To the Manchus...
    I hope everything is going well. Our A Co. is holding down our future area of operation while the rest of the battalion is getting ready to follow soon. It is sad to report that we had seven WIAs last week to a suicide bomber. Six have been evacuated to various locations for recovery. One of the MANCHUS is still VSI in Germany. We are all praying hard for his recovery.

    On a good note, our area of operation we have been in since April has been going great. We have the CLC's (Concerned Local Citizens) standing up to fight the insurgents. All attacks have been reduced to only a few a week. If you remember, we were having close to 100 a week when we first got here. Lead poisoning and capturing the bad guys have made them think twice about doing something bad in AO MANCHU. The men are doing great and the MANCHU veterans should be proud of the new chapter in MANCHU history that is being written.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

CSM Philip s. Pich
4th Bn, 9th IN Regiment

    The four pictures below are of a HERO Flight we did for some of our FALLEN. I think it is appropriate to show the families how we honor our FALLEN BROTHERS here before they come home. Most people, families and friends, never see or know that we do two ceremonies (HERO FLIGHT and MERMORIAL CEREMONY) for their son, brother or father.

CSM Philip s. Pich
4th Bn, 9th IN Regiment

Memorial Ceremony      Hero Flight      Hero Flight      Memorial Ceremony

View Image   BBQ Boxing Smoker
View Image   B Co Change of Responsibilities from 1SG Griffith to 1SG Ohme
View Image   Able Company Squad Taji
View Image   A Co 1sg Horney and his best friend
View Image   1SG Horney Land Warrior SOF
View Image   CIB Ceremony SPC Salazar being pinned
View Image   Doc Aliotti winning Hearts and Minds
View Image   Getting Ready for Night Patrol
View Image   TAC before rolling on Patrol
View Image   Manchus awarded ARCOMwV for actions in Iraq
View Image   MAJ Hastings losses Bet and must wear Raiders hat
View Image   LT Reickert Promotion to CPT
View Image   LT Kint Promoted to CPT
View Image   Lt Hupa promotion to CPT and awarded BSwV for actions in Iraq

Re-Enlistments and Honorable Discharges Photos
SPC Adamson-Delgado
SPC Chamberlain
SSG Guerrero
SGT Ryland
SGT Bersey
SSG Arguello
PFC Lopez
SGT Gonzalez
SPC Wright
SGT Verdonk
SGT Ragan
SPC Kincaid

Copy of the BDE Newspaper. The Desert Raider
This will give you an ideal what each of the units in 4-2 ID is doing in IRAQ.
December 2007 PDF File

To All:
    The BDE has moved to FOB Warhorse and we will soon follow. We are waiting for our replacement units to arrive and hand over our Battle Space so we can join 4-2 at Warhorse.

    On a sad note our A Co. was hit by a suicide bomber two weeks ago. We sustained seven WIAs. Six were evacuated to the states and one remains in Germany. He is a fighter and hanging on, time will tell. Again, last night we had another WIA from a IED strike. He will recover in a few weeks or so. Our area is still dangerous but much safer and in better shape then when we first got here. We have gone from over a 100 events a week to less then ten a week. Lead poisoning has had a small impact on people doing bad things in our area. The unit replacing us will be very bored but will not realize how good that is until something happens. Hopefully that does not happen. We all do not want to move after paying a lot of blood for a piece of ground and having great results but Soldier follow orders and we will move and have the same effect in our new Battle Space. So, another MANCHU chapter will be written.

    I will be leaving 4-9 IN (MANCHUS) at the beginning of the New Year because of medical issues. I want to thank you all for supporting the MANCHUS and hope that you continue to support them. I can not thank you enough for your support and prayers for the MANCHUS. THANK YOU.

CSM Philip s. Pich
4th Bn, 9th IN Regiment

BAQUBAH, Iraq - By Christian Lowe - January 30, 2008
The newest version of the Army’s popular Stryker combat vehicle is garnering poor reviews here from Soldiers assigned to man its tank-like hull.

The General Dynamics Corp.-built Mobile Gun System looks like a typical eight-wheeled Stryker, except for a massive 105mm gun mounted on its roof. The gun fires three different types of projectiles, including explosive rounds, tank-busters and a "canister round" that ejects hundreds of steel pellets similar to a shotgun shell.

But while the system looks good on paper and the Army’s all for it, Soldiers with the 4th Battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment -- one of the first units to receive the new vehicle for their deployment to Iraq -- don’t have a lot of good things to say about it.

