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Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world.
Updating - Refresh for updates.
Trending Positive -- [Old Blue/Afghan Quest]
...I have been back in Afghanistan for about ten months now, and my perceptions have run the gamut during that time. There have been times that I have been so frustrated that I could spit. I have seen things from time to time that have just flat disgusted me. That being said, the overall trend is very positive.
I know that there are those who decry the changes in the Rules of Engagement that are nearly a year old now. Michael Yon has recently begun spreading what I can only describe as a meme about Soldiers patrolling around some corner of Afghanistan and being prevented by their command from chambering a round in their weapons. This is not and has never been the intent of COMISAF. If this is indeed true, which I have never seen or heard any evidence of, concealing the identity of the commander who has generated this type of directive is in itself a dangerous and irresponsible act. Personally, you would have to prove to me that anyone is actually doing that.
What I do see is more and more Soldiers and Marines doing their level best to apply creative solutions to complex tactical situations, both kinetic and non-kinetic...
Recycled: The Nerve Center of War -- [LT Wompum/A Handful of Dust - in Afghanistan]
The junior people in the room actually went through the buffet first so as to have eaten prior to the VIPs arriving... Once everyone had arrived and the briefing began, one of the Senators quickly stopped it. He first wanted everyone in the room to introduce themselves and their position.
After the generals and colonels from the US, Canada, Poland, Italy and Britain around the main table explained who they were and what they did, the people in the outer ring of chairs began to do the same. I didn't think that they would expect a lowly 2LT to say anything but when the colonel next to me introduced himself and looked to me next I followed suit.
"I'm 2LT Wompum and soon to be Platoon Leader."
The certain Senator from Rhode Island with a military background laughingly asked; "Second Lieutenant? What are you doing here?"
A junior officer's experience on the front line post Op Moshtarak -- [Helmand Blog - in Afghanistan]
"There is far less fighting around Group-e Shash than there was during Op Moshtarak. However, in the last few weeks we've had a number of shoots onto the sangers in the patrol base, which has helped keep the guys focused that it could very quickly turn kinetic," said Lieutenant Landon...
TF No Mercy Assists Villagers and Coalition -- [Spc. Tracy Weeden/101st Combat Aviation Brigade]
Task Force No Mercy provided air support to Australian coalition partners in the detainment of four suspected insurgents, including one high-level insurgent leader, in Gizab, May 1.
The coalition also recovered weapons and a large amount, 100,000 Pakistan rupees ($5,000), along with the detainment of the suspected insurgent leader, said Capt. Tammy Price, TF No Mercy security officer.
The villagers in Gizab captured the insurgents and then called on the coalition forces for assistance, said Price. They did not want the repercussions of detaining the insurgents and requested help from the coalition...
U.S. puts hopes in bedraggled Afghan police -- [David Zucchino/Los Angeles Times]
"The force-protection posture is not really all that great," Sgt. 1st Class Arnaldo Colon, a U.S. Army military policeman, said as he arrived Wednesday morning for an inspection. He gestured toward dilapidated concrete barriers, a few sad strands of concertina wire and a yelping guard dog tied to a tree...
When his company arrived in July as the only U.S. unit stationed in downtown Kandahar, Colon said, the police "didn't have a clue." They were incapable of patrolling on their own.
"Now, they're better prepared and know the minimum standards for patrol and security," Colon said as he led a foot patrol of seven U.S. MPs and six Afghan officers through busy streets filled with vendors hawking vegetables and shopkeepers selling sodas and snacks...
Afghan Soldier Embodies Warrior Spirit -- [Pfc. Christopher McKenna/3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division]
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan - Embodying the warrior spirit, an Afghan National Army Soldier showed the lengths some men will go to put duty before self May 20.
In Zormat, Paktya Province, Afghanistan, Said Ajan Abrahim's 203rd ANA Corps element came under heavy fire from insurgents at an ANA checkpoint.
In the ensuing combat, Abrahim's leg was nearly severed. Being an ANA medic and having the overwhelming urge to remain in the fight, Abrahim placed a tourniquet on his own leg and severed the remaining attachment with a medical knife...
Pakistani Taleban leader may have been killed by Afghan forces -- [Time (UK) Online]
A senior Afghan police officer said that Mullah Fazlullah was killed on Wednesday with six of his commanders in a clash with troops in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan, when about 300 militants led by Fazlullah tried to capture Barg-e-Matal district near the Pakistani border.
Afstan: A first last spike -- [The Torch]
This should also help ISAF supplies somewhat: HAIRATAN, AFGHANISTAN - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda today inaugurated a 75-kilometer stretch of railway line that connects the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to the country's bustling northern border with Uzbekistan.
"The new rail link between Mazar-e-Sharif and Hairatan will help reduce trade bottlenecks, boost commerce, and speed the flow of much-needed humanitarian assistance," Mr. Kuroda said at the opening ceremony in Hairatan...
The WolfPack Grows -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
This is 'Lucky'. He is another of our 'rescues' and still only a pup, but is growing every day... Kandy and Junior have obviously been instructing Lucky. He just snarled at an LN and chased him across part of the compound...
Soldiers take flight to support Iraqi Army -- [Pvt. Zachary Zuber/3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division PAO]
DIYALA, Iraq -- Shortly after sunrise, the typically peaceful farms of the Udaim River Valley were bustling with activity for three hours, March 25. While an Air Weapons Team of two Kiowa helicopters circled overhead for security, nearly 100 Soldiers rushed out of Chinooks, then divided into three elements to search over 30 structures throughout the small community outside Udaim...
"We spent a month collecting the information from our sources to get warrants for terror suspects," said Capt. Ahmed Mustafa Al Ali, the operations officer for 2/19th IA. "The final planning and rehearsals have gone on for the last three days to prepare."
Although they did not apprehend the individuals they were after, they still had the opportunity to interact with community members and show their strong focus on a safe village for local citizens.
British Iraq war probe quizzes Bremer, Crocker on US trip -- [AFP]
Members of the five-strong panel, which is investigating the March 2003 invasion and subsequent operations until Britain's pull-out last year, also met with the current French and Australian ambassadors in Washington.
The inquiry said the May 17-21 trip, which also included Boston, was intended to "receive a wider international perspective on the UK's involvement in Iraq".
But it added: "As the meetings were not formal evidence sessions, records of the conversations are not being published."
Iraq war badly planned, poorly resourced: Bremer -- [Reuters]
Planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was inadequate and not enough troops were sent to ensure post-conflict security, the former U.S. diplomat who led the civilian occupation authority after the war has told a British inquiry.
Seoul protesters demand revenge for North Korean torpedo attack -- [Times (UK) Online]
Thousands of people marched through Seoul yesterday to demand revenge on the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, for the sinking of a South Korean ship, while the country's navy conducted exercises that focused on finding North Korean submarines.
The media in Seoul reported that the South Korean-US joint military command raised its degree of alert to the second highest level...
North Korea Scraps Military Safeguards with South -- [Voice of America]
The general staff of the North Korean People's Army issued a notice Thursday dismantling a wide range of security guarantees it has observed for years.
Pyongyang says it will completely nullify a bilateral agreement with the South that was put in place to prevent clashes...
Britain Deplores North Korea Action; Supports South Korea Response -- [Voice of America]
British Foreign Secretary William Hague says there is no doubt North Korea was responsible for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March that killed 46 sailors. He also lent full support to South Korea's response to the crisis.
Speaking to foreign journalists in London, Foreign Secretary William Hague called North Korea's action "deplorable."
Young South Koreans worry about rising tensions with North Korea -- [The Washington Post]
"If this crisis continues for much longer, it will hurt my chances of getting a job," said Yoo Youn-seong, 24, a senior at Chung-Ang University...
Three years ago, in a poll conducted before a presidential vote, only 3 percent of voters named North Korea as a primary concern. They were more concerned about economic growth and higher salaries. The young, many polls found, were particularly indifferent to North Korea and the fulminations of its odd dictator...
The Cheonan incident appears to have significantly altered that view...
NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY -- [President Barack Obama/White House]
We live in a time of sweeping change... globalization has also intensified the dangers we face - from international terrorism and the spread of deadly technologies, to economic upheaval and a changing climate...
Barack Obama highlights threat posed by homegrown terrorism -- [Times (UK) Online]
America's "war on terror" was formally laid to rest yesterday as President Obama laid out his first national security strategy -- a sweeping repudiation of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes.
The "Obama doctrine" lays out an agenda of global engagement but also highlights the threats of home-grown terror...
New U.S. Strategy Focuses on Managing Threats -- [NY Times]
President Obama's first formal national security strategy describes a coming era in which the United States will have to learn to live within its limits -- a world in which two wars cannot be sustained for much longer and the rising powers inevitably begin to erode some elements of American influence around the globe...
Obama redefines national security strategy, looks beyond military might -- [Washington Post]
The strategy cites four "enduring national interests" that are "inextricably linked:" security, prosperity, values and international order.
Terror link alleged as Saudi millions flow into Afghanistan war zone -- [Times (UK) Online]
Millions of dollars of Saudi Arabian money have flowed into Afghanistan over the past four years, the country's intelligence officials say, with the sponsorship of terrorism its most likely use.
According to members of the Afghan financial intelligence unit, FinTraca, the funds, totalling more than £920 million, enter from Pakistan, where they are converted into rupees or dollars, the favoured currency for terrorist operations.
"We can trace it back as far as an entry point in Waziristan," said Mohammed Mustafa Massoudi, the director-general of FinTraca in Kabul. "Why would anyone want to put such money into Waziristan? Only one reason -- terrorism."
The revelations illuminate the difficulties in dividing the Taleban from al-Qaeda influence and the continuing involvement of Saudi donors in sponsoring the insurgency.
President Obama will skip Memorial Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery -- [Washington Post]
Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and executive director of the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, expressed disappointment at the White House move. "Arlington is hallowed ground, and the center of our nation's attention on Memorial Day," Rieckhoff said. "Unfortunately, President Obama and his family will not be there with us."
Etched in eternity: USASOC unveils new memorial wall -- [ Gregory Phillips /Fayetteville Observer]
When the black curtain was pulled back Thursday afternoon to unveil a new wall honoring slain special operations soldiers, some relatives touched the names of their loved ones.
Some placed red roses at the foot of the wall. Some had their photographs taken next to the names.
Others just stood and wept...
The new granite wall is reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It bears the names of 1,078 special operations soldiers killed in conflicts since the Korean War. There's space enough for another 20 years of casualties based on current rates, according to the command.
'Iron Horse' troops back from Afghanistan -- [North County Times]
The "Iron Horse Marines" that make up Camp Pendleton's 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion are almost all home from a seven-month assignment in Afghanistan.
The second wave of more than 1,000 Marines and sailors from the reserve battalion arrived at Camp Pendleton late Thursday morning after conducting combat operations in the southern region of Afghanistan's Helmand province.
An initial wave arrived home late Wednesday, and a third wave is due Friday...
Among the activated troops was Sgt. Maj. Robert Cottle, a member of the Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT team, who was killed March 24 by a roadside bomb.
Cottle was one of five battalion members killed during the deployment...
Also killed during the deployment were Sgt. David J. Smith and Lance Cpls. Rick Centanni, Carlos Aragon and Jeremy Kane.
John Finn, oldest WWII MoH recipient, dies -- [From my position... on the way!]
Retired Navy Lt. John Finn, the oldest Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, has died at his Southern California home. He was 100.
Navy Lt. Aaron Kakiel says Finn died early Thursday on his ranch near Live Oak Springs, where he lived for more than 50 years.
Finn earned the nation's highest military valor award for his heroism during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He received the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15, 1942, from then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Born July 23, 1909, in Los Angeles, Finn was the oldest of the 97 Medal of Honor recipients still living...
The Michael Yon Rumor Mill -- [Cassandra (USMC spouse)/Villainous Company]
What standard should we apply to Mr. Yon's reporting? He has repeatedly stated that he's not a blogger. OK, I'll buy off on that. According to Colonel Steve Boylan, who had the temerity to object when Yon published information on American KIA before their families had been notified (a practice that normally brings the wrath of the entire Milblogging community down on a journalist's head) and who left a comment on my last Yon post, Yon says he's not a journalist, either. Just one who makes his living reporting...
If Yon isn't a blogger and isn't a journalist, what is he? By what standard do we evaluate his work? Or do we just throw away the rule book because after all, he's Michael Yon? That doesn't seem right to me...
Here is the latest... -- [Mike Yon]
This blog is emotionally written... It's riddled with errors. It also makes serious and erroneous accusations against my ethics on reporting soldiers killed in action before family members are notified. This is an outright lie, and I'm calling the author on it to provide proof...
Now, I know Colonel Steve Boylan, and he was the Public Affairs Officer for General David Petraeus. I will email to Colonel Boylan now asking him to comment.
Lone Gun in War Reporting -- [James Rainey/Los Angeles Times]
When the blogger left Iraq for a break and then tried to return in September, the Army said no. Lt. Col. Steven Boylan wrote to Yon, telling him he had violated his embed agreement, which requires withholding photos of dead and injured soldiers until their family members had been notified.
