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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.
[Air Force Special] Forces for Special Afghan Rescues -- [Washington Times]
The past week has brought plenty of heartache for the medical combat specialists, considered the "special forces" of the Air Force. A day earlier, they had spent an afternoon airlifting 17 severely wounded members of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team to the trauma center at Kandahar Air Field. One American and one Afghan soldier were killed in that IED attack. A rash of combat deaths elsewhere in the Afghan theater has made this the deadliest month of the eight-year-old war for American forces.
Faces of those fallen -- [Afghan Journal - in Afghanistan]
Here in the capital city of Afghanistan, I waited just like everyone back in the States for more news of the eight soldiers who died in two separate insurgents attacks Tuesday in southern Afghanistan. With the latest deaths announced by the Defense Department, the Fort Lewis-based 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division has now lost 26 soldiers in Afghanistan since arriving in the summer...
We remember -- [Desert Bound - in Afghanistan]
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan - Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment mourned the loss of a fallen Soldier during a memorial service Oct. 29 at Forward Operating Base Wilson.
PFC Devin J. Michel, of Stockton, Ill., died Oct. 24 when enemy forces attacked his platoon with an improvised explosive device. PFC Michel joined the Army in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan on May 24, 2009. He leaves behind his wife, Anika.
"It is absolutely devastating to lose him to an incident like this after we have begun to make a difference in this critical area of Afghanistan," ...
On the War's Front Lines -- [David Ignatius, Washington Post]
Here's what you would see if you traveled this week to Kandahar and Helmand provinces, the two big battlegrounds of the Afghanistan war: a conflict that is balanced tenuously between success and failure. The United States has deployed enough troops to disrupt the Taliban insurgency and draw increasing fire, but not enough to secure the major population centers. That's not a viable position. I visited four US bases in the two provinces this week, traveling with the military. I was able to hear from local commanders and talk with a few Afghans. I'll describe what I learned, positive and negative, so readers can weigh this evidence from the field.
Wake-Up Call -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
Just last week I was musing on the ramifications of my new quarters and the security measures therein, and I pointed out that Kabul is actually safer than most people think it is. There is always at least a minimum level of risk, but I'm not trudging through the valleys of Paktika or hiking the deserts of Helmand.
Why, oh why do I open my big mouth?
A big mistake yet again -- [Bouhammer]
There is a well-known saying in Afghanistan: "You can rent an Afghan, but you can't buy him." Yeah I have said that on here several times. It is a very common saying, and even though this may be true in Afghanistan, it does not mean we should be doing it. "The bill includes a Taliban reintegration provision under the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which is now receiving $1.3 billion. CERP funding also is
WUSF Radio story about corruption -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Here is a link to a radio interview earlier this week where we discussed corruption and how some of the ANA soldiers openly discussed how to steal supplies. The story aired on WUSF Radio in Tampa during NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered."
Helo mission to FOB Shank -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...Our helicopter eventually arrived and our ETT Team Leader, AF Captain, and I along with our ANA guests boarded the aircraft. Our plan was to make a quick assessment of the FLE and meet with key leaders at the FOB. The helicopter flew through parts of Wardak and then Logar Province before landing at FOB Shank.
A Tale of Two Words -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
I got back to Camp Spann the two nights ago. It was so nice to sleep in my own B Hut and cot. It is good to be back. Today let's examine two words used widely in the discussions of Afghanistan. My Interpreter enlightened me as to their meaning. Hazara - The word in Dari for 1000 is hazaar. When the Mongols brutally invaded Afghanistan in the Middle Ages timeframe, a subset of these warriors chose to settle in the central mountainous part of Afghanistan.
Anatomy of a Mission -- [Sgt Danger - in Afghanistan]
You know what I listen to, what I wear to work, how an APFT goes, what I'm afraid of, why I'm getting out, what happens when a tractor-trailer rolls in a combat zone, and what my insecurities are. But none of that is what the Army sent my buddies and I to Afghanistan for. It's pretty simple really: put machine guns on the road to protect convoys of stuff moving from place to place. And here's how we do it.
Rock-n-Rolling in Afghanistan - Literally -- [Field Notes - in Afghanistan]
As I discovered early Friday morning, earthquakes occur fairly regularly along fault lines underneath the Hindu Kush Region. Just before going to bed, I noticed the wardrobe in my room started to shake back and forth. Not sure what was going on, I started to look behind it when I noticed the table was also rocking and my whole room seemed to be slightly swaying. And almost as soon as it began, everything stopped moving.
US Seeks to Counter Enemy's 'Weapon of Choice' -- [Defense Link]
The Defense Department expects US forces in Afghanistan to continue to be targeted by improvised explosive devices -- which have claimed more lives there than any other weapon - while it seeks ways to counter the threat, officials said. As President Barack Obama and his advisors weigh decisions on the next phase of the Afghan war, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is working to protect against and defeat the growing threat from IEDs, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today, noting that October has been the deadliest month for US forces in the eight-year war. "Secretary Gates is working to ensure that this department continues to do everything possible to provide our men and women in uniform with the very best protection and capabilities to defeat the growing IED threat," ...
Muddled Thinking on Afghanistan -- [Washington Times]
It's been more than two weeks since President Obama announced that a decision on courses of action in Afghanistan would be made "in the coming weeks." Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said a decision would wait until "sometime after the Afghan election is finally resolved." Given the fluid nature of Afghan politics, it's hard to say what "finally resolved" means. We doubt it will be anytime soon. The Taliban are not waiting for Mr. Obama's decision. Their suicide attack on the UN guesthouse in Kabul on Wednesday was reminiscent of the August 2003 bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad that drove the mission from Iraq. The Taliban are seeking to conduct high-profile, potentially game-changing attacks that will influence thinking in Washington.
Afghanistan Increases Polling Stations for Election -- [Voice of America]
Afghan election officials say they plan to increase the number of voting stations for next week's presidential runoff election, despite concerns that could lead to more fraud than in the first vote. Afghanistan's independent election commission says it will slightly increase the number of polling centers to 6,322 and have enough staff to ensure a credible process. Foreign election observers had recommended reducing the more than 6,000 polling centers used in the first round after auditors found more than one million fraudulent votes. Many fake ballots are believed to have come from remote polling stations that never opened or did not have observers monitoring the vote. Meanwhile
Afghan Officials Unveil Plans for Runoff -- [Los Angeles Times]
Afghan election officials said Thursday that they would increase the number of voting centers for next week's presidential runoff election, disregarding UN advice to open fewer sites to prevent the rampant fraud that characterized the first round of balloting. The announcement deepened fears that the Nov. 7 poll would be as tainted as the August election. US and allied officials had hoped that the showdown between President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah would result in a government that can be a credible partner in efforts to stabilize the country.
SKorea planning troop deployment to Afghanistan -- [AP]
South Korea announced plans Friday to send troops to Afghanistan to protect its civilian aid workers, two years after withdrawing its forces following a fatal hostage crisis.
Iraq Arrests Security Personnel for Sunday's Deadly Explosions -- [Voice of America]
Baghdad's top government security official has announced the arrest of close to a dozen officers and around 50 members of Iraq's security forces for alleged involvement or negligence in Sunday's suicide bombings in the Iraqi capital. Iraqi TV reported that Major General Qasim Atta, acting as a military spokesman for the Iraqi capital, announced the arrests of 11 officers and 50 members of the military and police for alleged responsibility or negligence in Sunday's attacks in Baghdad. About 155 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in the massive explosions that rocked the Iraqi capital, gutting two government ministries and blowing out windows across the entire center of the city.
Iraq Arrests 61 Officials in Fatal Blasts -- [Washington Post]
Iraqi authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of 61 police and army officials responsible for the central Baghdad district where two bombs killed more than 155 people Sunday. The arrests, like others following security breaches, reflect the Iraqi government's strategy of holding soldiers and law enforcement officials criminally responsible for attacks carried out in their areas. Eleven of the men were officers and 50 were lower-ranking, said Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, a spokesman for the Baghdad operational command. Atta did not specify the charges brought against them.
Inshallah -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
Tomorrow is the 314th PAOC's farewell party from Iraq. It's a chance for us to say 'thank you' to the people and organizations that made our time here more enjoyable and more effective. 1LT Larrew is the chief planner of the event, and we are all hoping that it will break us out of the funk we have been in for a few days. You might being asking yourself, 'How can you be in a funk? Aren't you coming home soon?' Yes, the unit is due to return sometime in the next few weeks, but there are still many unknowns, and those unknowns weigh heavily on people who see a light at the end of a tunnel.
Iran Adds Caveat to Nuclear Cooperation Deal -- [Voice of America]
Iran has given its formal response to a UN plan for processing its nuclear material. Details remained sketchy, but it appears Tehran has put a few conditions on what appeared to be a take-it-or-leave-it deal.
British Couple Held Off Somali Coast -- [New York Times]
Somali pirates said Thursday that they had moved a British couple seized from their sailboat last week to a container ship anchored off Somalia's lawless shores, and that they would "protect" the captives until a ransom was delivered. Meanwhile, the British ITV News said it had made contact with Paul Chandler, one of the kidnapping victims. In a brief interview
Judge Credits Time Served in Sentencing al-Qaeda Aide -- [Washington Post]
In a decision that could carry implications for the masterminds of the Sept. 11 attacks, a judge on Thursday sentenced an al-Qaeda sleeper agent with ties to the group's senior leaders to eight years and four months in prison. The sentence sliced away nearly half of the 15-year maximum available penalty against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who entered the country as a graduate student on Sept. 10, 2001, under instructions from al-Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheik Mohammed. US District Judge Michael Mihm essentially gave Marri credit for spending more than six years on a US Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. Marri was held in isolation without criminal charges as one of only three enemy combatants on American soil.
In Military Campaign, Pakistan Finds Hint of 9/11 -- [New York Times]
Pakistani forces pushing toward a lair of hard-core Taliban fighters found documents this week linked to a member of the Hamburg cell of Al Qaeda that is believed to have planned the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In a small village in the dun-colored hills of South Waziristan, soldiers found a German passport belonging to Said Bahaji, a German citizen and associate of Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers. The passport was issued in Hamburg in January 2001 and was accompanied by a Pakistani visa dated March 2001. The documents indicated that Mr. Bahaji landed in Karachi from Istanbul on Sept. 4, 2001.
Pakistan Army Picks Up Trail of al-Qaeda Operative Wanted for 9/11 -- [The Times]
Pakistani troops fighting Islamist militants in the mountains of South Waziristan have picked up the trail of a leading al-Qaeda figure wanted in connection with the attacks on America on September 11, 2001. The Times was shown yesterday the German passport of Said Bahaji, a close associate of the September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. The army said that it found the passport and other documents in a mud compound in the village of Shawangai.
Clinton Presses Pakistan on al-Qaeda -- [Washington Post]
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed doubt Thursday over Pakistan's failure to locate top al-Qaeda leaders in the eight years since they escaped over the border from Afghanistan, telling a group of Pakistani journalists that she found "it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to." "So far as we know," she said, "they're in Pakistan." Clinton's comments, the most direct public statement of a US argument long made in private, came as she tried to balance assurances of strong economic and military support for Pakistan with reminders that the relationship is a "two-way street." "If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together," she said, "
Project Valour-IT -- [Soldiers Angels]
In memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss
It was the first time I felt whole since I'd woken up wounded in Landstuhl.
-Major Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, on using a voice-controlled laptop
Welcome to the 2009 Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT fundraiser, running through November 11! This spirited competition raises money for technology that reconnects wounded warriors and supports their recovery.
Obama Honors Americans Killed in Afghanistan -- [Voice of America]
US President Barack Obama says the sacrifices of Americans serving in harm's way are very much on his mind as he ponders America's war options in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama left Washington in the middle of the night to be on hand when the bodies of 18 recent casualties of the war came home. The president has been seeking advice on Afghanistan from generals, diplomats and members of Congress. But late Wednesday he sought a different guidance. He traveled to an Air Force base in the state of Delaware that is home to the largest military mortuary in the country.
Honoring the fallen -- [Greyhawk]
As the Obama administration debated resource requirements, October became the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war.
Even before the "record numbers" the president's approval ratings on Afghanistan were in free fall:
...How to turn the situation around? Some say more troops, some say change strategy, others say withdraw - but someone in the White House got the bright idea that now would be a good time for a photo op.
Hearts and Minds. Who's First? -- [Knottie's Niche - Gold Star Mother]
President Obama... this morning you went to welcome home 18 Fallen men. You watched as their flag draped caskets were walked solemnly from the plane. You saluted and I assume you looked into the eyes of their families. I hope you listened to their words. I hope you asked about who these men were in life and not simply how they died. You see, how they lived is so much more important than how they died. I hope you understand that exhaustion played a role in their death because the request for more support troops is being ignored and "thought about" by you. I hope you understand that we the families of the military now hold you accountable and do not care what the past administration did or didn't do. Now of us can change the past we must deal with this moment.
FireDogLake Buttheads clueless about Bush and our war dead -- [Uncle Jimbo]
UPDATE: A Gold Star mom shares her thoughts on this.
I never cease to be amazed by the sorry haters on the left and their inability to understand the military, respect, dignity and the difference between a gesture and a heartfelt gesture. They are busy hating on George W because he failed to go to Dover and get photo-opped like our current Commander in Chief. Now first of all I will give Obama credit for gong to Dover, but as soon as it became a photo op it was cheapened
My own words cannot express -- [From my position... On the way!]
My words cannot express here how I feel about the administration's use of bodies returning to Dover as a photo op.
...I won't republish these photos, because I am not a journalist. I have a personal code of honor that will not tolerate even one single visit by someone searching for pictures of wounded or the bodies of our dead. ...I recall my visit with President Bush when I was in the hospital. No reporters, no journalists, no cameras. Just me, the Mrs, Mom, the CiC, and the White house photographer. The pictures he took were sent to me later--signed. I asked why no reporter--his reply: "Because this visit isn't about me, or anyone else but you. I want to thank you for your sacrifice, and that's all."
The Commander's Duty Done -- [New York Times]
In his midnight mission to honor the returning war dead, President Obama did more than personally extend the nation's condolences to grieving families gathered at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Without uttering a public word, Mr. Obama erased President George W. Bush's shameful attempts to hide the pain of war from Americans and to shield himself from paying public tribute to the thousands who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Arriving in the Shadows -- [Army Live]
As I turned on my computer and television in the office at work this morning, the news was overwhelmed with stories about President Obama's pre-dawn trip to (personally) one of the saddest, yet most honorable places in America-Dover Air Force Base. It is here that Soldiers killed in the war are transported back to their loved ones for final goodbyes and proper burial. It is here that a mother remembers senior prom and how she took a million pictures before her son/daughter ran out of the house with their date. It is here that a father understands there will be no more pleads to borrow the brand new car to go to the movies with friends. It is here family, friends and loved ones come to the realization that person is gone. However, it is also here that the nation pays homage and remembers what this Soldier did to protect, serve, honor and defend the freedom we love and cherish. While we are resting in the comforts of our home, these Soldiers fly in during the dawn hours of the morning in the shadows of the rising sun
Exercise Seeks Battlefield Information Effectiveness -- [Defense Link]
US warfighters and allies operating in Afghanistan and Iraq depend on various sensor platforms that can provide information about the enemy's whereabouts night or day, a senior US military officer said today. That's why the annual joint Empire Challenge demonstration, which explores how to improve dissemination of vital intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to battlefield commanders, is so important, Air Force Col. George J. Krakie, the director of this year's exercise, told American Forces Press Service. "It's about bringing all these different ISR capabilities together to form a coherent picture for the warfighter of the battle space that's around them,"
'Best of the best' -- the 1133rd is finally home -- [Globe Gazette]
MASON CITY -- Soldiers from Mason City's 1133rd Transportation Co. were praised as the "best of the best" during welcome home ceremonies on Wednesday.
30 local soldiers welcomed home -- [The Daily Iowan]
Army Spc. Weston McKee can finally get back to work on building his new house.
McKee is one of 30 local National Guard soldiers dismissed from duty during a ceremony Wednesday after being deployed in Iraq for 10 months.
Heard Up North: Welcome home, Drum-style -- [North Country Public Radio]
Troops are regularly leaving for Iraq or Afghanistan, or coming home. A chain-link fence across Route 26 from Fort Drum's airfield has become a part of that
Local Soldiers Return to Hero's Welcome -- [KIMT]
Wednesday they got the welcome home ceremony. Family, friends and community members gathered at the All Seasons Building at the North Iowa Fairgrounds
Joy, butterflies as troops come home -- [DesMoinesRegister]
Nine-year-old Thomas Fetters held a sign: "WELCOME HOME, DAD!!" He was glad his dad, Sgt. Mike Fetters of Ankeny, would be here for his birthday today. ...
Audubon welcomes Guard unit home from Iraq deployment -- [Daily Times Herald]
Mayor Sam Kauffman said simply, "Welcome home, and thank god for your safe return." Once the soldiers were dismissed, they shouted the Army's battle cry
The New York Times rewrites -- [Greyhawk]
...the Obama at Dover story.
Oops! The New York Times original report on the president's midnight trip to Dover said
Pork in the Age of Obama (part two) -- [Greyhawk]
Yesterday: "Maybe next year's headline will be Victory for America over Jack Murtha."
...House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to a confidential House ethics committee report prepared in July.
Dozens in Congress Under Ethics Inquiry -- [Washington Post]
House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to a confidential House ethics committee report prepared in July. The report appears to have been inadvertently placed on a publicly accessible computer network, and it was provided to The Washington Post by a source not connected to the congressional investigations.
"Uncle" -- [Greyhawk]
Swamped: WASHINGTON - On Oct. 21, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a solicitation for temporary contractor support to assist in processing the increased volume of education claims received since implementing the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.
"This contract will assist VA in delivering education benefits to our Veterans as quickly as possible," said Under Secretary for Benefits Patrick W. Dunne. "Veterans are depending on VA to provide the benefits they earned through their service to our nation. We will do everything in our power to minimize delays for our Veteran-students."
(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.
Bombings Kill 8 US Soldiers in Afghanistan -- [Washington Post]
October became the deadliest month for US troops in the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan when two powerful bombs killed eight soldiers and an interpreter in separate attacks Tuesday. This time of year typically brings a decline in violence as insurgents regroup as cold weather approaches. Instead, the bloodiest days this month have displayed both the range of threats American soldiers face and the persistent danger of the most basic weapons. Soldiers have died in a lone outpost in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan that was nearly overrun by more than 100 insurgents firing rockets and grenades. They have been killed in gun battles and in crashing helicopters. And they died Tuesday in Kandahar province in a dismayingly familiar way
The cost of war -- [Desert Bound - in Afghanistan]
Sadly, the battalion has lost another Soldier. On Oct. 24, PFC Devin Michel was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device. PFC Michel served with Charlie Company, 3rd Platoon and was only 19 years old. I had just went out on patrol with PFC Michel and his platoon two days earlier and took quite a few pictures of him during that patrol. I've attached a few here. I'll post more pictures after the memorial service. Please keep his family, friends and fellow Soldiers in your prayers.
Militants Attack UN Guest House in Kabul, Killing Nine --[New York Times]
Taliban gunmen stormed a guest house in central Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing nine people, including six United Nations employees, two Afghan security officials and an Afghan civilian, according to police and UN officials. Three attackers wearing suicide vests also were killed by the police, said Syed Abdul Ghafar, head of the criminal department of the Kabul police department. Through a spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban took responsibility for the attack on the guest house, known as Bakhtar, which is often used by foreigners working for various United Nations agencies.
Multiple Attacks Underway In Kabul -- [P.J. Tobia- in Afghanistan]
A UN guest house was assaulted at dawn this morning and three UN staff members are reportedly killed. Police are still surrounding the building and involved in a shootout with the insurgents inside. Gunfire could be heard reverberating in the morning sky and helicopters are circling the city. I have received unconfirmed reports of an attack on the four-star Sarena Hotel, small arms fire on Butcher Street and rocket fire throughout the city. More as I hear it. UPDATE 10:30 a.m. local: The attack on the UN guest house, where foreign UN staff lives appears to be winding down. An announcement on local radio by the Minister of Interior, said that six UN staffers died in the pre-dawn raid. In the ensuing battle, three insurgents were killed as well as two Afghan police officers. As the minister made the announcement, small arms fire could be heard popping in the background. (READ MORE)
Convoy to Airborne - Part One -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
After yesterday's entangle with the demonstration, I was sure our mission might be postponed for a few days. Instead, we decided to roll out the next morning. This time the ANA would lead the way and we would escort several 7-ton trucks full of winterization equipment. The air is getting colder in the morning and at night, so everyone started donning warmer clothing. The gunners have it the worst and most will wear face masks to keep warm. Once again I would be the convoy commander, but the ANA pick-up truck would be the lead vehicle. As we drove through the center of the city, we passed by several government buildings. This time the police were in their riot gear including helmets with face shields. They stood stoically next to each other forming a human wall with their protective shields in front of them. Since it was early morning and rather brisk out, I figured we had a good chance of missing the organized demonstrators
Permissive Environment -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
Gunfire rippled across the morning calm of Jalalabad today. From what we have learned there were up to four gunmen on the lose. Two were detected when they walking into he Nangarhar Hotel armed with AK 47's and pistols. There was a Provincial Directors workshop in progress which was probably the intended target. As they walked up to the hotel they were identified and challenged by one of the 20 or so ANP soldiers who mill about the area and the lead gunmen opened fire. He hit the closest policemen who in turn shot the first bad guy dead and the second bad guy retreated up to the second floor and barricaded himself in his room. The Provincial Directors bailed out of the second story windows with at least one being directed to exit the building by the surviving gunman.
Hashing through Kabul -- [Seattle Times]
8 U.S. troops die; Oct. is Afghan war's deadliest month
We ran along a route that took us past the poppy palaces built with drug money, and down a side street where a young carpenter tapped together wooden door frames. We ran along the trash strewn course of the weak-flowing Kabul River,
We made our way down a slimy tributary that offered whiffs of sewage.
Deployed McChord Airman helps develop Balad Wounded Warriors Program -- [446th AW]
As his deployment comes to a close, Senior Airman Raymond Jones, 332nd Expeditionary Communications Squadron plans and programming project manager, can reflect on his accomplishments -- both on and off duty - during his nine-plus months at Joint Base Balad. Landing at JBB on Dec. 31, he began volunteering almost immediately.
"Not long after I got here, I ran into an Airman I had done a lot of volunteering with during my time at tech school for Simone's Hurricane Relief in Biloxi, Mississippi," said Airman Jones, who's deployed from the 62nd Communications Squadron at McChord. "We heard about the medevac mission at Balad. So, in the early part of January, we started volunteering." He said after a few months, the two Airmen had participated in more than 60 medical evacuation missions and loaded approximately 2,000 patients onto helicopters.
Video of COP Keating (Kamdesh) -- [The Captain's Journal]
Following up on Kamdesh Troops Were Sitting Ducks: The Importance of Terrain, this video is a stark reminder of just where COP Keating was located. They were completely walled-in by the terrain. Perhaps the ease of vehicle movement and delivery of logistics was the reason for locating COP Keating where they did. But they didn't have even a single hill which abuts the COP (or or on which the COP is at least partially built). Every direction is up. It would have been better to have utilized a hill and go to the hassle of building, walking and driving on sloped terrain. (VIEW VIDEO)
US to Protect Populous Afghan Areas, Officials Say -- [New York Times]
President Obama's advisers are focusing on a strategy for Afghanistan aimed at protecting about 10 top population centers, administration officials said Tuesday, describing an approach that would stop short of an all-out assault on the Taliban while still seeking to nurture long-term stability. Mr. Obama has yet to make a decision and has other options available to him, but as officials described it, the debate is no longer over whether to send more troops, but how many more will be needed. The question of how much of the country should fall under the direct protection of American and NATO forces will be central to deciding how many troops will be sent.
Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll -- [NY Times]
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country's booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.
The Most Important Article on Afghanistan You'll Read This Week -- [Abu Muqawama]
Why, you ask? Because if this is true, and if the CIA is empowering Ahmed Wali Karzai at the same time in which NATO/ISAF is saying abusive local power-brokers are a threat to mission success, then this is yet another example of NATO/ISAF carrying out one campaign in Afghanistan while the CIA carries out another -- with both campaigns operating at cross purposes to one another. I should say here that I am in no position to confirm or deny this report. I can, however, say that numerous military officials in southern Afghanistan with whom I have spoken identify AWK and his activities as the biggest problem they face -- bigger than the lack of government services or even the Taliban. And so if AWK is "the agency's guy", that leads to a huge point of friction between NATO/ISAF and the CIA. Again, I am not currently serving as an advisor to ISAF and cannot speak for Gen. McChrystal's command. But I do not have to:
Obama Redefines White House Relationship with Top Field Commander -- [Los Angeles Times]
President Obama and his predecessor differ significantly in their approach to America's wars. They differ at least as much in their relationship with their top battlefield commander. During the Bush administration, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the then-ground commander in Iraq, assumed the role of a trusted advisor who frequently visited the White House or talked to the president by phone. But Obama's commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, occupies a defined place in the chain of command. The two have met face-to-face twice -- and one of those was after the general infuriated the White House by discussing U.S. strategy in an overseas speech.
Take Your Sweet Time, Obama -- [Andrew Exum, The Daily Beast]
President Obama is entering the final stages of his deliberations of Afghanistan. He's deciding whether to send more troops, or reframe U.S. policy to allow for something less than the counterinsurgency campaign he promised in March. As he ponders, it's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the commander in chief. He and his administration are trying to find a path to victory in a difficult war in Central Asia while at the same time navigating treacherous political terrain at home.
Popular support for the war has fallen rapidly over the last six months--the product, in part, of a near-decade of constant war that has left large portions of the American public drifting toward neo-isolationism.
U.S. official resigns over Afghan war -- [Washington Post]
Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting
Reason to Quit? -- [Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
Matthew Hoh's resignation from the State Department is a great story. A Marine hero scarred by the Iraq war becomes a government aid worker in Afghanistan and finds nothing but greater disappointment. His letter of resignation is an eloquent testimony to the power of his convictions. I only wish the reasons behind those convictions--the reasons that he ended his career in the Foreign Service--made more sense.
Hoh is convincing on the human toll of the war, but in my opinion there are holes in his analysis of the regional security situation and the nature of the insurgent and terrorist threat. He argues, for example, ....
McCain: Why we can -- and must -- win the war in Afghanistan -- [CNN]
For the first time since September 11, 2001, America is having a vigorous national debate about how to succeed in Afghanistan. This debate is entirely worth having. Whenever America sends its citizens into harm's way, it must do so with eyes wide open.
'Af-Pak Hands' Strives for Continuity in US Mission -- [Defense Link]
The US military is building a cadre of officers who each will serve a multi-year assignment dedicated to a narrow piece of the US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Known as "Af-Pak Hands," the program steeps officers in the language and culture of the region, and limits the range of their duties and focus on a single area for a four-to-five-year cycle. Officers will serve in a similar job at home and downrange, an aspect of the program military officials say will enable them to create and maintain relationships with the local populace abroad, a lynchpin of counterinsurgency doctrine. "They'll be a group of experts that will learn to speak the local languages, understand the dialects, become attuned to the culture and remain focused on the problem for an extended period, rather than just on a rotation basis," a military official said
Car bomb kills 91 in Pakistani city of Peshawar -- [AP]
A car bomb tore through a busy market in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 91 people as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton Visits Pakistan in Bid to Improve Ties -- [Washington Post]
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday for a three-day visit aimed at quelling rising anti-Americanism and convincing Pakistanis that the United States wants a relationship based on more than counterterrorism. Her first trip here since becoming secretary comes amid a major Pakistani military offensive against insurgent sanctuaries near the Afghanistan border, and a wave of suicide bombings, assassinations and attacks in Pakistani cities.
Secretary of State Clinton Says US Is "Turning the Page" With Pakistan... Misrepresents Bush Years -- [Gateway Pundit]
Hilalry Clinton continued to bash Bush today in Pakistan telling officials that the US is ready to "turn the page" from the previous administration's security agenda.
My Way reported
USA Today Coincidence -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
In the afternoon of the day the USA Today article was published we had our first rocket attack in almost four months. One rocket hit out out in the desert, one hit a CHU in the civilian housing area, and one was a dud but smashed a generator on impact. I was on the other side of the base when they hit. So after no attacks for four months, they send rockets on the day that USA Today says there is not much to do and the war is over.
