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US casualties in Afghanistan sow seeds of anger -- [AFP]
Anger, frustration and a hunger for revenge are running high among US Marines as casualties mount on the frontline of the battle against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.
On a base near Marjah, a Taliban stronghold in Helmand province, Marines are grieving the deaths of a sergeant and corporal killed by the remote-controlled bombs that have become the scourge of the long-running conflict.
Commanders try to keep the men's rage in check, aware that winning over an Afghan public wary of the foreign military presence and furious about mounting civilian casualties is as crucial as any battlefield success.
Petraeus on Afghanistan, Taliban -- [PRI]
At a conference on Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai addressed ways of reintegrating some Taliban back into the Afghan political process, and into society as a whole. It's a provocative way forward in Afghanistan and it has the support of U.S. officials. Among them, the head of U.S. Central Command General David Petraeus, who commands forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Last week, "The Takeaway's" John Hockenberry spoke with General Petraeus in Washington, DC. The following is an excerpt of the interview.
Taliban's CIA bomber Hakimullah Mehsud dies of wounds -- [The Australian]
Hakimullah Mehsud, whose Pakistan Taliban movement was responsible for hundreds of deaths, was Pakistan's most wanted man.
The Pakistani military mounted an offensive against Mehsud and his loyalists in South Waziristan last year. But the US was also eager to retaliate against Mehsud after he claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a CIA base in southeast Afghanistan in late December that killed five agency officers and two private contractors, the deadliest assault against the spy agency in more than 20 years.
Afghanistan: Making Counterinsurgency Work -- [ABC News]
After US Army Capt. Michael Harrison completed his first tour in Afghanistan almost two years ago, he kept in touch with many of the locals he'd befriended, calling to chat via his old interpreter. When his unit redeployed to the Kunar River Valley, about a two-hour drive from Harrison's former area of operations in the Pesh River Valley, those friendships provided an unexpected benefit.
Armed And Ready To Rumble -- [Strategy Page]
The Taliban is in danger of being negotiated to death. Many older Taliban leaders, who ran Afghanistan until the end of 2001, and operating in Pakistani exile, are tired of the endless violence, and the growing dependence on heroin and al Qaeda to keep the Taliban war going. There is a growing lack of unity in the Taliban movement. The organization was always fragmented, but now you have mutually antagonistic factions (pro-drug, pro-al Qaeda, pro-"no foreigners or drugs", and so on). Many of the more powerful Taliban commanders are heavily dependent on drug money, and
U.S. air bases in Germany provide increasingly vital supply link to Afghanistan -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
It's been noticeable since last spring, but Ramstein and Spang are about to become even busier. - Nighttime and early morning flights at Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany will noticeably increase over the next seven months as the military ferries additional troops and equipment to Afghanistan, U.S. Air Force officials said Friday.
The bases' airfields are typically less busy at night, with quiet hours enforced except for emergency or mission-essential flights. But starting next week and continuing until August, more large aircraft will be taking off and landing seven days a week, including during the base's normal 'quiet hours' between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Flights usually are limited on Sundays and German holidays.
How Rude Of Me -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
As for the absence, I'd prefer not to make excuses. I have seen and learned so much on this tour... and it's only half over. I've learned a lot more about counterinsurgency. I've gotten snapshots of a lot of behaviors in the field. I've seen a lot of great developments that I've not been sure of being clear to write about.
There have also been frustrations.
I needed leave. Well, now that leave is over, where does the quest lead? We shall see soon enough... but back to the keyboard would be a good start.
Blasphemy -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
The idea's being kicked around... though probably not by anyone who is capable or motivated to make a change in the policy... but it has been heard by these ears plenty; and from plenty of people. Most of them have "been there, done that." They have the little knickknacks on their apparel to show it. The idea itself is about the knickknacks; the badges.
Rainy Day in a White City (Updated) -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
Jalalabad finally has some winter weather with much needed rain. The mountains surrounding the Kabul River plain have little snow; the weather has been unseasonably mild and dry thus far this winter. A dry winter is a real disaster in a parched country, which relies so heavily on small scale farms to feed its people. So the rain is good but only if it stops soon. Nothing is straightforward in Afghanistan even when it comes to rain - a few more days of this will render most of the housing structures unstable. Houses made of mud bricks do not handle the wet well at all.