Comment -- [Col Steve Boylan /Villainous Company]
...As for bloggers and citizen journalists, we in the military are still working on how to deal with the various issues of this still new medium. With the traditional media, we get to have a reasonable path to figure out and correct errors in fact, violations of ground rules, etc. The traditional media have a system in place that we can use to discuss issues with the editors and so forth until a resolution is found. This is not the case with most bloggers/citizen journalists.
Many are one-person shops and if they don't like the answers, the rules, etc then they ignore them. There is no recourse for the military to try to correct an issue if they choose not do listen. Usually our only recourse is to deny access due to lack of faith and confidence that they will provide an accurate representation of the facts.
Should We Be in Afghanistan? -- [Sebastian Junger]
I'm on book tour, and even though War is not a political work, people are asking me very political questions about it. Should we be in Afghanistan? Should we pull out? What about civilian casualties? Is there any such thing as a "good" war, or are all wars by definition evil? There are no easy answers -- I wish there were -- and coming to any useful conclusion requires a person to let go of any political freight they may be carrying...
I first went to Afghanistan in 1996. I was on assignment to investigate jihadist training camps in the Tora Bora mountains south of Jalalabad. Weeks after I left, Taliban forces swept through most of the country and established a repressive regime that waged war for the next five years against an alliance of warlords in the north. As always, it was the civilian population that suffered...
Should We Be in Afghanistan? -- [Kanani/The Kitchen Dispatch]
...Sure, I'm an Army wife now, but for 23 years I was just a regular civilian wife with absolutely no ties to the military, and any engagement with world events was entirely selective.
I think that's how most Americans live. We can turn off the tragedies, violence, inequities, murder and suffering at our choosing...
COIN Spring Symposium, Interim Report -- [USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog]
The US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center hosted its 2010 Counterinsurgency (COIN) Symposium with special emphasis on COIN in Afghanistan from May 11-13, 2010. Twelve featured speakers and 120-plus attendees discussed COIN theory and best practices coming from the field in Afghanistan. The purpose was to identify common themes for inclusion in pre-deployment training and professional military and interagency education curricula.
This report contains the common themes immediately below and more detailed summaries of each speaker's presentation farther down.
COIN Symposium Recap -- [Armchair Generalist]
If you've been unaware of the US Army's COIN Symposium at Fort Leavenworth, but want to know what all the hubbub was about, you need to check out the recaps at Travels with Shiloh. Here's a summary of the recaps. [Via]
Allright...one more COIN post. -- [Travels with Shiloh]
Here's a scene from The Men Who Stare at Goats. I've had this suspicion that this is what a lot of critics think of when they hear COIN...
Supporting Human Studies Of Novel Treatments For Battlefield Injuries And Scars -- [Medical News Today]
A two-year, $12 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Technology Transition (OTT) will jumpstart human trials of three innovative research programs that aim to replace scars and defects with healthy, functional tissues, announced officials of the University of Pittsburgh and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine today at the Institute's Second Annual Open Session, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, Oakland.
The OTT mission emphasizes the rapid translation of preclinical research into human studies...
Natural Security in the NSS: By the Numbers -- [Natural Security]
A little pop analysis. Here are the number of mentions of our major natural security topics in the just-released National Security Strategy:
Climate Change: 28
That's right, folks. The new NSS mentions "energy" more than "engagement" or "military." And "climate change" appears more than "intelligence."
House Votes to Permit 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal -- [NY Times]
"On Memorial Day, America will come together and honor all who served our nation in uniform," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a floor speech, noting the symbolic timing of the debate. "I urge my colleagues to vote for the repeal of this discriminatory policy of 'don't ask, don't tell' and make America more American."
Gates Addresses Troops on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal -- [defense.gov]
[Secretary] Gates recorded a special message that will be broadcast on the American Forces Radio and Television Service and the Pentagon Channel to speak directly to servicemembers and their families about the moves toward repeal of the law that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
House passes defense policy bill -- [Politico]
The House on Friday passed its version of the defense policy bill for fiscal 2011, drawing a new veto threat from President Barack Obama, even though the legislation includes language that would allow the Pentagon to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 229 to 186, also includes language authorizing funding for a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Earlier this week, Obama, through the Office of Management and Budget, said if funding for the second engine was included in the final version of the bill, his senior advisers would recommend a veto, endorsing a warning from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Obama Backs Gates in Budget Debate -- [defense.gov]
President Barack Obama today promised to veto any legislation that includes funding for an alternate engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter or more C-17 cargo jets, expressing his "strong support" for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' budget-reform effort.
"As the Congress continues its work on funding bills for the Department of Defense, I want to reiterate my strong support for the reforms Secretary Gates is advancing at the Pentagon," Obama said in a written statement the White House released today. "He has kept me fully apprised of his efforts to reform how our military operates and bring needed efficiencies to the Department of Defense."
Obama said he stands "squarely behind" Gates' position on the second F-35 engine and the C-17 program.
"As the statement of administration policy made clear," the president said in his statement, "our military does not want or need these programs being pushed by the Congress, and should Congress ignore this fact, I will veto any such legislation so that it can be returned to me without those provisions."
Memorial Day History -- [usmemorialday.org]
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War... While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day... It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery...
Memorial Day History -- [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs]
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays...
Gen. Logan's order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 "with the choicest flowers of springtime" urged: "We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic."
Stuff COIN People Like: Abu Muqawama -- [Sosostris/A Handful of Dust in Afghanistan]
As a new occasional feature here on AHOD, today we introduce 'Stuff COIN People Like'. It is our hope that, like these fellows, we too can nab a six-figure book contract when this goes viral and takes the COIN world by storm.
First up on our list of Stuff COIN People Like is Abu Muqawama...
Blog Drama -- [Starbuck/Wings Over Iraq]
I'm never one to be one-upped, so I'm hereby starting blog drama with Great Satan's Girlfriend. She'll probably mark the beginning of our "fight" with a picture of chicks pillow fighting, so you can't lose.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
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.
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Car bomb strikes outside Kandahar NATO base -- [Reuters UK]
A powerful car bomb exploded outside a NATO base in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar city Wednesday, destroying scores of...
Kilo Company Squads Engage Insurgents After Ambush -- [Battle Rattle - Military Times]
COMBAT OUTPOST REILLY, Afghanistan - Last night, I went on my last foot patrol of this embed assignment.
It was eventful, to say the least.
Military Times photographer Tom Brown and I pushed north from this outpost east of Marjah with Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. Two groups - 3rd Platoon's 2nd and 3rd Squads - left on routine security patrols within a half-hour of each other. Tom and I joined 3/3, the second group - 13 Marines, a Navy corpsman and four Afghan National Army soldiers - as they stepped off at about 4:30.
In Afghanistan, U.S. Military Was Warned Of Recent Kabul Suicide Attacks -- [Big Government]
On Tuesday, May 18, in busy rush hour traffic, a suicide bomber drove his Toyota minivan, packed with 1650 lbs. of explosives, alongside a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan and detonated. Eighteen people were killed, including five American soldiers and one Canadian. Forty-seven others were wounded.
Marjah's 'Government in a Box' Flops as McChrystal Fumes -- [Danger Room]
The plan was to overwhelm the Taliban stronghhold with coalition forces -- and then instantly install a new civilian infrastructure in the town of Marjah. "We've got a government in a box, ready to roll in," said top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
The reality has been different. A new governor has been installed. Construction projects have begun. "By day there is government," one tribal leader tells McClatchy's Don Nissenbaum. "By night it's the Taliban."
Is US Army Outgunned in Afghanistan? -- [FOXNews]
Despite the ages-old rifles in Taliban hands, reports suggest our soldiers may be outgunned in Afghanistan's hills.
Red Cross gives first aid lessons to Taliban -- [Guardian]
The Red Cross in Afghanistan has been teaching the Taliban basic first aid and giving insurgents medical equipment so that fighters wounded during battles with Nato and Afghan government forces can be treated in the field, it was revealed today.
More than 70 members of the "armed opposition" received training in April, the Red Cross said - a move likely to anger the government of Hamid Karzai, which is losing large numbers of police and soldiers in insurgent attacks.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had introduced the classes because pitched battles, landmines and roadblocks stopped people in the most volatile areas from getting to hospital.
Red Cross defends first aid courses for Taliban -- [Miami Herald/AP]
The international Red Cross has defended its first aid training for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan after media reports sparked criticism from Afghan officials.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it trained "over 70 members of the armed opposition" in first aid last month.
The group says it also provided first aid kits to fighters and civilians living in conflict areas.
On the road to Gereskh -- [Frontline bloggers - in Afghanistan]
Captain Grant Winkles of 204 Signal Squadron is working as an advisor to the Afghan National Army at the ANA 3/215 Brigade headquarters in Shorabak.
Soldiers 'demoralised' when suspects go free -- [The Herald]
Speaking to The Herald during a large-scale training exercise on Salisbury Plain, he said it was demoralising to have to set free captured individuals ...
US to command UK's Helmand force -- [Financial Times]
Britain's 8,500 troops in Helmand province will go under the direct control of a US Marine Corps general next month as Nato restructures its military operations in southern Afghanistan.
Following Washington's decision to pour an extra 20,000 troops into the south this year, the Ministry of Defence announced on Friday that all Nato forces in Helmand would come under the overall command of Maj Gen Richard Mills of the US Marine Corps.
Camp Life, Kabul -- [AfghaniDan, Part II - in Afghanistan]
Today was my first Friday back in A-stan, which here at Camp Eggers means a light day if work permits...a day to do some laundry, spend a chunk of time reading with some coffee, sleep late and re-charge the batteries (not that my newly-arrived butt needs re-charging!). I still took advantage of that particular privilege though. For one thing, no amount of military service has converted me from a night owl to a morning person, and for another, the two all-nighters spent traveling earlier this week still left me bleary and far from 'caught up.' I don't take my time easing into a job or location; I do everything possible to hit the ground running, and some of my new crew here were happy to oblige.
A day in the life: Transient. -- [AfghaniDan, Part II - in Afghanistan]
A word on transit within the Area of Operations...a primer, if you will, for those that have never had the pleasure. Let's say for purely hypothetical sake that you needed to fly from a notional desert airfield in the Gulf, serving as a major air transit hub, to another major transit hub located in a notional war-torn central Asian nation's capital region. Your initial feeling is a hopeful one...the reception cell has picked you up at the international airport, found you some temporary billeting, and signed you up at the 'terminal' for Space-R (reserved) travel on the next manifest. Imagine then that a couple of days creep by...
Troops in Afghanistan Now Outnumber Those in Iraq -- [At War - NY Times]
For more than a year it has been called "Obama's War,'' but on Tuesday the numbers made it official: For the first time since the United States led the invasion of Baghdad during the Bush administration in 2003, there were more American troops deployed to Afghanistan than Iraq -- 94,000 compared with 92,000.
Iraqi election results closer to being certified -- [AP]
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's election commission says it's sending the final results of the March 7 elections to the Supreme Court for certification.
Pentagon tries to steer media coverage on Iraq -- [Washington Post]
The Pentagon may be sharply reducing its combat forces in Iraq, but the military plans to step up efforts to influence media coverage in that country -- as well as here at home.
"It is essential to the success of the new Iraqi government and the USF-I [U.S. Forces-Iraq] mission that both communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international, and U.S. and USF-I audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of core themes and messages," according to the pre-solicitation notice for a civilian contractor or contractors to provide "strategic communication management services" there.
Calling strategic communications "a vital component of operations in Iraq," the notice says...
IRAQ: Baghdad mosque breaks with Islamic tradition to display religious paintings -- [Babylon & Beyond - LA Times]
The Zulfiqar Mosque's minaret rises over Sadr City, curving at the top into the shape of the double-tipped sword from which it takes its name, the sword of Imam Ali.
But its unusual minaret is not all that distinguishes the mosque in this Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. Inside, worshipers gaze up at something that was illegal under Saddam Hussein's rule and even now could put the mosque at risk: paintings.
'CIA planned to depict Saddam gay before 2003 Iraq invasion' -- [Expressindia.com]
Washington The CIA devised a campaign to discredit Saddam Hussein, by depicting him as gay, during the planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, ...
Obama to Send Up to 1,200 Troops to Border -- [NY Times]
President Obama will send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border and seek increased spending on law enforcement there to combat drug smuggling after demands from Republican and Democratic lawmakers that border security be tightened.
The decision was disclosed by a Democratic lawmaker and confirmed by administration officials after Mr. Obama met on Tuesday with Republican senators, several of whom have demanded that troops be placed at the border. The lawmakers learned of the plan after the meeting.
US orders escalation in secret operations in Middle East -- [Telegraph]
The United States has ordered a major escalation of clandestine military operations in Iran and other parts of the Middle East, according to a secret directive.
Losing the Media War in Pakistan (VIDEO) -- [NY Times]
The Pakistani media boom is propelling anti-American conspiracy theories, with the Times Square bomb as the latest example. The United States is doing virtually nothing to counter the trend.
Clinton Says World Must Respond to Sinking of S. Korean Warship -- [Voice of America]
The attack has been blamed on North Korea and the US Secretary of State is calling for a 'strong but measured response'
Marines on Okinawa: Staying for Now? -- [USNI Blog]
From the Associated Press a few minutes ago:
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has backtracked on his campaign promise to close the U.S. Marine base in Okinawa.
