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Nato forces in Afghanistan to launch Helmand offensive -- [BBC News]
UK and other Nato troops are to launch an offensive to take back areas of southern Afghanistan, the British general in charge of forces there says.
Coming offensive in Marjeh weighs on locals' minds -- [Stars & Stripes]
...Sarwar Khan, the local elder, was curious about another matter: the coalition offensive everyone in Helmand province knows is coming.
"What is happening in Marjeh?" asked Khan, referring to a nearby Taliban stronghold that the Marines will soon attempt to take apart in a long-planned operation.
"I don't know," Karabin tells him. "But I know the Marines are going to be cleaning it up. Do you know something that's going on?"
"Marjeh is like a reservoir for IEDS (improvised explosive devices)," Khan said.
Al-Qaida-linked suspects arrested for Kabul attack -- [AP]
Afghan authorities have arrested the ringleader of a group that staged a brazen attack in Kabul and now believe the assault was coordinated by al-Qaida, an official said Sunday.
Gen. Nahim Baluch, the deputy director of Afghanistan's intelligence service, said that the ringleader -- whom he did not name -- and several other suspects confessed to their role in the Jan. 18 attack that paralyzed the Afghan capital and left 12 people dead, including seven militants.
"All of them have links with al-Qaida," Baluch said of the suspects.
U.S. commander sees eventual Taliban peace deal -- [Reuters]
The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan said he hopes increased troop levels will weaken the Taliban enough that its leaders will accept a peace deal.
Petraeus: Afghanistan Longer to Tackle than Iraq -- [The Times]
General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, also warned that the fight in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where British and US forces are based, as well other areas, would become even tougher before the situation improved.
British Troops Face Five More Years in Helmand -- [The Times]
British troops will have to fight the Taleban for another five years, according to a leaked draft of the communiqué that will conclude the London conference on Afghanistan this week.
Participating governments are also expected to agree to bribes totalling hundreds of millions of pounds which will be paid to leading insurgents in the hope that they will stop fighting.
Royal Anglian commander: the battle is 'winnable.' -- [EDP24]
The commanding officer of Royal Anglian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan has paid tribute to men lost in action but insisted troops are fighting a "challenging but winnable" battle.
U.N. Seeks to Drop Some Taliban From Terror List -- [New York Times]
The leader of the United Nations mission here called on Afghan officials to seek the removal of at least some senior Taliban leaders from the United Nations' list of terrorists, as a first step toward opening direct negotiations with the insurgent group.
Afghanistan Postpones Elections Until September -- [Washington Post]
Afghanistan's election commission announced Sunday that it is postponing scheduled parliamentary elections from May until September, bowing to logistical concerns, worries about potential voting fraud and the likelihood that the U.S. troop "surge" will lead to intensified fighting in parts of the country.
Afghan Elections Postponed: One Big Step Backwards -- [OPFOR - Lt Col P - in Afghanistan]
Someone wearing a lot of stars or bearing ambassadorial credentials needs to bitch-slap President Karzai over this horrendous mistake. If there ever was a time to call in some chips, this is it.
I get the concerns, trust me I do. However, I'm not at all sure that the conditions causing those concerns will be gone by the time September rolls around. What would lead us to believe that? There will be fraud in some places; there will be violence in some places; there will be delays in some places. But...
One Word, Rhymes with "Jerks" [OPFOR - Lt Col P - in Afghanistan]
Someone here found this article on the 18 Jan suicide attack in downtown Kabul, and it deserves a few comments.
Madam, please pull the plug on the hyperbole generator. "Brazen," yes; "coordinated," to an extent. But it didn't bring the capital to a halt. Yes, some stuff stopped, but life resumed pretty quickly. Good Lord. Thanks for being the Taliban's IO organ, lady! (The casualty figures are also wrong, but in all fairness it was an early report.) And the city is NOT heavily fortified; there is a significant presence, but "fortified" it ain't. And the bottom line remains unchanged-- Taliban gunmen MURDERED Afghan citizens going about their daily business. That needs to be stated clearly.
Unfortunately, there is also this, with my comments
Ghosts before dawn -- [Captain Cat's Diaries - in Afghanistan]
On Wednesday I flew to Urgun in East Paktika to meet with some people at the US military base in order to try to get the other side of the story about this marauding Afghan commander employed by Special Operations Forces (SOF), who is apparently striking terror into the hearts of the local population down in one of Paktika's southern districts.
"Armyisms" and Ban on Ammonium Nitrate -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...Today's mission was to travel to Camp Phoenix and turn in some up-armored HMMVWs. We have too many vehicles and not enough people to sustain such a large fleet. This was also a good opportunity to give our new teammates some driving time behind the wheel.
