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Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various 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.Refresh for updates.
No Mochaccinos, No Problem for Marines of Echo Company -- [Danger Room - Noah Shachtman in Afghanistan]
By any rational measure, the Marines of Echo company should be miserable. During the day, they trudge through the mud until they got shot at and endure temperatures that regularly spike above 110 degrees. At night, they sleep in holes in the dirt, next to mortar tubes. Dinner for the last three evenings has been something brown called "beef burgundy." With enough hot sauce, you can keep it form tasting too much like cigarettes.
Yet morale here at this converted school compound that serves at Echo company's headquarters is uncannily high. The things most people would find intolerable - the danger, the Third World living conditions - are exactly what makes Echo company thrive, these troops say. "Marines don't miss what they don't get," Staff Sgt. Timothy Funke tells me.
How to Lose in Afghanistan -- [Washington Post]
The United States cannot win the war in Afghanistan in the next three months -- any form of even limited victory will take years of further effort. It can, however, easily lose the war.
...". . .Yet they can win only if they are allowed to manage both the civil and military sides of the conflict without constant micromanagement from Washington or traveling envoys. They must be given both the time to act and the resources and authority they feel they need. No other path offers a chance of a secure and stable Afghanistan free of terrorist and jihadist control and sanctuaries. . ."
US general: New strategy needed to defeat Taliban -- [AP]
KABUL (AP) - The top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said Monday the situation in the country is "serious" and a new strategy is needed to defeat the Taliban. Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent his strategic review of the Afghan war to the Pentagon on Monday.
Afghanistan strategy must change, US commander McChrystal says -- [The Guardian]
...McChrystal has been working on the review since Obama put him in charge of the war in June after firing his predecessor, David McKiernan. The document has been sent to the US military's central command (CentCom), responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to Nato headquarters in Brussels.
The review has not been published yet, but according to reports leaked to the BBC McChrystal likens the US military to a bull charging at the matador-like Taliban and slightly weakened with each "cut" it receives. The review is also expected to confirm that protecting the Afghan people against the Taliban must be the top priority.
International Security Assistance Force Commander Submits Strategic Assessment -- [USFOR]
General Stanley McChrystal, the Commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan forwarded his strategic assessment today to the Commander, U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, and the Commander, Joint Force Command Brunssum, General Egon Ramms, who will comment and forward through their respective chains of command to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and NATO Secretary General.
"The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort," said McChrystal.
Strategic Communication: Getting Back to Basics -- [Adm. Mike Mullen - Joint Chiefs of Staff]
It is time for us to take a harder look at "strategic communication."
Frankly, I don't care for the term. We get too hung up on that word, strategic. If we've learned nothing else these past 8 years, it should be that the lines between strategic, operational, and tactical are blurred beyond distinction. This is particularly true in the world of communication, where videos and images plastered on the Web--or even the idea of their being so posted--can and often do drive national security decisionmaking.
But beyond the term itself, I believe we have walked away from the original intent.
Actions Speak Louder, But What Do You Hear? -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
From the volume of advance press it has generated, you would think Admiral Michael Mullen's upcoming critique of strategic communication in Joint Forces Quarterly was something on the order of a new Harry Potter novel. It's not, although there's lots of good common sense in it. Actions matter more than words. Words unsupported by actions are meaningless. Creating additional bureaucracy to deal with problems tends to aggravate those problems. Just because such ideas are trite doesn't mean they're not true.
Actions Speak Louder That Words -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
There is no shortage of news flowing out of Afghanistan concerning election mischief and a ton of low to mid grade mayhem. Just tonight we received a report about a BBIED who walked into the Pakistani Khasadar (Tribal) Guard mess and detonated his rig killing 22 and wounding another 15. This is probably connected to the recent killing of Baitullah Meshud in an excellent drone strike which should help keep Pakistan in the game. Stupid move by the Taliban to target tribal security organizations which are the low hanging fruit in the tribal areas but this area is full of stupid people so it is no surprise. We have been spending an inordinate amount of time investigating the increased number of Anti Government Element (AGE) incidents on the main roads and in Jalalabad City because we need to be thinking and operating in real time so separating criminal from AGE activity is important.
Late last week we had what sounded to be a fairly large firefight in downtown Jalalabad but upon investigation it looks to us to be a Badal (pashto for vengeance) act - the third targeting the ANP post in district one in as many weeks. This was a new tactic though ...
NATO's Rasmussen Urges Allies to Stay Committed to Afghanistan -- [Bloomberg]
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged members of the alliance to remain committed to the efforts in Afghanistan.
"We need to do what it takes to secure the country because it's about our own security," Rasmussen said in a Bloomberg Television interview from North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels today. "We cannot afford that Afghanistan becomes again a safe haven for terrorists."
Brown pledges extra troop support -- [BBC]
Gordon Brown has promised more support for UK troops in Afghanistan, during a surprise visit to the country.
88 Lbs -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
Today we went out on a Mounted Patrol so that I could visit with my Afghan counterpart in addition to many other tasks. Thankfully the movement there and back was uneventful. Like our previous meetings we had a productive and cordial time. We are working towards a combined training class similiar to the Combat Life Saver program that the US Army has used for several years. We both look forward to Afghan personnel taking over the teaching of this type of class for the benefit of the Police in the Northern Region. We also made progress on several other more mundane topics.
Marine Lieutenant Colonel Eleazer Omar Sanchez -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...While out on Village Medical Operations (VMO) I saw LTC Sanchez in action. Since he usually was the senior ranking officer, he would conduct the tribal meetings with the assistance of his interpreter "Outback". LTC Sanchez would give the tribal elders an opportunity to air their grievances and listen empathetically about their requests for new schools, medical clinics, wells, roads, etc. Then he would address the group. At times he was firm and scolded the elders about the frequent insurgent attacks and planting of IEDs. But then he would switch gears and speak powerfully from his heart on how it felt to lose troops in battle. Often the elders would hang their heads or gaze at him with sympathetic eyes. It takes a special person to conduct these meetings, because if it's perceived you are not authentic, they will never meet with you again.
ANA Library Update -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Judging by the grins on their faces, you would have thought we were celebrating a holiday or someone's birthday. Instead my ANA SGM just recently stocked the empty book shelves with some new books. If you have been following my blog, you will recognize this facility as a former mosque converted into a library to benefit the ANA soldiers.
The transformation process is just about complete except for a few outside enhancements.
Mission Number Five -- [Sgt Danger - in Afghanistan]
...We rolled out a few hours later. Our route took us on some familiar roads and some unfamiliar ones, past Afghan mountains and Afghan electronics stores, through dense markets and wide open spans of dirt. We had our colonel in my truck, who worked just like one of the crew. (A welcome surprise to have a senior officer who will get her hands dirty.) We had some navigation issues - don't worry, no Jessica Lynch type stuff - and got some help from the Afghan National Army through our interpreter. AGAIN, I was impressed with the ANA's ability to work alongside us. When one of our trucks got stuck in six inches of moondust, a local civilian even got into the act and helped get it out.
Goodbye Dutch, Hello Dutch -- [There's sand in my... - in Afghanistan]
...There was a coordinated suicide vehicle bomber attack this week in Kandahar. There were 5 cars loaded with explosives that hit a Japanese construction company that employs Pakistani engineers. According to the Stars and Stripes article, the blast killed at least 41 people and injured 66. Fortunately we only received one patient from the blast, we were expecting a very large mass casualty.
On the road again... -- [3rd Time, New Country - in Afghanistan]
Now that we are past the elections, we are able to travel throughout Kabul and revisit many of the places we have been to before. During the past week, I had the opportunity to drive to ISAF for a little NATO medical get together similar to the one I went to several weeks ago, but no BBQ this time. I was the driver for the lead vehicle and it was sobering to survey the damage from the SVBIED.
I also drove when we went to NDS Hospital one day this past week. We continue to establish a small mentoring role
Life in Helmand, Afghanistan -- [Belfast Telegraph] HT: Helmand Blog
"My soldiers have fought with resilience... When the Taliban have tried to take them on we have won every time"
...Speaking during a rarely given media briefing, the Thiepval-based Brigadier said: "The soldiers in my brigade have worked extremely hard over a hard summer and they have fought with resilience and fortitude at every turn. And when the Taliban have tried to take them on with force we have won every time.
"I think what's really important is how they have done it in terms of the judgement and measure they have shown on the ground during very trying conditions."
Precision Voting -- [Michael Yon - in Afghanistan]
The latest media wave splashed into the main voting centers in places like Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Lashkar Gah. The larger cities only account for perhaps 20% of the Afghan population. Whereas the easy and obvious stories are in the cities, a crucial and larger dimension--the other 80%--would unfold in the boonies. Most Afghans would have no chance to vote.
Karzai Using Rift With U.S. to Gain Favor -- [NY Times]
A little over 24 hours after the polls closed, President Obama stepped out on the White House South Lawn last week to pronounce the Afghanistan presidential elections something of a success.
"This was an important step forward in the Afghan people's effort to take control of their future, even as violent extremists are trying to stand in their way," Mr. Obama said. "I want to congratulate the Afghanistan people on carrying out this historic election."
Major Fraud Allegations Top 550 in Afghan Election -- [Voice of America]
Independent Afghan election monitors say allegations of major fraud have more than doubled in the past two days and that investigators are now looking into more than 550 reported incidents. Investigations into the latest fraud allegations, reported by the Electoral Complaints Commission, could further delay a vote counting process that has been much slower than officials predicted.
US Walks Fine Line in Afghan Vote -- [Wall Street Journal]
The US and its allies are walking a thin line by trying to monitor the count in Afghanistan's presidential vote without influencing the outcome, as results from the election trickle into public view. Rampant allegations of electoral fraud, combative statements from candidates, and popular speculation about the US's role as kingmaker have made the balancing act more difficult. According to the latest results, released Saturday, President Hamid Karzai's lead has widened, with votes from a third of the polling stations counted.
Long hair and hiking boots = Taliban? -- [A World of Troubles - in Afghanistan]
He was caught the day after the election, as he passed a checkpoint. The Afghan Army thought he looked suspicious. He had long hair, he'd come from five villages deep into the mountain valley. He had long hair and wore hiking boots.
He said his name was Turgul, that he was 20 years old and that he didn't read or write.
Pakistan army kills 45 Taliban; border reopens -- [AP]
Pakistani soldiers killed at least 45 Taliban militants in scattered gunbattles across the northwestern Swat Valley after a suicide bombing on a police station killed 17 cadets, the army said Monday. Hundreds of miles (kilometers) away, a southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan reopened after an administrative dispute culminated in an attack on a line of waiting NATO fuel tankers. One driver was killed and 16 trucks destroyed when the fuel caught fire.
Standing Back And Hoping For The Best -- [Strategy Page]
As police expand their search of Pakistan's Swat valley, looking for any remaining Taliban, they are finding that local tribal militias, who have openly declared war on pro-Taliban tribesmen, have been there first. Over two hundred bodies, of pro-Taliban men, have been found so far. Many local men in Swat sided with the Taliban, and participated in the brutal Taliban rule. These guys have not been able to get transport out of the area, because of all the army roadblocks, and the difficulty of going cross country for long distances. So the tribal militias are hunting down and killing known Taliban thugs.
Organized Crime in Pakistan Feeds Taliban -- [NY Times]
The police here say the Taliban, working with criminal groups, are using Mafia-style networks to kidnap, rob banks and extort, generating millions of dollars for the militant insurgency in northwestern Pakistan.
"There is overwhelming evidence that it's an organized policy," said Dost Ali Baloch, assistant inspector general of the Karachi police.
Jihadi-linked crime has surfaced in other Pakistani cities, like Lahore. But Karachi, the central nervous system of Pakistan's economy, and home to its richest businessmen, is the hub.
Endex -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
Well, it's all over now, except the good times and celebrating together when we get home. From the very beginning it was easy to see we had a stellar group of young men in this unit, top to bottom far superior to other units I've been in. Today, I feel more proud than ever to have been a part of what we did. And I'm ecstatic to say we're taking everyone back home with us. We were not without some close calls
Commander: US on the road out of Iraq -- [Stars & Stripes]
The U.S. military is packing up to leave Iraq in what has been deemed the largest movement of manpower and equipment in modern military history -- shipping out more than 1.5 million pieces of equipment from tanks to antennas along with a force the size of a small city. The massive operation already under way a year ahead of the Aug. 31, 2010 deadline to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq shows the U.S. military has picked up the pace of a planned exit from Iraq that could cost billions.
The goal is to withdraw tens of thousands of troops and about 60 percent of equipment out of Iraq by the end of next March, Brig. Gen. Heidi Brown, a deputy commander charged with overseeing the withdrawal, told The Associated Press in one of the first detailed accounts of how the U.S. military plans to leave Iraq.
Buried Treasure in Iraq -- [Iron Camel - in Iraq]
Several days ago, our General received information that there might be something buried under a building. So once again we mounted up and headed out.
...What followed was one of the weirdest things I have been part of since I have been to Iraq. The General that hosted us reached into his desk and grabbed a small aerosol bottle of cologne. He walked around the room standing in front of each of the dozen or so guests and sprayed us with the cologne. It was a heavy, flowery scent, typical of the perfumes and colognes worn in Iraq. Everyone got a good 2-3 second burst. So weird.
Two hours after arriving and smelling good, we began our mission: ...
Tim James' journey from NBA to Iraq -- [Miami Herald]
"The phone rings at 1 a.m. It is Tim James. The connection is tinny and echoing. How are you, Tim? 'It was 125 degrees yesterday,' he says. 'I've never felt anything like that. It was like working inside an oven. It was 121 in the shade.' James is in Iraq, in a suffocating desert 105 miles north of Baghdad, but he isn't making one of those celebrity visits to cheer up the troops. No, he is the troops. The former University of Miami basketball star and former Miami Heat first-round pick enlisted in the Army a year ago, at the age of 31, and now he finds himself in the dusty, dirty center of a war. ...
Iraq's Ambivalence About the American Military -- [NY Times]
Iraqi military officials often refer to their American counterparts as "the friends," a circumlocution full of Eastern subtlety that is often lost on the friends themselves. Add some more quotation marks, and it comes closer to the sense intended, "the 'friends.' " Not sarcastic, exactly, but rather colored with mixed emotions, as in the sentence, "The 'friends' came by yesterday to complain again about payroll skimming."
...They are grateful, many of them, but gratitude is a drink with a bitter aftertaste. They also chafe at the thousands of daily humiliations they endure from a mostly well-meaning but often clueless American military. An Iraqi politician who wishes to remain nameless ("I have to deal with the friends," he explains) tells of traveling with the Iraqi Army's chief of staff, a general in uniform, epaulets bristling with eagles, stars and swords. They were at the Baghdad airport, about to get on one of the few Iraqi military planes, when an American sergeant stopped him and refused to allow him to board. Despite the general's remonstrations of rank and privilege, the sergeant made sure the plane took off without him.
Arms Finds In Hitherto Quiet South Iraq Ring Alarms -- [NY Times]
Iraqi security forces say they have found numerous caches of new weapons in the Shi'ite south, raising the possibility that an area which has been peaceful could relapse into violence before elections next year.
..."We are always finding large amounts of ammunition, including rockets, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and sticky bombs. The last one was a week ago," Major Aziz al-Amarah, commander of a rapid response police force in the southern province of Wasit, told Reuters.
Amarah believed some of the weapons were made in Iran.
"Sometimes they try to remove labels that refer to Iran but we can make out the words from what is left," he said.
Tehran denies arming Iraqi militias from across its long and porous border with Iraq.
Syria's Assad slams Iraq over "immoral" charges -- [Reuters]
DAMASCUS, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday described as "immoral" Iraq's accusation that Damascus was responsible for attacks ...
Security developments in Iraq -- [Reuters]
Following are security developments in Iraq at 5 a.m. EDT on Monday.
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military patrol wounded five civilians in southeast Baghdad's Rustumiya district, police said.
US military: Number of Iraqi detainees below 9000 -- [AP]
BAGHDAD -- The US military says the number of Iraqi detainees has dropped below 9000 from a high of 27000 in 2007. The Americans have been releasing .
Remnants of Iraq Air Force Are Found -- [New York Times]
Iraqi officials have discovered that they may have a real air force, after all. The Defense Ministry revealed Sunday that it had recently learned that Iraq owns 19 MIG-21 and MIG-23 jet fighters, which are in storage in Serbia. Ministry officials are negotiating with the Serbs to restore and return the aircraft. The Serbian government has tentatively promised to make two of the aircraft available "for immediate use," according to a news release from the ministry. The rest would be restored on a rush basis, the ministry said. An Iraqi delegation went to Serbia as part of an effort by the government to locate assets stashed abroad by Saddam Hussein to evade sanctions. Serbia had had friendly relations with Mr. Hussein's government.
Musings on a Friday Night -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
Things at work are settling down a little bit. Some decisions are being made but the politicking is still ongoing. I've got a pretty good idea of what my little group will be doing and it looks fine with me. Some other decisions, well, would've been a lot better had they gone a different way ...
A sign that it is time for me to leave Iraq... -- [Castra Praetoria - in Iraq]
Occasionally you have a premonition that it is time to move on. That what you've been doing is now concluded and your work here is actually done.
Recently I received the below notice on the all hands e-mail here in scenic Al Assad.
Iran Claims Report 'Vindicated' Nuclear Program -- [Voice of America]
A top Iranian nuclear official says a UN report has "vindicated" his country's nuclear program as a peaceful one. The semi-official Iranian news agency Fars quotes Ali Asghar Soltanieh Saturday as saying Iran will resist political pressure to give up its nuclear goals. The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report Friday saying Iran has allowed its inspectors greater access to its main nuclear complex in the city of Natanz. But the report said Iran failed to reveal if its nuclear program includes a military component. Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear agency, said Iran will cooperate with inspections but not beyond its legal obligation.
Legal Check on ANL Arms Ship -- [The Australian]
The Rudd government will investigate whether an Australian-registered ship carrying an undeclared cargo of weapons from North Korea, bound for Iran, may have broken Australian laws and violated sanctions. United Arab Emirates authorities reportedly seized up to 10 container loads of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and trigger mechanisms, from the vessel, ANL Australia, when it berthed at Abu Dhabi in mid-July.
Israel, Iran and Obama -- [Wall Street Journal]
The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course. The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is likely to come from Israel.
Playing Rough To Keep The Americans Away -- [Strategy Page]
As China develops more powerful electronic devices, it has become determined to keep the details secret (so their electronic wonders will not be easily defeated in wartime.) To that end, they have requested that the United States eliminate the use of aircraft and ships to monitor activity along the Chinese coast. Most of this is electronic surveillance. Some is simply keeping an eye on what the Chinese are building (in the way of military facilities along their coast.) The U.S. recon operations take place in international air and sea space, but the Chinese know that this does not stop the Americans from picking up lots of useful information. China has implied that if the U.S. does not cease this snooping, there will be more confrontations with Chinese aircraft and ships.
NEFA Foundation: Transcript of New Zawahiri Video, "The Path of Doom" -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained a new video recording produced by Al-Qaida's As-Sahab Media Foundation featuring Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and titled, "The Path of Doom." During his sermon, Dr. al-Zawahiri sharply condemned the Pakistani military campaign to restore control over restive regions in the northwest near the Afghan border -- particularly in Waziristan and Swat. According to al-Zawahiri, "the war in the tribal areas and Swat is an inseparable part of the Crusaders' assault on the Muslims the length and breadth of the Islamic world." As a result, "the Pakistan Army is acting as a fundamental element of the Crusade against Islam and Muslims, and has become a tool in the hands of the global Crusade." Dr. al-Zawahiri suggested that there is only one means available "to get out of this predicament which Pakistan has gotten itself into: it is through Jihad, and there is no way other than Jihad."
Al-Qaeda's "Islamic State of Iraq" Calls on Muslims to Join Uighur Jihad against China -- [MEMRI Blog]
On August 22, 2009, the media division of Al-Qaeda's "Islamic State of Iraq" organization (ISI) released the sixth video in its "Knights of Martyrdom" series, which celebrates jihadists killed in the war in Iraq.
This time, the video was dedicated to the Muslims of East Turkestan, i.e. the Uighurs of China's Xinjiang Province.
Ex-Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff Sees Riisk in Current Anti-terror Policies -- [Los Angeles Times]
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has a new book out this week, warned in an interview that national security will suffer if counter-terrorism warriors fear that bosses will second-guess their front-line actions after the fact. Chertoff said his book, "Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years," lays out an architecture for defending the nation against the threats of the 21st century. As Homeland Security chief from 2005 through the end of the Bush administration, Chertoff oversaw 218,000 employees and a $50-billion budget. He was head of the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003, during which time he led the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks and prosecutions of cases including the Enron scandal.
Cheney: Interrogations Probe Is a 'Political Act' -- [Washington Post]
Former vice president Richard B. Cheney on Sunday condemned the Justice Department's decision to investigate suspected CIA prisoner abuses, reiterated his assertion that enhanced interrogation techniques worked in revealing terror plots, and indicated that he may not cooperate with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Cheney accused President Obama of setting a "terrible precedent" by allowing an "intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration." Asked whether he would talk to John Durham, the veteran prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to examine allegations that the CIA abused Sept. 11 terror suspects, Cheney said: "It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in." Holder announced the investigation last Monday, the same day that a long-awaited inspector general's review of the agency's interrogation methods was released.
1,493 Heroes Waiting To Be Adopted -- [Soldiers Angels Network]
We have way too many heroes needing to be adopted. If you can't afford to adopt one
on your own - partner with someone from work, school, neighbor, friend, and family.
We need to work as a team to get the word out these troops need to be adopted.
For first time adopters: www.SoldiersAngels.org
The Care & Feeding of the Military Chaplain -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P in Afghanistan]
...All hands, no matter what denomination or inclination, need to pitch in to take care of the chaplain. That guy bears the weight of the battalion on his shoulders; he carries people's confidences, their most-guarded secrets, and most serious problems. Most of the bad stuff and not too much of the good stuff gets dumped on him. Put another way, who goes to the chaplain and says, Hey-- I'd like to grab a half-hour with you to tell you in detail how great things are, and how problem-free I am??
Take care of your chaplain. He's worth his weight in gold.
School grant aimed at helping military kids -- [Savannah Now]
"The premise (of the grant) is that the military kids move around so much, by the time you get them in and get them settled and get them identified, often they're gone before you really have time to work with them," said Carver fifth-grade teacher Sheri Hundley.
"Maybe where they left, they hadn't taught something yet. And when they got here, we had already taught it," she explained. "They just end up with some gaps in their skills."
"This grant allows us to use some software and some additional paraprofessionals to work with those children that just need those gaps filled in,"
Name Muffy, Assemble the Guard! -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
As I've noted before, we can't honor them all, but we'll honor the ones we can. Another veteran of two tours in Iraq passes...
...Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance sing a soul to the Great Hunting Ground and Tennis Ball Chasing Facility at Piddler's Green
Woman works to adopt out retired military dogs -- [The Durango Herald]
Benny, a retired military working dog, is a happy-go-lucky German shepherd who will do anything his master commands.
Officials outline adoption process for military working dogs -- [Air Force Link]
Military working dogs have come a long way since the days of ancient Persia and Assyria, where they donned
MAIL CALL -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
One thing that has not diminished in twenty years since my first long deployment is the power of mail on morale. Imagine my suprise when I went to the mail room and came out hauling 3 boxes and a post card! Every day with mail like this is Christmas.
Military terminates Rendon contract -- [Stars & Stripes]
The U.S. military is canceling its contract with a controversial private firm that was producing background profiles of journalists seeking to cover the war that graded their past work as "positive," "negative" or "neutral," Stars and Stripes has learned.
"The Bagram Regional Contracting Center intends to execute a termination of the Media Analyst contract," belonging to The Rendon Group, said Col. Wayne Shanks, chief of public affairs for International Security Assistance Forces-Afghanistan.
Whither Thou Goest, I Shall Be There -- [You Served]
...The military kids today have a whole wealth of issues to deal with that I cannot even fathom. When my dad left for "exercises," it was for a short time and really, he just went to some other base in the US. The Guard and Reserve kids have it the worst, I think. Yeah, they don't have to move, but they also don't have the support network around them that active duty brats do. Just being on base with kids like yourself is a huge relief. And that goes for schools too. But one common theme is being the New Kid. Man, that just sucked. Especially if it was right in the middle of the school year. Not only were there social issues, there were academic ones, trying to mesh the previous school's curriculum into the new school's requirements and format. Ugh. Sometimes, you end up covering the same material and sometimes you end up being totally lost as to what was going on. That does not help to adjust at all.
Top Officer Criticizes US Military 'Strategic Communications' -- [Global Security]
The top U.S. military officer has written a sharp critique of the Defense Department's efforts to communicate with people around the world. In an article for a military journal, Admiral Mike Mullen says the U.S. military too often launches its messages like rockets, rather than engaging with its audiences and demonstrating its intentions through actions, rather than words.
Admiral Mullen writes that the Pentagon's "biggest problem is credibility," which he says comes in part from building trust and relationships, and delivering on promises. In a column for Joint Forces Quarterly, the admiral derides the popular new concept called Strategic Communications, saying there is too much attention put on message formulation, coordination and transmission, and not enough on actual policies and their impact. He writes, "To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate." He also says, "...most strategic communication problems are not communication problems at all. They are policy and execution problems."
Must Have More Big Bombs, NOW! -- [Strategy Page]
Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force asked Congress for money to buy four 15 ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bombs. Now it wants ten, and preferably twelve. The likely targets are North Korea or Iran, and apparently the air force has developed some new information on targets that would require more MOPs, and as soon as possible.
Smoking in the military: An old habit dies hard -- [AP]
Now a proposal to make the forces smoke-free is drawing strong reactions from troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the Pentagon itself says any ban is a long way off.
Homecoming -- [Short Timers - home from Iraq]
The team arrived home safely last night on Northwest Flight 405. We were met by our loved ones at the airport. Even UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers and his wife Sherry Modrow showed up to welcome us back, which was really nice of the two of them. Jenny rushed to catch a flight back to Anchorage - after all of our traveling, she still had one leg to go. We caught up with our families as we waited for our checked bags. After we had all our things, we said goodbye to one another and stepped out into the darkening Fairbanks night. A temperate 50-degree Interior night never felt so cool before. I can only hope that every soldier with the 1/25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team has an equally happy homecoming.
40,000 pack downtown Springs to thank the military -- [The Colorado Spring Gazette]
It wasn't "Welcome Home" versus "War No More."
It was just "Welcome Home."
Thanking the troops ruled at Saturday's Red White and Brave Welcome Home Parade in downtown Colorado Springs that drew more than 40,000 supporters and only about a dozen protesters.
Bush daughter Jenna Hager becomes 'Today' reporter -- [AP]
NBC's "Today" show has hired someone with White House experience as a new correspondent - former first daughter Jenna Hager. The daughter of former President George W. Bush will contribute stories about once a month on issues like education to television's top-rated morning news show, said Jim Bell, its executive producer.
American Royalty -- [Jules Crittenden]
The lefty sockpuppet also known as Glenn Greenwald is right. This nation might as well embrace royalty and be done with it. The only part I don't get, is how he can get snarky about the fact that Jenna Bush just got a part-time TV gig, without once mentioning ...
Live from U.S. Army Europe -- [Army Live]
Good morning! I'm joining you LIVE this morning from the U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs Conference in Berlin, Germany. Today is the final day of the conference and guess what the focus is on - emerging media and social networking. All day we're hearing from speakers discussing the latest social media initiatives in Europe and the challenges we're seeing across the military. Access to social networking sites is actually more restricted in areas outside of the United States, and the security concerns are more significant. People remain "all-ears" awaiting the results of the DoD policy review and decision on social networking. This morning's agenda included a social media 101 presentation followed by a presentation by a representative from the U.S. Army Europe G-6, technology and security. The central debate surrounding social networking is the issue of whether or not access to social networking should broadly include every Soldier and every computer, or whether it should be restricted to public affairs officers or those with a clear workplace justification.
An Army Wife's View: OPSEC and Social Media -- [Army Live]
The Department of Defense has been constantly working to create blanket policies surrounding OPSEC and Social Media. They have created a forum, asking Soldiers and their Families to submit their thoughts and concerns on the issue. Below is a blog post from an Army Wife expressing her concerns and how they relate to the families of those deployed/being deployed.
For the last couple weeks, the soldiers from 4th ID 2nd Brigade have been coming home. I'm so happy to see these soldiers coming home safe and sound to their families. (For me - it's also a bit depressing LOL We have a LONG way to go)
On Facebook, Twitter and several other social networking sites, I've been seen LOTS of OPSEC (operational security) violations recently. Quite frankly - it worries me!
Ridge: Talk of terror-alert politics exaggerated -- [AP]
WASHINGTON -- Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday people "are hyperventilating" about his assertion that politics played a role in talk
Obama faces growing anger on the left -- [Washington Times]
Gays wait for policy repeal
By the time this year's tally for gay service members discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy had hit 250, Rep. Alcee L. Hastings said he could wait no longer.