On the day of the missile attack, several mechanics were returning to their living area and saw the dud missile as it was streaking down into the auxiliary generator. They saw the impact and
A resilient Baghdad on a day of horror -- [Washington Post]
....But my Iraqi friends were surprisingly upbeat about the future, even after Sunday's terrible bombings. "In every sector, Iraq is coming back to its normal mode," said one. "There is no way it will slip back," insisted the other. I wondered at their confidence on such a day, but that is part of the Iraqi toughness.
Rather than talking about the bombings, we talked politics. My friends sharply criticized the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. But as we were debating, one turned to me with a smile: "Here we are talking about who will run the government after the elections. Could you do that in any other country in the Arab world?"
Extremist Group Claims Responsibility for Baghdad Bombs -- [Washington Post]
The Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni extremist group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for twin bombings Sunday that targeted key government buildings and killed nearly 160 Iraqis, according to a claim posted online. The group called the targeted sites "dens of infidelity," according to a statement posted on a Web site used by extremists to make such claims.
Legislators in Iraq Block a Deal on Election Law -- [New York Times]
The country's political parties failed to agree on election laws on Tuesday, despite a proposed deal put together by the nation's top political figures the day before. The stalemate was another blockage in negotiations that have dragged on for weeks, threatening national elections scheduled for Jan. 16. The official deadline for passing the election laws was Oct. 15. Elections can still be held on time if the parties agree on terms this week, but not much later, said Said Arikat, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, which proposed guidelines to break the logjam among the parties. "This is really crunch time," Mr. Arikat said. "We have everything in place to conduct an election on time. With every passing day, it becomes more difficult."
Couple Feared Captured by Pirates -- [New York Times]
A British couple sailing from the island nation of Seychelles vanished after their distress signal was picked up Friday, and British officials have warned the couple's family that they may have been kidnapped by Somali pirates. A man who has acted as a spokesman for the Somali pirates in the past told a Somali-based reporter working for The New York Times that the couple had been seized by pirates on the Indian Ocean. Speaking by telephone from the pirates' stronghold in the Somali coastal town of Xarardheere, the spokesman, who identifies himself as Farah Abdi, said, "We have them safely in our hands." He said that the captives and sailboat would be heading to the town "any day soon," and that the pirates' practice was to hold off on ransom demands
Gates Asks Xu to Help Break 'On-Again, Off-Again' Cycle -- [Defense Link]
Breaking the cycle of "on-again, off-again" military-to-military relations between the United States and China is of primary importance to the two nations, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told his Chinese counterpart here today. Gates met with Chinese Gen. Xu Caihou, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Liberation Army, for more than an hour at the Pentagon. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell called the meetings "good and productive." The two men spoke about the course of US-Chinese relations, the progress made on military-to-military relations and the military-to-military goals for 2010.
Tensions Between Turkey and the West Increase -- [New York Times]
With Turkey's prospects for joining the European Union growing more elusive and the country reaching out to predominantly Muslim countries with a vigor not seen in years, a longstanding question is vexing the United States and Europe: Is this large, secular Muslim country turning East instead of West? When President Obama visited Turkey in April - a symbolic gesture that underlined Turkey's geostrategic importance - he emphasized the country's role as a bridge between East and West, acknowledged its mediation in the Arab-Israeli conflict and threw his weight solidly behind Turkey becoming a European Union member. Now, six months later, some in Washington and Brussels are questioning Turkey's dependability as an ally,
2 Charged by US with Plotting Attacks -[Washington Post]
Federal prosecutors unsealed charges Tuesday alleging that two men participated in a terrorism plot that took them from Chicago to Denmark. The case is the latest example of US citizens accused of seeking to travel overseas to carry out violent extremist attacks. Using e-mail messages, recorded conversations and surveillance, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force traced the movements of David C. Headley from his apartment in Chicago to Pakistan, where he met at least once with a top al-Qaeda figure to plan foreign operations, according to court papers. Headley has been in custody since he tried to leave Chicago's O'Hare International Airport three weeks ago, but authorities said they had delayed public notice of the conspiracy charges against him so they could conduct "further investigative activity."
Sgt. Merlin German: Miracle Marine -- [Villainous Co.]
...These days we're bombarded with information and requests for help. It's easy to distance ourselves; to avert our eyes and go on with our lives when we're asked for help. But how often do we have the chance to literally change the course of someone else's life? How often do we have the chance to offer encouragement and hope to those who have placed their lives on the line for us?
Project Valour IT offers that kind of chance. The phrase "give 'til it hurts" is overused. It's too easy to ignore. But the truth of the matter is that few of us will ever experience one tenth of what wounded vets endure - and rise above - every single day.
Please Lend A Hand -- [Suldog]
...Every day, in military hospitals and physical therapy centers across this land, there are people facing my greatest fear. They're doing so because they saw it as their duty to put their lives on the line for you and me. They didn't lose their lives, though. Instead, they lost their ability to function as independently as they did before being wounded grievously.
In fighting for our freedom, they have lost much of their own.
Project Valour-IT, Carren's perspective -- [From my position... On the way! - Chuck Z's Wife]
Not only was Chuck able to blog with his new laptop and voice-activated software, I was able to relax a little bit more. Instead of trying to figure how to get Chuck some sort of outlet, I knew he had one. Instead of going to the Mologne House every night, wondering how Chuck will manage throughout the night, I knew he had an outlet. Instead of feeling guilty as hell when I went somewhere without him (for ME time), I knew Chuck had his connection to the outside world.
The laptop and software were truly a gift that can not be put into words. Even after Chuck was initially discharged from Walter Reed, we returned MANY times for subsequent surgeries. His Valour-IT laptop and software were always there for him, especially when he couldn't type with his hand(s). I could go on all day about how amazing this program is...
Project Valour-IT -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
...Comes now the hard part. Not where I ask you for money - that's the easy part - we're done with that. No, now is where I promise that if you donate to Team Army, you won't ever have *this* show up at your door.
Give a soldier a vacation! -- [A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq
I've come across several organizations that offer free vacations to troops returning home from deployment. Each of these organizations is usually the effort of a small number of individuals or merchants, each donating time in their own vacation home, or a gift certificate for vacation and travel related services.
Donate a cell phone for the troops -- [A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq
Both times I deployed, I took my satellite phone. It was a big fat brick of a phone, it looked a little like the old briefcase phones, like the drug dealers were using in the movie "New Jack City". I picked it up on ebay, it didn't hold a charge well, and the recharger was a chunky plug that was wired for European outlets. The sandstorms and helicopters would mess up reception, and I needed a direct view of the sky to use it. Still, that phone served me well and I actually completed 1/3 of my MBA from Iraq by teleconferencing with my study group, sitting out on top of the bunkers on moonless nights. Best of all, when times were tough and I was low, I knew I could reach out to Meredith and there was no better way to recharge my spirit. A great way to give a troop a boost is to donate a cell phone.
Some Troops Have a Sixth Sense for Bombs -- [Los Angeles Times]
As Marines train to deploy to war zones, there is daily discussion about how to detect and disarm the buried roadside bombs that are the No. 1 killer of Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military researchers have found that two groups of personnel are particularly good at spotting anomalies: those with hunting backgrounds, who traipsed through the woods as youths looking to bag a deer or turkey; and those who grew up in tough urban neighborhoods, where it is often important to know what gang controls which block. Personnel who fit neither category, often young men who grew up in the suburbs and developed a liking for video games, do not seem to have the depth perception and peripheral vision of the others, even if their eyesight is 20/20.
Troops returning to Fort Sill -- [WAND]
About 160 soldiers from Illinois and South Carolina will be honored at an early morning welcome-home ceremony at Fort Sill.
Local Guard unit to return from Afghanistan -- [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]
An official welcome home celebration might not be held until January after the soldiers have spent the holidays with their families, Albert said
Embracing bad news -- [Armed and Curious - in Iraq]
One of the first lessons I learned as a public affairs officer in Iraq is that there are some reporters who are going to dig up things you really don't want the world to know about your organization. I quickly figured out that hiding under my desk with my fingers in my ears muttering "You don't see me...you don't see me" over and over didn't really make the situation any better.
I'm Back And In A Magazine -- [Sour Swinger]
After a long month hiatus, I figure its time to finish up this blog. I've spent the last month chilling out and visiting family. It feels great to be back in the states and settled back into a less stressful life. Believe or not, but its been a warm welcome to not have to deal with this blogging for a bit. Think I needed a break from writing. But alas, I have returned and will spend the next two weeks or so to post up the remainder of my videos and pictures.
First up on the list, MY BLOG MADE IT IN A MAGAZINE!!!! Go figure. I was contacted a few months back by University Link Magazine. Its an edgy, socially conscious campus magazine written exclusively for college students by college students.
News gets worse for the MSM -- [Politico]
There have been a lot of bad days recently for what's come to be known as the Mainstream Media - or MSM - but Monday was one of the worst. -- New circulation figures showed that big city papers had lost as much as a quarter of their circulation in the last six months.
Obama to sign military budget bill -- [AFP]
US President Barack Obama will Wednesday sign a 680-billion-dollar defense authorization bill, which includes funds to train Afghan security forces and for more mine resistant troop carriers.
Obama will host a ceremony before signing the bill, after waging a campaign to purge the mammoth legislation of wasteful and bloated spending.
The bill had earlier stirred fears of a presidential veto, after lawmakers permitted spending on a fighter aircraft the Pentagon opposes.
"As commander-in-chief, I will always do whatever it takes to defend the American people," Obama said, in excerpts of remarks he was to deliver at the bill signing ceremony later Wednesday. "That is why this bill provides for the best military in the history of the world."
For First Time Under Obama, Majority Says U.S. Is on Wrong Track -- [Politics Daily]
While the stock market has picked up and the country appears to be pulling out of the recession, a majority of Americans - for the first time in the Obama presidency - says the U.S. is headed down the wrong track
(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.
Helicopter collision kills four US troops in Afghanistan -- [USA Today]
KABUL -- Four US servicemembers were killed and two injured today when two helicopters collided in southern Afghanistan. Hostile fire has been ruled out in
Republicans: Clock Is Ticking on Afghanistan Troop Decision -- [FOX News]
As Democrats defend President Obama's decision to take his time and carefully consider conflicting strategy proposals from top advisers, Republican senators say the clock is ticking -- with allied forces continuing to suffer casualties in part because they lack reinforcements.
Afghan candidate says 'dramatic' surge needed, backs McChrystal assessment -- [The Hill]
Afghanistan's opposition candidate backed Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations for more troops Sunday, saying "the future of the country is at risk" without a "dramatic increase" in troop levels.
Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who faces off against President Hamid Karzai in a Nov. 7 runoff, said on "Fox News Sunday" that he's also leaving open the possibility of an election boycott if recommendations aren't met to ensure transparency and stem fraud in the second round of voting.
Abdullah Abdullah -- [Greyhawk]
Would have made for interesting television to hear him answer questions on his fraudulent votes in the Afghan elections, but that's not the message the Obama administration wants Americans receiving just now. We'll have to settle for Abdullah explaining his opponent's corruption, instead.
Afghan presidential candidate asks for more troops -- [Big News]
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah called for a 'dramatic increase' in troops to secure his country from insurgents, in an interview with US broadcaster Fox News Sunday.
Karzai questions US reliability as partner -- [The Age]
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai questioned the reliability of the United States as a partner Sunday, as he fought off criticism of his government's legitimacy following fraud-marred elections.
Karzai's main challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, warned in an interview with CNN that the US strategy will not succeed without a credible partner in Kabul, blaming Karzai for deteriorating conditions.
545 Project Releases Powerful Video -- [A Soldier's Perspective]
U.S. troops hope Afghanistan sacrifices not in vain -- [Washington Times]
Doubts, determination to finish mission fill days
The sirens blared as a Taliban rocket attack rattled troops across Kandahar Air Field for the second time last week.
While the Obama administration debates whether to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and Afghans prepare to vote for president for the second time in four months, some of those already braving rockets and bombs worry that their mission has lost the support of the U.S. public and that their sacrifices - and those of their fallen comrades - have been in vain.
"What about the troops who died giving their lives for this mission?" Sgt. Coble asked as she waited for the rocket alert to finish. ..."We would not be honoring the lives of the troops who died if we left here without finishing our mission, and many troops are concerned that the American people have forgotten why we came here to begin with," she said.
Podesta: Bush Administration Spent Only One Hour On Afghanistan Report It Handed Off To Obama -- [Think Progress]
From Cheney's recent remarks to the Center for Security Policy:
In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama's team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt.
Today on ABC's This Week, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta revealed that the Bush administration spent just one hour on that report:
PODESTA: [T]hey did present him with a report at the very end of the Bush administration, but I have it from reliable sources that the principals in the Bush administration spent one hour on that report before they handed it off to Obama.
Presidential Elections Round 2 -- [3rd Time, New Country - in Afghanistan]
It's been another odd week here in Kabul. I guess there isn't really any reference for a "normal" week, but I will still call it an odd week. I have been on 3 convoys, the team presented what we are doing to the CG (Commanding General) and I woke up in the middle of the night to an earthquake. Lastly, Karzi agreed to a second round of presidential elections for 07 Nov. We will have to wait and see how that turns out. The team has been back and forth to Camp Eggers three times this past week.
The Warlord and The Election -- [A World of Troubles - in Afghanistan]
Haji Jan Dad showing the bullet embedded in his hand, Simon Klingert (c)
Haji Jan Dad is riddled with the scars of some 20 years of combat as a mountain fighter. Shrapnel is embedded in the back of his head, his arm has been ripped open by bullets. He has a PKM machine gun round lodged between his thumb and index finger that he's never bothered to remove.
On a sunny day at the end of August, dozens of Afghan elders in traditional dress and long beards were facing a few American soldiers on the terrace outside Haji Jan Dad's compound. They were assembled under the auspices of a truce.
Eastern Afghanistan provinces establish regional peace Jirga -- [PRT Kunar - in Afghanistan]
NANGARHAR, Afghanistan -In a show of unity, more than 300 leaders and elders from four eastern provinces gathered Oct. 22 for the first regional Jirga to talk about peace, prosperity and the rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
..."Today is a day of happiness. We are looking for a security solution in the eastern region and a Jirga is the right approach to our problems," Sherzai said. "I'm optimistic that we will come up with solutions for the eastern region here today that meet our goal of peace, security and prosperity in the eastern provinces."
The tone of today's meeting was also about reconciliation with Taliban and anti-government people.
"It is time to talk with each other about security...to talk about peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. ..."ISAF forces are not here forcefully and are here helping us. They leave their countries and families to help us bring peace and prosperity. We have the need for friendly forces because they are sacrificing their lives for our peace," Mashal said.
It was a sentiment echoed by Jamaluddin Badar, Nuristan provincial governor.
"We should work to not let bad people in our country," Badar said. "We should help the Coalition Forces and not the terrorist groups who bring their fighters here.
Fragile turnaround in an enemy stronghold -- [Boston Globe]
Afghan district sees renewal as Marines take over
Before a battalion of US Marines swooped into this dusty farming community along the Helmand River in early July, almost every stall in the bazaar had been padlocked, as had the school and the health clinic. Thousands of residents had fled. Government officials and municipal services were nonexistent. Taliban fighters swaggered about with impunity, setting up checkpoints and seeding the roads with bombs.
In the three months since the Marines arrived, the school has reopened, the district governor is on the job, and the market is bustling. The insurgents have demonstrated far less resistance than US commanders expected.
"Hardly Mission Impossible" -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P in Afghanistan]
Max Boot goes to Afghanistan and reports back in The Weekly Standard: "Tremendous obstacles abound, ranging from the resilience of the Taliban to the ineptitude and corruption of the Afghan government. But it is hardly mission impossible. In areas such as Baraki Barak, U.S. soldiers and civilians have been making impressive progress ever since this summer, when the U.S. troop level in Afghanistan hit 64,000--up from just 32,000 in 2008. (There are now 68,000 troops with the arrival of another brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division devoted to training Afghan soldiers in the south.) But there are still far too few U.S. soldiers here to roll back years of gains by the Taliban in the south and east of the country." He's right-- it ain't easy but it's not impossible either.
Kandaks -- [Embedded in Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
In Afghan languages a kandak is a battalion. I can remember visiting a base outside of our area and talking to a someone who during our conversation remarked to me, "Oh, you're with 3rd Kdk? Is that an infantry battalion?" I was a little taken aback by the question and almost remarked in Colonel Jessup from A Few Good Men fashion "Is there any other kind?" But I caught myself, as I remembered that there are indeed other types of kandaks out there, just like in our military. The ANA do have tanks, artillery, Afghan Commandos, and other types of units, to include aviation.
On the Road -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
I started my trip to Kabul yesterday. We stayed on the German run base at Marmol, which has an airport. We had to wait until the next day for a flight into Kabul. Like all people who live on a small sized Camp we had to tour around the "big city" and observe all the ammenities available.
...Another topic I have failed to adequately describe is that of money. For US forces in the northern region there is only one way to get cash. Nope, there are no ATMs. Nope, there is no finance office. The only way to get cash is when a team comes up to cash checks every month or two.
UK helps boost economic growth in Helmand -- [Helmand Blog]
Like any self-respecting businessman Nah Sarang wants to expand.
With 30 people in his family, including parents and grandparents, the 25 year-old farmer in Gereshk, Helmand province, makes regular trips to sell his wheat and corn in the Mayors market in the centre of Lashkar Gah.
Afghans protest rumored desecration of Koran by U.S. troops -- [LA Times]
Hundreds of protesters in Kabul burn an effigy of President Obama, a sign of rising religious conservatism and anti-Americanism in the country. The U.S. military denies any sacrilege took place.
In the middle of Afghan demonstrations -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
After several hours of delay, our convoy departed the camp for our mission. Much of the delays were caused by our unfamiliarity with the various MRAP models. For the past 5 months, the armored HMMVWs have been our vehicle of choice and we are intimately familiar with them. Yesterday we were supposed to have the vehicles by afternoon, but they didn't return until dark. So we used the shotgun approach and familiarized ourselves with the equipment and communication items before we departed. Today's mission called for a convoy of MRAPs and I was the convoy commander in the lead vehicle. This was the first time I have been given this opportunity. I was a bit nervous because we were going to travel a brand new route and as convoy commander I was in charge of making decisions, even though officer teammates outranked me in the convoy.
ISAF Responds to Rumors -- [ISAF]
25 Oct. - KABUL, Afghanistan - International Security Assistance Forces have responded to false accusations that a U.S. service member burned the Quran last week in the Maydan Shar district, Wardak province.
Fallen Soldier Was Anxious To Return To Afghanistan -- [NPR]
Specialist Stephan Mace, 21, grew up in a small town in Virginia and was known as the ultimate prankster. Inspired by his grandfather, a former CIA agent, Mace joined the U.S. Army and was posted to Afghanistan earlier this year. He was killed in an attack this month.
US strikes in Bajaur tribal areas, kills 27 Taliban, al Qaeda -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Unmanned aircraft operated by the US attacked a meeting of the Bajaur Taliban, killing 27 Islamist extremists. The attack came close to killing one of the senior-most Taliban commanders in Pakistan.
The strikes, likely carried out by Predators or Reapers, struck underground bunkers in Damadola in the Mamond region in the northern tribal agency of Bajaur. The Taliban were holding a regional shura, or council, with members from Dir, Swat, and Mohmand in attendance. Al Qaeda members were also present.
Report: U.S. drone kills 24 in Pakistan -- [UPI]
A U.S. drone reportedly killed 24 people in northern Pakistan, including Taliban members meeting in an underground hideout, witnesses and officials said.
Twelve people were reported wounded in Saturday's attack in Damadola, Bajaur, about 4 miles from the Afghan border.
"I heard two loud explosions when a meeting of the Taliban was in progress," Damadola resident Hazrat Gul told Sunday's edition of Dawn.
Pakistani Taliban's Chief Warns of More Attacks Unless Military Stops Assaults -- [Fox News]
The Pakistani Taliban's chief is vowing to turn Pakistan into "another Afghanistan or Iraq" unless the military stops its assault in the militants' stronghold near the Afghan border
Bombings target government in Baghdad, 147 killed -- [SanDiego News/AP]
A pair of suicide car bombings Sunday devastated the heart of Iraq's capital, killing at least 147 people in the country's deadliest attack in more than two years. The bombs targeted two government buildings and called into question Iraq's ability to protect its people as U.S. forces withdraw.
...The dead included 35 employees at the Ministry of Justice and at least 25 staff members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, said police and medical officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. At least 721 people were wounded, including three American contractors.
White House decries 'hateful' attacks in Iraq -- [Detroit News]
Scores killed, but nation's progress on track, U.S. says
Washington -- President Barack Obama said Sunday's "outrageous attacks" outside government offices in the Iraqi capital "reveal the hateful and destructive agenda of those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that they deserve."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the "savage" attacks will not succeed in undermining Iraq's progress toward stability, self-reliance and justice based on the rule of law.
On a sad day for Iraq, things are quiet at CKV -- [The Oregonian]
CKV holds about a thousand people, including members of other branches and contractors. But about 120 Oregonians are running the place, which, as you can see from the picture below, ain't exactly paradise. But their goal is to be the unit that sees it closed down and returned to the Iraqis ... assuming the political and military process works the way it is supposed to. With the explosions in Baghdad yesterday and the uncertainty about the January elections, that's a big If.
Texas Army National Guard 36th ID prepares for deployment in Iraq -- [Waco Tribune Herald]
The 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard once again will be deployed to Iraq in 2010
Mesa unit prepares to deploy to Iraq -- [The Arizona Republic]
Sgt. First Class Justin Broadwater has been deployed to Iraq before, but the trip there that begins this week will be different for him.
Broadwater was one of 58 soldiers of the 653rd Support Group saying goodbye to family and friends Sunday in a deployment ceremony held at the Herrera Army Reserve Center in Mesa. The unit provides support for troops heading in to and out of Iraq. The soldiers leave for Fort Lewis, Wash., for combat readiness training later this week before deploying to Iraq.
Iraq: Open for Business -- [At War - NY Times]
A milestone in the war in Iraq passed this week largely unnoticed here in a capital consumed more recently by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, not to mention the economy or health care. Hundreds of Iraqi officials -- said to be the largest delegation from Iraq ever to visit the United States -- gathered in a hotel near Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss neither security nor American troop levels. Rather they came to promote something that was once, and might still be, more of a hope than a reality: investment.
Soldier connects Iraqi, U.S. children -- [Lejeune Deployed]
Seeing a disparity in the quantity and quality of school supplies in some Iraqi primary schools, one U.S. Soldier here decided to do something about it.
Staff Sgt. Jared Wiegand, a Fort Wayne, Ind. native with 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was home last March on leave during his deployment to Kirkuk province, and decided to visit J.E. Ober Elementary School in Garrett, Ind., where his sister-in-law teaches.
After spending roughly an hour speaking with the children and showing them photos of Iraq, Wiegand mentioned how Iraqi children were less fortunate and did not have the same opportunities to achieve the same levels of education as children in the U.S. In response, Mrs. Alecia Pfefferkorn created a competition at the school to gather school supplies such as pencils, notebooks and markers for the Iraqi children.
Following the competition, the school supplies were sent to Wiegand in Iraq with the assistance of the local Garrett, Ind. American Legion chapter.
Back am I -- [Because We're Here Boy, No One Else; Just Us." - in Iraq]
I am back to my corner of the imperial frontier, having arrived 3 days ago. The flight from the States was uneventful and quick. Nobody shot any missiles at us so I guess they are making their monthly payments on time. The aircraft was completely blacked out on approach though so it isn't the first world yet.
Everything looks the same at my big base home. They built a false ceiling in the gym so it is quieter. The whole base seems quieter, not nearly the hustle and bustle of the past; fewer vehicles moving about the streets, fewer people in the chow hall, not nearly the number of Antonovs and IL-76s coming and going. Just quieter.
Who Fights This War--Retiring to a Gun in the Sun -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
If you're looking for retirement advice, don't ask Master Sgt. William Foster, 55, a door gunner in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment. The former Punxsutawney, Pa., police department patrol sergeant did not move to Florida and did not take a part-time job like many retirees. 'Punxsutawney Bill,' as he is known in the town he has lived in all of his life, decided to volunteer as a door gunner and go to Iraq for retirement.
Thank You For Your Support -- [Iron camel - in Iraq]
I would like to thank everyone for the support they have given me since I started this blog.
There have been many changes here over the last few weeks: New teams in, old teams out. New people in charge, new way of doing things, and as for our team, we are wrapping things up and getting ready to come home.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading the blog, I wish everyone the best, and most of all, I look forward to getting back home.
NEFA Foundation: "Target: America" The September 2009 Arrest of Najibullah Zazi and the Ongoing Investigation into his Terror Plot -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
Najibullah Zazi emigrated with his family from Afghanistan as a child and grew up in Flushing, Queens. He shared the same interests as other typical American teens, including a love of video games and the latest fashions. He dropped out of high school, then started operating a coffee cart in Lower Manhattan. In 2006, ...
The American Legion and Target Join Forces to Raise More than $100,000 to Help Troops Attacked in Afghanistan -- [The American Legion]
In less than a week, an American Legion blog site raised more than $50,000, which Target matched with an additional $50,000 contribution, to help U.S. soldiers who were forced to destroy their camp and all of their possessions during a deadly Oct. 3 enemy attack in Afghanistan. In addition, Connecticut-based Computer Sciences Corporation has donated 56 laptop computers to the relief effort to replace those that were destroyed.
The Combat Outpost Keating Relief Fund sprang to life on The American Legion's Burn Pit blog site after one of the 56 surviving troops wrote in an e-mail that he believed no one at home had any idea what they were doing there, and that no one cared.
"The American Legion, Target and all who contributed to the COP Keating Relief Fund have shown these brave soldiers that we do indeed care," American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill said.
Combat vets: Outward Bound -- [Greyhawk]
This looks like a great opportunity for Afghanistan and Iraq vets looking for challenge, adventure, and camaraderie - Outward Bound's reintegration wilderness expeditions. Fully-funded (including transportation to and from the locations) trips include canoeing in the Florida Everglades, kayaking the Alabama Gulf Coast, winter expeditions in the Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Dogsledding & Skiing, and sailing the Florida Keys
Schwartz: If CentCom asks, we'll deliver -- [Air Force Times]
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has fired back at criticism from the Defense Department inspector general over Air Force trainers not being assigned yearlong tours in Afghanistan.
The Air Force would make one-year assignments if U.S. Central Command requested them, Schwartz wrote an Oct. 6 letter to the Inspector General's Office.
"The Air Force continues to source airmen on 365-day tours when requested by the combatant commander to meet theater requirements," Schwartz wrote.
Female Warriors Engage in Combat in Iraq, Afghanistan -- [ABC News]
The image of young women in a hot , dusty combat zone toting automatic weapons is still startling to some. But right now there are 10,000 women serving in Iraq, more than 4,000 in Afghanistan. They have been fighting and dying next to their male comrades since the wars began.
Battlefield Airmen Considered a Weapon System -- [DVIDS]
The capabilities of battlefield Airmen are considered just as lethal as any advanced weapons system. For that reason, tactical air control party personnel, pararescuemen, security forces personnel and special operations weathermen have been included in the annual Weapons and Tactics Conference held here this week.
Nearly 1,200 Air Force warfighters met in 30 working groups on Air Force weapons systems to decide on what's needed to succeed in future battles and missions.
A.W.O.L: A Warrior on Liberty -- [Castra Praetoria - home from Iraq]
Decompression, relaxation, and multiple cups of joseph are all in order.
I have no interest in making any decisions, thinking, or anything resembling taking responsibility for myself or anyone else. Waiters and staff are making all decisions for me:
"Sir, would you like to try our..."
"Yes, I would."
Troops return to Tallassee from Iraq -- [WSFA]
... eyes in Tallassee as families and friends welcomed home members of the Army National Guard's 158th Maintenance Company after a long deployment to Iraq
Families excited for 1133rd return on Wednesday -- [Mason City Globe Gazette]
The 1133rd will come home on Wednesday after a year-long deployment in Iraq. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Globe Gazette) MASON CITY -- The homecoming celebration for ...
Soldiers honored upon return from Afghanistan -- [ABC7Chicago]
Soldiers of the Illinois National Guard were honored Sunday after their return from serving in Afghanistan.
Controversy lingers over covering war dead -- [Columbus Dispatch]
When President George H.W. Bush's administration banned the media from covering the arrival of the fallen at Dover Air Force Base during the Persian Gulf War nearly 20 years ago, the stated reason was to protect the families' privacy.
But in the six months since the controversial ban was lifted and 258 families were allowed to choose whether they wanted the media present, 60 percent said yes, according to the military.
