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This DP will be short, sorry I'm s l o w l y recovering from a nasty case of Acute Coryza.
More milbloggers weigh in:
And Cassandra has the latest poll up on Military family's thoughts
Honor Their Service, inc., the home of such great projects as Operation Fresh Air and Operation Santa at the Hospitals, is putting together a Milbloggers' Cookbook. They need submissions from milbloggers and commenters alike in all catagories (appetizers, sides, salads, soups, main dishes, desserts, drinks, etc.) If you have a recipe (or two) that you are particularly proud of, they'd love to put them in the book.
Send your recipes (and any questions you might have) to HTScookbook@yahoo.com.
They are accepting recipes from today until March 9th.
Captain's Journal has Thoughts on the New Media and Military Blogging
And sad news, E. W. Scripps has announced that Friday will be the last day of publication for the Rocky Mountain News, one of the few good Newspapers out there, a real shame.
This deeply saddens me for another reason, Milblogger friend, Andrew Olmstead, who was KIA, was writing for the Rocky Mountain News while deployed in Iraq. The Rocky Mountains News have been in many of my past Dawn Patrols and I have found their reporting to be fair, sharp and concise.
Major John hasn't had much to say since he got home from Iraq. But now he's entering the twilight and had a couple of thoughts.
If you haven't read A Journal for Jordan this is a must-read for all potential military families. 1SG Charles King was killed in action in Iraq on October 14, 2006, the Denizens at the Castle spoke with the author, Dana Canedy, 1SG King's fiance. The book, is a combination of her memories of her childhood and her time with Charles plus excerpts from the journal that Charles wrote to their son.
Democrats Assail Plan For Pulling Out Troops - [Washington Post]
President Obama sought yesterday to quell growing complaints from members of Congress about his plans for drawing down troops in Iraq, inviting lawmakers to a White House meeting on the eve of a North Carolina speech in which he is expected to announce that he will pull out many combat troops by August of 2010.
After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) complained that the level of troops -- 50,000 -- who would remain in Iraq is too high, other senior Democrats voiced similar concerns. Not one member of the Democratic leadership, except for Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), defended the new Obama plan, which will take three months longer than he promised and still leave a significant force structure on the ground.
President Obama won crucial backing on Thursday for his Iraq military withdrawal plan from leading Congressional Republicans, including Senator John McCain, the party's presidential nominee, who spent much of last year debating the war with Mr. Obama
Baghdad's social scene gaining ground -- [UPI]
With U.S. military officials reporting the lowest levels of violence since 2003, a bustling nightlife is slowly returning to the streets of Baghdad.
As Iraqi soldiers and police take over most the combat operations in Iraq, American units are still struggling to upgrade the quality of Iraqi forces. It's not just training and mentoring, corruption is still the main problem.
Eventually one of them suggested we get an interpreter in the room, and once we did, the conversation became more serious. I asked all sorts of questions regarding the Afghan Army from issues on prejudice to their thoughts on the upcoming elections. It was at this time I realized the interpreters do not interpret as good as I had thought. I also noticed they omit certain things from the conversation, something I picked up on as my ear came into tune with the Farsi speaking around me.
Some things that came out of the conversation included the fact that they do look at themselves as Afghans and not a group divided by ethnic backgrounds. Most were Pashtun, but one was Tajik and another Uzbek. ”We are all brothers,”said Shakur.
The Military Health System is hosting a video contest on YouTube to let service members, care providers and their families share their experiences with health care services. More information is available on the contest page at:
The contest runs from February 27 to March 30 and winners will receive a coveted ASD coin from Dr. Casscells, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs. The winning videos will also be featured on health.mil.
Families, service members and those in the military health system family are encouraged to create and upload videos about their experiences, such as:
Care received for injuries or illnesses, Interaction with outstanding employees and/or medical providers
Rehabilitation experiences, Volunteer care efforts, Military treatment facilities, Warrior care units
So at these events, the audience (as in this case) is full of far-far-far-left radicals who came in order to hear overheated revolutionary rhetoric. But instead, what they get is a boring professorial monologue. If Ayers and Dohrn were nothing more than your run-of-the-mill leftist professors, no one would go to their appearances. They’re coasting on their violent reputation, while at the same time trying to distance themselves from it. And that is the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox.
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and other sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a link to the Dawn Patrol too and your trackback will be added to the list. Hat Tips to the Dawn Patrol are greatly appreciated.
ISX index hits record high -- [Aswat Al Iraq]
Iraq’s Stock Exchange (ISX) index has risen dramatically by 8.390 percent to settle at a record high of 99.780 points during Sunday’s session, the first this week and the ninth this month.
Sons of Iraq -- [Bullet Wisdom - in Iraq]
Last week, my team travelled to Tikrit to sit in on a transition meeting between the Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces and contractors representing almost 10,000 Sons of Iraq contractors from our province. On March 1, the process for transition supervision and responsibility for Sons of Iraq (SOI) formally begins in the Salah ah Din province. There are over 2,000 alone in my area, and over the next several months, the Prime Minister ordered all to transition to the employ of either the Ministry of Defense or Interior (Army or Police) or to a position somewhere with the Government of Iraq. So who are these Sons of Iraq guys?
US Starts to Leave Key Iraq Bases - [Washington Times]
American troops in Iraq are beginning to pull back from bases and outposts that were linchpins in the US surge that helped reduce violence, prevent a civil war and allow peaceful elections.
Obama decision on Iraq troops 'soon': US military -- [AFP]
BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military insisted on Sunday it would be out of Iraqi cities by the end of June and indicated that President Barack Obama would
Are generals disputing Iraq pullout?
U.S.-Iraqi Effort Targets Al-Qaeda's Last Stronghold -- [USA Today/AP]
U.S. and Iraqi forces have begun a new military offensive in northern Iraq aimed at rooting out al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgents, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Sunday.
Ditches and paranoia -- [Bad Dogs and Such - in Iraq]
....Why, said the young leader of the grunts, are the people not coming out to talk to us?
...Because you are scaring them, the terp explained. He says your Soldiers are running and it makes the people of the town nervous.
It's a hard thing for a tactical-level leader to grasp, this weird combination of war/not-war we've got going on. But it can't be ignored - although the war occasionally shows up and needs to be handled appropriately, that's not what's happening the majority of the time. The vast majority of what's going on right now is low-key. It's us, with our Iraqi Security Forces partners, hanging out in our towns, chatting with people not like interrogators and targets, but like neighbors with a language barrier. It's Soldiers not tromping through folks' vegetable gardens and startling them in their yards, but instead kicking a soccer ball around with the local urchins.
The Secrets Of Going From Iraq To Afghanistan -- [Strategy Page]
February 22, 2009: The message board and listservs American soldiers and marines use to share professional knowledge are lighting up as everyone headed for Afghanistan, tries to figure out how much of their Iraqi experience will be useful, or maybe even counterproductive, in Afghanistan.
The facts are these. Afghanistan is...
Troops Weigh in on Afghanistan Surge
Guardsman would rather face Taliban than U.S. economy -- [McClatchy News]
Around the barren military base, which sits at the crossroads of the Taliban's poppy trade route, news arrives slowly. A single issue of the U.S. military's newspaper arrives by airlift about every two weeks. While on patrol in remote villages, Afghans sometime shout at the Marines in Russian to go away, unaware that the troops are promoting democracy. Most Marines here said that they didn't know about President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet picks, including his decision to keep Robert Gates as their secretary of defense.
However, the domestic economic meltdown has reached even here
Reaction: More troops to Afghanistan - UPI
An Afghan Experience Part 1 -- [A Battlefield Tourist - in Afghanistan]
...It really is hard to explain the feeling you get when you immerse with the Afghans like this, but it is something that is tough to duplicate. These guys are just like anyone else; normal, young and believing in what they are doing.
I’ve had many Afghan “experiences”, but this one will stand out for many reasons, all listed above. For me, it’s nights like this that make leaving my family and spending thousands of dollars to do so, worth every cent and minute.
Griffons fly by night--and it's no big deal -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
Taking it to the Taliban--supposedly some sort of great scoop:
Air missions aim to defuse IED toll
Nighttime patrols by Canadian choppers target insurgents planting roadside bombs
Taliban exchange Swat official for prisoners -- [LWJ- Bill Roggio]
The Pakistani district official kidnapped yesterday was released in exchange for three Taliban prisoners; Taliban wanted to teach government a lesson.
Doubts raised over Swat sharia deal
Pelosi talking to Afghanistan -- [The Examiner]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is in Afghanistan today to press President Hamid Karzai on "the political and security situations," in the country, according to her aides.
Pelosi and seven House Democrats traveling with her are there to visit American troops, who are about to get some company now that President Barack Obama has pledged to increase their numbers by 17,000.
“While in Afghanistan, the delegation met with U.S. military leaders, and the U.S. Diplomatic team in Kabul to better assess the best course of action to further our national security interests in preparation for the completion of President Obama's strategic review of the Afghanistan policy," Pelosi said in a statement.
Taliban Strategy in Afghanistan is Smart Politics, So U.S. Needs to Wise Up -- [U.S. News]
Afghanistan's Logar province, just south of the capital Kabul, has seen relatively little fighting between coalition forces and the Taliban. Criminal activities there have decreased in recent months, so one could conclude that it makes more sense for President Barack Obama to deploy the 17,000 additional U.S. troops he has called for into the more restive southern and eastern territories. But the truth is that the military map in Afghanistan was never as important as the political map. The real story of Logar is more telling—and more worrying—about the trajectory of the war.
Mexico: A Narco-Insurgency At America's Border -- [Threats Watch - Steve Schippert]
Go to YouTube and watch this BBC report on protests organized at US/Mexico border crossings. It's important in order to get an opening grasp of the situation. In this BBC report, the journalist says that "the Mexican government says there's...
Officials: N. Korea Has Deployed New Ballistic Missile -- [Houston Chronicle/AP]
North Korea recently deployed a new type of medium-range ballistic missile capable of reaching Australia and the U.S. territory of Guam, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Monday.
Swiss party wants to punish U.S. for UBS probe -- [Reuters]
The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country's biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy.
The populist SVP, the country's biggest party, said Switzerland should not take in any detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the Swiss government said last month it could consider to help shut the camp down.
Switzerland should also reconsider its policy of representing the United States in countries where it has no diplomatic presence, the parliamentary SVP said in a statement.
Opinion Could Dampen Zeal To Classify Government Information -- [WaPo]
If it is ultimately upheld, a memorandum opinion written by a federal judge in Virginia and released last week may limit the overclassification of information on national security grounds and prevent future prosecutions for leaking such information.
USG COIN Guide -- [SWJ]
Bravo! to the dedicated team of bureaucrats and thought leaders who toiled for 2 years to produce the new US Government Counterinsurgency Guide.
This guide, written in a collaborative "whole of government" process and endorsed at the highest levels of our diplomacy, development, and defense leadership, reflects the latest doctrine (FM 3-24 and also FM 3-07). It is not, however, a tactical or operational "how-to" guide. Rather it is intended to be a "COIN 101" for policy-makers contemplating US intervention abroad.
NEFA Foundation: New Zawahiri Audio - "From Kabul to Mogadishu" -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained a new audio recording from Al-Qaida Deputy Commander Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri released on February 22 and titled, "From Kabul to Mogadishu." During the recording, Dr. al-Zawahiri congratulated the Shebaab al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia on their recent victories against Ethiopian and AU peacekeeping forces, and warned them to avoid any negotiations sponsored by the United Nations or United States. Al-Zawahiri appealed,...
Al-Qaradhawi: Muslims Are Permitted to Have Nuclear Weapons -- [MEMRI Blog]
In a Friday sermon delivered on February 20, 2009, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, Chariman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, said that Islam promotes peace that comes from a position of strength and not weakness, and that it is permissible for Muslims to have nuclear weapons and WMDs for deterrence purposes.
We have over 700 soldiers waiting to be adopted. Would you like to see what that looks like? -- [Soldiers Angels Network]
ADOPT A HERO NOW! Help us check a name off the list... www.soldiersangels.org
Troops on Multiple Deployments
In their own words U.S. soldiers explain the hardships of multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq
Troupers Trump The Troops -- [Washington Times - Roger Simon]
For the last several years, a staple of the Academy Awards has been a ritualized salute to our troops. However, any halfway decent movies about them have not been in evidence.
Army Charity Hoards Millions -- [AP]
As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.
64 Years Ago Today - Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima - Flags of our fathers.
Soldiers Are Still Waiting For Tour Bonuses -- [USA Today]
The Pentagon has not started complying with a law requiring the payment of monthly bonuses of up to $500 to soldiers forced to remain on active duty beyond their enlistment period, military officials said.
Green Bay soldier: War is immoral and I won't go back to Iraq -- [Green Bay Gazette]
Lt. Col. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said Walker did not follow military procedure by filling out paperwork to list himself as a conscientious objector.
“His unit is counting on him,” Banks said. “He’s actually turning his back on his battle buddies. By just not reporting, you’re letting down your teammates. When you raise your right hand to defend the country, you knew there was a time you could possibly be deployed.”
Wisconsin soldier says he won't return to Iraq -- [MSNBC]
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A US Army spokesman says a Green Bay soldier stationed out of Minnesota is "letting his battle buddies down" by refusing to return to Iraq. Lt. Col. Nathan Banks says leave is granted on a rotational basis -- so if Army Reserve Spc. Kristoffer Walker doesn't go back, some other soldier could be denied leave.
Weather doesn't deter wife's welcome-home wardrobe -- [Killeen Daily Herald]
It took her a month to put the outfit together and she was going to wear it regardless of the weather, regardless of the three sons between 6 and 10 who kept her busy and regardless of the black high heels that kept sinking into the ground.
It was nothing for a woman who has endured six deployments and 11 years as an Army wife. Staff Sgt. Michael Moore returned to Fort Hood and his waiting family Saturday afternoon with about 85 others from the 4th Infantry Division's Special Troops Battalion.
This was the final large group from the battalion to return from Iraq. Flights of 1st Brigade Combat Team soldiers are expected to begin arriving the first week of March.
Brave warriors of 109th get hearty welcome home -- [Wilkes Barre Times]
The troops returned last year from Afghanistan and Egypt. 1st Lt. Christopher Patchoski stands at attention and salutes while ‘Taps’ is played during
NY Times Leaks Classified Military Information... Again -- [Gateway Pundit]
The NY Times continues to do what it does best... Leak classified military information during wartime.
Rewarding excellence and effort -- [Blogs over Baghdad - in Iraq]
OK, it’s time to let everyone in on something our 314th Soldiers already know — this mission at the Combined Press Information is probably not the best one to test their Public Affairs skills. Yes, we do work directly with Western and Pan-Arab media, so in some ways it is important. For instance, the Soldiers can see all the things journalists do to collect a story — so they can emulate it or better facilitate it. Similarly, they sometimes talk to the journalists and share “war stories” — another way to learn the trade from people who are making a living at it. And, of course, our Soldiers are learning skills that will help them in any career — things like effective intercultural communication, operational security, leadership, and being a team player.
‘You’re his witness now’ -- [Marine Times]
HBO film chronicles Marine’s final journey through eyes of his escort
With the war in Iraq raging in 2004, Lt. Col. Mike Strobl found himself at Dover Air Force Base, Del., waiting to escort home the remains of a fallen Marine he had never met.
[UPDATED] Chance Phelps Last Stand - According to Major General Kelly -- [Blackfive]
Update: For Steve Cochran's listeners on WGN Radio, here is the link to the original story now on HBO - "Taking Chance".
Tactics? -- [Greyhawk]
The headline reads U.S. Marines find Iraq tactics don't work in Afghanistan, but the story says
...The Marines, weighted down with 60 pounds of body armor each, struggled to climb up Saradaka Mountain. Once at the top, it was clear to everyone that the Taliban would get away.
...Is excessive armor a "tactic"? The only tactic I see employed here - and it's brilliant in its obvious simplicity - is an enemy taking advantage of a congressionally-mandated weakness in their enemy.
Exclusive: Helen Thomas On "So Called Terrorists"
Dear Mr. President -- [Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure]
I do not wish for the press to have access to the repatriation of my remains, Sir. I do not wish for the image of my returning casket to made available to anyone. I wish to maintain the privacy and dignity that my return to my native soil has been promised to this point in my service. I will not be able to defend myself from predation for the use of others, Sir. Please protect me when and if I cannot protect myself; when I cannot open my own mouth in protest, when I will not have breath in my body to form the words, "Please, leave me in peace. I just want to go home."
It Is About Family -- [BlackFive - MCQ]
For that reason, I pray that Secretary Gates and President Obama will continue the ban on the media at Dover. All families, to include the military family, need the room and time to grieve and say goodbye in their own special way to those they've lost.
Dover is ours.
Sorry, But My Husband Is Not A "Tool of the Nation-State" -- [Villainous Company]
Your feeling that this war would feel so much more "immediate"; that you'd "understand" if you're allowed to trample on the sensibilities of those who defend your freedoms. It's not difficult to track the growing cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every major news outlet features its own roll call of the dead complete with pictures. Many mention the cumulative death toll during each and every broadcast.
Since the beginning of the war the military has bent over backwards to allow the press to embed with combat units, though the press seem strangely uninterested in availing themselves of the freedom they demanded so vociferously:
Our view on honoring the fallen: Lift the veil on the return of nation’s war dead -- [USA Today]
Respectful news coverage would serve both nation and families.
...Those who want to keep the ban argue that overturning it could invade the privacy of families and the sanctity of the event, and that families might feel obliged to attend despite financial and emotional hardship.
Both concerns should be addressed, but they miss a larger picture. By banning coverage, and even the release of photos, officials deny military families and the nation the opportunity to better honor young men and women who give the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Respectful ceremonies are so meaningful that the Pentagon has at times lifted the 18-year ban. It did so, for example, when CIA operative Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed in Afghanistan in 2001 in the raw aftermath of 9/11. Before the ban was in place, President Reagan attended ceremonies for the victims of the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut and for military personnel killed in El Salvador in 1985.
Opposing view: Don't overturn the ban -- [USA Today - John Ellsworth]
When my son, Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth, was brought home in a flag-draped casket, there were no news media or protesters waiting to take pictures or yell anti-war slogans. No reporters hounding my family for a comment on our feelings as our son's casket emerged from the plane. It was with the solemnity and dignity that he deserved.
That is why this ban should not be overturned. If the president demands a change and overturns the ban, at the very least the families of the fallen should have the right to request that the news media not be present at the dignified transfer ceremony.
Gitmo Guard Speaks Out -- [CJ - A Soldier's Pwerspective]
t's all over the news now, of course. Former Guantanamo Bay prison guard, Specialist Brandon Neely, has come forward to speak out about abuse at the camp.
"The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong," the disgraceful Texan told the Associated Press.
brandon neelyIf you ask me, this is going to be another McBeth case. First of all, I find it interested that not ONE media story mentions the fact that Neely is a member of IVAW. Not only is he a member, but he's president of the Houston Chapter of the shameful organization ("Army Sergeant" excluded).
Brandon Neely Is A Moron -- [CJ - A Soldier's Pwerspective]
Again, instead of turning himself in to the military, he waits until six years after the fact, three years after leaving active duty service, and after he's been released from IRR status to come forward. Brandon Neely is a complete coward! He waited until he thought it was safe to speak up and couldn't be sucked back into the Army system to answer for his war crimes.
Cut the Military Budget--II Comment -- [The Nation - Barney Frank]
I am a great believer in freedom of expression and am proud of those times when I have been one of a few members of Congress to oppose censorship. I still hold close to an absolutist position, but I have been tempted recently to make an exception, not by banning speech but by requiring it. I would be very happy if there was some way to make it a misdemeanor for people to talk about reducing the budget deficit without including a recommendation that we substantially cut military spending.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and other sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a link to the Dawn Patrol too and your trackback will be added to the list. Hat Tips to the Dawn Patrol are greatly appreciated.
Happy Valentine’s Day -- [Fraser in **** - in Iraq]
We’ve also been watching the meltdown of the economy back home, and have dutifully been burning candles for the banking executives that might be salary capped at only $500,000 a year, and who might have to fly commercial to the Super Bowl or to Vegas for their conventions. It really breaks us up.
A PVT patrolling the hostile streets here is being paid $1,399.50 per month. And an executive sitting on a private jet, whisking off to luxury destinations is complaining about only getting half a million a year, after being at the helm of a company that he drove into the ground, and then has gone to Capital Hill to beg for taxpayer’s money. You never really hear the Private bitching. He just shoulders his M-16, grabs an MRE and goes on patrol without a thought of what evil awaits him in the dark or how small his bank account is. I wonder how much we would have to pay a bank executive to patrol city streets in the middle of a combat zone?
"A lot of people thought democracy means chaos" -- [IN Iraq]
...“Daura has a prestigious location,” Mr. Hussein Aziz, an Iraqi ex-patriate advisor explained. “It supplies fuels to all of Baghdad’s gasoline stations and provides a specific fuel line to Baghdad Airport. Being in Baghdad, a lot of industries were built around it. The insurgents tried to isolate Daura because they knew its strategic importance. In this way it represents the stability of the country.”
The Iraqi Energy sector is teenager going through a severe growth spurt and lacking coordination, especially between electricity and oil, creating shortages of electricity and fuel, while archaic, top-down procurement and contracting practices have made it almost impossible for new plants and refineries to get built in the last decades.
Stuck in Iraq -- [Tom Ricks]
Salon just carried an insightful review of my book that triggered a mudslide of nasty letters from the magazine's readers. "If you enjoyed 'Fiasco,' thrilled to have your prejudices about the clueless Bush administration confirmed, it's your responsibility to read 'The Gamble' to have some prejudices challenged," wrote the reviewer, Joan Walsh, Salon's editor-in-chief. I think she really captured the ambivalence at the heart of the book, the sense that staying in Iraq is far from appealing, but may be the least worst choice available. Her review concludes that, "I still want troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. But reading this well-reported book may have changed even my notion of what that means."
Her readers didn't like hearing that, and posted a variety of angry responses. Here's the note I sent to Walsh after reading some, but not all, of the 117 responses:
Boredom Kills -- [Strategy Page]
The Kurds up north again expressed their independence by signing a trade cooperation deal with Qatar. There are thousands of Kurds living in Qatar, which has a lot to do with this agreement. The Kurds do not talk about an independent Kurdish state, but they do practice a lot of autonomy from the central government in Baghdad. The Arabs down south have come to accept this, up to a point.
Some Hope and Change for ya! -- [Castle Argghhh!! - Bill T - in Iraq]
My friends -- ya say ya want somethin' ta give ya some *Hope*? Ya say yer ready to see some *Change*? Well, my friends, today is yer lucky day, 'cuz Ah got *both* Hope and Change for alla y'all!
First, some Hope -- remember last year's post on Class 67 of the Iraqi Air Force's Flight School Graduation?
Three cadets. The first new pilots in the New Iraqi Air Force.
Yesterday, Class 68 graduated. There were twelve, originally...
Iraqi Website: Iran Training Terrorists To Strike In Iraq -- [MEMRI Blog]
An Iraqi jihadist website has accused Iran of setting up numerous military camps within its territory to train terrorists to carry out attacks in Iraq.