The Florida Democrat decided in June to send a letter to President Obama demanding that the policy be repealed. Mr. Hastings said he was surprised when 76 other members - most of them fellow Democrats - agreed to add their signatures, and even more surprised when the letter went unanswered for the next two months.
"We're being ignored," he said.
(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 various 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.Refresh for updates.
Afghan Review Says Hunting Taliban Is Only 5% of Troops' Job -- [ABC News]
... presence since the beginning of the war and is the cornerstone of the new strategy from recently arrived US embassy and international forces staff
Feared Taliban grab of Kandahar would be significant blow to U.S. -- [TwinCities.com/AP]
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Southern Afghanistan's largest city, Kandahar, is slipping back under Taliban control as overstretched U.S. troops focus on clearing insurgents from the countryside -- a potentially alarming setback for President Barack Obama's war strategy.
Face to face with the Taliban: 'The people are fed up with the government' -- [The Guardian]
In a cafe in the centre of Kunduz, two tribal elders sat discussing life under the Taliban. The men live in a relatively peaceful area of Afghanistan, less than six miles from a German base, in a region where the roads are tarmacked and where there are many signs proclaiming this school or well or road was funded by the Germans or the Americans.
- Interview - My Last Tour: $10 a day Taliban -- [WUSF 89.7]
Temple says the Taliban promised the Afghans security and they delivered. However, they found the Taliban to be equally corrupt. Yet, many are dependent on the Taliban for their living.
"It's sad to say, but we call them $10 a day Talibans because that's what the Taliban pay them to plant an IED or to launch a rocket or to fight for them," Temple says.
Afghan Taliban Commander Is Captured in Raid -- [New York Times]
Afghan security forces raided a medical clinic in eastern Afghanistan late Wednesday, capturing a Taliban commander who had been wounded in attacks during last week's presidential election, Afghan officials said Thursday.
Afghan civilian deaths decline under new U.S. tactics -- [NY Times]
NATO figures show a decrease in fatalities since U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal ordered troops to avoid taking on Taliban in ways that put civilians at risk.
A Close Fight, and a Couple of Miracles -- [Danger Room - Noah Shachtman in Afghanistan]
For seven hours, the Marine sniper team waited, crouching behind a concrete block in a dusty courtyard, at the edge of an adobe compound. They were pretty sure that a group of local Taliban militants was on the other side of the compound wall. But the snipers couldn't strike until they had some proof. So they stayed there, in silence. They downed energy drinks to stay awake. They urinated in bottles and defecated in bags, so they wouldn't leave evidence of their presence behind. Team leader Sgt. Erik Rue kept himself sharp by running scenarios in his head of what could happen next: What if the Taliban burst in, guns blazing? What if they enter unarmed? What if there are children in the way? What if the courtyard is overrun by the militants? Where do we go then? U.S. Marines and Taliban guerrillas have battled in the villages and compounds of this farming community nearly every day for eight weeks.
27 Aug 09 -- [Dude in the Desert - in Afghanistan]
Today was our second day of CLS (Combat Life Saver) course--it's a 4 day thing ... yesterday we learned all about opening airways, tourniquets, suppressing enemy fire, care under fire, tactical field care, and all that good stuff - lots of gory pictures, videos of explosions, stories about the medics teaching the class....a couple of these guys have some serious combat experience and battle scars to show...one guy was blown up in an IED attack and has metal rods and pins everywhere, another guy got stabbed in the back and side 4-5 times while doing a "meet n greet" in Iraq--that means kickin the door down and going in to look for bad guys, the 2 female instructors have field experience caring for many battle wounded while taking fire--and returning fire...these guys are all hard core, badass, hero medics...and every single one of them says they don't give a shit if they hurt you or break a bone, but no matter what, they WILL get you out of the kill zone and you will live if there is any way possible...
Not A Good Time To Be A Pushy Pushtun -- [The Strategy Page]
The Western media reported numerous problems and much violence associated with the Afghan vote. But for those in touch with people in Afghanistan (email and blogs makes this pretty easy), the reports were far different. The Taliban huffed and puffed (mainly for the benefit of the foreign media) and generally did not deliver the violence and terror they promised. A lot of the reported "Taliban violence" in the south was the usual Pushtun tribal politics (which tends to be murderous even in the best of times). In most of the country, the only violence is the normal banditry and tribal type long typical of the region. The "vote fraud" was more common than in the West, but was mostly carried out by major politicians, not the Taliban.
E-Day -- [Rejuvenation of an Afghan Soul - Afghan in Afghanistan]
The BBC's Harun Nazafijada in Kabul says: I can see a number of girls with make-up wearing jeans and mini-skirts voting in a school. There are women in burkas too. Many of the women voters seems to be students.
Mini skirts in Kabul???? HA! What a liar!!! Men and women polling centres are segregated, he can't even see women. Why is he reporting falsely?!
Election Returns Still Trickling In -- [Outside the Wire - JD Johannes - in Afghanistan]
With 17.2% of polling stations tallied, President Karzai is leading his challengers with 44.8% of the votes cast.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah is in second with 35.1% and Bashardost is a distant third with 11.4%.
The Afghanistan Independent Elections Commission has an interactive province-by-province tally.
US envoy 'in angry Karzai talks' -- [BBC]
The US special envoy to Afghanistan has held an "explosive" meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the country's election, the BBC has learnt.
After his death, who succeeds Hakim as ISCI, NIA leader? -- [Iraq the Model]
There is uncertainty about who is going to succeed the late Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim as the news leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the new National Iraqi Alliance (NIA). Sources in ISCI told Azzaman that Humam Hammoudi, a senior ISCI member would be the new leader of the NIA. This claim is contested by Ali al-Adeeb of the Da'awa Party. Although the Da'awa is not yet part of the NIA, Adeeb is no. 2 in the hierarchy of the UIA (the predecessor of the NIA) and had served as Hakim's deputy in leading the parliamentary bloc. However, ISCI's senior members argue that the leadership of the UIA (and now the NIA) belongs to ISCI. It is worth mentioning here that the Da'awa Party has not totally ruled out the possibility of joining the NIA, according to MP Hassan al-Sinaid, of the Da'awa Party.
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss -- [Registan]
So everyone seems to have thought--from Gates and Adm. Mullen on down--that General McChrystal would bring something fundamentally new to the Afghan conflict--new ideas, new policies, the ability to secure funds and troops. The reality, of course, is far less utopian. McChrystal's new counterinsurgency directives are remarkably similar to his predecessor's, General McKiernan
McChrystal - ISAF. COMISAF COIN GUIDANCE (pdf) -- [ISAF]
Protecting the people is the mission. The conflict will be won by persuading the people, not by destroying the enemy
Firefights can happen in Medical Clinics too -- [Bouhammer]
A US Soldier was killed in the last day during a TIC (firefight) in the southeastern Paktika town of Sar Hawza clinic. There were 12 Taliban killed also during the fight. "One US soldier and 12 Taliban militants were killed in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan after Afghan and US forces attacked a clinic where a wounded Taliban commander was seeking medical treatment, officials said Thursday. Afghan security forces got information that the militants had taken one of their wounded commanders to a clinic in Sar Hawza, a district in the south-eastern province of Paktika Wednesday, Hamidullah Zewak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said." It was interesting for me to hear that this TIC happened in a medical clinic because that is exactly what happened once with me in 2007. In fact it was one of the last missions I was ever on.
Civilians Flee - PUL-E-ALAM, Afghanistan -- [NY Times]
Afghan civilians flee as an American helicopter fires on a building where Taliban fighters have taken refuge. The Taliban fighters had earlier stormed a building in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar Province, killing a guard who tried to stop them. The Afghan National Army and American military intervened, and the Taliban used the high vantage point to attack the Afghan National Police headquarters and the provincial governor's office.
Away for a while -- [Afghani Kush - in Afghanistan]
Well, I'm sorry that I haven't been updating this thing lately. As many of you know I'm going to be staying down here for another deployment. But as I've been moved around I've had less and less time to write/take pictures and less and less to write and take pictures of. So I'm going to try and update this thing when I do, but I don't think I'm going to be able to do much more of it.
Many of my readers were friends and family of the guys in my unit. They should all be home in a few weeks and it's been a great deployment because of them. We've been lucky and have had a lot of close calls.
Leaving -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
...We turned things over to the new team, and they'll begin going through all the things we went through. With the ANA you have to wonder if they purposely hit the rewind button when a new team arrives. By that I mean, the suspicion exists that the ANA play down their abilities for new ETTs in the hopes that the new guys will coddle them and not demand as much of them as they are capable of giving; let the new guys think you're incapable and maybe they won't ask much of you; show how pathetic and helpless you are and maybe they'll buy and give you more stuff. I won't personally say I saw much of that type of behavior, but I did hear of it from others and it would fit right in with what I know about the ANA.
Works In Process Update -- [Sketchpad Warrior]
Here is the oil sketch in process I mentioned in my last post:
The subject is the long wait we had one day on a convoy, when one of the vehicles got stuck on a bridge, half hanging over the edge, which delayed our movement for nine hours. We sat in the vehicle, stuck in with our gear, trying not to be bored out of our skulls, and sometimes trying to sleep. Here is pictured HM2 Amesquita, Cpl Rogers, and Sgt Miller of CLB8, trying to sleep. The jumble of Marine and gear lends itself to a sketchy process, with the paint and strokes as jumbled as the gear..!
Keeping the Peace -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
"This kind of cooperation doesn't exist anywhere else in Iraq," he told the assembled Iraqi forces at a joint security meeting. "There can be peace and understanding, or it can turn into a fight."
On the border between Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Kasales and the troops of his 5-1 Cavalry Regiment have their work cut out for them, trying to massage egos and build relationships between Arabs and Kurds. It's a daunting task even under the best of circumstances,
US general: In a year, only 50000 troops in Iraq -- [AP]
SHUAIBA PORT, Kuwait -- The US Army chief of staff says he expects the number of American troops in Iraq to go down to around 50000 by this time next year.
Iraq Says Syria Must Give Up Terror Suspects -- [AFP]
Iraq said on Thursday relations with Syria will not improve until its neighbour gives up terrorists it says plotted a devastating bombing in Baghdad and are being harboured by Damascus. "Our relations with Syria have reached a crossroads of whether they choose to have good relations with Iraq, or whether they choose to protect persons who attack Iraq," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told AFP. Bilateral relations effectively collapsed on Tuesday when the countries withdrew their envoys in the wake of massive twin truck bombings in Baghdad, which Iraq says were orchestrated in Syria.
Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq -- [Press TV]
The renowned Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso's stolen 10-million-dollar painting has been found in the southern Iraqi province of Babel.
La Mujer Desnuda was found after the intelligence service reported that the painting was in the possession of an Iraqi man living in Yebla, an area in Babel, Al Sabah newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying.
The painting, which bears the seal of Kuwait's National Museum, is believed to have been stolen during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Doubts cast on authenticity of Picasso in Iraq -- [AP]
Authorities in the art world cast doubt Thursday on the authenticity of an alleged Picasso painting that was seized by Iraqi police south of Baghdad.
A painting called "The Naked Woman" that police claimed was painted by Picasso was seized near the southern city of Hillah on Tuesday after the man allegedly tried to sell it for $450,000.
Iraqi police said the painting appeared to have been stolen from Kuwait following Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion.
But evidence seemed to mount Thursday that it was not a genuine Picasso.
Somali Pirates Fire on U.S. Navy Helicopter From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command -- [DVIDS]
Yesterday, at approximately 8:00 a.m. local time, Somali pirates aboard Motor Vessel Win Far, fired what appeared to be a large caliber weapon at a U.S. Navy SH-60B Helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49, embarked aboard USS Chancellorsville.
No rounds of ammunition struck the SH-60B. The SH-60 crew did not return fire. No personnel injuries resulted from the incident.
Message to Muslim World Gets a Critique -- [New York Times]
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at "strategic communication" with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting. The critique by the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, comes as the United States is widely believed to be losing ground in the war of ideas against extremist Islamist ideology.
End military surveillance missions, China tells US -- [AP]
BEIJING -- China demanded Thursday that the US military cease its surveillance missions off the Chinese coast, reviving a dispute that continues to upset
Ghosts of Germany's communist past return for election -- [Reuters]
Will the party that traces its roots to the Communist East German party that built the Berlin Wall soon be in power in a west German state? Or is the rise of the far-left in western Germany to the brink of its first role as a coalition partner in a state government with the centre-left Social Democrats simply a political fact-of-life now so many years after the Wall fell and the two Germanys were reunited?
Aw, Crap, He Missed -- [Jawa Report]
What is it they say? You reap what you sow?
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A suicide bomber lightly wounded a senior prince largely credited for Saudi Arabia's anti-terrorism campaign when he blew himself up just before going into a gathering of well-wishers for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the state news agency said Friday.
Communicating a threat in Supermax; al Qaeda and their lawyers wage jailhouse jihad -- [911 Families]
President Barack Obama said, "Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists," during his May 21, 2009 speech at the National Archives.
In this morning's Washington Post, they report a 2006 Department of Justice memo states that convicted al Qaeda prisoners in Supermax at Florence, Colorado "coordinated the beginning of a hunger strike" and developed "a sophisticated method to resist compulsory feeding" by communicated via "tapping on the pipes." (Has no one at the Bureau of Prisons ever heard of the Hanoi Hilton and how John McCain et al communicated by tapping on the walls?)
The WaPo stopped short of quoting from footnote 11 on page 13 that, "Ultimately, due to this coordination, the al Qaeda terrorists succeeded in gaining transfer from high security detention." The DOJ's memo does not go on to explain if the transfer was temporary or permanent yet there are no reports that al Qaeda detainees were transferred away from Florence.
Abuse Issue Puts the Justice Dept. and CIA at Odds -- [New York Times]
With the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate detainee abuses, long-simmering conflicts between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department burst into plain view this week, threatening relations between two critical players on President Obama's national security team. The tension between the agencies complicates how the administration handles delicate national security issues, particularly the tracking and capturing of suspected terrorists overseas. It also may distract Mr. Obama, who is trying to move beyond the battles of the Bush years to focus on an ambitious domestic agenda, most notably health care legislation.
Holder's Decision To Probe CIA Hints At a New Dynamic -- [Washington Post]
About five weeks ago, faced with a crucial decision on how to react to brutal CIA interrogation practices, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. concluded that it would be all but impossible to follow President Obama's mandate to move forward, rather than investigate divisive episodes from the Bush "war on terror." Holder notified the White House that he was reluctantly leaning toward naming a prosecutor to review whether laws had been broken during interrogations - the very thing Obama had said he wanted to avoid. And the word Holder got back, according to people familiar with the conversations, was that the decision was up to him.
Nigeria: Afghanistan Terrorists Captured -- [Strategy Page]
...In western Nigeria, police have arrested and questioned 3,900 members of another Islamic conservative group; Darul Salam. After than 300 members of Daryl Salam were deported to neighboring Niger. Meanwhile, police continue to round up members of Boko Haram, and at least 30 of those arrested have confessed to having received terrorist training abroad (in places like Afghanistan.)
Walking In -- [BlackFive - Laughing Wolf]
The other day, in this post, I told you of the ceremony that happens to the wounded arriving at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. There is something else that happens on arrival, that I can only tell you about, for it was not meet that I should photograph it.
Some who arrive at Landstuhl are ambulatory, some are in a category that falls between ambulatory and critical. There are those from both groups who refuse (or try to refuse) a stretcher. Then there is a special group
Chairman Cites Urgent Need for Brain Injury Treatments -- [DVIDS]
Time is of the essence when it comes to finding better treatments for traumatic brain injuries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Aug. 26 at the 6th Annual World Congress for Brain Mapping and Image Guided Therapy.
A Gift To Our Heroes At Walter Reed -- [American Infidel]
Many of us are going to Walter Reed to visit our Wounded Warriors during our trip to DC in September. "Uncle George" came up with the idea to donate laptops to our Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed because that is the one thing they ask for more than anything else. Debbie from Oklahoma got a hold of a "Best Buy" in Oklahoma and the Operations Mgr, Jeff Liles, offered to ship them all to Walter Reed by September 11th and at a very good price!!!
Ricky Lee concert to benefit Homeless Vets -- [Soldiers Angels Network]
Ricky has teamed up with True Country 94.3 the areas best new country radio station to put on an event to benefit Homeless Veterans.
SCAM Alert -- [Soldiers Angels]
Soldiers' Angels is not involved with anyone selling magazines door-to-door, nor have we been in contact with a door-to-door magazine seller who has said they are donating a percentage of their sales to Soldiers' Angels. Individual companies may plan to donate to Soldiers' Angels, but unless they have made formal arrangements with us to do so, we cannot endorse their fundraising activities.
In general, if a company is working with Soldiers' Angels, information on their project will be found on this site.
Just click "Search" on the left side of this page here and enter the name of the company or project to see if they are legit. If you ever have questions about a company, you can ask them for the name of their Soldiers' Angels contact or email angels@http://www.facebook.com/l/;soldiersangels.org (sometimes local or small companies will make arrangements that don't appear on the website).
The statement above is posted in response to the following email Soldiers' Angels recently received...
Military greeters worth meeting -- [Boston Globe]
They're part of the Maine Troop Greeters, and, yes, a few of them are either veterans or have relatives serving in the military. But what we discover about
Military examines battle policy of moving wounded within 1 hour -- [CNN]
The US military in Afghanistan may be rethinking its so-called "golden hour" policy of evacuating wounded troops off
Military bases set for merger -- [phillyBurbs]
On a much larger scale, the military has been working to do the same thing. On Oct. 1, McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Dix and the Naval Air Engineering
300 more members of Stryker Brigade come home -- [Chambersburg Public Opinion]
They need to get home and be with their families," he said. "It would be nice to welcome them at the armory, but we don't know when they will arrive.
At Ft. Dix, troops get heartfelt homecoming -- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Some held "Welcome Home!" banners, and at least three wives, including 25-year-old Brandi Deguia of Brownsville, Pa., cradled babies who were meeting their ...
Red, White & Brave: Parade welcomes home the troops -- [Colorado Springs Gazette]
The last parade of this magnitude to welcome home troops fighting in Iraq in 2004 drew a crowd of more than 50000. Organizers expect at least as many this
Files prove Pentagon is profiling reporters -- [Stars & Stripes]
Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters' coverage is being graded as "positive," "neutral" or "negative."
More bad press -- [Greyhawk]
No one wants bad publicity, but when do efforts to minimize that go "too far"? Did I mention before how bad this idea was? "Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters' coverage is being graded as 'positive,' 'neutral' or 'negative.' Moreover, the documents -- recent confidential profiles of the work of individual reporters prepared by a Pentagon contractor -- indicate that the ratings are intended to help Pentagon image-makers manipulate the types of stories that reporters produce while they are embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan." Yes, I did
US Military Investigates Afghan Desk -- [PJ Tobia - Afghan Desk - in Afghanistan]
This article from Stars and Stripes has a lot of journalists talking. It is about The Rendon Group, a company that puts together background briefs on reporters who apply for embeds with the US military in Afghanistan.
Most reporters in Afghanistan know about these reports. I obtained a copy of my Rendon report about three months ago from a friend in the military and I've posted excerpts below.
Pentagon Probes War-Reporter Screening -- [Danger Room]
The Pentagon is looking into reports that the military's public affairs apparatus in Afghanistan has been rating reporters according to their degree of sympathy to U.S. war aims. The informal investigation comes three days after Stars & Stripes first uncovered the rating practice. "I'm learning about aspects of this as I question our folks in Afghanistan," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
...Meanwhile, reporters began calling up Whitman's office, demanding to see their profiles. And a wide range of advocacy groups came out against the ratings practice. "Bringing democracy to Afghanistan is a massive challenge," the International Federation of Journalists said. "But it will not be made easier by trying to manipulate media or encouraging journalists to show bias in favor of the military."
U.S. Military In Afghanistan Denies Rating Reporters -- [Reuters]
The U.S. military in Afghanistan defended itself Thursday against accusations that a company it employs was rating the work of reporters and suggesting ways to make their war coverage more positive.
I'm Shocked, Shocked... -- [Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
...to find that public affairs officers consider the likely outcome of engaging with reporters before engaging with them. The suggestion that there is widespread blacklisting of journalists for embeds and other media opportunities in Afghanistan proves that Hell hath no fury like reporters spurned, or the interest group ready to rush to their defense. Today's Military Times includes some of my thoughts on the subject.
Military Prepares Profiles on Reporters Visiting War Zones -- [Washington Post]
The US military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere regularly assesses the content and tone of the work of individual reporters to prepare for trips and interviews by those reporters, according to defense and military officials. But the officials denied that the analysis has been used to exclude journalists from embedding with US military units in combat zones or to bar them from interviewing military personnel.
Ted Kennedy - CBS Needs to do some Fact Checking -- [Blackfive]
Senator Ted Kennedy was a veteran of the US Army. After getting kicked out of Harvard for cheating, he was drafted he enlisted. After serving his three two years, he went back to Harvard and you probably know the rest of the story.
CBS News interviewed staffers and family and did not investigate this claim
..."He's gone to the funeral of every soldier who's come home from Iraq in a casket, whether it's up in Massachusetts or at Arlington Cemetery.
How did Senator Kennedy earn burial rights in Arlington? -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
A question that has been chapping some people, both in comments here and in email.Simple. He is eligible under the existing rules.Senators who spend 2 years in the Army and 40 years in the Senate qualify for Arlington. It isn't PFC Kennedy that is being buried there, in a sense.Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall, who never served in uniform, is buried in Arlington. Arlington is considered a national treasure and is managed a bit differently from the other cemeteries in the system.Specifically, the guidance that qualifies Senator Kennedy is this
Cindy Sheehan Brings Anti-War, Anti-Obama Message to Martha's Vineyard -- [ABC News]
Sheehan, perhaps the most outspoken and most visible anti-Iraq war protestor, came to Martha's Vineyard to push President Obama to end the wars in Iraq and
War: What War? -- [Mercury News]
The anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan headed to Martha's Vineyard this week, where President Barack Obama is vacationing. Once again she is protesting our two wars abroad. But Sheehan is a media has-been.
(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 various 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.Refresh for updates.
Soldiers died trying to shield injured commander -- [Telegraph]
Two soldiers, one who married just six months ago, died in an explosion in Afghanistan while shielding their injured commander as he lay on a stretcher.
Official says Taliban Storm Hospital in Afghanistan -- [Voice of America]
By VOA News An Afghan government official says Taliban militants riding motorcycles stormed a hospital in eastern Paktika province Wednesday, sparking a deadly gun battle with coalition forces.
Car Bomb Blasts in Afghanistan Kill at Least 41 -- [AP]
A cluster of vehicle bombs detonated simultaneously Tuesday in the Taliban's spiritual homeland near a foreign-owned construction company that had recently taken over a contract to build a road through an insurgent-held area. At least 41 people were killed, all civilians, officials said. The thundering explosion occurred just after nightfall in a district that includes UN facilities and an Afghan intelligence office
Kandahar Eyewitness Account - [Frontline - Felix Kuehn - in Afghanistan]
It was perhaps twenty minutes after the call to prayer had sounded and we were breaking the fast, sitting on the floor around a plastic sheet with plates of rice and meat, when I was knocked sideways to the ground.
It takes a split second till you realize what happened; the shock-wave had blown out the windows, sending the glass flying like shrapnel into the room. It was a miracle that no one was injured.
Our glass is double glazing, and glass kept on raining down the facade landing on our terrace, shattering into thousands of tiny pieces. There have been bomb blasts before that shook the ground, but nothing like this. I heard gunfire on the streets for several minutes, and I moved to the back rooms of the apartment with my friends. No pretty pictures this time, but I doubt I could have held the camera steady those first few minutes anyway.
On Afghanistan, Political Test for Obama -- [Washington Post]
President Obama is caught between two important constituencies as he recalibrates his policy in Afghanistan - the generals who want more troops, and the base of his own party, whose tolerance for a worsening conflict is quickly evaporating.
Obama's Unspoken Trade-Off: Dead US/NATO Occupation Troops versus Dead Afghan Civilians? -- [Rawa News]
What needs first to be clearly understood is that is that Obama's Pentagon has been much more deadly for Afghan civilians than was Bush in comparable months of 2008.
Buried in the public relations blather of U.S. Marine legions "liberating" Helmand and Afghan (sham) "elections" as democracy-restored (1) is an unspoken trade-off over who disproportionately dies in America's modern wars in the Third World. Under George W. Bush, U.S politico-military elites chose to fight the Afghan war with minimal regard for so-called collateral casualties. But the soaring toll of killed Afghan civilians swayed world public opinion and stoked the Afghan resistance as grieved Afghan family members sought revenge. Enter Barack Obama....
Initial Afghan Election Results Show Incumbent President with Slight Lead -- [Voice of America]
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is leading by just two percent, according to official, partial election results five days after millions of voters braved Taliban threats to cast ballots. Mr. Karzai has 40.6 percent of votes tabulated, while his closest challenger has 38.7 percent.
Ballots over Bullets -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...Two voters had their fingers chopped off and it was also reported 2 people were hung after they voted. This show of force still did not deter millions of voters who sought to exercise their democratic right to vote.
Election irregularities were expected and several hundred allegations of fraud have been filed with the Afghan International Election Commission.
One reporter stated over 5,000 ballots were placed into the ballot box before the polling station even opened. Another report stated a high ranking police officer conducted the voting process at his house [to intimidate voters].
Beyond Elections, Fixing the Afghan State -- [Council on Foreign Relations]
It does matter who wins. If Karzai wins, as we know from many reports, he has made a lot of deals with many unsavory characters and has promised a lot of cabinet positions to these people. He's also promised a lot of governorships. There are rumors that he has offered so many governorships that he will have to create new provinces. That is not a joke. That is a real possibility. So if he is to rule more effectively, he will have to disappoint these people and face the consequences or he is going to have to try to somehow turn them into legitimate players. Some U.S. officials think there is a way that old warlords can turn new tricks and become responsible members of society. Others in Afghanistan say that is impossible.
Petraeus: More fighting ahead in Afghanistan -- [Army Times]
The commander of the U.S. Central Command warned Tuesday that growing numbers of American soldiers sent to Afghanistan will encounter tough fighting, but said improving civilians' lives is as important to winning the war as defeating militants.
Gen. David Petraeus, speaking to the American Legion's national convention, said Taliban militants have expanded their influence in the war-ravaged country where U.S. forces are on track to reach 68,000 strong.
Pakistani Taliban confirm Baitullah Mehsud's death -- [Big News Network]
Pakistani Taliban Tuesday admitted that its top leader Baitullah Mehsud had died after being injured in a missile attack carried out by a US pilotless drone aircraft earlier this month.
Introducing The Case for Afghanistan -- [Registan]
Many people I know and respect, like Michael Cohen, have written articles and blog posts explaining why there is little or no strategic rationale for the continued war in Afghanistan, and therefore the U.S. should withdraw from the conflict. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have growing doubts about the war, especially surrounding our willingness to fight it, but despite those doubts I see several very important reasons to say. (I'll also address some of the concerns I see them raising).
For starters, ....
Handbook: Win Friends and Influence People in Afghanistan -- [Danger Room - in Afghanistan]
Courtesy of Andrew Exum, we now have a look at Gen. Stanley McChrystal's new counterinsurgency guidance for units in Afghanistan. It's a worthwhile read -- and an important follow-up to McChrystal's tactical directive, which emphasized cultural sensitivity and respect for the population.
As I recently reported from Afghanistan, McChrystal was considering new guidelines that would, among other things, discourage guns-up "tactical driving," particularly in crowded cities. Super-aggressive convoys are a quick and easy way to alienate the local population, as this vignette in the new document makes clear:
The M.O.D. Squad -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P - in Afghainstan]
Made my first visit to Ministry Of Defense (MOD) today, to see the route in and get familiar with the layout. The meeting at which I was to have been introduced to my counterpart was cancelled at the last minute, so I tagged along with two others and sat in on their meeting. Can't report too much on the content of the meeting, but I will say it was illuminating, and I remember well all the stories I'd heard from Marines (and others) about the crucial value of the interpreters. We can't do this without them.
On the walk from base to MOD (yes, we can walk, but it's in full gear), we got to see two gruesome landmarks.
Yes, I'm in Afghanistan -- [Dude Where's the Beach - in Afghanistan]
And yes, it's been a long time since I've last posted, but what can I say... I've been busy. I'm currently deployed in Kabul, working for the US Army, and life couldn't be more crazy/intersting since my arrival last week. I'll be here for a while, so stay tuned for more posts.
Iraqi Intelligence Report: Iran Financing Al-Qaeda in Iraq -- [MEMRI Blog]
A report submitted to Iraq's senior leadership by the Iraqi Intelligence Service indicates the existence of three terrorist organizations or groups which carry the name of Al-Qaeda - two of which are financed by Iran...