...there are often just a handful of journalists on hand. More than a third of all ceremonies open to the media in the first six months were covered only by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the military, which had feared from the beginning that families who said yes to media coverage would be disappointed by the turnout, has provided its own crews to cover those events approved by the family and posts the images on the Web. As a result, the Defense Department has become one of the main distributors of the images of the fallen.
Road map to a quagmire -- [Statesman - Bob Woodward and Gordon M. Goldstein]
Decades after Vietnam, two top advisers to LBJ describe how a lack of frank and open talk in the White House led to disaster and defeat on the battlefield
Viewed together, McNamara and Bundy's final reflections suggest a shared vision of some of Vietnam's most critical lessons. The men conclude that the commander in chief must confront his advisers; the advisers, in turn, must confront the commander in chief. And military strategies proposed by the generals must be examined, deconstructed and challenged. McNamara and Bundy show how easy it is to fail.
About this story - This article is based on the last extended interviews Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy gave before they died.
Bob Woodward interviewed McNamara for more than two hours Aug. 7, 2007, at McNamara's Watergate apartment. McNamara agreed that the interview was on the record but at several points said he did not want to be quoted. His wife, Diana McNamara, was present for the entire session. After his death this summer, she agreed that all his comments should be published.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
A warning from the mountains -- [Al Jazeera Blogs]
I was still awake when I felt the quake just before 1am local time. The tremor lasted about 9 seconds - the earthquake centred in the Hindu Kush mountains.
We now know the epicentre was in the province of Badakshan. If you look at a map that's the part at the top of Afghanistan that resembles a finger jutting out towards China. The province is very mountainous and extremely poor.
New On MEMRI TV: Report on Taliban Operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan -- [MEMRI Blog]
Including Interview with Taliban Field Commander and Head of Taliban Courts in Wardak
Nato 'backs new Afghan strategy' -- [BBC]
Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen says defence ministers broadly support the strategy for Afghanistan outlined by the international commander there.
Gen Stanley McChrystal is thought to want around 40,000 extra troops as part of a revised military strategy.
But at a meeting of Nato ministers in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates again publicly declined to endorse the plan.
Obama Team Meets on Afghanistan Runoff -- [Voice of America]
Gibbs said Mr. Obama examined the current political situation in Afghanistan, as part of his continuing assessment of whether to send more US troops there. He said the discussions aimed "to fix what went wrong" in the country's August election, which was marred by voter fraud. The problems led election officials to call for a runoff vote between President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
The Wicked Game (part four) -- [Greyhawk]
...The Obama administration wants Karzai gone - and a "power sharing" option with challenger Abdullah Abdullah (who only had a little over 200,000 votes declared fraudulent) was supposed to (and may ultimately) be step one. Even after the certified results were released Karzai enjoys a comfortable lead over Abdullah, one that isn't expected to dwindle significantly in a second round held in deteriorating weather with increased security concerns and voter apathy factored in.
47 paces (to the closest bathroom) -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Today's mission was canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date. I purposely did not take any pictures this morning because I was looking forward to visiting a village. ...I read today's newspaper and was surprised the Taliban haven't commented on the election runoff. I'm sure it will be only a matter of time before they voice their opposition or intentions. In the interim, the United Nations announced they will try to replace 200 of the 380 district election chiefs. Coincidentally the IEC (Independent Election Council) who was handpicked by President Karzai are also the ones who hand-picked the election chiefs. Perhaps this explains why the vote-rigging and ballot box stuffing and other irregularities were permitted to fester and the largest percentage of fraudulent votes was cast for Karzai. It's kind of like the fox guarding the hen house.
In Helmand, a model for success? -- [Washington Post]
...In the three months since the Marines arrived, the school has reopened, the district governor is on the job and the market is bustling. The insurgents have demonstrated far less resistance than U.S. commanders expected. Many of the residents who left are returning home, their possessions piled onto rickety trailers, and the Marines deem the central part of the town so secure that they routinely walk around without body armor and helmets.
"Nawa has returned from the dead," said the district administrator, Mohammed Khan.
Helmand a model for success? Wait and see. -- [Center For Defense Studies]
The local bazaar is thriving and locals no longer complain about security. Instead, they have shifted their focus to the next critical element of counterinsurgency -- education, health, agriculture and rural development. This is a remarkable turnaround of events that hasn't been the norm in Helmand. To build on the Marine's initial successes, reconstruction teams and most importantly, local governance structures must begin to deliver. More importantly, they themselves must begin to gain the trust of the local population. This will be the ultimate marker of success in Nawa, Helmand, and the rest of Afghanistan.
For their part, the insurgents have behaved exactly as one would expect. They have ...
The "Afghan face", or, problems operating with and mentoring the ANA -- [The Torch]
Capt. G.B. Rolston gives a lucid account (highlighting US Marines in Helmand) in an article in SITREP, The Journal of the Royal Canadian Military Institute. A particular difficulty is the effective inability to shift units from quieter parts of the country to reinforce or relieve those in more heavily contested ones: [...] Even a one-for-one swap of just a kandak or a brigade between mentor teams on opposite sides of the country would be extremely difficult (I've never heard of it actually being done): neither mentoring country involved would likely trust the outcome, if only because Afghan logistical administration is so appallingly poor, with most of the equipment of both kandaks likely "disappearing" during the handover in mentoring. So
Eastern Afghanistan provinces establish regional peace Jirga -- [PRT-Kunar - in Afghanistan]
NANGARHAR, Afghanistan -In a show of unity, more than 300 leaders and elders from four eastern provinces gathered Oct. 22 for the first regional Jirga to talk about peace, prosperity and the rehabilitation of Afghanistan. The provincial governors of Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan and Langham and elders representing tribes, villages and districts gathered at the Nangarhar governor's compound to lay out their homegrown plan to improve the security and development of the four easternmost Afghanistan provinces. "Today is a historical day for the eastern provinces for this peace Jirga. For the last couple of months, the eastern provincial governors have talked about peace and prosperity. Today is the day
Memory of Welsh Guards' officer lives on in Helmand school -- [Helmand Blog]
His troops vowed to complete the officer's work and soldiers from 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment provided security so local workers could renovate the school, allowing more than 370 pupils to register to attend the new-look facility.
Major Alex Corbet-Burcher, the new Officer Commanding, said:
"The locals were initially cautious about our presence in Basaran, but the atmosphere now is great. I think Sean would be proud of the lads' achievements. It makes us all feel better that some good has come from his sacrifice."
In Country - [Desert Bound - in Afghanistan]
Bitter cold compared to the 100 plus temperatures we've been used to. Everyone is decked in fleeces, hats and sweatpants in the evening. Most of us have good issued cold-weather gear, but if you want to send that hand-knitted sweater to your Soldier, I'm sure he'd enjoy it -- he just might not wear it in public.
...We've been busy here with various patrols/missions. The morale is still low due to basically no connectivity. Phones and MWR computers are still MIA. December is probably when we'll still see something finally show up. You can tell it's bothering a lot of Soldiers, who just want to talk to their spouse and kids.
Fighting The Wrong War -- [Strategy Page]
The enemy in Afghanistan is a many headed beast. American intelligence has compiled a list of nearly 500 Taliban and drug gang leaders. If all these guys were to suddenly disappear, the violence who swiftly change to internal battles within the gangs, as lower level men fought for control of dozens of leaderless Taliban and heroin producing gangs. While you can't destroy the gangs, you can greatly reduce their effectiveness. This is particularly true of the ones that chiefly carry out terror attacks.
Self-Reliance -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
One of the benefits of my new lodgings is that I'm off by myself, rather than stuck in a dodgy hotel with the dregs of Kabul's transient population.
...for my own peace of mind, I decided that it's best to rely on only myself for personal protection in the middle of the night. Although Kabul is safer than most people think, criminal kidnap is an ever-present threat. The targets of the kidnap gangs are almost always local businessmen, rather than expats, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Hence, my new toy:
Humbled -- [Highland Sailor - in Afghanistan]
Today was the most rewarding day that I can remember.
I had the opportunity to visit a school for the deaf and those with special needs. Words cannot describe the excitement that those children displayed as our group of US and NATO servicemen and women distributed school backpacks containing pens, pencils, paper, and other miscellaneous school supplies. We also distributed blankets, coats, shoes, etc., ...We won't win this war with our tactics or weapon systems. To win this war, we need to put our our soft covers, and meet with the people.
Three Cups of Tea -- [Highland Sailor - in Afghanistan]
If you haven't read "Three Cups of Tea", I strongly recommend that you do so at once. It's required reading for all officers in USFOR-A. It offers a wonderful insight to the Pashto People. Available at your local bookstore or library.
22 Oct 09 -- [Dude in the Desert - in Afghanistan]
today was another long, boring day ...I guess that's a good thing... I can't complain because I would rather be bored than over-worked...I don't really mind it-I mean it doesn't really make sense for so many of us to be here without a real job, but that's the way it goes...it took me a while to learn why this is-the Army had 3-5 times as many people to do the same job the AF was doing...I thought it was ridiculous...I asked a few people and mentioned it to a lot of people and nobody really could explain it...but one day a Sgt in the Army explained that they man their bases/posts/FOBs/whatever according to the number of people it would take to defend that unit and all the assets on that installation...every soldier is a warfighter first and then they are a cook, mechanic, commo guy, or whatever their MOS is...that made it all clear...they might not need 18 mechanics, but they need those 18 warriors to defend against attacks
Afghan troop reduction 'by 2014' -- [BBC]
The head of the British Army, General Sir David Richards, says it will be "about 2014" before UK troops numbers in Afghanistan reduce.
He told the BBC's Caroline Wyatt the war in Afghanistan was "a war very much worth fighting for".
Taliban strike near nuclear facility in Pakistan's Punjab -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Seven people were reported killed and 12 more were wounded after a bomber detonated at a security checkpoint near the Kamra Air Weapon Complex in Attock.
Daily brief: deadly trio of attacks hits Pakistan as anti-Taliban offensive rages -- [AfPak Daily Brief]
A trio of militant attacks in northwest Pakistan killed at least 24 people this morning, as a bus full of wedding-goers struck a roadside bomb in Mohmand agency, a remote control car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in a ritzy area of Peshawar, and a suicide bomber blew himself up during rush hour outside a Pakistani military facility in Kamra, southwest of Islamabad (Dawn, Dawn, Geo TV, Reuters, BBC, AFP, CNN). Some foreign military experts suspect that the aeronautical facility at Kamra stores aircraft capable of carrying nuclear warheads, though Pakistan denies this and it is unknown whether the attacker, who did not get close to the base itself, intended to strike specifically at the nuclear program (AP, Times of London, Al Jazeera, CNN).
Pakistan fights back - At last, it takes the Taliban seriously -- [Washington Post]
RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN Until a few months ago, Pakistani officials often used the term "miscreants" when they described the Taliban fighters operating from the western tribal areas. This moniker conveyed the sense that the Taliban was a nuisance -- a ragtag band of fanatics and gangsters who could be placated with peace deals -- rather than a mortal threat to the nation. That state of denial appears to be over.
US Aiding Pakistani Military Offensive -- [Los Angeles Times]
The US military is providing intelligence and surveillance video from unmanned aircraft to the Pakistani army to assist in its week-old offensive in South Waziristan, marking the deepest American involvement yet in a Pakistani military campaign, officials said. The assistance includes imagery from armed Predator drones that Defense officials say are being used exclusively for intelligence gathering in the offensive.
Kerry Visit Underscores Power Still Wielded by Pakistani Army -- [Washington Post]
Sen. John F. Kerry briefly swept through the Pakistani capital this week to allay politicians' concerns about a new US aid package that has sparked public outrage. But Pakistani media reports focused on his meeting with the person who seemed to really matter - the army chief. With furor simmering over the conditions attached to the $7.5 billion in development aid, the Massachusetts Democrat's stopover underscored the power the Pakistani military, which has ruled the nation for half its existence, continues to wield in Pakistan's political theater. In this show, the army cast itself as the backroom champion of a proud public - and President Asif Ali Zardari and his civilian government as American stooges.
General in Iraq 'Encouraged' as Elections Approach -- [Defense Link]
Violence in Iraq has dropped to the lowest levels seen since 2003 as the Iraqi people prepare to vote in new legislative and general elections slated for January, a senior US military officer said here today. "I'm encouraged now that violence is at an all-time low; that the levels are down to where they were in 2003," Army Brig. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, Multinational Force Iraq's deputy chief of staff for strategic effects, told reporters during a news briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center. The reduced violence in Iraq today, Lanza said, indicates "continued improvement in Iraq's security environment, through the combined efforts of Iraq and US forces." The 120,000 US troops now in Iraq "continue to push hard," Lanza said, following the June 30 implementation of a US-Iraq security agreement through which Iraqi security forces took primary responsibility for security within the country's cites. US combat forces today are conducting partnered, full-spectrum operations outside Iraqi cities and also...
American Troops Leaving Iraq, Some Gear Staying -- [War, the military, COIN and stuff]
The American armed forces are due to end their combat mission in Iraq by August 31, 2010, with 50,000 or so troops slated to remain behind to continue training Iraqi forces and presumably offer assistance if the Baghdad government so requests. The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq calls for all American troops to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. That means that over the next ten months, some 70,000 American troops will be leaving Iraq without replacement, and they'll be taking most--but not all--of their gear with them. Michele Flournoy, the Obama administration's Under Secretary of Defense told Congress this week that while the Pentagon says that there are about 3.3 million American "pieces of equipment" in Iraq, and that "the majority of the equipment currently in Iraq will not be transferred to the Iraqis, but will remain with U.S. forces," a significant chunk of gear will stay behind to be used by the Iraqi Security Forces
Counting Backward -- [New York Times]
America's top diplomat in Iraq, Christopher Hill, and America's top commander there, Gen. Ray Odierno, have been wrangling for months over how much United States officials should get involved in Iraqi politics. Mr. Hill, it is said, wants to give the Iraqis more of a chance to find their own way. General Odierno - with his eye on the troop drawdown clock - has been arguing for a more hands-on approach. The stalemate over Iraq's election law should settle that debate once and for all. Iraq's political leaders need a strong shove ahead if there is to be any hope of withdrawing American troops on time and ensuring that the country they leave behind doesn't once again unravel.
Back to Iraq and Answering a Common Question -- [Outside the Wire]
I'm headed back to Iraq in a fews days. Yes, there is still is a war being wrapped up there.
I'll be back with my old friends in the 4th BDE of the 1st ID and the 1-28 Infantry.
I spent a lot of time with the 1-28, the Black Lions, during the surge in 2007. The Black Lions are unit featured in my documentary 'Baghdad Surge.'
I'll be doing two months on this trip then probably heading to Afghanistan
Two Helicopter Rides Today -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
This afternoon I flew on a short mission on Blackhawk helicopter. A film crew was in to shoot pictures for a documentary on the Ziggurat of Ur, just north of our Base. They had an open seat and, better yet, left the side doors of the Blackhawk open so we could see out and down much better. It was also cool to be able to stick my left foot out at 500 feet and hang it out the door opening. I will post pictures tomorrow. They are on a different computer, but I have some good shots of the Ziggurat. That flight was
Soupy Sales dies at 83 -- [LA Times]
Soupy Sales, a comic with a gift for slapstick who attained cult-like popularity in the 1960s with a pie-throwing routine that became his signature, has died. He was 83.
...World War II did not dampen his showbiz ambitions. He fought in the Pacific theater in the Navy and participated in the invasion of Okinawa but managed to entertain crew mates with routines broadcast on the ship's PA system.
After his discharge, Sales returned to West Virginia and enrolled in Marshall College as a journalism major, earning a bachelor's degree in 1949. He went to work for a radio station in Huntington as a scriptwriter. At night he did stand-up in nightclubs. Soon he became a disc jockey.
Mideast Gain Is Modest, Clinton Tells President -- [New York Times]
On Sept. 22, President Obama summoned the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to an urgent three-way meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York and declared, "It is past time to talk about starting negotiations; it is time to move forward." To that end, he asked both sides to send diplomats to Washington for intensive talks and directed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to report back to him in a month about where things stood. That deadline arrived Thursday, and Mrs. Clinton went to the White House with what several administration officials acknowledge was a meager report: a little progress has been made, they said, but in some respects the atmosphere for talks is actually worse now than it was a month ago.
Israel and Iran Hold First Talks in 30 Years -- [Daily Telegraph]
Israel and Iran have held their first significant meeting in 30 years but the exchanges between the two adversaries quickly descended into acrimony. Officials in Tel Aviv admitted on Thursday that representatives from the two states' nuclear agencies spoke to each other during a disarmament conference in Cairo last month. The surprise encounter, the first that either side has been prepared to admit since the fall of the Shah in 1979, seemed to cause deep embarrassment for both sides.
US-Israel War Games Start as Deadline for Iran to Approve Nuke Deal Draws Near -- [The Times]
The US and Israel launched a major joint military exercise yesterday as a deadline neared for Iran to approve a deal to delay its development of nuclear weapons and prevent Israel from attacking its nuclear facilities. More than 1,000 US troops and 17 US Navy ships joined Israeli forces for a week-long missile defence exercise as it emerged that until recent progress in nuclear talks Israel may have been much closer to ordering a military strike than had been thought. The deal to export much of Iran's uranium to Russia and process it for civilian use should push back Iran's acquisition of its first nuclear bomb by at least a year, analysts believe.
Japan: No Base Decision Soon -- [Washington Post]
The Japanese government said Thursday it would take its time in deciding whether to renege on a military realignment plan involving US bases, despite warnings from the Obama administration that any reversal would spark serious consequences. Officials in Tokyo appeared unfazed by pressure from the US government, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano telling reporters that Japan was unlikely to make its decision before Obama's visit to the country on Nov. 12 and 13. The process could stretch into early 2010, he said. "We can't accept what America is asking for in such a short period of time and say we'll do it just because it is an agreement between Japan and the United States," Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il 'Slaps Down' Son Kim Jong-Un -- [Daily Telegraph]
North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-il has halted a propaganda campaign to promote his youngest son as his successor after Kim Jong-Un began flexing his muscles prematurely, a leading South Korean researcher has claimed. Kim Jong-Un, 25, was named in reports as the ailing dictator's designated successor last June, but relations between father and son have since become strained,
Did Bush WH torture Gitmo prisoners with R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Sesame Street? Musicians demand records -- [Los Angeles Times]
Torturing detainees with waterboarding is one thing. But now a coalition of musicians is demanding the details of the Bush administration practice of ...
Another former Gitmo detainee killed in a shootout -- [LWJ - Thomas Joscelyn]
Former Guantanamo detainee Yousef Mohammed al Shihri was killed in an Oct. 13 shootout at a checkpoint along the Saudi-Yemeni border. He was reportedly dressed like a woman and planned to commit a suicide attack.
Teen Shares Deployment Experience -- [Family Matters Blog]
Yesterday, I wrote about military children and the profound admiration I have for their strength and resilience. In response, a Marine officer contacted me to share a letter his teenage daughter, Meagan, wrote shortly after he had returned from a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The letter describes how she and her family coped with the long separation. The major and his wife found the letter on the Internet last year. He wrote that the letter is something they "will always cherish," particularly because their daughter passed away in 2006. I was touched by this family's story and impressed by the maturity and wisdom Meagan displayed in her letter. Meagan's letter...
Ranger Tabs -- [Knottie's Niche - Gold Star Mother]
When Micheal was killed I was worried about Fagan. I knew it would hit him hard so I sent him an email. And he did respond but it was clear he was not comfortable talking to me. I reached out a few times but I tried not to push too hard. In February I had to go to Ft. Campbell for a Memorial Dedication and Fagan was assigned to be my driver. I had not met him yet because he came back a few weeks after the rest and wasn't at homecoming. I got a call from one of the other guys telling me Fagan had come back after being told he was to be my driver and asked those who had met me if he should do it or ask to opt out. They assured him it would be ok and I was " cool as hell" He doesn't know the others told me he was nervous about meeting me. And you know I don't blame him really. It takes a lot to face your best friend's grieving mom. When I got to the airport he got hugs and realized immediately I was not as scary as he thought. I think he thought I was going to be all teary and crying. Even harden combat vets have a hard time dealing with a crying woman.
From trauma care to rehab: VA doctors visit Landstuhl -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Dr. Steven Scott, chief of rehabilitation medicine at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Fla., has treated countless wounded warriors - some of them over a period of years.
Savannah school supplies "packing party" -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
"Packing party" for school supplies at Colonial Quilts in Savannah for Afghan children
From Liisa, SMSgt Temple's wife: I had a wonderful opportunity to get together with Rex's friend, SPC Christopher "Kit" Lowe, his parents Sandi and Donald and Life Freeman, the mother of fallen Marine hero Captain Matthew Freeman. Here is a link to a video story about our "packing party" that aired in Savannah yesterday.
American Airlines and the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation to Host Seventh Annual Sky Ball Fundraiser -- [Reuters]
American Airlines and the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation to Host Seventh
Annual Sky Ball Fundraiser
Yearly Event Supports North Texas Military Families in Need
Support comes in many forms, including financial aid for deployed families, departure and welcome-home receptions, support for welfare and relief projects ...
Stop lossed? It's pay day -- [FOB Tacoma]
Got stop-lossed and sent back to Iraq or Afghanistan? You've got some cash coming your way.
Well, it's probably a check. But either way, it can be exchanged for goods and services. A provision in the recently passed defense supplemental appropriations bill allows service members who were called back to duty $500 per month.
Defense Budget Raises Military Pay By 3.4 Percent; Allows Gitmo Detainees Into U.S. For Trial -- [AHN]
The Senate on Thursday passed the final version of the 2010 Defense budget, legislation that provides the military with a pay raise
Rethinking the Drone Wars -- [Harpers Magazine]
The predator attack on Mehsud was widely viewed as a major success for the Obama Administration's stepped-up campaign in Pakistan. Mehsud had been, as Mayer notes, public enemy number one for the struggling new Pakistani civilian government. His death was greeted as a triumph for its supporters.
Mayer's piece focuses on the legal debate about the use of predator drones in such circumstances and the high number of civilian casualties this has created. There are,
Brigade returns after year in Iraq -- [Watertown Daily Times]
"Welcome home Mikey!" read the banner, "Mommy loves you!" Taped under the elevated running track of the gymnasium at the post's Magrath Sports Complex,
Families welcome home the 388th -- [StandardNet]
The unit's primary mission was to maintain security and stability in the region by providing close air support for coalition ground troops.
Homecoming set for 158th ANG of Tallassee -- [WSFA]
The public is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony on Sunday and to line the highway route with flags or signs welcoming the troops home.
USS Reagan Returns -- [NBC San Diego]
Among those waiting to welcome home their sailors was a very excited Keri Winslow holding her toddler son. "It's been a lonnng deployment,"
Part 3. After War: Writing & Reading -- [The Kitchen Dispatch]
Building upon what Ernest Hemingway said about writing a war story, the first thing to learn is that it doesn't happen in a day. Writing is a craft and there are many forms. It might take a long time for you to get what you envisioned on the page. At times you will be mesmerized, enthralled and also hate the act of writing. This weekend at Blog World Expo, someone mentioned that John Burns of the NY Times had yet to write a book about his experience in Iraq. They weren't sure why the delay, but perhaps I can lend some clarity. A book by John Burns will be well anticipated. He'll not only get the big advance, he'll get the book tour, the Charlie Rose show, print and radio shows (if I'm lucky he'll appear here as well). As I wrote last week Friday, a non-fiction book that goes into print runs between 50,000 - 80,000 words. That's a lot. It's writing full time for as long as it takes. Sometimes it takes a matter of months, for others ...years
Where's Holbrooke? -- [Al Jazeera Blogs]
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke is Obama's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry has acted as the senior emissary of the US administration in the three most recent meetings with Hamid Karzai, pressing the President to accept the findings of the Election Complaints Commission.
For Kerry, a Growing Role on Foreign Policy Stage -- [Washington Post]
Five years after his painful loss to George W. Bush, ending a presidential campaign in which he was accused of being an Iraq war defeatist who was too willing to talk to America's adversaries, Sen. John F. Kerry has finally found his place in the foreign policy spotlight. Not only has President Obama advanced many of the Massachusetts Democrat's ideas but Vice President Biden's election vacated for Kerry the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the legislative branch's leading foreign policy pulpit. Kerry's role over the past week in resolving, at least temporarily, the political turmoil in Afghanistan brought him kudos from Obama, who thanked him publicly and called his successful efforts to persuade President Hamid Karzai to accept a runoff election "extraordinarily constructive." It was Kerry - pressed into action by the Obama administration while on an unrelated trip to Afghanistan - who stood by Karzai's side in Kabul on Wednesday when the announcement about the runoff was made. For the first time since 2004, Kerry's face appeared on front pages across the country.
Missile Defense High on Agenda as Biden Tours Central Europe -- [Voice of America]
As Vice President Joe Biden tours Central Europe this week, missile defense is high on the agenda. In Poland on Wednesday, Biden secured an agreement to host US antiballistic missiles after original plans for a defensive missile shield were scrapped. According to the White House, Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Poland Wednesday had nothing to do with placating America's disgruntled allies. But here in Warsaw, people were waiting for only one thing - an assurance that despite scrapping Bush-era plans for an antiballistic missile shield, the US had not turned its back on Central Europe. What Poland got instead is a new missile defense plan. "Standard Missile-3" interceptors will be placed on Polish soil, along with ...
Biden Asks Eastern Europe to Spread Democracy -- [New York Times]
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. used a visit to Romania on Thursday to hail Eastern Europe on all that has been accomplished in the 20 years since the Iron Curtain fell and to challenge the countries of the region to serve as models for other emerging democracies. In a speech at the restored Central University Library, where a raging fire set during Romania's 1989 revolution destroyed 500,000 books, Mr. Biden paid tribute to "freedom's young defenders" who were killed and called the liberation of the old Eastern bloc "one of the greatest achievements in modern history." "Twenty years ago, the world watched in awe and admiration as the men and women throughout this region broke the shackles of repression and emerged a free people,"
Congress passes bill to ease military voting snags -- [AP]
U.S. troops and other American voters overseas will get more time to send in their ballots and more electronic access to voting forms under legislation Congress passed Thursday.
he bill, called the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, aims to remove some of the hurdles that have caused thousands of overseas ballots to be lost or uncounted in past elections. The measure was attached to a $680 billion defense policy bill that the Senate approved Thursday on a 68-29 vote. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Lawmakers form sixty member caucus for military families -- [Examiner]
What can you expect from the newly formed Military Family Caucus? Employment for spouses and aid for families with special-needs children will be the first issues addressed by the caucus, which officially commences on Nov. 4.
Addressing employment for spouses, especially in economically depressed areas, will be an ongoing challenge. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Republican lawmaker from Washington state and spouse to a 26-year Navy veteran, co-chairs the caucus and will surely provide it with invaluable insight born of experience.
Ask AP: Depleted ozone, military VIPs in Congress -- [AP]
Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., served in the Navy for 31 years and rose to the rank of three-star admiral. He is the only three-star officer to be elected to the House, according to the Office of the House Historian.
It's unclear how many military officers with at least one star have served in the House. There does not seem to be an authoritative log, and the Office of the House Historian does not have a comprehensive list. Those elected to the House with at least one star include the late Rep. Sonny Montgomery, D-Miss., who was a two-star officer. Andrew Jackson, also a two-star officer, served in both chambers of Congress.
At least 91 senators, including Jackson, have had at least one star, according to the Senate Historical Office. Sens. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., and Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., were among those who were two-star officers.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Training the Afghan Security Forces
NATO launched a new organization that brings together all the different groups involved in training the Afghan security forces.
Drinking Tea with the Sergeant Major -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Today I had my first sit down meeting with my ANA Command Sergeant Major...
The CSM has been in the army for 36 years and 5 of that have been with the reformed ANA army. He graduated from high school and received a bachelor's degree in Logistics from the Soviet Union...
Dealing with the ANA -- [Embedded in Afghanistan...- in Afghanistan]
During my last tour to Afghanistan as an embedded trainer with the Afghan National Army (ANA), I conducted training sessions on the M-16 rifle as part of the ANA's transition from the AK-47 to the M-16. The ANA soldiers had a habit of showing up late for my training sessions. I had tried encouragement, suggestion, and profuse compliments when they were on time as ways to try to get them to show up on time and be more professional, but I had not gotten the results I had hoped for.
Since my efforts to improve the ANA by gently nudging them along were not working to my satisfaction, I decided to try a different approach...
Turks, Frabbits And Azerbaijanis -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
Recently Captain Scaribay and I trained three Turkish OMLT's (Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams) at the Turkish Camp Dogan. We had been told that all the Turks could speak and read English, so we sauntered on over to teach a nationality that we had never worked with totally unconcerned with the challenges of language.