Adventures with Bodyguards -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
I got to participate in something today that was, for me, highly out of the ordinary. And, as it turned out, highly fun. I took part in some exercises with our personal security teams. They were running some drills and needed somebody to be the high-value VIP. Somebody who didn't know squat about how these drills are supposed to be conducted, who therefore wouldn't anticipate things, and who might do something completely unexpected.
I'm back! -- [Whatever It Takes - in Iraq]
...1st Platoon has been out on patrol about 5 times now and your soldiers have taken to it like a duck to water. They do not complain and are always looking to do the right thing. The motivation and morale of 1st has always astounded me. We always find reason to laugh and joke. Even last night at midnight when everyone is tired and cold and standing around a checkpoint on a road, SPC Fedder still was able to make me collapse with laughter. Yet this never detracts from the mission. Guys are looking out for one another and are taking actions on their own to improve their situation.
Searching for the Sweet Spot -- [Far From Perfect - in Iraq]
...All this “deep” thought came while I looked at a picture of all things. I was looking at this picture of me on a rucksack march with a buddy. I realized I was proud of that moment. I was proud of what I did in a deeply personal way, not just in the esoteric, abstract way people are proud of serving or being productive. It didn’t matter what I didn’t become, I was proud of what I had become instead. I could stand tall next to all my friends and say “This is what I do! This is my life!” and not be in the least bit bothered by their careers, lifestyles, or what they had achieved. I always wondered if I would be embarrassed by being “just a..” in a circle of peers from my past. No longer. I am a husband, father, medic, and soldier, and damnit I am proud of that!
Things You Might Not Think About -- [Down Range 46 - in Iraq]
Today was a beautiful day in Iraq. It was one of those fleeting-moment days that occur in small quantity here - a high of 68 degrees, slightly overcast and little, if any, movement of the air. Simply beautiful.
U.S. Soldiers open road, transfer security in eastern Afghanistan -- [Army News]
Even a short road goes a long way in Afghanistan.
The opening of a seven-mile road in eastern Afghanistan's Konar province is affording critical transportation for residents and allowing coalition forces to transfer some security operations to the Afghanistan government.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force announced the opening of the $3.9 million road in Deywagal Valley and the closing of its Combat Outpost Seray, which provided security to the construction crew, in Feb. 5 ceremonies in the province.
Call to Send More Civilian Personnel as US Plea for Afghanistan Troops Fails -- [The Times]
The US Defence Secretary pleaded with NATO allies to send more civilian personnel to Afghanistan yesterday, after proclaiming disappointment at their failure to meet his requests for troops.
Gates Encouraged by NATO Discussions on Afghanistan -- [Defense Link]
KRAKOW, Poland, Feb. 19, 2009 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he is encouraged by discussions with NATO allies here today on the way forward in Afghanistan.
NATO leader: Iran could play role in Afghanistan -- [Jerusalem Post/AP]
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says he can envision Iran playing a role one day in helping to stabilize Afghanistan.
De Hoop Scheffer says a broader regional approach is needed to help put down the insurgency in Afghanistan.
He says that will involve more focus on Pakistan, but could even include Iran one day.
Korea Possibly Planning to Send Troops to Afghanistan? -- [ROK Drop]
The Hankyoreh doesn’t like the fact that President Obama is sending an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan:
...Ahead of the arrival in Seoul of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the GNP is said to have drafted an internal document considering the possibility of sending Korean troops to Afghanistan and affirming what the United States would do in return. GNP Supreme Council member Gong Sung-jin says the document was never submitted to an official party, probably body, but that Korea could demand high-tech weaponry from the Americans as payment for sending Koreans.
Gloom at Kandahar/US troops not to be under Canadian command -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
Stark talk from the outgoing CF commander--but there is some light in Afghan attitudes:
Kandahar residents feel less safe, says Canada's outgoing commander
Former Afghan minister criticial of Karzai - 20 Feb 09
Scott K comments about At War feedback -- [Bouhammer]
It has recently been brought to my attention that several blogs and websites in Canada have been chatty about the CBC story on Scott and his Documentary, At War. I forwarded the sites to Scott so he could read them. Last night while he was at Ft. Bragg, NC doing screenings for members of that base he took some time to talk about the chatter from our cousins up north and about the feedback he has received from the half-dozen screenings he and David have done across the country.
Swat Taliban demands military withdrawal, prisoner release -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
The Pakistani government must withdraw the Army from Swat, release all Taliban prisoners, withdraw any criminal cases, and clear the way for sharia in Swat under peace terms demanded by the Taliban.
U.S.-Based Sudanese Author Ghada Abd Al-Aziz: I Love the American People -- [MEMRI]
"Whenever You Hear From Outside About American Society, It Is Always That The U.S. is Biased, Unjust, And So On... But I Have to Confess: I Love the American People Very Much"
Ghada Abd Al-Aziz Khaled: "In my view, interpersonal relations are more important than political relations. I have always felt that politics are subject to certain interests, and governed by different constraints than interpersonal relations. Take, for example, my own experience with American society. Whenever you hear from outside about American society, it is always that the U.S. is biased, unjust, and so on."
Interviewer: "It is portrayed negatively in the media."
Ghada Abd Al-Aziz Khaled: "But I have to confess: I love the American people very much. I love the American people very much, because I view it as a good people, driven by its emotions. For example, when an American witnesses a tragedy, he might cry or go to demonstrations in order to defend people he doesn't even know, and in order to hear the voices of people who could not make their voices heard. In my view, contact between peoples is entirely different from contact between governments."
"If All You Know About [Americans] Is Politics, You Get A Distorted Image Of Them"
Items of interest to the extended military family -- [Castle Argghhh!!]
From HQ Marine Corps: Camp Lejeune Water Study
The United States Marine Corps encourages all those who resided at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune between 1957–1987 to register at www.marines.mil/clsurvey to receive updated information and notifications regarding the ongoing Water Study. (Please cut and paste the address into your browser.) If you know of any family members or friends who were at Camp Lejeune during this period, please encourage them to register.
The Marine Corps is reaching out to other government agencies in attempt to reach Marines, civilians, and family members who resided at Camp Lejeune , NC between 1957–1987.
Iran has enough uranium for a bomb -- [The Times]
Vienna: Iran has slowed the expansion of its uranium enrichment plant but has built up a stockpile of nuclear fuel, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. Iran’s reported stockpile of low-enriched uranium had risen to 1,010kg from 630kg in November. The UN watchdog said the increased output suggested existing centrifuges were operating at higher capacity than before. Western analysts estimate between 1,000 to 1,700kg would be needed as a basis for conversion into high-enriched uranium to make one bomb.
Iran Has More Enriched Uranium Than Thought -- [New York Times]
In their first appraisal of Iran’s nuclear program since President Obama took office, atomic inspectors have found that Iran recently understated by a third how much uranium it has enriched, United Nations officials said Thursday.
US Sees Power Rifts in North Korea -- [Wall Street Journal]
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US and Asian nations are increasingly concerned that a power struggle inside North Korea's leadership is undermining international efforts to disarm the reclusive Stalinist state.
Sanctions? Yes We Can! (But Without the U.N.) -- [OneFreeKorea]
As the Obama Administration inherits an intractable, non-compliant, bellicose, and terroristic North Korea, the administration’s great challenge is to see beyond a strategy based on concessions alone. Via GI Korea, the new administration appears to be polarizing into factions, just as the Bush Administration did eight years ago. One of the factions advocates “normalization of relations with North Korea as soon as possible,” in other words, giving even more concessions up front in the hope that maybe this time, the North Korea will feel appeased enough to threaten, kidnap, and proliferate a bit less.
US Congratulates Kosovo on One Year of Independence -- [US Department of State, DC]
The United States congratulates the people of the Republic of Kosovo as they celebrate the first anniversary of Kosovo’s historic Declaration of Independence. One year ago today Kosovo became a sovereign and independent state.
Not Where US Predators in Pakistan Are (Updated) -- [Jawa Report]
Remember how outraged we were that Sen. Feinstein had leaked classified information that the US was using bases inside of Pakistan to control our Predator strikes against al Qaeda targets? It looks like Google Earth outed the CIA base of operations first. The above can be found using Google Earth's 2006 maps.
Secret is out. Time to find a new base. Thanks Google.
Despite Kyrgyz Vote To Close U.S. Base, Gates Explores Options To Keep It Open -- [New York Times]
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that the United States might consider increasing payments to Kyrgyzstan for access to a crucial air base, just hours after the Kyrgyz Parliament voted to terminate the lease and require the Americans to vacate the base within six months.
Lieberman joins anti-terrorist caucus -- [Conneticut Post]
Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman has joined a newly-formed "Senate Caucus on WMD Terrorism" that will focus on ways for the government to respond to the potential threat of weapons of mass destruction.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Lieberman plans to seek input from the Caucus as he develops legislation to implement recommendations made last year in the Graham-Talent WMD Commission report.
Nuclear Reactor Rule Made With 9/11 in Mind - [WaPo]
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requiring makers of new nuclear power plants to design the reactors so they can withstand the impact from a large jetliner.
Ken Leonard: No Feet Required! -- [Right Pundits]
Meet Detective Ken Leonard of the High Point, North Carolina Police Department. Three years ago, he was in Taji, Iraq training local Iraqis to become policemen. While he was there, his humvee hit a roadside bomb, shredding his feet and forcing a double amputation.
...Ken’s courage, dedication, and character has been spotlighted nationally. He has been nominated for an ‘America’s Most Wanted’ All-Star - a contest to recognize first responders who go beyond the call of duty. There are a lot of heroes up for this award, but none quite like Ken Leonard. You can vote for Ken once a day, EVERY DAY, until the end of the contest on April 12th.
LSUHSC to conduct study of hyperbaric treatment for TBI & PTSD -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Dr. Paul Harch, an LSU Health Sciences Center emergency medicine professor, has been treating TBI with hyperbaric oxygen for 19 years and is starting a pilot study for vets with chronic TBI and PTSD.
The Durand Line -- [AFGHANISTAN SHRUGGED]
Being home is wonderful , but it’s slowly waning to an end. The weather here in Northern California has been cold, wet and rainy serving as a perverse amuse bouche to my return.
Going from a land of peace and plenty, back to Afghanistan; un-peaceful and without doesn’t seem to do it justice. So much to so little, in so quick a time.
Am I ready to go back? NO, I would never choose this and yet I did!
But, as I said before it calls to you. Only those that have experienced the gentle, syrup like call, know what I’m writing about. Leaving what you truly love for a scene of anarchy and violence, doesn’t make sense it any rational way. However, I still go. Pulled onward not just by duty but desire.
First Tomb Badge recipient laid to rest -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
The first recipient of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, a mere hundred yards south of the tomb he guarded in life.
Report Casts Doubt On Military's Readiness -- [Boston Globe/AP]
For the third consecutive year, a classified Pentagon assessment has concluded there is a significant risk that the US military could not respond quickly and fully to any new crisis, the Associated Press has learned.
U.S. Air Force says needs more F-22 fighters -- [Reuters]
The U.S. Air Force has determined it needs more Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-22 fighter jets than have been ordered so far, but fewer than it previously sought, the service's top uniformed officer said on Tuesday.
Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, said he would not dispute a characterization that over the coming three years the service was seeking to add 60 of the premier fighter jets to the 183 now on order, for a total of 243.
The revised request would be for a fleet totaling fewer than 381 Raptors, the previous Air Force goal, Schwartz told reporters, without disclosing the new number.
The View from the Cockpit
"American pilots haven’t shot down many enemy jets in modern times, because few nations have dared rise to the challenge of trying to fight them. That complete dominance is eroding. Some foreign-built fighters can now match or best the F‑15 in aerial combat, and given the changing nature of the threats our country is facing and the dizzying costs of maintaining our advantage, America is choosing to give up some of the edge we’ve long enjoyed, rather than pay the price to preserve it."
British Troops Mutiny -- [Strategy Page]
The British Army is facing a mutiny as the brass try to limit Internet use by the troops. On February 4th, British Ministry of Defence issued new rules that, basically, prohibited the troops from using blogs, message boards social networking sites (like Face book) or online games (which usually involve parallel use of messaging systems). The response was immediate and unexpectedly mutinous. Troops openly insisted that they would ignore the ban. Some simply pointed out that these communications tools were essential to maintaining morale.
Military Pundits -- [A Soldier's Perspective]
Troy, from bouhammer.com, and I have created a new blog called Military Pundits (www.militarypundits.com). We both realized that our military blogs tended to delve into non-military political topics and we want to avoid that. In an effort to keep our political views and our military views separate, we set up this site and have invited some great talent.
MilitaryPundits.com, my new blog-- [Bouhammer]
If you are a military blogger who would also like a forum to share your political opinions, right or left, send me an email with your blog URL and why you’d like to join. Military Pundits is designed to be an all-inclusive forum and not specifically reserved for conservatives or liberals. In the spirit of the forthcoming “Fairness Doctrine” we present this forum as a bi-partisan place to hang your hat and let your rants fly. If you don’t want to be a regular contributor but would like to write and share something every once in a while and you have served in the military, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to me directly at email@example.com and let me know.
Headline Fail: Obama bin Laden -- [Jawa Report]
So, where is Obama bin Laden hiding, anyway?
Rendezvous with Destiny Movie -- [Citizens United Productions]
After last Friday's world premiere of Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny, the reviews are in and Rendezvous With Destiny is a smash hit!
Senator George Allen said that the premiere was a "wonderful evening" and that "every person viewing this film . . . was inspired by the enduring leadership and character of my hero Ronald Reagan." On FoxNews.com, Reagan staffer James Pinkerton called it a "pioneering effort," and Politco.com said it was a "glowing portrait of our 40th president." If you haven't seen Rendezvous With Destiny yet, click here to order your copy and see what Senator Fred Thompson, Rep. Bob Livingston, Rep. Dan Lungren, Oliver North, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and 500 others saw last Friday at the Kennedy Center!
Re: crap from Robert Pelton -- [Greyhawk]
Gotta love Pelton's response to "the Army's" by-point refutation of his claims: "You're attacking the messenger!"
No doubt he'd say the same about this.
...Who gives a rat's ass about a magazine designed to sell hair gel to "men"? Part of that equation is making sniveling little cubicle dwellers feel like they're hot shot studmuffins who just need the right cologne to finally score a date with that hot chick from accounting, and a big part of that equation - along with advice on white water rafting gear they're never going to use - is making them feel superior to (and more "manly" than) guys like Lt Jones,
Dover -- [Guest post from Gold Star Father, Robert Stokely]
Met with Under Secretary of Defense, Arthur J. Myers, for 30 minutes today. Good meeting regarding the Dover Policy, but we need to keep the letters going to Secretary of Defense asking that the policy continue to prevent media access and imaging of the arrival / departure of our fallen.
An Officer Goes The Distance In 'Taking Chance' -- [USA Today]
...The Defense Department has banned virtually all media coverage of deceased vets returning home since the 1991 Gulf War, a decision currently under Pentagon review. But the military offered advice and assistance, providing Taking Chance's film crew with a rarely viewed but painstakingly accurate account of the care and protocol bestowed upon the nation's fallen warriors.
Exclusive: The Commander-in-Chief – Leading by Example -- [FSM - Tim Wilson]
...One of the most common areas of misunderstanding is of the behavior which our troops expect of their leadership, who often seem not to realize that respect, like trust, is a two-way affair. As Commander-in-Chief, the President commands respect and loyalty, but one of his most important duties is to keep that respect by his words and his actions. Once respect begins to fade, whether from lack of leadership or from failure of moral standards, it is but a short ride to lowering standards and even to dissent by a group who, while politically neutral (and hence often ignored or even disdained), control enormous practical power.
It is for that reason that, ...
Obama, Gates at Odds Over New Whistleblower Protections -- [WaPo]
...Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other top Bush appointees wrote an unusually tough letter to Congress last year asserting that the bill protecting whistleblowers would threaten national security, violate the Constitution and undermine the government's ability to safeguard legitimate secrets.
The legislation, passed this year by the House, is still being reviewed by the White House, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "We understand this is an important issue, and we're committed to addressing it in a manner that is consistent with national security," said spokeswoman Wendy Morigi, declining to comment further.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and other sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a link to the Dawn Patrol too and your trackback will be added to the list. Hat Tips to the Dawn Patrol are greatly appreciated.
More Transitions - [S4 at War - in Iraq]
The unit we replaced here spent the first half of their deployment in a predominantly kinetic fight, the area was still quite violent. During the last half of their rotation the effects of the surge and the SOI was fully realized and the area was largely pacified (as I’ve mentioned, I primarily credit the awakening for this, not the surge). In this case, it was the entire unit who transitioned from kinetic to non-kinetic operations in the course of a single deployment. That means, in order to be effective, the mindset of every soldier and officer in the unit had to adjust. It requires a completely different strategy on the part of Commanders, soldiers and NCOs have to change the way in which they interact with the public. Needless to say, in the course of a year this is an almost impossible task for a unit to accomplish. Over the course of the past five months I’ve interacted with two units who were leaving theater and had experienced the aforementioned shift in their area of operations and with both units there was a noticeably more kinetic-centric mentality.
An encouraging letter from a commander in Iraq! -- [One Marines View]
Below is a letter from one commander in Iraq. This just goes to show how much we are pulling out of the city area of Iraq and have turned it over to the Iraqi's. But you dont hear that in the news!
A Peace Sign: Iraq's Sunnis Joining Shiite Pilgrims -- [Christian Science Monitor]
In Baghdad, the improved security has led some Sunnis to once again openly participate in the mostly Shiite commemoration. Hanan Faleh Abdul Qadir, a retired accountant, this year is again openly cooking for her neighbors in Al-Adel.
Snipers, soldiers for Iraq Shiite ceremony -- [France24]
Snipers patrolled rooftops in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala on Monday as hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims, many beating their chests, mourned a revered imam under tight security after a spate of deadly attacks.
Under green and black flags, crowds of mourners chanting "Ya, Hussein" punched the air with their fists as they passed through the shrines of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas for the Arbaeen (40 days) ceremony in the holy city of Karbala.
Local officials said millions of Shiites had passed through the city over the past week, many of them having travelled long distances on foot to mark the end of the 40-day mourning period.
But the pilgrimage, which under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led regime was kept low-key with only thousands taking part, has been blighted by a string of deadly bombings.
Art in Baghdad -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
...Have the Sadrists really changed? I don't know. All I know is that they sponsored a very inclusive show, filled with some work that looks very, very good. It's a rather daring move. Most of all, it's encouraging: it means they're trying a different, more constructive approach to winning hearts and minds. With art, something that's near and dear to me.
During the time that the art show was up, a Sunni female suicide bomber walked into a tent that provided shelter for Shi'ite pilgrims on the way to Karbala. She killed herself and 40 other people, mostly women and children.
*huff* *puff* *gasp* *wheeze* -- [Castle Argghhh!! - Bill T - in Iraq]
Okay, while John's been regaling all o' y'all with guided cubicle tours, I've been dodging rotor blades and UAVs.
'Member back in January I told you we'd cranked up the Rotary Wing side of the IqAF Flight School?
Well, after weeks of front-loading the kaydets with academics and testing their Levels of Learning, today was payday.
The View From Above -- [Far from Perfect - in Iraq]
I got to thinking, I can tell people what its like to fly over hostile cities and try to keep an eye out for the bad guy with a missile or some other nefarious means to shoot me down, but can they really relate to what I am saying? Especially if they have never been in a helicopter?
Blogger's Roundtable: PACOM Commander Admiral Keating -- [BlackFive - Grim in Iraq]
Greetings from Baghdad. I realize this is the first you've heard from me since I left, but this time they have me out a lot more, and I have little time for anything other than work.
I was able to make time for a Blogger's Roundtable conversation with Admiral Keating, the PACOM commander. For those readers who are not expert on the military structure, this makes him the peer of General Petraeus, who is currently the CENTCOM commander.
CENTCOM is always in the news, but PACOM is our real center of gravity. That is true not only because the command encompasses more than half of the earth, as the admiral pointed out, but because of the importance of the shipping routes. If...
Thoughts on Pants -- [Bad Dogs and Such - in Iraq]
TOne occasionally wonders, doing this, if one is seeing something significant. I spent today at a district-wide economic development conference.
Now, this is the sort of thing that did not happen the last time I was here. But now? There was actually discussion of travel and tourism potential in the southern Kirkuk province. Crazy.
Of course, I spent a couple of minutes thinking about the overall significance of this ...
The Hand Off -- [Down Range 46 - in Iraq]
They call it a RIP-TOA. That, of course, is just another army acronym for some army term that is just to long to say out loud, over and over. What is stands for is Relief In Place - Transfer of Authority.
In civilian terms it means replacing one army unit with another in order to seamlessly transfer authority for an ongoing mission without screwing it all up, dropping the ball or losing ground. That's
Iraq and Evolution to Revolution -- [The Intrepid Reporter - in Iraq]
Greetings and Salutations from Iraq, the country that time, common sense and anything Decent forgot!!!
I’m live (for now) here at the Baghdad Kit Kat Klub, formerly known as the Saddam-A-Go-Go and hanging pretty regularly in the Sinbad Bar and Grill at the BIAP Hotel and Convention Center. I’m regular enough to know all of the wait-staff, and am now pretty familiar with the “movers and shakers” here in country. The Sinbad is the magnet for “People of Power” who wish to chill, among which are NSA, CIA and State Department types… Me? I get by ‘cause I know the owner of the place. Yeah, it’s all about who you know, or if female, who you blow. To a point, I spent one night getting boozed up with a member of the Iraqi Parliament, Mr. Nabeel Musawi, who is listed as the “Leader of the Loyal Opposition” in many theaters, but is also a member of the Iraqi National Congress. Yepper, the Old Intrepid Reporter is moving up in the world, and partying with peeps who are the “top o’ da top” here in theater.
Truthfully, it was a fascinating time hanging with “Naib” as I called him, which is short for his name Nabeel, and also Arabic for “Chief.”
We Are 20% There -- [Blogs over Baghdad - in Iraq]
Everything felt better the next morning when I was able to meet the unit we would be replacing. I was not expecting to be driving around the IZ in a Suburban or a Ford mini-van. I was also shocked to find out that contracted Peruvian and Ugandans, not U.S. soldiers would be providing security at the checkpoints. I came to Iraq assuming Arabic would be the predominate language, only to find myself learning more Spanish and Swahili.
Sometimes I feel like this deployment is a social experiment. Baghdad has become a melting pot of cultures and beliefs.
A librarian’s labour of love for Afghanistan -- [Financial Times]
...“Everyone says you can’t move, you can’t travel, it’s too dangerous,” she says. “But here it’s like the old days. Acted people pop in and out and say, ‘Well, I’m off to Pul-i-Khumri, see you in a few days.’” Despite the tense, watchful security guard at the front door, who double-checks my credentials when I knock, and despite the high walls and the razor wire that hem in Kabul’s expats, there is at least a semblance of normality in the guesthouse. The sound of a drinks party and barbecue is just audible from the garden.