Al Qaeda-linked Group Claims Two Recent Baghdad Bombings that Killed 95 -- [Los Angeles Times]
An Al Qaeda-affiliated group claimed responsibility Tuesday for the devastating suicide bombings last week at two government ministries in Baghdad, and Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors in an escalating dispute over whether Damascus may have aided in attacks. The claim of responsibility came in a statement posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq, the name now used by the Sunni Muslim Al Qaeda in Iraq organization.
Sheik Blames Outsiders -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
August 15th rockets struck just outside of FOB Warhorse, the headquarters of the 1st Stryker Brigade.
UAF Journalism's Jessica Hoffman tagged along with the Iraqi Army and the U.S. soldiers from the 3-21 Infantry Regiment investigating the launch site.
Iraqi Shi'ite party leader dies, successor eyed -- [Washington Post]
The leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite Muslim political groups and most important religious dynasties died on Wednesday, adding to political uncertainty in a violent run-up to an election next January.
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who headed the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), a major partner in the Shi'ite-led government, died while undergoing treatment for cancer in Iran, ISCI said.
Strapped to an Unguided Rocket -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
....Yesterday a couple of us went over to the medical facility, where he'd spent the night, to pick him up. There were three Iraqi detainees in there, too. Two were older gents who were fairly quiet. The other was a younger boy who was asleep. All three were strapped down to their beds. Our guy said that the detainees kept throwing things at everybody in the ward all night long. Frankly, I was quite impressed with how our young American guards handled them - these kids were maybe 20 years old, very professional, and totally calm. Whenever one of the detainees did something (sometimes obviously just to get a reaction), the guards never flinched, never got excited, and responded respectfully. When I think back to when I was about 20, I don't know that I'd have had that maturity.
My Iraqi Kid Apprentice -- [Sour Swinger - in Iraq]
Meet my buddy the assistant camera boy...aka the Ali Baba kid. He's the boy I was talking to in the vid "Conversing With Kids". In a previous post, I mentioned how certain kids will attach to certain soldiers in an attempt to gain additional candy. When we rolled into Beverly Hills, this is the little fellow that I looked for and he'd always be looking for me. After a bit Ali took over my picture taking so I could concentrate on more important things, like pulling security.
VBC Service Members, Iraqi Scouts Leave Their Mark on Community -- [My Point of View - in Iraq]
Twenty-five children lined up outside the entrance to Saddam Hussein's old Flintstone Palace, on Camp Slayer, here, August 2. The boys and girls were split into two groups, each led by a volunteer service member. Maj. Gary Farley, an Iraqi Ground Forces Command Military Transition Team advisor for Multi-National Corps - Iraq, led one of the groups up the winding path to the entrance of the main structure while the other group was led around the palace to the edge of a man-made lake.
US Resists Direct Talks with N. Korea -- [Voice of America]
The Obama administration reaffirmed Tuesday it is not interested in talks with North Korea outside the framework of Chinese-sponsored six-party negotiations on that country's nuclear program. South Korean news reports say Pyongyang has invited two US senior diplomats to visit next month.
Global Peace Index Rankings -- [Vision of Humanity]
The table below provides the GPI rankings for the 144 countries analysed in 2009. Rankings for the 140 countries analysed in 2008 and the 121 countries analysed in 2007 are also included. Countries most at peace are ranked first. A lower score indicates a more peaceful country. You can click on a country to see the detail of its peace indicators and drivers.
9/11 victims' town says no to Gaddafi visit -- [Times Online]
Families who lost loved ones on 9/11are furious that the Libyan leader wants to make his Bedouin camp in a US town
US names secret terror suspects -- [USS Neverdock]
More damage to our national security by Obama.
..."Foreign fighters" in Iraq and Afghanistan? No who might they be?
Why would the Pentagon want to keep their names secret anyway?
"The Pentagon has previously said that providing information about these detainees could jeopardize counter-terrorism efforts."
It would seem then, that Obama no longer cares about such efforts.
The CIA Report -- [Greyhawk]
Those looking forward to vivid descriptions of blood flowing in the gutters will be disappointed - it appears that threat of torture was the technique most commonly used. That many of those same disappointed folks would have gleefully reported or consumed descriptions of the blood flowing in the gutters had any of the attacks described as uncovered in the planning stages actually been carried out must be equally vexing.
Pakistan Taliban Commander: We Have 'Thousands of Suicide Bombers' Who Can 'Target Washington, Paris, London, and Kabul' -- [MEMRI]
On August 25, 2009, a Pakistani Urdu-language newspaper reported that Waliur Rehman, the commander of the Taliban militants in Pakistan's tribal district of South Waziristan Agency, had said that his group has "thousands of suicide bombers" who can "target Washington, Paris, London, and Kabul."
Terrorist Dropouts: One Way of Promoting a Counternarrative -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
As efforts to disrupt al-Qaeda and its affiliates continue, the U.S. government has slowly come to realize that military force alone cannot defeat radical extremism. Although al-Qaeda's ideas and those of like-minded groups must be challenged, it is clear that a single, overarching counternarrative cannot be expected to work across the board.
Angels of Comfort: A Message from the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Soldiers' Angel Cynthia is a part of the Living Legends team, which provides condolences and comfort to families of the fallen through letters, cards, and very special gifts of remembrance. Cynthia is personally responsible for contacting families and offering them a tree or wreath in memory of their loved one. She also makes sure any young children involved receive a Patches teddy bear, which is specially crafted to help them express their emotions amid the tragedy of losing a parent.
The last two months have seen a high rate of casualties, especially in Afghanistan, and the Living Legends team has been very busy.
Military Docs: Better Hospital May be Crucial -- [AP]
The US military is rethinking its "golden hour" goal for critically injured troops, questioning whether it should spend a little longer evacuating patients to get them to a better hospital. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been adamant that troops in Afghanistan, where the craggy terrain makes medical evacuations difficult, get help as quickly as those in Iraq. Wounded troops in Iraq generally are reached, stabilized and hospitalized within what medical providers call the "golden hour" - the time it generally takes to deliver care needed to save a person's life. But at the base hospital located on what Afghans call the "desert of death," doctors Tuesday told Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway that it's better to make sure patients who are wounded in battle zones get the best care possible, rather than be taken to the closest medical facility.
Elementary Students, Staff Send Patriotic Messages to Marines in Afghanistan -- [DVIDS]
Some people will walk up to Marines in public and shake their hands to say 'thank you' for their service. Others take it a few steps further by saying their thanks on hundreds of feet of paper.
George and Shirley Jackson of Denton, Md., have been mailing scrolls of thanks to deployed troops for nearly 15 years.
Mail Boosts Morale for Marines on Front Lines -- [DVIDS]
Life for Marines on the front lines consists of extremes. Marines push themselves through grueling patrols, broken up by periods of resting and waiting. It is during these down times that Marines reminisce about family and loved ones. Any glimpse of home is a bright spot in a Marine's deployment. That is why mail can be one of the biggest morale boosters for Marines - especially on the front lines where the men possess only the bare essentials.
Mail Call -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
A few soldiers in the public affairs office gather around boxes. A care package shipment has just arrived. With excitement Joint Combat Camera member Navy Mass Communications Spc. 1st Class Kirk Worley opens the treasure trove. Inside the one-cubic foot USPS box, there are six smaller boxes. It's like watching a kid on Christmas morning.
Celebrating Women in the U.S. Army -- [Army Live]
This week, we take time out to honor these women and their courage, dedication and love for their country and the work that they do as a U.S. Army Soldier, active or retired.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 is Women's Equality Day and we would like to hear from you. Soldiers- tell us about your most memorable experience as a "Woman Warrior." Families and friends- express your gratitude and love to that Women Heroine in your live.
Help us to show our appreciation to the Women who work to protect us and our country and visit www.army.mil/women to learn more about Women in the Army.
Pickin' for the Record
Last weekend in the tiny town of Luckenbach Texas, a mecca for guitars and musicians across the country, nearly 2,000 guitar-pickin' patriots gathered to set a world record in honor of the troops. Angels Toby Nunn and Jeff Bader were on hand to spread the word about Soldiers' Angels, and join the festivities.
Texas World History -- [Briefing Room - Toby Nunn]
...I was SO nervous that I would be exposed as a fraud, people were just walking around with their guitars playing and we on several occasions got detained by random acts of music. At one point Craig was sitting with us and some players came around him and broke into song but not just any song one of his and it was a magical moment to see a musician being paid the ultimate of compliments. People were asking if we were playing and Jeff was so excited because he can actually play but I on the other hand was a straight fraud. I have only had a couple of lessons and one involved learning these two songs specifically! The call came down for all the players to make their way to the stage for the record count and playing. I retrieved our Guitars that we had hid in the Truck and without tuning we ran to the stage area. My heart was pounding,...
Letter Writing Team -- [Soldiers' Angels]
The Letter Writing Team (LWT) is made up of registered Soldiers' Angels who enjoy writing to our heroes, and who know how important it is to hear your name called at mail call (sadly some soldiers get no mail at all from back home). We select names from those that submit themselves through the Soldiers' Angel website and have indicated that they would like to receive additional support. These soldiers are also assigned an Angel to provide ongoing support, but our team provides them with some extra cards and letters.
NOTE: 1117 Heros waiting to be adopted - Other Ways to Support Soldiers' Angels -- [Soldiers' Angels]
Book your travel through Expedia.com using this link, and earn money for Soldiers' Angels!
Mr Wolf at American Legion Update 4 -- [BlackFive - Mr Wolf]
0930: BREAKING: The Legion is releasing a presser on the 'death book' that has caused so much consternation in the health-care reform debate.
I've just been handed the first copy of the press release, before even their internal staff receives it. Cdr Rehbein states: "we are certain that the VA made this controversial pub available with the best intentions... however elements of the booklet 'Your Life, Your Choices' can be misconstrued and appear insensitive. Like the Homeland Security report; this release shows poor planning and coordination, no matter how well intentioned.''
My Men are My Heroes, the Bradley Kasal Story -- [Great Americans]
Sergeant Major Bradley Kasal visits Camp Pendleton to promote a book about his life. The book is called My Men are My Heroes, the Bradley Kasal Story. Feature is produced for Marines TV Pendleton, a monthly newsmagazine ... more >
Sergeant Major Bradley Kasal visits Camp Pendleton to promote a book about his life. The book is called My Men are My Heroes, the Bradley Kasal Story. Feature is produced for Marines TV Pendleton, a monthly newsmagazine broadcasting from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA
Mullen Cites Need for New Thinking, Strategies -- [Defense Link]
Today's wars need a new type of thinking and new strategies, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today. The generation of Americans now serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are learning lessons that will serve the world well, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said at the American Legion convention in Louisville, Ky. I truly believe that anything is possible with good leadership," the chairman said. "The best leaders know that listening and learning are critical to success today and in future engagements, and we must develop and retain professionals ready to do just that." ullen told the members of the veteran service organization that today's military is the most combat-experienced in America's history. Today's servicemembers have "see a lot, done a lot, bled a lot and accomplished a lot," he said. The young men and women in the services today are the senior officers and noncommissioned officers of tomorrow.
Limping Away -- [Strategy Page]
American soldiers and marines are encountering serious problems with the weight of combat equipment they have to carry. More so than in Iraq, U.S. troops are fighting on foot. And not on the plains of Iraq, but the hills of Afghanistan. The air is, literally, thinner (less oxygen) in much of Afghanistan, which is at the same altitude as Denver, Colorado (where the thin air is a known problem for visitors).
The army and marine brass tried to reduce the weight of gear (90-100 pounds) their troops carried into battle.
A welcoming home sign -- [Louisburg Herald]
It was the giant sign in their yard that said "Welcome Home American Hero!" emblazoned with American flags and a bald eagle. "It was a nice surprise,"
Texans Roll Out 'Welcome Home' Banners For Troops -- [CBS 11]
"We wanted to make sure the soldiers were welcomed home and all of us here in Wylie love them," said 10-year-old Janie Chaples, who made a 'welcome home'
At Ft. Dix, troops get heartfelt homecoming -- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Some held "Welcome Home!" banners, and at least three wives, including 25-year-old Brandi Deguia of Brownsville, Pa., cradled babies who were meeting their
Colorado Springs plans welcome-home parade for Fort Carson soldiers -- [Fox 31 KDVR]
Organizers say the parade could attract even more people than one held in 2004, when police said about 60000 spectators lined the streets to welcome troops
National Guard troops will be welcomed home today -- [Columbus Dispatch]
A welcome-home ceremony at a Reynoldsburg church is planned for 3 pm today to mark the return of an Ohio Army National Guard unit from Afghanistan
FNC: Bush Volunteered for Vietnam, CBS's Mapes Knowingly Omitted from Story -- [NewsBusters]
On Tuesday, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor hosted FNC analyst Bernard Goldberg as the former CBS News correspondent highlighted a story recently posted on his Web site, BernardGoldberg.com, in which he complains of how little mainstream media attention was given to the fact that former President George W. Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam as part of his service in the Texas Air National Guard, but that he was turned down because other pilots were more experienced, and that CBS News producer Mary Mapes, even though she knew this part of the story before the report aired, did not include this important angle in the infamous piece by Dan Rather that used forged documents to paint Bush as trying to avoid Vietnam War service.
Pentagon Hired Contractor to Vet War Reporters -- [Danger Room]
In June, the U.S. Army denied an embed to a reporter from the pro-military (and partly Pentagon-subsidized) Stars & Stripes newspaper, on grounds that the reporter "refused to highlight" good news stories about the Army. As it turns out, assessing reporters' attitudes about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has become a much wider practice, according to Stars & Stripes. "U.S. public affairs officials in Afghanistan acknowledged to Stars & Stripes that any reporter seeking to embed with U.S. forces is subject to a background profile by The Rendon Group," the paper reported Monday. Rendon reportedly ranks reporters' stories as "positive," "negative" or "neutral."
Reporter Admits Gaps in Afghanistan Coverage -- [MILNEWS.ca Blog - Canadian]
Spotted an interesting quote from Graeme Smith, foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail, speaking with Brigadier General Daniel Ménard at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California - this, from the NPS home-town paper (emphasis mine):
" Smith criticized the news media, himself included, for failing to report major events, such as political changes, military activities and atrocities. Many of those "are never on the radar," he said. "A key blind spot is that we have no idea what ordinary Afghans want." "
Forging a Relationship: The Army and the Media -- [The U.S. Army and the Media in Wartime: Historical Perspectives]
The Military and the Media" by Mr. Frederick Chiaventone, noted historical novelist, and "Ethics and Embedded Journalists: Beyond Boundaries of Industry Induced Guidelines on Objectivity and Balance" by Mr. Ron Martz, former embedded reporter and journalism instructor. Mr. Chiaventone presented a general overview of the military-media relationship from the nineteenth century with the intent of highlighting the examples of both antipathy and cooperation between the two institutions. Mr. Martz provided personal insights from serving as an embedded reporter in Iraq as well as teaching journalism to undergraduates.
The Kennedy Airbrush -- [Greyhawk]
The media have had ample time to prepare obituaries for Senator Edward Kennedy, and given certain aspects of his public career a degree of airbrushing could be expected.
But this example from the Boston Globe is both subtle and impressive:
...Kennedy declared "health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege" as the cause of his life; the Globe changed that to the fight for universal health insurance.
"Just words", to be sure. But a look at a Politico story from this past weekend explains why Kennedy's actual speech had to be altered postmortem.
Group: US is monitoring journalists in Afghanistan -- [AP]
The International Federation of Journalists complained Wednesday that news people covering the war in Afghanistan are being monitored by the U.S. military to see if they are sympathetic to the American cause.
The federation said journalists seeking to travel under the protection of U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan may be screened first by an American public relations firm to see if their coverage portrays the military in a positive light.
F.T.C. to Assess Business of News -- [NY Times]
Just about everyone, from the general public to news executives, has an opinion about the future of journalism. Now, the Federal Trade Commission is stepping into the debate.
Senator Kennedy -- [Greyhawk]
The Senator was an Army veteran:
He was expelled from Harvard during his freshman year after he asked a friend to take an exam for him.
After a two-year stint in the Army, Kennedy returned to earn degrees at Harvard and then the University of Virginia law school.
Kennedy served from 1951 through 1953, eventually achieving the rank of Private First Class. More:
The Senate has one less military veteran -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
Senator Ted Kennedy has succumbed to his illness. We wish the family the best of it in what is always a trying time, even when you knew it was coming.As my opinion of Senator Kennedy's politics is well known, I'll focus on his military service, as laid out in Wikipedia.Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army in June 1951. Following basic training at Fort Dix, he requested assignment to Fort Holabird for Army Intelligence training, but was dropped after a few weeks without explanation.
DU and vets with guns -- [This Ain't Hell]
There's a candidate for Congress out there named Jesse Kelly who is getting some minor press at World Net Daily and who gives the clowns at Democratic Underground the willies.
(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 various 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. Refresh for updates.
VBIED: Learning security the hard way -- [Iron Camel - in Iraq]
As many of you have seen in the news, there have been a string of Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs). The kinds of events tend to keep me and my team members busy with emails, phone calls, and meetings. Realistically, it doesn't take up all my time. However, because of security reasons, I can't always write in the moment.
The Big VBIED: The one that really made the news happened very close to where I work. On that particular day ...
We Have Met The Enemy, And It Looks Like Us -- [Strategy Page]
The government televised the confession of the man they say planned the twin truck bombings that killed over 100 people in the center of Baghdad. Police say they have arrested ten people involved in planning the attack. All of them have ties with the Baath Party ...
Sunnis and Shiites See an Omen for Reconciliation in Iraq -- [New York Times]
On Saturday, the holy month of Ramadan began on the same day in Iraq for both Sunnis and Shiites, the first time that has happened in 10 years. For a country riven by sectarian strife, and plagued by bombings aimed at provoking more such warfare, that was a welcome omen. That portent of a religious reconciliation does not include secular or Christian Iraqis, however, for whom this Ramadan does not augur so well. For the first time, the government has instituted a series of decrees closing nearly all restaurants for the next month during the daylight hours of the Ramadan fast.
Venice of the East -- [The Stone Report - in Iraq]
I had an opportunity to travel in to Basra proper this past week. I attended a meeting of a lot of Iraqi Security Force officials and American forces representatives. It's an important meeting because it's lead by Iraqis and it's for Iraqis. (Do I get points for incorporating a command message into my personal blog?) It did seem like real issues were talked about. I can't tell you for sure because the meeting is conducted in arabic and they had 15 of those translator ear thingy you see them using at the UN. I was somewhere around number 16 on the priority list.
An Iraqi fishing story -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
The American captain from 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, was making his rounds, checking on developments in one Iraqi police lieutenant's corner of Muqdadiyah.
Capt. Tim Walton asked the police officer about how upcoming Ramadan fasting might affect his 50-member force. Walton wanted to know who made the call pulling police from many of the highway checkpoints. He and the Iraqi discussed the progress of local trials involving suspected terrorists.
Maintenance -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
Last week, Sgt. Melvin Lamb of the 1-25th Stryker Brigade walked into his classroom with an unenviable task: He had to teach a group of Iraqi Army soldiers, many of whom had never picked up a wrench, how to maintain and repair their vehicles. It wasn't the responsibility that was onerous, it was the time frame.
Training in a Combat Zone -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
War is often characterized by combat and fire power, what has often been referred out here as "kinetic" operations. But these days Alaska's soldiers serving in Iraq are finding themselves in less aggressive, supporting roles.
Soldiers provide goods, goodwill to Basra citizens -- [ThunderBolt - The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division - in Iraq]
...The mission was to assist the Iraqi Army in providing urgent humanitarian assistance to Iraqi citizens, thereby fostering a relationship and laying the groundwork for future success between the IA and its country's residents, said Lt. Col. Ross. C. Scott, 17th FB civil affairs officer. Scott said the IA delivered more than 400 packages, at an estimated cost of $90,000. Each package will feed a family of eight for 30 days.
A No-Wind Situation -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
For the last few days the wind died out almost completely here at Tallil Ali Air Base. The good news is I can ride the perimeter of the base faster than usual because I can ride a fairly steady speed slowing only for the across-the-road ditches, missing stretches of pavement and stop signs.
Livin' at Victory -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
...Life at Victory is very different than life in the IZ. There, we were in small compounds crammed into a city environment. We had lots of trees and paved streets and sidewalks. Didn't have to walk very far - the commute from my hooch to my desk was (by actual measurement) 1 minute 33 seconds. Being at Victory, though, is like being plopped down in the Arizona desert. It's flat, no trees, gravel roads and gravel walks. Dust everywhere. Everything is spread out, so we have 10-15 minute walks to get anywhere. The sun is brutal. I never had to wear my hat in the IZ, but it's always on my head here. And ...
After Operations Maintenance -- [Mungadai Days - in Iraq]
As you can see it's just a flurry of activity while we are conducting our inventory and some after ops maintenance getting all of our gear prepared for the next guys. So with the vehicles washed, weapons cleaned and all items accounted for and serviceable we are now preparing for
U.S. Military Says Its Force in Afghanistan Is Insufficient -- [NY Times]
American military commanders with the NATO mission in Afghanistan told President Obama's chief envoy to the region this weekend that they did not have enough troops to do their job, pushed past their limit by Taliban rebels who operate across borders.
War Conditions 'Deteriorating,' Mullen Says -- [Washington Post]
Joint Chiefs Chairman Expresses Concern About Declining Support for War in U.S.
The situation in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday, as the Obama administration awaits an assessment by the new U.S. commander there and a possible request for more troops.
Election Mission Day 3-Return to Camp -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Although it was a painfully boring mission, that was a good sign because we didn't get attacked and we were all returning back safe. Tragically in other parts of the country, we lost 4 coalition forces on Election Day, 2 of them were US. This makes 57 lives lost this month with the majority of them being my US brothers in arms. The elections were still held and around 50% of the eligible population voted despite the threats from the Taliban. Of the 7,000 polling sites, 93% of them were open for voting. Several million people defied the Taliban threats and cast their votes. In a few days, we will find out the results.
Karzai Opponent Alleges 'Widespread' Voter Fraud -- [Washington Post]
The main challenger to Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that he has received "alarming" reports of "widespread rigging" in Thursday's presidential election by pro-government groups and officials, but he called on supporters to be patient and said he hopes the problem will be resolved through the official election review.
Election fraud observed in Kunar, Afghanistan - VIDEO -- [World of Troubles - in Afghanistan]
Dewagal Valley- Election day here was marred by sustained Taliban attacks and underage teens voting; while round-the-clock efforts on part of Afghan and U.S. forces prevented any casualties.
Turnout Key To Revealing Afghan Election Fraud -- [PJ Tobia - in Afghanistan]
Yesterday I met with a high-level official from the UN backed Election Complaints Commission(ECC.) The ECC 's job is to look into allegations of fraud during last Thursday's vote and after resolving all of the complaints, certify the election as valid. Or not.
During our conversation, which covered everything from details on how complaints are investigated to the time line for getting all this sorted, he emphasized the importance of turnout in determining fraud.
Afghan Vote Results May Be Delayed -- [Voice of America]
Complaints about fraud in Thursday's presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan may further delay the announcement of official results. Officials continue to issue statments saying claims that anyone is leading the presidential contest are premature, inaccurate and unauthorized. Election officials here are cautioning that previously announced dates to post official returns in mid-September may be pushed back. The hitch lies with an anticipated large number of complaints, including ballot stuffing and voter intimidation. Many of these - and there are more than 225 and the number is growing - will have to be investigated on location in a country with rugged and hostile terrain. The Electoral Complaints Commission says 35 claims have been deemed "a high priority" since they could affect the outcome of election results.
One of the stories of the Afghan Election -- [Registan]
Security was much better than expected, though there are widespread indications of fraud.
Thomas Ruttig has a dispatch from Gardez:
Apparently, the Taliban were satisfied with their pre-election intimidation campaign, which clearly worked. But it also became obvious that they found it difficult to penetrate the security rings established around the major population centers. The rockets they [...]
Election -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
The election day certainly was interesting; quite a bit more violence around our area than normal, including our base getting attacked with rockets off and on all day, which is something we hadn't seen to that extent before. We spent most of the day driving around checking on polling stations.
Under Burqas, Afghan Women Voted in Protest -- [Christian Science Monitor]
Whether American troops can leave Afghanistan sooner rather than later depends on democracy's gains in that war-ravaged country - and the gains of women, too. Thursday's elections for president and local councils were such a gain - seen especially in the turnout of women to vote in defiance of Taliban threats of retaliation. In some places, women were 60 percent of voters - predictable in part because women far outnumber men in voter registration in many regions - although their presence at voting booths in the Taliban-infested south was low. Why such a large female turnout in some areas despite a low turnout overall?
Connecting -- [Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
In travels to Logar and Wardak provinces this week, I was struck by one fact: even after a second national election, Afghans see coalition forces, not the central government, as the source of security and other essential services. This has to change if counterinsurgency efforts here are going to be successful.
Marines Fight Taliban With Little Aid From Afghans -- [New York Times]
American Marines secured this desolate village in southern Afghanistan nearly two months ago, and last week they were fortifying bases, on duty at checkpoints and patrolling in full body armor in 120-degree heat. Despite those efforts, only a few hundred Afghans were persuaded to come out here and vote for president on Thursday. In a region the Taliban have lorded over for six years, and where they remain a menacing presence, American officers say their troops alone are not enough to reassure Afghans. Something is missing that has left even the recently appointed district governor feeling dismayed. "I don't get any support from the government," said the governor, Massoud Ahmad Rassouli Balouch.
Soldiers fight off Taliban ambush -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
British troops have revealed how they fought off a Taliban ambush near an Afghan polling station. They sped to the rescue of Afghan police who came under attack while providing election security south of Gereskh in Helmand Province on Thursday.
Bad Medicine -- [Michael Yon - in Afghanistan]
...We had the A-10s for only a few minutes when a radio call from a different net came to Axle to release the A-10s for a TIC (troops in contact) somewhere in South Helmand. Axle radioed the pilots to switch freqs, and I recall a pilot apologizing and saying he looked forward to getting back up here. Axle put down the radio and looked straight at me, saying, "That's such a bummer," as if his fishing buddy had to go home early, then Axle finished with, "However, the guys that get them will be well happy," and started shutting down his gear as the sounds of the A-10s faded into the darkness. While Axle worked, I asked about times when he "smashed" the Taliban. British soldiers like to use the word "smashed" when talking about the Taliban. When Axle would finish talking about one fight, I would ask about another. Finally, Axle said, "You Yanks are great. You like to hear stories about us smashin' the Taliban but people at home want to know how much we miss our families." We both chuckled, and I asked, "Really? They don't ask you about smashing the Taliban?" "That's right," then Axle said something like, "They only want to hear how sad we are."
Taking Census, Afghanistan Style -- [Bouhammer]
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Medina, an amphibious assault vehicle crewman, provides security during a census patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Aug. 18, 2009. Delta Company, 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion and civil affairs group Marines, deployed with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, are talking with the local populace in order to understand their conditions and concerns and identify possible reconstruction and development projects.
Danger Room in Afghanistan: Echo Company in the Eye of the Storm -- [Danger Room - in Afghanistan]
For three days, the Marines of Echo Company wondered when the next one would come. Since they got here at the beginning of July, Echo has been in a near-constant serie s of battles with the local Taliban, making this one of the most violent flashpoints in America's renewed war in Afghanistan. On Thursday,
election day, militants woke Echo up by firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifle rounds into the school compound these Marines now use as an outpost. It was the 39th day out of 50 that the Taliban and Echo had exchanged lead.
And then, silence. ...
Camp Bastion Airfield in Helmand is now the fifth-busiest UK-operated airport. -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
Today, combat operation, medical evacuations and logistics sustainment flights all operate from what has become a vital military hub, and the air traffic controllers based at Camp Bastion are integral to the support of the Army's operations in southern Afghanistan.
Obama's Plan to Desecrate 9/11 -- [The American Spectator]
The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.
Iranians Seek Out Abuses By U.S.
Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for a bill creating a $20 million fund intended in part to expose human rights violations by the United States, the ILNA news agency reported.
Passage of the bill suggests the depth of mistrust that remains between the nations as Iran faces a September deadline to respond to President Obama's offer for talks
Saudis Set Stage for Mid-East Nuke Race -- [The Australian]
The scene has been set for a race between several Middle Eastern countries to develop a nuclear program after Saudi Arabia yesterday revealed its intention to push ahead with a nuclear industry. Saudi Arabian Minister for Water and Electricity Abdullah al-Hosain revealed that the country was developing its first nuclear power plant. The comment was made to local newspaper Al-Watan. Because newspapers in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are under state control, the comment was seen as an official acknowledgement of what has been speculated about in the region for some time - that Saudi Arabia was moving into the nuclear power industry.