Runoff election announced -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
There was a lot of smog blanketing the city this morning as a result of citizens burning firewood to heat their homes. The mercury has dropped down to the 40's in the morning and late at night. Soon winter will be upon us.
I didn't have to wait long before hearing the metallic thumping of rotors in the distance...
Double Header -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
Yesterday was a full day out and about in Mazar e Sharif. We visited both of the clinics we work with in the area. All told we spent about 3 hours travelling and 3 hours talking. As has become my rule, I did not exercise after wearing the Body Armor for 6 hours yesterday...
Held by the Taliban -- [David Rohde/The New York Times]
In the fall of 2008, David Rohde traveled to Afghanistan to do some reporting for a book about the region. He and two Afghan colleagues were kidnapped by the Taliban and held for seven months.
Video: 33rd IBCT End of Mission Video for TF Phoenix VIII and Fallen Warriors TF Phoenix VIII/33rd IBCT Final Salute -- [CSMBones/Miserable Donuts]
Tell me what you think.
DoD Announces Units For Afghanistan Rotations And Deployment -- [Bouhammer]
The Department of Defense announced today major units scheduled to deploy as part of upcoming rotations of forces operating in Afghanistan. The announcement involves two active duty brigade combat teams totaling 7,700 personnel, and one National Guard brigade with approximately 3,500 personnel. The scheduled rotation for these forces will begin in the spring of 2010.
Specific units receiving deployment orders include...
The wicked game (part two) -- [Greyhawk]
It's admirable that President Obama, a product of the Chicago political machine, can't tolerate dealing with foreign governments tainted by corruption - as Karzai's government most assuredly is. Perhaps in Afghanistan he intends to establish the first government in world history to be free of accusations of criminal activity, greed or abuses of power. Or perhaps reality is close to that described last week, here...
Gates to Press Asia, NATO for More Afghanistan Support -- [Donna Miles/American Forces Press Service]
As Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates travels this week to Japan and South Korea before heading to a NATO defense ministers conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, he's expected to ensure the issue of support for Afghanistan remains solidly on front burner.
In a break from the frequent national defense team sessions President Barack Obama has called in recent weeks as he reevaluates the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Gates will be on the road this week, shoring up long-standing alliances.
But senior defense officials traveling with him confirm that he'll also press for more coalition support at every stop along the way.
Korea Donates Ambulances and Motorcycles to Afghan National Police
U.S. deeply split on troop increase for Afghan war -- [Washington Post]
LESS SUPPORT FOR OBAMA
Majority says nation lacks clear strategy
As President Obama and his war cabinet deliberate a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, Americans are evenly and deeply divided over whether he should send 40,000 more troops there, and public approval of the president's handling of the situation has tumbled, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has recommended the substantial increase in troop strength, and 47 percent of those polled favor the buildup, while 49 percent oppose it. Most on both sides hold their views "strongly."
Shovel Work -- [Jules Crittenden]
Conducting excavations on a Washington Post poll story, "Americans deeply split on troop increase." These are sometimes promising sites, but you have to dig deep. Let's have a look down the hole, see what we can see...
It turns out, while Obama's been dawdling, approval of his handling of Afghanistan plummeted.
Stanley McChrystal's Long War -- [Dexter Filkins / New York Times Magazine]
Success takes time, but how much time does Stanley McChrystal have? The war in Afghanistan is now in its ninth year. The Taliban, measured by the number of their attacks, are stronger than at any time since the Americans toppled their government at the end of 2001. American soldiers and Marines are dying at a faster rate than ever before. Polls in the United States show that opposition to the war is growing steadily.
Is There a Middle Way? -- [Stephen Biddle/The New Republic]
It is easy to see why such middle ways are so popular. They could lighten the burden on the federal deficit. They could put fewer Americans in harm's way. They would seem to better fit the U.S. interests at stake, which are real but limited and indirect. They appeal to the centrism of many American voters. The problem is that they probably won't work.
Afghanistan 2011: Three Scenarios -- [Andrew Exum/Center for a New American Security]
The David Fastabend question -- "How does this end?" -- has been one I have been asking myself in light of the current policy debates on Afghanistan. Accordingly, I sketched out three scenarios -- most dangerous, most likely, most desired -- and tried to imagine how U.S. policy decisions might bring each about...
Pakistan says offensive is gaining ground -- [Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan/Washington Post]
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Pakistani soldiers surrounded militant hideouts and seized heavy weapons in the Taliban-riddled hills of South Waziristan on Monday, military officials said.
On the third day of a major ground and air offensive to root out Islamist insurgents, officials said, the army faced pockets of stiff resistance that included rocket fire. But they said they were making progress, killing 18 fighters in a tribal region that Pakistan says is home to plotters of a recent series of deadly domestic assaults. The United States considers South Waziristan a haven for militants attacking international forces in Afghanistan and planning attacks overseas.
Pakistan Targets Mehsud Hometown -- [Wall Street Journal]
Pakistani forces closed in on the hometown of the Pakistan Taliban's leader Monday, pursuing an offensive into the South Waziristan tribal region while swarms of refugees streamed out of the area.
The long-awaited invasion is aimed at dismantling a Taliban mini-state in a region that has become a base for al Qaeda and a magnet for jihadis. U.S. officials have said they are providing surveillance and intelligence feeds to support the effort.
The Waziristan offensive against the Pakistan Taliban, which began over the weekend, has eased a controversy between Islamabad and Washington over a $7.5 billion U.S. aid package.
Taliban retake town from Pakistani Army in South Waziristan -- [Bill Roggio]
The Taliban have stalled the Pakistani Army's advance on one of its three major fronts in South Waziristan and retaken a town captured by the Army just yesterday.
Taliban fighters forced the Army from the town of Kotkai just one day after the military said it was secured. The Taliban claimed the Army took heavy casualties as it was ejected from Kotkai...
Kotkai is the home town of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Qari Hussain Mehsud, Hakeemullah's senior lieutenant and trainer of suicide bombers.
US airstrike targets al Qaeda in North Waziristan -- [Bill Roggio/Long War Journal]
US aircraft have struck at al Qaeda in Pakistan's lawless, Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
Unmanned aircraft, likely Predators or Reapers, operated by the US targeted a compound run by al Qaeda operatives in the village of Spalaga in the Mir Ali region. Pakistani intelligence officials put the number killed at three. No senior Taliban, al Qaeda, or allied terror group leaders have been reported killed.
Pakistan Continues Waziristan Offensive, Closes Schools -- [Voice of America]
Pakistani helicopter gunships attacked Taliban strongholds near the Afghan border Wednesday on the fifth day of an offensive in the tribal region of South Waziristan...
In the rest of the country, authorities closed many schools a day after two suicide bombers attacked the International Islamic University in Islamabad, killing four people at a faculty building and a women's cafeteria.
More on Mike and his Marines -- [Castra Praetoria - in Iraq]
Janna, a wife of a 3/3 Marine, gave me this heads up.
NEW DELHI (AP) -- Indian authorities forced a U.S. plane carrying Marines to land in Mumbai today after confusion about its call sign.
A U.S. Embassy official said the plane was later allowed to resume its journey. He said the Bangkok-bound flight was diverted while in Indian airspace.
Home -- [Castra Praetoria - in Iraq]
According to a news station in Hawaii, America's Battalion touched down in Oahu at about 1130 this morning.
Here's the link.
Looks like they are home.
Exiting Iraq ends mission veiled in ambivalence -- [Hamza Hendawi/Associated Press]
Since January, AP correspondent Hamza Hendawi has embedded at regular intervals with a U.S. infantry company in Baghdad to gauge how the military mission in Iraq is changing. Here, Hendawi accompanies the unit on its journey back to the United States.
Violence threatens Barack Obama's pledge to pull troops out of Iraq -- [Times Online]
President Obama's pledge to withdraw US troops from Iraq and end combat operations there by September 2010 is under threat because of increased levels of violence and bickering within the Iraqi parliament, the top US general in the country has told The Times.
General Ray Odierno said that militant groups were likely to conduct a bloody campaign in the months ahead, as Iraqis prepare for national elections at the beginning of next year.
Election law stalls in Iraqi parliament -- [Washington Post]
The Iraqi parliament failed for a second time Monday to vote on an election law crucial for organizing elections in January that will choose a new parliament and serve as a milestone in American plans to withdraw combat troops from the country.
Army Cancels Brigade's Iraq Deployment -- [Defense News]
An Army brigade slated to deploy to Iraq in January was relieved of its deployment orders this weekend without current plans for a new mission, Pentagon and Army officials said here today.
The 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team was off-ramped by Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, because of the improved security situation there, and not to bolster forces in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
As Iraqi election worries mount, State and DoD dispute U.S. role -- [Josh Rogin/The Cable (Foreign Policy)]
Much ado was made last month about the reported rift between U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill and the top U.S. military commander in Baghdad Gen. Ray Odierno, a rift that Hill strenuously denied.
But a real policy dispute lies at the heart of the story, senior diplomatic and military sources in Baghdad tell The Cable. Increasingly, the two men are said to differ over the proper American role in Baghdad, specifically with regard to how heavy a hand the U.S. should apply in trying to influence the decisions of the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki...
"Odierno continues to believe that the Sunni community depends on the U.S. to defend them against the Maliki government," said one Washington Iraq expert. "State doesn't believe that the U.S. military should play a significant role in any of that."
Obama: US Combat Troops Out of Iraq By Next August -- [Voice of America]
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States still plans to remove all its combat troops from Iraq by next August.
Obama, Maliki Move Beyond Security Issues -- [Defense News]
The importance of holding the Iraqi elections on time in January and furthering Iraqi-U.S. economic ties were at the center of discussions between President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House today.
In a demonstration of how far the mission in Iraq has come, the first minutes of the leaders' media availability after their meeting concerned Afghanistan - something that would have been inconceivable two years ago.
Now taking requests... -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
For the past 10 months and change, this blog was a lot like the old TV series "Outer Limits" -- we (the Soldiers of the 314th PAOC) have controlled the vertical and horizontal, etc. Well, that has all changed -- at least for the next few days.
Until Friday, our faithful blog readers are going to be in control. You tell us what you want to see (I've got my point-and-shoot camera ready to snap) or what you want to read (got the pen and paper ready, too).
Send your requests to this blog entry as a comment, and we will do our best as long as it does not violate the four forbidden government topics -- security (can't violate national security concerns), accuracy (has to be truthful), propriety (can't be inappropriate), and policy (can't go against government rules).
This might be your last chance, so go on....make your request!
Gates says US won't accept nuclear North Korea -- [Associated Press/Stars and Stripes]
Top American defense officials maintained a tough stand Wednesday against North Korea, calling its threat more lethal than ever even as an envoy from the communist regime was headed to the United States to discuss nuclear programs.
Gates, Willard Seek More Engagement With China -- [Defense News]
It's in the United States' long-term interest to engage more closely with China, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today, and his new top officer in the Pacific said he's looking forward to the role he hopes to play in the dialogue.
Taiwan Says China's Military Buildup Undermines New Ties -- [Wall Street Journal]
China is capable of deterring foreign militaries from assisting Taiwan if the two sides were to go to war, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said in a report that highlights the continued buildup of Beijing's military toward the island despite rapidly improving political and commercial ties.
Biden sent to soothe Europe on Russia overtures -- [Washington Times]
WARSAW | Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived here Tuesday on the first leg of a delicate diplomatic repair mission that follows the Obama administration's abrupt reversal on missile defense, a decision that rekindled deep-seated unease in a region where the U.S. is seen as the only reliable counterweight to a potentially menacing Russian neighbor.
By visiting with top Polish, Czech and Romanian officials this week, the vice president is hoping to reassure the three NATO allies that the United States remains deeply committed to their security.
U.S. Missile Shield Won't Expand to Non-NATO Countries, Official Says -- [Wall Street Journal]
The United States does not intend to put any part of its revised missile shield in non-NATO countries, a senior defense official said in Georgia Tuesday, in an apparent attempt to calm Russian nerves.
Amid its so-called resetting of relations with Russia, Washington said in September it was scrapping a Bush administration plan to build a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow, which had protested that plan as a potential threat to its nuclear arsenal, rejoiced at the decision.
But later reports that the U.S. was considering placing early warning radar systems in Ukraine provoked an angry reaction from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
US to give Mali equipment for military forces -- [AP]
BAMAKO, Mali -- The United States is providing security forces in the West African nation of Mali with more than $5 million in new vehicles and other equipment.
Attackers Kill 6 at Islamic University in Pakistan, Mystifying Students -- [Salman Masood]
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The International Islamic University here, one of the country's premier schools, prides itself as a unique center of learning that combines "the essentials of the Islamic faith with the best of modern knowledge," as its Web site says.
So on Tuesday afternoon, when two suicide attackers struck this conservative gender-segregated campus simultaneously, killing six people, many of the students and residents of Islamabad were perplexed.
Iran makes arrests over bombing, Pakistan vows help -- [Washington Post]
Iran has made arrests in connection with Sunday's suicide bombing that killed dozens of people near the border with Pakistan, it said on Wednesday.
Pakistan said it would help its neighbor hunt down the culprits. Iran, a mainly Shi'ite Muslim country, says the Sunni rebel group which claimed responsibility for the suicide attack operates out of Pakistan.
Justices to Decide on U.S. Release of Detainees -- [Adam Liptak/New York Times]
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether federal courts have the power to order prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay to be released into the United States.
The court's decision to hear the case adds a further complication to the Obama administration's efforts to close the prison at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. A measure in Congress that would allow detainees to be admitted to the United States just to face trial had to overcome strong resistance before winning final passage on Tuesday. The administration has met with only fitful success in persuading foreign allies to accept prisoners cleared for release.
One step closer to bringing Gitmo circus to U.S. soil -- [Michelle Malkin]
Attorney General Eric Holder's old pals at Gitmo detainee-repping Covington & Burlington give this latest news two thumbs up. Way up...
Update on COP Keating Battle and Relief Fund -- [The Burn Pit - American Legion Blog]
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 21, 2009) -- In less than a week, an American Legion blog site raised more than $50,000, which Target matched with an additional $50,000 contribution, to help U.S. soldiers who were forced to destroy their camp and all of their possessions during a deadly Oct. 3 enemy attack in Afghanistan. In addition, Connecticut-based Computer Sciences Corporation has donated 56 laptop computers to the relief effort to replace those that were destroyed.
Savannah school supplies "packing party" -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
From Liisa, SMSgt Temple's wife: I had a wonderful opportunity to get together with Rex's friend, SPC Christopher "Kit" Lowe, his parents Sandi and Donald and Life Freeman, the mother of fallen Marine hero Captain Matthew Freeman. Here is a link to a video story about our "packing party" that aired in Savannah yesterday.
An amazing end to an amazing week - [Chuck Z]
After the show, we went up to meet Matt and thank him for the invitation. I shook his hand and I gave him my Soldier'sAngels Valour-IT coin that I've carried everywhere. In a side conversation, Toby explained how much that coin meant to me. Then Matt Goss did someting absolutely touching and deeply appreciated...
Sy Hersh: Military 'In War Against The White House' -- [Susie Madrak/Crooks and Liars]
So many of the saner people were driven out of the military during the Bush administration, it doesn't surprise me that the people left include a lot of the right-wing, racist fringe elements. Still, it's shocking to hear this...
Postal Service announces deadlines for Christmas mailing to military overseas -- [Greeley Tribune]
DENVER -- The US Postal Service has announced recommended mailing dates for delivery by Christmas to military troops serving overseas at APO/FPO addresses.
Military trains in Oklahoma for terrorist attack -- [Chicago Tribune]
About 500 military personnel are in eastern Oklahoma to train for their response to a terrorist attack. The service members gathered Tuesday at the Oklahoma National Guard's Camp Gruber Training Center near Braggs for the two-day exercise. They are simulating an attack on an international health summit.
US, East African Nations Begin Major Military Exercise -- [Voice of America]
More than 1,200 military personnel from the United States, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda are involved in the 10-day exercise that began Friday.
According to a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, Dan La Pierre, the exercise, dubbed "Natural Fire 10," is focused on training that will enhance capabilities needed for humanitarian and civic assistance, disaster relief, and regional security.
Three times each week, Wounded Warriors are welcomed home at Andrews AFB after medevac flight from Germany -- [MaryAnn/Soldiers' Angels Germany]
An informative and heartwarming story about the arrival of our Wounded Warriors at Andrews AFB after medevac from Germany. It will make you proud of each and every member of this team.
Generations of Valor -- [Anne Morse/NRO]
Mike Rudzinski, is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the son of a Vietnam vet, and the father of Chris Rudzinski, who served in the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq. His son's time in the sand "was much more perilous than mine," Rudzinski wrote. When asked why so many sons of Vietnam veterans saw their sons volunteer for service in Iraq, Rudzinski replied "I believe Chris joined because he loved his country and he loved his family and he wanted to do something for both. I'd like to think that my dad and I were an inspiration to Chris: after all, my dad was the inspiration for me to join.."
Fort Stewart soldier killed in Afghanistan -- [Savannah Morning News]
The Department of Defense announced Sunday the death of a Fort Stewart soldier killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sgt. Christopher M. Rudzinski, 28, of Rantoul, Ill., died Oct. 16 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
He was assigned to 293rd Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), Fort Stewart.
Chris was a fine man, whom I'd wish I'd known -- [Chuck Z]
Matt Burden (Blackfive) was feeling all kinds of happy in Las Vegas until he received a text from his friend, Mike. The news was not good.
Godspeed, Sergeant Chris Rudzinski -- [Blackfive]
I was sitting in McCarran airport in Las Vegas looking forward to coming home when I received word that Chris Rudzinski, on his fourth tour, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.
Chris's father Mike has been with us at Blackfive since 2003 and comments on blogs as "Annoying Mike". Mike is a Colonel and the son of a viet nam vet, and Mike has another son in the military.
my heart in 1000 pieces -- [Mike Rudzinski]
I don't have the details yet on Chris' death. I was told it was an IED. Chris is my oldest son, 28 years old and a father for his little boy Ryan and husband to Caroline, his wife. I have attached a picture of Chris and Ryan, who turned one year old last month while his daddy was in Afghanistan. The picture was taken on the day of his departure.
through the clouds...... -- [Mike Rudzinski]
I hope you don't mind me writing you and updating you on Chris' return home. I'm not sure I can cry any more tears and remain strong for my family too without talking with somebody. My head is in a spin and my heart aches as we start the process of bringing Chris home. Today Natalie, Caroline, Ryan and I were flown to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified transfer ceremony. It is the ceremony where our men and women in uniform take heroes and render honors as they return to American soil. I've had to do some difficult tasks in my life and Army career, but I have to say that standing there in the rain and cold and watching our military men and women take loving care of my son, like they have with the thousands who have preceded him was about too much to bear. It was too much for Caroline, she collapsed at seeing her beloved husband and Ryan's daddy, in a flag draped transfer case, being unloaded from the plane and put into the van which has taken Chris to the mortuary unit to prepare him for his trip home...
But I thought you should also know about the other heroes we ran into today, because they made my heart swell with love and pride, even as it was breaking.
Tapper to Gibbs: Who are you to decide what constitutes a news organization? -- [Hot Air]
Sheer comedy gold from one of the most honest White House correspondents in the business. Jake Tapper used his time in the Briefing Room to challenge Robert Gibbs on the Obama administration's attempts to brand Fox News as something other than a news organization. Gibbs sputters but never answers Tapper's essential question...
Attack on Fox News right out of Alinsky playbook -- [Donald Sensing]
FoxNews Channel is not the real target, and the rest of the media need to wake up to the crosshairs on them, too.
Seymour Hersh: military hates Obama because they're racists and he's black -- [Greyhawk]
The army is also "in a war against the White House -- and they feel they have [President] Obama boxed in," Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh told several hundred people in Duke University's Page Auditorium on Tuesday night. "They think he's weak and the wrong color. Yes, there's racism in the Pentagon. We may not like to think that, but it's true and we all know it."
Hersh is so far off the mark here it would be astounding - if this were anyone other than Seymour Hersh.
As the Commander in Chief Deliberates, Frustration Builds Within the Ranks -- [Elisabeth Bumiller/New York Times]
But now, after nearly a month of deliberations by Mr. Obama over whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan, frustrations and anxiety are on the rise within the military.
U.S. decision can't wait for Afghan legitimacy: Gates -- [Reuters]
The United States cannot wait for problems surrounding the legitimacy of the Afghan government to be resolved before making a decision on troops, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said.
Obama urges GOP to 'get a mop' and clean up Bush administration mess -- [The Hill]
Obama, speaking to donors to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said he didn't have sympathy for those "sitting on the sidelines and rooting for failure."
He then embraced a new campaign by the DNC that invites Republicans to "grab a mop" and help clean up what Democrats say is a mess created by the Bush administration.
"I don't mind cleaning up the mess that some other folks made, that's what I signed up to do," Obama said. "But while I'm there mopping the floor I don't want someone saying 'You're not mopping fast enough or you're not holding the mop the right way.' Grab a mop! Why don't you help clean up?"
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Decision on Afghan Troops May Wait -- [NY Times]
The White House signaled Sunday that President Obama would postpone any decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until the disputed election there had been settled and resulted in a government that could work with the United States.
White House Seeks to Explain its Hesitations on Afghanistan -- [The Times]
The White House has issued its strongest warning yet that President Karzai cannot count on continued US support if he fails to accept that Afghanistan's fraudulent election has critically undermined his authority. President Obama was said yesterday to be more concerned at "whether there's an Afghan partner" worth defending than with the politically fraught question of how many more troops to send, according to Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's chief of staff and a central figure in White House deliberations on Afghanistan. His rare public remarks were echoed by comments from Senator John Kerry, who has flown to Kabul to join efforts to persuade Mr Karzai to either accept a second round of voting or enter a power-sharing deal with his opponent, Dr Abdullah Abdullah. The Karzai campaign has said it will not negotiate unless the incumbent is declared the outright winner of the August election.
The Ten-Percent Solution -- [Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
If generals rise and fall by how they handle the "irrational tenth" of tactics, then the strategic test of statesmen is surely their capacity to stumble to success amidst even greater uncertainty. And, with respect to Afghanistan, greater uncertainty is all we have at the moment, despite a strategic pause that has allowed American and European bloviators to take their best shots at the issue for more than a month. Vast chunks of media real estate have been devoted to Af-Pak policy, but ...
Get Nasty or Go Home -- [Foreign Policy]
The go-light strategy in Afghanistan is a joke. If Obama's serious about victory, it's time to start making unpleasant choices.
An Intermediate Option -- [Washington Times]
Many ideas for "intermediate options" for Afghanistan are gaining momentum in the Washington debate. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's request for tens of thousands of additional NATO (meaning US) troops stands at one extreme, and a return to the minimalist counterterrorism strategy associated with former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld stands at the other. Those uncomfortable with both are proposing alternatives. The motivations for such intermediate options are understandable. But in fact, most of the ideas are already inherent in the new concepts that Gen. McChrystal, supported by US Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, have brought to the mission since their arrival in the spring. They are not alternatives to current strategy; they are elements of it. One intermediate option is...
Diplomats Urge Karzai to Accept Election Results -- [Voice of America]
Global pressure continues to mount Sunday on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to accept a possible runoff in Afghanistan's disputed election. Senior foreign officials have urged Mr. Karzai to accept the findings of a fraud investigation by a UN-backed panel that could decide whether the nation's disputed election goes to a runoff. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, US Senator John Kerry and former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met with Mr. Karzai in Kabul Saturday ahead of the long-delayed announcement by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). Senator Kerry said, in an interview with CNN, it would be irresponsible for the United States to send more troops to Afghanistan when the outcome of the Afghan election is not clear.
Tour of ANA land and elections runoff update -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...Election runoff update: According to today's local paper, the number of votes cast for President Karzai has slipped to 47%. Because the presidential share of vote has come under the constitutionally mandated 50%, a runoff election will occur. Note: This outcome was based on analyzing about 10 percent of the cast ballots. I've read about unofficial reports alleging 30 percent of the votes cast for Karzai were fraudulent. In fact, I recently learned about a tactic employed by Karzai supporters that was not mentioned by the media. Karzai supporters took advantage of illiterate people. These voters intended to cast a vote for rival challenger Abdullah Abdullah. However, they were informed they would have to travel to the city of Kabul to fill out other paperwork. Furthermore, that this voting station was only for Karzai voters. Since Afghans really value the right to vote, citizens voted for Karzai because they didn't have the money to visit the city. But the truth is all of the candidates and pictures of them are on the presidential ballot. In addition...
The Runoff -- [The Canada-Afghanistan Blog]
It looks like Afghanistan is heading for a runoff election between Karzai and Abdullah. This is a good thing, I think. A runoff will mean we have to wait longer to know who the President will be, it will be expensive, it will take up a lot of ISAF and ASF capacity, and it is not guaranteed to be any freer of fraud. I'm on the side of those who argue that the Afghan government must have a legitimate mandate from the people of the country in order to rule effectively--and in order to make it absolutely clear that this is a struggle between democracy and theocracy, and not simply a battle of warlords as the cynics see it.
Start and Stop -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P - in Afghanistan]
We have here a conundrum: sorting out the clear and fair winner of an election, according to the law, is of course the proper thing to do. However, we also need to recognize the practical consequences and understand what is probably going to happen in the interim. In my view, the runoff is going to put the brakes temporarily on strategic progress. The loss of time and momentum will, we hope, be worth the tradeoff if the process and the result is seen as putting a lid on an open question. In another country, the stability of institutions would be enough to carry the people through the period of uncertainty; here, it don't work that way. Not yet. Also...
Introduction to ANA colonel -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
This morning after our daily ETT meeting, we met with our interpreters and walked about ½ mile to ANA land. The plan was to meet the ANA colonel and then be introduced to his staff of officers. Before we had a chance to meet and greet, the colonel whisked away our team leader to attend a Brigade staff meeting. The rest of the ETT team...
On Mentoring -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
Todays discussion is on and about mentoring.
You can make recommendations or suggestions, but these work best if you bring them into a conversation and ultimately make them seem like your mentees idea. You have to allow them to come up with their own ideas and occasionally, although not catastrophically fail. That is the biggest hurdle I have seen here. It is difficult for us as Americans to allow anything to fail at any level. There are many 'mentors' here who simply will not allow their mentees to fail at all. I still remember in training at Ft Riley they stressed time and again that even a mediocre Afghan plan is still better than the best American plan.
Pay to Play -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
As the cool weather finally moves into Afghanistan I have to tell you that from my perspective not much is happening. I am not talking about security incidents - they almost doubled last week from a near all time high the week before. There is lots of villianary going on - the weather is perfect for it - but nothing seems to be really changing. One gets the impression that the players from all sides want to maintain the current status quo because all the sides are benefiting.
Hero -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
Recently, an email came in from an officer who quoted an ANP chief in a district in which I did some work as a mentor. The ANP chief said that he was looking forward to winter so that the leaves on the trees could no longer the Taliban and he could kill them all. Fair's fair, after all. They've repeatedly tried to kill him.
The Case for Humility in Afghanistan -- [Foreign Policy/ Af-Pak Channel]
A Taliban victory would have devastating consequences for U.S. interests. But to avoid disaster, America must beware the Soviet Union's mistakes -- and learn from its own three decades of failure in South Asia.
The Pull of The Taliban -- [Bouhammer]
I've been one of the select few who have stood in the rubble at Ground Zero amid the aftermath of 9/11 and stood and fought in Taliban controlled territory in southeastern Afghanistan. Having been in these positions I've been able to deeply reflect on these situations. Shortly after 9/11, our country had the support from most of the world as we went into Afghanistan and did what we had to do. Upon doing so we made a lot of promises to the Afghan people, however as you all know, our country's military focus soon shifted to Iraq. The Afghan people are the most patient group of people I have ever met.
Road project connecting villages in Nuristan Province -- [ISAF]
19 Oct. - NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team attended the ground breaking ceremony of a fourteen mile (24 km) road connecting the villages of Gondalabuk and Doab in the Nurgram district,...
Hash -- [Embedded in Afghanistan...- in Afghanistan]
Drug cultivation was not something we really dealt with in Kunar. When it comes to illegal trade funding illegal activity, Kunar is more known for the timber trade...you might say the situation with the opium in the south is analogous to the timber in the northeast mountainous provinces. Undoubtedly, some opium is cultivated in the mountainous regions, but it wasn't something we really saw or dealt with.
What we did deal with regularly was hashish smoking among the ANA.
