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Gates in Kabul on surprise visit -- [Foreign Policy]
During his surprise visit to Kabul yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and top commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and visited a small remote outpost north of Kandahar, the southern Afghan province where a coalition offensive is expected to get underway sometime this. So far, 6,000 of the 30,000 additional troops ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama have arrived in Afghanistan. Tomorrow, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Kabul for the first time since Karzai's re-election last fall, and Karzai is expected to start a two-day trip to Islamabad as well. Taliban reintegration and the status of captured Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Baradar are rumored to be on the agenda in the Pakistani capital. Karzai is planning to host a three-day peace jirga beginning April 29 to discuss negotiations with Taliban fighters
Iran's Ahmadinejad Visits Kabul -- [Voice of America]
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Afghanistan, where he met with President Hamid Karzai and again sharply criticized the U.S. mission to stabilize the country.
'Secret' Gates-Ahmadinejad meeting in Kabul? -- [American Thinker]
Funny coincidence. SecDef Robert Gates is going on a surprise visit to Afghanistan. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also happens to be going to Kabul, overlapping with the Gates visit. It's possible they will just drive past each other in Kabul. But it seems more likely that they are going to finalize some sort of agreement that's been bubbling up behind the scenes. Possibly the Afghan government, which wants good relations with both Iran and the US, will try to broker an agreement.
News Wrap: U.S. Troops Ready to Take Kandahar From Taliban -- [The Online NewsHour]
GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. commander in Afghanistan: We have already put additional forces in the districts around Kandahar, but we will be able to reinforce that significantly over time. So, there won't be a D-Day that -- that is climactic. It will be a rising tide of security as it comes.
HARI SREENIVASAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Kabul today to review plans
Afghanistan war: Fight for Kandahar won't be like fight for Marjah -- [The Christian Science Monitor]
In the next stage in the Afghanistan war, coalition forces are expected to build up gradually on the outskirts of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, perhaps for months. That strategy departs from the one executed in the Marjah offensive, in which troops entered quickly.
Missing The Point -- [A Major's Perspective - in Afghanistan]
Something has struck me over the last week or so. Most of the reporting about Operation Moshtarak focused upon what our Troops were doing, and though our Troops did an outstanding job as always, that wasn't really the point that should have been highlighted.
This was an operation led by the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Our Man in Kabul? -- [The New Rebuplic]
The sadistic Afghan warlord who wants to be our friend.
The United States is not fighting one enemy in Afghanistan. While the media often equate "insurgency" with "Taliban," there are, in fact, three major insurgent groups. The biggest is the Quetta Shura Taliban. Led by the famous one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar, this group is based in the Pakistani city of Quetta and fights mainly in the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Another is the Haqqani network, run by the father-and-son team of Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani from Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas. The Haqqanis and their Al Qaeda allies sow chaos in Afghanistan's east and were likely behind the double-agent suicide bomb at a CIA base near Khost this winter.
Then there is Hekmatyar. ...
Taliban, HIG infighting leads to split in Afghan insurgency in the North -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
"Since Sunday 120 fighters including 70 armed men from Hizb-e-Islami have joined [the] government," a police spokesman in Baghlan told Xinhua. Mamor Malang, a local commander of the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, was among those who surrendered to the government. More HIG fighters are expected to join the government in the coming days.
The fighting began on Saturday as a dispute between the local HIG units and Taliban forces in several villages in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district came to a head.
Signs of life return to an Afghan ghost town -- [Los Angeles Times]
A campaign has begun to lure residents back to war-ravaged Now Zad in Helmand province, with Marine and Afghan guards posted 24 hours a day to ward off Taliban attacks.
Reporting from Now Zad, Afghanistan -- Under a late winter sky, surrounded by mountains left verdant by recent rain showers, is one of Afghanistan's spookiest-looking and most dangerous places: the once-vibrant but now war-ravaged and virtually empty city of Now Zad. For decades, it was among Helmand province's largest and most prosperous cities, thanks at least in part to the profitable opium poppy crop grown by local farmers, many of whom are sharecroppers.
Helmand Will Serve as Template, NATO Official Says -- [ISAF]
Operations in Helmand province will serve as a template for future operations elsewhere in Afghanistan, NATO's senior civilian representative here said today.
Ambassador Mark Sedwill, who served as British ambassador to Afghanistan, said the operation is different from others in three basic ways. The first, he said, is that from its inception, NATO's regional commander, British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, and his Afghan counterparts planned the operation "from the end-game backwards."
"And the end-game is the civilian delivery of governance and development," Sedwill said.
The second difference,...