Hatoyama had pledged to close the base but now says he's decided to keep Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the strategically important island, which is close to Taiwan and the Chinese mainland and not far from the Korean peninsula.
Korean Defense Ministry Hints at Reviving Team Spirit Exercise -- [ROK Drop]
Could U.S. troops see the return of Team Spirit?
The military is reportedly considering reviving large-scale South Korea-U.S. joint military drills, including "Team Spirit" exercises.
South Korea Decides to Restart Radio Broadcasts & Send Propaganda Balloons Across the DMZ -- [ROK Drop]
The South Korean government has announced their response to the sinking of the ROK naval vessel by the North Koreans and fortunately many of the punitive actions being taken by the ROK matches the recommendations I offered. To echo One Free Korea, what I was really glad to see is that the South Korean government has decided to fight the information war against the North Koreans by supporting the balloon launches:
White House Official Says US Actively Seeking American-Born Terrorist -- [Voice of America]
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the US government is actively pursuing American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. White House Press Secretary Robert
Radical Cleric Freewheeling in Jamaica -- [Counterterrism Blog]
Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of placing a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, reportedly claimed to authorities that he was inspired by Jamaican cleric Abdullah al-Faisal and the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Anwar al-Awlaki's ability to circulate messages has been significantly diminished in the wake of revelations of his connections to the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and the would-be Christmas Day airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. However, Abdullah al-Faisal's ability to communicate remains relatively unhindered.
Despite serving a prison sentence in the U.K. for inciting violence, having been recognized as a spiritual mentor to 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay and to American James Ujaama, who attempted to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, and getting bounced out of Kenya in January 2010 due to concern over his detrimental influence in the Muslim community, Faisal is still able to communicate freely with followers through his online broadcasts from Jamaica.
Yemeni airstrike kills deputy governor, al Qaeda operatives -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
The deputy governor of Marib province, five of his bodyguards, and two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives, including a local leader, were killed in an airstrike today, sparking retaliation from local tribes. Jabir al Shabwani, the deputy governor of Marib, was killed while conferring with an al Qaeda leader in an attempt to negotiate a settlement with the government. Shabwani was killed while meeting with al Qaeda leader Mohammed Saeed bin Jameel at his farm, the Yemen Observer reported.
Iraq war amputee gets a new home -- [ABC7Chicago]
... in about 90 days," said Donna Morsovillo, Operation Welcome Home. ... Since 2004, they have built 57 homes for disabled troops and have 40 more under ...
Soldiers' Angels partners with DCoE's Real Warriors Campaign -- [Soldiers Angels Germany]
May 2010 marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury's (DCoE's) Real Warriors Campaign, which focuses on combating the stigma associated with seeking treatment for psychological health and traumatic brain injury concerns.
The Real Warriors Campaign Web site features articles and resources on a variety of psychological health issues, as well as video profiles of service members who reached out and received treatment, and went on to maintain successful military and civilian careers. By sharing their stories, these Real Warriors are proving to their fellow service members that they are not alone, that reaching out makes a difference and that individuals who have sought psychological health care can continue successful careers.
Medic receives Distinguished Service Cross, military's second-highest award for valor -- [Soldiers Angels Germany]
On May 17, 2010, Sgt. Joseph L. Lollino was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart by Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, surgeon general of the Army.
Lollino retrieved and treated five casualties when his convoy was ambushed June 20, 2008, in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan. He was serving with Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team on his second deployment to Afghanistan.
Extreme Medicine Gets Pentagon Push; Human Trials Rushed -- [Danger Room]
Some of the most debilitating war injuries, from lost limbs to mangled muscle tissue to permanent burn scars, could soon benefit from cutting-edge regenerative procedures.
Human clinical trials of the latest in extreme regenrative medicine -- including bone-fusing cement and muscle-growing cell scaffolds -- are being fast-tracked, thanks to an extra $12 million in funding from the Department of Defense.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working on some of the most promising Pentagon-backed medical research projects.
TABER: Cross our hearts -- [Washington Times]
Thieves stole the cross-shaped Mojave Desert World War I Memorial during the night of May 9, less than two weeks after the Supreme Court had ruled that the 76-year-old memorial could stay. Because the memorial was on U.S. property, the thieves committed a federal crime; worse, they desecrated a national war memorial that was erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to honor American service members who have died in battle.
A combat-wounded veteran and recipient of our nation's third-highest medal for bravery - the Silver Star - immediately contacted my nonprofit foundation to offer anonymously a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the criminals. When asked why such a generous reward, the donor simply said, "I wanted to do the right thing."
The Returned Warrior - Announcing my next project: The Returned Warrior -- [Sgt Danger]
Three weeks ago, I left Afghanistan. I signed my DD214, flew home to Utah, walked into my living room, played with my kids, and then slept with my wife. I'm no longer SGT Danger. I'm Drew, Brother Dangerfield, and Daddy. Instead of escorting Afghan truckers or guarding plots of dirt, I've been eating at Del Taco, pulling weeds, visiting my shrink, and planning a family road trip. The transition to the 'real world' - all 22 days of it, so far - has been just fine. But returning from a combat zone is not like waking up from a dream. In both cases we sit up and say, "Damn, that was weird." But
My new address suits me fine! -- [Mob 2009 Blog - home from Afghanistan]
Well, I know it's been a while since I posted here. I assure you, that I'm alright. In fact, I'm better than alright, I'M HOME!!!!
That's right; I'm back in NJ, USA and loving it! I've got my dog and cat cuddling up to me and life is good!
I survived! -- [Army Houshold6]
Just taking a quick minute to let you know that we have BOOTS ON THE GROUND! Yes that is right my friends -- SGT Daddy will be coming home today!!
Friends And Family Welcome Home 150 Troops After Year-Long Mission ...-- [WCTV]
Military leaders, friends and family gathered at the Henry W. McMillan Armory in Tallahassee to welcome home more than 150 members of the Florida Army
Final 188th Guardsmen Return Home -- [KHBS-KHOG Northwest Arkansas]
He and other guardsmen were met with welcome home signs and hugs. ... Their mission was to help protect ground troops from enemy fire in the War on Terror. ...
Troops from 177th Fighter Wing return from war directly to loved ones -- [Press of Atlantic City]
As the troops descended the stairs, someone yelled, "Walk faster. ... hair and a pink T-shirt that summed up everything: "Welcome home Daddy, I missed you. ...
144th may be coming home -- [Jackson County Floridan]
Jackson County may soon be planning a welcome-home party for its deployed National Guard troops. The soldiers of the 144th ...
Defense Secretary Gates's war of necessity against wasteful spending -- [Washington Post]
DEFENSE SECRETARY Robert M. Gates spent his first two years focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in each case backing a "surge" to turn around US ...
Answers sought for how man faked way as NCO -- [Military Times]
A Colorado congressman wants Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to provide answers on how a Texas man apparently tricked the Army into allowing him to enter the reserves as a noncommissioned officer.
Mike Coffman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered a letter to Gates' office on Monday asking him to address issues raised by an Associated Press story last Friday detailing the case of Jesse Bernard Johnston III.
The AP reported that Johnston, 26, was given the rank of sergeant when he enlisted in the reserves in February despite no military experience other than spending six weeks in a 12-week Marine officer candidate course while he was in college in 2004. Because Johnston didn't complete the course, he never became a Marine.
Theresa Flannery, Iraq War veteran and former beauty queen, dies at 32 -- [McClatchy News]
Theresa Flannery went to Iraq in 2004 and walked into one of the hottest firefights of the war. She and other U.S. soldiers were trapped on the roof of a government compound at Najaf, dodging rifle fire and rocket-propelled grenades from renegade militiamen. Flannery traded gunfire with enemy snipers, shattering bones in her wrist diving for cover. A photo of Flannery, taken during the two-hour fight, circulated around the world, and the former Miss Madison County was recommended for a Bronze Star.
Back home in Kentucky, Flannery got a hero's welcome. But only family members and close friends knew of the price she paid, and her struggles with post traumatic stress disorder.
Last Thursday, Flannery, 32, died while on a visit in Lexington, N.C. She apparently died in her sleep.
Don't be too quick to blame Facebook -- [Wings Over Iraq]
Noah Shachtman posted an article at Wired.com's Danger Room implying that word of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper's death was leaked via Facebook.
...However, a careful reading of the article and a little knowledge of the casualty notification process might indicate differently.
Let's Leak Classified Intelligence To NYT's Because Gen Petraeus's Name Is On It -- [Jawa Report]
Gawd. Iran is really going to be happy after reading this. Might as well say goodbye to those hikers accused of spying.
WASHINGTON -- The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.
Losing the Media War in Pakistan (VIDEO) -- [NY Times]
The Pakistani media boom is propelling anti-American conspiracy theories, with the Times Square bomb as the latest example. The United States is doing virtually nothing to counter the trend.
Many Paths up the Mountain: Population-Centric COIN in Afghanistan -- [SWJ - Major Nathan Springer]
The reality of how Troops implement and execute Population-Centric Counterinsurgency (COIN) in Afghanistan and the associated narrative spin in the Western COIN community of interest are at odds. A misguided and mistaken narrative surrounds ISAF's Population-Centric strategy in Afghanistan. I have listened to countless experts describe Population-Centric COIN as soft, focused on anything but the enemy, and extremely left leaning while Enemy-Centric COIN gets pegged the right-wing counter-terrorism approach, wholly focused on the enemy. This over-simplifies both schools of thought and fails to accurately describe either of them.
Gates Orders Services To Adopt McChrystal's COIN Standards -- [Defense News]
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has directed the U.S. military services to adopt a set of counterinsurgency tools modeled after ones instituted in Afghanistan by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said a senior Pentagon official.
Gates on May 24 signed a directive ordering the services to "take McChrystal's COIN training and proficiency standards ... and adapt those for the whole force," Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combat terrorism, told Defense News May 25.
The idea is to take the kinds of COIN training and "proficiency" standards that McChrystal, the top American general in Afghanistan, implemented there with his "AfPak Hands" program.
U.S. to Toughen Drill Rules -- [Wall Street Journal]
... fighting to stay ahead of the political storm over the Gulf oil spill, ... called on the president to put the military in charge of the cleanup.
Effort to seal well may be delayed -- [LA Times]
The much-anticipated attempt to seal the explosion-damaged well gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico may not start on Wednesday, officials of oil giant BP said Tuesday morning.
Equipment is in place to begin the "top kill" -- an effort to stop the leak by pumping heavy drilling mud into the well at a rate of 40 to 50 barrels of per minute, followed by concrete -- said Kent Wells, BP senior vice president for exploration and production.
Amid criticism over oil spill, Obama will visit Gulf Coast again -- [WaPo]
... As criticism of the federal response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continued to increase, President Obama will travel to the region ...
Obama to tour solar cell factory -- [USA Today]
The president said he told the GOP senators that he's willing to make "decisions that aren't always comfortable for me politically" and that "I need you to make some decisions that aren't always comfortable for you politically."
As an example, Obama cited immigration. "You've got to meet me on solving the problem long term," he said he told his Republican hosts. "It's not enough just to talk about (the) National Guard down at the border," added Obama, who sent 1,200 members of the Guard to Arizona yesterday.
He's not expecting much in the way of results from his outreach to the GOP, Obama told his fellow Democrats. "The day has passed when I expected this to be a full partnership," he said.
After catching flak from his right flank at the GOP lunch in Washington, Obama caught more from his left in San Francisco. At one fundraiser, a heckler, later identified by his PR rep (yes, these days even hecklers have flacks) as Kip Williams, hollered at the president to "move faster" on repealing don't ask, don't tell, the policy that allows gays to serve in the military only if they conceal their sexual preference.
"Happy" Memorial Day? -- [Homefront Six]
A friend shared this with me the other day and it really struck a nerve. I have several friends for whom this day holds special, and painful, meaning. It is not a "happy" day but it is a day for reflection and gratitude for those whose sacrifices preserve our freedoms. .
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Catching up with ... Big Ern -- [Matt Gallagher/Kerplunk]
In both Kaboom the blog and Kaboom the book, the soldier Big Ern made his presence known for all the right reasons. From his nonstop bantering with hetero-lifemate Van Wilder, to his all too routine ten-hour sessions in the gunner's hatch, to his perpetual rocking of the Hate Fist, this Southern family man still supports Rip It energy drinks and extreme analogies.
Currently in Afghanistan as a dismounted team leader with a Cavalry squadron in the 101st Airborne Division, now Sergeant Promotable Big Ern was kind enough to answer a few questions via email. (For you non-camo inclined folk, Sergeant Promotable means he'll pin on Staff Sergeant rank shortly).
1) Big Ern! I miss your musk. How does Afghanistan compare with Iraq? What's similar, and what's different?
"So When's The Movie Coming Out?" -- [Lt Wompum/A Handful of Dust - in Afghanistan]
Of course all this discussion got me to thinking about how movies about Afghanistan will be portrayed. Yes, there already has been one movie, Lions for Lambs, Robert Redford's preachy liberal soapbox that rung false in every possible way, but it's hardly worth mentioning. Iraq already has had several movies made about it, of which only two are good; the first being The Hurt Locker and the second being HBO's Generation Kill miniseries. The latter is probably the truest portrayal of how Marines and infantrymen actually speak.