200 Years In The Kingdom of Kabul -- [Outside the Wire - JD Johannes]
As we move toward the official 200-year mark of western involvement in the region, it would behoove the Obama administration to read Elphinstone and understand that compared to the deeply ingrained identity and traits of the Pathans, the 200 years of varying adventures by British, Russians, Soviets and now the U.S. are just another in a long series of attempts that have usually failed and at best marginally succeeded.
The Kyhber is almost a rite of passage for the great empires. The only great empire that didn't make it to the Kyber was the Roman.
The White House -- [Battlefield Tourist - in Afghanistan]
The gunner’s doors were open which sent a 120 mph+ frigid wind straight through me, reminding me of a time in Iraq when I made the mistake of sitting in the “hurricane seat”. I had to dig deep to turn off the cold for the short 15 minute ride to Musa Qala.
Once there, I was led into the “White House”, which the Marines say was an old hotel and former Taliban compound. Most of the Marines were out for the night, so I spent the day catching up on some writing and gear maintenance.
74-Year Old Deploying To Afghanistan
Newest US troops in dangerous region near Kabul -- [Herald Tribune /AP]
Close to 3,000 American soldiers who recently arrived in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul have begun operations in the field and already are seeing combat, the unit's spokesman said Monday.
The new troops are the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements this year. The process began to take shape under President George Bush but has been given impetus by President Barack Obama's call for an increased focus on Afghanistan.
Getting our act together in Afghanistan -- [FP - Tom Ricks]
Here is a guest report from my friend Maj. Daniel Morgan, who is not the Revolutionary War general, but who is nearing the end of a tour of duty with 101st Airborne in Afghanistan (and also has a couple of Iraq tours under his belt).
As I wind up here and think through things, I want to address what I think is the main focus here for success from a BCT [brigade combat team] perspective. . . . . [M]y belief is that for Afghanistan, the following three principles apply: ...
Taliban Steals US Supplies
"Ren Faire" Three: Afghanistan: The Air War -- [BlackFive - Laughing_Wolf]
Speaker is Maj. General William J. Rew, director of Operational Planning, Polic and Strategy, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operaions, Plans and Requirements, U.S. Air Force. His title is "Air Power Supporting the Irregular Warefare Fight in Afghanistan"
What you may have picked up is that I am on staff in the Pentagon, I am not fresh from the field... Therefore, brought along a friend (Bill Hyatt, Brig. Gen.) who has field experience.
Five months ago, ...
Task Force White Eagle participates in largest shura in Andar since 2003 -- [War on Terror News]
KABUL, Afghanistan – More than 200 Andar village elders met with Col. Rajmund Andrzejczak, Task Force White Eagle Commander, Feb. 5th for the biggest shura in the village since 2003.
What a difference intent makes. Well, and those drugs, too. -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
AFghan forces raided a compound and secured a large quantity of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment during the search, including:
...The ANA protected 29 men, 35 women and 41 children during the operation.
Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Taliban Commander -- [Voice of America]
Afghan and coalition military forces say they have killed a key Taliban commander with an airstrike in western Afghanistan, near the Turkmenistan border.
A joint military statement Monday said the airstrike in Darya-ye-Morghab in Badghis province late Sunday killed Taliban regional commander Ghulam Dastagir and eight of his associates, when it destroyed the building where they had gathered.
US airstrike in Pakistan's Kurram tribal agency kills 30 -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
The US appears to be expanding its campaign of cross-border strikes into Pakistan after several unmanned US Predator aircraft conducted multiple attacks in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of Kurram.
Obama Decision on Afghan Troop Level Coming Soon -- [Voice of America]
A spokesman for US President Barack Obama says a decision on how many additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan will be made shortly. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday aboard Air Force One that the decision will be made within days and not weeks.
TALIBAN BULLIES PAKISTAN INTO ACCEPTING SHARIAH LAW -- [Traditional Values.org]
Obama Administration Watches as Brutal Islamic Law is Imposed
February 17, 2009 – Washington, DC – The Traditional Values Coalition charged today that one “change” in foreign policy being implemented by the Obama Administration will have a deadly effect on Christians, women and all others deemed “infidels” by the violent Islamic Taliban in Pakistan.
Pakistan - Taliban Deal
Pakistan Makes a Taliban Truce, Creating a Haven -- [New York TImes]
The government announced Monday that it would accept a system of Islamic law in the Swat valley and agreed to a truce, effectively conceding the area as a Taliban sanctuary and suspending a faltering effort by the army to crush the insurgents.
Video: BLUF Threaten to Murder American John Solecki in Hostage Video -- [Jawa Report]
American UN worker John Solecki is seen in this Taliban hostage video below. In it he is blindfolded and says he is sick. He also can be heard begging the UN to "solve the problems". It's not clear what that means, but it's likely that his Taliban hostage takers forced him to make the statement.
Hillary Clinton to Meet US Troops on Yongsan -- [ROK Drop]
For all you USFK servicemembers stationed in Seoul, look at who is coming to town:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to visit a U.S. military base in Seoul during her trip here later this week, a South Korean government official said Tuesday.
“It is my understanding that the U.S. side is preparing for Secretary Clinton’s meeting with American troops,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “The U.S. seems to be trying to set her visit schedule.”
Clinton Greeted With A Threat -- [Los Angeles Times]
North Korea threatened Monday to test a missile capable of reaching the United States, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton began consultations with regional leaders on the security threat from the reclusive state, the global economic crisis and other issues.
British-French Nuclear-armed Submarine Collision Disclosed -- [Voice of America]
A British official said nuclear-armed submarines from Britain and France collided deep under the Atlantic Ocean while on separate exercises earlier this month, but limited details are only now emerging.
..."A few days ago, the submarines came into contact at very low speed. Both submarines remained safe. No injuries occurred. We can confirm the capability remain unaffected and there was no compromise to nuclear safety," he said.
Why Boomers Collide -- [Strategy Page]
Earlier, on February 6th, France had announced that The Le Triomphant had collided with some unknown underwater object, causing some damage to its sonar dome. Ten days later, the French admitted that they had lied, trying to cover up what really happened. By then, civilians had seen that the Vanguard had dents and scrapes along its side, indicating that the some other vessel had made contact with a long portion of the Vanguard's hull. This was visible on February 14th, as the Vanguard returned, early, to its base in Scotland.
Sunday’s great Texas fireball was – probably – just a meteor. -- [Houston Chronicle]
Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Strategic Command said the bright lights witnessed over Texas skies were almost certainly not linked to last week’s collision between an American commercial satellite and a Russian government communications satellite.
Where's bin Laden? Science may hold the answer -- [USA Today]
Fugitive terrorist Osama bin Laden is most likely hiding out in a walled compound in a Pakistani border town, according to a satellite-aided geographic analysis released today.
On Al-Jazeera TV, Kuwaiti Prof Suggests a Biological Attack on White House, Prays for Bombing of Nuclear Plant on Lake Michigan -- [MEMRI Blog]
Abdallah Al-Nafisi: "Four pounds of anthrax – in a suitcase this big – carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S., are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour, if it is properly spread in population centers there.
"What a horrifying idea. 9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings, and so on.
"One person, with the courage to carry four pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this 'confetti' all over them, and then will do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real 'celebration.'
Recruiting Blondes For The Cause -- [Strategy Page]
Even before September 11, 2001, there was evidence that al Qaeda was actively recruiting "Western" looking people, men and women, for the purpose of circumventing any resort to profiling to detect terrorist operations. Terrorists have apparently been having some success. The presence of small numbers of "white" – even blond haired-and blue eyed – trainees in al Qaeda training camps in Waziristan has been confirmed. Some of these trainees are ...
Gitmo detainee: "I do pose a threat to the United States and its allies.... I am a Muslim jihadist" -- [Jihad Watch]
"But despite his statements and some potential evidence — he was captured with a bag of various currencies and passports from several countries — some legal experts say it may be difficult for the United States to bring charges against him under the law as it stood in 2001."
"Gitmo detainee: 'I do pose a threat'" by Peter Finn and Julie Tate for the Washington Post, February 16:
Close Station and March Order, Gitmo. -- [The Armorer]
Close Station, March Order. That's artillery-speak for prepare to move to a new position, and President Obama has issued a CSMO directive regarding the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
Allow me to offer the reasons that my neck of the woods, Fort Leavenworth, isn't an optimal choice to be the next battery position for the detainees.
NEFA Foundation: AQIM Denies Surrender of Commander Abou Tamim Amine -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained and translated a new communiqué, dated February 3, denying reports of the surrender of Abou Tamim Amine (a.k.a. Ben Touati Ali). According to the statement, “following the… imprisonment of Brother Amine-the commander of the al-Ansar Brigade, may Allah protect him-last week while traveling en route to a jihadi mission, several news agencies mentioned the news, and they cited two stories. The first story, the accurate one, included the phrase 'the capture of.' But, the other false story is the one that certain media agencies, directed by the intelligence agencies, rushed to report-alleging that Brother Amine had surrendered to the apostates, and that he had served as their agent for a long while.
Despite Obama pledge, Justice defends Bush secrets -- [AP]
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite President Obama's promise of more open government, the Justice Department is resisting pressure to release documents the Bush administration kept secret about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.
Worth Seeing -- [Soldiers' Angels Network]
This is a special video of the superb care our troops receive during transport from Iraq and or Afghanistan to Germany and to the USA . Professionals one and all. Worth viewing. .
Just in Case -- [Hooah Wife]
I would like to share with you this amazing military-inspired song that sent chills down my spine. There is an intro with the explanation for the inspiration of this song that is very much worth a listen. You see, Joe Merrick, the singer and song writer is someone I went to school with and was always labeled a very talented musician and a great guy. Oh, and the drummer, Dave Dicenso is also my friend from birth. It is nice to see these guys living thier dreams and doing it so well. You can purchase the song for download here. Joe will also be working in some capacity with Soldiers’ Angels in the near future for the launch of his CD later this year. I think he will have a big following before it comes out. Let me know what you think!
A mile of American flags honor fallen Matagorda soldier -- [One Marine's View]
MATAGORDA, Texas – A 20 mile procession, carrying 100 American flags, began in Bay City and went all the way to a rural home in Matagorda. It was to honor a father, a son, and a brother who was killed in Iraq.
The High cost of Force Portection - [Murdoc Online]
The current cost to out fit a U.S. soldier is about $17,500, primarilt for body armor and other protection. But the ratio of wounded to killed soldiers is far less than previous wars. Futeure costs may double.
A ‘fraud’ bigger than Madoff -- [The Independent]
Senior US soldiers investigated over missing Iraq reconstruction billions — In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn
Pentagon Rethinks Photo Ban on Coffins Bearing War Dead -- [WaPo]
For Obama, changing the policy would carry some political risk as he ramps up the war effort in Afghanistan with tens of thousands of fresh troops, increasing the likelihood of combat deaths that could produce photographs of numerous coffins arriving at one time at Dover, the sole U.S. port of entry for the remains. At the same time, Obama has advocated transparency in government, and continuing to hide the Dover ritual from public view conflicts with that principle as well as with public opinion on the issue, polls indicate.
"Showing these pictures would remind people of the war," said S. Robert Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. But he added that "what turns people against a war is not knowledge that Americans are dying but the belief that they are not dying for something" worthwhile.
A Record of Sacrifice -- [NY Times]
Finally, it looks as if this misguided policy — which dishonors the war dead — may be changing.
At a news conference last week, President Obama promised to review the ban, first imposed during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. If his commitment to greater transparency in government has any meaning, he will quickly reverse the photo blackout.
There seems to be no serious objection from Defense Secretary Robert Gates,
A Matter Of Honor -- [Newsweek - John Barry]
I witnessed the ceremony at Dover. I'm not sure it needs flashbulbs.
I saw the coffins arrive by accident. I was at Dover Air Force Base a couple of years ago pursuing another story on my Pentagon beat, and a senior Air Force officer took me to watch the giant C-17 arrive and discharge its melancholy cargo. The scene was off the record; no press or photographers allowed. As I recall, there were six coffins and a few small clumps of civilians to receive them.
...There were no bugles. No bands. There was no pageantry—just the heavy tread of the honor guard in a ritual perfected through much repetition. It was an event so moving in its intimacy and restraint, out there on the acres of concrete, that I felt an intruder. I was glad there were no waiting cameras and flashbulbs.
The Marine Behind "Taking Chance" (mp3)
Lt.Col Mike Strobl, USMC stops by the Editor's Desk to talk about his moving story "Taking Chance" that has been made into an HBO movie starring Kevin Bacon. How did escorting the remains of a fallen warrior change Mike's life? What does he think about the average American's attitude toward the military and national sacrifice?
Bacon ‘Taking Chance’ on war movie -- [Boston Herald]
“I felt like this was a story that needs to be told,” Bacon said. “It’s not just about Iraq, but it’s about Vietnam and Korea and World War II. It’s really a story about war, and it’s told from a really unique perspective.
“I hope that people are emotionally connected to (this movie) and that they go back to realizing that there is a price to pay for war,” he said. “It’s not just about the economy or a vote in a ballot box. It’s human life, on both sides. But we’re still respectful in honoring those men and women, who often look like boys and girls to me, who are over there putting themselves in harm’s way.”
CBS News fooled by Faux military equipment in Pakistan -- [THE VOICE OF WARRIORS]
Everyone who has been in the military, especially to Iraq or Afghanistan, within the last few years needs to watch the first part of this video. Look at the "military equipment" CBS is pushing as recently stolen or "looted" from US Forces.
...This video is suspect to say the least. I'm not saying it's fake, but CBS didn't show what they said they were showing.
Miracle Cure? -- [Jules Crittenden]
Anti-war scribbler goes to Iraq, starts to get it. Fascinating, if foul-mouthed “Open letter to a craven reporter in Iraq” at Huffington Post denounces a lefty darling’s agenda-driven reporting, praises the military’s practical approach, talks about some harsh facts on the ground, and speaks out for doing the right thing by the Iraqi people. Sort of an updated, extended-play dance mix of “Holiday in Cambodia.” We’ll kick it off with his closer, but you’ll want to go read it yourself.
Open Letter to a Craven Reporter on Iraq -- [Greyhawk]
...at the Huffington Post.
Read the whole thing. I'm left with the impression that S.D. Liddick, while addressing his post to a specific individual, is aiming for a broader audience. Perhaps he has the degree of credibility with that audience that will allow his message to take root, maybe even grow.
That said, there's nothing he writes that couldn't have been written two years ago at the height of the surge, or before that
Liberals Hate the Military Until They Need or Meet Them -- [ENVIRONMENTAL REPUBLICAN]
Libs amuse me when it comes to all things military. They are completely clueless and enjoy being that way whenever it comes to writing about or referring to the military.
Marine One: Costly Choppers -- [CBS]
Defense analyst Daniel Goure argues the new Marine One must be able to completely protect the president. The armored helicopter would be equipped with tons of communications gear and defensive systems capable of fending off missiles and even the effects of a nuclear blast.
DANIEL GOURE [Defense Analyst]: The president will be able to do anything and everything he does on Air Force One or from the National Command Post in the White House.
ORR: The Pentagon says it needs 28 of the helicopters because they have to cover the president everywhere he goes, usually three at each stop. This week, for example, there’ll be choppers in Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, and Ottawa. But critics say the helicopters are the latest example of out-of-control spending, especially unaffordable in the current recession.
And Lt. Col. Gene Boyer, who flew Marine One the day Richard Nixon resigned, says there’s no way the government needs 28 of them.
The Next Secretary of the Army: What Not to Look For -- [Abu Muqawama]
I keep hearing rumors Arnold Punaro is going to be named the next Secretary of the Army. Not that my opinion matters, but I am not cool with that. Why? Well, how about the fact that his current employer is responsible for approximately 50% of the contracts for the Future Combat Systems (FCS) and that Punaro's job responsibilities include lobbying on behalf of that particular weapons system -- which is über-controversial in defense policy circles.
Now I understand that the Washington system means that qualified public servants and good men like Mr. Punaro go back and forth between government service and private enterprise.
Non-Partisan Poll -- [Jules Crittenden]
Loves Lincoln, shoves Bush down to 36. Apparently non-partisan historians don’t think much of thwarting terrorism attacks and freeing 50 million people from tyranny.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Mending Fences -- [Bullet Wisdom - in Iraq]
Over the last week, we had two objectives. First, we had to get out into our battle space and find where we fit in the grand scheme of things. Just tackling the weekly rhythm alone was a daunting task. There were meetings scattered all over the calendar and the map.
We quickly realized ...
Semper Gumby -- [The Stone Report - in Iraq]
This is the life of a fobbit. Wake-up, eat, work in the office, eat, work, bitch about working, work-out, eat, sleep.
It doesn’t really feel like I’m in Iraq. The only major inconveniences I have are walking everywhere and the nine hour time difference from Fort Worth. When my wife and mother ask me if they need me to send them anything, I’m stuck because I can’t think of anything I can’t get here at the Victory Base Complex.
Female Muslim Kills 32 Iraqi Pilgrims -- [Sweetness & Light]
From those defenders of the faith at Reuters:
...So was this murderer one of those women recruited by “The Mother Of Believers” to become a terrorist after she had been raped by Al Qaeda – to set her on their path?
Funny how Reuters doesn’t mention that.
Lest we forget, it was a Muslim attack on the Golden Mosque that begat the so-called “insurgency” in Iraq, and the death of so many of our brave soldiers.
But of course our media ignored that angle, too.
Instead, we were to believe that it was all about how much the Iraqis wanted the US to leave their country.
Iraq: Good News Is No News -- [WaPo - Charles Krauthammer]
...One leading conservative thinker had concluded as early as 2004 that democracy in Iraq was "a childish fantasy." Another sneered that the 2005 election that brought Maliki to power was "not an election but a census" -- meaning people voted robotically according to their ethnicity and religious identity. The implication being that these primitives have no conception of democracy, and that trying to build one there is a fool's errand.
What was lacking in all this condescension is what the critics so pride themselves in having -- namely, context. What did they expect in the first elections after 30 years of totalitarian rule that destroyed civil society and systematically annihilated any independent or indigenous leadership? The only communal or social ties remaining after Saddam Hussein were those of ethnicity and sect.
France Working For U.S.-Iran Dialogue -- [MEMRI Blog]
Senior Iraqi sources have said that in a meeting, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki discussed Iraq's help in advancing the U.S.-Iran dialogue.
Night of the COINdinistas -- [Abu Muqawama]
*"The successes of Iraq have given rise to some very prominent and powerful officers in the U.S. Army. Has one of the side effects of the development of counter-insurgency theory been a new crisis in political-military relations?" (This is the question as I remember it and was probably not what Thomas said. But I think the "soldier and the state" question post-Iraq is a really good one.)
Feinstein Leaks Classified Info-- US Drones Flown From Paki Base -- [Gateway Pundit]
Senator Dianne Feinstein (Dem-CA) leaked classified information to the press yesterday damaging US and Pakistani operations against Taliban radicals.
A Walk in the Desert -- [A Battlefield Tourist - in Afghanistan]
Getting to Know the Neighbors
These presence patrols are designed o gather information on the surrounding villages that will help the Americans understand what and who they’re dealing with in regards to the locals that live in relative close proximity to the COP. In all, 20 of us, including myself, an interpreter and a combat correspondent left COP Barrow around 1400 straight out of the base toward the first of three objectives, which were small settlements no more than three miles out.
NATO and Poppy: The War Over Revenue Part 2 -- [Captain's Journal]
In NATO and Poppy: The War Over Revenue, we discussed the U.S. and NATO program (then in the planning stages) to eradicate poppy since it provides a revenue stream to the Taliban. The Taliban also create income from marble quarries in Pakistan, extortion of cell phone providers in Afghanistan, ransom from kidnapping, and “protection” of small businesses.
Dispatches from FOBistan: Fixing Afghanistan Starts With Fixing Ourselves -- [Registan.net - in Afghanistan]
BAGRAM AIR BASE, AFGHANISTAN — I had dinner tonight with a Lieutenant Colonel, and we were chit chatting about the various institutional barriers the Army faces in fighting this war. He brought up the idea that, indeed, the Army remains what he calls a “Peace Time Army,” that is one still geared toward long deployments home, an obsession with low casualties to the detriment of all else, and an obsessive garrison-like preoccupation with
British To Play Smaller Role As US Troops Fight 'Losing Battle' -- [London Times]
Britain's military is to be handed a significantly diminished role on the front line in southern Afghanistan when President Obama completes a strategic review of a war that US officials say is in danger of being lost.
Holbrooke In Kabul To Revise Strategy -- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The new U.S. regional envoy landed in Afghanistan yesterday to help chart President Obama's strategy for peace in this volatile country, a day after a bold Taliban assault demonstrated the insurgency's ability to wreak havoc even in the tightly guarded capital.
The Dance Of Death -- [Strategy Page]
NATO and U.S. forces have developed a playbook for how new replacement and reinforcing units can best fight the pro-Taliban militias in southern Afghanistan.
Kabul attacks--the good news -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
The Afghan security forces conducted the response themselves:
A bloody day in Kabul
Amid a terrifying Taliban attack, I got a first-hand view of the progress made by Afghan security forces
Deadly attacks in Afghan capital - by Al Jazeera - 2nd UPDATE: Death Toll From Kabul Attacks Reach 26
Let’s Think About Kabul -- [Registan.net - in Afghanistan]
“Well, maybe you can get us through, ’cause they’re saying the gate’s locked down.”
“What do you mean?” As I said that, we came along a humvee parked diagonally across Disney Road, with a few soldiers and a few ANP providing slung machine guns. “Let me see what’s going on, I’ll call you back.” We pulled around to a side lot, and my colleague and I walked up to the U.S. soldier standing watch. As we got close, he waved to us.
“Sirs, you’ll have to step back. The base is on lockdown and no one is getting on or off today.”
Does this mean Karzai is no longer even the mayor of Kabul? -- [Abu Muqawama]
President Obama told his strategic review team to get busy on Afghanistan yesterday and has given them 60 days. I'm not sure we have that much time.
... the Taliban pulled a Mumbai on Kabul, only instead of shooting up hotels they went directly after the government.
More Thoughts on Kabul -- [Abu Muqawama]
Kip (remember Kip?) wrote in to offer comment on yesterday's post:
I understand the emotional underpinning of your reaction to today's attack in Kabul and the need for urgency in doing something, anything and quickly. On the other hand I disagree with your assessment that an attack of this magnitude (essentially a few suicide bombers and a squad of insurgents) demonstrates on its own the strength of the insurgency. Terrorism, which is what this is, is not necessarily an indicator of strength of the Taliban in Kabul but more likely an indication of continued weakness within the capital.
Live Blogging a Volcano -- [Dude, where's the beach?]
Yep, we're heading up north to Alaska on Friday to pay homage to my adopted home state. To maintain our residency status we need to travel there a certain amount of time every two years. If flying out on Friday the 13th wasn't bad enough, we're heading to Anchorage, which is right in the path of the soon to be erupting Mt Redoubt.
Financial Crisis Called Top Security Threat To U.S. -- [Washington Post]
...In fact, during the nearly two-hour hearing, Blair took lawmakers on a virtual tour of every other major and minor security threat, from terrorism and cyber-attacks to the country's evolving relations with Russia and China.