Soldiers going dismounted in Afghanistan -- [Bouhammer]
About seven or eight months ago my good friend Scott Kesterson who was and still is in Afghanistan told me "things are changing here, they are going back to a Vietnam way of patrolling". I was not sure what he was talking about or implying so I asked him. He told me that the troops were getting out of he vehicles and walking every where they go. Vehicles were limited to the roads for the most part and the enemy had them channeled and could focus the IEDs and EFPs on the roads. Soldiers were finding (along with GEN McChrystal's direction) that if they went dismounted they were safer because the enemy could not IED wide open space.
In order to have freedom of movement and to increase the chance of survival, soldiers were going "cross-country" by dismounted patrols.
British soldier describes throwing Taliban hand grenade back toward enemy in Afghanistan -- [Sun Sentinel]
A soldier in the British army in Afghanistan has described how he saved the lives of two comrades by picking up a live Taliban grenade and throwing it back toward the enemy.
A Sunny Day For A Mission -- [Afghanistan My Last Tour - in Afghanistan]
...As we traveled towards the city, the roads were rather congested with traffic and we saw a lot more children than normal. The local schools have opened their doors and the students are going back to school. One young Afghan boy gave us the thumbs up as we drovepast. Previously this was considered a vulgar gesture, but since the US forces arrived, it has become accepted as part of their culture.
We meandered our way through the capital city and it was apparent security has been added. The ANP were setting up random and strategic checkpoints along the way. These checkpoints cause bottlenecks and the traffic to back up.
Dushman Bukhush -- [Riding Shotgun with Team Zombiekiller - in Afghanistan]
Here's some video we shot the other day of our company assaulting an objective. Their first attempt at it in the morning was not exactly textbook. In fact their first attempt is technically what we'd refer to as a "Soup Sandwich." Fortunately for everyone involved the second iteration was much better. They learned a lot in a short period of time and the results were a considerable improvement.
Road Trip -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
Almost midnight, and I just got the word that I'm making a run to Jalalabad tomorrow. The curtailment of sleep is a greater concern than any risk from the movement. The run to Jalalabad is pretty secure, with only occasional trouble along the way.
...Rule One: Avoid the ISAF convoys- favorite target of the bad guys, and prone to indiscriminate fire when they feel threatened.*
Camp Attack# 1 -- [Living In Harm's Way - in Afghanistan]
Well I experienced my first Rocket Propel Grenade attack! I am SAFE! This morning around 0855 insurgents fired a round at one of our guard towers and thankfully missed, the round went completely over the camp landing a couple of hundred yards over the wall. Unfortunately it was reported that some local Afghans were injured. When our office heard the explosion I asked Air force SSgt B, was that what I thought it was, he got up and opened the door and saw everyone running by making their way to the nearest bunkers, I immediately scrambled and found my space in a crowed bunker for safety. Within moments Soldiers' were called to their sectors to secure the camp ...
Rank and File -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghanistan]
Nights at the ANA COP are dark, to say the least. There are no skyline lights, no neon store front displays. There's only the shine of a few stove heaters flickering through the barracks windows. Occasionally, I'll hear the blaring noise of a homemade Pakistani music video from the ANA leadership's parlor. The television's backlight tends to illuminate the entire building and everyone inside.
Since the day I arrived on the COP, this parlor in the ANA command post has served as nothing but a room symbolic of the corruption and apathy plaguing the leadership of this professional Army. The staff officers ...
Spring in Mazar-E-Sharif -- [270 Days in Afghanistan]
The provincial government has started to plant trees along the roadside, which says a couple of things to me about where the province is at in the economic recovery process for the region. First and foremost, the effort to improve the landscape signals a departure from the stark and frightening goal of simply having a roof over their heads. The local Afghans here in this province seem to have progressed well into the middle of the pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The second thing it says to me is that optimism has made a comeback among these people.
Fizzling to the Finish Line -- [Sgt Danger - in Afghanistan]
...Looking back on the most recent - and perhaps last - mission, it went really well. I was alert, worked hard, had fun, and gave the new guys some pretty good coaching. I love running a gun truck in Afghanistan, wish I could spend the next two months doing it.
From the mission...
A Good News Story -- [Ramblings from a Painter - in Iraq]
It's the day after the Iraqi elections and the initial reports are pretty positive. Despite a lot of rocket and mortar attacks (over 100 in Baghdad alone), the turnout was pretty heavy. Not only that, it looks like the attacks pissed off the normal Iraqis so much, they went to the polls just to spite the insurgents, even if they hadn't intended to vote! Good for them! I haven't seen much in the way of accusations of vote fraud, at least not yet, and that is also good news. ...Seems like all the other "news" sites I checked were more concerned about the Academy Awards and had only lightweight reporting on Iraq. I'm not really sure what that says about American priorities, except that I don't like it.