More news from our man in Iraq .

"I wish [the enemy] would just blow mine up so I could be done with it," said Spec. Kyle Handrahan, 22, of Anaheim, Calif., a tanker assigned to Alpha Company, 4/9’s MGS platoon.

"It’s a piece," another MGS platoon member chimed in. "Nothing works on it."

The gripes stem from a litany of problems, including a computer system that constantly locks up, extremely high heat in the crew compartment and a shortage of spare parts. In one case, a key part was held up in customs on its way to Iraq, a problem one Soldier recognizes is a result of a new system being pushed into service before it’s ready.

"The concept is good, but they still have a lot of issues to work out on it," said Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Teimeier, Alpha, 4/9’s MGS platoon sergeant and a tanker by trade.

According to a Jan. 28 report by Bloomberg News, the 2008 Pentagon Authorization bill included language limiting funds for the MGS pending an Army report on fixes to the vehicle’s growing list of problems. The Pentagon’s director of Operational Test and Evaluation said in his annual report the vehicle was "not operationally effective," Bloomberg reported.

Soldiers here say the searing heat in the vehicles -- especially during Iraq’s blazing summer -- forces them to wear a complicated cooling suit that circulates cold water through tubing under their armor. Ironically, Soldiers often complain the suit makes them cold, Teimeier said, adding to their vehicular woes.

Despite the poor review from DoD auditors, the Army is standing by its vehicle, Bloomberg reported.

"The Army has determined that the MGS is suitable and operationally effective," Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Martin Downie, told the financial news service.

Where there is no debate is in the lethality of the vehicle’s firepower.

But Soldiers in the middle of a tough counterinsurgency fight here in Diyala province say commanders are reluctant to use the vehicle’s lethal gun on enemy strongholds out of concern of killing or wounding civilians. As a result, many of the dozens of MGS vehicles go unused while precision air strikes have become increasingly prevalent -- along with the usual Soldier-driven raids.

That’s got MGS drivers here frustrated. Not only do they have to deal with a complex system that gives them fits, but when it is working, they’re not allowed to employ the vehicle in combat.

"You can kick down doors and risk losing our guys," Handrahan said. "Or I can just knock down the building from a [kilometer] away and call it a day."

BAYJI, Iraq – Sand, dust and enemy scatter as the lethal, wheeled vehicles of 4-9 Infantry Battalion “Manchus” maneuver through the fluid terrain of northern Salah ad Din province in February with a few months left before their redeployment.

After serving with their parent brigade, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, the Manchus are now fighting extremists with the 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne”, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

As part of Operation Iron Harvest, the Stryker vehicle battalion conducted a search of the vast desert areas of Salah ad Din province, using their futuristic Land Warrior System to maintain situational awareness.

Manchu Commander Ltc. William Prior said this about his battalion’s current open-desert operation against al-Qaida: “Taking care of some of that business outside the population centers will ultimately have an impact inside the population centers.”

“The amount of manpower we have to accomplish our mission is going to be enough to disrupt insurgent activities. Hopefully we can find caches so they do not reach any other units,” said 1st Lt. Gerald Winn of C Company.

Since early January, the Bastogne Brigade has found 20 car bombs, large caches and extremists’ camps throughout Salah ad Din province.

During its operation, 4-9 found 40 bags of ammonium nitrate and 4 suspicious abandoned vehicles in the desert. The Manchus also tactically questioned and detained some suspect military aged males.

The combat power added to the 1st BCT creates unique offensive capability. “4-9 Infantry Battalion provides us the opportunity to attack the enemy in new areas and in different ways. The Manchu Battalion provides us greater mobility, protection and firepower,” said 1st Brigade Combat Team Battle Major, Maj. Jason Tussey.

The Manchus of the “2nd to None” division directly working with a Screaming Eagle “Air Assault” brigade is historic and rare. Both Manchus and Bastogne have legacies of valor and honorable service going back to World War I and World War II respectively.

Sgt. Christian Garcia of C Co., 4-9 Infantry Battalion said, “101st has a great sense of history. I think it is good that we are working together.”

View Image   First Brigade Combat Team "Bastogne", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) leadership talk about M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System Vehicle capabilities with 4-9 Infantry Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers in Salah ah Din province in February.

View Image   A Salah ah Din province Iraqi army soldier stood guard while a 4-9 Infantry Battalion Stryker Vehicle established security during Operation Iron Harvest in February. The 4-9 "Manchus" are part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and provide new offensive capabilities to the Screaming Eagles.