Missile Extortion Goes On, Gates Hints at Taepodong Shootdown, Worthlessness of U.N. Again on Display -- [OneFreeKorea]
Chinese fishing vessels have vanished from the region of the Yellow Sea near the Northern Limit Line, which means that the North may be preparing to test a few short-range missiles. The North’s preparations to test a long-range Taepodong II also continue. The likely launch site now looks to be Musudan-ri on the East coast, not the new West coast site I published images of here. According to the Chosun Ilbo, the missile has now arrived at the launch site.
Secretary of State Clinton, in Asia this week, delivered this iron writ of deterrence against an act that would be a flagrant violation of two (ho hum) U.N. Security Council Resolutions:
Korea Warns US of Protectionism -- [ROK Drop]
It seems a bit ironic to me that South Korea is a country calling for an end to protectionism considering their past protectionist history:
Poland wants enhanced military commitment from US -- [AP]
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland expects the United States to carry through with its promises of deeper military cooperation even if President Barack Obama
U.S. offers Moscow concession on missile shield -- [Reuters]
The United States is ready to look at re-modeling its missile defense plans to include Moscow, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Friday in a concession to Russian opposition.
The Kremlin has been pressing Washington to give ground on the proposed missile shield in exchange for Russia helping supply the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan -- a priority for new President Barack Obama.
Spy Agencies Say China Is Expanding Its Military Forces and Ambitions -- [US News]
China is upgrading and expanding its conventional military forces as well as its antisatellite missiles and its nuclear forces, the new Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress. The hearing, before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was an annual briefing about the current and future threats to the nation.
Bin Laden Burned in Effigy by Muslims -- [Jawa Report]
(Ghazipur, India) Indian Muslims are becoming prominently vocal in their opposition to al-Qaeda.
When Shooting An RPG Goes Bad
NEFA Report - "'The Eleven': Saudi Guantanamo Veterans Returning to the Fight" -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has released a new report I have written titled, “The Eleven: Saudi Guantanamo Veterans Returning to the Fight.” The report includes in-depth profiles of eleven former Saudi detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are now listed on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s roster of its 85 “most wanted” terrorist suspects
Why worry? They're probably just hitting on girls at the mall. -- [Abu Muqawama]
If you haven't been scared to death recently, by all means click on this link (.pdf). 11 of these dudes were in Gitmo. The Saudis are asking for help finding these guys. For those of you who already have trouble sleeping, there is probably no need to read any of this.
VALENTINES FOR TROOPS 2009 -- [VALENTINES FOR TROOPS]
JOIN US FOR VALENTINES DAY 2009 . IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEND SOME VALENTINES TO THE TROOPS, GO TO www.AnySoldier.com . THERE YOU CAN GET ADDRESSES
OF SOLDIERS WHO WOULD LOVE TO GET SOME VALENTINES THIS YEAR
More, Please Sir -- [Strategy Page]
The U.S. Air Force has decided, by popular demand from air force personnel, to bring back the Good Conduct Medal for enlisted troops. Three years ago, it was decided to eliminate the award, mainly because there were too few air force personnel who didn't qualify for it.
Is Your Military Man a Fake? -- [CinCHouse.com]
The story of Eric Cooper, the Houston man who claimed to be a Navy pilot and duped nine women into marrying him, must terrify the thousands of women who date men claiming to be in the military. To make matters worse, many of these relationships develop over the Internet when the service member is on deployment, leaving girlfriends feeling helpless to check the backgrounds of their sweethearts.
Is NPR Treasonous - An Essay -- [A Soldier's Perspective - CJ]
...We need to break that down a bit first. The first question would have to be: Does NPR "owe allegience to the United States"? According to its mission statement, NPR only owes allegiance to its "members in matter of their mutural interest". It's not a government agency, but it is a non-profit United States incorporated organization. I guess the better question would be to ask NPR if they owe allegience to the United States. If they do not, then we revoke their non-profit status and send them somewhere (Iraq?) where they DO owe allegiance. If they owe allegiance to the United States, then I guess they would be legally guilty of treason.
With that said, let's push all this aside for a moment and get more personal. What if this Abu Abdul Aziz character was responsible for the death of Jonathan Roberge earlier this week? He was just 22 years old and no
The Media’s Actions On A Daily Basis Is Why We Have the Policy To Begin With -- [Thunder Run]
Robert’s post on Tuesday has been getting quite a bit of airplay at several other blogs and has generated quite a response at a few others. Andi at SpouseBuzz writes in reference to the possibility of removing the policy, and its possible effect
When Military Caskets Come Home -- (Letter) -- [Washington Post]
...Giving military members a say, here and now, in matters concerning the hereafter is, perhaps, one of the greatest honors of all.
British TV’s Nasty Spin on the U.S. -- [PJM]
Stephen Fry, who loves Americans, nevertheless irritated me in his BBC America series, for which he traveled across the U.S.
...Fry goes to Washington, D.C., and refers to the points of interest as “nationalistic symbols.” I know my British friends of many years’ standing think Americans are “nationalistic,” but I challenge any nation on earth to boast as inspiring a spot as the Lincoln Memorial. James Wales, the head of Wikipedia, tells Fry, “America has a very bad reputation all around the world for various reasons.”
Stimulus Bill Would Aid Military Homeowners, Wounded -- [Washington Post]
To help military personnel forced to sell their homes amid the current real estate crisis, the compromise stimulus bill contains $555 million for the secretary of defense to acquire title to a military person's property or reimburse the individual for losses after a private sale or foreclosure. The bill also includes nearly $3 billion in construction funds to repair and modernize military facilities.
Cut the Military Budget (Make Levees, Not War) -- [Huffington Post]
...there is one budget topic that is rarely discussed inside the D.C. Beltway--our massive, unstable, and unsustainable war economy. This seems like a huge oversight, since this is one of the few places remaining where real money can be found to fund the programs that President Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership promised during the 2008 campaign, including a new "green jobs" economy, health care for everyone, and union jobs with good wages and benefits.
We know the military budget--plus the war spending--skyrocketed during the Bush/Cheney years.
So why don't we look across the Potomac River to the Department of Defense, which has enjoyed those massive Bush/Cheney funding increases? After all, it's been two decades since the Berlin Wall and the Cold War collapsed, and six years since everyone but Dick Cheney admitted that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq--so do we really still need all the entire, expensive DOD wish list?
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Maliki says US era of Iraq dominance is over -- [Khaleej Times Online /AFP]
BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Tuesday that the era of US dominance was over, in a broadside to Washington almost six years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
The Shiite premier, boosted by the strong showing by his allies in provincial elections, said Iraq was now taking charge of its own destiny and was making good progress toward rebuilding the war-torn country.
His remarks were a pointed rebuke to US Vice President Joe Biden, who last week said Washington would have to be “more aggressive” in pushing Baghdad toward faster political reform.
“The time for putting pressure on Iraq is over,” Maliki told reporters, asked about Biden’s comments
A Signing Ceremony -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
Today was the culmination of the working group that I was involved with over the weekend. There was a ceremony in which the US transferred ownership of the Basrah Children's Hospital to Iraq's Ministry of Health.
WHAT WE WILL BE DOING -- [TownHall - Soldier - in Iraq]
I was asked if I could talk about what we will be doing while deployed to Iraq. My team will be advising a DBE Battalion, Department of Border Enforcement, on operations, logistics, personnel, training and so on. We will be working side by side with them helping to build their capabilities for when we leave Iraq.
[Hack] -- [Bad Dogs and Such - in Iraq]
The dust has returned. It was hazy this morning, outright dusty by afternoon, and it's now best described as thick.
We don't tend to run non-essential missions when the visibility is limited, so if doesn't lift, my entertainment for tomorrow is in jeopardy. That's no good, because I'm on a roll this week - two for two at getting lunch provided by someone other than the US Army.
14 Soldiers compete for the title of Kalsu Idol -- [Task Force Mountain - in Iraq]
Keeping in the spirit of the TV show, the judges depicted the original hosts of “American Idol.” The judges also volunteered to be the ones who would decide the fate of the contestants.
The competition began with a variety of songs, ranging from “Lady Marmalade” to “We Belong Together” to “Tom Sawyer.”
Following their performances, contestants faced the judges for praise or constructive criticism.
Iraqi Rock Group Welcomed to US by Metallica
It was a heavy metal miracle. Acrassicauda had been through hell as a rock band in wartime Baghdad. Its practice space was bombed. Its members were branded Satan worshipers and received death threats...
Boots On The Ground -- [Down Range 46 - in Iraq]
Boots On Ground is a term often used in the army vernacular. Essentially, it refers to a Soldier actually standing on the soil or location of a military operation. The 211th MPAD is now in a state of having Boots On Ground. We are here, in Iraq, a war zone.
The Eagle Went over the Mountain -- [Michael Yon]
This after action was compiled to illustrate the difficulties and challenges that Marines will face when deployed to the Helmand and Farah Provinces of Afghanistan. The average enemy fighter in Afghanistan has been fighting continuously for the last thirty years. As a nation, the people of Afghanistan have been fighting for thousands of years. It should come as no surprise that the enemy has developed very effective tactics, techniques and procedures to combat a technologically superior enemy that relies on armored vehicles for transport.
I Joined the Taliban for the Hashish Not the Beheadings, Dude. -- [Jawa Report]
Is this story just too awesome to be true, or what? Arab Times:
[T]he suspect, a former drug addict, decided to go to Afghanistan to consume drugs and grew his beard to give him the look of a Jihadist. After arriving in Afghanistan the man joined a training camp and one week later asked fellow trainees to guide him to the place where hashish is grown. When he arrived at the spot, he took to consuming drugs, says the case papers.
When the Taleban saw him, they were shocked and they came to the conclusion that he had not come to Afghanistan to fight a holy war. So, they asked him to leave.
Afghanistan's Wicked Problems -- [Austin Bay]
The problems afflicting Afghanistan and its violent neighborhood are maliciously complex -- "wicked" problems to use a catchphrase.
"Wicked" problems are dynamic and multidimensional -- intricate, constantly changing challenges that frustrate precise definition. As a wicked problem evolves, we can learn a lot about it -- useful knowledge informing constructive action. But ...
Is Afghanistan Worth It? -- [Captain's Journal]
confluence of events and articles is focusing attention on the question(s) “Why are we in Afghanistan?” and “Is it worth it?” A main stream media reporter recently sent The Captain’s Journal a note questioning what would happen if the U.S. and Britain completely pulled out of Afghanistan? This reporter isn’t alone. The likes of Dr. John Nagl, Michael Yon, Bill Roggio and Dr. David Kilcullen have recently weighed in on a number of both directly and tangentially related issues concerning whether we stay in Afghanistan and what the campaign should look like if we do.
Taliban assault ministries in Kabul -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Nineteen reported killed, more than 50 wounded in suicide attacks and gun battles at the Justice and Education ministries and a prison office.
Afstan, Canada and the US -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
CLARIFICATION: This story, which was originally published online on Monday, reported that a senior general said an extension of the Afghan mission of some Canadian troops was being considered during the national election this summer. While the general said contingency plans were being considered to provide security during the campaign, he did not specify an extension of the current troop rotation was under review.
Lieberman Calls For Comprehensive Political-Military Campaign Plan for Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan -- [SWJ]
In an address, on 29 January, to the Brookings Institution, Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) outlined a comprehensive civil-military campaign with five major elements to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Iran ready for U.S. dialogue -- [Reuters]
The Iranian president's comment that Tehran is ready for talks based on mutual respect with its arch-foe came a day after Obama told a news conference that he saw the possibility of diplomatic openings with Iran in the months ahead.
Mixed Signals From Iran
Ahmadinejad said that he is willing to speak to U.S. leaders in order to address fledgling relations, although his actions may suggest otherwise.
Change! Obama to Lift Sanctions Against Syria & May Allow Travel to Cuba -- [Gateway Pundit]
What Axis of Evil?
For the first time in 30 years, Syria will be taken off the list of the State Sponsors of Terrorism.
Why?... Who knows.
Jihad Watch reported: Syria has been listed by the State Department as among the State Sponsors of Terrorism since December 29, 1979.
Is Obama going to remove that designation?
On what grounds?
"Obama preparing to lift sanctions against Syria," from the World Tribune, February 9 (thanks to Jeffrey Imm):
...For the first time in 46 years, democrats hope to pass legislation to permit unrestricted travel to Cuba.
Change... Miranda Rights Loophole May Help Gitmo Detainees -- [Gateway Pundit]
Because terrorists are people, too.
Omar Khadr faces five war crimes charges that include murder.
In July 2002, Omar Khadr threw a grenade that blew up an American soldier in Afghanistan.
Khadr was wounded and captured during this same firefight.
After his capture a video was found that shows Khadr toying with detonating cord as other men including Abu Laith al-Libi assemble explosives in the same house that had been destroyed in the firefight. He was also seen planting landmines while smiling and joking with the cameraman. It has been suggested that these were the same landmines later recovered by American forces on a road between Gardez and Khowst- Wiki.
Khadr was injured in the firefight and begged to be killed... But US medics saved his life.
Instead, of facing death, Khadr may be set free. He was not read his Miranda rights.
Dining With Terrorists - Global Jihad
Continuing his special series on what defines a "terrorist" Phil Rees travels to Pakistan's remote North West Frontier province, the frontline of the west's so-called war on terror. There he meets members of the Taliban and those seeking to combat and eliminate the group.
Support an Organization that Supports Your Service to Our Country -- [Thunder Run]
I know there are plenty or groups out there that are supporting the military and their mission, but I'd like to once again draw your attention to an organization that is not only supporting the current mission but is also honoring all of those American's who have served their country; both on the front lines as well as the home front. That organization is The National Museum of Americans in Wartime (NMAW).
Love & Hate (pdf) -- [SWJ]
One of my best commanders preached a very simple command philosophy. “Mike,” he would proclaim, “sometimes you got to give the love, and sometimes you got to give them the hate.”
What I have learned about the Army -- [You Served]
The purpose of You Served is to tell the military story. So, it’s in that vein of thought that I reprint a recent story from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael G. Mullen. I hope you like it as much as I did. Maybe I’m biased because here is a Navy man writing about my Army!
Phone Calls Can Be Good or Bad (A Texas Mother's Story) -- [Soldier's Angels NY]
...When he returned to his base another phone call rocked my world. “Mom I am going to Iraq I leave sometime in the next month”. My world was about to fall apart. Zackary had taken the trade of Bomb Disposal and Demolition. Well, you would think that with something like that the only place he could go was a war zone. I didn’t want it to happen. But this was not the Civil War and a hundred pieces of gold was not going to get him out. He was an adult. He made his choice and loving it. What else could I do? I sucked up the courage to tell him to be safe and be good, to remember that he is not the savior of the world and not to do anything dangerous.
ALMOST HOME!!! -- [Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army - on his way home from Iraq]
Jeremy is almost home. I should have done this last night when we got the word, but he will be in Tennessee on Wednesday at about 3pm. That is when his flight is due in Knoxville. I encourage all that can to come to the airport and welcome him home. I am so excited and proud of my brother that there are not words to describe it. I did not get the big homecoming due to my health issues, but I am making up for it by welcoming my brother home. I encourage everyone to email him, call him or post a message on here for him when he gets home.
On War Criminals' Trail, NBC News Stirs Criticism -- [NY Times]
NBC News, which teamed up with local police officers to trap sex offenders for its successful but scandalous “To Catch a Predator” series, is now using similar tactics to hunt bigger game: war criminals.
A Big Lie: Newsweek Claims On Cover 'We Are All Socialists Now'
As the news magazines decline and fall into snarky opinion journals, Newsweek this week has a cover titled "We Are All Socialists Now." They’re recalling Richard Nixon saying "We are all Keynesians now" in 1971. But conservatives uniformly would reply on a rebuttal cover, if there were one: "Speak for Yourself."
Obama Nominee Anti-Military? -- [You Served - CJ]
President Obama recently announced his pick for Solicitor General. No, this isn’t the person who goes around asking people to buy White House magazines or Girl Scout Cookies, it’s actually a legal post. The Solicitor General supervises and conducts government litigation in the United States Supreme Court. The Solicitor General determines the cases in which Supreme Court review will be sought by the government and the positions the government will take before the Court. What kinds of stances do you think Obama’s nominee, Elena Kagan, will take before the Supreme Court? One need only take a look at her past to figure that out.
Time’s Up -- [Fraser from **** - in Iraq]
OK, Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States of America. You have had your chance. Where is the CHANGE? I am seeing nothing different, except a decline in food quality at the chow hall.
1. We will be out of Iraq in 16 months? The clock’s ticking. I’m looking around and I don’t see any moving vans.
2. My 401K is not even a 201K. It’s currently a 101K.
3. Financial institutions are patting each other on their backs and giving themselves big bonuses and new jets. I guess they are really happy with themselves for getting the bail out.
4. He hasn’t paid my mortgage. But then again, I didn’t vote for him.
5. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military is now become, “Don’t Hate, Celebrate”.
Kerry on Taxes - Can we call them socialists, yet?
John Kerry: "So government, yes government, has the ability to make a decision that the private sector won't necessarily make today."
As King Pyrrhus Crows -- [Confederate Yankee]
The Multi-Generational Financial Rape Act of 2009, AKA the "stimulus, bill," has passed in the U.S. Senate. Congratulations, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid. You deserve all the credit for this bill passing, and I mean that will all sincerity. You own this bill, lock, stock and barrel. All the blame that will thunder down upon you in years to come.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Commission: Full Iraqi local election results due in two weeks -- [TopNews]
Official results from January's provincial elections in Iraq will be ready within two weeks, the country's electoral commission announced Monday.
"The deadline for the announcement of elections results will be two weeks from today," Faraj al-Haidari, the head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission announced on Monday. "But we will do our best to announce them even earlier than that."
'Worth the Risk' -- [WaPo]
A U.S. Army Captain's Gamble on Reconciling With the Enemy
Capt. Samuel Cook details his unit's efforts to implement an insurgent amnesty program in the Sharqat area of Iraq's Salahuddin Province. "When we started negotiations, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not this was the right approach," Cook said. "This was a very risky strategy that I felt was worth the risk."
Exclusive Interview w/ Gen. Odierno -- [Ace of Spades - Uncle Jimbo]
The Father Of The Surge -- [Just One Minute]
...Victory has a thousand fathers but Gen. Ray Odierno is credited by the WaPo with paternity for the surge in Iraq:
It's a fascinating story. And an eye-opener to anyone naive enough to think that top generals just sit around awaiting orders.
Here is Odierno's outlook for Iraq:
When asked what sort of U.S. military presence he expected in Iraq around 2014 or 2015 -- well after Obama's first term -- Odierno said, "I would like to see a . . . force probably around 30,000 or so, 35,000," with many troops training Iraqi forces and others conducting combat operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq and its allies.
One of the points he would stress to the new commander in chief, Odierno said, would be "the importance of us leaving with honor and justice. "
"For the military, he added, "it's extremely important because of all the sacrifice and time and, in fact, how we've all adjusted and adapted."
The right way to do Iraq, and the wrong way -- [FP - Tom Ricks]
Two excerpts from my new book The Gamble are running in the Washington Post Sunday and Monday. There also are some cool on-line only things -- not just another excerpt, but also a great video about how one officer, Capt. Samuel Cook of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, conducted counterinsurgency operations in one part of Iraq last year. (To read more about how Cook talked an insurgent leader into cooperation, read this excerpt from the book, a section called "The Insurgent Who Loved Titanic.")
This video, by contrast, strikes me as an example of how not to do it. ...
The Dissenter Who Changed the War -- [WaPo - Tom Ricks]
Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was an unlikely dissident, with little in his past to suggest that he would buck his superiors and push the U.S. military in radically new directions.
As commander of the 4th Infantry Division in the Sunni Triangle, Odierno led troops known for their sometimes heavy-handed tactics, kicking in doors and rounding up thousands of Iraqi "MAMs" (military-age males). He finished his tour believing the fight was going well. "I thought we had beaten this thing," he would later recall.
Sent back to Iraq in 2006 as second in command of U.S. forces, under orders to begin the withdrawal of American troops and shift fighting responsibilities to the Iraqis, Odierno found a situation that he recalled as "fairly desperate, frankly."
So that fall, he became the lone senior officer in the active-duty military to advocate a buildup of American troops in Iraq, a strategy rejected by the full chain of command above him, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then the top commander in Iraq and Odierno's immediate superior.
What does 2009 hold for Iraq - War In Iraq Is Not Over -- [Meet the Press - Tom Ricks]
U.S., Iraqi Leaders Continue Partnership -- [MNF-I]
FOB WARRIOR — A significant part of a commander’s responsibility when one deployed unit replaces another is making the necessary connections and establishing a rapport with the same important individuals as the previous unit.
Partnership -- [Soldiering On - in Iraq]
Partnership is the buzz word today for what we are currently doing in Iraq. We are partnering with our ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) Brothers to improve the security in our Area of Operations. With the signing of the Bi-Lateral Security Agreement (also known as SOFA) we are partners (the lesser partner) with our Iraqi counterparts. We are here to facilitate their improvement in capabilities, to assist them in operations, and to grow them into a professional military force.
Did you hear the one about... ? -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
So this Italian guy flies to Turkey, crosses the border to Iraq, takes a cab from Erbil to Baghdad, and gets on the bus to Falluja. You know, to "see the sights".
Well, this could be a joke, but it's not. In Falluja, he's finally spotted by an incredulous checkpoint guard.
Iraq's Construction Boom
On the Ground: Efforts Continue Toward Iraq’s Self-sufficiency -- [SHOOTING STRAIGHT]
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 – Coalition forces and members of the U.S. Agency for International Development are continuing their efforts to make Iraq self-sufficient.
Nemesis: Globe Trekker -- [The Stone Report - in Iraq]
It can be difficult to get the satellite we shoot to, NSS 7. The reason we shoot to that bird is that its footprint reaches the east coast of the United States and the Middle East. Baghdad is just inside the footprint to hit this satellite over the Atlantic Ocean on the equator. For any of our dishes to get NSS7 we have to have them elevated on a roof because the dish is essentially pointed at the horizon.
Aminal Crackers In My Soup… -- [The Gun Line - in Iraq]
This card, sent from an American city, went through the Iraqi postal service, and found its way here, to me!
Tells me that the “normal” infrastructure of this country is working just fine…
I think that it’s pretty cool…
3rd Heard -- [Whatever It Takes - in Iraq]
Hello to everyone back home from Taji, Iraq. We are one small step away from beginning the mission we set out to accomplish over 5years ago. The command and headquarters elements have been real busy setting up our logistical and administrative support on Taji.
Capcity Built -- [S4 at War - in Iraq]
We spent a lot of time and effort training the IA last deployment. Many days we’d spend all day training them on things like room clearing, basic marksmanship, and first aid and then go and do a mission with them at night. They were as close to rag-tag as you could come and still resemble a military. I’ve noticed this deployment that the partnership we’re doing with the IA is on a much higher level. No one is teaching these guys that its bad to lean on their AK-47’s barrel, you might just shoot your hand off (its happened). They’ve acquired their basic infantry skills and now the partnership we are engaged in is on a much higher level- putting funcional systems in place to run a large bureacracy and how best to respond to the myriad needs of the people in the area. All in all its a large step in the right direction since I last sojourned here.