As much as I'd like my own experience in Afghanistan to be something akin to Rambo III, I suspect Catch-22 would be more appropriate, though frankly there would be even more bureaucracy in my version...
Reconciling with Irreconcilables -- [Sosostris/A Handful of Dust - in Afghanistan]
...A recent book by a former senior member of the Taliban, now 'reconciled' with the Afghan government after spending time at Guantanamo, makes this all to clear. In 'My Life with the Taliban'Abdul Salam Zaeef still professes to holding a world view filtered through the lens of fundamentalist Islam. Despite all he has gone through (and perhaps because of it), he is entirely convinced of the righteous of the Taliban cause. These ideological convictions are very deeply rooted in the men who have fought on behalf of the Taliban for decades. The idea that they would be willing to give up these convictions for land and a seat in the Afghan parliament is, to my mind, extremely optimistic...
The Bad Guys Step It Up -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
It has been fairly quiet these past few days. I have the disquieting sense that it is just the calm before the storm.
Taliban attacks have been stepping up in complexity and audaciousness...
Bagram Attack Update -- [The Sniper]
Okay, this is what I've gotten from my source on Bagram about the attack the other day and it was confirmed as good poop by another guy I know on Bagram. From the eyes on the ground...
"I personally was woken up at around 0345 by the sound of close AK fire..."
U.S. troops, Afghan police sweep through Taliban stronghold -- [David Zucchino/LA Times]
U.S. soldiers and Afghan police early Saturday swarmed a dense Taliban stronghold of mud-brick homes on the western shoulder of Kandahar, conducting searches and promising aid in a preview of a planned summer campaign to control the insurgent movement's spiritual home.
Operation Kokaran was named for the neighborhood where the Taliban have assassinated government officials and built infiltration routes. The U.S. goal is to clear out insurgents, build up local governance and bring in reconstruction projects.
Only a few shots were fired during the most comprehensive military-civilian operation in Kandahar since President Obama in December ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan...
Hours later, insurgents launched a rocket, mortar and ground attack on the main base used by foreign troops, at Kandahar's air field a few miles east of Kokaran...
Taliban birthplace major focus of Afghan offensive -- [Sebastian Abbot/AP]
The Taliban use Zhari district as one of their main command and control centers to stage attacks against Kandahar City, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) to the east.
Securing Kandahar, with its half million people, is a key U.S. goal for the summer. To do that, the U.S.-led forces have to control Zhari and other communities north and west of the city.
"This is the battleground for Kandahar," said Lt. Col. Dave Abrahams, deputy commander of the Stryker battalion responsible for operations in western Zhari. "The Taliban have freedom of movement and operational control in the area."
Into Kandahar, Yesterday and Tomorrow -- [John Burns/AP]
...The images of that dismal time came rushing back last week when the Taliban, legatees of the mujahedeen, sent a suicide bomber in a vehicle loaded with nearly a ton of high explosives to attack a NATO convoy in western Kabul, killing at least 18 people, among them five NATO soldiers, four of them officers. In the grisly calculus of the current conflict, the attack was a Taliban triumph, and photographs from the scene pressed the message home. Behind the carnage, like a forbidding sentinel, stood the artillery-blasted ruins of the old royal palace at Darulaman, another monument to the Soviet disaster.
When I walked through the Kandahar rubble in the spring of 1989, the Soviet Union's collapse, hastened by the imperial overreach in Afghanistan, was barely three years away. Now, like others with experience of that time, I find recollections of the Soviet debacle sounding like a tocsin in the mind, warning of the miseries that await America if the war's trajectory remains as it is...
Sources: U.S. soldiers focus of criminal investigation -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
At least 10 U.S. Army soldiers from an already-troubled unit of the 2nd Infantry Division in southern Afghanistan are now the focus of a criminal investigation into allegations they deliberately killed three Afghan civilians, used illegal drugs and conducted other illicit activities, several military sources told CNN.
The soldiers are part of the 5th Stryker Brigade of the 2ID, based out of Fort Lewis, Washington, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the military has not named those under investigation...
Command and Control Changes in Southern Afghanistan -- [ISAF]
The North Atlantic Council, in consultation with non-NATO ISAF Troop Contributing Nations, has given final authorisation for the reorganisation of ISAF's Regional Command South and the establishment of an additional Regional Command South-West.
A new Regional Command (South West), based in Helmand, will oversee Helmand and Nimruz provinces; while the existing Regional Command (South), headquartered in Kandahar, will continue to control ISAF forces in Kandahar, Daykundi, Uruzgan and Zabul Provinces...
Looking to the future, Regional Command (South West) will operate under a rotational command, agreed in principle to be shared between US and UK forces. The first commander will be Major General Richard Mills of the US Marine Corps (USMC).
As part of the new arrangements, command and control boundaries will change within Helmand Province.
Following the split, Task Force Helmand (TFH) will come under the command of the US Marine Corps' 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1 MEF), under Major General Mills. TFH will retain responsibility for central Helmand.
Major General Richard Mills, Commanding General of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), said...
Top Shiite cleric in Iraq calls for unity -- [AP/Washington Post]
The leader of the Sunni-backed coalition that won the most seats in Iraq's March election said the country's most influential Shiite cleric assured him in a meeting Sunday that no group would be excluded from the new government...
Allawi met Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf, where the cleric lives. He said al-Sistani said the next government should serve without "excluding and marginalizing any group," an apparent reference to minority Sunnis...
Odierno Selected to Lead U.S. Joint Forces Command -- [American Forces Press Service]
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2010 - President Barack Obama has nominated Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the present commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, to head U.S. Joint Forces Command, Pentagon officials announced today.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced that Obama has nominated Odierno for reappointment to the rank of four-star general and assignment as commander of Jfcom, based at Norfolk, Va.
Before assuming command of U.S. Forces Iraq in September 2008, Odierno was commanding general of U.S. Army III Corps, at which time he served a 15-month deployment as commanding general of Multinational Corps Iraq. At that time Odierno was the operational architect of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq that led to a dramatic decrease in violence there.
Odierno, a 1976 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is known as one of the few Army generals ever to command a division, corps and an entire theater-of-operations in the same conflict.
Obama Tells Military: Prepare for N. Korea 'Aggression' -- [AP/Fox news]
"U.S. support for South Korea's defense is unequivocal, and the president has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression," the White House said.
The South Korean president said Monday that his nation would no longer tolerate the North's "brutality" and said the repressive communist regime would pay for the surprise March 26 torpedo attack.
In devastated Bangkok, residents join city workers in cleanup efforts -- [Washington Post]
Armed with brooms, rubber gloves and a torrent of detergent, middle-class Thais took to the streets of central Bangkok on Sunday to remove the detritus of protests, reclaiming the city from their now-banished and despised "red shirt" country cousins...
Heartland of Thailand, Still Angry and Divided -- [NY Times]
"Hello, Abhisit!" shouted a young man, holding an imaginary telephone with an imaginary connection to the prime minister. "Thank you for giving us stupid buffaloes this train! Too bad you killed us!"
As the sun rose over the familiar rice fields of home after an overnight train ride paid for by the government, another man banged a plastic jug against the back of a seat and chanted...
Cooking with the Troops Inc. -- [Maj C - in Afghanistan]
Passing this on! Great charity started by a great team that have done so much for us!!
God Bless America
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Not many new charities start life with experience and a proven track record and no logo, but Cooking with the Troops Inc. has done just that. Today sees the launch of a nationwide logo contest for a charity that has grown out of a program at Soldiers' Angels, Cooking with the Wounded, and out of barbecues done for the last several years at Walter Reed by "Concrete" Bob Miller...
600 Museums let military families in for free -- [Blackfive]
Well that is just plain very cool.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 600 museums nationwide are offering free admission to military families all summer in a new partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
The list includes some of the nation's premier art museums, including New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as science centers, children's museums and other sites in all 50 states.
The program, called Blue Star Museums, is being announced Monday in San Diego...
The Qualitative Point Average: Rebuttal to Bruce Fleming -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghanistan]
Bruce Fleming recently published an OpEd piece in the New York Times which provoked a rather emotional response from me as he referred to the Service Academies as "mediocre". He cited a football star receiving preferential treatment for drug use at Navy. He complains that we only produce 20% of our respective officer corps, and are obsolete compared to ROTC and OCS programs. He insists that Academy officers are burnt-out leaders, incapable of maximizing tax-payer investment...
What Every Soldier's Family Should Know About Facebook -- [Red Bull Rising]
Even Facebook's own vice president for public policy has said, "If you're not comfortable sharing, don't." That's good advice, even if you do opt to use Facebook. Just be vigilant to the idea that seemingly innocent information can be twisted and used against you.
Don't believe me? Read on ...
AFN viewers might be in the dark during World Cup -- [Stars and Stripes]
"It's a real challenge to get rights for the World Cup, because we have to negotiate with the rights holders of every country where AFN is seen, and some rights holders are reluctant to give it up," said Gene Fredrickson, affiliate relations specialist with AFN's broadcast center in California.
According to FIFA, which is soccer's international governing body, more than 715 million people watched the 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France. By comparison, last year's Super Bowl was viewed by about 106 million people.
...In 2006, News Corp., which is run by Rupert Murdoch, brokered a deal that allowed AFN to show some World Cup matches.
Fredrickson said it is unclear whether they will have the same luck this time around.
US appoints first cyber warfare general -- [The Guardian]
The newly promoted four-star general, Keith Alexander, takes charge of the Pentagon's ambitious and controversial new Cyber Command, designed to conduct virtual combat across the world's computer networks. He was appointed on Friday afternoon in a low-key ceremony at Fort Meade, in Maryland.
The creation of America's most senior cyber warrior comes just days after the US air force disclosed that some 30,000 of its troops had been re-assigned from technical support "to the frontlines of cyber warfare".
In the absence of debate, Iraq and Afghanistan go unnoticed -- [Washington Post]
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, forced into a runoff in Arkansas's Democratic primary, lists 10 categories of issues, none of which are defense or national security. Under "Veterans and National Guard," she does mention the war in Iraq but not the war in Afghanistan. For her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, "National Security, Veterans and the Military" comes eighth on a list of nine issues and begins, "Arkansas is home to military bases that are critical to our nation's security." "Ensuring success in Iraq and Afghanistan" is the entirety of his platform on those conflicts.
In Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak, who rode a wave of opposition toward the Iraq war into Congress in 2006, includes defense (fifth out of five topics) on his site but writes mostly about properly equipping and caring for the force and accountability in weapons purchasing. For his Republican opponent, Pat Toomey, "National Security" comes 10th out of 10 (just after "Second Amendment") with no mention, as far as I could see, of Iraq or Afghanistan.
...maybe, in a time of toxic partisanship, we should be grateful for this inattention to the wars, taking the absence of debate as a sign of rare bipartisan consensus. Certainly few would miss the vitriol of the Iraq debate of a few years back.
Yet there's something disquieting about the quiet...
Blumenthal: "I have made mistakes and I am sorry." -- [Hartford Courant]
After nearly a week of criticism following revelations that he misrepresented his military record and five days after a press conference in which he expressed regret for his misstatements, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Richard Blumenthal apologized.
"At times when I have sought to honor veterans, I have not been as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves,'' Blumenthal said in a statement emailed to the Courant late Sunday by his spokeswoman, Maura Downes. "I have firmly and clearly expressed regret and taken responsibility for my words..."
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Big Afghan offensive must overcome deadly terrain -- [Sebastion Abbot/AP]
U.S. soldiers had just made it through a dense patch of vineyards to a cluster of abandoned mud compounds when the radio operator let out a shout: "Sir, we are about to be ambushed from three different locations!"
The men rushed for cover, dodging a potential attack and cursing Kandahar province's tough terrain that is tailor-made for the Taliban. The deadly obstacle course may haunt thousands of additional U.S. troops pouring into this corner of southern Afghanistan for what is expected to be the make-or-break offensive of the nearly 9-year-old war.
A Quiet, Tense Night for a First Patrol -- [Rod Nordland/NY Times At War blog]
Kandahar, Afghanistan -- The crescent moon had just risen as the Canadian soldiers crushed their last cigarettes out in the dust and began helping one another put on their heavy packs. There was a soft breeze in the warm night air, pleasantly and unseasonably mild. That wouldn't last.
They were about to go on their first dismounted night patrol; their unit had just rotated in, and most of these men, from India Company, Second Royal Canadian Regiment, were on their first tour of Afghanistan...
Toll in Kabul Suicide Attack Included U.S. and Canadian Officers -- [NY Times]
It was the largest number of ranking officers from the American-led forces here killed in any insurgent attack since the Afghan war that ousted the Taliban from power began more than eight years ago.
Also Thursday, for the third consecutive day, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a NATO military target...
FINAL UPDATE: 16 insurgents killed and 5 detained after a targeted attack against Bagram -- [CJTF-82]
During the attack, Coalition forces and Afghan National Police provided an immediate joint response maintaining security on Bagram Airfield, blocking the insurgents' ability to completely breach the perimeter of the base, Wednesday.
Army helicopters, responsible for providing aerial security during the attack, engaged multiple insurgents outside Bagram Airfield.
