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.
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.)