Taliban Release Beheading Video of Polish Hostage -- [Jawa Report]
An image posted at Islamist forums of Polish hostage Piotr Stanczak shortly before the Taliban murdered him.
Family and friends of brutally murdered Piotr Stanczak are in my thoughts and prayers.
Afghan National Police-led force kills suspected mid-level Taliban commander in Helmand -- [Centcom]
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan National Police assisted by Coalition Forces killed one militant and detained four others in Washir District, Helmand province Feb. 7.
The ANP-led force was conducting a search operation on a suspected mid-level Taliban commander's compound. As the combined force approached the compound, the suspect exited the compound and took up a fighting position in a nearby valley, engaging the ANP with small-arms fire. The combined force responded with small-arms fire, and killed the armed militant.
Bakwa District, Farah Province -- [A Battlefield Tourist - in Afghanistan]
...If there is any doubt that this conflict is escalating, let me assure you that it is the case. 20,000 US Marines are heading to this region soon and it shows in the equipment on the ground and the construction underway. When the fighting season kicks off this spring and into the summer, there is no doubt it will be the heaviest of this seven year old conflict. Names like Washir, Now Zad and Garmsir will likely be household names much like Falluja and Ramadi are from the Iraq war.
Afghan Leader Finds Himself Hero No More -- [NY Times]
Between platters of lamb and rice, Mr. Biden and two other American senators questioned Mr. Karzai about corruption in his government, which, by many estimates, is among the worst in the world. Mr. Karzai assured Mr. Biden and the other senators that there was no corruption at all and that, in any case, it was not his fault.
The senators gaped in astonishment. After 45 minutes, Mr. Biden threw down his napkin and stood up.
“This dinner is over,” Mr. Biden announced, according to one of the people in the room at the time. And the three senators walked out, long before the appointed time.
Where Things Stand: Afghanistan in Turmoil -- [ABC News]
'We Have Never Seen a Peaceful Day,' Says One Afghan Woman Polled
Despite seven years of fighting, the lives of more than 600 U.S. servicemen and women, and billions of dollars in aid, Afghan opinions of the United States and their own government have dramatically deteriorated, according to the latest ABC News polling.
Afghan Update from ABC News -- [Military Observer]
It's not in-depth, but at least ABC realizes that much of the problem lies with the Karzai regime and his corrupt government. Now, if they'd follow the Marine Corps "Valley Campaign' strategy, the American public would know that there is a viable solution to the Afghan problem:
Afghanistan: Where Things Stand
The Action Afghans Need -- [Charlie Foxtrot]
Unfortunately, the strategy for victory in Afghanistan is imbued with no such sense of urgency from the new Administration. And this is despite the fact that we are being told this is the toughest war in the last 50 years.
"President Obama's national security team gave a dire assessment Sunday of the war in Afghanistan..." [WaPo]
Of course this is no different than anything that has been said over the last year, but I guess it needs to be said if only to tag the last administration with guilt.
The Key to Kabul -- [Walrus Magazine]
I have been engaged in health care development and policy work for more than three of the past eight years in Afghanistan, most recently in Kabul. A friend sent me Charles Montgomery’s article “The Archipelago of Fear” (December 2008), which I thought a reasonably good representation of the dysfunction that plagues the city’s reconstruction and the effect of architectural fearmongering on its people.
But Montgomery doesn’t give any credit where it’s due: ...
...It’s typical for the media to focus on the hopelessness of the situation in Afghanistan. But I was also here during the Taliban regime, and I can assure readers there have been many positive changes since then. Maybe if reporters had witnessed this change themselves, they would see fit to broadcast some hope.
Al Qaeda's paramilitary 'Shadow Army' -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
The 'Lashkar al Zil' or Shadow Army is comprised of al Qaeda, Taliban and allied terror groups and paramilitary force operates in Pakistan's northwest and in eastern Afghanistan.
US outlines new plan for Afghanistan -- [The Guardian]
The Obama administration today today outlined a new campaign strategy for the war in Afghanistan, scaling back the ambitions of George Bush in a shift which senior officials and diplomats described as a “new realism”.
Dire Report -- [Jules Crittenden]
National security team, headed by a highly respected worstist, tries to coax Europe with the promise that Afghanistan will be tougher than Iraq.
Future of Afghan Conflict -- [Meet the Press - Tom Ricks]
I wouldn't be so sure about Kandahar -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
Even if Canada remains formally in charge of the province, real direction of military operations will inevitably flow to the US since there troops there wil,l during the coming year, substantially outnumber ours
National Security Team Delivers Grim Appraisal of Afghanistan War -- [WaPo]
President Obama's national security team gave a dire assessment Sunday of the war in Afghanistan, with one official calling it a challenge "much tougher than Iraq" and others hinting that it could take years to turn around.
Soldiers story on the hell road Patrol in Afghanistan
Counterinsurgency: Focus on the Population or the Enemy? -- [Captain's Journal]
...The point about electricity is also similar to our observations on the grid in Iraq as well as irrigation and water supply systems. So whatever happened to the dam? Were our warnings prescient or merely an overreaction? More on the dam shortly.
Thematically similar operations are being waged in Afghanistan by the Texas National Guard.
Tribal Militias; Listen To The Local Voices -- [Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure]
Abbas Daiyar, a member of the Editorial Board at Daily Outlook Afghanistan has written a good piece about arming tribal militias in Afghanistan. I maintain that listening to the Afghans on this issue is very important. As Mr. Daiyar points out, what worked in Iraq is not necessarily the solution in Afghanistan.
More USFK Contractors Lose Their Jobs Due to Visa Issue -- [ROK Drop]
The subject of USFK contractors losing their jobs due to the reinterpretation of the SOFA agreement
...Another guy profiled lost his job because he attended Yonsei University to study Korean before being hired by USFK. So it is pretty clear that a number of people are getting screwed by this Visa change. This frustration with the firings is only growing in wake of the recent Army Audit Agency report that disclosed the ten of millions of dollars USFK is losing in fraud to locally hired Korean contractors every year while at the same time USFK is trying to fire a large number of their American contractors.
Russia-Iran Strategic Partnership is Getting More Strength -- [Daily Outlook Afghanistan- Sajjad Hussain]
While many analysts predicted a rosier picture for U.S.-Iranian relations with the Obama administration, the situation is rapidly becoming profoundly more difficult and more complicated. The new dimension is Russia. According to reports, on February 20, 2009 the Russian Federation Security Council and the State Council will approve a new national security strategy to go through 2020. Without saying the United States, the draft document clearly identifies the United States as Russia's primary rival for the next decade. It goes on to say that the primary focus of the struggle will be for hydrocarbons in some very specific areas. The Middle East and Central Asia are mentioned specifically. In these areas, according to the document, the struggle could develop into a military confrontation. Russia's last general security document was adopted in 2000 and was much more general than this one about the security objectives of the Russian Federation. Reports say the new draft is much more focused and gives indications of future policy directions.
NEVER-BEFORE-REVEALED TERRORIST TRAINING VIDEO --
Official: Yemen releases 170 al-Qaida suspects -- [AP]
Yemen released 170 al Qaeda suspects after they signed pledges not to engage in terrorism, according to an anonymous Yemeni official. The release comes two weeks after al Qaeda in Yemen announced its merger with the Saudi branch and just as the government said it would attack al Qaeda strongholds in the northern city of Marib.
More on Yemen -- [The Tank - Fred Schwarz]
In The Weekly Standard, Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn detail how ineffectual Yemen’s central government is and how extensive its terrorist network has become. This is important because, while no final decision has been made, the Obama administration is seriously considering sending 90 or so terrorists back to Yemen. Hayes and Joscelyn explain what a terrible idea this would be:
Remember The Cole -- [IBD editorials] -
War On Terror: Charges against the mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole are dismissed. He will be retried, but not by a military commission that would have given him the death penalty he deserves.
USS Cole Victim's Mother Declines Obama Invitation
Military Lawyer: Gitmo Conditions Have Worsened Since Inauguration -- [Talk Left]
Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer for 20 years, is in Great Britain where tomorrow she will demand the release of Binyam Mohamed who as we wrote the other day, is dying in his Guantanamo cell.
Bradley...will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office.
Obama's NSC Will Get New Power - [WaPo - Karen DeYoung]
President Obama plans to order a sweeping overhaul of the National Security Council, expanding its membership and increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues.
Dressing wounds after war -- [Seatle Times]
...But there are soldiers — many with PTSD — who don't want any part of what anyone is offering.
"People are always pitching; it's just that I don't want to catch," one soldier told me. "I want to figure it out on my own."
Bolton acknowledges the reluctance of some to take help.
"It's hard to pull some of these soldiers out of their caves," he said. "So we have to ask them to trust us, and meet us halfway. "And we have to ask the community to be patient with us."
On my way out, I found a brochure called "Welcome Home: A Readjustment Handbook."
It's amazing the weight that paper can hold: page after page of the symptoms and struggles that can haunt a returning soldier. Sleep loss. Stress. Alcohol use. Children who don't recognize their parents. Depression. And urgings to attend counseling for everything from marriage to money issues.
It's a daunting task. But, while Bolton is eligible for retirement, he is determined to see his soldiers through to the other side.
"I stay because I want to be here," he said. "It's the plum job."
Nurses to Nurses -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
A few months ago I was contacted by a San Diego Soldiers' Angel named Karen Wetther who wanted to do something for the nursing staff here at Landstuhl.
Karen is an R.N. as well as Chairperson of the Philanthropy Committee for the San Diego Chapter of the American Assn. of Legal Nurse Consultants. She and her Chapter joined forces with other nursing friends at Camp Pendleton and the Vietnam Veterans of the San Diego Veterans Museum and Memorial Center.
Monday Morning "Feel Good" Story -- [Spouse Buzz - Andi]
I've heard countless stories of how stray dogs and cats in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped our service members cope with the worst parts of war, and even the more mundane parts - like sheer boredom. Animals truly are therapeutic.
Dogpile.com Helps Soldiers Rescue Puppies from Afghanistan
Operation Purple Family Retreats Applications Available Now -- [NMFA]
The National Military Family Association is piloting two Operation Purple® Family Retreats. These free, four-day retreats are set in a National Park using nature’s classroom, where families will have opportunities to strengthen and renew relationships, explore their natural surroundings, and participate in fun family-focused activities.
These retreats are open to service members and their families who have experienced deployment within the last twelve months. Applications are due by midnight February 16, 2009.
More on Will Ferrell’s Bush-bashing Broadway show: It bashes the troops, too -- [Sister Toldjah]
Last night, I wrote about how BDS was alive and well in NYC and on prominent display in a show that has been running on Broadway since the inauguration that makes fun of our 43rd president using, among other things, a picture of a male part of the anatomy being commented on by an “actor” who resembles a male part of the anatomy.
Anyway, if you think that was bad, make sure you read the write-up the NY Post has on the show. It doesn’t just bash Bush; it bashes our troops, too
America's Last Draftee: 'I'm A Relic' -- [TIME]
He doesn't have much patience for those, like Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who want to bring back the draft to ensure that war's burdens are equally shared. "We're doing just fine, thank you, with the all-volunteer force," Mellinger says. "Until the time comes that we're in danger of losing our capabilities to do our missions, then we ought to stick with what we have — there is no need for the draft."
Like many veterans of the Vietnam-era Army, he bridles at suggestions that the draftee force was riddled with misfits and druggies. "We didn't run off to Canada,"...
The Medal of Honor, non-posthumous edition. -- [Castle Argghhh!]
Living here in Leavenworth, we have access to some truly significant militaria. Real living history militaria. We have LTC(R) Chuck Hagemeister and COL(R) Roger Donlon. Colonel Donlon recieved the first Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam. He was at the show this weekend, selling his book, but mostly just being there and talking to people and letting the public meet a real public treasure.
And see a Medal of Honor hanging around a Holder's neck, vice sitting in a display case. Like this...
I'm Sorry Joe -- [The War on Big Tobacco - in Iraq]
Joe from Fobbits Need Ice Cream Too just returned from Iraq. He had some pretty bad experiences there with his unit leadership.
On behalf of the NCO Corps, this is my apology to him:
...Somewhere along the line, Joe realized that the only person who is going to take care of Joe was Joe. It starts when Joe doesn’t get his bonus payment on time and Joe has to fight for the money that he deserves. Then Joe is given a team leader who doesn’t know his job, or a platoon sergeant who cares more for his career than his men. Joe can’t figure out what happened to the Army he loved.
Once in a while, Joe gets to shoot something or blow something up. Joe is happy for a while, but Joe is thrown back into reality when the same commander that gave him all of that joy makes him take a PT test in a combat zone.
Joe keeps trying. Someone recognizes Joe. They give him an award. That same day, Joe’s team leader berates him in front of his peers for taking initiative or doing the right thing.
Joe throws his medal in the trash. Joe develops a sense of injustice.
Joshua Key is A Fraud & A Liar and I Have the Facts to Prove It -- [ROK Drop]
Some of you may have noticed that one of my old postings about US Army deserter Joshua Key has now had a surge in traffic with a variety of blogs such as Blackfive, The Jawa Report, Ace of Spades HQ’s, Cold Fury, & This Ain’t Hell linking to the posting. I appreciate all the links and interest my posting on Joshua Key has created because I believe it is important that the lies he is continuing to repeat are exposed.
Poser Alert!! -- [The SandGram]
There is a phenomenon out there of “POSERS” who claim to have served in the military or claim rights to certain medals they have never earned. Just driving home yesterday, I heard on Paul Harvey of a College professor who as an Army Veteran, claimed over the years that he had earned three purple hearts in battle during the Vietnam War in the late sixties. It turned out that he had served but was stationed over in Germany and Kansas during his time in the Army. Now he is facing federal charges under the “Stolen Valor” law prohibiting someone from claiming entitlements or presenting medals that he or she didn’t earn.
He is home -- [SA New York]
A crowd gathered on a Tuesday eve. His group was due in and I was pleased.
There were family holding welcome signs. His friends showed too, to my surprise.
There was quite a crew to see him home. Even though the holiday found him alone.
Now, two weeks later, he is really home,...
Mike is a Vietnam veteran, an award-winning poet, and a friend.
Thank YOU, Mike, and please thank your son for his service
New Poll: Should Soldiers be encouraged to blog under their own name? -- [Soldiers in the Blogosphere]
What do you think? Share your opinion by answering the current poll ...
This simple yes/no poll only asks if Soldiers should blog under their own name for the sake of transparency (like what the CENTCOM bloggers do, or what is required to post on the CAC blogs).
AN “INADVERTENT” LEAK FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY: -- [Instapundit]
Not until you reach well down on the jump page do you learn this interesting little detail: “The U.S. attorney’s office inadvertently sent the confidential document, a defense sentencing memorandum filed under seal, to The Washington Post after the newspaper requested the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum.” Inadvertently sent what was supposed to be a sealed document to the Post? Yeah, sure, and the Post will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge real cheap, too.
Is anyone in the U.S. Attorney’s office going to lose their job over this? Will the Obama DOJ launch an investigation to make sure this wasn’t politically motivated?
The AP blames Bush -- [Powerline]
We have explored at length the AP's cooperation with terrorist forces in Iraq. When the AP won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography, for example, we thought it deserved the Pulitzer for felony murder. We published the comments of D. Gorton in support of our own analysis. Gorton elaborated his thoughts further in "Murder on Haifa Street."
The AP now acknowledges it has serious issues with its coverage of the war. Unfortunately, they differ substantially with us on the nature of the issues.
Post-Game Report, or "Those are Facts that are Not Facts" -- [Abu Muqawama]
S...o when are facts not facts? When they're not, apparently. Carlos said that these international audiences bond on their belief that the media lies/is biased. Then they disagree on what the bias or lie is (those facts are not facts). The case in point was the discussion over Pakistan (two Pakistan officers in the crowd). On the question over "what to do about Pakistan", the journo opined that some sort of Islamabad control needed to be extended to the FATA. She's interrupted by one of the officers with the spiel of "you have to understand, these are old cultures, yada, yada." She responded with "Well, is it Pakistan or not?" "Yes, it is, but we don't control it." (Well, that would be the definition of NOT a state or part of one (lack of monopoly of legitimate violence over a given territory).
So, okay, moving on...the audience is still on the "media bias" kick, and the US Army CPT in the class pops up with the "you know, the biggest problem with what went on in Iraq was the media lying about the lack of connection between Iraq and 9/11."
Honorable Mention -- [Far from Perfect - in Iraq]
I am reading a book on the history of “Dust Off,” or the helicopter medevac. Its been an interesting read so far in that it walks the reader through the entire history, major changes, etc that have occurred in Medevac up till Vietnam. It covers stories of the brave pilots who flew during those times as well. Personally that is the part has irked me a little bit.
CF Recruiting Misinformation -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
This article and many others on the same topic like to leave readers with the impression that the CF and ultimately the government are failing in recruitment, often due to some vague reference to the Afghanistan conflict or some other similarly unspoken grievance of CF members. Left unreported is the critical fact that from 1980 to 1983 the military saw it's last big recruiting drive prior to a later slowdown and finally force reductions. CF strength in those days was in the range of 85,000 people. That leaves a significant portion of today's military in the 25+ group for years of service and prime candidates for retirement.
Keeping the Faith: A Letter to President Obama -- [Army of Dude]
Dear President Obama,
This letter comes to you from an unlikely supporter: a young Iraq War vet from the blood-red state of Texas. As an Army recruit in basic training, I cast my vote for George W. Bush in 2004 because I felt he was the best choice for a responsible prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
..."Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America's commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end."
The words above should look familiar. You said them on the presidential campaign trail as my unit conducted combat patrols in the fifteenth month of our tour in Iraq. It must be realized that above all else, the American soldier is the most valuable thing this country has to offer. The bodies, minds and lives of our fighting men and women cannot be taken for granted. There is too much at stake.
Christopher Hill, Obama’s Choice to Be Iraq Ambassador, Showed Poor Judgment and Dishonesty as N. Korea Negotiator -- [OneFreeKorea]
lack the knowledge of Zinni’s talents to speak to them, but I doubt that anyone in this country has given Christopher Hill’s recent performance the kind of colonoscopy I have at this site. Hill has earned an infamous legacy as the man who talked George W. Bush into abandoning a financial constriction strategy that was working, a more robust version of which could have forced the verifiable disarmament of Kim Jong Il or ended his misrule without firing a shot. Instead, Hill talked Bush into investing the remainder of his time in office in an ill-conceived and now irreversibly failed “Agreed Framework II.” As a result, America lost its last best chance to save thousands of North Korean lives and prevent North Korea from selling its merchandise of terror to the highest bidder.
Failure, of course, is a risk for even the best-conceived plans, but Hill’s plan was patently and predictably doomed from its conception:
A Military Tactician's Political Strategy -- [WaPo - Tom Ricks]
In Defending the Troop Increase, Commander Paved Way for a 'Long War'
As Gen. David H. Petraeus flew into Baghdad in February 2007, preparing to take command of U.S. forces in Iraq, Col. Peter R. Mansoor, his executive officer, knelt alongside his seat. "You know, sir," he said, "the hardest thing for you, if it comes to it, will be to tell the American people and the president that this isn't working."
Obama violating Constitution w/ census heist -- [Ace of Spades - Uncle Jimbo]
There is a very interesting piece up at the excellent Samizdata blog about whether Obama's move of the Census to his personal control is unconstitutional. It really seems to be.
Obama’s First Ride on Marine One -- [NY Times]
President Obama stepped aboard Marine One for his maiden flight Thursday evening as he traveled from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base where a ride on Air Force One awaited.
It was another chance for the president to demonstrate his salute, which he did in crisp fashion as he walked toward the presidential helicopter. But ...
President's First Marine One Trip - Says Hi to Marine
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Good News -- [Wings over Baghdad - in Iraq]
I know I promised check ride hijinks, but this takes precedence.
Provincial elections were held on the 31st of January, and they yielded results that (initially) seem overwhelmingly positive. Foremost among these developments is that the Iraqi people seem to be favoring strong secular central government, and are leaning heavily towards candidates who are free from Iranian influence.
Elections mark Iraq improvement (Video) -- [BBC]
Preliminary results from Iraq's provincial elections show big wins for the bloc headed by the Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki.
Aerial Footage Of Voting Places
Aerial video footage of polling sites inside Fallujah and Ramadi, Iraq during provincial elections in Al Anbar province on January 31, 2009.
Iraqi Doctor's Gift Says "Thank You" -- [MNF-I]
A new symbol of freedom and appreciation now greets Soldiers and visitors to the headquarters of Multi-National Division – Baghdad, after an unveiling ceremony in front of division headquarters here, Feb. 5.
Dr. Muayad Muslin Hamid al-Jaburri, an influential Iraqi cardiologist and humanitarian, donated the gold eagle-head statue to all the Soldiers of MND-B in admiration for their sacrifices while working to make Baghdad a safer place to live.
“The Eagle represents a little bit of mixed culture, knowing how important the eagle means to Americans and knowing that in the Arabic culture we have been putting eagles on top of the castles for thousands of years to show power and protection,” said Jaburri.
JSS Al Awad Transferred to Iraqi Police -- [MNF-I]
JSS AL AWAD — While the ceremony here may have been small, the Iraqi Police (IP) took a huge step toward becoming a completely autonomous force as Joint Security Station al Awad transferred to IP control, Feb. 4.
Council Meeting Continued -- [Whatever It Takes - in Iraq]
...We pass checkpoint after checkpoint manned by heavily armed Iraqi Soldiers, Police and Sons of Iraq citizen security. They look and act more professional than last time. As we drive past I see them searching cars for contraband and the drivers for credentials. The 4th amendment does not apply here, but then again we do not have an insurgency going on in the United States.
We finally arrive at the meeting hall. The streets are blocked off and guarded by Iraqis, an armored personnel carrier at each end of the street. We went inside and met the company commander that I will be replacing. We took off our helmets, body armor and sat down. This was the first time that I had ever taken off my equipment outside of a US base.
Colors! (Update)… -- [The Gun Line - in Iraq]
Not long after I put out the word, they began to arrive… Flags…
This is the very first of YOUR flags that we flew over the Bonecrusher Command Post.
U.S., Iraq Continue Security Transition
Exclusive: The Iranian Slaughter of our Troops -- [FSM - Dave Gaubatz]
Our government had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to send me to Arabic language school (the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute), and I had the highest U.S. Government security clearance (Top Secret/SCI and briefed into many “black projects”).
If Agents like me and others on the ground can’t get the attention of our leaders who can take necessary security steps to prevent our country and American troops in Iraq from being slaughtered, why would American citizens with “no connections” believe they can get our government to be proactive and protect them?
Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle update: February 2009 -- [LWJ - DJ Elliott]
The transfer of control of provincial security will be completed by July; Diyala, Ninewa, and Baghdad are the last provinces to be transferred.
It's been... -- [Bad Dogs and Such - in Iraq]
slow. Phenomenally slow. Like...glacially slow.