As such, I have been resigned to sit in the back of a MRAP as a dismount.
Forty Two minutes -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
Sounds like a catchy name for a movie or a thriller novel. But in this case, it is not. Forty two minutes could be a lot of time or a little bit of time. Two thousand, five hundred and 20 seconds, this is how much rest I got last night before being awakened and directed to report to duty.
Red Dawn -- [Riding Shotgun with Team Zombiekiller - in Afghanistan]
We've been driving on with our collective training program here and getting the Afghans spun up for rifle marksmanship. We've recently been issuing the Afghans M16A2s and M16A4s and it's been quite a challenge. They require a lot of time to get them comfortable with the fundamentals of marksmanship, particularly with this weapon
Iraq hotel bombing toll increases to 36 dead -- [Reuters AlertNet]
At least 36 people were killed on Monday in a series of car bombs detonated at three well-known
Saddam's Henchman 'Chemical Ali' Hanged -- [Sky News]
He was hanged for crimes against humanity, according to Iraqi government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh. "The death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majeed has been
The Marines Have Left -- [Strategy Page]
January 24, 2010: The U.S. Marine Corps has left Iraq. The U.S. Army will remain behind to wrap things up. This is another old custom, going back to World War II. During the first American offensive in the Pacific, the 1942 invasion of Guadalcanal, the marines led the way. But once the heavy fighting was over, the marines departed, and the army finished up.
Analysis: Marines leave Iraq again _ for good? -- [Washington Post]
It is easily lost in the hopefulness of the Marines' departure from Iraq - hailed in ceremonies as "the final chapter" - that this is not the first time they left in the expectation of never returning.
Will it be the last?
Biden visits Lewis troops in Iraq -- [FOB Tacoma - in Iraq]
...One linguist, a man from Baghdad who asked not to be named for fear of his safety, told Biden he was proud to be working for the American military and felt his efforts were helping rebuild his country.
After the 30-second conversation, the translator turned to someone standing nearby and asked who the visitor was. When he learned his identity, he let out a squeal.
"It is an honor!" he yelled, flashing a wide smile. "He is a very, very important man!"
Biden also made room for humor. Three soldiers from a transportation company based in Fort Stewart, Ga., were eating when the vice president walked by. One pretended not to see him. "You look like a hard-nosed Republican," Biden jabbed, which made the group erupt with laughter. "But hey, I'm pretty badass myself."
Blair to Face Inquiry Into Iraq War -- [WSJ]
Tony Blair will undergo a public grilling this week over the U.K.'s role in the Iraq war, raising questions about the former prime minister's legacy and his value to the Labour Party he once led as it prepares for a tough election battle.
In a much-anticipated appearance on Jan. 29 before a five-member panel investigating the war, Mr. Blair is expected to face questions about the legitimacy--and even legality--of the U.K.'s involvement in Iraq. He will be confronted about whether he committed to overthrow Saddam Hussein long before the immediate run-up to the war, and quizzed about criticisms of the U.K's preparedness for the invasion and its minimal influence over U.S. allies.
Haiti awash in doctors; nurses in short supply -- [CNN]
Port-au-Prince, Haiti -- So many doctors are answering Haiti's call for medical aid that the largest hospital in Port-au-Prince has a new problem: organizing and finding good use for them all. -- "I think there is a lot of confusion
Brother Jim's reflections for 23 Jan 2010 -- [Team Rubicon - in Haiti]
How much can one person take? Today after one week here we are still seeing seriously wounded people who have yet to see a doctor. We are seeing tent cities that have 1000's of people living in a crowded space with no water, food, or sanitary conditions.
Stacking Marbles by Mark Hayward -- [Team Rubicon - in Haiti]
OK, you're a Haitian. You have a spinal fracture that will leave you paralyzed even IF you receive the best medical care in the world. You will then live the rest of your life in a society with no social security disability pensions, no medicare/medicaid, no free wheelchairs, no power wheelchairs, and very little pavement on which to DRIVE a wheelchair even if you can find one. However, if you do not receive this medical care, you will die. Which do you want?
Brother Jim's reflections for 24 Jan 2010 -- [Team Rubicon - in Haiti]
Today started out as any other day this week. We went to our site, found the wounded and set up camp. The usual wounds and the usual infections were there. NPR visited us so maybe you'll be able to hear about it on the radio. Three things stick out in my mind today, the cases of diarrhea, the orphan, and the transportation of patients.