Red Cross given access to secret US detainees: report -- [Washington Post]
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The US military has begun to share with the International Committee of the Red Cross the identities of militants held in secret camps
New Unit to Question Key Terror Suspects -- [Washington Post]
President Obama has approved the creation of an elite team of interrogators to question key terrorism suspects, part of a broader effort to revamp U.S. policy on detention and interrogation, senior administration officials said Sunday.
CIA Accountability -- [Washington Post]
The CIA inspector general's report on "enhanced interrogation techniques," scheduled to be released today, is said to provide disturbing details about interrogations CIA officers conducted from 2002 to 2004. It will be painful reading. Although the Obama administration has banned the techniques, Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly considering prosecuting some of the officers who conducted the interrogations
Investigate Everyone Who Knew? -- [Washington Times]
We have the media, the Obama administration and members of Congress all using the word "torture" but skipping over the real issue: whether what actually was approved, what actually was reported to Congress or what actually happened was really torture as the word is defined by applicable law.
Support the troops AND help cure breast cancer at the same time -- [Wings Over Iraq - in Iraq]
A short time ago, I received an e-mail from a female captain currently stationed at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Iraq. She writes...
Mail heads up -- [Mail heads up - in Iraq]
They will be in Al Asad for quite a bit of time after mail cut off...at least a month so if you are interested in getting some stuff out to him let me know via firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you his addy.
I'm only pulling this since he can't get online to see the blog, but I know the mail would bring a smile, things have been fairly stressful lately. I also know he shares everything, so it goes quick. He sure looks after his guys. I'm pretty sure he'd rather be only patrol taking fire than slaying paper dragons, but everyone has to take their turn in the Corps including America's 1st Sgt.
Negligence Suits Likely Over VA Procedures -- [Washington Post]
Army veteran Juan Rivera reported to the veterans hospital in Miami for a routine colonoscopy in May 2008. Almost a year later, the 55-year-old father of two learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs had not properly sterilized the equipment used for the procedure. A test then revealed that he had been infected with HIV. "The VA has issued me a death sentence," Rivera said, according to his attorney.
VA workers given millions in bonuses as vets await checks -- [CNN]
While hundreds of thousands of disability claims lay backlogged at the Department of Veterans Affairs, thousands of technology employees at the department received $24 million in bonuses, a new report says.
Petraeus to Open Intel Training Center -- [Washington Times]
Gen. David H. Petraeus plans to open an in-house intelligence organization at US Central Command this week that will train military officers, covert agents and analysts who agree to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan for up to a decade. The organization, to be called the Center for Afghanistan Pakistan Excellence, will be led by Derek Harvey, a retired colonel in the Defense Intelligence Agency who became one of the Gen. Petraeus' most trusted analysts during the 2007-08 counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq.
Makers of Military Drones Take Off -- [WSJ]
Unmanned U.S. aircraft have not only transformed the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now are altering the defense-industry landscape, as well
Let Us Try Again To Turn The 747 Into A Bomber -- [Strategy Page]
For the third time in the last decade, the U.S. Air Force is looking at using commercial aircraft as bombers. This time around, it's mainly a matter of cost, with the next generation heavy bomber likely to cost over a billion dollars each, and only carry 30 tons of bombs or missiles. The idea of militarizing 747s first started gaining traction three decades ago, as cruise missiles showed up and many air force analysts did the math and realized that it would be a lot cheaper to launch these missiles from a militarized Boeing 747.
Fort Worth to welcome back true hometown hero tonight -- [North Texas e-News]
He's just one of the countless heroes who arrive at DFW Airport each year on their way home from the front line battles in the Middle East.
Bouhammer at Blog World Expo -- [Bouhammer]
I am so glad to announce that again this year I will be a panelist at the main blogging conference in the country. It is called Blog World Expo. Last year the annual milblog conference was held in conjunction with the expo, and I was afforded the opportunity to be a panelist then. Just to give you an idea on the numbers that attend this conference, in 2008 there were over 280 speakers, over 15,000 in attendance and over 92 million people that watched on the internet.
Newspaper execs held media strategy seminar for extremist Ohio mosque in Rifqa Bary case -- [The Jawa Report]
The purpose of the workshop is to train and motivate all community members to effectively communicate with the print/broadcast media as well as community at large to voice the concerns of Muslim Community.
Leadership 101 -- [Washington Post]
It's crunch time for the Obama administration on two of its toughest foreign policy challenges - the Arab-Israeli peace process and the war in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, these tests are coming at a moment when Obama is weakened by the health-care debate and has less political capital to spend. Obama and his aides understood long ago that they would have only a limited window of opportunity.
Retired Marine at Rep Baird's Town Hall: "If Nancy Pelosi Wants to Find a Swastika Maybe She Should Look On the Sleeve of Her Own Arm." -- [Gateway Pundit]
"I will remind you. A little history lesson. The Nazis were the National Socialist Party. They were leftists. They took over the finances. They took over the car industry. They took over health care in their country. If Nancy Pelosi wants to find a Swastika maybe the first place she should look is the sleeve of her own arm."
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Withdrawal from Iraq -- [CSIS]
Iraq and the United States face a critical transition through 2011 and beyond. The awkward reality is that an Iraqi-U.S. failure to properly manage the U.S. withdrawal and the creation of effective Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is as serious a threat to Iraq's future stability and security as any internal or external threat. Realism is a key to future success.
The improvement in ISF capabilities is very real, and Iraqi forces are experiencing growing success in combat. But ...
The Wrong Man for the Job -- [The Atlantic - Robert D. Kaplan]
Obama's new ambassador to Iraq is a star diplomat--but has no experience in the Arab world. Why Christopher Hill is a bad choice.
...Iraq is now at a tipping point. American troops are a diminishing factor as they slowly withdraw from the country. There has been an uptick in sectarian-motivated bombings, and relations between the Kurds and the Arabs are worsening by the day in the north. A return to civil war in Iraq could destabilize the whole region--and undo all the good that U.S. troops accomplished by suppressing violence there in 2007 and 2008. Iraq matters every bit as much as Afghanistan--arguably more so. At this sensitive juncture, the U.S. ambassador's role as trusted facilitator who can keep the various parties talking and cooperating with each other is crucial. A successful behind-the-scenes deal or two could mean the difference between war and peace in Iraq--and by inference in the wider Middle East. Shouldn't this job go to someone in whom we can have supreme confidence?
Who Was Behind Wednesday's Attacks? -- [Iraq the Model]
There is near-full agreement in Iraq that Wednesday's wave of attacks were more than indiscriminate acts of terrorism. Most politicians, commentators and observers believe those behind the attacks want to influence political alignments and voter decisions before general elections next January. Most fingers point at a "neighboring country". This "neighboring country" to some is Saudi Arabia but is Iran to many others. Either way, most people agree that the attacks were beyond al-Qaeda's or any other individual group's capability. This is a plausible assumption. Baghdad has not seen a similar wave of highly coordinated attacks and powerful bombings in more than a year. During that time it has been all down hill for al-Qaeda's network in Baghdad. Most operatives had either been killed or captured or had to flee and find new safe havens around Mosul, Diyala and Kirkuk to the north and northeast.
Is Iraq slipping away? -- [Hot Air - Ed Morrissey]
It certainly appears to have gone wrong in a hurry. Today, 95 people died in a series of bombings in Baghdad, blamed on al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups, which left more than 400 Iraqis injured. Since the US pulled out of the cities at the end of June, violence has escalated, and even Nouri al-Maliki acknowledges that Iraqi forces have failed to maintain security
Calm Down, Ed -- [BlackFive - Grim]
Captain Ed Morrissey worries that Iraq has "gone wrong in a hurry."
No, it hasn't. Remember what we said when I came home from Iraq at the end of June, when I wrote:...Expect to see them fail, because they have to fail to get over the next step. The thing to watch is whether they learn. They know what they have to do; the time has come to see if they will do it.
The problem here is that the Iraqi military is trying to do things its own way. That includes things like static checkpoints, rather than the dynamic ones we prefer.
...Now they know why we do it the other way. It's not because we're gluttons for the extra work.
Iraqi Security Forces: Up to the Job? -- [War, the military, COIN and stuff]
"There is infiltration everywhere in the state, especially in the security forces," an Iraqi told Washington Post reporters in Baghdad after yesterday's bombings that killed almost 100, while injuring another 500. "Today the entire city was targeted. How do you justify that?" A new report by Iraqi Major General (Ret.) Najim Abed Al-Jabouri put out by the Institute for National Strategic Studies (PDF) points to just such "infiltration" of the security forces by various Iraqi political parties, and outlines how this is contributing to the continuing instability in the country. As the recent spate of deadly bombings attest, all is not well in a land where 130,000 American troops are now largely confined to their bases, and like the Baghdadi in the Post story, Al-Jabouri frets about the continuing politicization of the Iraqi Security Forces
Livin' at Victory -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
I'm settled into my new home at Victory Base. I've got my barracks room slummed out so it's comfortable and have my desk at work arranged just so ... meaning papers all over the place, a coffee cup that needs to be washed, half-empty bottle of water, and a chair set to just the right height. So all is well, no? No. All my email files disappeared in the move. Four months worth of records just *poof* went away. The same thing happened with about half of the people I've talked to as well. Some of them had records that went back several years.
132.8 Degrees Fahrenheit -- [Short Timers - in Iraq]
Today was the hottest Forward Operating Base Warhorse has experienced this year. The thermometer at the Public Affairs office, our base of operations, pegged the maximum temperature at 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, nobody here - not even the soldiers - had experienced heat that severe before. You may be wondering what it feels like to be outside at that temperature. The answer, as best I can approximate it, is that it feels as though you're inside a sauna that doesn't have any walls. The heat pushes its way into everything - your clothes, the water you're carrying, your body armor, the vehicles (which get too hot to touch without gloves)... everything. There's no escape.
Commander ISAF Commends ANSF for Afghan Election Security -- [ISAF]
21 Aug. - Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, offered his compliments to the Afghan National Security Forces' successful efforts in ensuring Afghans' secure access to voting polls.
Afghanistan Election Day UPDATED -- [Mrs Greyhawk]
REPORTS FROM THE FRONT
Afghanistan's Karzai, Abdullah Both Claim Lead in Election -- [Bloomberg]
Any hope of eventually defeating Islamic militancy in Afghanistan will require an Afghan government that better meets its people's aspirations, ...
Today's essential Afghan viewing -- [flit - in Afghanistan]
Good UK Channel 4 clip on British soldiers and mentors in Helmand.
The Captain's Journal says this is evidence that Westerners need to be allowed to search Afghan homes again. I'd settle personally for the ANA being allowed to search Afghan homes again... during our tour there was a blanket prohibition on army house searches from MoD in Kabul. That was seen as an ANP duty. Oh, the army would do it sometimes, of course: everyone likes to find a weapons or ammo cache and they had less of an issue with the grape huts or unoccupied ruins where those kinds of things could often be found, but if it got too hot, or too dark, or the mentors too tiresome, they could always pull out the "we don't search houses" card, and that would basically be that.
Election Day -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
I still believe the Taliban do not view the election as a significant event although it is clear some actors do. Around the city of Kunduz there were 24 election stations burned down on Tuesday night which indicates Hekmatyar's group HiG is sending a message about the election. HiG conducted their own version of a RIP (relief in place) by replacing all the commanders in Kunduz last winter and ordering them to fight. They have been battling with the Germans all summer up in the previously very quiet and safe north and it will be interesting to see if the German's step up their game and rediscover the art of small unit infantry warfare like the French have done outside of Kabul.
Bravery And Afghan Voters - [P.J. Tobia - in Afghanistan]
Much of the reporting about Afghanistan's election yesterday (my own included) had to do with violence, death, repression and low voter turnout. All of the above did take place in great and depressing abundance, but there was something else too: The courage of Afghan voters. While turnout was generally regarded as low, millions of voters did brave threats from insurgents, awful roads and a perilous security situation to cast a ballot, and that is no small thing. Zulhaija (pictured above), was at the polling station a full hour before it opened, because, she told me "I'm excited to chose our leader. I know things will not change immediately, but we have to make the effort to try. If we do not try, who will?" Said Guhl, (pictured below, right) a 43-year-old shop keeper, brought his two sons to a north Kabul polling station because he wanted them to see democracy up close and know that one day it would be their responsibility.
Back safely from elections mission -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
From SMSgt Temple's wife Liisa: Rex is safely back from the elections mission but too tired to write; he'll post again tomorrow. Meanwhile he asked me to post a news video he is interviewed in.
Count begins in Afghanistan as pollling stations close -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
Afghan officials have begun counting votes as polling sites closed in the presidential election.
Taliban threats had appeared to dampen voter turnout in the militant south with scattered rocket, suicide and bomb attacks closing some voting sites.
Low turnout in the south would harm President Hamid Karzai's re-election chances and boost the standing of his top challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
NATO chief hails Afghan elections -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today congratulated Afghans who had defied the Taliban by casting their ballots in the country's presidential elections, calling the vote's Afghan-led security operation 'a success'.
Commander hopes Afghan election will spur change -- [CTV.ca]
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The commander of Canadian Forces in Kandahar says he hopes Afghanistan's election ushers in a changed political atmosphere in the
Good, Bad and Indifferent -- [Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
...We'll see how the coverage shakes out, but nothing irritates reporters more than a slow news day. After today's electoral anticlimax, my guess is that successful attacks, areas of low voter turnout, voting irregularities and any other imperfections will be milked by the irritated for every dreadful thing they presumably can tell us about Afghanistan's enduring troubles. In the end, however, dullness may be the real story. Taken as a whole, today's violence seemed more pro forma than inspired. In many areas, the political choices offered to Afghans did not prompt a stampede to the polls. For a day, Afghanistan was relatively boring, which is to say closer to normal. Tomorrow
Life in "River City" -- [FOX News - Mal James - in Afghanistan]
At all bases the "Marines operate in there" is an expression they use in "River City" to describe what happens when a Marine is killed or injured. All contact with the outside world ceases to be available all phone lines and Internet connections are cut until the next of kin are notified.
At Forward Operating Base in Now Zad, it is almost the norm, rather than the exception.
Afghanistan Elections: Polling Day - [FCO Blogger - Lisa Bandari - in Afghanistan]
I've just returned from a visit with the Ambassador to a polling centre in an Ismaili religious compound in Taimani, an area of Kabul, feeling exhilarated. The polling centre was busy. There were long queues outside the male and female stations, and searches before they were allowed to enter. As ever, I was flattered when the policeman on the gate mistook me for the interpreter, but tried to remember the Dari for 'international observer', as I wasn't sure he could read the card I handed him.
The Day After. Then the Wait -- [NY Times - At War]
On the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, Friday prayers today echoed out over above Kabul's quiet, checkpointed streets and below the huge, white Baghdad-style surveillance balloon that is a new fixture above the city's skyline. This week the prayers drifted through the windows of high school classrooms which are now filled with election volunteers slowly counting ballots after Thursday's Presidential and provincial elections. With counting already under way, the leading Presidential candidates are both claiming success, trying to build momentum for their own post-election campaign and to establish a basis of expectations against which will almost certainly come formal allegations of vote-buying, ballot-rigging and intimidation of election staff, especially in rural areas. Election officials in Kabul have consistently sought to lower expectations of a quick result, or even of early turnout figures.
Old Crusty Cold Warrior Vaguely Uncomfortable Moment -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
Back when I was a youngin, the idea of being directly overflown by a Hind D (big, evil-looking Russian attack helicopter) was a horrifying prospect. Today I was overflown at an altitude of about 100 feet on several occasions by Afghan National Army Hind D's.
It was vaguely uncomfortable. I knew, on a conscious level, that they were "friendlies," but ...
Majority Americans Say: Afghan War Is Not Worth Fighting -- [NPR]
Family members and supporters were out in force to welcome home the soldiers from Afghanistan. With record numbers of US troops being killed in Afghanistan,
WaPo/ABC Poll: Majority Of Americans Now Against Afghan War -- [BlackFive - McQ]
This, at least in my mind, has never been a matter of "if", but instead a matter of "when". According to the Washington Post, the "when", has occurred and according to their poll the majority of Americans are now against the war in Afghanistan. Popularly known, even by Barack Obama, as the "good war" or the "necessary war", the Washington Post is now saying popular sentiment has turned against it: ...
US Predators target the Haqqanis in North Waziristan -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
An unmanned US Predator aircraft fired missiles at the Haqqani Network in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal area of North Waziristan. Two Hellfire missiles struck in the town of Darpa Khel near Miramshah, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network. Twelve Taliban fighters from Afghanistan were reported killed, but no high value Taliban or al Qaeda targets have been reported killed at this time. A senior Haqqani Network commander and an al Qaeda operative were the targets of the strike, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. The official would not identify the names of the leaders targeted. The strike in Danda Darpa Khel is the third in the town since September 2008.
Iran still not fully cooperative on nukes - US -- [Ynetnews]
Iran is still not fulfilling its obligations related to its nuclear activities, despite allowing UN inspectors access to a reactor and allowing an upgrade
Iran missile said to pose Europe threat in 3-4 years -- [Reuters]
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) - Iran could have the ability to strike most of Europe with a ballistic missile within three or four years if it ...
China's nuclear envoy wraps up nkorea trip -- [AsiaOne]
BEIJING, CHINA - China's chief nuclear negotiator wrapped up a five-day visit to North Korea on Friday, state media announced - a mission reportedly focused
The Blood of Children on Their Hands -- [One Free Korea]
I'm now being flooded with e-mails with links to this story, and I'm simply horrified. A fascist dictatorship with a seat in the U.N. Security Council rounds up innocent women and children, probably to ship them to Kim Jong Il's slaughterhouses, and three inexplicably stupid and reckless Americans unwittingly helped them do it:
Lee said Laura Ling, Euna Lee and a man named Mitch Koss
Laura Ling & Euna Lee Video Led to Capture of North Korean Refugees -- [GI Korea]
This has long been suspected and now it is official, the actions of Laura Ling, Mitch Koss, and Euna Lee crossing into North Korea has led to the capture and deportation of North Korean refugees and human rights activists within China
Terror suspect tapped as Iran defense minister -- [Washington Times]
Ahmad Vahidi, nominated Thursday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to serve as Iran's defense minister, is a suspected international terrorist sought by Interpol in connection with a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina.
Saudi Arabia Announces Arrest of 44-Member Terror Network
In an August 20, 2009 statement, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced the arrest of a terror network comprising 44 individuals, all but one of whom are Saudi nationals...
Why The U.S. Missed Zapping Bin Laden 11 Years Ago -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
It all came down to a call from Pakistan.
Had Osama Bin Laden not received that message 11 years ago today, dozens of U.S. Navy cruise missiles might have found their primary target and America arguably would not have been attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Afghanistan probably would have remained a blighted backwater run by the Taliban, and Iraq's Saddam Hussein might even still be in power. More importantly, ...
Detainees Shown CIA Officers' Photos -- [Washington Post]
The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Libyan Terrorist Returns To Adoring Crowd -- [Ace of Spades]
The head of the US Pan Am Flight 103 victim's group was told there would be, "no celebratory reactions on the part of the Libyans".
The Obama administration said they expected the killer's homecoming would be low key.
Judge for yourself how that's all worked out.
Cozad Marine honored for valor -- [Omaha.com]
In the heat of an ambush in Afghanistan's most lawless province, a 19-year-old Nebraskan jumped in front of a grenade to shield other Marines in his platoon.
Richard Weinmaster was critically wounded by the blast. But the bloodied Cozad native stayed in the fight, firing his machine gun at the enemy position until he collapsed from his wounds.
From our facebook wall today -- [Soldiers Angel Network]
Tony: at 11:00pm on August 16th, 2009
Thank you Soldier's Angels for all you have done for my daughter and our family over the last two years. You sent our family and my son-in-law's family to Bethesda multiple times to be with him after he was hit by an IED in Iraq.
Founder's Notes -- [Soldiers Angels LA]
Dear Soldiers' Angels,
As fighting has heated up in Afghanistan, the number of wounded has increased, too. Several recent events have reminded me how big a job caring for our wounded is, and how much our love and support means to the wounded warriors of all generations. They are our true heroes, and it is our proud obligation to do whatever we can to assist them.
When a parent goes to war, military kids grow up fast -- [CNN]
In Pennsylvania, Tyler Dix, a 16-year-old movie buff, is wide awake by 7 a.m. to cook breakfast for his younger siblings.
Moranda Hern and Kaylei Deakin started Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs, or battle dress uniforms.
1 of 3 In Georgia, Tucker Simmons, a 14-year old novice guitarist, prepares ice packs for his mother whenever her chronic lower back pain kicks in.
In California, Kaylei Deakin, an avid 17-year old rock climber, disciplines her little sisters when they act out.
"Semper Gumby" -- [Villianous Co]
A few days ago I related the daring manner in which The Love of My Life broke the news of an impending deployment: At this point I should probably mention that the joyous news of my impending celibacy came during a week when I needed to be 50 miles away by 8 a.m. every day and my Ukrainian friend was visiting from Seattle. All of which meant that I spent the next 3 days living inside my own head. I couldn't cry, or talk to anyone about it until we told his mother, or talk to him in the hour or so we have between dinner and bedtime. There just wasn't time and even if there had been time I was never far from tears.
National Guard soldiers home from Iraq tour -- [Hawaii 24/7]
Watts, a 28-year National Guard veteran, is stationed on Oahu, but flew to the Big Island to welcome the troops home. "This is the best part of my job," he
Local Guardsmen return from Afghanistan -- [Joliet Herald News]
"I am welcoming the soldiers home because they are fighting for us," he said. Diane Bown, of Joliet, came clutching a handmade welcome home sign with her
Polling Shows Public Is Turning Against Afghan War -- [CBS News]
The negative media is the best hope the Taliban have to win this war, you can't destroy an enemy that has the biggest media in the world behind them. by ...
Newspaper corrects 'Jackass'-Keith Olbermann mix-up -- [Los Angeles Times]
Thank goodness The Times is the forthright, ethical institution that it is.
And when a mistake happens, it rushes to set the journalistic record straight with an honest repair. Here is an actual correction from Page A4 of today's print edition:
FOR THE RECORD
TV listings: The Prime-Time TV grid in Thursday's Calendar section mistakenly listed MTV's "Jackass" show on the MSNBC cable schedule at 7 and 10 p.m. where instead MSNBC's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" should have been listed.
It's not the Worst Mistake in the World.
"You think you're gonna live forever?" -- [Greyhawk]
...Returning to the point at which our discussion began, the answer to "can my death help a media conglomerate make a few bucks?" probably shouldn't factor in to your end of life decision process.
VA pushes vets to consider death as an alternative to treatment -- [Hot Air - Ed Morrissey]
The ObamaCare bill may not contain "death panels," but even Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post wonder why the bill incentivizes end-of-life consultations with the elderly and ill as part of its cost-containment strategy. Maybe Lane and Robinson should take a look at the VA, where the Obama administration and former General Eric Shinseki have reinstated a program called "Your Life, Your Choices." The Wall Street Journal reports that this program amounts to a high-pressure sales pitch for refusal of treatment for veterans...
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Many Dead as Baghdad Rocked by Massive Explosions -- [The Times]
The centre of Baghdad was rocked by seven near-simultaneous explosions this morning, killing an estimated 100 people and wounding 250 more. In the deadliest attack in Iraq this year, and the most audacious one in the capital for a long time, mortar fire and car bombs were directed towards the main centres of power. Among the targets were the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, health and housing, as well as the Parliament building and the Cabinet building. Also hit was a checkpoint on the approach roads to the fortified Green Zone.
Odierno Proposes Three-Part Security Force for Northern Iraq -- [Defense Link]
The top US commander in Iraq has proposed a tripartite arrangement between American, Iraqi and Kurdish forces to shore up security in disputed areas of northern Iraq. The proposal by Gen. Raymond Odierno is only in the discussion phase, but leaders involved in the talks have been receptive, according to a defense official speaking on background. The initiative has been characterized as "a confidence-building measure" aimed at protecting Iraqis and preventing disputed areas "from being used as a seam" by insurgents.
Syria, Iraq Establish Joint Strategic Council -- [MEMRI Blog]
At a meeting yesterday in Damascus between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Syrian officials, it was decided to establish a joint strategic council, headed by the countries' prime ministers.
It was also decided to tighten Iraq-Syria security cooperation, particularly in the fight against terrorism and to tighten cooperation on water.
Street Scenes, 19 AUG -- [Mungadai Days - in Iraq]
Combat Advising: Midwifery -- [Mongo's Montreaux - in Iraq]
Great article on the Strategy Page entitled "Why Iraqis Still Fight Like Arabs" (H/t: Mudville Gazette) The article highlights the (ofttimes seemingly insurmountable) cultural gap between the US and Iraqi militaries. We (the US military) are hostile and resistant to change; we are pikers compared to the Iraqis, though. The article examines Iraqi military culture through their ineptness at dealing with IEDs, but the traits revealed are true across the spectrum of military endeavors. I find the article reinforces most of my personal findings over the years in dealing with Arabs (and we all know how wonderful it is to find external validation for our preconceived notions). While I find the article is accurate in general, I thought it interesting comparing and contrasting with my current experience with the Federal Police, here and now, specifically
Iranian Arms Seized in Iraq, Officials Say -- [New York Times]
Iraqi and American troops seized a rocket launcher loaded with about a dozen Iranian-made rockets aimed at an American base in the southern city of Basra, Iraqi officials said Tuesday. The United States military said in a statement that Iraqi and American forces conducted a search operation on Basra's outskirts after hearing explosions near the base Monday night. The American statement said that Iraqi security forces confiscated 16 rockets and arrested three in connection with the operation without giving further details. No casualties were reported. A spokesman for the Basra police force, which took part in the operation, said that a rocket launcher loaded with 13 Grad rockets, positioned on the back of a pickup truck, was found in the Shatt al Arab district northeast of Basra. There was no explanation for the discrepancy in the number of rockets.
It's The Terrorism, Stupid -- [Threats Watch - Steve Schippert]
A funny thing happened (and keeps happening) along that road to meeting with the Iranian regime "without preconditions." Seems we keep finding such bothersome things as dead American soldiers and Iranian-made weapons on various battlefields. The Associated Press offers Exhibit 1,347b of An Inconvenient Truth: Iraqis find Iranian-made rockets after US attacked.
...At some level, surely the Obama administration wishes the Iranian regime would stop putting such speed bumps of inconvenience along the path to the inevitable Dog & Pony Show that will be "talks without preconditions."
Trip to Victory Base Complex -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
When I was asked if I would like to go back to Victory Base Complex to help members of the 326st Area Support Group with their promotion board, I was very pleased with the idea. Last time I went there I was fortunate to learn a lot of information that I brought back to the unit and eventually used to help the members of our unit with their promotion packets and get promoted. When I arrived at VBC on Saturday, Aug. 1, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Aumiller was the person there to assist me. He ensured that I was happy with the living conditions, food, etc. He also found time to take me along with another Soldier on a tour of Camp Slayer,
Meet Afghanistan's Presidential Candidates -- [Afghan Desk - PJ Tobia]
Afghan voters head to the polls tomorrow to elect both a new president and members of local provincial councils.
There are over 30 candidates for the nation's top office, but really only three candidates with any serious support from voters or the Afghan/NATO power structure.
Afghan Money Race -- [Outside the Wire - in Afghanistan]
Money is the life blood of politics--even in Afghanistan.
In the public polling by IRI , Karzai has 44%, Abdullah Abdullah 26%, Ramzan Bashardost 10% and Ashraf Ghani 6%.
The rest of the candidates, 41 in all were too low to even note.
Being below 50% is always a bad place for an incumbent--especially in Afghanistan where you have to have 50% plus one vote to win and avoid the runoff.
Ballots -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
Sometimes it's really quite amazing to see the disconnect between what the unseen, unknown planners on high come up and the situation on the ground. Let's just say originally this area was to have quite a number of polling sites. And as the election creeps closer and closer, everyone is coming to the realization that we just don't have the manpower to provide security for all of these places.
Elections writeup for worldfocus -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
Afghanistan's election is coming up on Thursday. Here in the northeastern part of the country, conducting an orderly election will be a difficult task, to say the least. This region, due to the high mountains and its shared border with Pakistan, is a well-known insurgent haven. Our enemies inhabit the high ground and getting up there to deal with them is tough.
British sniper describes moment he shot Taliban commander... from TWO KILOMETRES away -- [Daily Mail]
A British sniper killed a Taliban leader with the longest-ever fatal bullet shot in Afghanistan - from nearly TWO KILOMETRES away.
Corporal Christopher Reynolds, 25, camped on the roof of a shop for three days as he waited for the perfect conditions to shoot the terrorist commander.
VIDEO: The tour has been hard pounding, but progress has been made - Sangin, Helmand -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
Mid way through the tour, Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer of the RIFLES Battle Group reflect on the losses as well as the progress being made in Sangin, Helmand Province.