Coalition forces killed four intended suicide bombers dressed in U.S. military style uniforms before they could detonate themselves. Additionally, an enemy mortar pit set up outside the perimeter was successfully destroyed.
Following the attack, the Afghan National Police and Coalition forces detained five suspected militants Thursday morning after performing a presence and security patrol in a nearby village.
One U.S. contractor was killed, several service members were wounded and a building received minor damages during the attack.
Three of the wounded were returned to duty, while all others are currently in stable condition...
Suspected Taliban Blow Up "U.S. Spies" In Pakistan -- [Reuters]
Five masked militants paraded the hand-cuffed men before dozens of people in the Datta Kheil area and accused them of passing information to the United States on targets for its CIA-operated pilotless drone aircraft.
"They strapped explosives around their bodies and then blew them up," a Pakistani intelligence official in the region told Reuters by telephone.
Militants have killed hundreds of people they suspect are spies for the United States or the Pakistani government over the past few years.
They usually decapitate or shoot the suspects. Residents said this was the first time the militants had blown up suspected spies.
A Crazy Day at Kabul International Airport -- [Richard's MIL BLOG from Afghanistan]
We loaded the bus and headed to our plane. As we pulled up to the Safi Airways plane the motorized stairs pulled away from the plane we were heading toward and drove away! The bus followed the stairs, and then the plane was pulled away by a tug. Soon the stairs, the bus and the plane were following each other around the taxiway in a merry parade...
That was strange weather! -- [My View; Our Mission - in Afghanistan]
...5 minutes later we were about to turn on the main road and....bam. A wall of dust and sand made the skies and air brown and our visibility went down to about 3 feet...
Iraqi Politicians Break Bread, but Not the Standoff -- [NY Times]
Most conspicuous by his absence was Ayad Allawi, the man who still claims the right to form and lead the next government but who slowly appears to be falling short of that goal.
Mr. Allawi departed Iraq for Jordan on Wednesday evening and the next day sent his regrets in writing, explaining that he had already twice postponed a meeting with an Arab head of state and could not possibly do so again.
Iraqi Kurds accuse Turkey and Iran of attacks -- [Reuters]
Iranian forces shelled border regions and Turkish war planes caused "huge" casualties, according to a statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which runs northern Iraq autonomously from Baghdad...
Car bomb in central Iraq kills 23 -- [BBC]
Police lieutenant Abdul Jabar Ihmoid told Reuters many shops had been destroyed.
"The roof of the coffee shop which was full of people also collapsed. We believe there are still people under the debris," he said.
Our correspondent says such indiscriminate attacks against Shia areas have been a feature of recent violence, apparently aimed at provoking a sectarian reaction against Sunnis.
Iraq frees two Iranians arrested by U.S. forces -- [LA Times]
Two Iranians arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq were released Friday, a day after neighboring Iran allowed three young Americans detained in the Islamic Republic since last July to meet with their visiting mothers.
Iraqi officials handed the detainees to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, said a report on the website of Iran's state-owned English-language Press TV. Amir Arshadi, spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Iraq, said they left the country and had arrived in Iran.
The moves are the latest hints of behind-the-scenes deal-making between Iran and the West over the fate of detainees.
U.S. Hikers Held in Iran Describe Captivity -- [NY Times]
In their first public appearance, the three -- Sarah E. Shourd, 31; her companion, Shane M. Bauer, 27; and their friend Joshua F. Fattal, 27 -- described their nearly 10 months in the notorious Evin Prison and expressed hope that they would be freed soon on "humanitarian grounds."
They said they had not been allowed to see a lawyer. Mr. Bauer denied that they had walked into Iran, as they were accused of doing, before stopping himself and saying, "We can't really talk about that."
Ms. Shourd expressed the greatest despair because while the two men share a "room," she is alone for 23 hours a day and is allowed only two 30-minute visits with her friends each day.
"We don't understand why we've been kept here," Ms. Shourd said. "We thought we'd be kept here for a matter of days, and it's been nine and a half months. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would still be in prison."
Bangkok Crackdown No Replay of Tiananmen -- [AP]
Before the military crackdown on Red Shirts in Bangkok this week, one Thai protester ominously claimed: ''This will end as our Tiananmen Square.''
It was a dire warning that did not come true.
Fight not over, say Red Shirts as they are herded out of Bangkok -- [Times (UK) Online]
Weeping Red Shirt protesters were herded on to buses and sent home yesterday as the Thai authorities began to clean up Bangkok after a burst of killing and destruction that brought two months of demonstrations to an end.
Mexico's Calderón tells Congress he needs U.S. help in fighting drug wars -- [Washington Post]
Mexican President Felipe Calderón, speaking to a joint session of Congress Thursday, pleaded for more help in limiting the flow of weapons to Mexico, saying they were contributing to the devastating drug violence in his country.
Pentagon Improves Counterdrug Oversight, Official Says -- [Defense.gov]
...The military became involved in counternarcotics after Congress recognized its unique interdiction capabilities and equipment in the 1980s, Weschler said. Today, he added, the department builds and maintains relationships with countries at risk of narcoterrorism...
The Defense Department's counternarcotics office works with combatant commands to adapt specific counterdrug strategies for different areas, Weschler said. The largest areas of operation are with Mexico through U.S. Northern Command, Colombia through U.S. Southern Command, and Afghanistan through U.S. Central Command, he said.
President Obama To Replace Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair -- [Jake Tapper/ABC, Political Punch]
After a discussion this afternoon between the president and Blair on a secure phone line about the best way forward, Blair offered to resign and the president said he would accept, sources told ABC News.
Multiple administration sources tell ABC News that Blair's tenure internally has been a rocky one.
On the heels of a number of intelligence failures ...it was no longer clear that Blair -- tasked with coordinating the 16 intelligence agencies and ensuring that they cooperate and share information - still had the full and complete confidence of the president, sources say...
The Obama Administration Is Leading a Tough, Smart Fight to Confront Global Terrorist Threats and Keep America Safe -- [Democratic Policy Committee]
The Obama Administration, in partnership with Congress, has put in place comprehensive counterterrorism strategy to keep America safe and confront al Qaeda and other global terrorist threats. Through a strong interagency approach at home and a more aggressive, multilateral approach around the world, the Administration has disrupted numerous terrorist plots against our homeland
Interview Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker -- [PBS Frontline/The Wounded Platoon]
Tell me what was going on at Fort Carson, [Colo.]
What was observed was over a period of about four to five years on Fort Carson, about 10 murders or attempted murders, very violent crimes, very tragic crimes were committed by soldiers assigned to units on Fort Carson... about 14 soldiers were involved over this four-year period ending in 2008...
Ten of the 14 soldiers involved in these crimes on Fort Carson came from that one brigade, and six of the 10 soldiers came from one battalion of 600 or so soldiers within that brigade. And I believe that you are looking at one platoon, one smaller unit within a company, within that battalion, and that appeared to have a very close clustering of violent crimes committed by a few number of soldiers in this very large unit.
Investigation of Homicides at Ft Carson, Co -- [U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine]
...This team conducted an extensive epidemiologic and clinical analysis that included detailed examination of the individual crimes, interviews with key leaders and staff at Fort Carson, a comparison (cohort) study of over 20,000 Soldiers assigned to 2 Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), a survey of over 2,700 Soldiers, and focus groups with over 400 Soldiers. The EPICON-guiding questions are listed below...
a. Are there common threads among alleged homicide perpetrators (hereafter referred to as index cases)?
b. Is increasing violent or criminal behavior unique to Fort Carson?
c. Are moral, BH, or educational waivers associated with the index cases and/or an increase in violence?
d. Are there unique characteristics in the BCT to which a majority of the index cases were assigned (hereafter referred to as the index BCT) that could account for an increase in aggressive behavior?
e. Is there a relationship between deployment and risk factors...
Gates encouraged by inspection of Fort Carson Warrior Transition Unit -- [Stars and Stripes]
"I didn't hear a single complaint about the Warrior Transition Unit itself," he said, adding that several soldiers spoke highly of their rear detachment support...
Some health workers, he said, raised concerns about misuse of the WTU. According to a senior defense official, the workers said commanders are unloading soldiers with noncombat injuries or issues.
The unit at Fort Carson, which treats more than 400 soldiers, was the subject of a harsh assessment in a New York Times story last month. More than a dozen soldiers and spouses told the Times that soldiers were being neglected and overmedicated, and that commanding officers show little sympathy for their recovery efforts.
They also said soldiers were swapping their medications for illicit use.
On the same day the story ran, the Pentagon's top official for wounded warrior care was asked to step down...
10 Counties Working To Establish "Veterans Courts" -- [CBS11 TV - Dallas/Ft Worth]
...The courts operate somewhat like the state's drug courts, prioritizing treatment or counseling over punishment for soldiers accused of crimes, mostly involving drug abuse and violent outbursts.
But the development of such efforts, still in their infancy, faces serious hurdles...
Despite his admission, USAREUR E-9 acquitted in sex case -- [Stars and Stripes]
A U.S. Army Europe brigade sergeant major who'd admitted sexual contact with a low-ranking soldier in his command was acquitted Thursday of sexual assault, fraternization, maltreatment and adultery.
Sgt. Maj. Garry Tull shouted with joy, hugged his lawyers and began to cry after a court-martial panel comprising three other sergeants major, a lieutenant colonel, a major and a warrant officer acquitted him on all counts.
animals veterans more equal than others? -- [Burn Pit]
Now, as a start for our discussion, let us state that Vietnam does seem to be the only war that divides its people so starkly into hyphenated veterans. You have "Vietnam veterans" "Vietnam-era veterans" and "Vietnam combat veterans." Why should that be? Let's look at a hypothetical. If you were a radar tech deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, are you a "Gulf War veteran"? If you never went into Iraq, are you still a "Gulf War" veteran? What if your radar site was in Turkey?
Here's one that comes up occasionally, since I have seen it discussed with regards to a Congressman now serving...
Are Some Veterans More Equal Than Others? -- [AW1 Tim]
Over to "The Burn Pit", the official blog of the American Legion, Mothax posts a question, "are some veterans more equal than others?" and it's something I would encourage all to read and ponder...
My own answer comes from the last line of John Milton's Sonnet XIX...
"Partnership 'Till it Hurts" -- [Captain Paul Lushenko/Small Wars Journal]
America's Special Operations Forces (SOF) have historically shared an adversarial, but necessary, relationship with conventional counterparts due primarily to intra-service rivalry, personality conflicts, and mission secrecy. Yet, the SOF-conventional operating paradigm mirrors a yin-yang dynamic in which both forces are seemingly disjunct but nevertheless complementary when synchronized...
As the Intelligence Officer of a Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) re-deployed from eastern Afghanistan in the fall of 2009, my experiences reinforced the gravity of establishing unity of effort between SOF (yin) and conventional forces (yang) to exploit intelligence, capabilities, and mission opportunity costs...
M4 not suited to warfare in Afghan hills -- [AP/Military Times]
The M4 is an updated version of the M16, which was designed for close quarters combat in Vietnam. It worked well in Iraq, where much of the fighting was in cities such as Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah.
But an Army study found that the 5.56mm bullets fired from M4s don't retain enough velocity at distances greater than 1,000 feet to kill an adversary. In hilly regions of Afghanistan, NATO and insurgent forces are often 2,000 to 2,500 feet apart.
Afghans have a tradition of long-range ambushes against foreign forces...
New Chinese Fighter Jet Expected By 2018: U.S. Intelligence -- [Reuters]
China is building an advanced combat jet that may rival within eight years Lockheed Martin Corp's F-22 Raptor, the premier U.S. fighter, a U.S. intelligence official said.
The date cited for the expected deployment is years ahead of previous Pentagon public forecasts and may be a sign that China's rapid military buildup is topping many experts' expectations.
House, Senate could tackle 'don't ask, don't tell' next week -- [Stars and Stripes]
Gay rights groups are hoping for another huge step forward next week in their efforts to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, with key moves aimed at dumping the ban possible in both chambers of Congress.
Such action would contrast with Pentagon officials' public requests for patience on the issue, as the Defense Department collects servicemembers' reactions and fears about a change in the 17-year-old ban on openly gay servicemembers. That review is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he opposes any legislative moves before then.
But on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Hill newspaper that "I don't have any doubt that 'don't ask, don't tell' will be a memory by the end of this year," dismissing Gates' objections.
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Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world.
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Another Statistic -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
Sadly, it's old news when an IED claims another life in this place...
It happens every day all around this fucked-up country but I wanted to post this because the guard - I know his name but can only call him M.Y here - needs to be remembered, if only until the next one...
Grim Milestone: 1,000 Americans Dead -- [New York Times]
On Tuesday, the toll of American dead in Afghanistan passed 1,000, after a suicide bomb in Kabul killed at least five United States service members...
The mayhem of last August, coming as Afghans were holding national elections, provided a wake-up call to many Americans about the deteriorating conditions in the country.
US: Insurgents launch complex attack on Bagram Air Field day after deadly Kabul assault -- [AP/Fox]
At least 10 insurgents were killed and seven U.S. service members wounded in the attack on Bagram, which started at about 3 a.m. with rockets, small arms and grenades fired into the base, said Maj. Virginia McCabe, a spokeswoman for U.S. forces at Bagram.... NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan said that insurgents had been repelled from an attempt to breach the base's defenses.
