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Commander: al-Qaida Stymied in Iraq's West
AP on Yahoo ^ | 1/1/06 | Kim Gamel - ap

Posted on 01/01/2006 11:16:17 PM PST by NormsRevenge

AL ASAD, Iraq - Recent offensives near the Iraqi border with Syria have dealt a significant blow to al-Qaida and cut off the group's ability to smuggle in foreigners through the volatile western area to join the insurgency, a U.S. commander said Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, commander of the Second Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, said the operations had "neutralized" the group's ability to use the vast Euphrates River valley to organize and attract followers.

The fighting helped restore Iraqi control of the border with Syria to eliminate smuggling lines and paved the way for successful Sunni Arab regional participation in Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, he said in an interview with a small group of reporters at this dusty U.S. base in al Asad, in western Anbar province near the Syrian border.

He said U.S. forces had "dealt the enemy a ... significant blow out here in the western Euphrates, knocked him off of his stride, took away his areas where he was congregating, made it difficult for him to organize, and cut into his rat lines that run through this particular part of the country."

He also said the number of suicide bombings had gone down, without giving specific numbers.

Brig. Gen. Boomer Milstead agreed.

"There's been a significant decrease in the smuggling of fighters from Syria," he said.

The expeditionary force leaders spoke on the sidelines of a visit by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Peter Pace, who is on a weeklong holiday tour with a group of entertainers to rally troops. The trip began Wednesday in Qatar, and included visits to Bahrain, Afghanistan and the east African nation of Djibouti.

Johnson said a largely local insurgency persisted in western Iraq, although they sometimes worked with al-Qaida and other rogue elements.

"I think there's a marriage of convenience between a number of them," he said, adding he did not believe al-Qaida was a dominant factor.

"I believe we have neutralized his ability to do the things that he wanted to do out here. They've gone on to other places where it's easier to operate," he said, declining to elaborate on where those areas might be.

In the recent offensives, U.S. commanders used Iraqi forces, although Americans bore the brunt of the fighting.

Johnson praised Iraqi forces for their performance, saying 2,500 new forts had been established along the border. "We've restored control of the border to the Iraqis," he said.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; alqaedairaq; commander; iraq; oif; stymied; syria; westernfront

1 posted on 01/01/2006 11:16:18 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: NormsRevenge

ABC, NBC, and CBS will be all over this news later today........ NOT!

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To: NormsRevenge

Bush's Fault!!! Impeach! is his strategy working. Sorry!

EXCELLENT NEWS. Now, we need a stable coalition Government formed in Iraq.

Thanks for posting.

3 posted on 01/01/2006 11:18:52 PM PST by indianrightwinger
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To: MJY1288


They sent massive number of reporters to investigate why and how Bush's plan is succeeding.

4 posted on 01/01/2006 11:19:50 PM PST by indianrightwinger
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To: NormsRevenge

Analysis or Newspeak...once we decided to go and kill a bunch of bad guys, their effectiveness was diminished! (Hahahhaha)

5 posted on 01/01/2006 11:22:51 PM PST by Prost1 (Sandy Berger can steal, Clinton can cheat, but Bush can't listen!)
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To: NormsRevenge
Brig. Gen. Boomer Milstead agreed.

You've got to love a general named "Boomer".

6 posted on 01/01/2006 11:23:26 PM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: NormsRevenge

The NYT and newsweek is rushing in reinforcements

7 posted on 01/01/2006 11:24:40 PM PST by GodfearingTexan
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To: okie01
Boomer is his nickname.

Brigadier General
Robert E. Milstead Jr.
Commanding General 2D Marine Aircraft Wing Forward


Brigadier General Robert E. Milstead, Jr., was born at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on 10 November 1951, the son of a career Air Force Officer. He graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Houston in 1974 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Officer Candidate Course in March 1975. Upon graduation from the Basic School in October 1975, he reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida, for flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in September 1976.

Assigned to Detachment, MAG-16 at MCAF Camp Pendleton, Second Lieutenant Milstead joined HMA-169 for duty flying the AH-1J Cobra and deployed with the initial Aviation UDP to Okinawa in June 1977. In July 1978, First Lieutenant Milstead was augmented into the Regular Marine Corps. In July 1979, he again deployed with HMM-265C abroad the USS Tripoli with the first detachment of AH-1Ts to WESTPAC.