Foreign forces cannot be here permanently for security -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
The governor of Helmand Province today expressed his gratitude for what British troops are doing in Afghanistan - but added that he hoped they leave "as soon as possible". Gulab Mangal also predicted that efforts to protect this week's presidential and provincial elections would be a success, although he declined to forecast how many people would turn out to vote. Most of the 9,100 UK troops in Afghanistan are based in Helmand, which is at the heart of the bloody Taliban insurgency that has cost so many British lives. Governor Mangal said he "truly appreciated" the work of British and American forces in his province. But he went on: "The foreign forces cannot be here permanently for security. "We will have to train the Afghan national security forces until they can keep security permanently in Afghanistan ...
Dead Babies In The News -- [Strategy Page]
The new U.S. strategy is to greatly reduce civilian losses from American firepower, while the Taliban attacks on civilians increase. This is tricky, as the drug gangs have got a lot of the Afghan media on their payroll, or are simply too frightened to say anything negative about the Taliban. The foreign media don't consider the Taliban killing civilians to be news, while foreign troops doing so is always worth a headline or two...
Afghan Government Issues Gag Order On Election Reporting -- [Afghan Desk - PJ Tobia]
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out a press release requesting that media not broadcast any incidents of violence on election day tomorrow. Here's an excerpt from the presser . ...This gag request is pointless and totally unenforceable.
Afghan media refuse to censor election reporting -- [Fox News]
Afghan journalists on Wednesday rejected a Foreign Ministry demand that they suspend the broadcasting of news about attacks or violence on election day, accusing the government of unconstitutional censorship. The Taliban have ramped up attacks ahead of Thursday's vote, including two suicide bombings against NATO troops, rocket fire on the presidential compound and an armed assault on a bank in recent days. The militant group has also threatened to attack polling stations on Thursday
Taleban Rule Airwaves in Ghazni -- [IWPR]
For the past six weeks, residents of Ghazni have been living in the past - at least as far as their radio habits go. The Taleban, who control much of this southern Afghan province, have banned most music and entertainment from the airwaves.
Radio station managers fear the prohibition extends to politics as well. With presidential and provincial council elections due on August 20, journalists are finding themselves heavily restricted.
"We have not done any reports about the elections," said Idris Soroosh Azadzoi, manager of the Umed-e-Jawaan radio station in Ghazni. "We are afraid of the Taleban."
Election security in Kunduz -- [AFPAk Channel - Gilles Dorronsoro - in Afghanistan]
I was in Kunduz yesterday. The security there is extremely problematic -- the road from Kabul to Kunduz is cut by the Taliban on a daily basis. The last attack in Dashti archi where the chief police was killed is a huge blow to the security forces. Groups of fifty Taliban are now operating on a regular basis, instead of ten a few months ago. The atmosphere is very different from my last trip in April. The Taliban are immediately near the city during the night and they are very confident and aggressive.
There is no way to stop the Taliban if they want to attack polling stations and block the road. There are over 200 polling stations in Kunduz.
Wardak Sitting Out Elections -- [IWPR]
Residents say in much of province security situation too volatile for ballot to proceed.
"Vote? We can't even talk about the elections here, never mind actually going to them!" said Mohammad Qasim, a resident of Chak district in Wardak province.
Maidan Wardak used to be Kabul's vacation spot. Its green valleys, rolling hills and clear streams provided ample opportunity for picnics and relaxation, all a stone's throw from the capital. The border between Kabul province and Wardak is just 40 kilometres from the centre of Kabul.
But now Wardak is off limits even to some of its own residents.
Who Are the Taliban? -- [NY Times]
"It was the Taliban," stuttered the young Christian man, trying to explain who had killed seven family members. "The Taliban came and killed them."
We were standing in his broken house in central Pakistan, next to a collapsed bird cage. The day before, an angry mob had swept through his neighborhood like a storm, pillaging and burning houses belonging to Christians.
Afghanistan Votes. Who Cares? -- [Registan]
There is tremendous buzz about Afghanistan's elections. Open up any op-ed page, and you can find countless articles about votes and democracy and Karzai not instantly winning, and whatever else. But what I don't get is why anyone cares.
Democratic elections usually rest on a few basic principles: a free and fair vote, an uncoerced selection of candidates, and an agreement by all parties to abide by the results. Afghanistan doesn't quite qualify for any of these.
Whoever Wins, Afghanistan Wins...Eventually -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
As much as some Western reporters decry the cultural ignorance of coalition forces in Afghanistan, you would think they would try to avoid mirror-imaging in their election reporting. Yet by and large they seem content to stick with comfortable storylines that are mostly about handicapping the horse race. Hamid Karzai will win in the first round, or the vote will go to a run-off.
The Day After -- [Foreign Policy Blog]
The Taliban will still be winning -- unless what comes after the election is real change.
...The twin pillars of legitimacy in Afghanistan are security and justice. In the absence of either -- or both -- people will look for alternatives. This is where the Taliban come in. From 1994 to 1996, as the Taliban swept across an Afghanistan rent by chaos and warlordism, it was their approach to security and justice, not Islam, that won them legions of supporters. The Taliban brought law and order, often absurd in form (no kite-flying) and brutal in application, but always swift and effective. Today, they are drawing from the same playbook, and it is still working.
Why? Because the Karzai government and its international backers have failed after nearly eight years to create a government that is respected and trusted by many of its people.
Spokesman for Taliban Is Captured, Pakistan Says -- [NY Times]
Pakistan has captured the chief spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban, security officials said Tuesday, dealing another blow to the militant network two weeks after its top commander was apparently killed in an American airstrike.
NATO @ War -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
Polish Prime Minister honors Soldiers on Armed Forces DayBy Polish Captain Katarzyna Szal/Bogumiła PiekutGHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tust, along with Gen. Bronisław Kwiatkowski, the operational commander of Polish Land Forces, met with Polish and American Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Afghanistan, on Poland's Armed Forces Day, Aug. 15. "I pay homage for courage, sacrifice and heroism of all polish soldiers, here in Afghanistan," said Tust, addressing the Polish soldiers in a speech.Tust made sure he emphasized how proud all Polish citizens are of their soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Election Mission-Air Force Style -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Then after the essentials are marked off, a few more items were penciled in. Refrigerator...check....folding chairs...check.......volleyball...check....sirloin steaks...check....hamburgers and hotdogs...check...coffee maker..check. It almost appears if we are going on a picnic. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I mentioned previously, securing the elections is paramount and we are not exempt. We will be living side by side with our ANA brothers. Did we take a few liberties with some vacant space on the trailers? You betcha!
...The real humor in this mission is with our Army SSG teammate. He is your typical stocky-build with arms tattooed soldier tough guy. Often you see him; he has a scowl on his face. But in reality, ...
New Clinic -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
Two days ago we took a little trip to meet with our counterparts at the ANP Regional level. The main purpose of the visit was to tour and get an understanding about how the new ANP Regional HQ clinic would be used. The building is new, nice with adequate facilities. It is a great improvement over their current situation.
British man accused of biggest military hack ever will be tried in U.S. -- [Washington Examiner]
A British man accused of masterminding what prosecutors labeled the biggest military computer hack of all time is expected to be sent to Alexandria's federal court for trial, having lost his battle against being sent to the United States.
Improve the US Economy: Legalize Unauthorized Immigrants -- [All Voices]
In a report released last week, the Cato Institute calculates the benefits that would flow to the U.S. economy from a comprehensive immigration reform that grants legal status to unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States. This study explains
Iranian Cleric Predicts Opposition Will Topple Ahmadinejad -- [Washington Post]
His newspaper was shut down Monday, and generals and hard-line clerics have called for him to be put on trial. Yet defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi says opposition to the government is growing by the day. The white-turbaned Shiite cleric, who has held several senior government positions since the 1979 Islamic revolution, said in an interview Tuesday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, along with the clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders who support him, will be defeated by what he describes as a burgeoning movement of ordinary people, ayatollahs and lawmakers. "In the streets, in the bazaars, at weddings and in mosques, everywhere you can hear people complaining about what has happened" since Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection June 12, Karroubi said. "This belief is growing at an extraordinary pace.
In North Korea, Clinton Helped Unveil a Mystery -- [New York Times]
The visit was arranged under a veil of secrecy with the help of an unlikely broker: a high-level American intelligence officer who spent much of his career trying to unlock the mysteries of North Korea. When former President Bill Clinton landed in Pyongyang on Aug. 4 to win the release of two imprisoned American journalists, senior officials said he met an unexpectedly spry North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, who welcomed him with a long dinner that night, even proposing to stay up afterward.
FBI Agents' Role Is Transformed by Terror Fight -- [New York Times]
The report last month was chilling: a 55-gallon drum of radioactive material had gone missing during shipment from North Carolina to California. Even worse, the person who signed for the cargo was not an employee of the company that ordered the load. The Federal Bureau of Investigation here ramped up, consulting health officials, questioning radiation specialists and tracking down the trucker who dropped off the material, which could be used in a radioactive-bomb attack. Three hours later, the shipper found the drum - still sitting on a loading dock 20 miles from its destination in the Los Angeles area- having confused it with a similar shipment sent to a different company on the same day. For an FBI team here that vets tips and threats about possible terrorist activity, it was yet another false alarm in a job largely defined by hoaxes and bogus leads that must still be run to ground.
Spy Agency Fiascob -- [Daily Beast - HT: Ace of Spades]
CIA Director Leon Panetta's emergency testimony to Congress about an illegal assassination program has set off a crisis at the spy agency. The Daily Beast's Joseph Finder exclusively reports that:
• The secret assassination 'program' wasn't much more than a PowerPoint presentation, a task force and a collection of schemes--it never got off the ground
Can Social Network Data Mining Help Us Nab Terrorists? -- [Jawa Report]
Yes, says Steve Conner over at the UK's Independent. And more. If he's to be believed, we're already doing this. Successfully.
The caveat? I'm not sure if he's intentionally misleading readers, or if he's confused himself. For instance, he throws out that the DOD is funding research into this kind of data mining combined with social network analysis. The reader is then told that the military sometimes uses a sort of similar process -- called the "mosaic philosophy" -- by collecting and then using data which can occasionally lead intelligence types to come to faulty conclusions.
Do Americans Care about British Soldiers? -- [Michael Yon - in Afghanistan]
A gunshot ripped through the darkness and a young British soldier fell dying on FOB Jackson. I was just nearby talking on the satellite phone and saw the commotion. The soldier was taken to the medical tent and a helicopter lifted him to the excellent trauma center at Camp Bastion. That he made it to Camp Bastion alive dramatically improved his chances. But his life teetered and was in danger of slipping away. Making matters worse, the British medical system back in the United Kingdom did not possess the specialized gear needed to save his life. Americans had the right gear in Germany, and so the British soldier was put into the American system.
British officers in his unit, 2 Rifles, wanted to track their man every step of the way, and to ensure that his family was informed and supported in this time of high stress. Yet having their soldier suddenly in the American system caused a temporary glitch in communications with folks in Germany. The British leadership in Sangin could have worked through the glitch within some hours, but that would have been hours wasted, and they wanted to know the status of their soldier now. So a British officer in Sangin - thinking creatively -asked if I knew any shortcuts to open communications. The right people were only an email away: Soldiers Angels. And so within about two minutes, these fingers typed an email with this subject heading: CALLING ALL ANGELS.
SICK FANATICS CHEER BODY BAGS -- [Daily Express]
(UK) muslims living in UK Cheer Body Bags Of Killed British Soldiers.
BRITISH Muslim fanatics sparked fresh fury last night by praising Taliban "heroes" for sending our troops back from Afghanistan in body bags.
Dozens of homegrown "jihadis" have posted website messages cheering last weekend's carnage in Helmand province that saw Britain's death toll rise to 204 soldiers.
They carry the war in their eyes -- [Kiss My Gumbo]
While Sir JJ Witmeyer & I were changing planes in Dallas on Sunday, he was approached by a Vietnam Veteran. After he walked away, JJ said to me, "You can still the see PTSD in his eyes." That kind of clicked things in to place for me after my week at the Military Order of the Purple Heart Convention.
Poland's Armed Forces Day at Landstuhl hospital -- [Soldier's Angels Germany]
This past Saturday was Poland's Armed Forces Day. As part of the celebration we awarded some wounded Polish paratroopers St. Michael the Protector t-shirts from RangerUp!. St. Michael is not only the patron saint of warriors in general, but of paratroopers in particular. As you can see, they loved the shirts!
The Poles, along with troops from many other countries, are in the thick of it fighting in Afghanistan, and Landstuhl hospital has treated casualties from 12 nations since the beginning of the War on Terror.
Suicide Solution Is No Solution -- [A Soldiers Perspective]
I've said this before and I'll say it again, but this time with a different slant: there is NOTHING in this life worth taking your own for. There are people who care about you that you may or may not be familiar with. I am one of them. Hey, I have problems - BIG problems. Recent developments in my life have shaken the very foundation of my being. I have been questioning my place in both the Army and in life. But no matter how much I'm beat down, nothing will convince me that taking my life will make it better. Likewise, taking your life will not make the reasons for wanting to do so go away.
To those of you out there who may be hurting and contemplating hurting or killing yourself, I want to reiterate something I've said before; please contact me.
Preventing Suicide: Advice to Civilians -- [You Served - CJ]
I recently wrote a piece on A Soldier's Perspective about suicide called "Suicide Solution is No Solution." I've gotten a lot of very supportive emails about all my recent posts on suicide prevention and mental health issues. One of the toughest barriers that civilians or non-combat veterans will have to overcome is the combat veteran's personal bias against those who haven't "been there." It's not that they're snobbish or "holier than thou" but a feeling that to truly understand what they are dealing with, you have to be there.
Deployment -- [Winds of Change - Armed Liberal]
The buses pulled away for the airfield about 12:30 am Saturday morning.
Up until then, we'd been scattered in little company-centered groups across Fury Field, a grassy quad in the middle of modern office buildings and barracks, some hiding from the intermittent rain under temporary canopies, some of us just standing in the warm rain. Mostly it was soldiers in ACU's; peering at lists illuminated by red-lensed flashlights, moving huge rucks or duffel bags onto flatbed trucks like ant swarms carrying large crumbs or just sitting alone or with wives and children or girlfriends or the occasional parent.
Greetings meant great deal to troops -- [Clarksville Leaf Chronicle]
Fort Campbell gave a very long overdue "Welcome Home" to Vietnam veterans. As a soldier, I can tell you that although this can seem trivial to some, ...
'It's wonderful': 11 area soldiers welcomed home -- [News-Journal]
Family, friends and supporters gathered Tuesday afternoon with waving flags, signs and clappers to welcome home 11 soldiers. "It's the most we've ever had, ...
The importance of social media in the Army -- [Army Live]
Last year over lunch, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division's public affairs team, began to throw out ideas on how to jump start the Army's social media program. Lt. Col. James Carlisle, Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick, Spc. Ben Hutto and Pfc. Erik Anderson had a lot to answer; "How do we get the Directorate of Information Management to give us access to social media sites? Can a dot mil site adequately work as an official site and blog for a unit, or is a dot com the better way to go? Who is responsible for managing the site once it's up? What is the current Army policy on social media sites? Is there an Army policy on social media? What operational security considerations should be taken into account? Is this even a good idea?"
...The real key to social media sites is they allow for feedback; two-way communication between the command and the internal audience.
Reality-Based Milblogs? -- [Balloon Juice - Anne Laurie]
by Anne Laurie
A long-term acquaintance on a small group mailing list chose this week to move from a steady drip of more-or-less-ignorable libertarian/objectivist statements into Full Frontal Wingnut. After circulating a long, badly-written, tediously unfunny "humorous letter" about the Self-Proclaimed So cia list President Obama's Nazi-Inspired Campaign to Trick Innocent Americans Into "Flagging" Their Neighbors for Thought Crimes Against IRS Death Squads of the So-Called-Health-Reform Task Force to Destroy the World's Best Medical System, they were rebutted with great patience by fellow members from all points of the political spectrum. Amidst the ensuing squid-cloud of butthurt, rules-lawyering, and accusations of bad faith, Acquaintance announced that they get all their news from four "smart, unbiased" online sources: Instapundit, Google, and two "trustworthy" milblogs, Winds of Change and Blackfive.
I know nothing of military blogs or bloggers, but I suspect that if Glenn Reynolds is the measure of smart & trustworthy, then these two may bear the same relationship to military news as Icanhascheezburger bears to veterinary science. Can the better read among you, especially the veterans, provide some recommendations for sane milblogs that won't be too frightening to someone with a bad case of Starship Troopers Syndrome?
Columnist Robert Novak (1931-2009) -- [Gateway Pundit]
"Always love your country -- but never trust your government!"
Robert Novak as quoted by The Chicago Sun-Times.
Conservative columnist and former CNN "Crossfire" co-host Robert Novak died after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 78.
The NY Times continues the lie about Novak and the Plame affair.
For the Left, war without Bush is not war at all -- [Washington Examiner]
Remember the anti-war movement? Not too long ago, the Democratic party's most loyal voters passionately opposed the war in Iraq. Democratic presidential candidates argued over who would withdraw American troops the quickest. Netroots activists regularly denounced President George W. Bush, and sometimes the U.S. military ("General Betray Us"). Cindy Sheehan, the woman whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, became a heroine when she led protests at Bush's Texas ranch.
That was then. Now, even though the United States still has roughly 130,000 troops in Iraq, and is quickly escalating the war in Afghanistan -- 68,000 troops there by the end of this year, and possibly more in 2010 -- anti-war voices on the Left have fallen silent.
What happened to the antiwar movement? Cindy Sheehan hits 'hypocrisy' of Left, Democratic allies. -- [Washington Examiner]
After my column, "For the left, war without Bush is not war at all," appeared Tuesday, I got a note from Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who was the subject of so much press coverage when she led a protest against the Iraq war outside then-President George W. Bush's ranch in Texas. This is what the note said:
Dems Cheered Blocking Social Security Reform in 2006-- Now It Could Face Default Within 2 Years (Video) -- [Gateway Pundit]
In 2006, Congressional Democrats wildly cheered their obstruction of Social Security reform at President Bush's State of the Union Address:
Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus predicted, "Social Security could face default within two years."
Forest, Trees, You Know -- [Baldilocks]
I'm sure that most of my readers are aware of the Obama birth certificate controversy in which some believe that by not making his Certificate of Live Birth public, it is indicated that the president may be hiding his birthplace. (The birthplace is assumed to be Kenya.)
Now there's a new Obama birth "scandal" about which the butt-planted classes--of which I am one--are making a big deal. In this one, a MySpace page exists listing the president's age as 52 rather than 48.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Iraqis Uneasy at Idea of Early US Withdrawal -- [AP]
Unnerved by bombings that have killed hundreds this summer, many Iraqis are losing faith in their own security forces and fear the Americans are leaving too quickly. The misgivings about the US pullback from the cities, and even about the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline for a full withdrawal, come at a time when a senior US officer has suggested the Americans declare victory and leave even sooner. Iraqis, including military commanders, believe their security forces aren't ready to act alone. "We do not want a hasty withdrawal. The Americans have promised a responsible withdrawal in coordination with the Iraqi government and they should live up to their commitments," said Abbas al-Bayati, chairman of parliament's security committee.
More Troops Are Sought for Iraq's Restive North -- [New York Times]
BAGHDAD -- The commanding general of American forces in Iraq said Monday that he had proposed putting United States troops in disputed parts
Media people in Ninewa converge on "shortcomings" in blasts coverage -- [Aswat al-Iraq]
Several media people in Ninewa agreed that the recent suicide operations in several areas were only meant to "foment sedition among the sons of the one province," though admitting "shortcomings" in the coverage of certain details in these operations.
"The objectives sought by armed groups with these recent operations in Ninewa can be summed up as sheer attempts to rupture national unity and sow the seeds of discord among local residents of the province," Tawfeeq Saeed, the director of the Ashtar satellite channel office in Ninewa and the editor-in-chief of al-Karma magazine, told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Why Iraqis Still Fight Like Arabs -- [Strategy Page]
Iraqi troops are somewhat mystified that they are not as successful at dealing with roadside bombs, as they Americans. The Iraqis now have the same equipment, and training, yet the Americans were much more successful at finding bombs and keeping roads clear of them. The Iraqis asked their American mentors for help, and were given some bad news (along with the requested help.)
The bad news was that the Iraqis were the victims of their own bad habits.
A Few More Pictures -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
...Most of the T-walls in Baghdad are coming down. Not all, though: some around Iraqi bases look like they're going to be permanent. Nobody likes plain gray concrete, so the Iraqis hire locals to decorate them.
Iraqi protest at media censorship -- [BBC]
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki told reporters to be more co-operative and less critical of the government.
The BBC's Natalia Antelava in Baghdad says it was a disturbing statement for those who lived, for years, without any freedom of expression.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi media have flourished, and many journalists would often say that physical danger was a trade-off for their newly found freedom to report, our correspondent says.
They fear their freedom is now under threat, she adds.
The Iraqi Navy -- [Montrose Toast - DJ Elliott]
The Iraqi Navy and Marines are the smallest of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense armed forces. With only 68 kilometers (43 statute miles) of coastline and two oil terminals, Iraq does not require a large naval force. However, what Iraq has now and what is on order is insufficient for the duties assigned.
Pentagon Worries Led to Command Change -- [Washington Post]
In mid-March, as a White House assessment of the war in Afghanistan was nearing completion, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met in a secure Pentagon room for their fortnightly video conference with Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top US. commander in Kabul. There was no formal agenda. McKiernan, a silver-haired former armor officer, began with a brief battlefield update. Then Gates and Mullen began asking about reconstruction and counternarcotics operations. To Mullen, they were straightforward, relevant queries, but he thought McKiernan fumbled them. Gates and Mullen had been having doubts about McKiernan since the beginning of the year.
The intercontinental screwdriver -- [CDR Salamander]
McKiernan was the architect of the operations that are going on right now in Afghanistan. There was nothing old-school he was trying to do after taking over from Gen. McNeill.
Shape, clear, hold, and build? That is all McKiernan. The comprehensive and integrated approach? McKiernan. Trying to get European NATO to turn into the wind? McKiernan and Craddock.
The fact that it wasn't well known in the Pentagon, if RC's reporting is correct, just demonstrates how far removed those in DC were from Afghanistan and the operations there.
McKiernan was first and foremost the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
Ground Truth -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
As the elections approach there has been much in the news on Afghanistan and most of it is not terribly accurate. Yesterday's VBIED in Kabul is a good example. Most news outlets are connecting this attack to a countrywide effort by Taliban groups to interfere with the Presidential election scheduled for Thursday. I'm not buying that and I don't think the Taliban view this upcoming election as a significant event. Some groups have publicly stated they will not interfere, other groups say they will disrupt the process, but we are not seeing any real attempts to do that.
This Washington Post story is typical of the MSM reporting on the Kabul blast with the title of "Pre Vote Blast in Kabul Signal Taliban Intent." That is bullshit - what the blast signals is that somebody was able to bribe their way past the ANP check-posts and get right up to the U.S. Embassy checkpoint without being detected. This is the first successful Taliban attack in Kabul since last winter and although the execution was better than average the Taliban once again managed to kill or wound innocent Afghan civilians most of whom were undoubtedly children.
SVBIED -- [3rd Time, New Country - in Afghanistan]
I am guessing most of you have already seen and/or read the news from Saturday about the SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle Born IED) that exploded here in Kabul, killing 7 and wounding 91. When it exploded, I was at the hospital. News travels fast. Most of the nurses in the OT received calls on their cell phones letting them know what happened. Where the explosion occurred is only a long stone's throw from here (NKC). We have driven through the gates where the explosion was. In fact, 4 members of our team were supposed to convoy a little later in the morning. Fortunately, they were not on the road when it happened. The Afghans at NMH had an awesome response. They were prepared to receive causalities within minutes of the explosion.
Undaunted -- [Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
Less than 12 hours after a suicide bomber struck near ISAF headquarters in Kabul, the staff is back to business, and for most of us things are pretty much as they were. Not so for the Afghans killed and wounded in this attack. Here is the frustration, and maybe the hope, of the mission here. Insurgents execute a well planned attack, and their presumptive Western targets are largely unscathed while more Afghans suffer. The gamble of our counterinsurgency strategy is that the Afghan people--repulsed by insurgent violence--will support their government before they reject it for whatever peace they think they can achieve under the insurgents' sway. It's going to be damn difficult to succeed. But after working together to recover from today's blow, international forces and more than a few Afghans are only more committed to try.
The Attack on NATO HQ in Afghanistan -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
Heartless Libertarian, who was there, has some thoughts on the subject
I was 2-300 meters, and 2 or 3 blast walls, away when it happened. In a solid building, and it rattled the place.
I haven't seen any of our own official reports, but the AP says we (we meaning NATO) had 3 soldiers from Macedonia slightly wounded. A whole bunch, close to 100 according to the AP story, of civilians wounded and some dead. Some of those are kids.
Those kids are at the gate every day, selling gum and such to people walking in and out. The bombers obviously did their reconnaissance, so they had to know it. And they did their bomb anyway. That's the kind of evil that you just can't negotiate with.
Abdullah and Ahmadzai come to Kandahar -- [Alex Strick van Linschoten - in Afghanistan]
With only four days to go before the elections, I thought it might be useful to comment on how the opposition candidates' rallies went this past week. Myself and my colleague were graced with the presence of a good half dozen members of the international press corps this week, and in all likeliness you'll read several pieces from Kandahar in the next few days. I've just seen Jon Boone did one for the Observer which isn't that bad. Give it a read. Wednesday the 12th was Abdullah's day in town. The old Communist governor of Kandahar, Noor ul-Haq Ulumi, who was responsible for buying off the mujahedeen in greater Kandahar at the end of the anti-Soviet war had come down a few days earlier to meet elders and prepare for the rally. He chose an empty patch of land next to his house as the site for the rally, and people began to arrive there early in the morning.
Elections -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
We were lucky enough to have our stay extended here to cover the election coming up on the 20th. I'd feel a little better about staying if they'd let me vote - I reckon I've done enough for this country by now that I've earned that right, but oh well. Given that I don't know much about the candidates or parties involved, I suppose it's just as well that I don't vote. What I do know is that 40 some odd persons are running for president. Such a large and divided field would seem to provide significant advantages for the incumbent, though there's to be a runoff if no one obtains a certain percentage during the first vote. It seems pretty certain that Karzai will remain in power. We obviously don't really concern ourselves with the candidates or politics involved. We're here to see that an election takes place with minimal chaos. The results are irrelevant to our purpose. I have no doubt that the people are reasonably well-informed about the candidates, but I ask myself how exactly an illiterate person votes.
The Return of Cut & Run- Afghan Exit Strategy -- [Ace - Uncle Jimbo]
We are about to enter an information battle almost identical to the one we fought about Iraq in 2006 & 2007. The cries then were that Iraq was lost and we should leave as soon as possible. They came from Harry Reid and Barack Obama in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha in the House among others. They were echoed and amplified by the media and led to a very pitched argument about whether to reinforce our new counterinsurgency strategy or to cut & run. Thankfully the arguments of Gen. Petraeus and the fortitude of President Bush prevailed and instead of defeat at the hands of al Qaeda and Iranian proxies, we won.
The Dreadful Treatment of Military Interpreters -- [Registan]
Earlier this year, I was going out on a patrol through central Afghanistan with some colleagues. We were hitching a ride with the local PRT. As is normal, the night before the patrol, we all gathered near the PRT operations center for a briefing on what to encounter. The colonel running the PRT saw us
That Day -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
If the definition of a "good day" in Afghanistan is a day that you don't get shot at, then Thursday was, well, let's just say it wasn't a good day.
I'll let that line sink in a little. It's OK. Go back and reread it.
Yep, that's what I'm sayin'. Today, for the first time since I've been here (almost six months now) I got shot at. And not in a minor way either.
Morning Tea -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
So, I'm sitting in the shade trying to absorb the distinction between a "system of states" and "the international system" when I hear the Whump! of a large bomb going off. My first thought was a hand grenade in the street outside, but the sound was much larger and more distant than that. In true Afghan fashion, the scattering of people having breakfast around me look up, smile nervously at each other and then go back to eating. Takes a lot to get people to react in this town.
This is why one doesn't make appointments in the morning in Kabul. Give the bad guys a few hours to get it out of their system before you venture into the high-threat areas.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force has been allowed to change its tactics -- [Strategy Page]
As part of a move to reduce civilian casualties, air force fighters must now, whenever possible, buzz the target (at high speed) before dropping a smart bomb. It's long been known that the A-10 ground attack aircraft, which often comes in low (except when the new version is dropping smart bombs). This scares the Afghans a great deal. It's believed that these pre-bombing buzzing of the target, will often cause the enemy to flee
Reporter's Notebook: In Afghanistan, Itching for a Fight that Never Comes -- [World Politics Review]
...The men of 4/25 are almost all "13 Bravos," the U.S. Army's designation for heavy artillery -- but there won't be any artillery fire tonight. In fact, their "tubes" are all packed away in storage, and have been since the 10th Mountain's arrival in Afghanistan eight months ago at the head of the "Afghanistan surge." What these artillery soldiers are doing here, on a dismounted infantry patrol through one of Afghanistan's most IED-laden provinces, illustrates the flexibility and patience that this new breed of warfare demands.