"Life in Pain" - A story from the medical front line in Afghanistan -- [A World of Troubles - in Afghanistan]
"Attention on the FOB, Attention on the FOB, Shamrock Red, Shamrock Red," a voice calls over the loudspeakers on Forward Operating Base Salerno. "Shamrock Red" means one patient is inbound for the hospital any minute now. It commands medical personnel to return to their stations immediately. The trauma bay is a broad corridor lined with medical supply lockers, computers and X-Ray equipment. Four examination tables are lined up diagonally in the corridor, each one with different color markings on the floor, corresponding to the call signs.
Morality ends.... -- [There's sand in my... - in Afghanistan]
When does morality end and reality start? That was a big discussion between some of the newbies and us. I am of the firm stance that the "detainees" are pieces of you know what and they should be treated that way. Of course that got the attention of a lot of the people around me and I was immediately blasted by them stating that deep down inside they are people also. Obviously they have not seen the carnage that we have been exposed to thus far caused directly by the "detainees who are people deep down inside", we'll see how their attitude is about halfway through their deployment. I've been in many cases where a coalition fighter has passed due to the piece of crap that is sitting in the trauma bay awaiting treatment. Don't get me wrong, I will do everything humanely possible to save a life and have done so, no matter who's it is,...
A great meal... -- [3rd Time, New Country - in Afghanistan]
Another week in Kabul has been completed. It has been a typical week, but only out on the road once since I last posted and that was too NDS. We did roll through where the last SVBIED tried to take out the Indian Embassy. It never ceases to amaze me as to the amount of destruction explosives packed into an SUV can do. . .
One of the big accomplishments this week was...
Questions About Al Qaeda's Next Move -- [Los Angeles Times]
The plot for the Sept. 11 attacks was set in motion in late 1999 from a cluster of Al Qaeda training camps near Kandahar. In those dusty Afghan compounds, Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants signed off on the plan, set up a special training program, and selected lead members of the hijack team. Ten years later, could Al Qaeda return to Afghanistan and use it again as a launching pad for terrorist strikes? The question has taken on heightened urgency as the Obama administration searches for a new war strategy, and Pakistan carries out its first major military offensive in the tribal region that Al Qaeda has called home since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The issue is also a source of surprising disagreement within the counter-terrorism community. Some are skeptical that Al Qaeda would return to Afghanistan, even in the event of a substantial US military drawdown. Doing so would mean...
Pakistan Troops Battle Militants in South Waziristan -- [Voice of America]
Pakistani forces exchanged heavy fire on Sunday with militants defending their heartland in the mountains of the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani troops, backed by fighter jets, continue to advance into the main sanctuary of militants, on the second day of a full-scale ground offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents. Officials say 60 militants and five Pakistani soldiers have been killed in the first 24 hours of the operation.
Pakistan Claims Gain In Offensive On Taliban -- [Wall Street Journal]
Pakistan soldiers moved to try to encircle Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the South Waziristan mountains near the Afghan border, in a high-stakes offensive aimed at crushing the insurgency in its toughest stronghold. Military reports Sunday indicated soldiers, whose offensive began before dawn Saturday, were making advances amid stout resistance. Some 30,000 Pakistani soldiers were moving into the area from three directions to face as many as 10,000 Pakistani and foreign militants, many of them veterans of battles in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were said to be fleeing South Waziristan to neighboring areas.
Taliban Resists Major Assault by Pakistan -- [The Australian]
Pakistani troops pounded Taliban forces for a second day yesterday in the lawless South Waziristan tribal area as reports emerged that as many as 12,000 local and foreign militants were fiercely resisting the long-awaited ground offensive. As many as 28,000 soldiers have flooded the South Waziristan tribal agency in recent days, sealing off the Taliban stronghold in the central west of the Mehsud clan-dominated region, away from the Afghanistan border, and seizing several Taliban bases. Officials said yesterday the military had established checkpoints on all fronts to prevent militants spilling over the porous Pakistan-Afghan border or north into the bordering North Waziristan agency, dominated by the Wazir tribe. "The operation will continue until the objectives are achieved. The army has blocked all entry and exit points of Waziristan," Major General Athar Abbas said. The military operation in South Waziristan follows repeated requests from the US to eliminate Taliban and al-Qa'ida safe havens within Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas that now serve as the launching pad for attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan and terrorist plots against the West.
Air Force career field in need: Service taking steps to address shortage, but it will take time -- [Stars&Stripes]
An Air Force joint terminal attack controllers, working for an Army Special Forces team, helps conduct Operation Ice Axe in Nuristan province, Afghanistan. He helped coordinate the distribution of supplies from Afghan soldiers to villagers. GRAFENWÖHR, Germany -- The Air Force is facing a critical shortage of joint terminal attack controllers, a position vital to reducing the number of civilians killed in airstrikes in Afghanistan -- one of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's keys to turning around the war there.
Awakening Leader's Tale Illustrates Iraq's Volatility -- [Los Angeles Times]
The Sunni Muslim paramilitary leader's campaign slogan holds the promise of imminent rescue: "Hold on, we are coming." But the aspiring parliamentary candidate, Mustafa Kamal Shibeeb, may not be in a position to deliver on his slogan: He's a fugitive, with murder charges hanging over his head from events at the height of the US troop buildup two years ago. Already, police commandos have tried to grab him twice, only to be blocked by an Iraqi army unit, with tacit support from US forces. Shibeeb's story reveals the volatility of today's Iraq, where Sunni-Shiite tensions are just one of the conflicts at play. His vulnerability illustrates how the Iraqi government and security forces remain subject to competing political and tribal pressures, and score-settling, that risk igniting new violence. If Shibeeb is jailed, it could...
Seeking consensus in Iraq's divided North -- [Stars & Stripes]
Capt. Michael Schmidt stepped on a cultural land mine during a recent meeting with Iraqi military commanders aimed at easing ethnic tensions in Iraq's disputed north.
"The No. 1 threat is the Sunni insurgency," Schmidt said in response to an Iraqi commander's question about the most pressing security concern for northern Diyala province.
"When you say the Sunni insurgency, you are associating all Sunnis," sniffed Col. Khamees Sulaiman Raja Ahmed, the local Iraqi army commander, himself a Sunni.
Leaving a mark on Iraq -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
As the 314th PAOC prepares for its departure from Iraq, we felt we could not return home without leaving something behind. Thankfully, we traveled here with a unit filled with gifted artists, and they collectively took up that challenge.
I Can't Complain -- [Blogs Over Baghdad - in Iraq]
Today, one of our interpreters came into my office and asked how I was. I gave the stock answer: "I can't complain." The truth is that I am often seen mumbling under my breath about something that irks me. After he left, however, I thought about my statement, and some of the things that have happened here in Baghdad over the past few months, and how insignificant my troubles seem in comparison to the events that are affecting people like these: - One of custodial staff is a local Iraqi...
Who Fights This War--Flight Surgeon -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
Lt. Col. David Doud, 42, returned home to Gettysburg last week at the end of his tour as flight surgeon for the 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion. Doud joined the battalion in 2006 after serving as the Medical Company Commander for the 728th Maintenance Support Battalion.
Out of Dodge -- [Castra Praetoria - in Iraq]
Can you believe you are leaving soon?" This is the question that is continually asked me by family and friends who know we are about to disembark back to planet earth shortly.
The answer to that question is; no I don't. I will not believe I am actually leaving until the plane is wheels up and is in another time zone. Why? Because the potential for something to go wrong always hovers about menacingly.
Iran Blames Britain and US for Suicide Bombing -- [Daily Telegraph]
Iran accused Britain and America of orchestrating a suicide bomb attack that killed 49 people including seven senior officers in the Revolutionary Guard. The attack on a group arriving at a meeting with tribal leaders in the city of Sarbaz, near the border with Pakistan, was claimed by a Sunni rebel group, state media said. But officials said it was backed by "elements linked to the global arrogance" - a euphemism for the United States and Britain. State television news said: "Some informed sources said the British government was directly involved in the terrorist attack... by organising, supplying equipment and employing professional terrorists." The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ari Larijani, directly accused the United States.
US-Funded Terror Group Kills 31 In Iran -- [P.J. Tobia]
The Iranian terror group responsible for this morning's attacks that killed 31 people (including some top Iranian military official officials) and wounded 28 others has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the US government for years, according to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, ABC News, The Telegraph (UK) and other sources. The group, called Jundallah (also spelled Jundullah,) are ethnically Baluchi, a Sunni minority group, native to Iran, Afghanistan and the Western Frontier Province of Pakistan.
Russia Worries About the Price of Oil, Not a Nuclear Iran -- [Wall Street Journal]
Last Wednesday in Moscow, the remaining illusions the Obama administration held for cooperation with Russia on the Iranian nuclear program were thrown in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's face. Stronger sanctions against Iran would be "counterproductive," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, just days after President Dmitry Medvedev said sanctions were likely inevitable. This apparent inconsistency should remind us that Mr. Medvedev is little more than a well-placed spectator, and that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who discounted sanctions in a statement from Beijing, is still the voice that matters.
Flow of terrorist recruits increasing -- [Washington Post]
...U.S. and European counterterrorism officials say a rising number of Western recruits -- including Americans -- are traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan to attend paramilitary training camps. The flow of recruits has continued unabated, officials said, in spite of an intensified campaign over the past year by the CIA to eliminate al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders in drone missile attacks.
The UN Sides with Terrorists -- [Washington Times]
Suppose a United Nations investigation team found that the United States had committed war crimes in its response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The report finds that while al Qaeda may have been culpable for the attacks and the carnage they wreaked, America was equally to blame - if not more so - for the civilian deaths caused during Operation Enduring Freedom. The UN instructs the United States to conduct an internal investigation and punish the perpetrators, or face action from the International Criminal Court. This is the framework established by the Goldstone Commission Report, which is the product of an investigation led by South African judge Richard Goldstone.
Civilian Courts Are No Place to Try Terrorists --[Wall Street Journal]
The Obama administration has said it intends to try several of the prisoners now detained at Guantanamo Bay in civilian courts in this country. This would include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and other detainees allegedly involved. The Justice Department claims that our courts are well suited to the task. Based on my experience trying such cases, and what I saw as attorney general, they aren't. That is not to say that civilian courts cannot ever handle terrorist prosecutions, but rather that their role in a war on terror - to use an unfashionably harsh phrase - should be, as the term "war" would suggest, a supporting and not a principal role. The challenges of a terrorism trial are
$10,000 matching donation for radios needed by Marines in Afghanistan -- [Spirit of America]
"The Taliban continue to prevent the people from being educated, keep the people in fear, and do anything they can to gain power. Support such as with Spirit of America is vital in convincing the people that we are not enemies of Afghanistan, but friends. This is the way we will win this war."
Greetings friends and supporters!
Marines in Afghanistan need solar- and hand-powered radios to give to families in Helmand Province. The Marines want to open communication and open minds. The Taliban seek to isolate, intimidate and make ignorant. Read more below. We think this is a very high-impact request. One of our supporters agrees. He has offered to match up to $10,000 in donations to buy the radios the Marines need. Thus, the value of your contribution will be doubled. If we reach the $10,000 goal, we can buy more than 1200 radios - which will directly impact approximately 9,600 Afghanis. Give here.
Cartoonists visit Landstuhl patients -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
A group of cartoonists visited patients at Landstuhl hospital today as part of a USO-sponsored trip to Germany and the Middle East.
A Tribute To Our Military Health Care Providers -- [The Kitchen Dispatch]
I received notice that someone who had received care after being injured in war had put this together with his family. What I like about this is that it shows a constancy of care given to soldiers through the many wars we've been in.
An amazing end to an amazing week -- [From my position... On the way!]
So Matt Goss and I met, I found out he was a singer, had an act at the Palms, and then curled up into a self-wallowing bout of withdrawal--can't take my pain meds with booze in the system. But damn, it was a fun night. Toby Nunn, on the other hand, was on his game. He talked at length with Matt Goss, told him about Soldier's Angels, VALOUR-IT, and what we were doing here. Matt then invited Toby to bring his semi-retardedly hungover friend (me) to his show tonight.
...If you haven't guessed by now, I enjoyed his show more than any other I've ever seen.
After the show, we went up to meet Matt and thank him for the invitation. I shook his hand and I gave him my Soldier'sAngels Valour-IT coin that I've carried everywhere. In a side conversation, Toby explained how much that coin meant to me. Then Matt Goss did someting absolutely touching and deeply appreciated. He showed me a coin he had hand-made in India. It's 24k rose gold, and hand engraved with a beautifully designed Ganesha, and the inscription "OM GUNG GANAPTA NAMAH" on the reverse. He explained that the inscription was a mantra that was used to remove obstacles from you life. Further more...
Contest for Pregnant Military Wives -- [You Served - Claire]
I found the following at the Baby Designers... if you know someone, or if you are someone who qualifies for the contest, enter today! Let us know if you win!
We're looking for 15 very deserving pregnant military wives. We understand that it can be stressful having their husbands so far away at such an important time. That's why we want to help!
"Hurry up and wait" -- [Field Notes]
an age old Army theme. It aptly describes the rhythm here at the CONUS Replacement Center (CRC). Before arriving, I was advised to just "relax and go with the flow." Good advice for sure but considering the mission and volume of personnel handled on a weekly basis (to include holiday weekends like this past Columbus Day when my group went through) the CRC does a pretty good job. This week the CRC processed approximately 385 personnel. Surprisingly, only about 20% were military. The majority - as I discovered is the norm - were contractors. While this statistic indicates that the military is very reliant on contract support to sustain missions worldwide, it does not reflect the vast numbers of soldiers who deploy to theater with their units.
VA, lawmakers share blame for GI Bill delay -- [Stars&Stripes]
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki got a bipartisan hug from the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday as lawmakers accepted his plan to fix Post-9/11 GI Bill payment delays, and blamed their own rush to enact the complex education benefit last year for some of the challenges VA now faces.
Three times each week, Wounded Warriors are welcomed home at Andrews AFB after medevac flight from Germany -- [Soldiers Angel Germany]
An informative and heartwarming story about the arrival of our Wounded Warriors at Andrews AFB after medevac from Germany. It will make you proud of each and every member of this team.
More Than 100 Marines Back Home from Iraq -- [KGMB]
Over 100 marines are back home from Iraq Sunday. The soldiers of "America's Battalion" touched down at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Sunday afternoon. After a short walk, they we're re-united with their loved ones; "America's Battalion" operated in Al Asad, Iraq.
What milbloggers mean to the Army -- [Army Live]
Today I'm chagrined to be missing the MilBlog Track at this year's Blog World Expo. It's one of the few times each year our geographically displaced milblog community get together to connect, discuss and learn from one another. Along with the MilBlog Conference in Washington, D.C., it's a great opportunity for Army public affairs flaks such as myself to really get to know the needs of this community, and better learn how to work with them.
As little as 2 years ago the relationship between the military and bloggers was not an overly positive one. Unclear policies and the growing disconnect between traditional and social media outlets left us in a strained relationship, at best. For me, from the beginning of my Army career the milblog community was one I knew I needed to reach out to in order to be able to successfully tell our Soldiers stories. Since then they have grown even more critical, and more connected to traditional media outlets.
There has been a serious culture shift among our Army leadership which has helped for forge positive relationships between the Army and milbloggers. F
DoD's Policy on Social Media to be Announced Any Day Now (New Slogan: Be Social, But Be Smart) -- [Milblogging.com]
The DoD's policy on social media is expected to be announced any day now. According to Price Floyd's own tweets back in late September "the review and policy should be done and out sometime in the next few weeks." There are more hints that the final policy is very, very close.
Miltweets, Milfacers, Milbloggers at Blog World Expo -- [Kitchen Dispatch]
This weekend I attended The Blog World Expo, a conference for social networking. Social networking, which is a term that didn't even exist 5 years ago, is what so many of now spend inordinate amounts of time doing.
War Wife In Vegas: Milblogs and Milbloggers At BlogWorld Expo '09 -- [Blogcritics]
Let's start with social networking terminology. Because groups who read blogs can be fairly insular, I'll give you a fast primer on what we call "milblogs."
A milblog is a military blog. Since techies like to play fast and loose with words, the prefix "mil" gets attached to a number of nouns like supporter, spouse, family, blog, blogger and even a verb, blogging.
Twitter Lists Beta: Organizing the Military Twitter Community (if you can't tweet it, blog it) -- [Milblogging.com]
This is a picture of my Twitter account when I sign in. The Twitter Lists Beta feature displays at the top of my account. A little over a week ago I posted a brief story on the soon-to-launch Lists feature that Twitter had announced on their blog. With Twitter lists, I can now organize my friends and followers into groups. My plan is to begin organizing lists in a similar way that military bloggers are organized into Branches on Milblogging.com such as Frontlines, U.S. Army, U.S. Military Veteran, and U.S. Military Spouse.
Army Strong Bloggers Lounge (Video) -- [You Served]
Major Mary Constantino talks about the Army's presence at the 2009 BlogWorld & New Media Expo and tells us about U.S. Army Accessions Command's signature Soldier blog, Army Strong Stories.
BlogWorld Expo - Day 2 -- [You Served - CJ]
BWE09 is still in full swing as I write this. Day two opened up all the vendors and other exciting events.
Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt did his show live from BlogWorldExpo right next to the military lounge. During the first hour he featured Soldiers' Angels and Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette. He talked about the upcoming Valour-IT that will raise money to purchase voice-activated laptop computers for wounded troops.
White House admits: We 'control' news media -- [WND]
Communications chief offers shocking confession to foreign government -- TEL AVIV - President Obama's presidential campaign focused on "making" the news media cover certain issues while rarely communicating anything to the press unless it was ...
READY TO REVOLT: Oath Keepers pledges to prevent dictatorship in United States -- [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Group asks police and military to lay down arms in response to orders deemed unlawful Depending on your perspective, the Oath Keepers are either strident defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia.
A White House Comfortable with Genocide? -- [Confederate Yankee]
It turns out Ayers and Dohrn aren't the only associates of Barack Obama comfortable with genocide. We can also include one of his closest four advisers, Anita Dunn. Victor David Hanson is among those outraged over Dunn's admiration of the greatest ">mass killer in human history
...Once again, someone close to the President is found to be an admirer of political genocide. In that context, perhaps the Oath Keepers aren't so radical after all... at least as it comes to being willing to resist unlawful orders.
The Danger of Obama's Dithering -- [Los Angeles Times]
Weakness in American foreign policy in one region often invites challenges elsewhere, because our adversaries carefully follow diminished American resolve. Similarly, presidential indecisiveness, whether because of uncertainty or internal political struggles, signals that the United States may not respond to international challenges in clear and coherent ways. Taken together, weakness and indecisiveness have proved historically to be a toxic combination for America's global interests. That is exactly the combination we now see under President Obama. If anything, his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize only underlines the problem. All of Obama's campaign and inaugural talk about "extending an open hand" and "engagement," especially the multilateral variety, isn't exactly unfolding according to plan. Entirely predictably, we see more clearly every day that diplomacy is not a policy but only a technique.
Have You No Shame? -- [BlackFive - Deebow]
I will never use my position for pleasure, profit or personal safety.---NCO Creed
I am feeling very betrayed right now.... and that is not a good place for these oxygen thieves to be....
Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.
Ahhhh, the new Navy -- [CDR Salamander]
I know it's a funnyspam - but I can't help myself.
From: Executive Officer
To: All Chief Petty Officers
Subj: MEMO TO CPO'S
1. It has been brought to the Executive Officer's attention that some Chief Petty Officers throughout the command have been using foul language during the course of normal conversation with their Division Officers.
2. Due to complaints received from some Division Officers who may be easily offended, this type of language will no longer be tolerated. We do however, realize the critical importance of being able to accurately express your feelings when communicating with Officers.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Troop Levels Are Still Focus of Debate - [New York Times]
Divisions over how to respond to the upsurge in violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan were reflected Sunday in a spectrum of voices heard on the morning talk shows, including more emphatic arguments that a failure in Afghanistan would destabilize Pakistan. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there were other ways of showing resolve in Afghanistan than just augmenting the numbers of combat troops. Gen. General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, recently urged President Obama to add another 40,000 troops on top of the 68,000 Americans already deployed there. But Senator Levin made a distinction between combat troops, whose deployment he questioned, and trainers, who he said would work with the Afghan army to improve its effectiveness.
Obama WH falsely downplaying risks of retreat in Afghanistan: Military, intel sources -- [Hot Air]
Sources within both the intelligence and military communities tell McClatchy that Barack Obama's White House has not been honest about the risks of moving away from a robust strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Obama and his advisers have begun publicly discussing the Taliban as a moderate alternative to al-Qaeda in terms of enemies, but the latest intelligence shows just the opposite. Taliban leadership and AQ have integrated even more tightly than ever since 9/11 and act in concert on strategy and tactics:
What Failure in Afghanistan? -- [Washington Post]
At the heart of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for a major surge in troops is the assumption that we are failing in Afghanistan. But are we really? The United States has had one central objective: to deny al-Qaeda the means to reconstitute, to train and to plan major terrorist attacks. This mission has been largely successful for the past eight years. Al-Qaeda is dispersed, on the run and unable to direct attacks of the kind it planned and executed routinely in the 1990s. Fourteen of the top 20 leaders of the group have been killed ...
Othello in Afghanistan -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
This week's Newsweek profile of Vice President Joe Biden is titled "An Inconvenient Truth Teller." Reporters Holly Bailey and Evan Thomas portray the Vice President as a man whose goofy charisma and public bluntness -- although sometimes political liabilities for the President -- spring from his authenticity. If Biden is trouble, the piece suggests, then he is trouble of the best kind: the niggling, skeptical conscience of the administration's deliberations on Afghanistan.
In other words, the Vice President is the mirror image of his would-be rival in the current media drama, General Stanley McChrystal.
Taliban 'daisy chain' kingpin captured in Afghanistan dawn raid -- [Times]
The two point men failed to spot the booby trap hidden beneath the water as they waded along an irrigation canal. Then the shouting started.
"Get the f*** back now. We've gone over a tripwire," bellowed Sergeant Lee Slater, the 17-stone section commander as he turned and splashed back towards the rest of his men. "We need to get the f*** out of here now."
Pandemonium broke out as the soldiers clawed their way up a mudbank and out of the knee-high water. But just as they thought they had reached safety, one of the men spotted a second bomb 15 metres from the first.
"It's a warhead. We're f***in' gonna step on an IED
Elite unit fight off Taliban ambush - and survive -- [People.co.uk]
One hundred elite British soldiers beat off the Taliban in one of the most ferocious firefights of the Afghan war - and ALL survived.
Our exclusive pictures show the hand-picked reconnaissance force troops in action after they were trapped in an ambush deep in hostile territory.
AfPak Daily Brief -- [Foreign Policy Blog]
...U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are working with former mujahideen guerrillas who fought against the Soviet Union with tactics now being used by Taliban militants in the country, because they understand the extremists' techniques of roadside bombs and suicide attacks (Wall Street Journal). Coalition forces stormed an al Qaeda camp in eastern Afghanistan over the weekend, killing more than a dozen militants, while U.S. Marines are sweeping villages across the country to reduce the threat of IEDs (AP, AFP).
The battle of COP Keating: an earwitness account -- [Tom Ricks]
Here, passed along by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, is an account of the recent battle in Nuristan in which eight American soldiers were killed.
Weapons failed US troops during Afghan firefight -- [AP]
It was chaos during the early morning assault last year on a remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan and Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine had quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either.
Troops Mentor Afghan National Police Officers at Baraki Rajan -- [ISAF]
"Stop the bright-red bleeding," instructed a Soldier from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division.
My Rant of the Day: the Over-Use of "Under-Resourcing" -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P - in Afghanistan]
OK, while we wait [drums fingers on table] I might as well unload. (And I must add, none of this has anything to do with the boys on the ground, who are doing everything they can, day in and day out. Nope, this has to do with leadership.)
We often hear that the war effort in Afghanistan has been "under-resourced" for too long. Undoubtedly, it took a back seat to Iraq for several years. But I'm beginning to get more than just a nagging suspicion that the "under-resourcing" line doesn't tell the whole story.
What other enduring campaigns in history have been under-resourced? There's the Pacific Theater in WW2-- by definition under-resourced versus the European Theater. That didn't stop MacArthur and Nimitz from doing the best with what they had
Afghanistan: UN-backed fraud panel member resigns -- [AP]
A member of a U.N.-backed panel set up to investigate fraud complaints in Afghanistan's presidential election resigned Monday, blaming what he called "the interference of foreigners" and dealing another blow to a vote already mired in controversy. The fraud panel is expected to decide this week whether to throw out enough votes to force a runoff between President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.
Troops get non-combat role in Afghanistan after 2011 -- [CBC News]
The Conservative government intends to keep some Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in a non-combat role beyond Parliament's 2011 end-date for the military mission, CBC News has learned.
Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office, told CBC News there will be Canadian troops in Afghanistan after 2011, though "exponentially fewer."
"I would caution you against saying dozens or hundreds or a thousand, there will be exponentially fewer," Soudas said. "Whether there's 20 or 60 or 80 or 100, they will not be conducting combat operations."
Marines Light It Up As Sun Sets On Insurgents In Afghanistan -- [USFOR]
Helmand province, Afghanistan - The expression "goat rope" usually refers to something unorganized, but service members here helped local farmers with their roped goats, sheep and cows with free medical treatment.
..."The people are feeling happy," said local fabric dealer Sheer Mohammad through an interpreter. Mohammad spread news of the one-day clinic to some of his friends who, in turn, brought their animals for treatment. "It's a good thing you're doing this."
Mohammad added he was surprised to see a foreign military giving free medicine for livestock. He couldn't recall any previous foreigners providing this type of service for the community.
Helo mission - Part 1-- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Instead of driving our armored vehicles, the Captain and I would be transported by helicopter to visit one of our supported FOBs.
Another week of mentoring complete... -- [3rd Time, New Country - in Afghanistan]
...Thursday, started out as a regular day of mentoring. After I completed the Nurses Morning Meeting, I went outside to receive the surgical masks. That's when a SVBIED exploded near the Indian Embassy and the Afghan Ministry of Interior. We made preparations at NMH for a mass causality, but we didn't receive any patients. The explosion was several miles from NMH (near NDS hospital) and the wounded went to local hospitals in the area.
A tough earth yields life -- [Afghan Journal - in Afghanistan]
Kabul -- I spent much of the two weeks exploring the irrigated farm lands and villages of the Arghandab Valley in southern Afghanistan on foot patrols with Army soldiers from Fort Lewis, Wa. This was a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of a way of life that is rooted in centuries of tradition, and makes an amazing use of the dun-colored earth that covers this land.
This is not a soil that I would want in my backyard. It often dries to a tough hardpan that in some fields resembles a kind of pale dried clay that appears hostile to plant life.
Then, when water is added, this soil turns into an unstable muck.
But on these foot patrols, over and over again, I was impressed by all the ways this earth supports the people who live here.
Down Town Asadabad 11 Oct 09 -- [PRT-Kunar]
U.S. Army SSG Raymond Barquin from Las Vegas, Nev. and assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team-Kunar security forces, Camp Wright, Afghanistan, maintains a security posture while local children cautiously make conversation just outside the village of Dam Kalay, Oct 11, 2009. The security team, along with Civil Affairs members from the PRT, walked several areas talking to locals about current living conditions and villagers basic needs.
IVAW: October is Afghanistan Awareness Month -- [This ain't Hell,...]
I really don't know what their point is, but the IVAW has named October Afghanistan Awareness Month. Their stated goal;
11 Oct 09 -- [Dude in the Desert - in Afghanistan]
I am in country and starting another deployment... Afghanistan again...it smells just as bad, looks just as trashy, and is a little more dangerous...I have been keeping track of my travels and adventures up to now, just haven't had time to sit down and write very much...I am currently in a transient hut and have to walk to a morale hut to connect to the rest of the world, but as soon as I get into my permanent living quarters I will have internet connection and I will sit and tell you all about everything up to this point...as for now
Series of car bombs kills 19 in western Iraq -- [AP]
A spate of car bombings killed 19 people Sunday in Iraq's western Anbar province, once a hotbed of insurgency that later become a showcase for restoring peace.
The province was the scene of some of the most intense fighting by U.S. troops during the insurgency. Violence tapered off significantly after local tribes decided to align themselves with U.S. forces instead of al-Qaida in what is widely considered to be one of the key turning points of the Iraq war.
Violence in Iraq now political, Jacoby says -- [FOB Tacoma]
..."Numbers of attacks are not quite as relevant as targets of attacks," he said. "What we're really seeing right now is that almost everything in Iraq now - from insurgent activity to economic activity to political activity to the things we see impacting from outside of Iraq - are all shaped by the upcoming election. It is truly an election-year mentality. The remaining insurgents are trying to make political statements as much as they are military progress."