Can America's Top Gun in Haiti Keep the Relief Effort in Order? -- [TIME]
...Though some critics have complained that aid has been too slow to permeate this ravaged land, there is no question that it would have taken a lot longer if Keen hadn't just happened to have been there. By midnight he'd pledged to the Haiti government -- the remnants of which had snatched motorcycles and picked their way through the ruins up to the residence long after nightfall to ask for help -- the full support of the U.S. military. Keen immediately set up teams to evaluate Haiti's airport and port; he even explored parachuting soldiers and aid in if it turned out the airport was unusable. As the top U.S. military official on the ground, Keen wouldn't sleep again for three days. He wouldn't speak to his wife for nearly a week.
A Young Man Named Jean -- [Haiti Earthquake Stories - in Haiti]
As I readied myself to go back into Haiti this morning, the USNS Comfort was once again rocked by an aftershock - this one magnitude 4.4. I remember thinking "Will this never end?" Somewhat fearing what I would see once on the ground, I boarded the helo with several other members of the embedded press corps for our short flight to the "beach."
After the quake, local ship works to mend wounds -- [The Virginian-Pilot]
The Gunston Hall is one of about a dozen Navy, Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command ships from Hampton Roads that are working in Haiti to deliver aid to victims of this month's catastrophic earthquake, and the bulk of the ship's efforts are taking place here, at the coast guard compound where the sailors first landed.
AP Exclusive: Feds detail Christmas Day attack -- [AP]
For hours after allegedly trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to blow up a Christmas Day flight to Detroit, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab talked and talked--to Customs officers, medical personnel, and FBI agents.
...The officials who spoke to The AP said on-scene investigators never discussed turning the suspect over to military authorities. And their accounts show that as the hours passed, the FBI turned to its own local expert counterterror interrogators, rather than seek bureau personnel to fly in from Washington or elsewhere.
The 50-minute man -- [HOT Air]
The Associated Press reported yesterday that the amount of time FBI interrogators had with the EunuchBomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, prior to reading the terrorist his Miranda rights was all of fifty minutes. They spoke directly with Abdulmutallab long enough to send the FBI on a wild-goose chase for a second bomb on the airplane, and for hours before going into surgery they overheard him discussing his attack with anyone who would listen, including medical personnel treating his severe burns. When Abdulmutallab came out of surgery, the FBI decided to read him the Miranda rights despite having an exception for imminent threats -- and the terrorist clammed up:
US Mulls Legality of Killing American al Qaeda "Turncoat" -- [ABC News]
... intelligence reports and electronic intercepts show he played an important role in recruiting the accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Bin Laden Claims Responsibility for Christmas Day Bomb Attempt -- [FOX News]
... Usama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas day, releasing a new audio ... The message suggests the Al Qaeda leader wants to appear in direct command of the ... up his Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit Metro Airport.
U.S.: Bin Laden tape no need for alarm -- [Washington Times]
U.S. officials on Sunday dismissed a purportedly new audiotape by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as an attempt to stay relevant by claiming responsibility for the Christmas Day aborted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner.
The officials said they could not immediately authenticate the minute-long recording released to Al Jazeera, the Arabic TV news channel, but indicated that there was no reason for heightened alarm about new attacks.
Female suicide bombers linked to Al Qaeda, trained for US attacks -- [HULIQ]
It has been reported that Northwest airlines bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab, has given authorities information that these women may have been trained by Al ...
Officials fear toxic ingredient in Botox could become terrorist tool -- [Washington Post]
In early 2006, a mysterious cosmetics trader named Rakhman began showing up at salons in St. Petersburg, Russia, hawking a popular anti-aging drug at suspiciously low prices. He flashed a briefcase filled with vials and promised he could deliver more -- "as many as you want," he told buyers -- from a supplier somewhere in Chechnya.
Yemen Wants More Help To Tackle Terror -- [Sky News]
Yemen's foreign minister has told Sky News that a "new approach" is needed to deal with terrorism as he admitted al Qaeda is a threat in his country.
Married To Someone With PTSD? -- [You Served]
My dear friend Patti wrote the following based on her own experiences as a wife of a wounded warrior. Her husband came home from Iraq with a TBI and PTSD. Patti is as practical and helpful as they come. I asked her if I could repost this here in full, and she gave me the thumbs up. I hope you find the information helpful.
Vets With PTSD May Get Benefits Upgrade -- [AP/Military.com]
The military has agreed to expedite a review of the records of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder to determine whether they were improperly denied benefits.
The agreement stems from a judge's order in a class action lawsuit originally filed by seven combat veterans who alleged the military illegally denied health care and other benefits to those discharged because of the disorder during a six-year period that ended Oct. 14, 2008.