"We know that a group of insurgents sought to penetrate the air base and that's been dealt with," Mark Sedwill told reporters.
An Afghan provincial police commander, Gen. Abdul Rahman Sayedkhail, said the attack began when U.S. guards spotted would-be attackers in a car just outside the Bagram base. The Americans opened fire, triggering a gunbattle in which at least one militant triggered his suicide vest. Running gunbattles broke out as U.S. troops hunted down the other attackers.
Nearly a dozen insurgents killed during attack against Bagram this morning -- [CJTF-82]
Several more insurgents were killed in addition to the seven militants who were killed during this morning's attack on the outer perimeter of Bagram Airfield, bringing the total up to nearly a dozen. The attack included rockets, small arms and grenades.
Four of the insurgents killed were intended suicide bombers.
One U.S. contractor was killed, nine service members were wounded and a building received minor damages during the attack.
Two of the nine wounded were returned to duty, all others are currently in stable condition. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending next of kin notification.
"Though it is clear the enemy intended a spectacular event here at BAF, they were unable to breach the perimeter and unable to detonate their suicide vests," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clarence Counts Jr., military spokesman, Combined Joint Task Force-82 and Regional Command East. "The quick defensive reaction by the Bagram security forces likely saved a lot of lives."
Detained militant in Iraq details World Cup plot -- [AP]
An al-Qaida militant detained in Iraq on suspicion of plotting to attack the World Cup told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he wanted to target Danish and Dutch teams to avenge insults against the Prophet Muhammad... Iraqi security forces announced the arrest of Saudi citizen Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani Monday...
During an interview arranged by the Iraqi security officials holding al-Qahtani, he described the plot and said the idea of attacking the World Cup came up in late 2009 during talks with friends over content in the Western media that was offensive to Muslims...
"If we were not able to reach the teams, then we'd target the fans," he said, adding that they hoped to use guns and car bombs...
Al-Qahtani's arrest came about after a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in April that resulted in the deaths of two top al-Qaida figures -- Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the Iraqi security official said.
During a search of the safehouse where al-Masri and al-Baghdadi were killed, documents were found including a note written by al-Qahtani detailing the World Cup terror plot.
Thai Army Moves to Confront Protesters -- [NY Times]
Thai armored vehicles on Wednesday morning rammed through the barricades put up by antigovernment protesters, and infantry troops stormed into the protest zone, as the government moved aggressively against demonstrators who have occupied Bangkok's central retail district for more than six weeks...
Four protest leaders flee Thai army crackdown -- [Washington Post]
With Thai soldiers bearing down on their encampment Wednesday, at least four key protest leaders fled into hiding while others said they would turn themselves in to authorities if the military halted its advance...
Bangkok burns as Thai Red Shirts run amok after leaders' surrender -- [Times (UK) Online]
During this morning's violent clashes an Italian journalist was shot in the stomach and died before reaching hospital. Michel Maas, a Dutch journalist who has written for The Times was shot in the shoulder when soldiers turned their fire on media covering the clashes. He described the injury as "a flesh wound". A third journalist, a Westerner in his late 40s, was shot in the leg.
Four other people died and "many" were wounded
Thailand protests: Red shirts surrender as army storms Bangkok camp -- [Telegraph]
Four leaders of the demonstrators who have occupied areas of the capital for weeks were shown on television in police custody.
Jatuporn Prompan, one of the leaders in custody, had only minutes earlier offered to surrender. "I apologise to you all but I don't want any more losses. I am devastated too. We will surrender," he said from a stage in the protest camp...
Protesters Set Fire to Thai Stock Exchange -- [Wall Street Journal]
Hard-line Thai protesters set fire Wednesday to the country's stock exchange, shopping malls and a television station, while Thai authorities called an 8 p.m. curfew, casting doubt on the prospects for a resolution to the country's weeks-long political crisis despite the surrender of protest leaders earlier in the day.
Thai Red Shirt protest leaders called off their marathon rally and surrendered to police Wednesday after an early morning army assault on their heavily fortified camp in the center of Bangkok.
Bangkok burns as protesters surrender -- [Reuters]
Protesters torched at least 17 buildings, including the Thai stock exchange and Central World, Southeast Asia's second-biggest department store complex and operated by Central Pattana PCL. The store was gutted by fire and looked like it may collapse, said a Reuters witness.
Maersk piracy suspect pleads guilty in NY court -- [AP/Military Times]
A Somali suspect who became the boyish face of 21st century piracy by staging a brazen high-seas attack on a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Africa pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he hijacked the ship and kidnapped its captain.
Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse has been jailed in Manhattan since he was captured last year and faced what was called the first U.S. piracy prosecution in decades.
"I am very, very sorry about what we did," he said through an interpreter. "All of this was about the problems in Somolia."
Gitmo detainee would prefer military tribunal -- [AP/Military Times]
The first Guantanamo Bay detainee to face trial in a civilian court in the United States has said he would prefer to be tried before a military tribunal, a psychologist testified Tuesday.
The suspect's surprising admission came from psychologist Katherine Porterfield, who testified for several hours to support a defense request that strip search procedures be altered for Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani...
South Korea to officially blame North Korea for March torpedo attack on warship -- [Washington Post]
South Korea concluded that North Korea was responsible for the attack after investigators from Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States pieced together portions of the ship...
On Monday, North Korea for the first time directly denied that it was involved in the Cheonan's sinking. "We will not tolerate the confrontations and warmongering schemes of the puppet regime of South Korea," said Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.
U.S. military cancels annual S. Korea evacuation exercise -- [Jon Rabiroff/Stars and Stripes]
The U.S. military canceled this week's dress rehearsal for the evacuation of American civilians from South Korea amid growing tensions on the peninsula.
U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement Tuesday that the Courageous Channel exercise -- which was to run Thursday through Monday -- was canceled to avoid the appearance that it was scheduled in response to the March sinking of a South Korean warship or the subsequent investigation...
"The decision was made in coordination with the [South Korean] government and the U.S. State Department."
Courageous Channel is a routine exercise conducted annually since 1996.
Don't Sink Diplomacy -- [Joel S. Wit/NYT Opinion]
IN 1998, I led a team of American government experts to an underground installation to determine if North Korea was cheating on a 1994 agreement to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang had recently tested a long-range missile, and relations were tense...
In the 16 years I have worked with North Korea, I have made 18 trips there, and I remain convinced that sustained diplomatic engagement is the only way to encourage the North to moderate its threatening behavior. The alternative is far worse: an isolated North Korea that is heading down a path of defiance.
This lesson has been forgotten...
Clinton, Gates urge swift ratification of nuclear treaty -- [LA Times]
Senior Obama administration officials urged the Senate on Tuesday to swiftly ratify a new arms reduction treaty with Russia, arguing that it would improve ties with Moscow and build pressure on adversaries such as Iran and North Korea...
The administration and its Senate allies, led by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), are seeking swift approval of the treaty.
China, Russia now support sanctions on Iran -- [AP/Military Times]
The agreement appeared to be a significant victory for the Obama administration, which has doggedly pursued sanctions since Iran rebuffed U.S. overtures last year...
Russia and China, which have close ties to Iran, joined fellow permanent council members Britain, France and the United States as well as non-member Germany in supporting the sanctions proposal, ignoring a deal that Tehran struck with Turkey and Brazil a day earlier in an effort to stave off the penalties.
Deals with Russia could lead to break-up of Ukraine, warns Tymoshenko -- [Times (UK) Online]
Five years ago she was a driving force behind the Orange Revolution that ousted Ukraine's proRussian Government and swept a new nationalist coalition to power. Now Yuliya Tymoshenko has given warning that the country could break up, as its new President embraces the Kremlin once more.
Pakistan arrests army officer linked to Times Square bomb suspect -- [LA Times]
Investigators have arrested a Pakistani army major linked to the prime suspect in the botched attempt to bomb New York City's Times Square early this month, Pakistani law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
The major's involvement with suspect Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, remains unclear. Law enforcement sources said the major had met Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, in Islamabad, the capital, and was in cellphone contact with him.
Committee Report on Attempted Terrorist Attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 -- [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]
Wide U.S. Failures Helped Airliner Plot, Panel Says -- [NY Times]
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday issued a sweeping indictment of a chain of failures at American intelligence agencies that permitted a Nigerian man with explosives sewn into his underwear to board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day...
Obama Starts Deploying Interrogation Teams -- [Reuters]
The Obama administration has started using special law enforcement and intelligence teams to interrogate suspected militants in the United States and abroad, including the Pakistani-American arrested in the Times Square bombing plot, a top official said on Tuesday.
Cuomo: Store sold soldiers overpriced electronics -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday sued companies he claims preyed on Fort Drum soldiers by selling them laptops, televisions and other electronic goods on credit at wildly inflated prices.
Cuomo says the SmartBuy store that operated out of Salmon Run Mall in Watertown sold products that were marked up by as much as 325 percent above the original retail price and financed the sales through automatic deductions from soldiers' payrolls.
Cuomo claims that SmartBuy targeted military members and sold them products that actually were bought from other retailers such as Costco and Walmart...
Sigh. I didn't want to spoil the post below... -- [Argghhh!!!]
Two-years-to-approve-an-award... Two years? Can *anyone* explain why it takes that long?
Secretary Gates - you should be embarassed that pissant staff weenies have built a process that takes this long.
Oh, wait - you're too busy deciding whether or not to deploy a boy and his dog. Sorry, I forgot.
147 years later, Wis. Civil War soldier gets medal -- [Stars and Stripes]
The bombardment lasted two hours. Cushing was wounded in the shoulder and groin, and his battery was left with two guns and no long-range ammunition. His stricken battery should have been withdrawn and replaced with reserve forces, Hartwig said, but Cushing shouted that he would take his guns to the front lines.
"What that means is, 'While I've got a man left to fight, I'll fight,'" Hartwig said. Within minutes, he was killed by a Confederate bullet to the head.
Annual Multi-Cultural Day Celebration Displays Diversity -- [DVIDS]
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Every year the base hosts an event that focuses on the variety of age, color, gender, race, religion and national origin that makes up the Marine Corps.
More than 1,000 civilians, military members and their families gathered to celebrate and raise awareness during the annual Multi-Cultural day at the 11 Area football field, May 13.
"Multi-Cultural Day is a fun and interesting way to reinforce equal opportunity within the military and the United States," said Gunnery Sgt. Craig A. Ranney, equal opportunity advisor, 1st Marine Logistics Group. "The event brings service members, families and civilians together to celebrate diversity."
Top doctor: Murtha review to be released soon -- [Navy Times]
The Navy's top medical officer said Tuesday the "comprehensive investigation" into the death of Rep. John Murtha is complete and is being briefed to Murtha's family, Navy leadership and Congress...
Murtha, a 77-year-old Pennsylvania Democrat, died Feb. 8. The next day, his close friend and fellow congressman Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., told Navy Times that an infection resulting from an inadvertent cut of Murtha's intestine during laparoscopic gallbladder surgery led to his death.
Democrats call on Cuccinelli to give away donation from man linked to charity under scrutiny -- [Washington Post]
Democrats called on Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) on Monday to give away more than $55,000 in campaign contributions he received from a man who served as director of a charitable organization that is now under scrutiny by officials in three states and that led an effort to loosen laws governing charity registration in Virginia this year.
The Democrats' calls came on the day that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said he would give an established veterans charity a $5,000 contribution he had received from Bobby Thompson, who until last fall was director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.
U.S. Sen. Webb now asking questions about scrutinized veterans group -- [Roanoke Times]
U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia has asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to clarify the process it uses to screen veterans services organizations listed on its Web site, citing investigations into the activities of a Navy veterans group that soon could be allowed to solicit donations in Virginia.
In a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Webb raised concerns about a group called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. The organization and its former director, Bobby Thompson, have been under scrutiny since March, when an exhaustive investigation by the St. Petersburg Times raised questions about the organization's fundraising, its expenditures and the very existence of its national and state directors...
Civil-Military Relations in the Obama Era -- [Abu Muqawama]
...a growing number of "journalists" have exchanged ridiculously uncritical coverage of this administration for the kind of high-level access necessary to write "insider" books on the administration. This article is -- surprise! -- an excerpt from one of those insider accounts. Nothing in this article seriously challenges the administration's version of events, which leads to some humorous moments... In Alter's narrative as well, the generals are all media-savvy leakers trying to box in the administration, while the Obama Administration is filled with media "neophytes" (he honestly wrote that) who would presumably never leak anything to a reporter ... and just fell off the turnip truck yesterday... Alter's "journalism" more closely resembles court stenography than a public service...
State ready to shut Ernie Pyle home -- [Indianapolis Star]
State officials today are expected to take the final step in permanently closing the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site.
Pyle's boyhood home, located in the small town of Dana about 25 miles north of Terre Haute, has been a state historic site since 1976 and since 1995 has included a visitor center full of historic exhibits from his life as a famed World War II correspondent.
Department of Natural Resources officials decided Jan. 1 to close the site, citing a savings of $50,000 in maintenance costs per year.