In June 1981, Captain Milstead was transferred to Separate Brigade Platoon, 2nd ANGLICO at Camp Pendleton where he served two years as the S-3 Officer. While assigned to 2nd ANGLICO, he attended both the U.S. Army Pathfinder School and U.S. Army Airborne Course, where he graduated with the "Iron Mike" as the Officer Honor Graduate. In July 1983, Captain Milstead returned to MAG-39. During the next three years he served as the MAG-39 S-3A/WTI and as the Director of Safety and Standardization in HMT-303.

In July 1986, Major Milstead was transferred to Quantico, Virginia, to attend the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Graduating with honors in 1987 as the recipient of the Beven G. Cass Award, he was reassigned to The Basic School. During the subsequent three years, he served as the Senior Instructor of the Command and Leadership Group, S-3A/Air Officer, and as Company Commander for two officer student companies. In September 1990, he reported to MAG-36, MCAS Futenma, Japan, as the MAG-36 S-3A/Plans Officer. During this tour, he deployed to Turkey and Northern Iraq as the Executive Officer of III MEF CMAGTF 1-91 during Operation Provide Comfort.

Transferred to 3d MAW (FWD) at MCAS El Toro in June 1992, Lieutenant Colonel Milstead served as the Plans Officer and later as the 3d MAW Liaison Officer to MARFOR Somalia during Operation Restore Hope.
Lieutenant Colonel Milstead once again returned to MAG-39 in May 1993 and was assigned to HMLA-169 as the Executive Officer. He became the Commanding Officer of the HMLA-169 Vipers on 22 November 1994.

Relinquishing command in June 1996, he was transferred to Washington, DC to attend the National War College. Graduating in June 1997 with a Master of Science in National Security Strategy, Colonel Milstead was assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, as the Head of the Aviation Weapons Systems Requirements Branch (APW) in the Department of Aviation. In July 1999, Colonel Milstead was reassigned within the Pentagon for joint duty in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Strategic and Tactical Systems, Land Warfare.

In May 2001, Colonel Milstead was transferred to 2d MAW and assumed command of MAG-29 at MCAS New River, North Carolina on 8 June 2001. During this tour, the MAG-29 War Eagles deployed and participated in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He relinquished command on 7 August 2003, and was transferred to Camp Lejeune as Chief of Staff, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism). In September, 2004 Colonel Milstead was transferred to 2d Marine Aircraft Wing. In February 2005 he was promoted to Brigadier General, and is currently the Commanding General, 2d MAW (Fwd) deployed to Iraq.

Colonel Milstead is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Cobra TOW School, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI), Tactical Air Control Party Course, and the Executive Acquisition Management Course.

His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two Gold Stars in lieu of second and third awards with the Combat V, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 3 Strike/Flight awards, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal.

He is married to the former Suzanne Thornton of Houston, Texas. They have four children: Christy, Melissa, Jimmy and Elizabeth.





8 posted on 01/01/2006 11:41:57 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Boomer and MAG-36 Futemna and MAG 29 New River (my old MAGs) bumP.

His birthday is the Marine Corps' as well.


9 posted on 01/01/2006 11:47:17 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Monthly Donor spoken Here. Go to ...
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To: NormsRevenge

"Boomer" sounds like a dandy fellow to have on your side in times of strife.

10 posted on 01/02/2006 12:14:44 AM PST by Adrastus (If you don't like my attitude, talk to some one else.)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

You gotta love a general named "Robert E."


11 posted on 01/02/2006 1:43:12 AM PST by InABunkerUnderSF (Free the H1Bs)
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To: InABunkerUnderSF
"TO-tally, Jelly Man"*

*as said by Crush the sea turtle from Finding Nemo

12 posted on 01/02/2006 5:29:30 AM PST by ExcursionGuy84 ("Jesus, Your Love takes my breath away.")
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To: A.A. Cunningham
Thanks for the additional background.

It's good to have a Boomer on your side...

13 posted on 01/02/2006 7:52:13 AM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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