13 July 2004


Update from Afghanistan

Aloha from FOB Ripley, Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan! The Bobcats are now in charge of the Province of Uruzgan and back under the command of the Bronco Brigade. Wow! What an adventure thus far in Afghanistan. To date, we have been attached to the 6th Marine Regiment, TF Stonewall, while in Ghazni and then to 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), TF Linebacker, in Tarin Kowt. I think that we have fin ally landed in an AO that we will retain for the long term. But, as all of you are aware, we will remain flexible and answer the call regardless of the geographic location or the controlling headquarters.
Your loved ones are exceeding expectations here in the most difficult terrain and harshest environment that Afghanistan has to offer to the Bronco Brigade. Our missions during the most recent operation, Operation Asbury Park II, ranged from Security and Stability Operations (SASO) to full combat operations against the Taliban. I am happy to report that we sustained only one combat casualty, a grazed leg wound from direct fire and that there are fewer Taliban operatives in the Dey Chopan district of Zabol Province as a result of some tough Bobcat Love.
Our current disposition is as follows: TM Quick Strike continues to secure FOB Anaconda in Khas Uruzgan and work with the district leaders and elders to secure the district and improve the lives of villagers. Quick Strike continues to employ the Scout Platoon minus the sniper section that remains under TF CDR control for special purpose missions. TM Cobra returned from Operation Cadillac Ranch III in which they significantly increased the Voter Registration results for the district of Chora as well as conducted numerous cordon and search missions to eliminate Taliban presence as well as confiscate any unauthorized weapons and munitions. 1st Platoon, TM Cobra unfortunately remains in Kabul conducting CFC-A security missions. We are working, at a minimum, to rotate 1st PLT out of Kabul while simultaneously working to be relived of the mission altogether. TM Bushmaster, TM Wardog and the battalion TAC just returned from Operation Asbury Park II in Dey Chopan District of Zabol Province. Asbury Park was a very successful mission to Find/Fix/Finish Taliban in the area and follow up with Medical, educational, and quality of life support to the local villages. While everyone else was away from FOB Ripley, the Headquarters, Vipers, Wardogs minus, Oldschool minus, Castle minus, and all other misc elements attached to TF Bobcat, focused on transfer of authority from the 22nd MEU NLT 11 Jul 04. This coordination was a very important and successful mission. We now run an area that was controlled by a BDE plus sized element. Numerous quality of life issues are working right now to improve the quality of life for our Soldiers. Two morale phones are installed and scheduled for Soldier use every day. The PX opened today at 0430 Zulu with 40k worth of merchandise�most are comfort items, snacks, tobacco, reading materials and we have the ability to get special order items as requested. 
We are already leveling out the ground where the Marines had their tents so that we can start construction of our Tier III tentage and the FOB proper. The timeline right now has everyone in climate-controlled tents with floors prior to the end of August. Seems like a long time but we are half through the month of July and if everything remains on track we will be ahead of schedule. We will send pictures for the next update.
We have been here just under three months and I am happy to announce that we will start the mid tour leave program beginning 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. 
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!  What a morale boost to return from a difficult mission and have mail waiting. We have even had success in getting mail forward while on a mission. The new address and forwarding from the old address is working. I would also like to thank you all for your support and encouragement.  You are a great strength to everyone here, and we deeply appreciate all you do on our behalf.  God bless.

Aloha and Ahui Hou!,