7 August 2004

Update from Afghanistan

Aloha from FOB Ripley, Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan! It is hot, dusty, and the Bobcats remain busy in a number of locations. The Voter Registration process is coming to a close in preparation for the presidential election in September. This process has shaped a number of our operations as we work to protect the UNAMA workers conducting registration, the local Afghans hired to assist and secure the sites, and the average Afghan men and women that want to have their voice heard as they register and participate in the first ever Afghan elections. This process is extremely critical to the future of Afghanistan. Regardless of the mission assigned, The Bobcats continue to perform to an exceptional standard in the most inhospitable terrain and weather that Afghanistan has to offer. The mission remains dangerous but is mitigated by the professionalism of your loved ones. TF Bobcat is having a positive impact wherever the mission requires.
Our most recent Operations include;
� Operation Dak To � conducted by Quick Strike to recover 11 kidnapped and massacred Pashtuns and Hazarans. The mission required Quick Strike to Air Assault into Taliban influenced area, locate and unearth the remains, move to an extraction landing zone and return the remains to the affected families. Mission was very successful and all remains were recovered without incident.
� Operation Elmyra � conducted by 3rd PLT Quick Strike and elements if Viper to move critically needed supplies and infrastructure to FOB Anaconda. Afghan Jingle Truck drivers would not transit the route due to their perception of danger and we would not pay for additional unneeded security that they would locally hire�therefore we escorted our own convoy out and back without incident.
� Operation Gremlin � Battle (Formerly know as Bushmaster until a call sign conflict forced a change � CFC-A directed change) moved into uncharted territory in the province of Gezab to establish security and begin Voter Registration. Their work was successful and was critical to establishing lasting relations with the District Leadership and Shura. On return from this operation they recovered a substantial Cache of heavy weapons and munitions as well as 40 lbs of Marijuana and 2 Kilos of Opium. 
� Operation Firewall � More to follow on this operation. 
Our missions remain Security and Stability Operations (SASO) to full combat operations against the Taliban. We have been fortunate to date that our operations have not resulted in many casualties. We want to sustain this and train daily to ensure we remain ready to meet the challenges that this mission presents. 
Our current disposition is as follows: TM Quick Strike remains at FOB Anaconda in Khas Uruzgan. TM Battle has 3rd PLT in Kabul on CFC-A Security and the remainder of the TM Battle Soldiers are at FOB Ripley working the Tarin Kowt / Chora / Nesh and Gezab Districts. TM Cobra has 3rd PLT at Dey Rawoud with two ODAs and the remainder of TM Cobra is posturing to move to FOB Cobra in the near future.
FOB construction continues. Improvement of living conditions across our AO remains a high priority but also brings added requirements for patience from all parties concerned. Things are getting better but nobody is ready to buy property in Tarin Kowt for retirement purposes.
Senior NCO leadership changes are nearly complete and all parties are doing a great job! Leadership moves are part of the life of a unit. I understand the frustration and ripple effects that come with such changes but even in this combat environment we must continue to develop and train our next generation of leaders. Likewise we must leverage the experience of those that have been in positions for extended periods of time and further challenge those leaders with even greater challenges. None of the moves are personal�it is the business of units! Officers are moving and changing out also. We anticipate our next batch of junior LTs will arrive in September and they must integrate into the unit and learn to do their job�One day in the future, those junior LTs coupled with today�s PFC�s WILL BE our Future ARMY and it�s LEADERSHIP! Think about it: one of the PFCs in a platoon today is a future Battalion CSM for one of our current/soon to be platoon leaders. Thanks for your patience, understanding and continued support.
The mid-tour leave program started 21 July 04.  The priority, initially, is Soldiers that have received a Red Cross messages that did not fit the emergency leave criteria AND those Soldiers that have had new babies since deployment. Each unit has a quota of personnel each leave period and we are confident that all Soldiers will be afforded an opportunity to take leave. We are working to accommodate everyone�s preferences but as you know we are limited on numbers each time AND must be balanced with our operational requirements. This program REMAINS a top priority and I personally track the movement in and out of Afghanistan of our leave/return Soldiers. Enjoy the time together and please be safe! 
Your loved ones are doing a superb job in a difficult environment. I am extremely proud of their individual and collective accomplishments. Your continued support is a key factor in their continued success. 
Lastly, keep the mail coming! You are a great strength to everyone here, and we deeply appreciate your individual and collective sacrifice.  God bless.

Aloha and Ahui Hou!,