Afghan troops capture Helmand's Naw Zad district -- [Dawn]
Afghan forces backed by Nato-led troops have wrested a district in the troubled south of the country from Taliban control days ahead of landmark elections, authorities said Sunday. The Afghan national flag was hoisted over the centre of Naw Zad district in Helmand province, which had long been controlled by Taliban-linked militia, a defence ministry spokesman said.
The Pirates of Pogadishu -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
Due to the recent trip to the provinces, we had to pass through the space/time portal known as Bagram, which has been dubbed by some of those who operate outside the wire but have frequent brushes with it, "Pogadishu." As many others have noted, it is a world separated from the war by a million miles of cultural and tactical vacuum. A rocket attack on the base in the recent past brought home to the denizens of this burgeoning city of tens of thousands that there is a war on... but on a daily basis you couldn't tell it from Disney Drive.
Fire fights punctuate bouts of boredom at Kunar outpost -- [A World of Troubles - in Afghanistan]
..."The elders nearby always say the same thing," SSgt. Demler said, "we're glad you're here, we feel safer, but we can't tell you where they (Taliban) are, we're afraid."
The outpost has disrupted some of their distribution networks. One indication is the price of a black market AK-47 has jumped drastically. Security has improved, but at the same time they've attracted attention,...
In Helmand, Caught Between U.S., Taliban -- [Washington Post]
...Weeks after Meador and his company fought to occupy an old school whose walls displayed Taliban slogans, he estimates that slightly more than half of the residents have returned. The bazaar, which lies just outside the gate of the Marine outpost and is under watch 24 hours a day, remains vacant. Indeed, shopkeepers emptied their shelves of food and other goods after the Taliban threatened execution for anyone who went to the marketplace, according to several Afghan residents.
"The Taliban told us not to go to the market or we will be killed," a white-bearded elder in a nearby village told a passing patrol led by Marine Sgt. Christopher MacDonald, 22, of Woodbridge. Hooded Taliban "spies" come into the village at night to issue such warnings, he said.
Taliban Threats May Sway Vote in Afghanistan -- [New York Times]
A group of Taliban fighters made their announcement in the bazaar of a nearby village a few days ago, and the word spread fast: anyone caught voting in the presidential election will have his finger - the one inked for the ballot - cut off.
The view from the back -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
The elections are close at hand in Afghanistan so everyone is a little tense and dreading a potential increase in violence. Ramadan will start after that. For these reasons I have been out recently a few times to meet, mentor and interact with ANP medical personnel. Luckily I have been able to get out and do what I was sent to do.
Trip to Kabul -- [306 days - in Afghanistan]
Well as many of you heard on the news the Taliban had 2 suicide bombers blow themselves up killing 10 civilians and 3 police officers in the nearby town of Herat which was really tragic and sad. Some of the people I work with know those killed and its always a somber day to hear of innocent lives being lost. The Taliban are desperate for ways of interrupting the upcoming elections which the police and army are hoping to secure.
The Kopp-Etchells Effect -- [Michael Yon - in Afghanistan]
Members of the U.S. 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment closed space with the enemy, apparently killing at least ten. Corporal Benjamin Kopp was shot and evacuated to Germany, then back to the United States, where he died just over a week later on 18 July. Benjamin was 21 years old and at the very tip of the spear. If not for such men, we would be at the mercy of every demon.
Benjamin Kopp and his comrades were delivering the latest bad news to the sort of people who harbored the terrorists who attack innocent people around the world every day, and who attacked us at home on 9/11. Ranger Kopp was a veteran with three combat tours. He knew the risks, yet continued to fight.
...Yet the effect of Corporal Kopp did not end on the battlefields of Afghanistan; he only regrouped and continued to serve. Corporal Kopp had volunteered as an organ donor and his heart was transplanted. Two days after most people would have died, Benjamin Kopp's heart was transplanted into Judy Meikle. According to the Washington Post, Meikle said, "How can you have a better heart?" said a grateful Judy Meikle, 57, of Winnetka, Ill., who is still recovering from the surgery. "I have the heart of a 21-year-old Army Ranger war hero beating in me."
Benjamin Kopp's case is reminiscent of so many others whose names are and faces will forever remain unfamiliar to most of us. The Angels Among Us are nearly always invisible to our eyes until it's too late to say "thank you," and "farewell."
US Plans a Mission Against Taliban's Propaganda -- [New York Times]
The Obama administration is establishing a new unit within the State Department for countering militant propaganda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, engaging more fully than ever in a war of words and ideas that it acknowledges the United States has been losing. Proposals are being considered to give the team up to $150 million a year to spend on local FM radio stations, to counter illegal militant broadcasting, and on expanded cellphone service across Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Inside the Taliban: 'The More Troops They Send, the More Targets We Have' -- [The Guardian]
The provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika in south-eastern Afghanistan are dominated by one name: Jalaluddin Haqqani. A famous commander, tribal chief and cleric, Haqqani came to prominence during the war against the Soviets. In more than 20 years of fighting, he built an extensive network of influence that covered eastern Afghanistan and the tribal area of Waziristan in Pakistan, and reached as far abroad as the Gulf states, which he visited often.
Clerics' Call for Removal Challenges Iran Leader -- [New York Times]
A group of Iranian clerics has issued an anonymous letter calling Iran's supreme leader a dictator and demanding his removal, the latest and perhaps strongest rhetorical attack on him yet in the country's post-election turmoil. While the impact of the clerics' letter, posted late Saturday on opposition Web sites, may have been diluted by the withholding of their signatures, two Iranian experts vouched for its authenticity. Its publication followed other unusual verbal attacks on the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in recent days. Last week a group of former lawmakers issued their own letter calling his qualifications into question.
Anti-American Amigos -- [Wall Street Journal]
Hugo Chávez took a break last week from lobbying Washington on behalf of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to travel to Quito, Ecuador, for a meeting of South American heads of state. There he launched a virulent assault on the US military, reiterated his commitment to spreading revolution in the region, and threatened the continent with war. Mr. Zelaya was by his side. The Venezuelan's tirade against the US and its ally Colombia raised the question yet again of what the US could possibly be thinking in pushing Honduras to reinstate Mr. Zelaya.
Mubarak: We Won't Be Part Of U.S. 'Defensive Umbrella' -- [MEMRI]
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said that during his upcoming visit to Washington, he will present the Americans with Egypt's vision of attaining peace in the Middle East, and will participate in laying the foundations of the American peace plan.
In an interview, he said that his country would never participate in the U.S.'s "defensive umbrella" in the region, because doing so would require the stationing of foreign experts on its territory, as well as recognition of an Iran and an Israel with nuclear weapons
Swimmers Are Told to Wear Burkinis at Public British Pools -- [Telegragh]
Under the rules, swimmers - including non-Muslims - are barred from entering the pool in normal swimming attire.
Instead they are told that they must comply with the "modest" code of dress required by Islamic custom, with women covered from the neck to the ankles and men, who swim separately, covered from the navel to the knees.
Bin Laden's driver talks -- [The Star]
Salim Ahmed Hamdan opens up to the Star about putting his past lives -- as an Al Qaeda insider and Guantanamo's most famous detainee -- behind him and starting over as a taxi driver raising two young..
Barbecuein' and cigar smoking at WRAMC -- [This Ain't Helll...]
Concretebob and Gunn Nutt put together a great barbeque for the troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center yesterday. I was lucky enough to get an invitation - but I was so lazy, that my designated driver took the pictures for me.
Portraits of Love -- [Soldiers' Angels Network]
Volunteering to Help Send a Piece of Home to Soldiers Abroad
The PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) along with Soldiers' Angels, a grassroots volunteer organization, revealed the Portraits of Love Project, a volunteer effort aimed at sending family portraits to soldiers around the globe this holiday season.
DoD vs EMAC? -- [Miserable Donuts]
This little article from The Hill got me to thinking. Are the Governors right to be skeptical?
I am quite sure these folks would say "@#$% yes!"
I have to be very careful when I look at my past experience with Domestic emergencies - it was lousy and embittering. Well, I should say Katrina was, the Mississippi Floods of 1993 were not.
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is an agreement between States (and DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Guam) to provide assistance to each other - National Guard, police, and the like.
Army Screening NCOs to Rid Service of Marginal Leaders -- [Stars and Stripes]
The Army is reviewing personnel records of nearly 19,000 noncommissioned officers as it seeks to purge the senior enlisted ranks of underperforming, or even criminal, leaders. The records are being checked for courts-martial, negative evaluations, failed leadership courses, removals for cause, reprimands and other disciplinary actions incurred since these sergeants made their current ranks. Among the reasons for records of reprimands and disciplinary actions are driving under the influence, sexual harassment charges, drug abuse and alcohol problems. If such sergeants do not voluntarily retire, they will, for the most part, be discharged within six months. "We're trying to target those NCOs who don't understand by looking in the mirror that they are not what the Army needs,"
Till Death Do Us Part -- [Washington Post]
"Any man in combat who lacks comrades who will die for him, or for whom he is willing to die," William Manchester wrote of his time as a Marine in World War II, "is not a man at all. He is truly damned." ...Their spirit lives whenever wounded soldiers ask to return to their units rather than rotate home or sentries rest their chins on the point of a bayonet to stay awake so others sleep safely.
More Army Training - YIPPEEE! -- [A Soldier's Perspective]
PTSD is a fact of life for all humans. It's even more of an issue with Soldiers. And it's even more of an issue when those Soldiers go to combat. However, PTSD is not a given. Even the most liberal estimates put the number of PTSD cases at a little above a third of troops that are affected.
In the Army, the time we spend in classes has increased exponentially in recent years. We sit through classes on lawnmower safety, suicide prevention, motorcycle safety, equal opportunity, BBQ safety, trafficking in humans, reintegration training, travel card training, OPSEC training, anti-terrorism training, sexual assault training, risk assessment training, hot/cold weather training, etc. Seriously, I could literally keep going for a few paragraphs.
Now, the Army is adding even more training to help us cope with our emotions.
Don't tell me I need to buy ANOTHER uniform... -- [Wings Over Iraq - in Iraq]
...all the services now have their own distinct utility uniforms. The Army has its ACUs,
the Marines have desert and forest uniforms, the Air Force has a pixelated uniform which looks surprisingly Army-like, and the Navy even ditched its classic khaki uniform for a Navy blue pixelated monstrosity which helps Sailors blend into...a ship...or something.
...the one gripe that a lot of Soldiers have had with the new uniform is the pattern--what is this uniform designed to blend into? In desert environments, the uniform is okay, but it
certainly doesn't blend in to foliage well at all
GI Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier -- [New York Times]
Gervasio Sanchez/AP Sgt. Theresa Lynn Flannery during an attack in April 2004 near Najaf, Iraq, as other soldiers used a wall for cover.
I must simply state -- [Bad Dogs and Such - home from Iraq]
That the most awesome plane ride in the world is the one that takes you OUT of Iraq. We're not back on American soil yet, but I've now checked off the second tour where I got out of that country with all MY fingers and toes, and all my Joes are healthy and riding the plane home with me. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is a win.
Day 423: The End -- [452 Days - home from Afghanistan]
The journey is finally over. After 48 straight hours of planes or waiting for planes, I finally touched down in Reno Wednesday and was reunited with Sue and the kids. It is such a great feeling to finally have this deployment over with. In some ways it feels hard to believe that it is over, while in other ways it feels like forever has passed since I left.
As I have neared the end of this deployment and have prepared to come home, people often have asked me if I had a good experience and if I would want to do it again. The answers to these questions are "good" and "no"...but let me elaborate a little bit.
Fort Campbell welcomes home Vietnam vets -- [AP]
"Never in the history of the military have I known of any division or any military installation providing a specific welcome home for Vietnam veterans,"
Last Guard Soldiers to Return From Iraq Today -- [Kitsap Sun]
The last planeload of soldiers from the National Guard's 81st Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to arrive home today.
The 81st, which includes citizen soldiers from units based in Kitsap County, entered active duty on Aug. 18, 2008. After serving missions in Iraq focused on convoy security, force protection and reconstruction and base operations, members of the combat team began returning home in July.
Tears, cheers as soldiers return home in Aurora -- [Daily Herald]
Illinois National Guard soldier Benjamin Soloff of Sandwich, meets two-week-old Ryley as his wife Brittany, right, looks on after returning from Afghanistan to a homecoming at East Aurora High School on Friday.
Wave of Soldiers Return Home -- [KKTV 11 News]
"My dad is coming home," said Anastazia Cortez who made many welcome home signs for her dad who was returning from Iraq. Once everyone was in each other's
Donny Deutsch: Pro-American Movies a "Turn-Off" -- [NewsReal Blog]
Donny blasted out of the gate with non-sequiturs, mangled metaphors, factual misstatements and bloviating worthy of Keith Olbermann, reacting to Miller's observation on National Review Online that G.I. Joe is no longer an American, and that "Joe and his friends look like heroes without a country."
10 Blogs That Could Be Movies -- [Film School Rejects]
Blog: Michael Yon Online
Genre: War Drama
The Pitch: In perhaps the only serious pitch of this entire article, Michael Yon braves the heat and instability of Afghanistan in order to uncover the reality behind the war being waged there. Shot documentary style, the camera follows his exploits as he traverses the landscape, taking pictures and noting the epic visual poetry of a part of the world that most have forgotten even in the cultural shock of war. We see the soldiers, the civilians, and the harsh reality of the Taliban's opium-funded reign in the gritty realism that can't be found on the 10 o'clock news.
Blue Dogs and VSOs saved vet health care in House -- [This Ain't Helll...]
For those of you skeptics (namely Brandon Friedman, formerly of VoteVets) who said that Democrats wouldn't harm veteran health care, take a look at this morning's Wall Street Journal;...
Obama shifts focus to Iraq, Afghanistan wars -- [CNN]
Obama will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix, Arizona, where he'll talk about where the United States stands in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the impact the men and women of the Armed Forces have had in those countries and the United States' responsibilities to maintain the world's finest military, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
Nearly 13,000 VFW and ladies auxiliary delegates are expected to be at the convention, where veterans have high expectations for the president.
Four American vets -- two who voted for Obama and two for Arizona Sen. John McCain -- share a feeling that many Americans do not appreciate the sacrifice of U.S. troops dying in two wars.
Obama: U.S. can't afford military pet projects -- [Houston Chronicle]
President Barack Obama on Monday lashed special interests and their "exotic projects" that he said drain the defense budget of money needed for U.S. military forces battling everything from nuclear weapons to "18th century style piracy and 21st century cyber threats."
Going after lawmakers as well, he said, "If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with that kind of waste, I will veto it."
President Obama @ the VFW National Convention -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
I did it for President Bush, I'll do it for President Obama - publish their major speeches on issues of interest to our readership without editorializing in the post - though you are welcome to editorialize in the comments, pro or con. Be warned though, the President was long-winded this morning.
The netroots agenda: War? What war? -- [Washington Examiner]
What's truly striking in Greenberg's poll is the degree to which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have fallen off the progressive radar. I attended the first YearlyKos convention, in 2006, and have kept up with later ones, and it's safe to say that while people who attended those gatherings couldn't stand George W. Bush in general, their feelings were particularly intense when it came to opposing the war in Iraq. It animated their activism; they hated the war, and they hated Bush for starting it. They weren't that fond of the fighting in Afghanistan, either.
Now, with Obama in the White House, all that has changed. Greenberg presented respondents with a list of policy priorities and asked, "Please indicate which two you think progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most." The winner was passing comprehensive health care reform, with 60 percent, and number two was passing "green energy policies that address environmental concerns," with 22 percent. Tied for eighth place, named by just eight percent of respondents, was "working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan."
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
War is Hell--but Dinner is Good -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
If you say the Sunday Patriot-News article on the brigade I serve with, you might want to go back again and look at the comments with the article: 42 and counting. The writers of these anonymous comments are quite upset about the article, which portrays us as living in a Five-Star resort, in a very hot climate. One guy wrote 500 ALL CAPS WORDS complaining about, well, everything. Others complained that the article was not about them, their job, their difficulties.
US Faults Iraq Raid that Left Iran Dissidents Dead -- [Los Angeles Times]
The Obama administration criticized Iraqi security forces this week, saying they botched an attempt last month to establish a police station in a refugee settlement for Iranian dissidents, resulting in clashes that claimed the lives of at least eight of the refugees.
Why Iraq Bombings are Spiking -- [Christian Science Monitor]
Iraqi and US officials believe that a recent spike in high-profile attacks is probably aimed at decreasing public confidence in the Iraqi security forces ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for January. "We have to be very worried and concerned about this escalation," says Barham Saleh, Iraq's deputy prime minister, speaking by phone from Sulaimaniya. "Many of us are concerned that this is aimed at disrupting the forthcoming elections. We have to recognize that there are political tensions that allow the terrorists to take advantage of fault-lines, either sectarian or ethnic, as a way of deepening the ethnic divide," says Dr. Saleh, who is expected to become prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government following Kurdish elections in July. On Thursday, at least 20 people were killed and 31 injured in a suicide bombing near Mosul,...
Don't Tell Me How This Ends -- [Michael Totten]
There's a lot of talk right now among opinion writers and policy analysts about how Iraq may be slouching toward civil war again. It's understandable. Suicide- and car-bomb attacks make headlines every week. After a recent devastating assault on a Shia village, a woman standing amid rubble looked into a television camera and yelled at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: "Look Prime Minister," she shouted, "look Minister of Interior, where's the security you're talking about?"
A Different View of Iraq -- [Down Range 46 - in Iraq]
...Yesterday I joined one of my soldiers, SSG Mark Burrell, on a mission out to some of the more rural areas of Baghdad. While there, I captured a few images of the men, women and children we met.
For the most part these folks were friendly and talkative. I don't mind telling you that there is some reticence for soldiers to totally buy into the friendliness exhibited since there have been occasions in this conflict when once-friendly greetings turned to soured relationships. That said, the families we met yesterday were cordial, pleasant and there were enough smiles to go around for everyone.
We visited two small villages and were greeted promptly by the family elder, ...
DVIDS Soccer Ball and Toy Distribution in Choyoul Iraq -- [Sour Swinger - in Iraq]
These pictures are from a donation distribution mission. We had a ton of donated items to hand out that day. Everything from soccer balls from Kick For Nick to toys and clothing from family back up. We hit two towns that day, one of which was Choyoul. The other I have no idea how to spell. For some reason Combat Camera just labeled all the pics from Choyoul.
The Army has been occasionally embedding Combat Camera in our missions....
AAR: How Are Things Over There..? -- [The Gun Line]
...I saw every indication that it is gettiong close to the time for us to hand Iraq fully back over to the Iraqis. The "insurgents" are treated as criminals, and everyday another force of Iraqis steps up to the plate to replace a CF unit walking the streets of the major towns. I can't tell you that they will be entirely successful, but I can say that I think that we are seeing the end of this, and it's on a good note. America can be proud of what we have done here. I may not agree with all of the decisions made during the course of this, but, all in all, we have done good things, and I am proud to have been a part of it.
Desire Will Get You Killed -- [Strategy Page]
The country faces two rebellions. The Sunni Arab terrorists are still active. Although the number of Sunni Arab terror attacks continues to decline (from 42 attacks a week in June, to about 29 a week now), the Sunni Arab strategy has shifted. Now the Sunni Arab terrorists appear to be trying to anger the Shia Arab majority to the point where retaliatory attacks on Sunni Arabs will begin again.
Blood and Bravery on the Table: Inside Military Hospital Camp Bastion -- [The Times]
Beneath the warmth of the early morning summer sky a familiar routine begins at Camp Bastion's hospital. The bodies of three British soldiers, brought in by a Chinook medical emergency response team shortly after 6am, are already lying in the mortuary. Two were killed in action, the third died of wounds before he could be operated on. A fourth British soldier, an additional morning arrival, lay sedated in intensive care, with a leg blown off. A team of medics and two chaplains were waiting at the main hospital entrance for the next helicopter to touch down. "We're in the middle of a s*** morning and it's getting worse," remarked Captain Cat Kemeny, the hospital's adjutant. "We've got four more UK casualties coming in from three incidents. The next we're expecting is a double amputee." She had barely finished speaking when a Chinook landed near by and unloaded the newest casualty. On the stretcher lay a beautiful young man in bloody uniform, his face unmarked by the terrible injuries that had ended one of his legs above the knee and stripped the second to little more than bone. "Welcome to Helmand," Colonel Tim Hodgetts, the hospital's medical director, murmured beside me.
Les Boys at 'Ground Zero' of Afghan struggle -- [Ottawa Citizen]
Les Boys," who man this strongpoint in what Canadian commanders sometimes call the Wild West, have probably seen more combat in recent months than any other troops in Kandahar. And if the eight soldiers from Quebec and New Brunswick, who mentor about 50 Afghan soldiers at Howz-E-Madad are not at the epicentre of Canada's war in Afghanistan, fellow Canadian instructors from an operational mentoring liaison team based only three kilometres away at Lakhokel can stake a strong claim.
"This is Ground Zero. We're probably No. 1 for contact with the enemy.
Atlantic reporter hangs with the OMLT -- [Flit]
Graeme Wood's been hanging with the guys who replaced my team in the Canadian OMLT this week. I greatly respected his last New Yorker article, which was in large part about our OMLT predecessors and their Afghans, and in retrospect was the most honest piece of journalism written about the war in Kandahar Province for several months in either direction. I don't know if I'm disappointed or relieved that he stayed away during my tour.
Assembled thoughts below the fold.
A healthy debate -- [FlightLines - Air Force Times blog - in Afghanistan]
I understand that my most recent blog post -- specifically the photo of an airman standing in blood -- is generating some buzz among Air Force leaders and public affairs types in theater.
...There's a bit of irony here. Senior Air Force leaders are forever bemoaning the fact that the Air Force gets no attention for being in the fight over here. Then I publish a photo making it clear that this airman is in the fight, and some people are unhappy about the unpleasant aspects of it. This fight is dirty and bloody and rarely pretty. Good photos of war -- and I have no illusions that this one is extraordinary -- should make us recoil a bit. Publishing only photos of airmen standing next to pretty jets glosses over the reality of what is going on over here, and what many soldiers and plenty of airmen experience on a daily basis.
Back Off Jack Keane Wannabees -- [SWJ - Dave Dilegge]
Okay, everyone who's anyone - and many who think they're someone - inside and outside the beltway - has chimed in - did I miss anyone? Speak now or forever hold your peace.
The Afghanistan affair is quite complicated; we know that, we also can study it to death and comment until the cows come home. How about a novel approach at this particular point in time - give the Commander in Chief, the National Command Authority, State... and most importantly, the Commanding General and his staff in Afghanistan some efing breathing room to sort this out? The guys on the ground - get it?
On Afghanistan and Strategy -- [Zen Pundit]
Most of you have followed the series on the Afghanistan strategy debate at Abu Muqawama that was prompted by the Andrew Bacevich article or read the exchange I had with Dr. Bernard Finel or at the many other defense blogs talking Afghanistan. So many at once, that Dave Dilegge of SWJ asked everyone to chill out and lower the "noise". Dilegge later explained on Dr. James Joyner's OTB Radio program that he wasn't trying to stifle debate so much as point out that the staff working for Gen. McChrystal that are trying to put together a strategic plan were feeling overwhelmed by the blizzard of contradictory expert and not-so-expert advice that was suddenly flying furiously in the blogosphere.
"Now is the Time" -- [Greyhawk]
Wish I had a dollar for every article I've read (via think tanks, blogs, or major media outlets) that started with (expressed or implied) "now is the time to debate Af/Pak strategy" (or even whether or not we should be there in the first place).
Respectfully, no. Operational and tactical tweaks are forthcoming (best handled by those in or near the the trenches),
We've gone too far... -- [Wings Over Iraq - in Iraq]
...the milblog community is kind of funny in how interconnected we really are. Last week, the military blogosphere was filled with stories and calls to action about the military's senior leadership and Web 2.0 sites--sort of self-perpetuating series of stories linked to and fed by milbloggers. This week, the hot item among the milbloggers is the debate over Afghanistan's strategic importance.
...It's not limited to simply the military blogosphere, either, as the mainstream media--New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy Online--have also been weighing in on the various debates. Whether the milbloggers are taking cues from the mainstream media or whether the mainstream media is taking its cues from the milbloggers is anyone's guess, although I'd say it's a little bit of both.
The Fallacy Of Fixing Afghanistan -- [Strategy Page]
While many talk of "fixing Afghanistan," the sad fact is that there was never much there that worked well or for long. It's not for nothing that Afghanistan is the poorest nation in Eurasia, and has been virtually ungoverned for centuries. What passes for a central government was established a few hundred years ago mainly to deal with foreigners (and keep them out), and occasionally help mediate tribal disputes.
Gates: No Troop Request In Afghanistan Review -- [Washington Post]
The US commander in Afghanistan will not make a specific request for more troops when he submits a review of the situation there in the coming weeks, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday. Instead, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal will assess conditions on the ground and make recommendations based on whether the mix and number of forces he has been allotted - 68,000 by the end of the year - is sufficient to execute US strategy there, Gates told reporters at a Pentagon briefing held with Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright. "We've made clear to General McChrystal that he is free to ask for what he needs," Gates said. But "any future resource request will be considered separately and subsequent to his assessment of the security situation."
Kapisa Revisted -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
...Kapisa is a part of me, and I am a tiny part of it. I am still there, the light of recognition in the eyes of ANP officers and soldiers who recognized me revealing that my time there is still a part of the individual histories of these men's lives. They greeted me with enthusiasm, there being no doubt that the sign of deep friendship, the handshake followed by the hug with cheeks pressed, was to be exchanged. As others who did not know me looked on curiously, the ANP would explain that I had been in many fights with them. I recognized Dari words in the rapid explanations, "jang" (fight), "Afghanya," "Tag Ab," "Ala Say," "bisyar khoobas" (very good.) I knew the general drift before our interpreter told me in English what the full interpretation was. I felt a deep sense of pride in having reached that level with the Afghan soldiers who I had mentored and operated with. I recall wondering if I would earn such respect from such men; men for whom the stripes on my uniform and the patch on my sleeve matter less than my actions on the dusty ground in the obscure valleys where Afghan life and death are to be found. They judge me on actions that few, if any, Americans were there to witness.
Kapisa Teeters -- [Registan]
This NGO friend reports that Kohistan, Mahmud Raqi, and Kohband districts, all of which were Jamiat and almost all Tajik, have become targetted zones of interest for the insurgency. Because they are close enough to Kabul, the militants count attacks there as attacks in Kabul--surely not good for the purposes of propaganda. "Our team sees a lot of movement of weapons and people from Pakistan with only a few intercepted by the security forces," he says, "and there's active insurgent surveillance along major roads where previously you'd never have seen them."
That's not good. As it stands now,...
Logar Road -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
Back before I went to Dubai for the board meeting, I took a quick day-trip down to Logar Province. The purpose of the trip was a site visit to a US Army FOB* which is contracting out their perimeter security to locals.
Logar is the province immediately south of Kabul, but the destination was about two hours drive, well outside the security blanket that exists in the capital. We did pass a couple of forlorn looking ANP checkpoints, and actually got stopped and searched once, but other than that there wasn't much evidence of local security forces. That is, until ...
Danger Room in Afghanistan: The Perils of Armed Social Work -- [Danger Room - in Afghanistan]
...I recently spent a day with Capt. Booker Wilson and soldiers of Bravo Company, 82nd Division Special Troops Battalion, in this village not far from Bagram Airfield, the key logistics and support hub for Afghanistan operations. The village had been tagged as a point of origin for a recent rocket attack on the base, and the company was trying to get a better grip on the situation in their backyard.
The day before, ...
Meet Afghanistan's Biggest Blogger -- [Foreign Policy Blog]
On his groundbreaking blog, Afghan Lord, Fekrat hopes to tell that to the world. Writing in Farsi as well as self-taught English, he has taken it upon himself to show Afghanistan's softer, more genuine face. Until recently, he feels, this face was nearly impossible to find.
Learning Online Journalism and Writing Blogs in Helmand Province -- [Afghan Lord - Afghani blog]
Introduction: A surprising number of Afghans blog on the Internet and even more want to learn how. Nasim Fekrat has been at the forefront of helping Afghans use modern technology to communicate with each other and the rest of the world - but it can be a dangerous business. America.gov's Jane Morse talked with him earlier this year while he was in United States on a fellowship (see: Eager to Learn About the World, Tech Savy Afghans Turn to Blogs.) In a new guest post, Nasim talks about his latest efforts to teach blogging in Helmand province, the largest in Afghanistan and the world's top opium-producing region.