U.S. makes small strides in getting Afghan army fighting fit, but hurdles remain -- [Washington Post]
As part of President Obama's plan to dramatically increase the size of the Afghan National Army, the first contingent of additional U.S. troops has arrived and begun taking over the training of new Afghan recruits, hoping to build up the local force to 134,000 battle-ready soldiers in 10 months.
America's New Hope: The Afghan Tribes -- [New York Times]
...For Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group and the Taliban's primary source of support, tribes are particularly important. Successfully turning Pashtun tribes against the Taliban -- or perhaps families or sub-tribes if they deal with the government on their own -- could deliver a serious blow to the insurgency and potentially create a means of stabilizing the long-suffering country.
Some Afghans, though, warn that the tribal system is not a panacea and fear that the United States is adopting a quick-fix approach that will not create long-term stability. They see the tribes as inherently anachronistic, sexist and corrupt
The Worst Job in Afghanistan -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
No, not mine, although it sometimes seems like it.
And not the ANP either, although I'm sure they think so every time they hit an IED or an ambush. I'm talking about these guys:
Obama proposes $1.2 billion to aid Pakistani military -- [Reuters]
US President Barack Obama on Monday proposed $1.2 billion in funding next year to help train and equip Pakistani security forces to ...
Three lives linked by call to duty, common tragedy -- [Boston Globe]
...In law school, their interest in military and intelligence work made them oddities to many classmates. Now, in law firms and investment banks across the country, some who knew them are questioning their own career choices. Indeed, their friends said, the close relationship of the three, their commitment to confront America's enemies, and the tragic arc of their lives underscore how rare it is for people with privileged educations to volunteer to fight America's wars.
"To see people who could have done anything making that kind of sacrifice, it is hard not to look inward and ask, 'What kind of sacrifices are you making?' '' said Rob Simmelkjaer, a former classmate who is now a vice president at ESPN in New York.
Scores Killed in Attack on Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq -- [Washington Post]
A female suicide bomber attacked a column of Shiite pilgrims on the outskirts of Baghdad on Monday, part of a convulsion of violence that has hit the capital in advance of national elections in March.
Wounded Warrior gets a proper exit from Iraq [HQ] -- [AFN]
The bonds between troops who have served together represent some of the strongest ties in the military. SPC Christopher Tobey introduces us to one wounded Warrior with a devoted sense of camaraderie and an infectious sense of humor.
They're Back: New Group of Wounded Vets Return to Iraq -- [DVIDS]
Six wounded warriors arrived in Baghdad in C-130 Hercules, Jan. 31, and took their first steps in Iraq after being severely wounded the last time they were here.
This is the fourth time Kell, with support from the USO, has returned wounded service members to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, a program aimed at helping the warriors find emotional closure after being injured.
U.S. Examines Whether Blackwater Tried Bribery -- [New York Times]
...The investigation, which was confirmed by three current and former officials speaking on condition of anonymity, follows a report in The New York Times in November that top executives at Blackwater had authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials to buy their support after the shooting. The newspaper account said it could not determine whether any bribes were actually paid or identify Iraqi officials who might have received the money.
Incremental Steps in Iraq to Let Kurdistan Oil Flow -- [New York Times]
The semiautonomous region of Kurdistan is the one place in battered Iraq that promised economic boom times, but some of the foreign oil companies that rushed in over the past few years are becoming increasingly restless.
The Tawke oil field in Kurdistan. Several companies have invested billions of dollars and supplied oil and gas without payments.
Their multibillion-dollar deals are still mired in a bitter political dispute between the Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad
BP Claims Iraq Could Rival Saudi Arabia in Oil Production -- [MEMRI Blog]
Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum (BP), told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that within a decade, Iraqi oil production could quadruple to 10 million barrels a day, from its current 2.5 million barrels - and could rival Saudi Arabia by 2020.