It's Up to Iraqis Now. Good Luck. -- [NYT]
...Former President George W. Bush's gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right. It should have and could have been pursued with much better planning and execution. This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly. But democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.
Who Wouldn't Want to be a Fly on the Wall When George W. Bush Reads the New York Times This Morning? -- [The Corner - Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Thomas Friedman today:
Former President George W. Bush's gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right. It should have and could have been pursued with much better planning and execution. This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly. But democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.
Thomas Friedman in 2006:
It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war. . . .
Responsible Drawdown from Iraq -- [Army Live]
Third Army is the Department of the Army and Central Command logistical center of gravity for Responsible Drawdown from Iraq. Third Army is synchronizing equipment movement with key players from U.S. Forces-Iraq (USF-I), Air Force Central Command Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Army Materiel Command and other DOD and CENTCOM components.
Third Army has successfully supported the movement of forces in and out of theater since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a proven material enterprise system. Since July 1, 2009, Third Army has moved...
After Delay, Partial Iraq Vote Results Expected Thursday -- [New York Times]
Iraq's electoral commission is expected to announce partial results of parliamentary elections by Thursday, a United Nations
More on Iraqi Elections -- [Ramblings from a Painter - in Iraq]
...Meanwhile, Iran is steadily increasing its clout. They send books to libraries and blankets to the poor and build good will. We build libraries, housing, power plants, sewer systems, fresh water systems, schools, markets, roads, and thousands of other projects worth billions of dollars and are derided as hated occupiers. Although Iran is wielding more influence over Shia politicians, they both take pains to keep it quiet. Iraq and Iran have a long and turbulent history and the people's memories of the war in the 80's, which left a million dead, is still pretty fresh.
Iran's Role In Iraq -- [Atlantic Online]
Iran is definitely supporting Shiite parties in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary voting as it always has, and did help put together the National Alliance
Dispute over candidate disqualifications could mar Iraqi vote's legitimacy -- [WaPo]
A controversy over the disqualification of candidates threatened Tuesday to undermine the legitimacy of Iraq's recent elections and inflame supporters of a coalition seeking to topple the alliance led by the prime minister.
Israel Gives The Finger To Biden And The U.S. -- [AlterNet]
Vice President Joe Biden met with top Israeli leaders today to convey the U.S. Government's positions: the U.S. remains a close ally of Israel and will support Israel if it takes risks for peace; the U.S. does not want Israel to attack Iran over its nuclear program; and Israeli settlements must cease in order to make it possible for peace negotiations to resume.
The Vice President got an immediate and unexpected response from Mr. Netanyahu and his government--the finger!
Global Threats Demand Broad Response, Admiral Says -- [DoD]
Increasing global threats such as those to computer networks and growing hostilities from Iran are prompting more NATO expeditionary operations, NATO's top military officer said today.
"The demands of these nontraditional, transported threats are moving [European member nations] into this direction," Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
North Korea: Nuclear disarmament is off if military exercises proceed -- [The Hill]
North Korea said Sunday that if the U.S. moves forward with a South Korean military exercise, nuclear disarmament is off.
"The maneuvers clearly indicate once again that the U.S. and the South Korean authorities are the harassers of peace and warmongers keen to bring a war to this land," a statement from the government-run Korean Central News Agency said.
China said Friday it was hoping to restart stalled six-party talks with North and South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia before July by dangling the promise of aid to Pyongyang.
Youtuber "Jihad Jane" Indicted on Federal Terrorism Charges (Updated... -- [Jawa Report]
Note to media (too many inquiries to respond to all, sorry): Feel free to use images but please credit "The Jawa Report" or "YouTube Smackdown" and DO NOT HOTLINK! And would it hurt if you named the source for connecting "Jihad Jane" with the Lars Vilks murder plot? Also, you guys don't know how to link?
... You may remember that we've had a long, er, "relationship" with Jihad Jane. To be honest, Colleen seemed more of a loser and a nut than someone who would actually be involved in worldwide jihad. But I suppose that since I am constantly reminding people that "nut" and "jihadi" are not mutually exclusive terms that perhaps I should have heeded my own cautionary warnings?
Howie used to have fun here behind the scenes digging up old pictures of her wearing slutty outfits (not good, trust me) and boozing it up with her red neck buddies (before she took the veil).