Oil drilling off Va.'s shore would interfere with military, defense study says -- [Washington Post]
The Defense Department report, concluded in March but released in part Tuesday by Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a drilling opponent, indicates that drilling would interfere with military activities, including ordnance training and carrier operations, in 72 percent of the 3 million acres covered by the lease sale and that it could be allowed only with restrictions in 6 percent of the area. Norfolk is home to the world's largest naval base.
The report found no military objections to drilling in 22 percent of the ocean territory. Those areas, Moran said, include major commercial shipping lanes.
Stolen Valor Sen. candidate in CT -- [Cdr Salamander]
Here is the sad part. There is nothing wrong with saying that "After many deferrments, I joined the USMCR and served stateside while many of my generation served honorably overseas .... " and so on. Serving is serving - and even in a well protected USMCR status, he was a Marine and served his country more than 90% of his peers. There. Is. No. Shame. There is only shame when you try to make yourself out to be more than you were...
The Technicality Generation -- [Larry Pressler/NYT Opinion]
Too many in my generation did a deeply insidious thing. And they got away with it. Big time. Poorer people went to war. The men who didn't were able to get their head start to power.
Now that flawed thinking has been carried forward. Many of these men who evaded service but claimed idealism lead our elite institutions. The concept of using legal technicalities to evade responsibility has been carried over to playing with derivatives, or to short-changing shareholders. Once my generation got in the habit of saying one thing and believing another, it couldn't stop...
In the coming days, I imagine we will learn more details of Mr. Blumenthal's sad story. What we know, though, more generally, is much more troubling. Too many members of my generation learned to believe that they could work within the law to evade basic responsibilities, cloaking their actions in idealism. It's a way of thinking that scars us to this day.
Accused Nazi guard ordered back to Austria -- [AP/Military Times]
An immigration judge has ordered an 85-year-old retired steelworker deported to Austria, or to any other country that will accept him, for serving as an armed Nazi death camp guard during World War II...
Geiser was born in what is now part of Croatia and came to the United States from Austria in 1956. He has lived in Sharon, about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, since 1960, became a citizen in 1962 and is married with three sons.
"As a Nazi concentration camp guard during World War II, Anton Geiser must be held to account for his role in the persecution of countless men, women and children," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement Tuesday. "The long passage of time will not diminish our resolve to deny refuge to such individuals."
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Or is it BIRTHMONTH??? -- [Healing Those Who Provide Our Freedom - in Afghanistan]
...I'm sad that I won't be able to spend her birthday with her, but she will get to spend it with her entire family and I think they will be able to make it special for her. Hopefully I can spend the day watching reruns of Reno 911! and NOT treating casualties...
The Jinx -- [Healing Those Who Provide Our Freedom - in Afghanistan]
I should have known better than to actually write down last night that I hoped I could spend today watching Reno 911! and not caring for casualties. Medical professionals are a superstitious bunch and I broke the cardinal rule...
Haji in a Dust Storm -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
Early afternoon and I was outside the perimeter checking the progress of our defence works in a howling dust storm. Nothing unusual about that, but, as we were driving back in, we nearly rear-ended a small white sedan that was crawling very slowly toward the Hesco entrance of one of our gates. I told MK to hang back and we watched him for a while. The driver was a local, VERY traditionally dressed (if you catch my drift), paying a lot of attention to the gate area and yammering away big time on his cell phone...
US soldiers pay village calls in Afghanistan -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
The platoon's visit to a riverside village was a slog in and out: hours of hiking in body armor under the sun over rock-strewn hills, through rustling wheat fields and sweltering pomegranate groves. U.S. soldiers waded across an irrigation canal, holding rifles above chest-high water and grabbing tree roots to pull themselves out of the muck.
Another morning, they called on another earth-walled settlement a short ride from their base, Frontenac. Dust billowed through the hatches of the Stryker infantry vehicles. This time, the obstacles were less physical. Afghan men appeared wary of their unannounced visitors, refusing to accept a gift of one water pump because, they said, the Americans should give six or 10 pumps instead...
The war in southern Afghanistan is not all fighting. In areas where insurgents have been pushed to the fringes, NATO soldiers struggle to build trust with civilians who don't always respond readily to their upbeat message of community-building. The hard, plodding outreach lacks the immediacy of a combat operation. Progress - the kind that lasts - is uneven and difficult to measure...
Defying convention, GIs go where IEDs are -- [Stars and Stripes]
The headset in their armored vehicle blared with the raging metal band Killswitch Engage while the soldiers delicately maneuvered a mechanized arm to claw at a crater in the rocky dirt road.
"Right here a bomb hit a car and blew it and the people in it to pieces," said Spc. Ernie Roberts.
A few yards up the road that traverses the green fields and bustling markets of this border province, Roberts pointed to a spot known for pressure-plate bombs, which are triggered by the weight of a vehicle. Beyond that was where he watched a man in a car pray, then detonate, lifting a nearby 50,000-pound American vehicle into the air like a feather and blowing it 30 feet from where it sat.
"This used to be the worst road pretty much in the whole country," Roberts said...
Afghan army pays its dues in blood as it takes the fight to the Taleban -- [Times (UK) Online]
...the pre-dawn grey had just begun to lighten when there was a fist-in-the-guts thump and a rolling pressure wave -- and the first vehicle in the convoy moving into the village of Khan Khalay vanished under a white pall.
...From the wreckage the troops pulled an unconscious, mangled figure. His name was Zamin... In the dust by the roadside Specialist George Linares, 26, performed an emergency tracheotomy, cutting through Zamin's throat to insert a tube directly to his lungs. While he did so another medic cradled Zamin's face, the features gone, the skull moving under his hands. From the wreckage a voice screamed and the Afghans worked to free a second survivor, Niamatullah...
The Afghan troops had moved ahead into the village and rounded up a group of men they regarded as suspicious... The US soldiers produced a box containing an instant explosive-residue testing kit, known as Exspray.
As the hands of the bemused men were swabbed, the chemical test indicated that all might not be the innocent civilians they insisted they were...
Suicide Car Bomber Hits U.S. Convoy in Afghanistan -- [NY Times]
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A man driving a Toyota minivan laden with explosives steered into an American convoy on Tuesday morning, killing 18 people, including 5 Americans, and wounding 47 civilians, caught in rush-hour traffic in the Afghan capital...
The blast scattered body parts for 200 feet as the wounded, many of them women and children, some without limbs, lay in the road moaning for help.
In a passenger bus, an Afghan woman lay dead in her seat, cut in half, with her baby still squirming in her arms...
The Taliban took responsibility for the attack in a posting on its Web site...
Taliban Hold Sway in Area Taken by U.S., Farmers Say -- [NY Times]
Farmers from the district of Marja, which since February has been the focus of the largest American-led military operation in Afghanistan, are fleeing the area, saying that the Taliban are terrorizing the population and that American troops cannot protect the civilians...
As the coalition prepares for the next major offensive in the southern city of Kandahar, the uneasy standoff in Marja, where neither the American Marines nor the Taliban have gained the upper hand and clashes occur daily, provides a stark lesson in the challenges of eliminating a patient and deeply rooted insurgency.
Kandahar fears greater peril as West rethinks its planned offensive -- [LA Times]
As Kandahar's 61-year-old deputy mayor prostrated himself in prayer at a mosque a few steps from his family home, Taliban assailants pumped five bullets into his body, then made an easy escape along a street that was supposed to have been tightly secured by Afghan police.
Yarmal was among the best-known figures to be gunned down in an intensifying wave of assassinations that many Kandaharis see as linked to much-touted American plans to drive the Taliban from the city the movement considers its spiritual home.
Now, with NATO seemingly recalibrating its strategy to establish government authority in Kandahar, many here fear that uncertainty over the West's military intentions will plunge them into even greater peril...
Marine official says there is more 'tough fighting' ahead in Afghanistan -- [LA Times]
Nine Marines have been killed this month in southern Helmand province, on the Pakistani border. A helicopter was downed by enemy fire, a rarity in the nine-year conflict. Buried roadside bombs continue to take their toll on Marines and Afghan civilians.
Still, Maj. Gen. Richard Mills said he believed advances were being made in routing the Taliban, winning the allegiance of Afghan civilians, and training the Afghan army and police force. But there will be more combat, he said.
NATO death toll hits 202 in Afghanistan this year -- [Agence France Presse]
The grim milestone was recorded in an AFP tally based on the independent icasualties.org website, after four NATO soldiers were killed on Monday.
Joint NATO-Afghan Military Operations Kill 25 Insurgents -- [Voice of America]
Afghan officials say international and Afghan security sweeps Friday and Saturday across the country killed at least 25 insurgents.
G.I.'s Find Bullets Still Flying at Outpost in Iraq -- [NY Times]
Technically, American soldiers have stopped fighting in Iraq. But they can fire back when attacked, which happens frequently in this village of wheat and barley farmers, as well as an uncomfortable number of Baathist insurgents.
So much so that, while United States troops in nearly all other parts of the nation are quietly preparing to withdraw, soldiers stationed here are fighting what looks, for now, like the last American combat in the seven-year war in Iraq.
"They only attack Americans," said Capt. Russell B. Thomas, the commander of Alpha Company of the First Battalion of the Third Infantry Division's Second Brigade...
Pain Equals Compliance: MPs Certify in Non-lethal Weapons, Munitions -- [DVIDS]
BAGHDAD - "I didn't want to do this," said Spc. Ashley Luker, a Gastonia, N.C., native and team leader assigned to 108th Military Police Company, 705th MP Battalion, 49th MP Brigade, United States Forces - Iraq. "I was scared out of my brain, terrified. It was the anxiety of not knowing."
Luker and her fellow Soldiers assigned to 108th MP Company, participated in a multi-day, non-lethal weapons and munitions training program which ended, May 13, and was sponsored by the 49th MP Bde. at Camp Liberty. The training included safely and effectively deploying non-lethal munitions, including when to use them and the benefits of having them available to Soldiers.
Upon completion of the class, the Soldiers were certified to carry and use the weapons, which include riot control grenades and a compressed air weapon that resembles a paintball gun. Special rounds designed for shotguns and 40mm grenade launchers were also fired at the range. Pepper spray and electronic control devices, known as Tasers, were used as well. Not only did they have to learn how to use them, they had to learn how Tasers feel...
Another 108th MP Company Soldier, Spc. Philip Clark, a gunner and Virginia Beach, Va., native, was also apprehensive about the tasing event.
"I had it in my mind that it was going to be worse than it was, but now I don't feel so afraid of it anymore," said Clark.
He described it as being hit repeatedly with a baseball bat.
Baghdad Vote Result Unchanged After Recount -- [Voice of America]
An official with the Independent High Electoral Commission, Saad al-Rawi, said Sunday the number of seats for any coalition will stay as it is, leaving former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's bloc the winner of the most seats.
Allawi's Iraqiya bloc had won 91 parliamentary seats in the election, closely followed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition with 89. Neither had the majority needed to form a government.
Anti-Qaeda Sunni imams slaughtered in Iraq: military -- [Agence France Presse]
The slayings in the province of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, were against anti-Qaeda preachers who regularly railed against the terror network during Friday sermons.
"At around 2:00 pm (1100 GMT), armed Al-Qaeda members captured Sheikh Abdullah Shakur while he was in Saadiyah market," said a Diyala military command officer who declined to be identified, referring to the central town.
"They returned an hour later with his head and attached it to an electricity post."
Shakur, imam of Saadiyah's mosque, had received several death threats from Al-Qaeda...
7-year-old girl killed in Detroit police raid -- [CNN]
Upon entering the home, the officer encountered a 46-year-old female inside the front room, Godbee said. "Exactly what happened next is a matter still under investigation, but it appears the officer and the woman had some level of physical contact.
"At about this time, the officer's weapon discharged one round which, tragically, struck 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones in the neck/head area."
More Militarized Than the Military -- [Radley Balko/Hit and Run]
A reader who asks his name not be used writes about the drug raid video from Columbia, Missouri: "I am a US Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan. My first thought on reading this story is this: Most American police SWAT teams probably have fewer restrictions on conducting forced entry raids than do US forces in Afghanistan.
"For our troops over here to conduct any kind of forced entry, day or night, they have to meet one of two conditions..."
POLICE: MORE MILITARIZED THAN THE MILITARY? -- [Instapundit]
"...What might be amazing to American cops is that the vast majority of our targets surrender when called out.
"I don't have a clear picture of the resources available to most police departments, but even so, I don't see any reason why they can't use similar methods."
Quite different from using door-busting tactics to serve warrants on nonviolent drug offenders. Of course, one difference is that we care about winning the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan . . . .
NATO unveils draft of new mission statement -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
NATO must win the war in Afghanistan, expand ties with Russia and even China, counter the threat posed by Iran's missiles, and assure the security of its 28 members, according to the alliance's proposed mission statement for the next decade.
The draft document, released Monday, seeks to bridge a growing rift between the U.S., which favors a greater international role for NATO, and European nations that want it to retain its traditional defensive focus...
Okinawans encircle U.S. base -- [Stars and Stripes]
Heavy rains did not deter an estimated 17,000 Okinawans from encircling Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Sunday in a symbolic closing of the controversial base...