Auctioning Off The Secret Police -- [Strategy Page]
February 1, 2010: The government agreed to investigate the purchase of $85 million worth of ADE 651 explosives detectors. Iraqi officials bought thousands of these hand held devices last year, for up to $60,000 each. But the British manufacturer is being prosecuted in Britain for fraud, when it was discovered there that the ADE 651 is a scam.
Furloughs hurt military's view of Hawaii schools -- [Washington Post]
It's a Friday, but these students aren't in school. They're at a youth center where the U.S. Army is keeping soldiers' children engaged and learning on the 17 Fridays this school year the state of Hawaii has closed public schools to narrow a budget deficit.
The state's decision in October to shrink the school year by 10 percent, giving it the fewest number of instructional days in the nation at 163, is adding to the already dismal reputation Hawaii's public schools have among servicemen and women.
China suspends military exchanges with US -- [NewsDay / AP]
China suspended military exchanges with the United States, threatened unprecedented sanctions against American defense companies and warned Saturday that cooperation would suffer after Washington announced $6.4 billion in planned arms sales to Taiwan.
US Beefs Up Defences In Persian Gulf -- [Sky News]
The US is increasing its military presence and installing new anti-missile systems in Persian Gulf countries ahead of possible new sanctions against Iran, officials say.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Washington officials said the moves were to reassure Gulf countries that they would be protected against possible military attacks from Tehran.
Thais Say North Korea Arms Were Iran-Bound -- [New York Times]
A large shipment of North Korean weapons seized here in December was bound for an airport in Iran, according to a Thai government report submitted to the United Nations and leaked to news agencies.
Iran's Defiance Spurs Rise In U.S. Military Defenses -- [Wall Street Journal]
The U.S. and its allies in the Persian Gulf have stepped up their military defenses in recent months in response to Iranian missile tests and Tehran's continued defiance of international efforts to curtail its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials.
The moves, which have included upgrades, new purchases of American-made Patriot antimissile batteries and the addition of advanced air- and missile-defense radars, illustrate both growing concern with the Iranian moves and a new willingness by Arab allies in the region to more publicly tie their defenses to the U.S.
US Military to Resume Haiti Evacuation Flights -- [WMFE]
The White House says the US military will resume bringing Haitian earthquake victims to the United States for medical treatment, ending a suspension that
Get Information About Family or Friends in Haiti -- [Joint Task Force-Haiti]
The State Department Operations Center has set up the following phone number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). You can also send an email to the State Department. Information is on the State Department Web site's International Travel section under Haiti Earthquake. Please be aware that communications within Haiti are very difficult at this time.
In a Pentagon Channel interview today -- [Joint Task Force-Haiti]
In a Pentagon Channel interview today, Col. Gregory Kane, JTF-Haiti Operations Officer said, "In preparation for the rainy season we are transitioning our efforts to getting shelter and medical aid to Haitians displaced by the earthquake."
TR Operations Cease in Haiti -- [Team Rubicon - in Haiti]
Team Rubicon operations have ceased inside the nation of Haiti. The leadership within Rubicon has come to the conclusion that Team Rubicon has completed its mission of bridging the gap between the earthquake and large aid agency response. As of 1900 hours local, TR2 began travelling back to the US, with a small contingent of volunteers remaining behind to continue working at CDTI Hospital (under no affiliation with Team Rubicon).
Rescue mission -- [Cleburne Times-Review]
...John Griswell said David flew to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic immediately after hearing news of the earthquake.
While at the airport, David met Jake Wood, a former Marine who hastily put together a team of military professionals, Team Rubicon, specifically to go to Haiti, which needed doctors.
Terrorists 'plan attack on Britain with bombs INSIDE their bodies' to foil new airport scanners. -- [Family Security Matters]
Britain is facing a new Al Qaeda terror threat from suicide 'body bombers' with explosives surgically inserted inside them. Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, Underground trains and buses by secreting bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection. But an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting 'surgical bombs' inside people for the first time.
How Designated Terror Organization al-Shabaab Targets Western Youth -- [Family Security Matters]
As the new year begins, al-Shabaab, a terror group fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia, has served notice that it intends to play an increasingly prominent role in international jihad. Al-Shabaab fighters declared their support for Al Qaeda in Yemen following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253, allegedly by a terrorist linked to that group. And police in Denmark said a man charged with the attempted New Year's Day murder of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard (who drew a controversial 2005 cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammad) was a member of al-Shabaab with "close links" to leaders of al Qaeda in East Africa. Al Qaeda and al-Shabaab made official their alliance in September.