It begins... -- [Wings Over Iraq - heading home Iraq]
I've done well being just a tad cynical.
When I first arrived in Iraq, I heard a lot of senior officers and NCOs scoff at me when I expressed my belief that our presence in Iraq wasn't permanently sustainable, even after the US and Iraqi governments signed a Status of Forces Agreement was signed in November of last year. They would always look at me, laugh at my apparent naivety and say, "This place is the new Korea. We'll be here for fifty years".
If I had a nickel for all the bad military advice I've received...
Anyway, looks like I may have been right,
Plus ça change, plus - ça change! -- [Castle Argghhh! - Bill T - in Iraq]
...What's changed about this particular graduation ceremony, and why is it important?
Simple enough -- the rotary wing students completed their training in August. Their fixed wing classmates were plagued with aircraft availability problems and weather requirements that didn't apply to helicopters (we fly in weather that makes fixed-wingers shudder and go back to the coffee pot). These are the first new Iraqi rotary wing pilots in over six years, and they are the first Iraqi *Air Force* rotary wing pilots ever. The MoD considered it such a milestone that they insisted on a single formal graduation ceremony for both sections.
Blogger's Roundtable with Brigadier General Ed Cardon -- [BlackFive - Grim]
We were honored to have the occasion to speak with a general officer I've had the opportunity to see in action in the field, BG Ed Cardon. Currently the deputy commander of the Command and General Staff College, he was previously the DCG/S for the 3rd Infantry Division during its last deployment to Iraq. In that role, he was a key part of the Surge that brought a new peace to the southern Baghdad belts and tamed the Triangle of Death.
The "Female Element" in the Iraqi military -- [Inside Iraq - McClatchy]
"We want to protect our women - not have them protect us," the head of military training for all of Iraq said with a wide grin. I suppose that was the bottom line.
The symposium I attended was held by the Iraqi Center of Ethics and Military Principles inside the Green Zone, at a place called "The Crossed Swords."
In our society, as in many societies around the world, it is the sacred duty of the man to protect the women and young. It's the highest expression of manhood. And his failure to do so is shameful. It is not easy to reconcile this deep-rooted human feeling with training women to do the "protecting."
ExxonMobil Submits New Proposal to Develop Iraq's Zubair Oil Field -- [MEMRI Blog]
Iraq's Oil Ministry is considering a revised offer by the giant U.S. petroleum company ExxonMobil to develop the Zubair oil field [south of the southern city of Basra and close to the Kuwaiti border.]
The ministry is also considering a revised offer by the U.S. company Chevron and the French company Total to develop the oil field in west Qurna [at the point of confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers].
Both fields have reserves in the billions of barrels of crude.
Iraq Seeks to Develop Nuclear Program for Peaceful Purposes -- [MEMRI Blog]
Iraqi Minister for Science and Technology Ra'id Jahid Fahmi has told the Iraqi press agency that his ministry is seeking to develop a program for the use of nuclear program for peaceful purposes, in cooperation with the International Nuclear Energy Agency.
Iraq Threats To Call for International Tribunal Reduce Syrian Terrorism by 75% -- [MEMRI Blog]
A diplomat in the Iraqi foreign ministry said that terrorist activities in Iraq have declined by 75 percent following a threat by the Iraqi government to call for the establishment of international tribunal to investigate the bombings of key ministries in Baghdad last August.
View from the Window -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
I sat behind the left door gunner on the Blackhawk I rode on yesterday. Here's some of the view I had.
It's R&R Time! -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
FINALLY! I'm heading home in the morning! It's been six months since I've seen my wife and children (the two dogs). But tomorrow morning, I'm going over to the airport, and then sometime later (hey, it's military air: there are no schedules), I'll fly to Kuwait. And on Sunday I'll land in Asheville. HOME!
Clinton: US Confident in Pakistan's Control Over Nuclear Weapons -- [Washington Post]
Top US and British officials said Sunday they believed that Pakistan's nuclear weapons were secure, after a stunning insurgent attack on the South Asian country's army headquarters. "We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military's control over nuclear weapons," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said after a meeting with her British counterpart, David Miliband. The leading suspects in the weekend attack in Rawalpindi are Pakistani insurgents allied with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Report: North Korea fires 5 short-range missiles -- [AP]
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea fired five short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday, a news report said, even as South Korea proposed working-level talks with its communist neighbor. Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean government official, said the North test-fired the missiles on Monday afternoon from its eastern coastal launch pad.
Just Say No -- [New York Times]
Indian nuclear scientists are trying to bully their government into testing a nuclear weapon. That would be a huge setback - for India's relations with Washington, for the battle against terrorists, and for global efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is resisting. He must continue to resist. If India tests, the United States is bound by a 2008 agreement to cut off all sales of nuclear fuel and technology. That would be
Pan Am hijacker surrenders after 41 years -- [Times]
Luis Armando Pena Soltren flies into JFK airport, from where he took off 41 years ago and demanded to be flown to Cuba
German and American Militants Training for Terror in Pakistan -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has obtained a new video from the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) showing a group of alleged German nationals receiving instruction at an IJU terrorist training camp in northwest Pakistan. The video also includes footage of a balding Caucasian male identified as a U.S. national fighting alongside the IJU, "Abu Ibrahim al-Amriki." The IJU has claimed responsibility for a failed terrorist plot in 2007 targeting airports and other critical infrastructure in Germany - including Ramstein Air Base.
UAE jails man for 'terror links' -- [BBC News]
A court in the United Arab Emirates has convicted a US citizen of Lebanese origin on terrorism-related charges and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
A nuclear scientist that worked on the Large Hadron Collider has been arrested after being linked to terrorist group Al Qaeda. -- [Tom's Guide]
When scientists flicked the 'on' switch on CERN's Large Hadron Collider, there was an alarming amount of people who swore the world would end. When it didn't, they were all looking at their watches saying stuff along the lines of, "Any minute now..." Well, in the unlikely event that the machine's breakdown has given that whole crowd a chance to catch their breath, one of the scientists has been arrested for associating with Al Qaeda.
The Daily Mail late last week reported that armed police in France had arrested Dr. Adlene Hicheur, 32, for supposed connections to Al Qaeda and today the paper reports that the scientist has since admitted to plotting a terrorist attack.
Make a difference - adopt a service member today! -- [Soldiers Angels Germany]
A note from the field to SA:
I wanted to write and thank you for your continued support of my team. Also, I wanted to share a quick story with you about the impact your organization makes in our lives. A couple of weeks ago, I was at Combat Outpost Zerok in the province of Paktika.
Those Soldiers have been there for 7 months and live in the most dire conditions. They do not have running water, fresh vegetables are rare...
In a place like that, it doesn't take a lot to make a BIG difference. Find out more about adopting a service member at Soldiers' Angels.
Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers' Angels adds: "We are getting flooded with basic requests from Afghanistan and have packages ready to go. Unfortunately donations are low and the postage bill is high. PLEASE consider spreading the word, sending money and praying we can do what is needed to help this heroes."
Progress with treatment of traumatic brain injuries -- [Soldiers Angels Germany]
Here's some encouraging news. Due to early screening as well as an ever-developing program of psychological and medical treatments, more soldiers are successfully recovering from TBI.
McConaughey Gets It: Rom-Com Star Supports Veterans -- [Big Hollywood]
Matthew McConaughey won't be in the mix for any Oscar nominations this year, and probably not in 2010 or 2011, for that matter. But the routinely shirtless actor has one up on some of his A-list peers.
At a time when many celebrities risk alienating their fan base by voicing political views, McConaughey is opting to speak out on behalf of our men and women in uniform.The "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" star will appear in a new public service announcement that encourages giving back to veterans, politics be darned.
"It's our duty to serve veterans and military families who serve their country in the most difficult ways imaginable," McConaughey says in the spot, set to benefit the Major League Baseball-launched and supported Welcome Back Veterans.
UD lacrosse players support troops -- [Delaware County Daily Times]
"Gerry is from the same outfit, but didn't get the welcome home these guys got," Niagara said. Woods contacted the students to help in their fundraising
White House: Don't Ask About "Don't Ask" -- [CBS News]
Thousands of gay rights supporters marched from the White House to the nation's Capitol Sunday demanding more effort to end discrimination.
I Didn't Tell. It Didn't Matter. -- [Washington Post]
I chose to put service above my personal life. My understanding of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was that if I kept quiet about my sexuality and didn't break any rules, I would face no punishment. I was wrong.
"I didn't tell. It didn't matter" -- [This ain't Hell,...]
I spent twenty years in the infantry, and although we played a lot of tricks on people, mostly of a sexual nature, I don't think I ever saw anything that comes even close to the antics described in this morning's Washington Post by Joseph Roche. Based on absolutely nothing but a gut feeling I'm calling Bullshit.
Highest military court to hear Abu Ghraib appeal -- [AP]
WASHINGTON -- The US military's highest court is scheduled to hear the appeal of a former Army dog handler convicted in the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib
Crowds gather to welcome home Birmingham's brave TA medics -- [BirminghamMail.net]
Members of the 202 Midland Field Hospital, based in Kings Heath, Birmingham, spent four months treating wounded troops at the Camp Bastion field hospital in ...
More Fort Drum soldiers come home today -- [The Post-Standard]
The soldiers are returning from a 12-month deployment to Iraq. Welcome home ceremonies are being held at Wheeler Sack Army Airfield.
East Texas soldier comes home -- [KLTV]
To celebrate Wells' East Texas return, Welcome Home Soldiers, family, and friends threw a block party celebration. "I feel like all of Longview has been ...
NBC Reporter Waves the White Flag: 'Time to Start Leaving' Afghanistan -- [NewsBusters]
In 2006, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz found that NBC correspondent Richard Engel had strong political feelings: "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist." That pacifist opinion is still surfacing, Kurtz reported Monday, although he didn't recall the sentence from 2006: ...
Pres. Obama: Accept Nobel Peace Prize for All America's Military Families ... -- [Huffington Post]
In that spirit, I believe President Obama should accept his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ALL America's Military Families -- including our LBGT
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Obama rejects 'Biden option' on Afghanistan -- [Times]
President Obama has made it clear to key congressional power-brokers that his administration's rethink of US military strategy in Afghanistan will not see a significant reduction of troop numbers and a narrower counter-terrorist focus on al-Qaeda.
...The meeting, on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the first US air strikes against al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan, were an attempt to make clear that the decision Mr Obama faces is one that transcends normal party politics.
But the meeting produced a sharp exchange of views between Mr Obama and his former rival for the presidency, the Republican senator John McCain, who effectively accused the President of dithering while US troops remain under fire.
Obama not cutting troops in Afghanistan -- [The Af-Pak Channel]
U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly told a nearly 90-minute bipartisan meeting of about 30 lawmakers yesterday that he would not substantially reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan or change the mission to just hunting terrorists, and seemed to be looking for a middle ground between doubling down or pulling out (New York Times, BBC, Washington Post, Times of London). The partisan divide purportedly remained in place after the meeting, with Democrats expressing reservations about sending more troops and Republicans more supportive, though there were exceptions (AP).
Obama is meeting with his national security team again today, on the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, and on Friday to continue the discussion about the path forward...
Levin: Obama backed McChrystal in Afghanistan meeting -- [Foreign Policy Blog]
President Obama expressed strong support for Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his meeting with lawmakers this afternoon, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin reported upon returning to Capitol Hill.
..."There's no rift with McChrystal," said Levin, "[Obama] said he picked McChrystal and he wants McChrystal to be direct ... He reiterated that McChrystal is very supportive of the deliberative process and getting the strategy right before focusing on the troop levels or resources."
Someone who is not on the same page as McChrystal is Levin himself, who said he told Obama clearly at the large meeting and during a private conversation afterwards that he was opposed to sending more combat troops past what it would take to protect additional trainers for the Afghan security forces.
World Agenda: Eight years on - why Afghans feel betrayed by America -- [Times]
This week marks the eighth anniversary of the first US-led bombing mission in Afghanistan: the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, the quest to remove the Taleban from power, destroy al-Qaeda and avenge the September 11 attacks.
...Eight years on the Afghan people again feel betrayed. Many no longer see the US as a force for good but instead blame their presence for the escalating war. As General McChrystal himself pointed out in a speech in London last week, a Taleban roadside bomb that kills civilians does not necessarily bring opprobrium upon the Taleban but instead on the US military -- the logic being that if the US military were not in Afghanistan the bomb would not have been planted.
It is this change of mind among the Afghan people about the US after eight years of disappointment that looms especially large in the internal White House debate.
Mad Men vs. IEDs: Army Wants Anti-Bomb Ad Campaign in Afghanistan -- [Danger Room]
Improvised bombs are now the number one threat to western forces in Afghanistan, killing 36 coalition troops last month and five more just in the first week of October.
The U.S. Army is looking to battle the improvised explosive device (IED) threat with new armored vehicles, increased surveillance in the sky, and... advertising. Mad Men versus militias, if you will.
Late last month, the Information Operations division of the Army's Combined Joint Task Force 82 sent out a call for proposals for a "comprehensive strategic marketing and information campaign" for eastern Afghanistan. "The over arching objective of this media and advertising campaign is to influence the Afghanistan people at all levels (strategic, operational and tactical) [that] will directly translate in the reduction of the number of IED devices used against the Afghanistan people and Coalitional [sic] forces."
Reading Tea Leaves -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
... The wires started humming about the attack on two isolated outposts in Nuristan Province about 24 hours after I had first heard about it. The New York Slimes has an OK roundup of what happened here. If my information is correct this story contains a "untruth" told by a Colonel - and that is the kind of thing which really gets me worried. I get worried because I know what happened to our military post Vietnam and would be crushed to see them held in such low esteem and outright contempt by the American public again in my lifetime.
...there is something else which needs to be said about my view on how to win the Afghan fight using small civ/mil teams embedded into Afghan districts and here it is. If this war was fought the way I recommend you would have more incidents similar to the attack on Keating. There is no way to be as aggressive as I recommend (and operate) without getting a team attacked at some point. When that happens
Latest attack in Nuristan -- [Embedded in Afghanistan...]
The terrain in Nuristan so severe that anyone could hide out there for years without getting caught, and Coalition forces have virtually no presence in the province. The US Army unit we were partnered was often on reserve-alert to support police stations up that way which were in extremis.
It's very disheartening for everyone to see us lose that many guys in one battle, but I stand by the assertion that with decent terrain selection and unit-tactics this type of thing will not happen. When you build a small outpost in an area where insurgents can shoot down upon you, with few to no supporting positions to help you, then the position is asking for trouble.
'More than 100' enemy killed during Nuristan battle: US military -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
The US military now claims that more than 100 enemy fighters were killed during the Oct. 3 assault on two joint Afghan and US outposts in Nuristan province. The military also backed away from its previous statement that a "Nuristani tribal militia" conducted the attack and said the attack was a collaborative effort by multiple extremist groups.
Several days ago, more than 300 enemy fighters launched the attack on the two remote outposts in the district of Kamdish, just 10 miles from the Pakistani border, after organizing at a nearby mosque and a village.
The US military is now claiming that more than one-third of the assault force was killed while US and Afghan forces repelled the attack. Initially, the US had said "several" fighters were killed, but various press accounts put the number at between 20 to 50 fighters killed.
Al Qaeda's Shadow Army makes the news -- [Threat Matrix - Bill Roggio]
Eight months after The Long War Journal broke the news on the existence of al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil, the Associated Press picked up on the role the terror army plays in Afghanistan, and mentioned the Lashkar al Zil by name. In an article titled "Al-Qaida showing smaller presence in Afghanistan," the AP quoted Dr. Bryan Glynn Williams' report at The Jamestown Foundation, titled "Death from the Skies: An Overview of the CIA's Drone Campaign in Pakistan - Part One" and published on Sept. 25, 2009. Dr. Williams identified the Lashkar al Zil by name, and also identified Khalid Habib as the former commander. These two facts were first reported by The Long War Journal but were not cited in the Jamestown report.
Conflicted -- [Captain Cat's Diaries - in Afghanistan]
Anyone following this saga has no doubt seen the very public argument between the head of the UN mission here and his deputy who was sacked a few days ago 'in the interests of the mission', because he didn't think we should be supporting these elections. Of course we shouldn't.
The other day I sent a letter to my head of office who was on her way to Kabul for a heads of office meeting. She asked us if there were any issues we wanted to raise. I wrote that I wanted to know what the UN's official response was going to be to the issues of widespread fraud throughout the country, and what our 'line' should be to the people with whom we have spent months and years building relationships, people who now trust us and come to us for help.
Over the last few weeks since the elections, we have been working hard to get people's perceptions of the process, particularly from Provincial Council candidates. We have carefully collected and recorded incidents of fraud and passed these on to HQ.
A lot of people in the Southeast region are angry and want to see how our organisation will respond. We have been told in no uncertain terms that the local population will no longer respect or support us unless we speak out strongly against this fraudulent election.
The Anglosphere: It Must Be Preserved -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P - in Afghansitan]
Today's random thought-- Coalition ops are great, except when they're not. The coalition at its best gives you a huge range of capabilities as well as the great intangible-- the manifest political will of many nations, arrayed against one foe.
Except that is, when some of the many nations aren't arrayed against the foe. When some of the many nations are doing fuck all. When one or two of the many nations aren't doing much more than eating chow and filling up shitters.
However, it's an undeniable fact that the Anglosphere-- the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand-- is the backbone of this coalition. Some of the other shitheads, the real BFQs, we can do without. But go it alone without our fellow English speakers? No way.
Elite force shows true grit on Operation Panther's Valour -- [British Army Website]
For some the thought of being ambushed, rocketed, shot at and trapped for hours in the fierce Afghan heat would be the stuff of nightmares.
But for soldiers of 19 Brigade's elite Reconnaissance Force (BRF) who recently experienced just such a scenario, being in the thick of it is what it's all about.
Returning to camp -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Alas! Our academic training on crew serve weapons had come to an end and we were scheduled to return to camp. The original plan was to meet up with another convoy at 7 am. This meant we had to start preparing vehicles at 6:30 am and further it meant waking at 5:30 am to shave, dress, eat, etc. Like clockwork we were on time and then the
Captain received a phone call. ...
Kandahar NATO base: hockey, discos and funerals -- [AFP]
..."They are shaking glowsticks as if they have no concept of the mines and the war outside," said one US officer, watching his colleagues on the dance floor.
Outside, the base's central square, lined with cafes and small shops, looks oddly relaxed.
In a shop selling local curios, a female soldier tries on a belly dancer's costume over her uniform, as a group of soldiers amble by in shorts and flip-flops, machineguns casually slung over their shoulders.
As night falls, a hockey game involving Canadian soldiers provides the square's main entertainment. Others converge on the "Dutch corner," which is reputed for its parties.
When the wind blows, the smell of filth and decay from the over-populated base's septic tank catches the throat.
This evening, though, just a couple of hundred metres from the square, Stryker Brigade has assembled at the runway to pay their final respects to two of their number killed a couple of hours earlier in a suicide bomb attack.
About 20 of their comrades have died in Kandahar since their arrival three months ago.
Camp pets and school supplies -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...I conducted some additional interviews last night and tonight concerning our school supply project. According to my wife Liisa, we are receiving boxes of donations. I also ran into the Army Specialist who runs the Post Office and he told me to visit tomorrow. Apparently I have a dozen packages waiting to be picked up. I'm certain they are the school supplies unless my mother sent me a dozen boxes of cookies as a care package. So I probably need to finalize my plans for distributing these items. I have my eye on at least one all-girls school and would love to visit there because the Taliban is adamantly opposed to females receiving education here. But ...
Garmsir, Again (Again) -- [Registan]
In July, I noted that this was the fourth year in a row that ISAF troops had swept through Garmsir, Helmand. The fighting had been following a sadly familiar pattern: sweep through, get a few months of success, fail to fundamentally change ground conditions, repeat next year. The Marines seemed convinced that they had it
An Now; The Rest Of The Story -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
It made all the papers back home; the story of an American who was shot by an ANP enraged over the Soldier drinking and smoking in plain sight during Ramadan. Many opined that our Soldiers need to be more culturally aware. I replied to email chains from friends, and sometimes angrily contended that when I was actively mentoring, the ANP would serve us chai and sweets during Ramadan, ever the gracious hosts.
View from the Front -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
Steve was TC for a recent patrol and got these neat pictures. Mud bricks drying in the sun and some of the mud brick buildings. ...The Afghan have many needs and lack many things we would list as necessities, but overall they are still happy and friendly.
Marines, Afghan soldiers conduct Operation Gator Crawl -- [Jacksonville Daily News]
...Operation Gator Crawl allowed the Marines and ANA soldiers to visit villages in Nawa District where NATO or Afghan government forces had not been in years. This operation was a chance to gauge atmospherics, gain a little understanding about an area in which very little was known and positively interact with the people living there.
MRAP Co. often conducts patrols on their own, but for this mission they had the additional support of civil affairs, intelligence, a female engagement team and an ANA detachment. The patrol was broken up into smaller sections allowing the force to spread out over a greater distance and interact in different villages simultaneously.
"Our mission during this operation was to provide security," said Staff Sgt. Justin Andrew Park, section leader with MRAP Co. But they also got the chance to interact with the local populace alongside the ANA during the mission.
According to Park, they talked with the locals and assured them they and the ANA were there to provide security and assistance.
Returned Artifacts Displayed in Kabul -- [New York Times]
On most days, the news from Afghanistan involves something exploding. Which is why Tuesday was such a surprise: instead of bombings, it brought the unveiling of stolen treasures, some as old as the Bronze Age. The National Museum was celebrating the return of about 2,000 artifacts that had been smuggled into Britain over the years of war in Afghanistan.
Anbar sheiks 'feel deep sense of abandonment' -- [Threat Matrix - Bill Ardolino]
This article on US disengagement from Anbar by Anthony Shadid is interesting and informative, if one views the generously applied "grand theme" in context.
In Shadid's presentation, a reader might shake his head at the idea that the US is mismanaging withdrawal from the province and perhaps unethically leaving some allies in 2006-2007 tribal Awakening to their fates, some of which will invariably be grisly. An alternate theme, one more casually mentioned in the story and probably endorsed by the majority of the Americans working with said Iraqis, is that we all knew this day would come and the Sheiks need to stand on their own.
Still Surviving -- [Ramblings from a painter - in Iraq]
Our hectic pace at work continues. Our Exalted Leaders are still revisiting the how and why of reorganization. I'm pretty frustrated - we're three weeks into the implementation phase of our transformation, and they're still trying to figure out what we're going to transform into. Meanwhile, I have stacks of real work on my desk: new projects that need to be started, questions from the field to be answered, one major set of decisions to be negotiated with one of our primary clients. And what am I told to do? Make colorful flow charts of our processes. The very same processes that we're not doing because of all this transformation stuff.
If I ever say I'm going to work for the Corps of Engineers, or the Army, again, will somebody please just shoot me?
On the positive side: ...
Scuffle With Security Contractors Highlights Iraqis' New Clout in Green Zone -- [Washington Post]
In a dramatic illustration of shifting authority in the Green Zone, once an American preserve here, Iraqi soldiers confronted a security detail contracted by the US government, detained four of the guards and beat them in a standoff last week that lasted at least two hours, according to Iraqi officials, the company and the US Embassy. The US military negotiated the guards' release several hours later, the US Embassy said, and the four men were flown out of Iraq, for fear that charges might be filed against them. Philip Frayne, an embassy spokesman, confirmed that an incident occurred at one of the fortified entrances to the Green Zone but said no American diplomats were in the convoy. "Information is still in the process of being gathered and evaluated," he said.
Who Fights This War? -- Clerks Rescue Soldiers in Black Hawk Crash -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
These soldiers are clerks in Echo Company. Both of them are good soldiers who took a lot of crap from the mechanics and fuelers in the unit because most of their work is done indoors. Things are different now.
Pfc. Dennis Lucas of Gratz, Pa., and Spc. Nathan Montgomery of Chester, W.Va., both clerks in the motor pool of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion,104th Aviation Regiment, 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, helped perform first aid on victims after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed at Joint Base Balad Sept. 19.
Iraq Negotiating Arms Deals -- [MEMRI Blog]
Hadi Al-'Ameri, the chairman of the security and defense committee in the Iraqi parliament, has revealed that his country was negotiating with seven countries over the purchase of advanced weapons for its armed forces.
He said most of the deals are with the U.S., but that the country was also negotiating the purchase of aircraft from France and Turkey and advanced armored vehicles from elsewhere.
Just kill him, desperate father told gang who kidnapped his six-year-old son -- [Times]
By the third day of negotiating with his son's kidnappers, Rasul Amoore had sold his car, withdrawn his bank savings and borrowed money from his siblings and friends to raise funds for the six-year-old's release.
Even then he was able to gather only $8,000 (£5,000) of the $50,000 demanded by Ahmed's captors. The kidnappers eventually dropped their ransom to $20,000 -- still more than twice the amount at the disposal of Mr Amoore -- after the confectionery shop owner in east Baghdad pleaded that their information about his supposed wealth was untrue. Mr Amoore, angered and mentally tormented by the kidnappers, decided to gamble with his son's life. "Just kill him," said the father of four during a heated telephone negotiation with the lead captor. "Just kill him and I'll consider that I've given his soul as a gift to God."
Four hours later the kidnappers released Ahmed unharmed,...
Little Soldier Girl "Didn't Want to Let Go" -- [NBC Philadelphia]
Four-year old Paige didn't want to say goodbye to her daddy before he was shipped off to Iraq.A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.
Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn't want her daddy to go to Iraq.
So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn't let go.
No one had the heart to pull her away.
Massive Migration Of Iraqi Farmers To Cities Due To Drought -- [MEMRI Blog]
Iraqi government reports have established that millions are leaving the countryside for cities and towns because of drought and poor social services.
The reports project that by 2030, two thirds of settled land will be deserted by its occupants because of water shortage.
Iraqi VP Criticizes Iran -- [MEMRI Blog]
Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al-Hashemi has criticized Iran over the way it deals with his country. In an elections campaign in the southern city of Basra, Al-Hashemi said that Iran does not deal "fairly and responsibly" with Iraq, despite repeated Iranian declarations about supporting Iraq and the political process.
He said that these declarations are not put into practice.
Iraq releases Iranian dissidents -- [BBC News]
The men were returned to Camp Ashraf in northern Iraq, where more than 3000 People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI)members have been confined since 2003.
Gulf States Deny Report about Pricing Crude in a Basket of Currencies -- [MEMRI Blog]
Major crude oil exporters in the Gulf region have denied a report, by Robert Fisk on the website of the British daily Independent, that they were negotiating secretly with Russia, China, Japan and France to use a basket of currencies in lieu of the U.S. dollar in the oil trade.
Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? -- [ABC News]
Is the U.S. stepping up preparations for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been sparring with President Obama over whether Iran is developing the technology to build nuclear weapons.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)The Pentagon is always making plans, but based on a little-noticed funding request recently sent to Congress, the answer to that question appears to be yes.
First, some background:...
Iran says some countries offer it nuclear fuel -- [Reuters]
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that some countries had offered to provide Iran with uranium enriched to 20 percent for use as nuclear reactor fuel, the official IRNA news agency reported.
...It rejects Western suspicions its real intention is to build an atomic bomb, which would require uranium enriched to around 90 percent.
Gates Hints at More Secret Nuke Sites in Iran -- [Danger Room]
Does Bob Gates know about more secret Iranian nuclear sites? It certainly sounds like it.
Speaking alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night at a CNN/George Washington University forum, Gates addressed a wide variety of topics, the Secretary of Defense dropped what seemed to be a big hint that the United States knows much more about the Iranian nuclear program than the Iranians might think.
Iran sees US role in researcher's disappearance -- [Reuters]
TEHRAN- Iran accused the United States on Wednesday of involvement in the disappearance of a technology university researcher,
Threat of next world war may be in cyberspace: UN -- [Breitbart]
The next world war could take place in cyberspace, the UN telecommunications agency chief warned Tuesday as experts called for action to stamp out cyber attacks.
"The next world war could happen in cyberspace and that would be a catastrophe. We have to make sure that all countries understand that in that war, there is no such thing as a superpower," Hamadoun Toure said.
"Loss of vital networks would quickly cripple any nation, and none is immune to cyberattack," added the secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union during the ITU's Telecom World 2009 fair in Geneva.
German raids target 'violent Islamic extremists' -- [CNN]
German police on Wednesday conducted a "city-wide search" in Berlin, targeting "potentially violent Islamic extremists," a police spokeswoman told CNN.