200 -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
...The enemies of Afghanistan want us to believe that they can continue the violence forever, that the nations united to secure and stabilize this country can never succeed. That is not the case. The alternative that insurgents offer to the Afghan people is far worse than the future they can enjoy under a government that can grow in strength and credibility with our help. We must be willing to work hard. We must be willing to accept risks. We must be willing to suffer some additional losses in the months ahead. That is hard, it is painful, but it can be done.
Britain has taught us that the few can stand up for the many. The Afghan people deserve a chance to determine their own fate. The world needs a stable Afghanistan.
Afghan police- the problem and the answer -- [A World of Problems - in Afghanistan]
...The men met in darkness with Lt. John Holland who's squad often spends the night outdoors with the Afghans to show their support.
He's formed a relationship and trusts these men when they say they've patrolled an area. "I see motivation. They'll volunteer five guys when I ask for four. I know in some areas when they say they go out, in more dangerous areas, I'm not quite sure. I've seen their trucks get blown up. But if I say I'm going to a place they'll always go," Lt. Holland said.
Combat scuba diving in Helmand -- [Helmand Blog - Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
The desert may not be the first location you think of when it comes to scuba-diving, but a specialist Army team has recently been put to good work during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW in Afghanistan.
Back to JBad -- [Outside the Wire - in Afghanistan]
One of the most peculiar aspects of embedding with coalition forces is how often one find themselves hitch hiking or trying to hop on a helicopter.
...The Blackhawk I jumped on wasn't going to FOB Fenty, but they were going close enough that they gave me a ride.
Once back in the TF Mountain Warrior PAO office, I had a quick end of embed chat and made arrangements to come back out again in the fall.
I'm disembedding early to work with a friend of mine on an election project. The Provincial and Presidential elections are on the 20th.
I'll be make a lightning fast tour of the country on this project, meeting candidates. parties and election observers.
But before I embarked on the project, I hooked up with my friend Shem who does logistics work in Eastern Afghanistan.
US Boots On Congo Ground -- [Washington Post]
... Yet how can the US military, so overstretched in strategically crucial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, spare any troops for this type of primarily humanitarian venture? The dilemma is similar to that faced in recent years in Darfur, where we wanted to do something but did not have the forces.
Admittedly, there may not be a solution tomorrow. But by tapping into President Obama's call for a new spirit of volunteerism and national service, there may be a way to make a difference sometime in 2010. The idea involves a new type of military unit that the Pentagon should propose during its ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review.
Iran inmates 'tortured to death' -- [BBC]
One of Iran's defeated opposition presidential candidates has said some protesters held after July's disputed poll were tortured to death in prison. -- The claim by Mehdi Karroubi comes days after he said a number of prisoners, both male and female, had been raped.
Lockerbie Families, US Protest Possible Release -- [Wall Street Journal]
The possibility that Scotland could release the terminally ill Libyan agent convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was denounced by both victims' families and the US government.
Authorities ask for help in finding terrorism suspect -- [CNN]
Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding an eighth suspect accused of being a member of a North Carolina group that allegedly plotted "violent jihad" overseas.
Chicago man charged with terrorism hoax -- [Chicago Tribune]
Prosecutors say the FBI-led Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the reports exhaustively and found they were a hoax.
Terrorism Trials May Be at New Va. Court -- [Washington Post]
A new, high-security courthouse in Newport News, Va., could be the site of terrorism trials for some Guantanamo Bay inmates, including the
The needs of the one.. -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
In late July, a British Soldier deployed in Afghanistan sustained life-threatening wounds to the abdomen and chest. I alluded to him in this post, but his identity has not yet been made public.
The article quoted below describes the extraordinary (and to my knowledge unprecedented) efforts made to save his life. It is a testimony to the advancements made in the technological, logistical, and medical fields. But most of all, it is a testimony to the commitment of the many to care for the needs of the one.
Petition to remove "Soldiers are not heroes" from facebook
There is a sick group on facebook called "Soldiers are not heroes".
Our brave troops fighting for our freedom do not deserve this kind of abuse. Anybody who doesn't support them should be removed from this country and facebook.
Case In Point -- [Jules Crittenden]
While the Boston Globe is busy bashing veterans, its corporate overlord, the New York Times, weighs in with some news on what the presumed unhinged babykillers have been up to while earning their veterans' civil service preference, in an informative article on the military's adaption to Taliban tactics and finetuning of the counterinsurgency. Sounds like the Army expects a pretty high degree of sophistication from its enlisted men and field commanders:
Giving Thanks -- [Chiefly Musing - in Iraq]
I appreciate all those who thank me for my service. I really do. But I feel a little bit embarrassed.
It's a job.
Now, it's a job I'm very proud of. There are lots of things that suck about being in the military, and I'm proud that I can endure them.
...But I'll be honest with you: I made some good choices, delayed some gratification, and I will retire fairly comfortably. I also don't have any real fear during this economic downturn. That counts for a helluva lot. In fact, the only way I lose is if I die, or am crippled in an enemy attack.
But I wouldn't be here if I didn't realize that possibility, and accepted it. Thanks or no thanks from anyone.
It's the right thing to do, for me. It's not the right thing for everyone.
However, an anecdote, and a plea:
On the way over here, a lady thanked me for my service. I thanked her back, and we continued chatting. It turns out, her husband had retired last year from a 20+ year career in the Army.
I told her, "And you thanked me?!? If your husband was in for more than 20 years, you were the one who sacrificed!"
To Those Left Behind (To the Wives) -- [Soldiering On - in Iraq]
One of the under-appreciated heroes of any Deployment are the wives (and husbands) left behind.
I know I have missed a number of momentous events so far (births of friends first kids, a number of weddings, and ordinary married life).
There are certainly a lot of sacrifices with being over here, but as my Commander and I discussed one morning, those same sacrifices (and sometimes greater) are made on the home-front.
Federal Jobs for Spouses -- [Spouse Buzz - Love My Tanker]
Spouses get federal job boost next month
A rule that could help military spouses get jobs in the federal government quicker will take effect Sept. 11.
The final regulations published in today's Federal Register implement a Sept. 25, 2008, executive order allowing federal managers to hire qualified military spouses without putting them through the normal competitive hiring process.
Those eligible include spouses who relocated with their service members because of permanent change-of-station orders, unremarried widows or widowers of service members killed on active duty, and spouses of service members who are 100 percent disabled as a result of active duty.
Long-lost pilot's remains return home to Florida -- [Bay News / AP ]
The remains of Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher returned to his Florida home on Thursday, 18 years after his FA-18 Hornet was shot down on the first night of the 1991 Gulf War.
Speicher's remains arrived at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station around 3 p.m It was to remain at the All Saints Chapel on the base overnight.
National Guard Soldiers Set To Return Home -- [WSIL TV]
The troops are part of the largest overseas deployment of the Illinois National Guard since World War II. The welcome home ceremony is scheduled for Friday
VA National Guardsmen Coming Home -- [WHSV]
A team of 16 Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard returned to the United States August 9 after serving on federal active duty since August 15, 2008 with the mission of mentoring battalion-level Afghanistan security forces.
Phib, why did you start blogg'n? -- [CDR Salamander]
In a classic case of a pompous a55 just not getting it at all - check out Loren B. Thompson's rant pi55ing all over the Milblog world, one that he is very late joining.
...We all recognize what the main problem is with blogs. The barriers to entry are so low that almost anyone with a laptop can start one, and it's hard to sort out the good ones from tendentious nonsense. For every interesting, competent effort like DoD Buzz, there are dozens of ill-mannered rants masquerading as insight. To say that blogs have lowered the standards of public discourse on policy matters is an under-statement -- there are no standards. Anybody can say anything, with extra points for verbosity.
Defense Industry Consultant Launches Blog, Insults Bloggers -- [War is Boring]
Loren Thompson, pictured, a defense industry analyst with the conservative Lexington Institute, has launched a new blog, Early Warning. His goal, Thompson wrote in his inaugural post, is to be "long on facts -- especially little known, useful facts -- and short on opinions."
Iraq vs. Afghanistan: Which war gets more U.S. news coverage? -- [The AfPak Channel]
In an FP piece Monday, Morton Abramowitz argued that the U.S. media have been too soft in covering the shift in policy toward the war in Afghanistan, and that the war in general has received too little scrutiny.
The article made me wonder if there had been an increase in coverage of Afghanistan since the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, given his professed focus not to lose there and his changes in policy.
Fortunately, the Pew Research Center's Project on Excellence in Journalism [PEJ] keeps weekly tallies of which topics are covered in the U.S. media
Social Media Allows the Public to Participate in TRADOC Senior Leader Talks -- [SWJ]
What is it?
During the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) semi-annual Senior Leaders Conference (TSLC) TRADOC leaders discuss emerging issues and chart the way ahead. Now for the first time, TRADOC will make the conference transparent and seek public interaction by allowing anyone to follow the conversation, contribute comments and ask questions via a Small Wars Journal (SWJ) discussion board. At the August 18 to 20 conference, two editors and a moderator from SWJ will blog live, providing readers observations and ongoing commentary about the proceedings.
What has the Army done?
The VIP Flight Goes To War -- [Strategy Page]
The U.S. Congress recently tried to sneak an order for eight VIP (Very Important People, like members of Congress) air transports into the current defense budget. These aircraft would cost $550 million. The media jumped on this and the order was, for the moment, withdrawn. Congress tried to work out a compromise, by cutting the order in half (to a Gulfstream V and three Boeing 737s) for VIP work. But the media storm continued to grow, and the entire order was withdrawn.
Pentagon Secret Budget Tops $35 Billion -- [Danger Room]
The Defense Department will spend $35.8 billion on secret technologies in 2010, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. That represents the "second highest level of funding provided for classified acquisition programs since FY 1987," CSBA claims.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Conversation with a Tribal Elder -- [Iron Camel - in Iraq]
On one of our battlefield circulations out west, we followed our General to a tribal leader's house. We stood guard outside while the General went inside to talk and eat. As is typically cultural when someone important comes to visit, they have a lamb pull. There must have been a least a dozen lambs slaughtered for this feast.
...As we sat outside waiting for the meeting to end, one of the tribal elders was sitting two seats away from me. His young son of 6 years old made me think of my son.
I waived to his son and his son, being shy, turned toward the elder. My interpreter began translating for us:
Shiites in Iraq Show Restraint as Sunnis Keep Attacking -- [New York Times]
Shiite clerics and politicians have been successfully urging their followers not to retaliate against a fierce campaign of sectarian bombings, in which Shiites have accounted for most of the 566 Iraqis killed since American troops pulled out of Iraq's cities on June 30. "Let them kill us," said Sheik Khudair al-Allawi, the imam of a mosque bombed recently. "It's a waste of their time. The sectarian card is an old card and no one is going to play it anymore. We know what they want, and we'll just be patient. But they will all go to hell." The patience of the Shiites today is in extraordinary contrast to Iraq's recent past.
Sounds About Right -- [Mongo's Montreaux - in Iraq]
The Washington Times reports that the ingredients for a civil war in Iraq are present, and possibly starting to brew. The article focuses on a report by Najim Abed al-Jabouri, former Iraqi mayor and the Police Chief that "cleaned up" Tal Afar, who claims that the biggest contributor to a possible civil war right now in Iraq is the ethno-sectarian splits within the Iraqi Security Forces.
...My counterparts in the Iraqi Federal Police (until very recently known as the Iraqi National Police) have a vehement, visceral distrust of the Iraqi Army. The IA, far more robust in its training and logistics systems to date, have a multitude of capabilities that the IFP don't. American commanders constantly defer lending a hand with US capabilities to help my guys out, stating that we need to "coordinate" with the IA and have them come on over and help out. Here's the deal:
U.S. now a 'coalition of one' in Iraq -- [USA Today]
The war in Iraq was truly an American-only effort Saturday after Britain and Australia, the last of its international partners, pulled out.
Little attention was paid in Iraq to what effectively ended the so-called coalition of the willing, with the U.S. -- as the leader of Multi-National Force, Iraq -- letting the withdrawals pass without any public demonstration.
The quiet end of the coalition was a departure from its creation, which saw President George W. Bush court countries for support before and after the March 2003 invasion.
"We're grateful to those partners who contributed in the past and we look forward to working with them in the future," military spokesman Army Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
Another Day, Another Dollar -- [Afghani Kush - in Afghanistan]
Well, my posts have been few and far between lately because not a lot is going on here. We had a few missions but nothing came of them. Taliban hasn't wanted to play lately which is sort of disappointing but I think it means that we're doing our job right. Security has improved in the region and we're seeing real results form the locals. They trust us more and they're trying to come up with their own solutions to help us help them. Also we're getting ready for a change of responsibility here so we've been doing a lot of accountability stuff, which is time consuming.
Combat Hero SPC Lowe -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
It's not too often you get to meet a hero in person, but I've been fortunate to meet several of them since being here. You won't see this in the newspaper, because the media is narrowly focused on fatalities and this hero survived his wounds. But today you can read about a hero I would like to recognize. He is a friend and brother in arms. SPC Christopher Santiago Lowe hails from Savannah, Georgia and is a member of the Georgia Army National Guard's 108th BCT, 48th Brigade - he's one of the Alpha Troop and I call them the "Georgia Boys."
Agents of Wrath -- [Kudzu's Wandering - in Afghanistan]
The chaplain has lead prayers and the flag flies in the coming dusk. High above this mountain valley rests a browning horizon turning into blue. There is a calm over the airfield and all are rested it seems, but that is the lie on the surface. Inside we are a mix of emotions and thoughts. A volcano rumbles within our souls as we deal with what we witness.
This day, among all the others, is like so many before us. We want it to end quickly so our emotions will crash down and wash over us, quickly receding to the ocean of thought. We also want it to linger just one more minute, another second to watch it go down and finish our thoughts. You see on this day, we said good bye. Good bye to a comrade who gave the last full measure doing what was asked of him.
So are we, the men and women of the United States of America Armed Forces God's Agents of Wrath? That answer lies with the people and the government it chooses. We serve the foundation of the nation not its leaders. We serve ...
"It's never when you expect it" -- [A World of Troubles - Jim Foley]
The U.S. soldiers formed a line in the moon light as the helicopter descended. The Afghans carried the body of their comrade swathed in white cloth on a homemade stretcher. The line saluted as the stretcher passed. Then the body of Spc. Mohamed Hashim, 29, of Kunar Province lifted into the night.
He'd been shot through his armpit less than an hour before. The bullet had passed through and out the other side of his body. He'd been on a 12-hour patrol the Afghan Artillery team was conducting with 2nd-77 Field Artillery Regiment (4-4th ID). Hashim was shot while manning a gun in the back of a Ford Ranger the Afghan Army (ANA) typically uses on patrols.
..."I really think that was them," Maj. Southall repeated, "hopefully tomorrow we can track them by footprints. I wasn't sure it was humans and lo and behold, a dog appeared and they shushed it off. We saw them on infrared light, and the dog came, lord have mercy, I couldn't ID them for sure," the Major said rapid-fire, wracked with a combination of guilt and desire to go on the hunt.
But his guilt was nothing compared to what Marine Lieutenant Steven Murello, 25, was feeling. As an embedded trainer(of the E.T.T. 4/4 regional corps advisory command 201st), Lt. Murello had mentored and trained Hashim and 135 other Afghan artillery soldiers for the past nine months.
'There is No Refuge, No Place to Go to Deal with Your Grief' -- [The Indpendent]
My motivation is simple. Writing this helps vent off some of the frustration at what is happening out here in Afghanistan to those serving in the British Army, where death and serious injury are sickeningly common occurrences. Before coming here, I had done two tours in Iraq which saw fierce fighting against the enemy. But, sometimes out here I feel I might as well be on my first tour, as a novice second lieutenant instead of a so-called senior captain with over eight years experience in the Army, due to a shocking rate of attrition that I have never encountered before. Commentators keep citing previous figures for casualty rates in the Falkland's conflict, as well as the years in Northern Ireland, suggesting that, spread over the time we have been in Afghanistan, the figures here are not that bad.
Motivations -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
I certainly don't have all the answers. But I do have opinions, which albeit are based on a small part of the country and one particular unit. I'm quite certain what I've seen is representative of the country as a whole, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I'll throw my two cents out there and people can take it or leave it. If anyone has facts that refute what I have to say, I'd be interested to hear them. Frankly, I'm not sure there's anything I would enjoy more than having my opinions on the ANA attacked by someone who hasn't lived with them and been on the ground in combat with them.
I've actually asked various solders in the ANA why they joined, and they all without fail answered that they did it to fight the Taliban and because they like the soldier's life.
Pog-tastic -- [Embedded in Afghanistan... - in Afghanistan]
...I did go out for a couple days recently. Basically, we drove up and down a road and 'conducted foreign policy' by talking with different townspeople in villages we don't normally frequent. Meeting with local people in a non-formal setting, i.e. not involving sitting down with chai etc, is an enjoyable aspect of the job. I dislike meetings in formal settings for the simple fact that they tend to go the same way most of the time, with us being asked for different economic development projects or items and our asking information in return. Suffice to say we give more significantly more than we get in those settings - a fact which accounts for my antipathy to the process. The non-formal encounters on the street can involve much the same thing only on a smaller scale
...The results of these operations are hard to measure, but if nothing else they do give us the opportunity to 'showcase the ANA'.
Pave Hawks in Kandahar -- [Mil Times - Flightlines]
Yesterday we hung out with the 129th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, a California Air National Guard unit deployed to Kandahar. They fly HH-60G Pave Hawks, which are Black Hawks modified for the Air Force's search and rescue mission.
...The mission we didn't go on turned out to be pretty exciting. As the two Pave Hawks landed in a river bed to rescue five seriously wounded Afghan National Army soldiers, they began taking fire from four different positions on the riverbanks. An RPG exploded in mid-air less than 20 meters from one of the helicopters. The American gunners pumped more than 1,100 rounds of machine gun ammo into the enemy positions, and they believe they killed multiple enemy fighters. Two of the guys we talked to said it was the hairiest rescue situation they had ever been in.
US troops enter Taliban stronghold -- [Aljazeera.net]
US troops backed by fighter jets have entered a strategic Taliban-held town in southern Afghanistan, to gain control of the area before next week's presidential elections.
...The new offensive, named Eastern Resolve 2, aims to gain control of strategic areas within the southern valley, where the Taliban are solidly entrenched.
By occupying Dahaneh, US forces hope to isolate the Taliban in woods and mountains, away from civilian centres.
Captain Zachary Martin, the US army commander leading the assault, said: "I think this has the potential to be a watershed".
He quoted by the Associated Press said the goal is to cut off the Taliban from a major rear base, and reclaim the area's main market district.
It is hoped this would have a ripple effect through neighbouring villages, making civilians more willing to co-operate with Nato forces.
Watching the Watchmen: (Mis)Leads -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
The Wall Street Journal's Yochi Dreazen certainly sparked a minor news tsunami with an article entitled "Taliban Now Winning." Problem was, the putative source of that assessment, International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, didn't say that--which I know because I sat in on Dreazen's interview.
McChrystal didn't say Taliban were winning -- [BlackFive - Uncle Jimbo]
I wrote yesterday about an article in the Wall Street Journal with the headline "Taliban now winning". The article was based on an interview w/ Gen. McChrystal and contained a number of direct quotes from him. It also contained several paraphrases purporting to represent his thoughts, such as.
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict...
I also sent an email to the Public Affairs team to see if this was an accurate representation. It doesn't sound like it was.
The Upper Hand -- [Greyhawk]
...Given that "victory" is on the bad word list, it's difficult to see how "winning" or "losing" are applicable terms.
...And speaking of hindsight, it's worth recalling that many thought the Iraq surge pointless, many others thought more troops were needed, and few (if any) thought the number "just right".
The Taliban are NOT winning -- [Foreign Policy Blog - PETER BERGEN]
"Taliban Now Winning" declared Monday's headline in the Wall Street Journal based on its interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal. But the headline was a classic case of a editor hyping the substance of a story, which the reporters of the story themselves had already applied a little touch of their own gilding to when they characterized General McChrystal's position in their interview to be that the Taliban now had the "upper hand."
The Taliban are definitely winning -- [Foreign Policy Blog - MICHAEL F. SCHEUER]
I guess I would say that the Taliban are in the lead, but that overall the Muslim Afghan people are -- as always -- winning against foreign Christian-Pagan occupiers. As long as we are in Afghanistan to nation-build and "protect Afghans," we are losing. As long as we are senseless enough to deem all those who fight us as "takfiris" -- the most extreme of religious Muslims -- we are losing. As long as we are led by generals who prefer "shielding Afghans" at the cost of dead soldiers and Marines, we are losing.
In The Graveyard of Fuel Tankers -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
There is a problem with this whole scenario and that is how the hell do a squad of Taliban move over the Tor Ghar mountains, dig in and ambush a fuel tanker, break contact when the Americans show up and withdraw back over the mountains without being hit by 300 to 400 rounds of 30mm cannon fire by an Apache? I think I found out the answer inadvertently when I was down south with the Marines last week. The Marines are shooting rockets - a lot of them and I was chatting up the 3 who told me he has been meeting with spacemen. Pray tell why? I asked and he told me the new generation of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) goes so high that you have to de-conflict the missile track with satellites and other stuff hanging out in space. I then asked why shoot rockets and he said because we cannot get clearance to use Tac Air fast enough given the new ROE put in place by Gen McChrystal.
The Terrifying Consequences of General McChrystal's New Rules -- [Registan]
Tim Lynch writes about a recent RPG ambush in Nangahar Province and notices: since McChrystal got put in charge, the militants have become much more violent:
Secure the cities first? -- [SWJ - Neil Smith]
Taking inspiration from Dave's "Back Off" post, I was disturbed to read this Huffington Post commentary highlighted at the always readable Abu Muqawama. The assessment comes from a human rights researcher in Kabul asserting the Taliban effectively control Kandahar outside the gates of our bases. It would be presumptuous to rule on the accuracy of the claim, but the assessment (echoed elsewhere) sparks an interesting set of questions about our potential courses of action in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan (or Any War): Situation Normal, All Fouled Up -- [Politics Daily - David Wood]
No wonder the military has so many -- and such unprintable -- words to describe how things can get royally screwed up. SNAFU really is normal.
When events go as planned, when nothing breaks, stuff happens on time, things come together, an action results in the predicted consequences . . . well, military folks lift their heads and look around uneasily. Uh-oh. FUBAR is about to happen.
On Drugs -- [Greyhawk]
If this news is actually new - it's certainly convenient that we chose Helmand Province (the world's largest opium-producing region, responsible for 42% of the world's total production) as the place to send in the Marines.
Two intertwined bumper-sticker type inaccuracies should be dispensed with immediately in this discussion. One...
U.S. Targets Taliban-Drug Trade Link In Afghanistan -- [NPR]
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, says the international community will need to work with the Afghan government to help develop the rule of law -- and with the country's justice system to punish drug traffickers who are financing the Taliban insurgency.
"Just arresting someone isn't the entire process. It's the entire cycle of, can we have a fair trial? Can we have appropriate incarceration or punishment? We're committed to supporting that process," McChrystal says during the second part of an interview with Renee Montagne.
How do you fix a problem like Afghanistan? -- [SandGram]
...We have a real problem with functional illiterates who are serving in the roles of the Government.
When a thing called "Rank and Reform" came out for the Army and Police, many generals and officers down the line were demoted because they couldn't pass a simple reading/writing test. There are programs in place to attempt to educate these officers but it's slow; resulting in lots of "pissed off" folks. In many cases, the officers who were demoted were actually outstanding leaders who compensated for their loss in office skills with great finesse in the "field."
By no means am I implying that they are stupid; in fact, they are very smart and savvy as demonstrated by the one eight-year-old boy I met in Kabul who could speak English, German, Russian and French all of which he learned working the famous "Chicken Street" district (dead chickens hanging from the shops).
...I am not a big fan of the UN because I view them as the folks who like to spend your money, and take all the credit while pissing all over the American efforts every chance they get. This example happens ALL the time; a plane drops a bomb on the bad guys in some village. The UN goes to investigate reports of mass civilian casualties. We pay Afghans $200 dollars a body if we make a mistake. I think we pay them money even if the death was caused by the Taliban. These folks aren't stupid. When they have the chance to fleece us, they do so by creating inflated body counts of the dead for the money. Their customs, which we abide by, don't allow us to dig up these mass graves to confirm the dead, so we pay. These graves might have a few bodies in them along with trash, but the UN reports to the world that we killed fifty folks when in truth, maybe four. The FBI is bringing out those machines that act like side scan radars to penetrate the ground and actually count the bodies. Until then, we'll continue to pay like idiots, and the UN will tell the world that we are the bad guys and in the same breath tell us that we aren't doing enough.
Afghan-International Security Force Detain Haqqani Militants in Khost -- [ISAF]
A joint Afghan and international security force searched a rural location on Aug. 11 in Khost Province thought to be frequented by a Haqqani facilitator responsible for financing and supplying weapons, foreign fighters and explosives in the region, as well as planning attacks against the upcoming elections.
Afghan-International Security Force Pursues Taliban in Ghazni -- [ISAF]
A joint Afghan and international security force searched a series of buildings in Ghazni Province on Aug. 11 in order to disrupt Taliban movement of weapons, supplies and militant elements into the region.
Rocking The Vote, Afghan-Style -- [NPR]
Afghanistan's upcoming presidential election has been looking increasingly American -- with posters, rallies, Web sites and music.
The country's biggest musical star is performing a series of concerts aimed at "rocking the vote." A concert Tuesday night in Kabul drew about 30,000 excited fans. They were divided, Afghan-style, between men and women.
US Ambassador Seeks More Money for Afghanistan -- [Washington Post]
The United States will not meet its goals in Afghanistan without a major increase in planned spending on development and civilian reconstruction next year, the US ambassador in Kabul has told the State Department.
US to use funds for aid on 'super embassy' project -- [DAWN]
Under a programme to strengthen its presence in Pakistan, the US will bring here about 1,000 personnel, including a large number of Marines.
It has already undertaken a project to rebuild and refurbish the embassy building and construct accommodation for the new staff and a massive complex for the Marines to be stationed in the capital.
The US plan to reinforce its presence has already created ripples here and, according to a senior official, it would mean stationing of 'more American military and intelligence personnel in diplomatic guise.
Iran Exiles Accuse US Of Ignoring Its Pledges -- [Washington Post]
An Iranian exile group accused the Obama administration Tuesday of betraying written US promises to protect several thousand of its members confined in a camp north of Baghdad that was recently stormed by Iraqi forces. The group, the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, demanded that the US military immediately reassert control over the facility, Camp Ashraf, until it can be replaced by an international force under the aegis of the United Nations or at least a UN-commanded observer team to monitor the Iraqis.
China Quietly Defends Iran -- [Strategy Page]
While Iran has been unable to get modern Russian S300 surface-to-air missiles (yet), they have gone ahead and built a nationwide air defense network using Chinese HQ2 missiles. These were first purchased in the 1980s, but since then, Iran progressed to the point where they are now building HQ2 missiles and radar stations under license. It's believed that China has quietly allowed Iran to build the latest versions of the HQ2 as well.
DHS "Rightwing Extremists" Report is Exactly What We Thought It Was
Plus: Where Did DHS Get The Idea to Call Veterans "Potential Terrorists" -- [Ace of Spades]
The Department of Homeland Security had no particular groups or individuals under investigation and used no collected data on "right-wing extremists" threatening national security to create the report. Rather, they just read news articles from the main stream media like MSNBC and CNN (and sometimes not-so-mainstream media like the "Vernon County Broadcaster"). However, by far the most frequent source for the report was articles and blog posts from the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to a FOIA response obtained by Americans for Limited Government.
2 US Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11's Wake -- [New York Times]
Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were military retirees and psychologists, on the lookout for business opportunities. They found an excellent customer in the Central Intelligence Agency, where in 2002 they became the architects of the most important interrogation program in the history of American counterterrorism. They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda. But they had psychology credentials and an intimate knowledge of a brutal treatment regimen used decades ago by Chinese Communists. For an administration eager to get tough on those who had killed 3,000 Americans, that was enough. So "Doc Mitchell" and "Doc Jessen," as they had been known in the Air Force, helped lead the United States into a wrenching conflict over torture, terror and values that seven years later has not run its course.
Kuwait Says al-Qaida-Linked Plot Foiled -- [Voice of America]
Kuwaiti authorities say they have foiled a plot by al-Qaida-linked militants to attack a US military base and other locations in the Gulf state. A Kuwaiti Interior Ministry statement issued Tuesday says six Kuwaitis who make up an al-Qaida-linked terror cell have been arrested and confessed to the plot. The ministry says they planned to bomb US military camp Arifjan, Kuwait's state security headquarters and other important buildings and facilities.
Hunt for Most Wanted Indonesian Terrorist Resumes -- [New York Times]
The hunt for one of Asia's most wanted terrorists resumed on Wednesday after Indonesian officials said that DNA tests showed a man killed in a 16-hour shootout with the police last week was not a suspected terrorist leader with links to Al Qaeda. The terrorist leader, Noordin Muhammad Top, is suspected of masterminding the deadliest attacks to plague Indonesia in recent years, including the twin suicide bombings last month at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.