Discussing Lawfare on America's Newsroom (video) -- [BlackFive - Uncle Jimbo]
This morning I had the pleasure of discussing the Obama administration's approach to terrorism, precipitated by the news that KSM's trial is likely to be someplace other than NYC. That is good news, but not quite the right answer yet
The World's Most Bizarre Terror Threats: Underpants may be the least of our worries -- [Family Security Matters]
The ploy: Navigate into the center of a city by paraglider and attack crowds from above
This scenario was suggested in the Indian media this week after intelligence experts found that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) -- the Pakistani group believed to have orchestrated the devastating attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008 -- had purchased 50 paraglider kits for, supposedly, a new attack plan.
Assessing the Militant White Separatist Movement -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
Today the militant white separatist movement faces leadership and organizational challenges: after the deaths and arrests of significant movement leaders over the past decade, it is fractured and appears poorly led. Further, the movement's recruitment and training capabilities appear relatively crude, and it lacks a unified ideological outlook. However, it would be a mistake to conclude from this that the American white separatist movement will remain incapable of orchestrating violence on a large scale.
Military support groups give comfort, answers to families -- [Lancaster Gazette]
The Fairfield County Chapter of the American Red Cross is increasing its outreach to military members and their families.
Using a $10,000 grant from the national American Red Cross, the chapter was able to hire an education coordinator, Nancy Kane Primmer, for its Service the Armed Forces program.
veteran-run warehouse and Salute to Heroes and Angels museum in San Antonio -- [Soldiers' Angels Texas]
On March 13, Soldiers' Angels is celebrating the official opening of our new, veteran-run warehouse and Salute to Heroes and Angels museum in San Antonio, and we hope to see you there! Join us for a daylong celebration with heroes, live music, BBQ, fellowship with other Angels, and a chance to tour the amazing new facilities while helping out with a care package packing party!Tickets are $20 per person, and hotel discounts are available.
Who's caring for our wounded veterans? -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff and hs wife Lee talk about the issue of caretaking after his traumatic brain injury resulting from an IED explosion that injured him while he was reporting in Iraq in 2006.
That short interview only touches on the issues some military families face.
Now I urge you to watch the PBS documentary called "Who's Helping Our Wounded Vets?" , which tells the stories of three families who have literally sacrificed everything to care for their severely wounded family members.
Sears Once Again Supports U.S. Military Veterans by Teaming Up With AMVETS for 'Operation Blanket' [FOX]
"Each year we challenge ourselves to find new ways to say 'thank you' to the members of our military. This is yet another way we can show our appreciation
America's Last Surviving WWI Vet Celebrates 109th Birth... -- [WHAG]
CHARLES TOWN, WV - America's last surviving World War I Veteran and local man Frank W. Buckles turns 109 years-old Monday.
Last U.S. veteran of World War I turns 109 -- [CNN]
But the old "Doughboy" -- as World War I American infantry troops were called -- has already been outspoken in recent years, urging congressional lawmakers to give federal recognition and a facelift to a run-down District of Columbia memorial in an overgrown, wooded area along the National Mall.
In December, at 108, Buckles testified on Capitol Hill as lawmakers considered whether to fund renovation and give the site "national" monument status. But rival legislation seeks the "national" designation for a 1920s-era memorial located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Second Group Of Red Bull Soldiers Returning Home -- [WCCO]
Kaboom -- [Greyhawk]
Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. It's pre-order now - but author/milblogger Matt Gallagher says the release date is 1 April.
Someone emailed me this week and requested a list of my favorite active duty milblogs. (Not an unusual request.) I don't do favorites, but I did provide a list of folks currently (or recently) downrange. That list was short (and mostly here) - but that scarcity makes them all the more valuable - a national treasure, even.