Oops, I Got Attached To a Plan -- [SpouseBuzz - Sarah]
I've been waiting to see if my husband would get permission to come home from Afghanistan for the birth of our baby. It seems that he has gotten tentative permission and, assuming that he gets official word sometime soon, he told me the potential date range he'd be allowed to come home.
What's the first rule of Army? Never believe the Army. Nothing is guaranteed until after it has happened. Don't get attached to any proposed plans.
I know this. I know it know it know it. And yet within ten seconds of hearing that potential date, I got so..
It's The Little Things -- [SpouseBuzz - She of the Sea]
Most of the time, I deal with the absence of a spouse pretty well. I think. But occasionally, some odd thing will make the absence feel huge.
Tonight, I went to a kids' school event and walked out with a couple we know fairly well. They always seem very happy and stable in their marriage even if they aren't the most affectionate people on the planet. They had arrived in separate cars and were splitting up for the drive home. We chatted for a few minutes and then said goodbye. As I began to walk away, I caught it out of the corner of my eye: a tender exchange, a quick kiss while they thought no one was looking, and obvious happiness that they'd be together again after a short drive home. It was all I could do to
Changing lives with bionics -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Fascinating feature article about bionics in this month's National Geographic
...Scroll through the accompanying photo gallery and you'll see just how the bionic arm works. You'll also learn about exciting developments with bionic eyes, ears, and see Iraq veteran Lt. Col. Greg Gadson's motorized legs.
Army to take charge of Sembach Annex -- [Stars and Stripes]
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The Army will take control of Sembach Annex from the Air Force by the end of the fiscal year, ending months of rumors and speculation on the future of the base east of Kaiserslautern.
Navy plane crashes into Lake Pontchartrain: One pilot rescued, one missing -- [Examiner]
Fox News is reporting that a small Navy plane has crash landed in Lake Pontchartrain. The T-34 plane disappeared from radar at approximately 6:40 pm
WTP -- [Doc H's International Adventure - home from Afghanistan]
I am currently going through the Navy Warrior Transition Program. It is a three day program designed to ease the transition from being an IA with an Army mission back to home and the Navy. So far we have cleaned and returned our weapons, dumped 3 bags worth of field gear, and gone through the reintegration and stress debreif workshop. There has been plenty of down time thankfully. I have been able to place calls home and email regularly. The staff has been very attentive. We were given a "welcome back to the Navy" standing ovation cheer by the staff as we came in to return our gear. WTP is a good program.
Camp Lejeune Homecoming Marks Beginning Of End -- [WITN]
No homecoming aboard Camp Lejeune is "routine," Monday's homecoming has a very special significance as troops begin pulling out of Iraq.
Troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force returning Monday mark the beginning of the end of the Marine Corps's role in Iraq.
National Guard troops return home -- [Wisconsin Rapids Tribune]
During a brief welcome home ceremony before the group was officially dismissed, Daniel Hendershot told their family members and friends they could be proud.
Janesville Parade Honors 32nd Brigade Soldiers -- [WISC]
The entire parade was organized by volunteers, who got most of the businesses on the parade route to put welcome home messages on signs and tie yellow
Denver Post goes squishy on Duncan/Strandlof -- [This Ain't Hell...]
Back in May, when Rick Duncan/Richard Strandlof was first exposed as a phony veteran who had starred in VoteVets commercials and headed money raising schemes ostensibly for veterans, the Denver Post led the posse to put Standloff on the gallows.
A few days ago, some half-witted and unknown band of lawyers from Virginia called the Rutherford Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Strandlof's case that said, in effect, that calling yourself a veteran and claiming certain awards and accolades as your own, is protected speech and that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional.
Ask Obama About Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- [Wall Street Journal]
Gay voters are growing impatient for equality. -- As a candidate for president, Barack Obama told the country's leading gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, "America is ready to get rid of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. All that is required is leadership."
Today's "WTF?" moment -- [This Ain't Hell...]
My buddy, Bev Perlson, sent this video this morning. Fox News' Judge Napolitano interviews Adam Kokesh as if Kokesh is just another guy off the street running for office without mentioning that Kokesh was/is a member of IVAW;
If Napolitano had done his research, he'd know that his endorsement of Kokesh's candidacy is fairly misplaced. Kokesh was busted by the Marine Corps for smuggling an Iraqi pistol back to the States - does that sound like someone we need in Congress? He misrepresented his character of service and continued to call himself something he's not
Public's Priorities for 2010: Economy, Jobs, Terrorism -- [Pew Research Center for the People and the Press]
Last year, both the economy and jobs edged ahead of defending the nation against terrorism as top priorities. In 2008, the economy and terrorism defense
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