View Image   A 4-9 Infantry Battalion "Manchu" Soldier scans his sector of fire in Salah ah Din province while suspected detainees are being questioned on having bomb-making materials in their vicinity during Operation Iron Harvest in February.

View Image   C Company, 4-9 Infantry Battalion Soldiers and Stryker vehicles are set up in their patrol base during Operation Harvest II in February. The Manchus are working with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Salah ad Din province over the next few months untill their redeployment begins.

LTC Prior Family Readiness Group Letter of 23 December 2007

Season’s Greetings from your Manchu Soldiers deployed in Iraq! While it is hard to be away for family and friends during the holidays, we are all thankful for our loved ones, health, happiness and the many freedoms that we enjoy. We hope that you all have/had a joyful holiday and a happy new year. The Manchus are making the most of their Christmas away from home amidst their daily combat duties. We sincerely appreciate the many boxes that we received over the last several days. Reminders of home are treasured in an environment like this. We are also very happy with the trees that the Manchu FRG and the 4-9 Manchu Viet Nam Veterans Association sent as gifts. They brighten the halls of the work and living areas and remind us of our many faithful supporters back home.

Progress continues in our mission in Iraq. Over the last 9 months, our area of Iraq north of Taji has changed from an insurgent stronghold fraught with problems to one of relative calm. While fighting continues, the level of violence is down very significantly and optimism is in the air. This is largely due to the diligence and skill of your Manchu Soldiers, but also that of Iraqi security forces. The cooperation of the many good Iraqi people is another key factor. More and more, the citizens of this area are rejecting terrorism and working with us to help their region prosper. Although Iraq remains a dangerous place and our mission is far from over, your Manchus are truly and emphatically making a positive difference.

One measure of the diligence and skill that I mention above is the number of combat awards approved and pending for Manchu Soldiers. Recently, SGT Price from B Co was approved for the Silver Star for heroism in action and SGT Shields from A Co was approved for the Soldier’s Medal for saving a fellow Manchu’s life. Most significantly, SPC Oropeza of B Co was recently recommended for the Medal of Honor (the nation’s most prestigious valor award) for his heroic acts in combat. We initially recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, but the Corps commander elected to upgrade the recommendation. If SPC Oropeza receives this high honor, he will be one of only a handful since the Viet Nam war. Many others – too many to mention here – have been honored with other valor and service awards and with combat badges of various types. Your Manchus are heroes in every sense and we will continue to work to ensure that all receive the awards they so richly deserve.

We had a distinguished visitor recently in the battalion area on Taji. Chief of Staff of the Army GEN George Casey came and visited with Manchus about the Land Warrior system that we fielded, tested and have employed in combat since our arrival. The success of this valuable system is surpassed only by the professionalism and accomplishments of the Soldiers who use it. GEN Casey thanked us for our service and wished us all well. While A Co remains detached from the battalion and under the control of 2-12 FA in the Baqubah area, they remain close in the minds of all other Manchus. CSM Pich recently paid them a visit and I will make the trip in the very near future. The men of Able Co continue to excel and are working hard to bring security and stability to this crucial Iraqi city as they have done elsewhere.

Although our mission is far from over (as mentioned above), we are now at the stage where we must begin thinking about redeployment. As such, I have elected to rotate the rear detachment commander back at Fort Lewis. CPT Erik Summers will come forward to join the battalion in Iraq and CPT William Baird will return to assume duties in the rear. I sincerely thank CPT Summers for his commitment to Soldiers and families in the job he has done and have full faith and confidence that CPT Baird will uphold the same high standard. The question on everyone’s mind about deployment is, of course, when? We do not have confirmed dates yet and I expect that it will be at least a few months before we do. However, our tour of duty in Iraq is set for 15 months and I fully expect that we will stay for about that long. I tell Manchus that they should be able to spend the 4th of July with their families if all goes according to plan. Please stand by for updates!

Finally, I will take this opportunity to relate to you my fondest Christmas wish; one that I suspect I share with many Soldiers currently deployed. That is for the safety of our Manchus and their families, the speedy and full recovery of our wounded and comfort for the families of those who gave the last full measure of duty. I had the privilege of visiting some wounded Manchus at Fort Sam Houston last month after my leave and was inspired by their positive spirit and concern for their comrades still in contact. My promise to them and to you is that we will do all we can to accomplish the mission and bring as many Manchus home safely and with honor as is humanly possible.

LTC Bill Prior
FOB Taji, Iraq

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