. He has many more operations to go.


Reported Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Iraq’s oil exports in April dropped by more than two million barrels mainly because of the ongoing violence in the country, said Oil ministry in a statement. The ministry says that oil exports stood at 57.06 million barrels for April, down from 59.4 million the month before.
#2: U.S. soldiers killed three militants after coming under attack on Sunday in Sadr City, in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

#3: Three bodies were found in various districts of Baghdad on Sunday, police said.

#4: A roadside bomb wounded three people in Doura district in southern Baghdad, police said.

#5: One Katyusha rocket wounded five people near Hurriya district in northwestern Baghdad, police said.Five civilians were wounded when a Katusha rocket hit Adan intersection in Kadhemiyah neighborhood in north Baghdad around 12:00 p.m.

Nasiriyah:#1: Monday's bombing killed Lt. Col. Farhan Qassim, chief of police in Suq al-Shiyoukh, an area outside Nasiriyah, 200 miles southeast of Baghdad. The blast went off inside Qassim's office as he entered it in the morning, police in Nasiriyah said. The police officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared becoming targets themselves.

Basra:#1: Gunmen killed two policemen in a drive-by shooting on a police patrol on Sunday in central Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

#2: Iraqi solders and police launched pre-dawn raids in four neighborhoods of Basra, including two Shiite militia enclaves, arresting several suspects, Basra's operations command Maj. Gen. Mohammed Jawad Huwaidi said, without giving a precise number of arrests. The sweep was targeting gunmen believed to be behind Sunday's attack on a police checkpoint in the center of the city that killed a policeman and wounded three others, Huwaidi said.

Tikrit:#1: A car bomb killed one person and wounded six others in central Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Ninevah Prv:#1: Iraqi security forces arrested 56 wanted men during operations in in Nineveh province in northern Iraq, Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.

Sulaimaniya Prv:#1: Iranian artillery shells were fired at the border area of Iraq's Sulaimaniya province. There were no casualities, a local government official said.Al Anbar Prv:Ratba:#1: Two dead bodies were found with gunshot wounds and signs of torture in a deserted area near Rutba, 360 km (220 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.Fallujah:#1: A man was killed with his wife while she was wearing an explosive vest. The incident took place in al Mukhtar area north Falluja city west of Baghdad. Police said that they got intelligence information that the man has an explosive vest. The man gave the vest to his wife when the house was raided by the security forces. After police left the house, the explosive vest detonated killing the woman and casing serious wounds to the man who dies later, police said.

Afghanistan:#1: An official says a suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan has wounded four Afghan troops and a civilian translator. A provincial government spokesman Ghamai Mohammadyar said the bomber struck the troops on patrol in Bermel district of Paktika province on Monday. He said four Afghan soldiers and a civilian translator working with the U.S.-led coalition troops were wounded. The bomber died in the blast.

#2: A suicide bomber blew himself up next to a police convoy in southern Afghanistan Sunday, killing four civilians and wounding eight other people, an official said. The suicide bomber was targeting the district police chief in Musa Qala in Helmand province, but instead killed four civilians, said provincial police Chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal. Eight other people, including five policemen were wounded, he said. The bomber also died. Several shops were damaged in the blast. The police chief was not harmed, Andiwal said.

#3: A U.S.-coalition member and another civilian died in a separate roadside blast, also in the south. Also Sunday, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. military vehicle in the southern Zabul province, killing one coalition service member and an Afghani. A statement from the U.S.-led coalition said another service member was seriously injured in the attack. It did not give any further details about the casualties, or say if the civilian killed was a bystander or working with the coalition

.#4: In eastern Nangarhar province, suspected Taliban militants shot and killed two police officers Sunday in Khogyani district, said Mohammad Hashim Ghamsharik, spokesman for the provincial governor.

#5: The attack came a day after insurgents hit a NATO helicopter carrying the Helmand's Gov. Ghulab Mangal into the volatile town. The helicopter was damaged in the rocket-propelled grenade attack, but no one was injured.

#6: The Australian military on Monday said it had launched a "major push" to clear out extremist Taleban fighters from their heartland in southern Afghanistan. A series of operations would be carried out north of the soldiers' base near Tarin Kowt to clear out insurgents, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) said. "Australian soldiers have begun a major push into the Taleban heartland of Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan with the intent of pushing out the Taleban, restoring vital infrastructure and creating a safe environment for the Afghan people," the ADF said in a statement. The push would be spearheaded by engineers, infantry, cavalry and support troops, it said. Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Yeaman, commanding officer of the 4th Reconstruction Task Force, said the Australians had moved into the Baluchi region as part of joint operations with the Dutch.