While there is no "concrete" evidence of any attack plot, the raid is targeting people suspected of being involved in "jihadi training," according to the spokeswoman.
The Berlin raid began shortly after 6 a.m. (midnight ET) and was still ongoing by midday, she said.
Germany's capital has been on high alert after al Qaeda and the Taliban released threatening videos before Germany's recent national elections. The videos warned voters not to vote for leaders who want to keep the country's troops in Afghanistan.
NEFA Backgrounder: Abdullah al-Faisal: Extremist Ideologue with Influence in the West -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
The NEFA Foundation has released a new backgrounder on Abdullah al-Faisal; an extremist ideologue based in Jamaica who reaches supporters worldwide via the Internet, and through extensive international travel, particularly to Africa. Al-Faisal formerly resided in the UK, and was of such sufficient concern there that he was arrested for inciting murder, and accused of inspiring young Muslims to travel abroad for training or to participate in violent jihad. Al-Faisal has been credited with providing spiritual mentorship to men connected with terrorist acts and major plots including 7/7 London transit bombers Mohammed Sidique Khan and Germaine Lindsay and James Ujaama, an American who conspired to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon.
Survivors in Afghanistan Need Immediate Help - 56 Soldiers Lost EVERYTHING -- [TankerBabe]
I'm still working through a list of emails from so many of you. THANK YOU. And thank you for your patience. I don't have the speadsheet update in full yet but I do know that we are mostly still in need of:
ACU tshirts - see original post for sizes and quanitities
Waterproof winter gloves (dark colors)
Socks - white and winter wool for hiking
12 pairs of shower shoes
Towels and wash clothes
PT clothes - winter and summer
Cash donations towards the purchase of athlectic shoes for PT
WE DO NOT NEED any more...
Thank you all so much for the great response. I will do my best to get some solid numbers to you by end of day tomorrow.
Day of the Deployed Oct. 26th -- [Soldiers Angels]
Even With Check in Hand, GI Benefits Elusive -- [Washington Post]
Tens of thousands of veterans, active-duty servicemembers and their dependents have been waiting for promised higher-education benefits from VA since fall classes began last month. The agency attempted to address the backlog by granting $3,000 in emergency checks, but that has just created a new problem.
A reader alerted your (substitute) Diarist that her husband's bank had placed a five-day hold on his check, out of concern about potential fraud.
LA's Sale-abration a huge success -- [Soldiers Angels LA]
The letter below is from Janet Scaruffi, who co-organized the sale with Gail Sanchez Welk. These ladies worked endless hours to get this sale ready and are the reason for its' huge success! They also brought their friends and families in to help (there were tons of them there) There are so many wonderful angels who showed up for the day, you could almost see the halo over the Elk's Lodge #30. Everyone that helped make this event such a huge success, deserves the biggest angel hugs you can give them!
Home -- [Mongo's Montreaux - home from Iraq]
Will start posting again soon. Right now, not doing nada.
Welcome home, Company B -- [Pensacola News Journal]
...We should never minimize or overlook the enormous sacrifices made by those who serve their country. Their service is a real and true testament to the bravery and courage of the men and women who value the idea of liberty -- and who make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of democracy and freedom. They do their duty with pride and courage, demonstrating what it truly means to be free.
As we honor and congratulate those who returned, we also remember the men and women who did not, and mourn for those families whose loved ones suffered injuries or paid the ultimate price by giving their lives. Their service and sacrifice are immeasurable and should never be forgotten.
Pensacola Mayor Mike Wiggins echoed the sentiments of the entire community when he thanked the soldiers upon their arrival at the Florida Army National Guard headquarters
300 Fort Drum soldiers return home from Iraq -- [NewsChannel 9 WSYR]
The ceremony to welcome them home was short and sweet -- just the way the crowd wanted it to be. "I got no sleep last night. I waited and waited and waited
Watchmen: Dead-Heads -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
Oops. But the Telegraph corrected itself, so no harm, no foul, right? No. A Google search showed that thousands of media outlets ran with the characterization in the original headline, including the BBC, the Los Angeles Times, and FOX as well as Top 100 blog sites like the Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars, HotAir and Democratic Underground. Millions misinformed. Damage done.
This is the second time in recent months that a sloppy headline has affected the policy discussion about Afghanistan.
Bribe This -- [CJR - Joshua Foust]
Despite years of failure, pundits still want to bribe Pashtuns
There is a dark irony to the faintly racist idea that Afghans are unprincipled mercenaries available to the highest bidders, especially given the rampant panic in Washington at the inescapable conclusion that Hamid Karzai stole his own reelection. And still, after failed eight years of alternatively condemning a "culture of corruption" and thinking we just need to bribe the Afghans a little more, you see ostensibly smart columnists suggesting we try to bring back the nineteenth century.
Bribing the tribes is a variation of "arm the tribes," a meme that swept the reporter-world in 2008 but then swiftly disappeared.
CBS flunks research and journalism -- [Hot Air - Ed Morrissey]
Share on Facebook | printer-friendly How difficult is it to click on a link and check a quote? Apparently too difficult for CBS News, which criticizes conservative bloggers, including me, for pointing out a rather large discrepancy in two stories told by the Obamas about their daughter Sasha as a means to push ObamaCare. In a piece they call "Taking Liberties," CBS "fact checks" our comparison of the two stories:
Michael Moore Says Only a Wuss Would Be Afraid of Al-Qaeda (Video) -- [Gateway Pundit]
The political football in Afghanistan -- [This Ain't Hell...]
While real soldiers are fighting a real war in Afghanistan, politicians toss their fates around like a football. Leaving a meeting with the President at the White House on the subject, members of Congress made statements which don't give me much confidence in their intentions. According to the Stars and Stripes, Harry Reid said that he "left the meeting believing that all lawmakers - regardless of party affiliation - will support Obama's ultimate decision." That kind of wording means that if some politicians don't support the President's decision, they'll be ostracized.
John Kerry, of course, sees the war as a political opportunity instead of the lives of troops;
Hell Freezes Over-- Code Pink Rethinks Call For Afghanistan Pullout -- [Gateway Pundit]
This photo was taken by Code Pink during their trip to Afghanistan.
For some reason the Code Pink Marxists did not thank George Bush for the fact that little girls were once again attending school in the former Taliban stronghold.
Hell freezes over.
Obamas undertake radical revamp of White House art -- [Times]
Out have gone traditional landscapes, portraits and still life paintings. In have come new pieces by contemporary African-American and Native American artists, with bold colours, odd shapes and squiggly lines.
...One of the most striking - and apt, as Mr Obama wrestles with his Afghanistan policy - is Edward Ruscha's I Think I'll ..., a painting about indecision which superimposes phrases such as "I think I'll ..." and "maybe ... no" and "wait a minute" on top of a blood red sunset.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Gen. Petraeus treated for prostate cancer -- [The Associated Press]
David Petraeus, the top US commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February and has since undergone two months
Afghan, US troops kill 40 militants in east -- [AP]
Afghan and American forces killed 40 militants in 24 hours as they hunted mountainous eastern Afghanistan for insurgents behind one of the deadliest attacks of the war for U.S. troops, the defense ministry said Tuesday.
Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 10 Afghan army troops were also killed in the same period around the country, most of them in Nuristan province's Kamdesh district, where eight Americans died Saturday after hundreds of Taliban militants overwhelmed their remote and thinly manned outposts.
U.S.: No more enemy body counts in Afghanistan - July 27, 2009 -- [CNN]
The U.S. military will stop publishing the number of Taliban and insurgents it kills in Afghanistan under orders from the senior U.S. military spokesman for the American-led coalition.
"Indicating the number of insurgents killed has little relevance to impacting the lives of Afghans. In fact, if that were the only purpose and metric, you would likely only extend the time it takes to bring about an end to the insurgency," Smith said in an e-mail to CNN responding to a query about the change.
The issue of publishing enemy body counts has been extremely sensitive to the U.S. military since the Vietnam War when the military regularly published large enemy body counts but seemed to be failing overall to make progress in the war.
Exclusive: Wounded U.S. Soldiers Refused to Leave Taliban Fight -- [ABC News]
Afghan Attacks: Darkness, Smoke Forced Medevac Doctors to Work by Touch
ABC News' Karen Russo was the only reporter to get to the scene of this weekend's bloody firefight between U.S. troops and hundreds of Taliban insurgents when she went in on a MEDEVAC helicopter. Here is her report:
Flying into the besieged Afghan base during a nighttime firefight this weekend was a harrowing mix of overwhelming noise, stomach dropping maneuvers and shadows hurrying through the gloom.
When the chopper lifted off moments later with three wounded soldiers, it left behind others who were wounded but refused to be MEDEVACED out of the combat zone so they could return to fight with their buddies.
Fighting raged at two remote U.S. outpostsnear the Pakistan border this weekend, that left eight U.S. soldiers dead and 24 wounded. The battle was fought from Friday night through Sunday as hundreds of Taliban insurgents and their allies tried to overrun the Americans.
During the fighting,...
We lost 8 of our own -- [Army Household6 - husband in Afghanistan]
I wanted to post really quick about this weekend's deadly attack in Afghanistan as I've received lots of phone calls, emails and IM's asking about SGT Daddy. As you probably have heard, this weekend 8 of our 4th ID , 4th Brigade soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice in an attack from the Taliban(along with other groups) in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan Border. I do not believe that SGT Daddy was one of the 8 (i would have heard by now), I haven't heard from him yet either since the attack. In these types of situations, there is usually a communication blackout so that the families of our fallen warriors can be notified. I'm sure that is the reason for not hearing from him. As the details get released about the 8 soldiers, I will of course update as much as I can.
Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast --- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
Here in Kabul, we are unburdened by the crushing weight of reality. Like the kites that ring our merry city, we are set free to drift on the winds of idle speculation or dark rumor. With our imaginative faculties thus exercised, we are able, like the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland, to imagine six impossible things before breakfast. Here are mine:
1. That there are honest and decent people in this world, and some of them wear military uniforms.
2. That sometimes, rather than shrewdly calculating the political utility of their every word, people mean what they say when they say it. Take, for example: "I think any decision to go forward [in Afghanistan] will not just be based on resources, it will be based on what are our goals. And I know people are re-looking what our goals and objectives are and redefining and clarifying those, and I think that's helpful. Once they do that, ...
US, Afghan troops beat back bold enemy assault in eastern Afghanistan -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
US and Afghan forces beat back a brazen assault on two joint outposts in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan. The attack was led by Taliban commander Dost Mohammed and was aided by al Qaeda's Shadow Army. Eight US troops, seven Afghan troops, and an unspecified number of enemy fighters were killed during the fighting, which ended after US air and artillery pounded the fighters in a counterattack. The US military said the fighters launched the attack on the two remote outposts in the district of Kamdish, just 10 miles from the Pakistani border, after organizing at a nearby mosque and a village. More than 300 fighters were involved in the assault, according to Quqnoos, an Afghan newspaper. The fighting was said to be intense and lasted for several hours.
Deadly Attack By Taliban Tests New Strategy -- [Washington Post]
...The fighting came on a day when poor weather limited visibility. The insurgents struck from positions in a mosque, village buildings and hillside positions above the outpost, which is in the Kamdesh area of Nurestan province. Surrounded by enemy fighters and under heavy fire, U.S. soldiers called in ground reinforcements, along with attack helicopters, airplanes and surveillance drones. U.S. forces eventually repelled the attack while inflicting "a significant amount of casualties" on insurgents, Smith said. "Virtually everything that could be thrown at it was thrown at it."
Deadly Attack By Taliban Tests New Strategy -- [Washington Post]
US commanders had been planning since late last year to abandon the small combat outpost in mountainous eastern Afghanistan where eight US soldiers died Saturday in a fierce insurgent assault. The pullout, part of a strategy of withdrawing from sparsely populated areas where the United States lacks the troops to expel Taliban forces and to support the local Afghan government, has been repeatedly delayed by a shortage of cargo helicopters, Afghan politics and military bureaucracy, US military officials said. The attack began in the early morning hours.
After Deadly Assault, Questions Linger Over Afghanistan Strategy -- [Danger Room - in Afghanistan]
Coalition forces repelled a complex attack by hundreds of militant fighters, but reports suggest that one of the outposts was partially or nearly overrun. The Associated Press, quoting provincial police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangulbagh, said that insurgents flooded an Afghan-held outpost at the bottom of a hill, then attacked the American outpost on higher ground from several directions.
News of the attack comes as the Obama administration deliberates Afghanistan strategy. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, has said he needs more troops to bolster security, but National Security Adviser James Jones told CNN yesterday that "Afghanistan is not in danger -- imminent danger -- of falling" to the Taliban.
HIGs are Pigs -- [Registan]
...For some reason, it takes Lori Hinnant five paragraphs to mention the attack happened in Kamdesh. Since everyone is probably going to compare this attack to the Battle at the Waigal district center in Nuristan from last year, it might be helpful to examine the context surrounding the attack.
...Probably the defining conflict in Kamdesh is not between locals and the U.S, but rather between two Nuristani ethnic groups, the Kom and the Kshto. Like almost everywhere else in Afghanistan, this local conflict is over access to natural resources (in this case, water rights), and the conflict serves as a convenient angle for outsiders to leverage influence and power. The Kom tend to be more friendly to HiG, but both communities support to varying degrees extremist mullahs advocating jihad against the U.S. forces in the area.
Strand wonders why the U.S. hadn't, in 2007, implemented a more robust counterinsurgency strategy in the area. A quick answer would be that it is simply too hard:
After the Attack -- [At War - New York Times]
...The weekend's events also highlight the difficult conundrum faced by military leaders when placing soldiers in dangerous areas. In the military, a common mantra is "mission first, men always." At first glance this remark seems blindingly obvious, but upon closer scrutiny one begins to realize that there are situations in which force protection and mission accomplishment can run counter to one another.
Forward Operating Bases provide security, but at the cost of minimizing closer soldier interaction with the populace. In contrast, an isolated combat outpost extends the reach of the U.S. military, but also exposes a greater number of troops to harm.
But is the strategic solution to such a problem to boost the numbers on the ground (Gen. McChrystal's plan) or is it to move soldiers out of these areas and instead rely on our technological superiority (Vice President Biden's plan)?
Don't tell me we've stooped to the "Domino Theory" -- [Wings Over Iraq - in Iraq]
I try to avoid making Vietnam comparisons in the Afghan debate, but sometimes it's unavoidable. Take today's post by Londonstani in Andrew Exum's "Abu Muqawama", in which Londonstani and British General Sir David Richards invoke the old "Domino theory" argument from the Vietnam era. Says Gen. Richards in the Telegraph: "He said: ;If al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they have defeated us - what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state and that is a terrifying prospect. Even if only a few of those (nuclear) weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them. The recent airlines plot has reminded us that there are people out there who would happily blow all of us up.'" Cute, but hardly accurate.
Worst Losses for a Year as Taleban Storm NATO Outpost -- [The Times]
It began before dawn - a devastating, well-planned attack. About 300 insurgents swarmed out of a village and mosque and attacked a pair of isolated American outposts in a remote mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan with machineguns, rockets and grenades.
McChrystal Planned to Move Soldiers Killed in Afghan Siege -- [Christian Science Monitor]
One fundamental tenet of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's controversial Afghanistan strategy aims at avoiding precisely the kinds of attacks that killed eight American soldiers Sunday. In what is being described as one of the boldest attacks of the Afghan insurgency, an estimated 300 militants sustained a day-long siege against a coalition outpost in Nuristan Province - a place where the rule of law is so tenuous and the terrain so forbidding that it is seen as one of the likeliest hiding places for Osama bin Laden. It is also has fewer people than Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Beyond the request for more resources that has engrossed America, McChrystal's battlefield assessment proposes deploying American troops in a profoundly different way. Rather...
'Almost a Lost Cause' -- [Washington Post]
In recent months, the battle of Wanat has come to symbolize the US military's missteps in Afghanistan. It has provoked Brostrom's father to question why Jonathan died and whether senior Army officers - including a former colleague and close friend - made careless mistakes that left the platoon vulnerable. It has triggered three investigations, the latest initiated last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it has helped drive a broader reassessment of war strategy among top commanders in Afghanistan, who have begun to pull US troops out of remote villages where some of the heaviest fighting has occurred.
Missing: The Point -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
...Is it possible that it will not require a quarter of a million active duty soldiers for eternity? I think that the answer to the last two questions is, "Yes, it is possible... even likely." So let's put down that tired old meme.
Let's work on what's broken. You cannot build a house on shifting sands, but don't let the nebulous appearance fool you; Afghanistan had these structures which nurtured life and led tribes to live in relative peace. There is a reason why the Hazara have not been wiped out by the Pashtuns, for instance (although the Taliban tried.) The traditional structures worked. General McChrystal has this built into his plan, and the "civilian surge" is appearing (I see them, new ones, all the time.) The other plan is based on silliness and antiquated thinking. It's a built-in excuse for failure. It's really what we have been doing for nearly eight years, anyway. Calling it something new won't change that, and it won't fix anything... it'll only make it worse. Let's not be that small, especially in our heads. Everyone's got a silly old uncle... on Petticoat Junction they called theirs "Joe"... but that doesn't mean that his ideas had to go any further than some silly talk at the dinner table.
A Savvy Swat Strategy -- [Washington Post]
A visit to this battlefield of Pakistan's war against the Taliban left one indelible image - of a teenage boy's beaming smile of relief - that conveys what a successful counterinsurgency campaign is all about. Let me explain: When Pakistani troops regained control of Swat in a violent campaign this summer, they found scores of traumatized teenagers who had been forced to work as boy soldiers. About a month ago, the army opened a rehabilitation clinic for them
Give Us More Troops, British Forces Tell Bob Ainsworth in Afghanistan -- [The Times]
Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, faced direct calls for more troops, equipment and training from frontline forces in Afghanistan yesterday as he visited the country with Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary. The two ministers spent the day meeting British troops and local officials in southern Afghanistan before flying on to Pakistan last night for talks with their local counterparts today and tomorrow. It was the first visit by a British Home Secretary to the troops in Afghanistan.
Another week of mentoring... -- [3rd Time, New Country - in Afghanistan]
It's been about 10 days since I last posted to this blog. No big steps taken since the last entry but I can recap. Mostly it's been a normal week of mentoring with a few trips. Last Saturday, I went with Holly & Kelly to the pre-school/daycare at the Poly-clinic which is on the NMH campus. The staff at NMH can bring their children to the daycare while they are at work. There can be anywhere from 50 to 80 children per day. Someone had sent Holly a box of stuffed animals and school supplies, so I helped her carry it and distribute it. It is like Christmas, giving the kids the stuffed animals and school supplies. I stuffed a few of the smaller animals into my magazine pouches on my IBA and gave them out to the children as we saw them.
Downtown Public Hospital -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan ]
Of course most Americans who have never seen a struggling hospital in a third world country would probably have a very difficult time processing what we saw. But after a day to reflect on everything my partner Steve and I, who are sort of conneisseurs of third world hospitals, concluded that we have seen worse. Me in some parts of Asia, he in Africa. But for a country that is in the midst of a war and in temporary buildings for the most part it seems to be operating very well. It was depressing seeing the disparity between the Directors Office and the peeling paint and bare wires in most of the buildings. There is still a lot to do in this country.
One more word about the Afghan Health system....
I Was Ordered to Cover Up President Karzai Election Fraud, Sacked UN Envoy Says -- [The Times]
The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan has been accused by his former deputy of ordering a systematic cover-up to conceal the extent of electoral fraud by President Karzai. In an attack on the role of the UN in the elections on August 20, Peter Galbraith, who was sacked as Deputy Special Representative to the UN mission in Kabul last week, says that Kai Eide ordered him not to reveal evidence of fraud or to pass it to the authorities. As a result, he said, the elections had handed the Taleban "its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners". He says that the UN collected evidence that a third of Mr Karzai's votes were fraudulent. If the claim was found to be true it would push Mr Karzai below the 54 per cent that the preliminary election results give him, necessitating a second round of voting. The attack by Mr Galbraith seems timed to counter indications that the US Government and international community have accepted the official verdict of the Afghan authorities and, with it, a Karzai Administration
Returning to camp -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Alas! Our academic training on crew serve weapons had come to an end and we were scheduled to return to camp. The original plan was to meet up with another convoy at 7 am. This meant we had to start preparing vehicles at 6:30 am and further it meant waking at 5:30 am to shave, dress, eat, etc. Like clockwork we were on time and then the Captain received a phone call. The convoy would be delayed an hour. Also before returning to camp, we would escort my fellow teammates back to their camp. While driving to my former camp, my armored HMMVW experienced a mechanical problem. It wouldn't shift out of second gear into drive.
Two Firefights: One Video -- [Michael Yon - in Afghanistan]
In July, British soldiers and I boarded a CH-47 helicopter at Camp Bastion for the flight to FOB Jackson at Sangin where fighting is brutal. The helicopter was so stuffed with men, gear and supplies that the cargo was not even strapped down. We steadied the long stack with our hands and prayed that the pilots not begin flying violent evasive maneuvers. The tail gunner partially lifted the ramp to prevent bundles from tumbling into the skies, and that was it for securing the bundles. Just a week before, a giant MI-26 helicopter was shot down on final approach to this same landing zone. All aboard died in flames, as did two children on the ground. This is, interestingly, the same landing zone where I would make the photos for "The Kopp-Etchells Effect" dispatch, which was published in many languages around the world.
Partnership will define success -- [MNF -I]
With Iraqi Security Forces taking the lead in accordance with the Security Agreement, mission accomplishment is in sight for U.S. forces here, says the Multi-National Corps - Iraq commanding general. "We are not going to falter; we are going to complete this task; we believe that it is close at hand and we believe in our Iraqi partners," Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. said. "We are going to continue our best efforts to finish this with success and honor."
U.S. forces have made many sacrifices to bring freedom, democracy and stability to Iraq. Success will be measured by the quality of the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq, he stressed. "In the end, those sacrifices will be validated, both for the Iraqi people and the American people, by an enduring strategic partnership that builds on our mutual trust, confidence and strategic interest."
Health assessments make us all crazy... -- [Castra Praetoria - in Iraq]
Currently we are in the midst of the glorious Post Deployment Health Assessment. This is to asses our state of health after deployment in support of military operations and to assist military healthcare providers in identifying and providing present and future medical care we may need. The information we provide may result in a referral for additional healthcare that may include medical, dental or behavioral healthcare or diverse community support services (this is pretty much all plagiarized right off the questionnaire). Some of the questions simply ask how you would rate your health, if you had been injured or sick during the deployment, and whether or not you have any emotional problems, etc. As America's 1stSgt filled out his assessment the building veritably shook with the deafening running commentary that accompanies nearly everything that goes on in the company office.
Threats in Southern Iraq Ahead of a U.S. Withdrawal -- [SWJ - Lieutenant Colonel John Johnson]
This paper provides a description of the three major threats in southern Iraq, identifies several unlikely wildcard events which could alter the security situation, and concludes that while violence in the south is quite low when compared to historical trends and compared to the rest of Iraq, there remains several areas where U.S. forces should focus their efforts to ensure violence remains low ahead of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Iraqi Security Force Update: October 2009 -- [Montrose Toast]
During September, the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior held 23 course graduations. The emphasis in the Ministry of Interior is still on basic training of the backlog of untrained and already hired Iraqi Police. The emphasis of the Iraqi Army remains on support elements, with particular emphasis on engineer and indirect fires.
New school opens for girls in Erbil -- [MNF-I]
...Opening a school of this size and quality in a downtrodden neighborhood like Bnaslawa demonstrates to the people that the government really cares, according to Quinlan.
"This school will serve 1,600 females," said Quinlan. "The schools they [females] had before were the most in need of repairs."
Overcrowding had gotten so bad that the government had to contract private homes in the community to use as schools, according to Quinlan. "Day by day, the population of Erbil grows," said the mayor of Erbil, Hussein Katari. "We needed more schools."
This school shows the infrastructure in the city is growing to match the population. "This [school opening] is going to ease a lot of tension here," Katari said.
Flight Cancelled -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
I was supposed to be in a Blackhawk now flying to a couple of the nearby small bases, but the flight got cancelled. Somebody with a real mission got the seat, so I am labelling photos and getting ready to transfer them to an Army computer. This morning was the Ruck March half marathon. Since I was supposed to fly, I did not pick up my number. I suppose I could have walked, but I took some pictures of participants, then took a nap until the walkers were coming back in. On Monday, I sent the first issue of a new newsletter I am doing for the battalion (700 soldiers). It is a six-page newsletter that goes the soldiers and families in the states by PDF.
The demise of the dollar -- [The Independent]
In a graphic illustration of the new world order, Arab states have launched secret moves with China, Russia and France to stop using the US currency for oil trading -- In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning
Iran Could Make an Atom Bomb, According to UN Report's 'Secret Annexe' -- [The Times]
Iran has the know-how to produce a nuclear bomb and may already have tested a detonation system small enough to fit into the warhead of a medium-range missile, according to confidential papers. The "secret annexe" to this year's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran summarises information submitted by intelligence agencies about the country's work on warheads, detonators and nuclear fuel enrichment.
Iran Agrees to Allow Inspectors on Oct. 25 --[New York Times]
The chief of the world's nuclear inspection agency said during a visit to Tehran on Sunday that the Iranian government had agreed to allow access to a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment facility on Oct. 25, and Iran said it would enter talks earlier about temporarily exporting much of its low-enriched uranium to be converted into nuclear reactor fuel. At a news conference, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, praised Iran for moving forward on agreements reached at a meeting last week with the United States and its allies, even while cautioning that his agency had "concerns about Iran's future intentions." "I see that we are at a critical moment," Dr. ElBaradei said. "I see that we are shifting from confrontation into transparency and cooperation."
GOP senators: US, not Israel, should attack Iran 'if necessary' -- [RAW Story]
Two senior Republican senators say the United States, and not Israel, should attack Iran if military action becomes "necessary." -- They also say a simple strike at the country's nuclear capability wouldn't be enough
New Post-Soviet Force Begins Military Exercises -- [Breitbart /AP]
Thousands of troops from Russia and four other ex-Soviet nations began military exercises in southern Kazakhstan on Friday, the first of its kind for the newly formed NATO-style rapid-reaction force. Moscow is hoping the force will help bolster the power and prestige of the seven-nation Collective Security Treaty Organization, which Russia is hoping will help counterbalance NATO but to date has been seen largely as a mere talking shop.
New Threat Message Warns: Al-Qaeda Will Attack Germany on a Sunday in October -- [MEMRI]
The Al-Falluja jihadist forum has posted a new threat message to Germany specifying that attacks will be carried out on one of the Sundays in October. It is titled "To the Infidel German Nation: We Bestow on You the Kindness, for the Third Time, of Specifying the Appointed Day!" The message, which is being heavily promoted by Al-Falluja, is the latest in a series of threats to appear on the forum  following the release of Al-Qaeda videos threatening attacks in Germany.
This message had a strange rollout. Early on October 3, 2009, a forum member called Abu Hamza 2005 wrote a post titled "Welcome to the new member Mou10ra11bitt18oun25!" He wrote that when browsing the Al-Falluja forum he had come across this newly-registered user, and that the username reminded him of "p2l0a0g8u9e," a member on the now-defunct Al-Ekhlaas forum who, in May 2008, posted a video threatening the destruction of the U.S. in a nuclear strike.
Detainees Face Severe Conditions if Moved to US -- [Washington Post]
For up to four hours a day, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, can sit outside in the Caribbean sun and chat through a chain-link fence with the detainee in the neighboring exercise yard at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mohammed can also use that time to visit a media room to watch movies of his choice, read newspapers and books, or play handheld electronic games. He and other detainees have access to elliptical machines and stationary bikes. At Guantanamo, such recreational activities interrupt an otherwise bleak existence, according to a Pentagon report of conditions at Camp 7, which houses 16 high-value detainees. But even those privileges may soon vanish. The Justice Department has begun to hint in court filings that at least some of the defendants in the Sept. 11, 2001, case, as well as other prominent suspects, will be transferred to federal custody in the United States. ...And those conditions, it turns out, would be vastly more draconian than they are at Guantanamo Bay.
Keeping a lid on homegrown terror -- [Counterterrorism Blog
TERRORISM DRAMATICALLY regained the headlines recently, as US authorities revealed the details of three unrelated plots they foiled.
.......Of course, there are differences between the United States and Europe. The first is related to the significantly better economic conditions of American Muslims. While European Muslims generally languish at the bottom of most rankings that measure economic integration, American Muslims fare significantly better. Although economic integration is not always an antidote to radicalization, it is undeniable that radical ideas find a fertile environment among unemployed and disenfranchised youth.
