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Major Andrew Olmsted, who posted a blog since May 2007, was killed in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2008. Olmsted, who had been based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq with the mission of helping train the Iraqi Army. A sniper killed Olmsted as he was trying to talk three suspected insurgents into surrendering. A sniper's bullet also cut down Capt. Thomas J. Casey. They were in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.

Olmsted was determined to make a difference in Iraq. "The sooner the Iraqi government doesn't need U.S. support to provide security for its people, the sooner we will probably be asked to leave."
Happy Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 22 at 6:07 AM

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, a fact that probably helps to explain why it's so easy for me to put on weight. Be that as it may, I still enjoy taking a little time to think about just how fortunate I am. As I look around the dining facility at my team while we enjoy our Thanksgiving meal together, I can see a lot to be thankful for. While things are far from perfect, the team may be making some progress towards getting the Iraqi Army to start moving onto the offensive against the enemy forces in our area.

This week we managed to get two things that we've never before seen. We managed to get our Iraqis out training en masse, number one. For reasons I've never quite understood, the IA doesn't seem to like training. They tend to think that, since they're fighting in war every day, they don't really need to train for it, a mind set markedly different from that of the American Army. However, it seems that they can get into the mindset under the right circumstances. Our NCOs have spent a lot of time working with the IA NCOs, talking about the importance of training, and the IA seem to be coming around to our point of view. We had about 40 IA soldiers out training this week, and they were remarkably enthusiastic about the training. We still have a long ways to go before they'll be really well-trained, but the journey has to start somewhere and this week was a great first step.

Even better, the IA and Iraqi police may be starting to work together. IA and IP, for whatever reason, don't always get along well, no small problem when the country needs both of them working in concert to provide real security for their countrymen. And at a meeting between the two of them this week, we saw that in spades. Our IA leadership sat down and talked with the local IP leadership for more than an hour, working out the beginnings of some plans to ratchet up the pressure on the enemy forces they both face in our AO. There is still a long ways to go before they'll be fully comfortable operating together, but as with the training, they're taking some important steps in the right direction.

I won't pretend I wouldn't mind being back in the U.S. with my family today. But I'm blessed with a great team and doing a job that I think is very important. I can't call this a bad Thanksgiving.


Your blogs really help us better understand in more detail the work you are doing for all of us. You are courageous Americans and we're very proud of you. Stay safe.

Posted by Lind on November 24, 2007 02:26 PM

Thank you for taking time to write these blogs.

Our country, once again, is blessed to have patriots like you.

Posted by Bob Mann on November 26, 2007 10:41 PM

I am sure everyone on the team was missed by their families for Thanksgiving. I really missed having my husband, SFC Jackson, home for the holiday. You all will be in my thoughts and prayers for the entire holiday season, and the rest of your tour.

Thanks for the blogs. Be safe. God's speed.

Jennifer Jackson

Posted by Jennifer Jackson on December 17, 2007 11:53 AM

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