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."
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