1,681 HEROES WAITING FOR ADOPTION -- [Soldiers' Angels]
This is one of the most important things that can be done to help bring home a healthy hero; it is so very important for each of them to know they are loved and supported, and your letters and care packages prove just that. The length of each adoption depends on the branch of service your soldier is in and a number of other factors, but generally averages between six (6) months to twelve (12) months. On occasion, they can be extended, but this is the average.
Care packages do not have to be expensive: you can put together your own (we have a detailed list of the most-requested items for you--snacks, hygiene products, and games or magazines). We have also have some exciting themed care packages in the Angel Store (they are sold at cost and shipped directly to your soldier, complete with a personal note from you).
ARMY MAJOR GENERAL SHARES PERSONAL STORY TO BATTLE SUICIDE STIGMA -- [Bouhammer]
"In suffering, we either find ourselves or we destroy ourselves." Quoting from Oswald Chambers' devotional, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, told the story of his family's personal experience with suicide and tragedy, and how they now share their past to help others. Graham and wife, Carol, agreed to share their personal story as a closing to Army Suicide Prevention Month, having lost their son Kevin to suicide in June 2003. Seven months later, the Grahams lost their other son Jeffrey, who was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khaldiyah, Iraq.
Everett surgeon gets vivid look at cost of war -- [Herald Net]
Five thousand miles from home, and working inside the unfamiliar, gray maze of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Dr. Jay Cook watched as an injured soldier was wheeled into the hospital's intensive care unit.
He remembers feeling an odd sense of familiarity, thinking: "They're just a few years older than my son. "These are just kids," he said. "They're doing what we asked them to do ... It hit home to me how important it is that we do the right thing by them."
VA - not always transparent or accountable -- [BurnPit]
Shame on the VA for hiding reports that will help us guarantee they are living up to their mission and responsibility.
Gen. Petraeus treated for prostate cancer
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has undergone treatment for prostate cancer.
A spokesman for Petraeus says the general was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in February. Petraeus underwent two months of radiation treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, and the treatment was successful.
Veteran Imposter charged with Faking Military Medals -- [KRDO]
Denver- Richard Strandlof, 32, was charged Thursday with claiming military decorations that he did not earn.
Strandlolf became an activist and campaigned for anti-war political candidates under the premise. He claimed that he was a Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient. The charges are the first time Strandlof has been accused of claiming a military medal.
Verternas had questioned whether Strandlof would face charges for misrepresenting himself. Earlier this year Strandlof admitted lying about being a war hero.
Saluting heroes: Town greets troops returning from Iraq -- [The Tribune-Democrat]
BLANDBURG -- This small northeastern Cambria County town near the Blair County border swelled with pride Saturday as residents held Operation Welcome Home to pay tribute to six area Pennsylvania Army National Guard soldiers who returned in September from Iraq.
FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials -- [Federal Trade Commission]
...Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides - which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as "results not typical" - the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that "material connections" (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers - connections that consumers would not expect - must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other "word-of-mouth" marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus
FTC to Regulate Blogging -- [FOX news]
The Federal Trade Commission will try to regulate blogging for the first time, requiring writers on the Web to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.
The FTC said Monday its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final Web guidelines, which had been expected. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews.
The commission stopped short of specifying how bloggers must disclose conflicts of interest.
Chicago Sun-Times Blames Olympics Loss On...Bush! -- [NewsBusters]
"President Obama could not undo in one year the resentment against America that President Bush and others built up for years."
So claim some famous and some notso famous Chicagoans is the reason the Windy City lost its bid for the 2016 Olympics Friday.
George Will: Obama Went to Copenhagen to Speak About Himself -- [NewsBusters]
On Sunday, ABC's George Will uttered an inconvenient truth about Barack Obama that his adoring media have been ignoring since he first threw his hat into the presidential ring in February 2007: his rhetoric is filled with constant references to himself.
To prove the point on the most recent installment of "This Week," Will counted the number of times Mr. and Mrs. Obama used the words "I" and "me" during their speeches in Copenhagen Friday.
The numbers are shocking making it likely in Will's view that the word "vain" is going to eventually attach itself to Obama (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
MSNBC Hypocrisy -- [Flopping Aces]
The media elites are so blind. Where were they on civility for the past 8 years? Oh, yeah: They were part of the contributing problem.
War advisers must be candid but discreet: Gates -- [Reuters]
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on Monday for patience and discretion as President Barack Obama decides how to conduct the war in Afghanistan, urging advisers to speak "candidly but privately" on strategy.
Gates did not single out anyone in his address at an Army convention in Washington, but his comments followed very public remarks by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan as well as Obama's national security adviser.
..."So it is important that we take our time to do all we can to get this right. And in this process, it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations -- civilians and military alike -- provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately."
Obama Furious at General Stanley McChrystal Speech on Afghanistan -- [Daily Telegraph]
The relationship between President Barack Obama and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has been put under severe strain by Gen Stanley McChrystal's comments on strategy for the war. According to sources close to the administration, Gen McChrystal shocked and angered presidential advisers with the bluntness of a speech given in London last week. The next day he was summoned to an awkward 25-minute face-to-face meeting on board Air Force One on the tarmac in Copenhagen,
Clear Voice of Bush's Pentagon Becomes Harder to Hear -- [New York Times]
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the face of the Iraq troop surge and a favorite of former President George W. Bush, spoke up or was called upon by President Obama "several times" during the big Afghanistan strategy session in the Situation Room last week, one participant says, and will be back for two more meetings this week. But the general's closest associates say that underneath the surface of good relations, the celebrity commander faces a new reality in Mr. Obama's White House: He is still at the table, but in a very different seat. No longer does the man who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have one of the biggest voices at National Security Council meetings, as he did when Mr. Bush gave him 20 minutes during hourlong weekly sessions to present his views in live video feeds from Baghdad. No longer is the general, with the Capitol Hill contacts and web of e-mail relationships throughout Washington's journalism establishment, testifying in media explosions before Congress, as he did in September 2007, when he gave 34 interviews in three days.
Is Virginia blocking military personnel from voting? -- [Washington Examiner]
Is Virginia denying military voters the chance to vote in its state election this November? That's what I gather from this post from the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and this post from Republican blogger Soren Dayton. There's some shabby history here. In 1944 Republicans and Southern Democrats in Congress ganged up to make it difficult for military personnel--about 12 million men at the time--to vote; Republicans believed that most G.I.s would vote for Franklin Roosevelt, and Southern Democrats feared that black G.I.s would vote and get into the habit of voting. In 2000 some Democrats in Florida tried to prevent military votes from being counted. They feared most would vote for George W. Bush. But what's going on in Virginia is unclear.
ACORN Hired People "Still In Prison" Convicted of Identity Theft For Canvassing Voters (Video) -- [Gateway Pundit]
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a democrat, told Eric Shawn on FOX News that ACORN was hiring convicts still in prison -CONVICTED OF IDENTITY THEFT- for canvassing voters.
Ross said that by executing a search warrant at ACORN headquarters in Nevada the authorities were able to substantiate charges and have a very solid case against ACORN. They believe they can prove that it's not just a few bad apples it went much higher up in the organization. Ross believes that ACORN and the regional director should be held accountable for the criminal activity that took place in the state.
Sunday Funnies Surge -- [Flopping Aces]
[Ed Note: a large collection of political cartoons for this past week]
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Obama, McChrystal meet on Air Force One -- [AP / MSNBC]
President Barack Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan for a 25-minute meeting aboard Air Force One on Friday as part of his review of a war strategy that has divided the president's national security team.
Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Obama met just before the president returned to Washington from Copenhagen
The Internal Focus of ISAF -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
...The French were reportedly out and about at that hour in "an operation designed to strike at a network of bomb-setters."
Striking a "network of bomb-setters" normally requires extensive human intelligence, reconnaissance to verify the intelligence followed by a visit by the direct action door kickers. Unless the "bomb - setters" are operating off an ISAF FOB or are stupid enough to give up their location and intention over cell phones there is no way the French or anyone else will be able to accurately target them because the recon guys, the human intelligence collectors and the door kickers are all confined to FOB's and when they venture out they do so in gigantic armored personnel carriers
Scots soldiers smash Taliban bomb-makers' stronghold -- [Ministry of Defense]
Hundreds of soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), launched an 'audacious' night-time assault on an insurgent stronghold in Kandahar province, finding an 'Aladdin's cave' of weapons.
Almost 500 soldiers, including Afghan Warriors and Canadian IED (improvised explosive device) experts, swooped into Howz-e Madad in Zhari district in three waves of six Chinook helicopters in the early hours ...
Back Your General and Send More Troops, David Miliband Urges Barack Obama -- [The Times]
David Miliband urged President Obama to embrace a renewed "hearts and minds" strategy in Afghanistan as ministers indicated that they would not send more British troops unless the US adopted such an approach.
Frontline: Obama's War -- [Greyhawk]
This is not a commercial for Barack Obama. It is a damn fine video report on the war in Afghanistan and the troops who fight it. Video below, but I'd advise you to read your way to it. My email today from the good folks at Frontline includes something of a caution:
Watchmen: Seeking Daylight -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
Yesterday, General McChrystal spoke at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, an appearance that was generally well received in Britain. About the worst that could be said was said by Bronwen Maddox of The Times, who noted that the general failed to detail how more troops would be used to better effect. Fair enough, although considering that the document posing the question about more troops is sitting in a desk drawer at the Pentagon until the administration's strategy review is complete, the ommission is perhaps understandable.
On the other side of the pond, reporters weren't about to let the actual substance of the IISS presentation get in the way of a good political story.
White House Eyeing Narrower War Effort -- [Washington Post]
Senior White House officials have begun to make the case for a policy shift in Afghanistan that would send few, if any, new combat troops to the country and instead focus on faster military training of Afghan forces, continued assassinations of al-Qaeda leaders and support for the government of neighboring Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban.
Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
This month, Lt. Jim Adamson from the 5th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland earned the Military Cross. His experience carries a larger lesson about the paradoxes at play in Afghanistan. A 23-year-old platoon commander with 25 Soldiers under his care, Lieutenant Adamson was trying to push the Taliban out of an area near the town of Musa Qala in Helmand's Green Zone, which is very difficult terrain. He was literally up to his chest in that terrain, wading down a river between two positions, when his team came under fire.
Interpreter- Turjuman -- [Doc H's International Adventure - in Afghanistan]
...There are several categories of Interpreters employed by the Department of Defense. Category I are local nationals like our team interpreter. They are usually hired through an Afghan contractor. They get paid monthly for their services and some extra money for going out on missions with us off the Camp. I dare say this extra money does not adequately compensate them for the potential danger they face. If you read the news headlines closely you will find the names of many interpreters among the wounded or killed in battle reports. Since they are targets for insurgents many interpreters work in areas that are not their home provinces. They also use names which are not their real names, so that
Shootouts, Pot Fields and Spy Drones -- [Danger Room - in Afghanistan]
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The final day was, in some ways, the worst. During nearly four weeks on assignment in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, I didn't see a single person get seriously hurt or killed. That changed on a last mission, with an Air Force rescue team. A British soldier had his hand and his foot blown off, just outside of the air field here. The rescue squad quickly scooped him out of the minefield, saving his life. But that soldier will never recover from Afghanistan. This gallery chronicles my trip in pictures, from the shootouts to the spy drones to the 12-foot-tall marijuana fields.
How to Address Child Exploitation? -- [Registan]
Several months ago, reports surfaced in Kandahar that Canadian troops were so disturbed by seeing rampant child abuse they had to enter counseling. Now directives have been issued, ordering Canadian troops to "stop or report" instances of child-rape (the story limited the discussion to boys, but I think reporting the rape of little girls is implicit). While it would be one thing to witness this kind of thing out in the boonies, the incidents that inspired this new directive apparently took place on Kandahar Air Field itself. On at least two separate occasions, people witnessed little boys, sometimes dressed up in wigs and makeup, being escorted into the tents of Afghan interpreters and soldiers.
...What's interesting--and especially distressing--about Afghanistan is the prevalence of child rape among the U.S.-funded Afghan National Security Forces. Worse still is new information indicating that the Canadian military knew of these reports and buried them for fear of a media feeding frenzy.
September 30 interview with WUSF Radio -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour]
Here is the link to the latest interview with WUSF Radio's Bobbie O'Brien. It aired yesterday during NPR's All Things Considered and again this morning during Morning Edition on WUSF Radio in Tampa, FL. Topics included visiting a local orphanage, how some of the projects turned out at the old camp, possible corruption and impact on morale.
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader thought killed in August strike in South Waziristan -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Unconfirmed reports indicate Tahir Yuldashev was among those killed in a US airstrike in Kanigoram on Aug. 27.
Analysis: A look at US airstrikes in Pakistan through September 2009 -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio and Alexander Mayer]
A look at the data on the US air campaign against Taliban and al Qaeda networks in Pakistan. Civilian casualties are surprisingly low while the most al Qaeda leaders have been killed in territories belonging to 'pro-government Taliban leader' Mullah Nazir.
Just a reminder: Success of U.S. airstrikes on AQ depends on U.S. presence in Afghanistan -- [Hot Air]
A superb point from Tapper, playing off my post yesterday about the unusual spike in successful Predator strikes over the past 18 months....
Sources say this success is largely because of better intelligence, stemming from greater cooperation by the Pakistani government and a stronger U.S. counter-insurgency program on the other side of the border in Afghanistan.
That added pressure creates the conditions for better intelligence on the ground as to where Taliban and al Qaeda forces are, sources say.
"They're squeezed," a Pentagon source says of individuals on the border region. "And when people are squeezed, they talk."
But military officials who support Gen. Stanley McChrystal's proposal for a larger counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan are concerned that some in the White House interpret this success as a reason to focus entirely on counterterrorism using drones...
Afghanistan, September, 2009 -- [Boston Globe]
Today's entry is the first of a new regular feature on the Big Picture: a monthly focus on Afghanistan. From now on, I will post such an entry at least once every month as long as necessary. Violence in Afghanistan has reached its most intense of the eight-year-old war despite record levels of U.S. and NATO troops being sent to fight the Taliban.
New inquiry ordered into deadly Afghanistan battle -- [AP]
A top U.S. military commander has ordered a new investigation of a 2008 firefight in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of nine American soldiers and led to allegations of negligence by their senior commanders.
Army Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the U.S. Central Command, has appointed Richard Natonski, a Marine Corps lieutenant general, to handle the inquiry, Central Command announced Wednesday. New issues have arisen since an official Army investigation into the battle was completed more than a year ago, the command said, but it would not say what those issues were.
Odierno: May not be possible to declare victory in Iraq -- [CNN]
It isn't clear whether the United States will ever be able to declare victory in Iraq, the top U.S. commander there said Thursday.
"I'm not sure we will ever see anyone declare victory in Iraq, because first off, I'm not sure we'll know for 10 years or five years," Army Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon.
'Baghdad ER' turns off the lights -- [AP]
Army Capt. Amy Prichard took one last look around the room where thousands of war-ravaged soldiers and civilians were treated by U.S. medics in Baghdad's protected Green Zone. Before turning off the lights, she began to cry.
"This is the room where we saved lives on a routine basis, and sometimes we lost them," said Prichard, who earlier served as a morgue assistant. "There are a lot of ghosts for me in this room, in this hospital."
The U.S. military was scheduled Thursday to return Ibn Sina Hospital -- dubbed the Baghdad ER -- to the Iraqi government, ending the American role in what was once the busiest military trauma center in Iraq.
Baghdad ER Closes Down -- [BlackFive - Wolf]
The fact that Victory Base will have our hospital for wounded is telling; I'd like to know what they've prepped to replace the excellent facilities they'd built over the years at Ibn Sina. Like the closing of the original 'War Room' at Camp Doha, it marks the 'progress' we're making as more and more areas are returned to Iraqi management and operation.
If you have stories to share of Ibn Sina, put 'em in the comments. And thanks to all those med-types who served there. You were fantastic.
Some Troops in Iraq May Face Deployment Extension -- [Defense Link]
The deployments of about 1,600 US troops in Iraq could be extended in the weeks following the national election slated to occur in January, Pentagon officials said today. Some 1,000 soldiers from the Army's 1st Cavalry Headquarters in Baghdad could be asked to stay up to 23 days longer and some 600 Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force in Anbar province could be extended up to 79 days, according to defense officials. Gen. Raymond Odierno said current military thinking is to maintain force levels between 110,000 and 120,000 troops for the two months after the January election but ahead of a massive US force reduction expected before next fall. "What we'll do is we'll hold that in place through the elections and about 60 days after the elections," he told Pentagon reporters today. "And depending on how that goes, it's peaceful, and then we will make a determination of coming down to the 50,000-transition force by the first of September."
Iraq's Maliki Unveils Broad Coalition -- [Voice of America]
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced a broad-based coalition to take part in general elections set for January. The bloc hopes to offer an alternative to sectarian-driven politics. The State of Law coalition includes Sunni Muslims, Kurds and Christians, people who have had little voice in Iraqi national politics since the 2003 US-led invasion. Announcing the formation of the broader group Thursday in Baghdad, Mr. al-Maliki said it represents an historic point in the establishment of a new Iraqi state.
Iraqi police detain Hezbollah Brigades leader -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
A Hezbollah Brigades financier and recruiter was captured by Iraqi paramilitary police in Sadr City. The US continues to release Iranian-backed terrorists.
Who Fights This War? -- Flight Medic 2 -- [In Iraq Now (at 56) - in Iraq]
When the United States led coalition forces in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, SSG Quincy Northern, 32, began his first of three deployments as a flight medic. For the first months of the war Northern flew MEDEVAC along the invasion route led by the US Marines. "It was non-stop action from the time we crossed the wire," said Northern describing his first
deployment following the Marines across Iraq in the opening days of the war.
One MEDEVAC call he remembered vividly was an all-terrain, 8-wheel-drive HEMMT cargo truck that hit a mine and rolled over.
US soldier dies in mortar attack in Iraq -- [AP]
The U.S. military says an American soldier has been killed in a mortar attack at Baghdad's Camp Liberty.
The military says the Multi-National Corps-Iraq soldier was killed Thursday at the base on the western edge of the Iraqi capital.
Iran Agrees to Send Enriched Uranium to Russia -- [New York Times]
Iran agreed on Thursday in talks with the United States and other major powers to open its newly revealed uranium enrichment plant near Qum to international inspection in the next two weeks and to send most of its openly declared enriched uranium outside Iran to be turned into fuel for a small reactor that produces medical isotopes, senior American and other Western officials said. Iran's agreement in principle to export most of its enriched uranium for processing - if it happens - would represent a major accomplishment for the West, reducing Iran's ability to make a nuclear weapon quickly and buying more time for negotiations to bear fruit. If Iran has secret stockpiles of enriched uranium, however,...
Obama's French Lesson -- [Washington Post]
When France chides you for appeasement, you know you're scraping bottom. Just how low we've sunk was demonstrated by the Obama administration's satisfaction when Russia's president said of Iran, after meeting President Obama at the United Nations, that "sanctions are seldom productive, but they are sometimes inevitable." You see? The Obama magic. Engagement works. Russia is on board. Except that, as The Post inconveniently pointed out, President Dmitry Medvedev said the same thing a week earlier, and the real power in Russia, Vladimir Putin, had changed not at all in his opposition to additional sanctions. And just to make things clear, when Iran then brazenly test-fired offensive missiles, Russia reacted by declaring that this newest provocation did not warrant the imposition of tougher sanctions.
Obama: Iran Must Give Inspectors Complete Access To Nuclear Plant -- [Voice of America]
US President Barack Obama is demanding that Iran give international inspectors complete access to its newly-disclosed nuclear facility. The president spoke after Iranian representatives met in Switzerland with the US and five other world powers. President Obama says Thursday's meeting was a constructive beginning, but he says the Iranian government must now take constructive action. Specifically, he wants Iran to allow United Nations nuclear inspectors complete access to its recently-revealed atomic facility.
House Votes to Block Terrorist Detainees from Entering U.S.A. -- [A Soldier's Perspective]
U.S. Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-Goddard) today voted to include language in the FY2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations conference report prohibiting the transfer of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States. The Republican motion was adopted by a vote of 258-163. Tiahrt has helped lead efforts in the House to block the Obama administration from transferring or releasing detainees on American soil.
Al Qaeda Fund Raisers Scramble -- [Strategy Page]
Yet another al Qaeda video fund raising effort has been discovered. This one, featuring Saudi terrorist Saeed al Shehri, appeals to Saudi Arabians to send money to the new "Al Qaeda In Arabia" headquarters in Yemen. Saudi police found the video on the cell phone of a recently arrested terrorist suspect. The video included the assurance that, "the bearer of this message is trusted by us." It appears
FBI: Bomb plot targeting Dallas skyscraper foiled -- [Dallas News]
A 19-year-old Jordanian citizen was arrested Thursday in a dramatic FBI sting operation after he parked a vehicle laden with government-supplied fake explosives at an iconic downtown Dallas skyscraper and attempted to detonate it, authorities said.
An undercover FBI agent monitoring an online extremist Web site discovered Hosam Maher Husein Smadi espousing jihad against the U.S. more than six months ago.
Real Americans in 'The Way We Get By' -- [Washington Post]
Their first contact with U.S. soil is the single asphalt runway at Bangor International Airport in Maine. The first citizen they see is often Bill Knight, posture stooped, pushing 90, wearing his World War II veteran cap, pumping the hand of every service member who deplanes after tours of Iraq or Afghanistan. Knight, troop greeter at this gateway airport, is one of three senior citizens who are profiled, challenged and honored by "The Way We Get By," a lyrical documentary guaranteed to jerk tears and tug hearts over and over during its tight, haikulike 86 minutes.
No one comes home in a body bag. There are no dusty dispatches from Baghdad or Helmand province. There are no protests. There is no rhetoric. It's not that kind of war documentary. "The Way We Get By" is about three people, not about military or political combat. It strikes a deep, rich vein of emotion that flows through America's elderly, and it should be required viewing for those who think they know exactly what America is about.
Big weekend for Soldiers' Angels -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Sale-abration this Saturday!
It's a nationwide garage/yard sale/Soldiers' Angels informational booth and one may be happening in your neighborhood! Over 80 communities have come together to support the troops through garage sales and yard sales. They're not just raising money for holiday care packages, they're raising awareness -- getting people actively involved in supporting the troops. To find the Sale-abration near you, click here.
Warrior Culture 101 -- [Castra Praetoria - in Iraq]
This post is in reponse to a comment made by Molaviis Fromm on my last blog entry...
...You claim that warrior culture has wrapped itself in disinformation, but gave no examples of this. "Warrior equals Samurai." Well, yes, it can. Samurai is derived from a word meaning servant or one who serves. I don't think it is wrong to perpetuate or impress on young people the idea that service to something other than themselves is anything other than noble. ...You equate the professional American warrior with a fictitious criminal organization comprised of thugs, thieves, and other undesirables. The difference between a thug and a professional warrior? The thug is completely self oriented, anything he does is justifiable in his eyes because it furthers his own agenda. The warrior is other oriented. His agenda is not about himself, but those to his immediate left and right; to his unit; his society. His actions may not be justifiable, if they violate the ethics and values of his society or organization. Tony Soprano would never have made it in the Corps. His fundamental character flaws would not have been tolerated by his fellow Marines or the Corps, institutionally. Tony, here's your Bad Conduct Discharge; thank you for playing.
Response to The Military's Overlooked Brain Trust by Courtney E. Martin, American Prospect -- [Iron Camel - in Iraq]
...Soldiers are often encouraged to ask questions. As someone who has been both Enlisted and an Officer, I have seen both sides. I have been a follower and a leader. I have voiced my opinion, I have raised questions, and I have followed my share of orders that I didn't agree with because maybe I don't understand every single widget that may be moving that requires me to take care of my piece of the action. Sometimes, just knowing that my small part may make or break the success of a mission is enough to do my job and when it's all over, I can ask "why" and have it explained to me gaining valuable knowledge to make me a better future leader.
Regardless, this is the military, it's voluntary, and we all signed a contract and made a promise to our country and our respective branches of service essentially saying that they would do what we were told. To balance it all out,
Last of Pontiac-based troops return to warm welcome home -- [Bloomington Pantagraph]
Beth Nenne of Toluca was determined Monday that her nephew, Spc. Brandon Nicol, originally of Flanagan, would not receive the same homecoming that her brothers received decades ago when they came back from Vietnam.
"They got spit on when they came home," she said. "This is the land of the free because of those brave few guys that go overseas for us.
"It's changed (since then), and it's for the better," she said. "We are just glad that he is making his way home."
Welcome Home, Charlie Company -- [thejournal-news]
Colonel Michael Zerbonia was the guest speaker, and spoke only briefly to the troops before dismissing them to their families. "We're here to welcome home
Flag welcomes home troops -- [Village News Network]
In a show of support to servicemen and women stationed at Camp Pendleton, an official military 'welcome home' area was dedicated September 17 on the north
Welcome home, heroes -- [Pensacola News Journal]
More than 50 members of the Florida Army National Guard's B Company, 146th Signal Battalion in Pensacola returned home today after a year in Iraq.
Welcome Home Troops! -- [Central Illinois Proud]
PONTIAC - Across the state, approximately 200 soldiers from the Illinois National Guard 33rd Infantry Combat Team returned home Monday. ...
Soldiers get big welcome home in Salina -- [KSN-TV]
SALINA, Kansas - Tuesday, 140 Kansas National Guard soldiers returned home after a year-long deployment in Iraq. The brigade is based in Wichita
Web 2.0 and Work -- [Wings Over Iraq - in Iraq]
Dave Dilegge at Small Wars Journal pointed out that the military's policies regarding Web 2.0 and social media seem to vary from service to service, with the US Marines and Navy blocking access to Small Wars Journal's discussion board (oddly enough, Dave Dilegge, Bill Nagle and Robert Haddick are all retired Marines).
The US Army, on the other hand, not only allows Soldiers to post on the SWJ message board, but also receives great feedback from these boards, with General Martin Dempsey and Brig. Gen. HR McMaster frequently soliciting the boards for advice.
Much has been written about the US military's reluctance to embrace social networking, but
Congress Stealing From Troops -- [A Soldier's Perspective]
Funds meant to help U.S. troops at war are instead being spent on senators' pet projects that are geared more toward helping their home states.
Utah National Guardsmen returning from risky deployments receive a gesture of appreciation, a video scrapbook about their battalion and tour of duty. The video is produced by a business in Utah called StoryRock.
Utah's Republican Sen. Robert Bennett wants to help his home-state company take their project nationwide, so he's secured a $5 million earmark in the defense spending bill.
That $5 million comes from the fund that's supposed to pay for troops' basic needs such as food, fuel and ammunition.
But Bennett says the project saves money in the end.
Shhh... pass it on... -- [Greyhawk]
Have you heard that Michael Goldfarb has confirmed that Think Progress is reporting that Bill Kristol told Hugh Hewitt that a foreign guy told him that people are, well - here's the quote: "I've just heard this morning from... a foreign gentleman who deals with this government, that people are talking about Secretary Gates leaving at the end of the year, and being replaced by Chuck Hagel"?
You hadn't heard that? Well, now you have.
Senate rejects effort to force McChrystal testimony -- [Politico]
Breaking along party lines, the Senate rejected a Republican attempt Thursday to force top Army commanders to testify publicly on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy prior to President Barack Obama's completing his reassessment of the U.S. strategy in the region and the need for more American troops.
Defeated 59-40, the proposal left Obama up to 45 days to complete that review first but set a Nov. 15 deadline for Congress to hear from the top officers, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the Afghanistan commander, and Gen. David Petraeus of the U.S. Central Command.
Why Normal Americans Hate Washington, D.C., Part MMCIII -- [Abu Muqawama]
From the Washington Post:
One senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting, said, "A lot of assumptions -- and I don't want to say myths, but a lot of assumptions -- were exposed to the light of day."
Wow. Yeah, and I don't want to say "jackass", so I will not say "jackass" and will instead say "senior administration official". Or, better, "senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity to both advance his or her policy aims in the media and insult the commander in Kabul without having to take personal responsibility for doing either".
GOP Targets Obama's Foreign Policy -- [Los Angeles Times]
As he embraces direct talks with Iran and weighs his strategy in Afghanistan, President Obama is facing a new political threat from Republicans: Be hawkish on foreign policy or risk letting your party be painted as weak in next year's midterm elections. Top Republicans have adopted that line of attack in recent days, led by congressional leaders and at least two of the party's possible 2012 presidential contenders.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)