If I'm ever in charge of a war, I'm deploying units, and none of them are coming home until we've either won or lost entirely. There will be no "rotations," there will be no "relief in place," and there will be no "transition."
Stopping Suicide Bombings In Afghanistan -- [Stratrgy Page]
February 6, 2009: The police have managed to reduce suicide bombing attacks in Afghanistan, by going after the few crews that organize and carry out these attacks.
Afghan National Army training
Afghanistan Needs Teachers and Clean Water as Much as More Troops -- [NPQ - Khaled Hosseini is the Afghan-born author of The Kite Runner]
...With the widespread failure of harvests and rising food prices, a humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan this winter. There is no quick fix to this crisis. Whatever the solution, the Afghan government must be part of it. For the time being, however, the central government in Kabul and provincial authorities are overwhelmed with meeting the needs of a poor and war-weary population. The Afghan government lacks the capacity to effectively absorb the returning millions and has struggled greatly to provide refugees with security, livelihood and even basic services. The hopes of the refugees, therefore, rest largely on assistance from donor nations in the international community.
This past June in Paris, donors pledged nearly $21 billion to support the Afghan National Development Strategy. President Barack Obama has vowed to bring global focus back on Afghanistan. That is an important first step and an encouraging development for Afghanistan. However...
Afghan mayor turns Taliban leader
Al Jazeera has gained exclusive access to a secret network of Taliban bases hidden deep inside Afghanistan's Herat province. The bases are run by Ghullam Yahya Akbari, the former mayor of Herat.
Marines destroy Taliban base -- [Ministry of Defense]
The death of a Taliban commander has been reported after a raid by Royal Marines saw the successful destruction of his command and communications base north of the Kajaki Dam.
...creeping out of their remote Forward Operating Base, Zeebruge, in the mountainous region of Kajaki, under the cover of darkness. One marine from the Reconnaissance Patrol Troop said:
Kyrgyzstan -- [S4 at War]
I had all but hung up my blogging spurs but with the recent story about our base in Kyrgyzstan possibly going out of business I figured I’d return. The problem is that unlike in Iraq where we have Kuwait as a staging area, along with a number of large logistics bases in country, Afghanistan is made up of smaller outposts, minimal suitable over-land routes, and a significantly reduced logistical capacity.
US Policy in Central Asia, Part Two -- [Registan - in Afghanistan]
US officials are trying to stay as positive as possible about the effect of the loss of Manas on operations in Afghanistan. “While we value the relationship and the arrangements, the United States would certainly be able to continue operations in Afghanistan if we did not have that facility,” said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman on Wednesday.
It is interesting to note how similar the problem US officials face now is to the situation faced in 2001. US operations are set to ramp up quickly and significantly in Afghanistan, and there is a desperate need for a way to get supplies into the country. And it is interesting that the response is shaping up to be somewhat similar.
The Noticeable Things -- [A Battlefield Tourist - in Afghanistan]
...This day of nothingness gives me a chance to reflect on some things that stand out as being different from 2004. The first thing I really noticed was the large amount of Afghan Police out patrolling Kabul. They’re everywhere. Along those lines, I only saw one ISAF patrol in Kabul the entire three days I was there. That is a big change. And as I watched the Italian convoy move through town, I thought to myself that it makes no sense to patrol. The public doesn’t particularly like the patrols and they are only really good for attracting attacks, in my opinion. The aggressive driving of foreigners has left a very sour taste in the locals’ mouthes.
...Beyond that, Mr. Nassar says he talks to hundreds of “regular” people every time he comes back in an effort to gauge the mood of the population. He says in years past, 90% of the people were pro-ISAF. Now he says, it’s just the opposite. Something you certainly feel out on the street.
U.S. Policy in Central Asia, maybe Part Three -- [Registan - in Afghanistan]
Given that AM’s blog has written a lot about other overland resupply routes for Afghanistan due to the unreliability of the Khyber pass… where did he expect these supplies to come from? Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian country with a reasonably high-capacity border crossing across the Amu Darya, at least in the sense that it doesn’t force you into the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Turkmenistan is so unreliable, it would be foolish to plan a route through that country. Uzbekistan was our only real choice.
Then again, the U.S. warming its relations with Uzbekistan are not, contra the AP, some new thing that just materialized this week, but the ongoing result of months of negotiations.
Afghanistan Will Be a Quagmire for al Qaeda -- [WSJ - JOSEPH LIEBERMAN]
...The biggest strength is the American military, which through the crucible of Iraq has transformed itself into the most effective counterinsurgency force in history. Although Iraq and Afghanistan are very different, many of the guiding principles of counterinsurgency do apply to both theaters -- most importantly, the need to provide security for the population. Moreover, our troops will be redeploying from Iraq to Afghanistan with the momentum, experience and morale that comes with success.
We also have an ally in the Afghan people -- a proud people with a proud history. Although their frustration with our coalition is growing, Afghans are not eager to return to the tyranny and poverty of the Taliban. That is why the insurgents have not won their support and must resort to self-defeating tactics of cruelty and coercion.
Afghan Answers - "W" policies "O" should rethink. -- [FSM - Amir Taheri]
In President Obama's first week in office, the Taliban launched an unprecedented attack, destroying a strategic bridge over the Khyber Pass via which US troops in Afghanistan are supplied from Pakistan.
Although largely ignored by the American media, that was a major coup, demonstrating the vulnerability of US logistics. It may be difficult to supply the added troops that Obama promised for Afghanistan during the campaign.
In any case, sending more US troops may not be the most important change to make in Bush policy. Obama needs to consider what the US national interests in Afghanistan are, and how best to serve them.
Biden attends Munich security conference with new plan for Afghanistan -- [The Examiner]
Vice President Joe Biden will be tested on two fronts this weekend during the first foreign trip by a top Obama administration official. Can he sell the White House's emerging new strategy on Afghanistan and persuade allies to step up their assistance in that country and across the troubled Middle East? Can he curb his trademark bluntness as he strides onto the international stage in a new role and under the scrutiny of a curious world?
Afghanistan Appeal May Temper European Allies' Ardor for Obama -- [Washington Post]
European leaders cheered when Barack Obama was elected president in November. They cheered again when he proclaimed during his inaugural address that America was "ready to lead once more" in the world, and yet again when he pledged to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But when Obama sends his vice president and other top emissaries to an international security conference here this weekend to seek help with the war in Afghanistan, NATO allies are unlikely to be as enthusiastic, European defense officials and analysts said in interviews.
France's Afghan dilemmas -- [ISN Security Watch]
Domestic distractions allow Sarkozy room to maneuver as he boosts France's presence in Afghanistan despite public skepticism, but funding and resource questions may determine the end game.
The German armed forces employ approximately 400 local Afghan nationals everyday on Forward Support Base -- [ISAF]
(FSB) Camp Marmal, helping to keep the base going and boost the local economy.
Russia ready for transit of non-lethal U.S. goods to Afghanistan -- [RIA Novosti]
Russia will allow transit of non-lethal supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan as soon as Washington provides Moscow with detailed information on the cargo, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. Several NATO nations, including France, Germany and Canada, already transport non-lethal supplies to their contingents in Afghanistan via Russia under bilateral agreements. Washington is expected to follow suit after striking a similar deal with Moscow in mid-January. "We are waiting for our American partners to send us an official request listing the amount and the nature of the supplies. We will issue the relevant order as soon as this happens," Lavrov said on Russia's Vesti-24 television.
USAF Flees From Certain Defeat -- [Strategy Page]
February 6, 2009: The U.S. Air Force is moving its aircraft from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, to escape an eruption by a volcano (Mount Redoubt). Volcanoes put out lots of gritty ash, which damages or destroys jet engines. A coating of ash, not to mention flying rocks and lava, is also bad for aircraft, and the equipment used to maintain them.
The New Backbone of the Sunni Resistance -- [Michael Totten]
...“Tehran supports Hamas, as does Arab public opinion, while Arab governments, except Syria’s, tacitly support Israel,” an Israeli intelligence officer told me. “Iran doesn’t have to work very hard to gain influence with the Arab street.” There’s a chance it might backfire on these Arab governments whose citizens, in the main, sympathize with Hamas and Hezbollah. They nurtured hysterical anti-Zionism among their populations because it served their own naked self-interest. “This is how our Arab dictators survive,” Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh said to me recently. “They constantly blame the miseries of our people on the Jews and the West and the Crusaders and the infidels and the Zionist lobby and the imperialists. They use all these slogans. Arab leaders always need to make sure that their people are busy hating somebody else, preferably the Jews and the Americans. Otherwise their people might rebel, and God forbid they might demand reforms and democracy.”
What the USS San Antonio Can Teach Us About Iran -- [Captain's Journal]
The Amphibious Dock USS San Antonio has something to teach us about Iran and its intentions.
But before learning from the USS San Antonio, a framework must be constructed within which to view this information. David Ignatius authored an article for the Washington Post on the A-Team for Iran. Ignatius likes Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft because of their ability to help American foreign policy “turn a page,” so to speak. Ignatius asks the two how they would begin negotiations with Iran.
American Muslim Teenager Killed in Bombing by Ex-Gitmo Detainee: the Untold Story of Jihad Hitting Home -- [911 Families]
Susan Elbaneh was murdered by al Qaeda and apparently most of the media does not want you to know. Last week, you saw her killers’ faces splashed across the headlines yet away from her hometown, the media was busy playing echo-chamber.
Strangely, the New York Times has failed to report the whole story three times.
DoD Pulls the Plug on Holdout Gitmo Tribunal -- [Ace of Spades]
Last week, a military judge denied the President's request to suspend proceedings against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the guy who planned the USS Cole attack. The judge was the only one to refuse to grant Obama's motion.
Raping Men as a Terrorist Recruiting Tool -- [PJM - Chesler Chronicles]
Al Qaeda does not discriminate on the basis of gender or religion. They not only kill both men and women, Muslim and infidel alike, they also recruit men and women by raping them!
NEFA Foundation: Al-Qaida Suicide Bomber Assessed by Pentagon as "Aggressive", "Committed Jihadist" Prior to Release from Gitmo -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained a copy of the transcript of the 2005 Pentagon Administrative Review Board (ARB) assessment of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Kuwaiti national Abdullah al-Ajmi. According to that document, “Al-Ajmi is committed to jihad… Al-Ajmi wanted to make sure that when the case goes before the Tribunal, they know that he now is a Jihadist, an enemy combatant, and that he will kill as many Americans as he possibly can. Upon arrival at GTMO, Al Ajmi has been constantly in trouble.
New TV AD "Keep Gitmo Open" Feb 10, 2009
Attitude Adjustment -- [Strategy Page]
Saudi Arabia announced that at least 14 of the 117 Saudis released from Guantanamo Bay, have returned to terrorist activities. At least five percent of those (over 500) released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to terrorist activities.
Yemen on high alert amid fears of al Qaeda attack
Sergeant Gives Kidney to Fellow Airman -- [War On Terror News]
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., Feb. 5, 2009 – On April 30, 2008, Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Jones became what some would call the "ultimate wingman."
Jones, a senior controller in the Maintenance Operations Center of the 58th Maintenance Operations Squadron here, gave one of his kidneys to Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam Johnson, a fellow controller who had been in total renal failure for more than 22 months.
PTSD - The Warrior Lives! -- [Blackfive]
I've been fortunate to receive a few messages from vets who now are on the psyche side of the medical profession. I'll post their messages in subsequent posts. Here's one referring to this post about PTSD:
Soldiers' Angels VA Team touches lives of homeless veterans -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
The email below from a VA Case Manager (which I have edited slightly and added emphasis) was sent to Louise Stanley of SA's Sacramento VA Team Chapter and shared with this note:
Operation Overseas Mardi Gras 2009 -- [Soldiers Angels LA]
...A lot of people are fitting small plain King Cakes in the boxes. Filling cakes will not travel well. It takes 1-2 weeks to reach a destination, so make sure it is air tight. Other ideas for food include: local coffee & tea, pralines, moon pies, Hubig’s Pies& local spices. Pork products are not allowed in Iraq and liquid is not allowed in a USPS package. Please use store bought items for this mission.
Thank you ahead of time for sharing Mardi Gras with our heroes!
Fullbore Friday -- [CDR Salamnder]
One man; two world wars - fullbore.
Hundreds of mourners have gathered in Oxfordshire for the funeral of the last British serviceman to have seen active duty in both world wars.
William "Bill" Stone died aged 108 on 10 January at a care home in Berkshire.
GIs' New Armor Too Heavy, Army Says -- [Military.com]
Concerned that U.S. troops are already saddled with too much heavy gear, military officials will not require them to wear improved body armor until manufacturers cut the weight of the new protective plates.
...The quality of small numbers of the current plates, called "ESAPI," was questioned last week in an audit by the Defense Department inspector general's office. The audit said the ESAPI plates from one body armor manufacturer - Armor Works of Chandler, Ariz. - were tested improperly and may not provide troops adequate protection.
The Army disputed the conclusion.
Sometimes, things get lost in translation... -- [Castle Argghhh!]
...So, you're Johnny Jihadi and frankly you're tired of those hoser Crusaders who keep whacking you and your buddies with long range machinegun fire - even when shooting from helos dammit! This when your fire control tactic of "Spray and Pray" (you are very devout, after all) doesn't quite seem to be earning the blessings your Imam told you praying while spraying would bring.
You chat it up with your buddies and the guys you have working the bazaars near Kandahar and your research leads you to the concept of something called "spade grips" as a way to impart some control on those automatic weapons when they are in the "rock n' roll" mode.
So you go and start surfing. But...
How To ETS Out Of The Army -- [The Unlikely Short-Timer]
Finding the answers and guidance to this is a bitch, moreso than one would expect. There isn't much information on the net, and what IS on there is tends to be written by gung-ho re-up types.
So here's the deal, this is what you future Short-Timers must do. For everyone else, this is boring jargon.
Army deserter deported from Canada, now in U.S. jail -- [Bellingham Herald]
Cliff Cornell fled the U.S. Army four years ago for British Columbia when his Georgia artillery unit was ordered to serve in Iraq war.
On Wednesday, Cornell was deported from Canada, arrested in the U.S. and booked into the Whatcom County jail.
I'm Still Alive -- [AfghanistanShrugged - home from Afghanistan]
Yes, I am still alive! There's been quite a long delay in posts and that's due to my soul sucking journey back to the United States of America. It's great to be back in the US it's that getting here can crush your will to live.
I'm working on some posts, seeing my wife, drinking a beer and eating food that didn't come out of a cardboard box have taken priority over writing blogs posts.
Pentagon clashes with media over control of information -- [LA Times]
..."The U.S. military is going to control the battle space in which they operate," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told a gathering of journalists in April 2007. "The First Amendment provides no right of access to the battlefield — zero, none." Whitman's assertion has never been tested in court, and legal opinions vary.
The public affairs department has even arranged to fly friendly bloggers to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act. The public affairs office decided who could take part in special "Blogger Roundtables" with Pentagon officials in 2005, and transcripts show that those chosen were overwhelmingly pro-military and repeated the information they heard on their own Web sites without always revealing its source.
Testing 1-2-3 -- [Weekly Standard - William Kristol]
Joe Biden was right.
Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama. . . . Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. . . .
Various unsavory characters do seem to have marked Biden's words.
The Iranian regime, having spent the first couple of weeks of Barack Obama's presidency preemptively scorning his overtures, mocking his weakness, and assuring the world its nuclear program is nonnegotiable, last Tuesday reported it had launched a satellite into orbit, making clear that Iran intends to have a missile launch capability on which to deploy its nuclear warheads. Sounds like a test by the mullahs.
On the same day as the Iranian satellite launch, it was reported that, under pressure and inducements from Russia, ... Sounds like a test by Vladimir Putin.
...And on that very same day, North Korea, having in the first week of the Obama presidency scrapped all its agreements with South Korea and warned of war on the Korean peninsula, ....Sounds like a test by Kim Jong-Il.
But these quizzes are a taste of what's to come. And they suggest Obama had better focus on the commander in chief part of his job, not just on his domestic concerns.
Agencies Await New Leaders And Direction -- [Washington Post]
...Although much of Obama's time has been devoted to the financial crisis and efforts to pass a major stimulus package, experts point to a long list of festering concerns that they say demand immediate attention. Many of these problems -- including inadequate staffing, huge caseloads and a lack of clarity about the mission -- affect public safety and the efficiency of basic operations.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Iraqi Elections - [Soldiering On - in Iraq]
...I spoke to an Iraqi Army major yesterday about the election. He observed that in our election, he knew Obama had won when Obama won Florida. We marveled at how American elections so often come down to Ohio and Florida. He said he is glad Iraq has their system, even if it is confusing. He is a fan of Maliki. Most of the members of the Iraqi Security Forces seem to be fans of the Prime Minister (at least when asked). The general consensus seems to be that Maliki, Allawi and the Islamic Party (Sunni) will do well. The hope is that this might form a moderate center that can bring Sunnis and Shi’a together against the extremes on both the Sunni and Shi’a sides. Of course, only time will tell.
Imad Allawi offers a secular Shi’a alternative and is viewed as a uniter. Prime Minister Maliki is a Shi’a nationalist who is seen as standing for a strong Iraq. The Iraqi Islamic Party is the strongest Sunni party (because they didn’t boycott the last election). It was interesting watching Iraqi television ...
Witness to History - Part 2 - Marine General Sounds Off About Iraqi Election -- [BlackFive]
Major General John F. Kelly writes this note to Seamus about the elections, our Marines, and Iraq
Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy. What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives. With the expectation of all of the above (suicide bombers) they walked miles (we shut down all vehicle traffic with the exception of some shuttle busses for the elderly and infirm) to the polling places. I slept under the stars with some Grunts at Combat Outpost Iba on the far side of Karma, and started driving the 200 miles up the Euphrates River Valley through Karma, Fallujah, Habbiniyah, Ramadi, Hit, Baghdad and back here to Al Asad.
...One of the things I've always said was that we came here to "give" them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today,
Election Day -- [Bullet Wisdom - in Iraq]
...As the clock ticked, we bit our lip and held on. Everyone waited by the radio, waiting for a report from a polling station of a monstrous attack. Coalition and Iraqi Quick Reaction Forces stood by, ready to handle the worst.
The worst never came. The Iraqi people again pointed their signature ink-dipped fingers in the air, again showing a sign of victory and defiance. We still hold our breath, waiting for that big, attention-grabbing attack. Waiting for someone to break the quiet. When it comes, our Iraqi counterparts are ready, and we will be there alongside them.
Sunnis I-Rock the Vote -- [NRO - Pete Hegseth]
On my visit back to Samarra, Iraq, this past August, numerous locals told me: “Al-Qaeda will never come back here!” Military security was the true grandfather of political progress and reconciliation.
However, on that very same trip—which occurred deep in the heart of the Sunni triangle—I once again witnessed the lingering scars of political exclusion. While the streets were safe, shops opening, and the city council holding session, the reconstruction money and coordination needed from higher levels of the Iraqi government were not yet reaching Samarra.
Western media ignores… or disses… historic Iraq electoral successes. *ALL* hardline Islamic parties lose ground! -- [Flopping Aces]
it comes as no surprise that it takes a UK (not a US) publication, The Guardian, to report on some very notable successes in the wake of the Iraq elections over the weekend.
Despite a lower than expected turnout of 51%, there were no boycotts based on ethic or sectarian lines. In fact, the Sunni turnout in some areas was as high as 60%… a big difference from the 2005 elections. “It was also the first election to have international observers in all 712 constituencies.”
U.S. Soldier Shot by Iraqi Sniper -- [ga Great Americans]
An unbelievable true story of Sgt. Steven Tschiderer shot by sniper fire in Baghdad, Iraq. Miraculously he survives thanks to state of the art body armor. In a turn of events Sgt. Tschiderer saves the life of the sniper that attempted to take his. Watch the actual footage unfold as filmed by Iraqi insurgents!
This video was edited from a segment on the History Channel titled Shockwave.
Dog saves handlers life -- [Task Force Mountain - in Iraq]
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – A military working dog saved his owners life while on a routine mission near Najaf, Iraq recently.
Not gonna do it -- [FP: The Best Defense - Tom Ricks]
I'm gonna wait a couple of weeks before I try to sort out the Iraqi provincial elections. When I was in Baghdad in November, an American official preparing for this period said that the key wouldn't be the run-up to the elections or the vote itself, but the month or two afterward, when winners and losers became clear. The two key questions, he said, were...
Eye on Anbar: did the provincial elections make things worse? -- [FP: Abu Aardvark's Middle East Blog - Marc Lynch]
I'm a bit confused by the rapturous reception across the board of the Iraqi provincial elections. I'm as delighted as everyone that the Iraqi provincial elections went off without major violence. But as I've been warning for many long months now, the dangerous part of the provincial elections comes when those groups who expected to win find out they didn't.
Iraq Probes Possible Voter Fraud -- [Washington Post]
The head of Iraq's electoral commission said Tuesday that it is investigating "serious" allegations of electoral fraud in Anbar province that, if corroborated, could alter the outcome of Saturday's election, providing the clearest indication yet that voting irregularities occurred during provincial balloting.
Iraqi policemen, still a long way to go
Violence Looms in Iraq After Muslim Brotherhood Steals Anbar Elections -- [PJM - Patrick Poole]
Voting fraud claims threaten to unravel the hard-won peace achieved in Anbar.
Iraq’s road to democracy -- [The Examiner]
It took Iraq a little under six years to get from a dysfunctional police state under a mad dictator whose religious and ethnic factions seemed hopelessly at odds with each other, to the Jan. 31 elections, under which the outlines of a vigorous and diverse democratic system have begun to take shape.
Iraq’s road was too long and too messy and much too mishandled, but then so was Britain’s. By rational standards, this is no failure. It is a muddied and bloodied heroic success.
Iraqi woman had 80 women raped then recruited as suicide bombers -- [Herald Sun]
A WOMAN suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.
Iraqi woman had 80 women raped to recruit suicide bombers
U.S. and Iraqi forces also detained more than 100 people who were considered a threat to the recent peaceful provincial elections. -- [LA Times]
Reporting from Baghdad -- In the 72 hours before last week's provincial elections, U.S. and Iraqi forces targeted more than 100 people considered threats to peaceful balloting in the capital, the top American military commander in Baghdad said Tuesday.
Obama Backs Out on Iraq Appointment -- [Washington Times]
The Obama administration asked retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni to be US ambassador to Iraq but abruptly withdrew the appointment without explanation, Gen. Zinni said Tuesday.
A Super Farewell -- [Notes From Iraq - in Iraq]
Today, my team not only celebrated the Super Bowl by grilling out at midnight, we also wished farewell to one of our interpreters. Evan (aka 'Eazy T') will depart Iraq in order to make the trek to the States in a few weeks. He will set up residence while he waits to be issued his green card, upon the receipt of which he will enlist in the U.S. Army. You might wonder if the Iraqi Army officers felt less than complimented by his departed Iraq to join the U.S. Army. The answer is a definite 'yes.' I was present for more than one uneasy conversation on this topic. In reality though, this opportunity is awesome for Evan. And, to be honest, the United States is getting the good end of this deal
Groundhog Day -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
There’s a running joke in the Army, that every day is like the movie Groundhog Day. We just keep re-living the same day again…and again…and again…except when we don’t. Today, on the actual Groundhog Day, I realized how different our days have been so far. From our sleepless arrival and the unending BaggageFest ‘09, to our transition into our CPIC jobs, to our move from the transient tents to trailers, every day has been a little bit different. And a little bit historic, even.