#7: One Indian and one Nepalese kidnapped by a criminal gang have been released in western Afghan province of Herat after 27 days in captivity, Indian embassy in Afghanistan said Sunday. "We are pleased to inform that Mr. Sarang Mohammed Naeem, an Indian national, along with his Nepalese colleague, K.B. Gurung, abducted by a criminal gang on 21st April, have been released late last night (May 17, 2008)," the Indian embassy said in a statement.

#8: A suicide bomber killed 10 people on Sunday after attacking a bakery on a Pakistan army base near the northwestern city of Peshawar, according to police and the Pakistani military. Nineteen others were wounded in the suicide attack in Mardan, in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, according to a Pakistani military news release. The bomber also died in the attack, which happened between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time (1500-1600 GMT, 1000-1100 ET), police said. Four Pakistani security personnel were among those killed, and four others were among the injured, the military said.

#9: AN Australian soldier seriously hurt in a roadside bomb attack in southern Iraq is to be transferred to Germany for specialist treatment. The soldier suffered shrapnel wounds to his arms, neck and face when the bomb exploded near his Bushmaster vehicle outside the city of An Nasiriyah on Saturday. No other soldier was injured in the attack and the Bushmaster vehicle, although damaged, was driven from the scene.

#10: A convoy of 79 commercial trucks loaded with WFP food left southern Afghan city of Kandahar for western Herat and Nimroz provinces on May 17, Aleem Siddique, a UNAMA spokesman told a weekly press briefing here. "The convoy, which was escorted by the Afghan National Police, was attacked by anti-government elements using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades on the main ring road in Maiwand district of Kandahar province," he said. In the attack, he added, two trucks loaded with WFP food were hit by rocket-propelled grenades and burned down, which resulted in the loss of 84 tons of wheat for 10,500 people. "Thankfully, no human casualties have been reported," the UNAMAspokesman further said.

#11: In a separate incident on May 8, a commercial truck with 48 tons of WFP wheat for 6,000 people went missing on the way from Kandahar to Herat, he added.


Muslim holy book was found riddled with bullet holes at Baghdad range

GI who used Quran for target practice is shipped back to US


BAGHDAD - An American sniper was removed from Iraq after he used a copy of the Quran for target practice, the military said Sunday, a day after a U.S. commander held a formal ceremony apologizing to Sunni tribal leaders.

The elaborate ceremony — in which one U.S. officer kissed a new copy of Islam's holy book before giving it to the tribal leaders — reflected the military's eagerness to stave off anger among Sunni Arabs it has been cultivating as allies.

The tribesmen have become key in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq militants, who depict the American forces as anti-Islamic occupiers. One anti-U.S. Iraqi Sunni group condemned the Quran shooting, calling it "a hideous act." Similar perceived insults to Islam have triggered protests throughout the Muslim world. Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled Quran with graffiti inside the cover on a firing range near a police station in Radwaniyah, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Col. Bill Buckner said.

An American soldier was killed Sunday by a roadside bomb that hit his vehicle north of Baghdad, raising to at least 4,080 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.


Clashes reignited in Sadr City, but otherwise Iraq was relatively calm today. At least 28 Iraqis were killed and 56 more were wounded in violence limited mostly to the capital. One American soldier was killed and another wounded in Salah ad Din province when their patrol struck a roadside bomb.

Fighting resumed in Sadr City where four people were killed and 38 more were injured. An al-Sadr source said that Iraqi forces opened fire on people at a marketplace, killing seven of them. Three others were killed when they attacked U.S. forces

In Baghdad, a car bomb killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded six others in Zayouna. Four people were wounded when a mortar struck Iskan. Two gunmen were killed after they attacked U.S. forces in northwestern Baghdad. No casualties were reported after rockets fell in the Green Zone. Two civilians were injured during an IED attack in Ataifiyah. An IED targeting a U.S. patrol near al-Kindi hospital injured two civilians instead. Also, a fire consumed a number of stores in the Amil marketplace, but no casualties were reported after U.S. forces detonated an IED found there. Also, four dumped bodies were found.
A U.S. air strike in Khan Bani Saad killed six suspects and destroyed a weapons cache.
Coalition forces in Mosul prevented a car bombing, and a large arms cache was found separately.
Fifteen suspects were detained in central and northern Iraq.
Four suspects were captured in Makhmour.
The police chief in al-Rashad was arrested under suspicion of collaborating with gunmen.
Fifty people were detained in Maysan province.
No casualties were reported near Suleimaniyah where Iranian sources continue to bomb suspected Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) rebel locations.
In Basra, a grenade was tossed at an entertainment store. No one was hurt. Another bomb blasted a building housing the Iraqi Labour Union and the Iraqi Communist Party, but no casualties were reported. Clashes between police commandos and and gunmen left four people with injuries.