KNEES! -- [Dan Cnossen - injured in Afghanistan]
I am proud and excited to report that Dan is back to his original height and walking all over the place, with bending knees and all! No more stubbies, no more peg-leg walking. He is doing SUCH an amazing job at getting this C-leg thing down - when he walks, he actually makes prosthetic legs seem like real ones. He's been up on them for about two weeks now, and is blowing everyone at Walter Reed away with his progress. And how deserving - today is the 6-month anniversary of stepping on that pressure plate in Afghanistan.
Some Things Don't Need Embellishment -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
...Landstuhl isn't just for wounded. It's where servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan go for medical treatment and evacuation for any number of reasons. Many are ill. Some have been diagnosed with serious diseases, such as cancer. It is also the waypoint for seriously and critically wounded warriors on their way to places like Walter Reed, the burn centers and the first big step on what may be a long road of recovery. Those people never see the outpatient barracks. They are stabilized and moved again. Some others are there for lengthier stays. For them, many of whom came in with little or nothing, a change of clothes can mean the world.
Enter Soldiers' Angels and the force that defies gravity and fatigue; MaryAnn Phillips.
Founders Notes -- [Soldiers Angels]
Spring is approaching the snow is melting, birds are singing... heroes are fighting for freedom and Angels are busy supporting them. This week we have the exciting celebration of the new facilities in San Antonio, and it's been so great to see the number of heroes waiting for adoption finally drop below 1,000. Let's keep up the great energy!
The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done: A Series of Screw-Ups and Lessons Learned -- [SpouseBuzz - Andi]
In January, on the day my husband deployed, I received a phone call informing me that we would have to move while my husband was deployed. It's a long story, and has nothing to do with orders, or the Army. Basically, the house we were renting was sold. I had to find a house, buy a house, pack a house and move a house. Without my husband. Pronto. I knew this would be challenging of course, but I also thought it was fairly doable. Bwahahahahaha. Screw-up Number One: No POA. My husband deployed with only a few hours notice. Until this deployment, we've always had lead time to get affairs in order. I admit I don't always keep a current POA on hand, even though I know better. So, you guessed it, I was armed with a useless, expired POA and no way to get another one in a timely manner.
Why I Serve -- [Army Strong - LTC Andre Dean]
Sometimes we catch ourselves asking this very fundamental question about military serivce:
"Why did I sign up to wear this uniform and serve my Country with my life?"
For me all I have to do is look around my office and see a few poignant reminders of what this protection of my beloved USA is all about.
Today it is as simple as this little hand-made tie created for me last Father's Day by my little angel 8-year-old Helena, which hangs prominently on my "love-me" wall. Check out the photo below and tell me if there is a better reason than leaving my little girl a better America than the one I was given by my Army-serving father before me....and to pass this legacy and love affair with America and my deeply held love for my family on down the line to generations still unborn.
Quote of the Day -- [Abu Muqawama]
"The Iliad is ever mindful that war is about men killing or men killed. In the entire epic, no warrior, whether hero or obscure man of the ranks, dies happily or well. No reward awaits the soldier's valor; no heaven will receive him. The Iliad's words and phrases for the process of death make clear that this is something baneful: dark night covers the dying warrior, hateful darkness claims him; he is robbed of sweet life, his soul goes down to Hades bewailing its fate. Again and again, relentlessly, the Iliad hammers this fact: the death of any warrior is tragic and full of horror. Even in war, death is regrettable."
25 Years Ago... -- [Miserable Donuts]
March 9th, 1985 at the Urbana, Illinois National Guard Armory, I signed on the line. My enlistment contract in the Illinois Army National Guard. 11B10 - Infantryman, assigned as a Scout Observer to the Combat Support Company, 2/130th Infantry. When I called home and told my parents, they were rather startled. To tell the truth, when I got to Fort Benning, GA for Basic Training, I was too. A couple of years slowly getting my bearings and an officer's commission, I figured it out. Learn from NCOs. Some schoolhouse training helped too...Good thing I had learned a little by 1993. I was called up for the Mississippi Floods that summer - and had to take acting command of a Company. The rest of the 1990s went along merrily enough - oh, until all that Bosnia stuff got
Home. -- [six foot skinny - home from Iraq]
lines and civilian contract workers and paperwork and waiting and gestures of thanks and goodbye. I probably won't see many of these people ever again. Late night, early morning, busses. Two coach busses take some of us back to Marquette, Michigan. Two busses take some of us back to Ellsworth, Wisconsin. And then later, after I'm gone, busses take the rest to the airport where they fly home to Oklahoma City. I am on the Ellsworth busses. Three hours west of McCoy. Three hours on the bus for the last time.
Charlie Company Home From Afghanistan -- [WTVC]
"Charlie Company," the more common name for C-Troop of the Georgia Army National Guard's 108th Calvary unit, came home Tuesday to a hometown hero's welcome.