But picking favorites aside, I think as far as milbloggers go, I can honestly say Lt G (the name he blogged under) is certainly the best writer among deployed milbloggers who actually published - I think he'll translate to ink on pages well. That he had good stories to tell is a bonus.
Obama Wants to Win the Next Election More Than Afghanistan -- [Human Events]
The burden of the war in Afghanistan is nowhere near fairly shared among NATO allies. Germany continues to have a numerically large, but mostly ineffective, deployment in the North of the country. But German troops are all safely restricted to base by 6pm to tuck into legendary amounts of German beer. French President Nicolas Sarkozy humiliatingly snubbed Obama on national TV on Monday night to inform the world that France won't be sending a single extra soldier to Afghanistan. And national caveats continue to bedevil the International Security and Assistance Force, as wounded servicemen lie dying in Afghanistan's combat zones while perfectly good helicopters stand idle less than a mile away restricted from entering "hot' areas.
Much to his amazement, Obama is experiencing the same thing that President Bush did: a Continental-wide "Non" from the very allies he's devoted the best part of a year trying to woo. In that respect, you'd expect him to be grateful for the countries that have stepped up to the plate: the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, as well as Australia and Canada to name a few. And none more so than the United Kingdom: more British servicemen have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan than the rest of Europe combined. But during his speech, President Obama again refused to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of the 10,000 British troops in Afghanistan, in what must now be seen as near-contempt for America's greatest ally on the world stage.
Obama whistles past Afghanistan in annual address -- [Dawn]
In the president's 7,308-word speech, there were only 92 words for Afghanistan, a place where more than 100,000 US soldiers are engaged in a fight with an enemy they were told threatens American lives and interests.
The decision to keep references to foreign policy issues to the minimum in one of the longest state of the union speeches in recent years, made it amply clear that the Obama administration would focus mainly on domestic issues in its remaining three years.
Five years, $5.08 trillion in debt -- [Politico]
President Barack Obama's new $3.83 trillion budget -- on its way to Congress Monday -- anticipates an even worse deficit this year than last and no big improvement until the economy improves and the nation sheds the crushing costs of two wars overseas.
But behind the brave face, Obama's budget anticipates that Iraq and Afghanistan war funding will hover near $160 billion for both 2010 and 2011-- far more than he had hoped when elected and only modestly less than in the last years of the Bush Administration.
The strain shows itself in the new deficit projections, far worse than what the White House forecast in its first budget at this time a year ago.
After a record $1.4 trillion shortfall in 2009, the administration now says the red ink will reach $1.56 trillion this year and be little better, $1.27 trillion in 2011.
In fact, it's not until 2014 and 2015-- when Obama hopes to be in his second term-- that he has any hope of deficits approaching a sustainable level.
Obama proposes 3.4 percent boost for Pentagon -- [Washington Post]
The Pentagon will get a 3.4 percent boost to its regular budget plus extra money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the...
Pelosi's Children and Grandchildren Used Military Jets As Private Cross-Country Shuttle Service So They Could Avoid Dealing With the Rabble. -- [Doug Ross @ Journal]
Is it a legitimate use of military jets to transport the Speaker of the House and her favored Congressional coterie for routine travel? Even if you believe it is -- and, personally, I do not -- any rational taxpayer would admit that it is monumental waste of money. Military flights cost between $5,000 and $20,000 per hour to operate. The Speaker and her passengers routinely reimburse the Air Force $120 to $400 for each flight.
...Worse still, she also appears to have requisitioned entire flights for the personal use of her children and grandchildren. That is, unaccompanied by any member of Congress, her kids, in-laws and grandchildren are utilizing entire military passenger jets for their routine travel needs.
Forces Pushing Obama on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' -- [New York Times]
President Obama and top Pentagon officials met repeatedly over the past year about repealing "don't ask, don't tell," the law that bans openly gay members of the military. -- But it was in Oval Office strategy sessions ...
Susan Estrich: Military can lead way toward equal society -- [RocNow]
Since 1993, more than 13000 soldiers have been discharged from the military under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy.
Out of your league -- [Greyhawk]
...as in definition 2, that is: "in a situation where you have no chance of succeeding, especially due to lack of skills."
Can uniformed active duty military folks participate in a political debate?
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