How a news idea becomes a news story -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
How does the idea of a reporter become a news or feature story in the newspaper or on the radio or TV? Here in Iraq, it almost always includes some support from military Public Affairs, and that support is almost always more complicated than the average person might think. You can’t just show up to interview or shoot pictures in a combat zone; people don’t like being surprised. Here is one example:
Hello families of the HQ! -- [Whatever It Takes - in Iraq]
We have finally made it to Camp Taji, Iraq. This may be the first time you have ever heard of it, but it is now our new home away from home. It is much nicer here than we expected. We have two-man rooms with heat, AC, soft beds, and internet service. Not far from our rooms we can find a luxury item we have not seen for quite a while, flush toilets! It is the simple things in life that are worth treasuring.
Military/Afghanistan - Kesterson At War [HT: Bouhammer]
U.S. photojournalist Scott Kesterson spent 15 months embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan in an effort to understand the conflict. (VIDEO)
GAFFNEY: S-U-B-M-I-S-S-I-O-N -- [Washington Times]
'For the last few months, Obama has been receiving and sending feelers to those close to al Qaeda on whether the group would end its terrorist campaign against the United States,' a diplomatic source said. 'Obama sees this as helpful to his plans to essentially withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq during his first term in office.' "
If surrender in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran were not enough, upcoming opportunities for Mr. Obama to exhibit American submission to Islam include
Rescued From Comments: Anonymous Vern -- [Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure]
...I guess I come at this from a different perspective from most of the contributors. Having a nearly 40 year interest in South Asian Islam and history, a graduate degree in Islamic history and just happened to be married to an Afghan, a Pushtun, to be exact, has really focused me. I have witnessed much suffering over there, most of it inflicted by the Afghans upon themselves. I say this based on three tours to Afghanistan myself, tours in which I did not hide in FOBs or at Bagram or Kabul, but actually went out and about (alone and afraid, often enough). I have witnessed some really amazing attempts by US military and civilian personnel to provide assistance in a humane and localized manner that would benefit locals and not the wallahs in Kabul or former warlords. I have witnessed the callous disregard for truth by western journalists (in one case, the journalist was actually standing on a destroyed wall, beneath which lay the bodies of dead civilians as she loudly searched for the bodies to blame on US fire). I have...
Russia cuts a supply line to Afghanistan -- [Hot Air - Ed Morrissey]
Send to a Friend | Share on Facebook | printer-friendly Just two weeks after supposedly agreeing to expand supply lines into Afghanistan, Russia cut one of the more important supply lines available to NATO. Vladimir Putin gave Kyrgyzstan over $2 billion, and the Central Asian country not-so-coincidentally booted the US from their air base
Who's the Enemy - The Taliban or the Paks? -- [Military Observer - Andrew Lubin]
The news from the front today is that the Taliban blew up a bridge and halted the main supply route from Karachi port to the Khyber Pass. The attack took place outside of Peshawar, and as too often happens, the Pakistani Army security guards who were supposed to be guarding the bridge against just such an occurrence…were nowhere to be seen.
Inside an Afghan battle gone wrong (VII): What it tells us about the Afghan war -- [FP: The Best Defense - Tom Ricks]
A friend who has read this series on the small but deadly battle at Wanat last summer suggested that we should consider one more issue-that is, what this incident might tell us about the war in Afghanistan.
I think the insights of this infantry veteran, who must remain anonymous because of his position, are important. Let him explain: ...
...Not only are his points important but they get at a key problem that the battle of Wanat highlighted: the ongoing, long-running confusion between a counterterrorism mission and a counterinsurgency one.
More U.S. Troops Needed in Afghanistan to Set ‘Baseline of Security’ -- [Defense Link]
More U.S. troops are needed in Afghanistan to confront insurgent violence and to establish “a baseline of security” there, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters here today.
The "Americanization" of ISAF -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
So, one brigade has arrived, three more will be coming, plus an aviation combat brigade. In late 2008 the US had only two brigade combat teams in the country, plus some 2,000 Marines and an Army battalion working with the CF at Kandahar--of which MND MacKay seemed quite unaware.
It's striking that all this US planning seems to be taking place largely unilaterally--even under the new, improved President Obama, to be presented to NATO leaders in April essentially as a fait accompli. That's what happens when most NATO members are unwilling to pull their weight. And leads to an inevitable "Americanization" of the ISAF mission.
Scratch Obama's Afghanistan Rhetoric -- [Reihl World]
Wait a minute. Bush's whole problem was that he didn't keep enough troops in Afghanistan to literally scour the countryside for that evil bin laden because of Iraq, right?
Or not. Same as it ever was. Hopefully he has the sense to realize Afghanistan would make Iraq look like a cakewalk and his campaign rhetoric was "just words".
Plans Emerge for New Troop Deployments to Afghanistan -- [Wall Street Journal]
Senior US commanders are finalizing plans to send tens of thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan's main opium-producing region and its porous border with Pakistan, moves that will form the core of President Barack Obama's emerging Afghan war strategy.
The Dead Babies Strategy -- [Strategy Page]
NATO and U.S. commanders are crafting a new information campaign that will capitalize on the fact that it's the Taliban, not foreign troops, who are the greatest danger to Afghan civilians. This is because one Taliban strategy that is working is to simply make a big deal in the media whenever foreign troops kill Afghan civilians (about 80 percent of civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban, but that has successfully been played down,...
Afghans threaten US troops over civilian deaths -- [Bouhammer]
Most rural Afghans barely care about their children as it is, so what stops them from sacrificing little Abdul for a few thousand US dollars? I mean, the family can say he was martyred (because that lie will make them feel better and justified), have one less mouth to feed, and collect money on his head.
This sets a very, very bad precedence.
You may be thinking that I am being harsh and cruel, but I am being realistic. Go back in this blog and read about kids being ran over by cars and not even cared about, or dying on on a US gurney and the father mumbling “En’ Shala” (God’s Will) or talk to anyone that has been over there and they will tell you that the general Afghan populous really does not give a crap about human life….
Team improves future prospects for Afghan village -- [One Marines View]
Members of the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province visited Zirat village this month to assess the effectiveness of completed projects and to develop ideas for future initiatives.
The Island of Kabul -- [A Battlefield Tourist: - in Afghanistan]
For years I have kept faith that the experiment in democracy here in Afghanistan would lead to better lives for millions of Afghans. While this is true in many ways, there is a lot of concern in the capital that this experiment is moving rapidly toward failure. As I sit here and brainstorm what is happening around, I find myself shaking my head in confusion because the elements that compromise this problem are so numerous that even optimistic people, like myself, are starting to doubt in a major way.
Nun serves God and Army -- [Washington Times]
She's an Army captain, a Catholic sister and a doctor.
Deirdre Byrne wears many hats — quite literally: a scrub hat when she's doing surgery and a habit as part of her everyday attire. The statuesque, graying 52-year-old recently exchanged her habit for a helmet and uniform
Specialist Gerardo Llamas Makes First Delivery to Orphanage in Afghanistan -- [Mrs Lieutenant]
Here are some pictures of my first delivery to a local orphanage. It was a great experience. I can't believe how happy these kids were.
Royal Marines Turned Away From Wetherspoons -- [In Training]
Going to get their first pint after serving in Afghanistan
Dan Buchanan, 21, and Kelvin Billings, 22, were turned away at the Isambard Kingdom Brunel pub in Portsmouth when doormen said they didn’t look old enough. They showed the cards – which included their pictures and dates of birth – but managers at the JD Wetherspoon pub insisted they were not an acceptable form of identification.
Arkansas National Guard Provides Ice Storm Support
Footage of Arkansas National Guardsmen providing support in the recent ice storm. Scenes include aerial footage showing ice coverage on the land and buildings, Guardsmen clearing fallen trees from the road, power lines being repaired, Guardsmen canvasing a rural area checking on citizens and two interviews with Guardsmen. Provided by Arkansas National Guard Public Affairs Office.
FEMA leader to visit Kentucky today -- [Kentucky.com]
The top official in the Federal Emergency Management Agency is scheduled to be in Kentucky Wednesday to tour areas ravaged by last week's ice storm, and to attend Gov. Steve Beshear's State of the Commonwealth Message, the governor's office said Tuesday.
At this time, President Barack Obama has no plans to visit sections of Kentucky that were affected by last week's ice storm, the White House said Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, the state was waiting for a response from the Obama administration on a request to declare a major disaster in the state, help cover storm costs that already have exceeded an estimated $45 million and pick up costs incurred for the use of National Guard troops.
...Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also sent Obama a letter asking the president for "timely and serious consideration" of Beshear's request. As for visiting the state, Sen. Jim Bunning said, "I think it is up to President Obama, but there is precedent for visiting disaster areas just to make sure that FEMA is doing everything necessary and that those affected are getting what they need. This is one of the worst storms in the history of Kentucky, and I know many folks are suffering right now."
Iran's Report of Satellite Launch Stirs US Concern -- [Wall Street Journal]
Iran said it launched its first domestically made and propelled satellite, sparking concern in Washington and among US allies that Tehran may be more inclined to flex its muscle than engage in negotiations on its nuclear program.
News of the launch came as North Korea appears to be taking steps to test-fire missiles,
Iran Launches Satellite in a Challenge for Obama -- [New York Times]
Iran has fired a satellite into orbit and a shot across the bow of American diplomacy.
With Obama in White House, North Korea Steps Up Big Talk -- [Washington Post]
Stinging insults, sudden cancellations of military agreements and dark warnings of "unavoidable" war are spilling out of North Korea almost daily. On Tuesday, news media reports here and in Japan said North Korea is preparing to test-launch a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
USFK Commander Warns North Korea -- [ROK Drop - GI Korea]
USFK Commander General Sharp is now weighing in on the recent escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula by North Korea:
...One Free Korea has the Google Earth images posted of where the Taepodong-2 site is located that are worth checking out.
North Korea Said to Be Preparing Long-Range Missile Launch -- [One Free Korea]
The new activity is being observed in a different location, a new site on North Korea’s northwest coast. Judging by the apparent new construction, the North Koreans plowed right along with building the site despite two U.N. resolutions clearly prohibiting it (but that is now the stuff of household parody). Here are some Google Earth images of the massive complex. In the bottom image, the launch gantry is clearly visible.
Click the images for full size.
Testing the New Guy II- Everybody plays -- [BlackFive - Uncle Jimbo]
McQ had an excellent post about Putin pressuring Kyrgyzstan to close the K2 airfield putting w big wrench in our efforts in Afghanistan. But it's not like they are the only ones. You'd be hard pressed to find any of our nemeses? nemesi? whatever who are not poking the lion, or in this case the Obamaicorn. Here are some of the others.
India... North Korea... Iran... Pakistan... Afghanistan...
China increases submarine patrols - report -- [AFP]
China nearly doubled the number of patrols by its fleet of attack submarines last year, surpassing Russia but still far behind the United States, the Federation of American Scientists reported Tuesday.
Cheney warns of new attacks -- [Politico]
Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.
New al Qaeda Video: Zawahiri Says America is Evil or Something -- [Jawa Report]
Fresh on the heels of several reports saying that al Qaeda has been virtually decimated comes a new as-Sahab produced video featuring none other than Osama bin Laden's right hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Remember the day before inauguration when all the reports were that Bush had been distracted by Iraq? Oh how one Messiah with a (D) next to his name and no change in policy can affect reporting!
A Bit of Change -- [Reason Online]
He's closing Gitmo, but will Obama fight a Bush-like "war on terror"?
Grilled by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the incoming Director of National Intelligence ducked and weaved and, much to the consternation of left-leaning bloggers, refused to say that waterboarding constituted torture. The following day, a CIA drone launched missile strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan, a nominal U.S. ally, killing 20 people.
Dozens More Secret Bush Terror War Memos Found, May Be Released -- [CQ: Spytalk - Jeff Stein ]
...Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., confirmed Monday, has indicated that a number of them may be made public.
Considering the background of President Obama's choice to head the OLC, the Justice Department will almost certainly tilt toward publication of at least some of the memos.
Gunny Tritt -- [The War on Big Tobacco - in Iraq]
What makes me mention Gunny Tritt now? Devil Dog Brew, a coffee company run by a retired Marine, offered to send me some coffee and help sell my t-shirt. I told them that I had plenty of coffee and instead to send it Vampire 6 in Afghanistan. They told me that this was not optional, they will send coffee to Vampire 6, and they are sending me some anyway whether I liked it or not.
Soldiers with Mortgages -- [Task Force Mountain]
Many Soldier home-owners in our community are experiencing difficulties selling their homes when they receive PCS orders. While the economy and home mortgage crisis affects everyone, most people aren't forced to move every few years like Soldiers and their Families. What, if anything should be done to help them through this?
The NFI - Lockheed Martin Military Fatherhood Award. -- [From my position... On the way!]
This award is given each year to a military father who goes above and beyond his duties - both as a serviceman and as a dad! - to make sure he and his family stay connected throughout the stresses of military life.
The awardee is chosen from a pool of nominations by moms, wives, kids, friends, and others from across the country and around the world! This year's awardee will be brought to Washington D.C. with his family and will be recognized at a special ceremony on June 9, 2009.
You can get more information and nominate a father you know at http://www.fatherhood.org/Gala/MilitaryAward/
Please note - nominations are only accepted until February 27th!
At Fort Leavenworth, officers are marching on a new target: the blogosphere -- [Kansa City News]
...Like every other officer at the CGSC, located on the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Simonds has to ignore the chip on his shoulder concerning the press. That's because Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, who oversees the CGSC and 17 other schools and training programs, decided last year to make media savvy a requirement for graduation. Each war-college student must complete a course of "strategic communication" in order to graduate. It's an extracurricular activity — no class covers it exclusively. Officers must participate in an interview with a television, print or radio reporter, publicly address a community group, write an article or opinion piece for publication (it need not actually be published), and blog under his or her real name.
86-Year Old World War II Veteran Blogs About His War Experience -- [Milblogging.com]
Fein, who is 86, didn't learn how to use a computer until 10 years ago, when he was living in Flemington, N.J. Students at a high school were offering an afterschool class to teach seniors how to use computers, so he decided to give it a shot.
Fein, a World War II veteran who served during the Normandy invasion, started a blog in April 2007 to share his stories of the war. Like many veterans who have seen combat, the minute details of Army life are imprinted in his mind. The blog gives him a chance to explore and share his experiences in one of the most public of forums.
Help Me Out... -- [Embrace The Suck - in Afghanistan]
Alright, this post is staying at the top for one week.
Due to unforeseen circumstances and a readership that has expanded into places that I don't want it to go, in one week or so I am switching this blog to private invited only readers.
I can have up to 100. So send me your email address using the email link in my profile so you don't have to post it up in the comment section.
I didn't want to have to do this but for my own professional safety I am going to do it. I apologize but you all know how it is. "Whatever sucks the most"
Anyways, hopefully you all send your emails and keep reading, because I am going to keep writing. Whether they like it or not...
hahaha...I KNEw they'd take down your POS blog. You're screwing up OPSEC and military "secrets" when you talk about broken planes, and delays you DUMBASS!!
So I Think These Are The Rules... -- [Embrace The Suck - in Afghanistan]
Army Is Offering Civilian Workers More Training -- [Washington Post]
The Army has launched a new effort to improve the training of its enormous civilian workforce, seeking to repair a long-neglected system for those employees who don't wear uniforms to work.
The Medal of Posthumous Honor -- [Castle Argghhh!]
The Medal of Honor is a perplexing thing - trying to scry out the why's and wherefore's of who gets one.
Among our allies in the Long War, the Brits, the Aussies, and the Kiwis all have something in common - they have living recipients of the Victoria Cross, awarded for actions that occured during their participation in the Long War. The Victoria Cross is the Commonwealth equivalent to the Medal of Honor.
The United States has none.
Now It Can Be Told: NPR Report Calls Al Qaeda "Decimated" -- [Ace]
DrewM. notes that The Lightworker said the following at the first presidential debate:
...al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001.
And now, having been in office for a week and a half -- Al Qaeda is "decimated."
As DrewM. says: Damn, he is good.
Father of Beheaded Journalist Daniel Pearl: When Will Our Luminaries Stop Making Excuses for Evil? -- [Ace]
She takes on the media and Jimmy Carter.
NBC Host Throws Out the Obama Is Lenin Comparison (Video) -- [Gateway Pundit]
CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer compares Barack Obama to Communist leader Vladimir Lenin and lauds Communist China for protecting their profit driven economy during this difficult time:
The Study That Launched a Thousand Moonbats -- [Jawa Report]
Remember that Lancet study that claimed 655,000 Iraqi civilians had died as a result of the US-led invasion? Even though the figure was widely criticized at the time as being far too high an estimate, Left wing moonbats from Cindy Sheehan to the now mainstreamed Daily Kos clung to its accuracy as an article of faith.
It turns out...
So, Can We Question Their Patriotism Now? -- [Gateway Pundit]
We know from the libs and the media that it was un-American to question Democrats for slandering the troops, bashing the troops, mocking the troops, and constantly repeating the "war is lost."
Thankfully, Joe Biden set us straight on what patriotism was all about:
Iraq Is Obama's Mideast Pillar -- [WSJ]
What's in fashion, electorally speaking, are secular parties, as well as the moderately religious Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This wasn't supposed to happen. The Palestinian parliamentary election of 2006 that put Hamas in power was taken in the West as proof that Arab democracy was destined to yield illiberal results. Saturday's election suggests otherwise, assuming there is a structure that guarantees that Islamists must stand for election more than once.
What about security? A month ago, Gen. Ray Odierno predicted that "al Qaeda will try to exploit the elections because they don't want them to happen. So I think they will attempt to create some violence and uncertainty in the population." But al Qaeda was a no-show on Saturday. Meanwhile, more U.S. soldiers died in accidents (12) than in combat (4) for the month of January. The war is over.
So what are you going to do about the one bright spot on your map -- an Arab country that is genuinely democratic, increasingly secular and secure, anti-Iranian and, all-in-all, on your side?
On IPS, Patriotic Dissent, Listening to Generals -- [On IPS, Patriotic Dissent, Listening to Generals -- [Villainous Company]
“Mr. President, please change course. Listen to your generals. Listen to former generals. Listen to the Iraq Study Group.” - Joe Biden
Back in January of 2007 the Democrats were wildly promoting the statements of any general willing to undermine the sitting Commander in Chief. And if one of them inconveniently turned out to support the Surge, that didn't prevent patriots like Keith Olbermann from claiming he was agin' it (and durnitall it was dangerous if not downright unAmerican to disregard the military's advice)!
Liberals Propose Fast-Tracking Treaties -- [FSM - Cliff Kincaid]
The liberal Brookings Institution has come up with a controversial way to get costly and unpopular treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate. Their answer is to bypass the constitutional requirement that treaties obtain two-thirds of the vote of the Senate before passage by redefining the treaties as statutes. Then, they would only need a bare majority for passage in both Houses of Congress, which just happen to be controlled by Democrats.
Obama's defense budget mystery -- [Washington Times]
There has been some confusing reporting in the last few days regarding President Obama's plans for the Defense Department budget. Officially the Office of Management and Budget is claiming that the budget will increase by 8 percent. But because most of the Iraq and Afghanistan war costs have been funded through supplemental appropriations, rather than the regular Department budget, total military funding remains a mystery. Mark me down as suspicious.
After 14 Days Obama Already Tired of the White House -- [Ace of Spades]
"We were just tired of being in the White House," the president candidly told the gleeful second-graders at Capital City Public Charter School.
"We got out! They let us out!" Mrs. Obama said as the kids and their teachers laughed.
Group Calls On Obama To Deport Aunt -- [WCVB Boston]
A national group is calling on President Barack Obama to deport his aunt, an illegal immigrant who was living in Boston.
Four years ago, an immigration judge instructed her to leave the country after her request for asylum from her native Kenya was rejected.
"President Obama has promised the American public that his administration will honor the principles of open government, the Constitution and the Rule of Law," said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "Obama must either deport his aunt or destroy his own credibility by showing her favoritism."
THOSE PESKY LITTLE FACTS -- [Antynomys]
...The President chews the fat with Iran and Syria, does not want to hear what his victorious generals have to say about furthering victory, and appoints people whom he owes to help him and themselves. Uhm...what about the country, like, you know, that you lead? Funny how fast things go South when you are a majority President who can't blame anyone but a talk radio host for his problems.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Military 101: What It’s Like In Iraq -- [FOX News]
What do YOU know about the country of Iraq? Outside of news stories, do you think most Americans know what it is like there? We know the percentage of Americans who have worked in Iraq during the war, either as a civilian or service member, is merely a microcosm of the U.S. Consequently, the amount of Americans who know first-hand what is it is like in Iraq is scant.
Since my return, I have been inundated with questions about Iraq from family, friends and colleagues. The questions range from “what’s it like in Iraq” to “why do so many service members want to return to duty in Afghanistan or Iraq” to “what’s it like to be away from family & friends for a year.”
By far the most popular question, and most difficult to answer, has been “what’s it like in Iraq?” The very broad “what’s it like in Iraq” usually leads to 163 subsequent questions. After a horsed voice, I have somehow quenched the curiosity of most people when trying to answer this initial question. So, this is what it is like in Iraq
The Purple Returns -- [Greyhawk]
...This was not an election for nation-wide office - so some helpful perspective can be gained by comparing these results to those from a non-Presidential election from a more established democracy. No doubt Reuters would have done so but ran up against a deadline or filled their available server hard drives and weren't able to provide a good point of comparison.
Iraqi Elections -- [Far From Perfect - in Iraq]
Absolutely nothing happened. Complete quiet. Not one medevac related to violence or even combat. Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come here. I have to say though, that Iraqis take their elections much more seriously than do people in the US. Very little apathy in the voting public. I mean would you turn out to vote if you were unsure whether or not you would be killed for doing so? Especially if you are a woman? The security forces (Army, Police, etc) got to vote a day early just to make sure there would be enough people to ensure the safety of the public.
Congratulations to the People of Iraq: -- [Grim's Hall - in Iraq]
Today's elections will, I expect, go largely unnoticed back home. In a way that is a mark of the success of the Iraqi nation and our servicemembers.
Speaking only for myself, I was up at 0445 this morning. I spent the day at headquarters, to advise the command staff in case of difficulty across our operating environment. As a show of honor to the Iraqis who stood forth to vote, we began the morning with a playing of the Iraqi national anthem in the TOC. No Iraqis were there to know, but it was for them all the same. All of us know many Iraqis, work with them, eat with them in their homes.
This is their victory, but...