NEFA "Target: America" Report: The Plot to Attack Jewish Centers in the Bronx and a Military Facility in Newburgh, New York -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
Four Newburgh, New York men were arrested in the Riverdale section of the Bronx on the night of May 20, 2009 for attempting to bomb a Jewish community center with, what they believed to be, a 30-pound plastic explosive device, which they placed in a car positioned outside of the center. The conspirators also intended to attack the National Guard air base in Newburgh with a surface-to-air-missile, which they acquired from a dealer they believed to be affiliated with the Pakistani terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed.
In this 20th report in the "Target: America" series, the NEFA Foundation explores...
Bouhammer Poll: What precludes you from buying at the Bouhammer Gear Store? -- [Bouhammer]
I have seen a lot of traffic on the Bouhammer Gear Store but I have not see a lot of purchases. This is quite disappointing because for all the T-shirts (except for the #militarymon Twitter shirt), 100% of the proceeds go directly to four great charities.
Not Alone, www.notalone.com
Fisher House, www.fisherhouse.org
Soldier's Angels, www.soldiersangels.org
Books For Soldiers, www.booksforsoldiers.com
The #militarymon Twitter shirt has all proceeds go directly to Soldier's Angels Project Valour-IT
True Irish welcome for U.S. troops at wedding party -- [Irish Central]
Happy couple invite stranded G.I.'s to join wedding celebrations
U.S. soldiers were given a true Irish welcome at a wedding in Co Clare this week.
The 300 troops were stranded in Shannon last weekend after their Iraq-bound plane was grounded. As luck would have it, they were booked into the same hotel as the wedding party for Amelia Walsh and Sean O'Neill.
And so the 300 troops were invited to join the festivities at the Clare Inn in Newmarket-on-Fergus.
A Soldier's Eye in the Sky -- [New York Times]
The soldiers crouched beneath the blazing desert sun, waiting to burst into the villages in conditions similar to those they have encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this time, they got some high-tech help in an exercise intended to prove that new devices operated by the soldiers themselves can make those harrowing missions less dangerous in the future.
Welcome Home Soldiers -- [KOKC]
More troops from a unit of the Oklahoma Army National Guard that has been deployed for 10 months in Kuwait and Iraq are set to return home.
Phila.-based Guard brigade coming home -- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The largest Pennsylvania National Guard contingent sent into combat since World War II will stream home from Iraq, one planeload at a time
Benning to welcome home 988th MP Company tonight -- [Columbus Ledger-Enquirer]
A redeployment ceremony for the troops will be held at Freedom Hall on Fort Benning. While deployed, the 988th mentored and trained Iraqi police.
Time to Ask Tough Questions -- [Foreign Policy Blog - MORTON ABRAMOWITZ]
Over the last few years, castigating the media for its failure to examine the case for war in Iraq, simply accepting the Bush administration's facts and rationales, has become something of a cottage industry. You might think, given the fuss over Iraq, that the media and its critics would be zealously examining our stepped-up efforts in Afghanistan -- one of the most extraordinary, difficult, and costly ventures of American foreign policy. But, for the most part, they are not.
Blame the military! -- [The Press Machine]
Congress caught wasting a bunch of our tax payer money luxuriating and buying themselves some spiffy new jets - at the time they are hammering the private sector and accusing their executives of excessive largesse for not flying commercial, no less - the democrats decide the best way to avoid anger is to blame the military for the whole thing.
Why not privatize the military? -- [US Message Board]
Those against healthcare reform that includes any type of government offering say that what ever the government is involved with they will make it worse.
If that is the case why are these same individuals not advocating privatizing the military?
Why are the congressman who do not want the government involved in healthcare insurance have a government healthcare program.
These congressman should work to convert their healthcare to the private sector.
Why does conservative commentator William Crystal say the VA healthcare system is superior to the healthcare program offered by the private sector. The VA is a government run healthcare program.
When the Right Protests, It Must Be Wrong -- [NewsBusters]
For eight years in America, protest was in and all the cool kids did it. We had flamboyantly dressed Code Pinkers demonstrating at conventions and in sessions of Congress, calling Marine recruiters "traitors" and protesting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Then there were the crazies from Acorn stalking Wall Street executives at their homes. And anti-war lefty Cindy Sheehan got so much news coverage from the major networks and top newspapers that they practically had to create a bureau to handle her antics.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
ORG, TPE, MTOE -- [S4 at War - in Iraq]
COL Reese's memo is making the rounds over here. Commander's warning that whatever we may believe, we aren't leaving in the next few months and still have a mission, my friends and I in almost total agreement with COL Reese.
A Good Thing -- [Far From Perfect - in Iraq]
It's been terribly slow here for the last few weeks. Outside of a few "priorities" that were really routines, there hasn't been anything happening. This means that the Iraqi Army and Police have been able to quell the bad guys,outside of a few incidents in the news, since we left the cities. It also means that U.S. soldiers aren't getting in accidents, or firefights, or being blown up. The downside is that I am not doing anything (and as such I don't have much to say). Its that old medical Catch-22 again.
...So the point of this was just to say that things are quiet out here on my little remote piece of dirt. They aren't as quiet everywhere, but the days of constant bombardment, IEDs, and firefights are long over
EXCLUSIVE: Report sees recipe for civil war in Iraq -- [Washington Times]
A report to be published this month by the U.S. government's prestigious National Defense University warns that the Iraqi army and police are becoming pawns of sectarian political parties -- a trend that it calls "a recipe for civil war."
The report by Najim Abed al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi mayor and police chief who helped run the first successful counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, also concludes that U.S. forces have failed to use their remaining leverage as trainers to insulate the Iraqi army and police
Iraqis Take the Lead, With US Trailing Closely -- [New York Times]
"Yes, we are in charge now," said an Iraqi Army soldier, Sgt. Salman Fallah Jassim, as he led a mixed Iraqi and American patrol through the saw grass of a dried up irrigation canal, sweeping the ground in front of him with the long wand of a metal detector. "But we need help all the time." The United States military, in fact, provided the metal detector, the explosives-sniffing dog and even transportation on a joint mission at the end of July to find a weapons cache in an area of Diyala Province only recently cleared of insurgents.
The Truth Is Too Much To Bear -- [Strategy Page]
Terrorist violence was down by a third last month, with 275 Iraqis dead from such violence in July. This was the first month that Iraqi security forces had complete control of the urban areas, and responsibility for preventing terror attacks. There are over 700,000 Iraqi soldiers and police on duty, in addition to 128,000 U.S. troops (who mostly offer training, air reconnaissance, air support and intelligence assistance). Of the 275 Iraqis who died in July, 19 percent were soldiers and police. Some 400 terrorists were captured or arrested, and 41 killed last month.
Street Scenes, Aug 05- 10 AUG -- [Mungadai Days - in Iraq]
To all our loved ones, especially the Mungababes: sorry we haven't been posting much (uh, okay, at all) lately. Everyone (the Coalition, the Transition Teams, the Federal Police, the Army, and the good citizens of Mosul) has been busy adjusting to the new, post-30 June "Combat Forces out of the Cities" clause of the US/Iraqi Security Agreement. Although the Mungadai are extraordinarily adept at that whole "combat" thing, we count as advisors, and are therefore allowed, in the Security Agreement, to accompany our counterparts the Federal Police (yes, it used to be the National Police, but everyone here thought that "Federal Police" had a little more pizzazz to it). As we all know, though, the details of actually executing a treaty can be a little more messy than just writing it down and signing it. So, the Mungadai have been really constrained, in the last few weeks, in actually accompanying our counterparts out and about on operations. However, we've worked through a lot of the legal-ese and are getting things squared away. So, here are some scenes from today's operations:
10 AUG, or "Why I Love Aviators" -- [Mongo's Montreaux - in Iraq]
Scenes from today's operation posted over at the team blog.
A couple of posts down, I spent some time articulating my gratitude for the aviators that cover our asses every time we go out. Our air cover performs two vital functions: close air support--i.e., firepower, which is pretty much what everyone thinks of when they think of air cover, but more frequently and as importantly, they provide invaluable Situational Awareness. I often can't see two or three blocks away. The air guys tell me what's going on around me, whether we have any "squirters" trying to escape if we hit a building, suspicious vehicles approaching our formation, groups of military aged males congregating in our general vicinity, and even where our counterparts went if they haul ass and leave us to lumber behind...
Baghdad Murder Investigation and Slushies -- [Iron Camel - in Iraq]
tags: Army, army life, Baghdad, combat, death, Hummer, Iraq, killing, life, murder, pistol, shooting, slurpee, slushie, terrorist, war storiesby ironcamelarmyThe heat was bearing down on our vehicles as we barreled down the streets of Baghdad. Packed with cars and people, it made for a difficult day to maneuver. Following our Iraqi counterparts, we found ourselves weaving our way through tiny back street alleys, kicking up dust and blowing around trash. A dozen American and Iraqi Humvees forced their way through the pedestrian traffic, under low hanging wires, and through the tight narrow spaces. Some people waived, but most sneered.
Kick For Nick - Soccer Ball Donations -- [Sour Swinger - in Iraq]
Over the course of the last few months, I've been handing out soccer balls from the organization Kick For Nick. With their help, over 200 balls and 100 some pairs of socks have gone to various teams and kids in my units AO. I received their information from my brother who utilized them in his previous tour here in Iraq.
Another Stateside Article -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
The front page of today's Harrisburg Patriot News has an article abut my unit and I am in it. Yes, Meredith, what a surprise!! The online version is here. If I get the print version with pictures I will try to post them.
When Supporting Our Troops Means Supporting Their Troops -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
After my first full week in Kabul during the run-up to national elections, I have a growing feeling that our chances of success in Afghanistan may improve in inverse proportion to how much we talk about our own competence.
No Young Soldiers -- [Michael Yon - in Afghanistan]
Daily dramas unfolded, including the bangs, booms and small-arms fire that punctuated the times. At 1800, I was preparing to go to orders with 1 Platoon, A Company of 2 Rifles, when shots from a large-caliber rifle began cracking low over base. I passed by sniper, Kris Griffith, and said, "Hey Kris, why don't you grab your rifle and go shoot that guy?" Kris replied that two other sniper teams were on it. "He's close," I said, and Kris answered, "About 600 meters." Then we went our separate ways.
Orders were given and then the soldiers performed final checks on their gear and tried to fall to sleep in the sweltering evening heat. Some nights I would go to sleep using the sleeping bag as a pillow, only to wake up with it drenched in sweat.
To Watangatu -- [Outside the Wire - in Afghanistan]
The Afghan government with the support of USAID and the local military Provisional Reconstruction Team is building a paved road up the valley, but the sniping and violence is slowing construction.
Rather than go in with a heavy hand and use an infantry battalion like a sledge hammer to try and swat a few flys, the US Army Battalion in charge of Lagham province and the PRT decided to use the traditional Afghan approach--a Shura.
US, Afghans seek to protect voters from Taliban -- [AP]
The notes appear at night, border police say, dropped off around town, always with the same ominous message: Don't vote or we'll slit your throat.
Even if the Taliban don't make good on those threats, such warnings alone could be enough to keep many Afghans at home on the Aug. 20 election. U.S. troops moving into remote areas are hoping to bolster public confidence that it will be safe to vote.
White House: Afghan war not in crisis -- [AP]
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is asking Congress for time to see whether a revamped war plan for Afghanistan is taking hold and does not rule out adding more American forces to help turn around a war widely assessed as a stalemate.
James Jones, a retired Marine general with experience in Afghanistan, said the United States will know by the end of next year whether the strategy President Barack Obama announced in March is working. In the meantime the White House is redefining how it will measure progress, with new benchmarks expected next month. The outline will be presented to Congress with an eye to creeping skepticism among many Democrats about the war's prognosis and costs.
Making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, Jones, Obama's national security adviser, said the war is not now in crisis but did little to dispel the growing expectation that Obama would soon be asked to supplement the 21,000 additional forces he already approved for Afghanistan this year.
U.S. commander says Taliban have Afghan momentum -- [Reuters]
The Taliban have advanced out of traditional strongholds in Afghanistan's south and east, gaining the upper hand as they moved into the north and west, the top U.S. and NATO commander said in an interview on Monday.
Taliban Winning in Afghanistan, U.S. Commander Warns -- [FOX News]
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the commander offered a preview of the strategic assessment he is to deliver to Washington later this month, saying the troop shifts are designed to better protect Afghan civilians from rising levels of Taliban violence and intimidation. The coming redeployments are the clearest manifestation to date of Gen. McChrystal's strategy for Afghanistan, which puts a premium on safeguarding the Afghan population rather than hunting down militants.
Gen. McChrystal said the Taliban are moving beyond their traditional strongholds in southern Afghanistan to threaten formerly stable areas in the north and west.
The Afghanistan Strategy Dialogue: Day Three -- [Abu Muqawama]
For more on this dialogue, click here. A number of you have asked why this dialogue did not begin with me answering my own questions, which is a fair enough question to ask. I have some thoughts on this, obviously enough, but it might surprise you to know just how open I am to being persuaded in either direction on the issue. So I am enjoying this and will likely conclude this in a week or two with my own thoughts. I found Bernard's post yesteday to be thought-provoking and persuasive, though, and as far as considerate arguments for a continued engagement in Afghanistan go, so too is this one. Enjoy.
Is the war in Afghanistan in the interests of the United States and its allies?
US top official wants more troops in Afghanistan -- [Brunei News.Net]
The United States government is likely to announce another troop surge for Afghanistan. US national security adviser General Jim Jones has said he will not rule out the option of sending more American troops to bolster the other nations which are contributing to the effort, including the UN and NATO.
He said problems in Afghanistan would be better solved with added troop strength.
Bomb blast kills 6 Taliban while planting IED -- [AP]
KABUL -- Six Taliban militants are dead after a roadside bomb they were planting exploded prematurely.
Abdul Zarif, an Afghan official in Zabul province, says the six militants were planting the bomb around 3 a.m. Monday in the Naw Bahar district of Zabul when the bomb exploded.
Militants have greatly increased their use of roadside bombs in Afghanistan this year. A record number of U.S. and NATO troops were killed in the country in July, many of them from roadside bombs.
The Second Mission -- [Sgt Danger - in Afghanistan]
...When the manifest was released (a secret-classified document that shows where each soldier, vehicle, weapon, and asset fits into the order of march) I found my crew listed as the second vehicle in line. It's less labor-intensive than the "assistant convoy commander" position that I worked on our first mission... but when you're that close to the front you're responsible to watch out for everyone behind you. "Bring your a-game," keep your head on a swivel," "stay on your toes," "be johnny-on-the-spot," and all the other cliches apply. Threats come in the form of roadside bombs, car bombs, AK-47 fire, rocket propelled grenades, among others. The sooner someone identifies a threat, the better off everyone is. The lead vehicles also give the convoy a heads up over the radio on difficult terrain, congestion, and traffic. The mission started off rocky.
For Whom the Bell Tolls -- [AFGHANISTAN SHRUGGED]
...Our departure comes at an inauspicious time. Several days ago while we were on a dismounted patrol we learned that a US Soldier was missing and captured by the Taliban. Radio calls every 10 minutes to account for all our personnel were a prelude to the actual notification. The circumstances of the incident are cloudy to say the least. Since notification we've established check points trying to find the soldier and were awaiting orders to air assault to the south.
The rotors now build to a deafening fortissimo as the bird circles overhead and flares to land. The rest of Team Vampire is there to say goodbye. It's difficult to sum up a year in the brief moments before getting on our ride. The noise is too loud to hear anything so maybe it's for the best, Soldiers do very poorly at goodbyes.
Wardak Soldiers -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
From our friend LTC Steve Osterholzer with the 10th Mountain Division in Wardak Province, Afghanistan:
One final salute -- [Desert Bound - in Afghanistan]
Today we held a ceremony for the three Soldiers from our battalion that were killed Aug. 1 by two roadside bombs. The pictures didn't turn out as well as I liked, but the service itself was very emotional and you could tell these Soldiers left a lasting impact on everyone that knew them.
Honoring Capt Freeman, SPC Lowe + other camp business -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Our connectivity has been terrible lately but sadly it was also purposely cut off as we had another fatality. Until the proper family notifications were made, we were under an Operational Security (OPSEC) emergency and ordered not to discuss disposition of casualties. The fallen warrior and sister ETT member was Marine Capt Matthew Freeman. His body was flown back to the U.S. and the Department of Defense officially released the news about his death today (some media has already reported on it), so we are allowed Internet access again. I am in the process of gathering information so I can honor this fallen hero.
Soldier died retrieving Afghan comrade -- [BBC]
Pte Williams was a "loving and caring son", his family said.
A British soldier who died while trying to retrieve the body of an Afghan comrade has been named.
In The Graveyard of Fuel Tankers -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
For the first time in this conflict it appears that Taliban fighters are moving out of the "Southern Triangle" of Nangarhar Province and attempting to interdict the road to Kabul. The latest attack was on 6 August and it occurred much further east than the series of attacks last summer which we think emanated out of Laghman Province and featured the impressive shooting of The RPG Mechanic. The 6 August attack happened in broad daylight at around 0800 in the morning (I just missed it having left that day for Kabul at 0700) and the ambush team stayed on scene to fight with the ANP for around an hour pulling out only after American soldiers arrived on scene.
Communications: Critical to Marines on the battlefield -- [Lejeune Deployed]
A squad of Marines is patrolling through the Helmand River valley in southern Afghanistan, and suddenly machinegun fire rings out from a nearby compound filled with insurgents. The Marines immediately attain a grid coordinate for the exact location and radio for a fire mission. Within minutes, a precision round lands directly on the target and neutralizes the threat.
Video: The Taliban leadership election process -- [Hot Air]
If anyone wondered why the death of Baitullah Mehsud would make our job easier in Afghanistan, the Taliban may have provided an example. When leaders of violent movements suddenly die without succession plans, the people below them usually rely on the methods they know best to determine who gets to be the next supreme leader. So far, this report is unconfirmed ... but it's still instructive:
A Children's Treasury of Worthless Experts -- [Registan]
Michael Semple is lecturing us in Foreign Affairs on why we need to make friends with the Taliban in order to "reconcile" with them and end the war. Semple, if you recall, had his hands all over the disastrous secession of Musa Qala, yet couldn't find it within himself to mention such a stupendous
Mystery over Noordin Mohammed Top thickens -- [LWJ]
Top was initially reported as killed during a raid, but police have detained an individual who witnesses say resembles Top.
Iraq Asks Iran to Release 3 American Hikers -- [Los Angeles Times]
Iraq has appealed to Iran to free three American hikers after concluding that the trio who apparently strayed across the Iranian border were just lost tourists, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Sunday.
Iranian Official Acknowledges Torture of Protesters -- [New York Times]
A top judiciary official acknowledged Saturday that some detainees arrested after post-election protests had been tortured in Iranian prisons, the first such acknowledgment by a senior Iranian official. Meanwhile, a second day of hearings was held in a mass trial of reformers and election protesters, with more than 100 people accused of trying to topple the government. The accused included a French researcher and employees of the French and British Embassies, prompting angry responses from Britain, France and the European Union. But
Britain Behind 'Coup Attempt' Claim Iranian Hardliners -- [Daily Telegraph]
Britain has been accused of directing a coup attempt against the Iranian government as hardliners demanded an even tougher response against protesters and opposition leaders. Pro-government newspapers gave an uncompromising response to protests from the Foreign Office and from the European Union over the trial of a British embassy employee on espionage and national security charges.
Israel Recalls Envoy Over Leaked Memo -- [Washington Times]
The Israeli consul-general in Boston has been summoned home for "clarifications" after sending the Foreign Ministry a memorandum saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attitude toward the Obama administration is causing Israel strategic damage. "There are political elements in America and Israel who oppose Obama on ideological grounds and are ready to sacrifice the special relationship between the two countries for the sake of their own political agendas," wrote the consul, Nadav Tamir.
Kim Jong Il 'in Full Control' of North Korea, US Official Says -- [Los Angeles Times]
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appeared to be "in full control of his government" when an American mission met with him last week to free two imprisoned US journalists, White House national security advisor James L. Jones said Sunday. Jones, appearing on news programs, said that despite months of credible reports that Kim was struggling with grave health problems, "he seemed in control of his faculties" and "sounded very reasoned" in wide-ranging discussions with former President Clinton.
No Beating About the Bush for Hillary Clinton -- [The Australian]
Secretary of State's comments on Somalia are spot-on. Different name, same struggle. US President Barack Obama's desperate desire to distinguish his administration from that of his unpopular predecessor means US officials no longer talk of the war on terror. But the reality of the struggle against Islamist aggression remains the same. So does the rhetoric. While the US is withdrawing from Iraq, where it appears the terrorists are defeated, the President is pumping up the American presence in al-Qa'ida's Afghanistan fiefdom. Last month, Mr Obama denounced as terrorists al- Qa'ida's allies, who are attempting to recreate an African Afghanistan in the failed state of Somalia. And last week his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, denounced the al-Shabaab Islamist militia there, pointing to allegations that Somalis in Australia were planning terror attacks, as evidence of the way Somalia is becoming a base for international terrorism.
NEFA Foundation: Transcript of Latest Zawahiri Interview, "The Facts of Jihad and the Lies of the Hypocrites" -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained and translated a new video interview of Al-Qaida Deputy Commander Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri produced by Al-Qaida's As-Sahab Media Foundation. During the interview, al-Zawahiri strongly criticized Iran, noting, "Iran had her image scandalized in front of the entire world, and it has become clear that it is... ready to sell out the Muslims to the invading crusaders and assist them against the Muslims." Al-Zawahiri also attacked President Barack Obama and his continued policy of drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan: "I see it as a new massacre of Muslims at the hands of the criminal, liar Obama who claims to seek the start of a new relationship with the Islamic world and Muslims, while every day his hands are dripping with their blood... We are not a nation of silly imbeciles who will permit Obama to fool us with vague phrases that have no meaning, when he is just a new face of the same old American criminality... He is like a wolf whose teeth are engrossed in your flesh, his claws are scratching your face, and both are dripping with your blood."
The Last Night at Landstuhl -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
John, this is Chaplain Smith, the ICU Chaplain. I'm here with MaryAnn of Soldiers' Angels. She asked me to visit before you go home tomorrow.
I'm looking at a family photo your wife Jane sent her to print out and keep at your side. I'm sure you know it; it's the one where the baby is wearing the yellow sun hat...
Paper: "No matter what we produced on the deaths of Fort Drum soldiers, I know it was not enough." -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
From yesterday's Watertown Daily Times of Upstate New York. I think many of us in the milblogging community (and of course others) struggle with the same feelings of inadequacy, and I very much appreciate this unnamed editor's (there is no byline) frankness and his willingness to express them. I've posted it in its entirety; I hope the Watertown Daily Times doesn't mind.
Today is #MilitaryMon -- [Bouhammer]
If you are a person that tweets or visits Twitter.com much then you probably know what a hashtag is. It is a tag that helps mark tweets on twitter and create what they call trends.
Well the most popular trend for military folks or those that support the military is #militarymon which stands for Military Monday. Every Monday thousands of us on Twitter talk about military topics, mention those on twitter in the military or that support the military, etc. etc. Whenever we tweet these micro-postings we put #militarymon in the tweet to help make the trend more popular.
Several weeks back, I along with Greta from www.kissmygumbo.com and the great guys at www.vision-strike-wear.com came up with a design of a shirt and started producing it that not only helps highlight the #militarymon movement but also raises money for Soldier's Angels Project Valour-IT.
The most significant day of my life- by MAJ Charles Ziegenfuss -- [Hooah Wife]
Major Chuck Ziegenfuss was a captain when he was wounded in Iraq in 2005. His experience was the inspiration for Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT. He's now a student in the Army Intermediate-Level Education program (formerly Command and General Staff College) in Fort Leavenworth, where he submitted this essay as part of his initial writing exam. The assigned topic was, "The most significant day in your military career."
The most significant day in my military career (as well as in my life) was 22 June 2005. This was the day after I died. It was the day that began a long journey to recovery, rehabilitation and reevaluating my role in the Army, as well as ...
Meet the new IVAW Executive Director -- [This Ain't Hell...]
One of our resident IVAW refugees just wrote that the new Executive Director of the Iraq Veterans Against the War is Jose Vasquez - another IVAW member who has never deployed to Iraq nor Afghanistan according to his own profile at IVAW;
Soldier's fight to rebuild his life -- [BBC]
The way injured British troops are treated has been in the headlines in recent weeks. Here, the story is told of one soldier's road to recovery after he was injured in Afghanistan.
"My first thought when I saw him, I thought, he's not going to want to live like this, he's not going to survive this, " says Jackie Ormrod about the moment she first saw her son's injuries. ...He lost both legs above the knee, and his right arm. It was Christmas Eve, 2007.
When Hard Work Pays Off -- [Army Live]
America's future Soldiers earned serious bragging rights after being named top college in the country by Forbes' yearly college review.
The U.S. Military Academy, more commonly known by West Point, received top honors as America's Best College Thursday- moving up from the number six spot only a year ago.
"Marked by an intense work ethic and drive to succeed on all fronts, the West Point undergraduate experience also allows graduates to leave without a penny of tuition loans to repay," Forbes stated in its release.
The distinguished college beat out some tough competition, such as former number one Princeton (#2), Cal Tech (#3) and Harvard (#5).
Mobile Soldiers Welcomed Home -- [WKRG-TV]
He's one of the dozens of soldiers being recognized in a special welcome home ceremony for this US Army reserve unit. No one was lost in this latest tour
Welcome home ceremonies for returning soldiers -- [KTUL]
The first of several welcome home ceremonies for returning Oklahoma National Guard soldiers are today. More than 700 members of the 45th Fires Brigade are coming home after a 10-month deployment to Iraq (web | news) and Kuwait. Two ceremonies are planned for Monday afternoon and another is Tuesday. The first will begin at 1 p.m. Monday at the Altus High School football stadium and the second will be at the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Wellness Center in Weatherford at 2 p.m.
Iraq soldiers to get official welcome home -- [ABC Online]
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd admits he was always opposed to sending troops to Iraq, but says there should be an official welcome home.
What It Takes to Tell The Story of the American Soldier -- [Down Range 46 - in Iraq]
Be there! That's the simplest answer I can offer - not just physically but emotionally.
The story of the American Soldier is told from a variety of different perspectives. There are network and newspaper reporters, freelance journalists, comics, entertainers, politicians, commentators, even the enemy who all want to tell our story.
But, hard as these folks may try, they can never tell our story the way we can. I'm not saying they are incapable of telling the truth or of relaying the actual facts of our work here but, what they cannot do in their dispatches is tell the story from Our Point of View.
Credit where credit is due -- [MilBlogs - LTC John]
Many in our community of arms have bemoaned the difficulties of traditional media outlets covering Afganistan or Iraq. The lack of reporting, the reliance on stringers, bias and mistakes have all gotten our hackles up at many times.
However, there are counter-examples. I would point out what the Chicago Tribune (who I have no great love for) has done with the deployment of thousands of Illinois National Guard Soldiers to Afghanistan
I don't think that word means what you think it means... -- [From My Position]
The Army is trying to embrace social networking and the interwebs in general. Often, just as we do with emerging doctrine, we will go through the growing pains of developing terminology. These growing pains often lead to one term being redefined, although the meaning never changes, to come to more accurate definition. This happens all the time, when we re-evaluate terms and mission. For instance, Peacekeeping has also been monikered as MOOTW, Militarty Operations Other Than War; SASO, Support And Stability Operations; SO/SO, Support Operations/Stability Operations; Non-lethal Operations, etc.
So they have the idea at CGSC, but fail in the terminology.
Let's talk OP-SEC, ba-by, let's talk about you and me... -- [Wings Over Iraq]
(Yes, the early 90s really were that lame)
This post is in response to a number of articles (Today at SWJ, plus the round-up posted the other day here at WOI, as well as some great articles from Soldiers in the Blogosphere) regarding the risks to OPerational SECurity (OPSEC, as we call it) which might stem from blogs, and Web 2.0 social networking sites.
This really torqued me off -- [This Ain't Hell...]
Last night I got some emails about the Monster.com advertisement for Internment / Resettlement Specialists for the National Guard. The emailers were pushing the image of Americans being rounded up for their political ideology. Here's the ad complete with a video and an exerpt;...
National Guard not advertising for political-dissent internment camps -- [Hot Air]
One would think that the negative coverage of just about every phase of the Iraq War would have taught people about the many specialties of the US military, but especially about training for detention and stockade duty. However, we have received an eruption of e-mail over a completely innocuous job listing from the National Guard which proves that a few people pay more attention to conspiracy theories than to facts.
Dissent is patriotic - not -- [SF Gate]
Imagine it's four years ago and an aide to President George W. Bush posted a blog on the Whitehouse.gov Web site that bemoaned Internet criticism of the Iraq war, then continued: "These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain e-mails or through casual conversations.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)