We rode with the soldiers on their bus as they greeting hundreds of people who lined the streets to welcome them home. The troops waved and shouted back at people carrying flags and signs along Dalton's streets.
Friends repair flooded farm for soldier during his deployment -- [Cherokee Tribune]
A Cherokee County soldier on Tuesday evening received a welcome-home present he never will forget. Friends and family of Sgt. Rusty Midkiff of southeast
3rd ESC back home from Haiti -- [News Enterprise]
While waiting in bleachers decorated with signs such as - "Welcome Home Mommy" - Nikeisha Roberts said she was nervous and excited to see her husband again.
Time to refresh your memories... -- [Castle Argghhh!!!]
Below are web-sites that provide information on Veterans benefits and how to file/ask for them. Accordingly, there are many sites that explain how to obtain books, military/medical records, information and how to appeal a denied claim with the VA.
Please pass this information on to every Veteran you know.
Things EVERY Vet Should Know -- [You Served - CJ]
ALL VETS SHOULD COPY THIS - Someone has gone to a lot of trouble. If this helps one person, then it was worthwhile. Please pass this on to all Veterans on you e-mail list.
Below are web-sites that provide information on Veterans benefits and how to file/ask for them. Accordingly, there are many sites that explain how to obtain books, military/medical records, information and how to appeal a denied claim with the VA. Please pass this information on to every Veteran you know. Nearly 100% of this information is free and available for all veterans, the only catch is: you have to ask for it, because they won't tell you about a specific benefit unless you ask for it. You need to know what questions to ask so the right doors open for you and then be ready to have an advocate who is willing to work with and for you, stay in the process, and press for your rights and your best interests.
Oscar for Iraq war film was well-timed -- [CNN]
This past weekend, Iraq had a real election and in spite of threats and bombings, millions of voters participated in record numbers. It is a giant step forward in Iraq's road to democracy and has the potential to be a beacon for others in this battle-scarred region.
Fallujah -- the real Hurt Locker -- [OPFOR]
In Fallujah in 2004, the soldiers and Marines were not able to call in Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams to diffuse IEDs. In Fallujah, the soldiers and Marines were forced to drop bombs on urban minefields. On one occasion a string of IEDs two blocks long was detonated by a single GPS-guided bomb. In Fallujah a handful of soldiers were not pinned down by a single enemy sniper. In Fallujah American M1 tanks were pinned down by riflemen and grenadiers lurking in every window. In Fallujah, 8000 American troops were locked in mortal combat with 4000 diehard jihadists for several weeks. In Fallujah, over 100 American soldiers, sailors and Marines were killed during the 2004 fighting and hundreds more were wounded. Many lives were lost and everyone's life was changed forever. Nine Navy Crosses and twenty-two Silver Stars were awarded for gallantry during Operation Phantom Fury--many posthumously.
THE HURT LOCKER at the Oscars: Iraq War Drama Wins; Iraqis Ignored -- [Alt Film Guide (blog)]
I was disappointed -- but hardly surprised -- that none of the Hurt Locker filmmakers mentioned the people of Iraq or the election held in that country on
US Iraq commander likes 'Hurt Locker' -- [AFP]
The commander of US troops in Iraq on Tuesday praised Oscar-winning drama "The Hurt Locker," saying that unlike some media coverage it showed the complexities on the field.
General Ray Odierno said he watched "The Hurt Locker," a nerve-jangling film about a US Army bomb disposal squad in Baghdad, after a copy was sent to him last year.
CPT Bailey on Liddy Show -- [This Ain't Hell]
Navy Captain Larry Baily, a Navy SEAL who spends a lot of his personal busting phony SEALs, will be on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show today. You can listen to it on the interwebbythingies. Apparently, Captain Bailey will be discussing Adam Kokesh's candidacy run in New Mexico.
The one time I've talked with Captain Baily on the phone, he had just finished telling a widow that her recently deceased husband wasn't eligible for burial in Arlington despite the years of lies her husband had told her. He's a straight shooter and a rock hard patriot.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Gossip -- [Home from Iraq]
Our unit made the front page of today's Lancaster Intelligencer/New Era in a story about a chaplain who was supposed to deploy with us and who was accused of violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." For me, finding out Chaplain (Captain) Aris Fokas was deploying with us was great news. He was the assistant college chaplain at Franklin and Marshall College (where my wife teaches) in the 1990s. So I already knew him and knew he was a really good guy. We saw each other at the battalion Christmas party at the end of 2007 and I could not say which one of us was more surprised to see the other in uniform.
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