Iraq! Do You See..? -- [The Gun Line - in Iraq]
Iraq! Do you remember your sons and daughters huddling in the night, frightened of the future? Do you remember when a tyrant forced his will upon you, and forced your sons to fight, while his own sons took your daughters from the streets, and violated them? Iraq! Do you remember when your army was confused, and dared not to protest against the crimes of a dictator? Do you remember when your sons went to war with only the shirts upon their backs? Iraq! Do you remember when there was no one to turn to when the electricity went out? When there was no water? When there was no justice? Do you? Iraq! Do you see now the proud faces of your sons, as they stand, shoulder to shoulder with us, wearing the proper equipment for their jobs? Do you see their pride? Do you see their professionalism?
Iraqi voters looking beyond religion
Iraqi Provincial Elections- less carnage = more candidates -- [IN-iraq - in Iraq]
Yesterday, Iraq held provincial elections and no one died. In what is a sure sign that political parties are winning over the terrorists, no bombs blew people up on their way to the voting booths. A few mortars were reported to have gone off in Tikrit, some opposition candidates were executed in Diyala, but compared to last election in 2005, when Dexter Filkins reported voters had to weave through a concussion of bombs to get to the polls, it seemed the Iraqi citizens could, for the most part, now vote without fearing for their life. Our compound in Baghdad has been on lock down most of the week.
Iraqi people everywhere -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
Unlike my experiences in Kuwait (seeking the elusive Kuwaitis), I get to meet Iraqi people every day. In fact, all of our soldiers do — and a pretty good cross-section of their society at that. In the morning as I drive to work , I can see Iraqis hard at work doing construction to rebuild their own national infrastructure here within the International Zone, as well as projects to support the U.S. military presence. My experience has been ...
Election Day in Baghdad -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
Today was provincial council election day in Iraq. What has struck me most about this event of potentially world-shaking importance is how normal it has been. All the news reports have said "little" violence ... I just saw a CNN report that three mortars exploded in Tikrit (about 100 miles north of here), and that's it. Pretty impressive for a country that was seriously at war with itself less than a year ago. From my own observation, I only heard one quick siren late in the day. No big booms from car bombs. No small-arms fire.
Football fans, beer lovers in Iraq enjoy free brew -- [Stars and Stripes]
Drawn by the promise of two free beers each, several hundred soldiers — maybe even more than 1,000 — flocked to the dining facility on Forward Operating Base Kalsu in Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, in the wee morning hours Monday for a Super Bowl party. Shortly after 1 a.m., the military men and women toasted each other with Heineken, Budweiser, Miller, Guinness and Coors.
Super Bowl Sunday -- [Whatever it Takes - in Iraq]
Another day has come to pass here in Iraq. Almost all of the company has made it here safely. Our mortar men and port operations detail will be joining us soon. Some of the Soldiers who were injured during our train up are starting to be Released From Active Duty (REFRAD) and being sent home, others are preparing to join us in Iraq now that they have recovered, while others continue to be provided with health care at a Medical Treatment Facility (MTF). One of my focuses as a commander is to ensure that the welfare of our Soldiers is taken care of.
Obama Sees 'Substantial' Pullout of U.S. Troops From Iraq This Year -- [FOX News]
President Obama said Sunday that the peaceful elections in Iraq are "good news" for U.S. troops and their families, and he agreed with the suggestion that a substantial number of those troops could be home within a year.
"I think that you have a sense now that the Iraqis just had a very significant election with no significant violence that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis and that's good news not only for the troops on the ground but for the families who are carrying an enormous burden," Obama said in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer before the Super Bowl.
One Genocide that Wasn’t -- [OneFreeKorea]
It’s a curious choice of words: “the most peaceful election since the fall of Saddam.” Unless one accepts Saddam Hussein’s definition of the word “election” at face value, one might as well say, at the very least, “since the rise of Saddam,” and by a series of extensions, since the very beginning of the world’s oldest civilization.
...But is there any serious question that had we lost our nerve in 2006 or 2007, genocide would have been the likely consequence?
There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there. It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions…. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question…. We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade. [Barack Obama, July 19, 2007]
...So even our new president has conceded how things would have turned out had America followed his advice, or that of our new secretary of state, when that advice was at the height of its political appeal.
Iraq shoe hurler sculpture removed
Small Wars vs Big Wars -- [Abu Muqawama]
The grown ups over at the Small Wars Journal put up the latest from Tom Ricks' Inbox. He notes:
Marine Maj. Gen. Larry Taylor, now in Iraq, recently wrote to a young Marine to warn him against assuming that the country's next war will be like those in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan. I was particularly struck by his last point -- that the danger of being wrong about a big war is far greater than the danger of being wrong about a small one.
And in the general's own words:
Also, IMHO, the risk of being unprepared to fight the nation-state is much greater than the risk of being unprepared to fight the guerrilla.
Anybody who's worked on COIN-related issues in the last ten years has heard some version of this.
Afstan: Advice for Richard Holbrooke -- [The Torch - in Afghanistan]
Paddy Ashdown, who once looked like being the UN's main person for the country, has some wise words for President Obama's new Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan:
I'm glad that President Obama chose you as his special envoy in Afghanistan. For I know that you are passionate about the country and have all the skills, experience and muscle to turn things round before it is too late.
It's not going to be easy, of course. But you know that. The talk here is of a troop surge with the new President asking Europe for more troops and to share more of the fighting.
Afghanistan Elections Announced
Bag[ged ]rami -- [Jalalabad Fab Lab blog - in Afghanistan]
After spending more than enough time down in the city, we got back to the roots of what this whole thing is all about--pushing data ahead of infrastructure on the fringes of civilization. It is on these fringes that the real battles here are fought, against hunger, poverty and Talibs. Considering how economically depressed it is here, the cities manage to function reasonably well, especially in our prime location as the first major anything on the road from Pakistan. You need not walk far, however, before ...
Coalition Forces maintain pressure on terrorist networks -- [Centcom]
Coalition Forces killed two militants and detained nine suspects during military operations targeting the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist networks in eastern and southern Afghanistan, Jan. 31.
In Ghazni Province, Coalition Forces searched a compound near Daya Kheyl, located approximately 180 km southwest of Kabul, for an individual known to facilitate mines, weapons and money in southern Ghazni as well as having strong ties to the Haqqani terrorist network.
Quit Digging in Afghanistan -- [AntiWar.com]
The closest thing to good news about the future of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan is that while the Obama administration is committed to sending as many as 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, several news stories have suggested that the purpose of doing so is to achieve a bit more stability to buy time to reevaluate the situation and develop a new strategy.
Rachel Maddow - Dan Rather on Afghanistan
The Yellow -- [Free Range International]
There is much speculation in the press about bringing in more combat troops as well as trying to arm tribal fighters (Lashgar’s) in hopes that they will assist ISAF and the Afghan government in their fight against Armed Opposition Groups (AOG.) One thing that can be predicted with absolute certainty is that without internationals in the field mentoring these Lashgars they will be of little use or effectiveness. The same holds true with the Afghan police. All the multimillion dollar training centers in the world will not deliver an effective Afghan police force – the only way is to mentor them. Direct, daily mentoring by international military personnel is the reason why the Afghan Army is doing so well and perceived by the people as the only functional, effective government force in the country. There are also many stories in the press on the growing problem of poverty. One of the major factors affecting this poverty is unemployment. There is not a district in Afghanistan which does not have an on the shelf plan to fix its irrigation systems. Irrigation, bridge and road work is a labor intensive process here due to the lack of modern machinery or training.
Russia opens supply routes to Afghanistan -- [Chicago Tribune]
MOSCOW—The Kremlin's decision to allow transport of US and NATO supplies through Russia to Afghanistan appears to reflect its willingness to ease tensions ...
US-funded program to arm Afghan groups begins -- [AP]
A U.S.-funded program to train and arm community members in Afghanistan's most dangerous regions as a way to defend against the Taliban has begun, the country's interior minister said Saturday.
The U.S. will provide funds to arm the community force with the same weapons used by Afghan police — Kalashnikov rifles, said Interior Ministry Mohammad Hanif Atmar.
The program has already begun, but Atmar refused to say where, citing security concerns. Other officials have said the program will begin in Wardak, an increasingly dangerous province on the southwest side of Kabul.
"After training they will have the responsibility of protecting the people, providing security for the highways, schools, clinics and other government institutions," Atmar told a news conference.
Afghanistan hits back at Western critics over aid -- [Reuters]
Afghanistan hit back at Western criticism of official corruption on Sunday, saying some 80 percent of international aid was outside government control so donors should be held to account.
As U.S. President Barack Obama makes Afghanistan his foreign policy priority, President Hamid Karzai's government has come under increased Western criticism for corruption, poor governance and not arresting the king-pins behind the booming drugs trade.
NATO Wants Sim Afghanistan to Test War Plans -- [Wired]
NATO commanders in Afghanistan want a virtual version of the country, to test out battle plans and forecast future unrest.
Afghanistan's often-explosive mix of tribal, ethnic, and religious power politics has been catching outsiders off-guard for the last couple-thousand years.
32 Hours To Kabul -- [A Battlefield Tourist - in Afghanistan]
...Walking out of the airport it was like I had never left. Seemed like yesterday, in fact. However, once past the gate and into town, it took a while to recognize where I’d lived for eight months of my life. New buildings and other changes were all over the place and the traffic was ten times worse. One thing for sure: If you only saw Kabul, you’d think everything was just fine here, except for the overwhelming poverty.
Groundhog Day -- [Reuters]
Al Donst of Belvidere, New Jersey, waits in a crowd, estimated to be over 10,000, for famed weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil to make his annual prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the 123rd Groundhog Day, February 2, 2009.
Report: Team Obama Has Been Talking To Iran And Syria For Months -- [Ace]
"Last few months", eh? I seem to recall Obama being sworn in less than two weeks ago. So much for one President at a time. I guess we can add the Logan Act to the Internal Revenue Act to the list of laws Team Obama just doesn't care much about.
This reaaly adds another layer to Iran's statement that Obama's actions are a sign of weakness.
How Can the World Be Blind to Israel’s Existential Threats? -- [Michael Yon -in Israel]
...It is simply astounding that many foreign governments do not see this for what it is. Good Muslims are murdered by Muslim extremists in probably dozens of countries, yet certain European governments insist that there is some sort of moral equivalence between Hamas and the democracy called Israel. At this conference, I hear incredulous Jews who are concerned that their soldiers and political leaders might be charged with war crimes and arrested if they travel to Europe. This is just one example of the racism that vexes Europe and keeps it behind where it could be. Imagine for a moment that Cuba were launching missiles at Florida. We would sink their navy, shoot down their air force, wipe out their army, and kill Castro. Yet thousands of rockets have been raining down on Israel, while many members of the international community demand that Israel do nothing.
Pakistan Is World's "Most Dangerous Country," Ex-U.S. Official Says -- [NTI]
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Friday characterized Pakistan as the "most dangerous country" in the world, the Press Trust of India reported (see GSN, Jan. 30).
"It has nuclear weapons, extremism, poverty, corruption and a very fragile system and is in a very difficult location," Albright said during a panel discussion Washington.
"Every day, some of us are asked, what is the most dangerous country in the world? And for me, Pakistan has won the lottery because
Russia Denies Missile Reports -- [NTI]
"President Dmitry Medvedev mentioned placing Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region as one of possible military measures that could be taken in answer to the U.S. missile shield plans, and we repeatedly stressed that it would be an answering measure," the statement added. "Unless there is a missile shield defense, there will be no Iskanders in the Kaliningrad region, but if the missile shield plans is implemented, we will answer."
Moscow has characterized the European missile shield plan as a threat to its security. Bush administration officials argued that it was meant to neutralize missile threats from nations such as Iran. President Barack Obama has not stated directly whether he intends to pursue the effort (Agence France-Presse, Jan. 31).
The head of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday urged the two nations to collaborate on missile defense
Qatar's mood swings: Pro-Iran or pro-West? -- [JPost]
First the Persian Gulf emirate hosted a Gaza crisis conference that included Iran's president and Hamas' leader and became a soapbox to bash America and its Mideast allies. Then three days later in Kuwait, Qatari leaders ...
Iran crackdown on dissent seen linked to election, U.S -- [Reuters]
Iranian opposition politician Ebrahim Yazdi says the situation for pro-reform activists like himself is getting worse "day by day" in the Islamic Republic.
...Yazdi and Sotoudeh may be experiencing what one Western diplomat called a "definite clampdown" on dissenting voices, which he said could be due to uncertainty about Iran's June election, the economy and new U.S. President Barack Obama.
Renowned U.K. Warship Found In Channel -- [CBS]
Deep-Sea Explorers Find Wreck Of HMS Victory, Man-Of-War Which Sank 264 Years Ago
Deep-sea explorers who found $500 million in sunken treasure two years ago say they have discovered another prized shipwreck: A legendary British man-of-war that sank in the English Channel 264 years ago.
Under Obama, `war on terror' catchphrase fading -- [AP]
The "War on Terror" is losing the war of words. The catchphrase burned into the American lexicon hours after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is fading away, slowly if not deliberately being replaced by a new administration bent on repairing the U.S. image among Muslim nations.
Since taking office less than two weeks ago, President Barack Obama has talked broadly of the "enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism." Another time it was an "ongoing struggle."
He has pledged to "go after" extremists and "win this fight." There even was an oblique reference to a "twilight struggle" as the U.S. relentlessly pursues those who threaten the country.
But only once since ...
Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool -- [LA Times]
The role of the CIA's controversial prisoner-transfer program may expand, intelligence experts say.
Reporting from Washington -- The CIA's secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba. But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.
Major Flip-Flop by Human Rights Watch: Organization Waiting for Obama to Develop Kinder, Gentler Rendition Program -- [DISSENTING JUSTICE]
....Now that the L.A. Times reports that rendition will continue during the Obama administration, Human Rights Watch has apparently altered its position. According to Tom Malinowski, the organization's "Washington advocacy director," the risk of torture and other abuses does not mandate the prophylactic cessation of rendition. Instead ...
Andrew Sullivan tortures himself for Obama -- [Patterico's Pontifications]
The L.A. Times report that Pres. Obama has preserved renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the US in the war on terrorists — and may expand them — had bloggers like Moe Lane chuckling that Obama-supporting pundits like Andrew Sullivan were now “pro-torture.”
...What happens while all that studying is going on? Obama’s executive order directs everyone to comply with the law. Of course, so did Pres. Bush’s EO. To Sully, the difference seems to be that the evil Boosh was a lying liar with flaming pants, while Obama is full of Hopeyness and Changitude. To maintain that illusion, Sully really must avoid reading about Obama’s classified loopholes, which may secretly allow enhanced interrogation tactics in “extraordinary cases.”
Video Transcript of Former Gitmo Detainees Swearing Allegiance to Al-Qaida in Yemen -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained and translated a new video from the Al-Qaida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula released on January 23, featuring two former inmates at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who have returned to senior positions within Al-Qaida. During the video, former Gitmo prisoner no. 372 Said al-Shihri (a.k.a. Abu Sufyan al-Azdi) offered his thanks to supporters in the Muslim world: "may Allah reward you handsomely for me and for my brothers, the prisoners in Guantanamo-for the time when you were a blessing to us… when you stood with us and shared our pains, and prayed for us. And we ...
Prisons that could house Guantanamo Bay detainees -- [AP]
Snapshots of U.S. prisons where terrorist suspects could be housed after the closure of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:
Fort Leavenworth, Kan. ...
U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig near Charleston, S.C...
Camp Pendleton, Calif....
Administrative Maximum Facility (Supermax), Florence, Colo....
Obama: Guantanamo closure makes US more secure -- [AP]
President Barack Obama says his decision to close the Guantanamo prison "will make us safer" and ensure that the government is upholding legal guarantees under the U.S. justice system.
In an interview aired Monday on NBC's "Today" show, Obama says his decision to close the military prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba was driven by his attempts to balance "what's going to keep the American people safe" and constitutionally guaranteed rights for those imprisoned.
Could ecoterrorists let slip the bugs of war? -- [TimesOnline]
The terrorists' letter arrived at the Mayor of Los Angeles's office on November 30, 1989. A group calling itself “the Breeders” claimed to have released the Mediterranean fruit fly in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and threatened to expand their attack to the San Joaquin Valley, an important centre of Californian agriculture.
With perverse logic, they said that unless the Government stopped using pesticides they would assure a cataclysmic infestation that would lead to the quarantining of California produce, costing 132,000 jobs and $13.4 billion in lost trade.
Free Flowers for the Troops -- [You Served - CJ]
ProFlowers.com and eMailOurMilitary.com have teamed up with me for an awesome offer. They want to thank our troops for the tremendous work they do on a daily basis and have come to me and a select few other milbloggers for help getting this out. They don’t want big productions, just to say thanks.
There are so many soldiers away from home this Valentine's Day. Send them your love by joining “I Heart Heroes”, an annual event hosted by HeroBox that allows the community to send cards, messages, gifts and more to our Heroes.
I Heart Heroes -- [From my position...]
SIGN THE WALL and let them know how much you care.
SEND A CARD to PO Box 3061, Peachtree City, GA 30269.
The "card" can be a Hallmark card or a piece of paper.
As long as it comes from the heart, they'll love it.
Office: P.O. Box 3061, Peachtree City, GA 30269
Obama, Top Pentagon Officials Send Super Bowl Messages to Troops -- [DefenseLink]
Instead of commercials, part of the content carried between downs on the American Forces Network were public service announcements recorded by President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“As we all take this time to watch the big game, I wanted to be sure to send all of our military men and women a special greeting,” the transcript of Obama’s salutation reads. ...
'Our Last Living Link' To WW I -- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Veteran Frank Buckles, a West Virginian who turns 108 today.
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - World War I took place so long ago - in a lost world of cavalry horses and biplanes - that it's a little startling to meet Frank Buckles in the flesh.
The last known U.S. military veteran of World War I, Buckles turns 108 today.
New GI Bill Carries Different Eligibility, Benefits -- [Defense Link]
The new GI Bill provides three separate types of benefit payments to those who have at least 90 days of aggregate active service after Sept. 10, 2001.
The first type of payment covers tuition and fees equal to what each state’s most expensive state-run school charges for in-state, undergraduate study. In addition, ...
DoD Testing Requirements for Body Armor and Army Recall -- [Captain's Journal]
On January 29 we learned that the Army was issuing a recall of more than 16,000 sets of ESAPI (or enhanced side arms protective inserts) that had been issued to its soldiers. By way of description, the SAPIs are ceramic plates that are designed for stopping 7.62 mm rounds, while the soft panel armor (with more coverage, but less weight) is designed for protection against 9 mm rounds and shrapnel. The plates and soft panels are fundamentally the same for both Army and Marine body armor, but the carrier vests are slightly different.
Sgt. Maj. Coleman discussed body armor recall
Overnight Open Thread. Hangover/Pre-Hangover Edition (genghis) -- [Ace]
Today there was a ceremony at Naval Station Bremerton honoring the ship and her crew, both former and current.
”ABOARD THE USS KITTY HAWK — If this country ever needed a crew of loyal sailors, ready and more than willing — if not all quite as able — to take up their posts again, the former crew members of the USS Kitty Hawk would answer the call.”
“More than 2,000 former and current crew members, their families and dignitaries gathered to bid the aircraft carrier goodbye.”
“The Navy's last fossil-fueled aircraft carrier, the Kitty Hawk is being retired, moved from Pier 6 at the Bremerton Naval Station to the shipyard next door, where it will ultimately be decommissioned.”
Sunday Ship History: Grog and "Bob Smith" -- [Eagle Speak]
I don't know why, but Super Bowl Sunday reminded me of the former navy tradition of "grog."
Perhaps you've heard this old tale...
Obama seeks assessment on gays in military-- [Boston Globe]
The Obama administration is telling the Pentagon and gay-rights advocates that it will have to study the implications for national security and enlist more support in Congress before trying to overturn the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" law and allow gays to serve openly in the military, according to people involved in the discussions.
Wounded Medic Welcomed Home To Tyler -- [Tyler Paper]
Some greeters stood at salute and some held American flags as wounded U.S. Army medic Andy Burnett arrived at First Church of the Nazarene in Tyler Saturday afternoon.
Burnett sat in a wheelchair and maneuvered his way into a room with patriotic decorations, refreshments and a slide show.
National Guard troops enjoy welcome home -- [News Sentinel, IN]
Splashed across the huge screens: “Thanks for bringing our Daddy home.” The Welcome Home Heroes ceremony formally received those fathers Saturday
90 Iowa guard soldiers coming home today -- [Radio Iowa, IA]
By Matt Kelley A welcome home ceremony is planned for this afternoon in Iowa City for 90 members of a returning Iowa National Guard unit.
Families welcome soldiers home at Drum gym -- [Watertown, DailyTimes]
Sgt. Michaud, Watertown, was one of about 160 soldiers who were welcomed home Sunday night in Magrath Sports Complex on post.
That's Odd? Media Confused On Who Undermined the War -- [Gateway Pundit]
The liberal media says that poor planning and oversight undermined the troops in Iraq.
The media must have forgot about Harry "This War is Lost" Reid or the...
If the media wants to be honest about who undermined the Iraq War effort, they would have to include the disgraceful actions of the democrats.
Unfortunately, the media does not want to be honest.
9/11 Trutherism on 'Rescue Me' -- [LGF]
Coming soon on FX: 9/11 Trutherism for the masses, promoted by a cretinous actor who is a genuine, in-real-life Troofer. Disgusting.
A coming episode of the acclaimed FX drama “Rescue Me” will tackle what may sound like a far-fetched plot line: that the attacks of Sept. 11 were an “inside job.” The actor who espouses the theories on camera, it turns out, also subscribes to them in real life.
Claims that Al Qaeda terrorists were not solely responsible for the attacks have a lively following on the Internet, including on YouTube, but the second episode of “Rescue Me’s” fifth season, starting in April, may represent the first fictional presentation of 9/11 conspiracy theories by a mainstream media company (FX is operated by the News Corporation).
Flashback: Showtime's 'the L word' Displays Barbara Bush's Abortion of Son George W
The Washington Times reported Friday that NBC rejected for the Super Bowl an ad from the Fidelis Center for Law & Policy's CatholicVote.com (video of the ad) showing a baby in the womb identified as Barack Obama -- which reminded me of how in January two years ago another network, CBS's Showtime cable channel, featured in one of its prime time series a mannequin “art” piece of Barbara Bush aborting George W. Bush. NewsBusters reported on January 29, 2007:
Sunday's episode of the L word, Showtime's drama series about lesbians in Los Angeles, featured the “Unauthorized Abortion of W,” a sculpture of a woman's body with an exposed womb displaying George W. Bush's adult face with each of his hands holding onto a rocket labeled “U.S. Air Force.”
Defense Official: Obama Calling for Defense Budget Cuts -- [FOX News]
The Obama administration has asked the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon's budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent -- about $55 billion -- a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.
Last year's defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend "burning the midnight oil" looking at ways to cut the budget -- looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.
Episode 51 OBAMA...GOD HELP US! The Sgt Freedom Campaign
The hollowing begins ... -- [CDR Salamander]
In the middle of a war. It has started.
We cannot leave troops in the field hang'n can we? Nope, therefore look for more than the fair share to come from the USN and non-AMC USAF.
...If you were wearing a uniform and hoped for change - you're going to get it good and hard. If that makes you mad, take a powder.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)