Organizers of the event, who timed it to commemorate the 38th anniversary of Japan reassuming control of Okinawa from the U.S., claimed success on two of three attempts to join hands around the eight-mile fence line. Organizers estimated that there were 17,000 participants; Okinawa police did not release an official estimate of the crowd size.
...The weekend protests came before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's scheduled stop Friday in Tokyo for talks with Japan Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on Futenma.
Thailand Abandons Plan for Curfew Despite Continued Riots -- [AP/Fox news]
...The army had said earlier that a curfew would be imposed later in the day.
Aksara did not explain the reversal.
A towering column of black smoke rose over the city Sunday as protesters facing off with troops set fire to tires serving as a barricade. Elsewhere, they doused a police traffic post with gasoline and torched it as sporadic gunfire rang out...
Renegade Thai General Dies as Chaos Continues -- [NY Times]
Heavy fighting and explosions were reported in one area of Bangkok early on Monday in the deadliest and most prolonged conflict in Thailand in many years...
As four days of wild street fighting spread to new areas, the British Embassy said on its Web site, "You should be aware that acts of violence or sabotage might be staged outside red shirt protest areas." It added: "A threat has been made by the red shirts to set off explosions in department stores in Bangkok."
...The renegade general Khattiya Sawatdithol, who had sided with the protesters and whose shooting Thursday night was a trigger for the current violence, was also reported dead Monday by Thai news media.
Thai protesters agree to U.N.-monitored talks, but government rejects conditions -- [Washington Post]
One Thai official described the offer as a "positive sign" and asked for more details, as the government backed away from a threat to impose a curfew in Bangkok, a city renowned for its rowdy nightlife.
But the government quickly rejected any mediation by the United Nations and said that if the "red shirt" protesters are serious about negotiations, they should set no preconditions.
"If they want to talk, they should not set conditions like asking us to withdraw troops," said Korbsak Sabhavasu, an official in the prime minister's office, according to Reuters.
Thai Govt Rejects Negotiations with Protesters, UN Mediation Role -- [Voice of America]
The Latest: The Thai government has set a deadline of mid-afternoon Monday for women, children, the elderly and other unarmed protesters to leave their encampment in Bangkok's main commercial district.
Thai Troops Close In on Protest Encampment -- [Reuters/NY Times]
A government source said talks were taking place behind the scenes but raised doubt any of the "red shirt" leaders had full control of the protesters, especially the more militant elements.
Around the city, people were hoarding food, while hotels were pleading for guests to leave. School term has been postponed and Monday and Tuesday were declared public holidays, although financial markets and banks remained open.
As fighting subsided in some areas, residents and tourists in the commercial district were seen leaving while they could, with luggage and children in tow. Chulalongkorn Hospital, adjacent to the encampment, had evacuated all of its patients...
Accused Ark. shooter's lawyer argues for expenses -- [AP]
A lawyer for a man accused of fatally shooting a soldier outside a recruiting center says the expense money he's seeking from the Arkansas Public Defender Commission is no more than a defendant would be entitled to if he were represented by a public defender.
Claiborne Ferguson of Memphis, Tenn., was hired by the family of Abdulhakim Muhammad, charged with killing Pvt. William Andrew Long, 23, of Conway in June 2009. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Muhammad.
Attorneys argue over funding defense in soldier slaying case -- [Arkansas News]
State law does not support a judge's ruling that the Arkansas Public Defender Commission must pay the expenses of accused recruiting center killer Abdul-Hakim Muhammad's defense, the commission's executive director argued today before the state Supreme Court...
The Public Defender Commission is appealing a January order by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright requiring it to pay the expenses for Muhammad's defense. Muhammad's family has hired a lawyer, Claiborne Ferguson of Memphis, Tenn., to represent Muhammad...
Didi Sallings, the commission's executive director, told the Supreme Court today that if Wright's ruling were allowed to stand, it would open the door to other defendants with private attorneys seeking state funds for their defense. Wright's ruling conflicts with state law, she said.
Justices: Man held in GI case due funds -- [Arkansas Online]
The Muslim convert facing the death penalty over the slaying of a soldier in Little Rock is entitled to state funding for his defense, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that could significantly affect the operations of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission. One state legislator warned that the ruling could lead to an "open raid" on state money by unscrupulous lawyers.
The high court's eight page decision, written by Justice Paul Danielson, upholds the January ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright that Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, as an indigent, is entitled to funding from the commission.
"I think it's an invitation for an open raid on the public treasury..."
Opinion on Muhammad defense -- [Arkansas Supreme Court]
Arkansas Supreme Court opinion ruling the state must pay certain defense costs for Abdulhakim Muhammad even though he is represented by a private attorney hired by his parents. (pdf)
Arkansas panel chief says rehearing to be sought -- [AP]
The executive director of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission says the agency will ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling that the commission must pay defense expenses for a man accused of killing a soldier outside a recruiting center.
A question for the Pentagon leadership... -- [Argghhh]
Time to kick over my rants about awards policy in the era of the Medal of Posthumous Honor (there are rumors that one is working that might go to a living recipient, if they don't die of old age first). You laugh - some of the historical Medals that are listed as posthumous are because the recipient simply wore out before someone got around to making the decision, not because they died earning the Medal. There have been Medals awarded to living people in the last 20 years - but only because they lived long, full lives while the Pentagon played catch-up. There have been no living recipients of the award for actions later than Vietnam, however...
Comes now the extended-in-the-'Stan Heartless Libertarian, who asks:
"So the Germans can give our troops one of their highest awards for valor (not sure of the US equivalent) - the first time this medal has been given to non-Germans, even - less than a month after the action..."
Hold Your Fire -- [Demophilus/Burn Pit]
Where are the Medals of Honor for this war, for this Global War on Terror, for OEF/OIF? As of this writing we have awarded 6, and none to a living recipient. Six. We've been criticized by many for the interminable length that this war is dragging on to, and yet we've awarded six medals. In Afghanistan, they have awarded two Medals of Honor in nine years, for a sense of perspective, in the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia two Medals were awarded (justly) in one day. Are our service members not fighting? Are there no heroes out there performing actions worthy of this award? I would argue not.
I would argue that Admiral Nimitz's words about Iwo Jima are as true about this war as they have been for any war that we have fought and the service members who fought for us. "Uncommon valor was a common virtue"
It's just not a virtue that we reward any more...
Troops: Loss will be felt when Air Force cuts chaplain corps by 15 percent -- [Stars and Stripes]
The Air Force is reducing its number of chaplains at a time when airmen and family members are seeking their counsel more than ever...
The reduction of up to 15 percent in the chaplain corps stems from efforts to make certain that the most crucial positions in the Air Force -- such as manned and unmanned aircraft pilots -- are filled, and ensure that no field has more than the mandated number of personnel, officials said...
The cuts are fiscally motivated, an effort to balance competing mission requirements with limited resources, Air Force officials say.
Fort Wayne veteran frustrated with VA's control over his finances -- [Ft Wayne News-Sentinal]
The object of the Olsons' mounting frustration - and of many other veterans, if recent Congressional hearings are any indication - is the Veterans Administration's fiduciary program, the laudable goal of which is to protect mentally "incompetent" veterans from exploitation through the appointment of a guardian to manage their VA benefits. In 2008, fiduciaries managed an average of $14,400 for each of 103,000 beneficiaries.
Vicky Olson, who replaced Michael's mother as fiduciary in 2004, doesn't really question the decision to place him in the program in 1998. In addition to his disabilities, he was also battling alcoholism and bankruptcy. But the couple insists their credit rating is now good, and that they are both clean and sober.
"I can handle my own affair," Olson asserted, his slight slowness of speech the only noticeable hint of any disability.
Not only will the VA not tell the couple what they must do to leave the program, but in April it removed Vicky as her husband's fiduciary, transferring the authority to the Greenfield (Ind.) Bank just east of Indianapolis, which earns a 4 percent commission for administering and paying bills from Olson's VA benefits, which amounts to about $2,800 ...
Afghanistan: The Bleeding Has Stopped, But the Patient Remains in the ICU -- [Abu Muqawama]
...if you are one of those -- and I have heard this the most from military officers -- who complains we do not have a strategy for the war, this report is instructive because it lays out, in detail, the strategy.
War of persuasion: The modern U.S. officer emerges in Afghanistan -- [Greg Jaffe/Washington Post]
Lt. Col. Robert B. Brown could hear the fear in his 24-year-old lieutenant's voice on the patchy radio. "We have enemy inside the wire. It is really bad here," 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann said. "We need those [expletive] birds now."
Just before 6 a.m., more than 300 insurgents launched a massive attack on Bundermann's remote outpost in the Kamdesh district of northeastern Afghanistan. By 6:30 three of Bundermann's soldiers were dead, and the Apache attack helicopters he desperately wanted weren't going to arrive for another half hour.
Combat Generation: Trying to work with an Afghan insurgent -- [Greg Jaffe/Washington Post]
Last November, Lt. Col. Robert B. Brown received an enticing offer from a mysterious enemy... an insurgent known as Mullah Sadiq, who had been on the U.S. kill-capture list since 2005...
Sadiq wanted 50 assault rifles, $20,000 and a promise that U.S. forces would not kill him. In return, he promised to turn against more-radical Taliban insurgents and to begin to work with the Afghan government.
Corpsman Build on Knowledge of Others -- [Sgt. Shawn Coolman/First Marine Division]
CAMP DELARAM II, Helmand province, Afghanistan - In an ever-changing combat environment, doctors and corpsman are charged with saving lives.
To help others expand their knowledge 1st Shock Trauma Platoon, Bravo Surgical Company, 1st Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, offers medical classes to Navy corpsman and all that are interested....
(Photo: Ricardo A. Sias, hospitalman, (left) senior line corpsman for Company A, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, administers an ultrasound to another corpsman during a medial class given by 1st Shock Trauma Platoon, Bravo Surgical Company, 1st Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, at Camp Delaram II, Helmand province, Afghanistan. The platoon routinely gives classes to corpsman and all that want to attend on medial knowledge. Photo by Sgt. Shawn Coolman.)
The Enemy Within -- [ Mark Bowden/The Atlantic]
When the Conficker computer "worm" was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn't know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker's creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting...
Cyberwar Cassandras Get $400 Million in Conflict Cash -- [Noah Shachtman/Danger Room]
Coincidences sure are funny things. Booz Allen Hamilton -- the defense contractor that's become synonymous with the idea that the U.S. is getting its ass kicked in an ongoing cyberwar -- has racked up more than $400 million worth of deals in the past six weeks to help the Defense Department fight that digital conflict. Strange how that worked out, huh?
3,000 officers switch to cyberspace specialty -- [Bruce Rolfsen/Air Force Times]
About 3,000 communications officers are now cyberspace officers.
In all, 30,000 airmen have been shifted to the front lines of cyber warfare. The officers made the switch in April; the changeover for 27,000 enlisted airmen happened in November... the officers face stiffer educational requirements and the expectation to see their job as operational and not strictly mission support.
"It's not just spray paint, it's a new mindset," said Brig. Gen. David Cotton, director of cyberspace transformation and strategy at the Air Staff.
Phony Vietnam Vet In Connecticut Senate Race -- [Operator Dan/This Ain't Hell]
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) has made veterans issues and his supposed service in Vietnam a centerpiece of his campaign to replace Senator Chris Dodd as a senator from Connecticut. Quite frequently, Blumenthal speaks before veterans groups and often discusses the problems that he and other Vietnam Vets faced when they returned to civilian life. In many occasion, he gets quite emotional about the subject and burst into tears.
The problem is he never went to Vietnam...
Phony Vietnam Vet In Connecticut Senate Race -- [Uncle Jimbo/Blackfive]
OK buddy you are busted and it's time to take your ass back home and stay out of our sight. I know quite a few Vietnam vets starting with my old man and his two full tours who might not take kindly to you riding their coat tails.
US Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal: another fraudvet on the pile -- [Greyhawk/Mudville Gazette]
Looks like Blumenthal is going to double down... "Blumenthal will hold a news conference tomorrow. He will be flanked by veterans."
"Flanked by veterans..." brings to mind the noble politician's spouse, at her hubby's side throughout his public confession of adultery - except any vet standing with Blumenthal on this is more like a twenty dollar whore.
Bombshell: Democratic Senate candidate lied about serving in Vietnam -- [Hot Air]
It gets worse for Blumenthal. Meet his likely Republican challenger, Rob Simmons: "Rob's public service career began when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965 as a Private, and spent 19 months in Vietnam where he earned two Bronze Star Medals. Rob continued his military service in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Military Intelligence Officer, retiring as a Colonel in 2003 with over 37 years of active and reserve service."
Volunteers gather at neglected WWI monument -- [CNN]
American Legion volunteers gathered Sunday at a neglected marble temple on the National Mall to commemorate veterans of World War I, at a site they hope will soon be a national memorial.
The structure from the 1930s was dedicated as a tribute to local troops from the District of Columbia who served in what was called the "Great War." Now, a campaign to turn the site into a national memorial continues to be led by the last living U.S. veteran of WWI, 109-year-old Frank Buckles...
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our continuously updated roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world.
Updating - Refresh for updates.
The Long War and Long Good-byes -- [Red Bull Rising]
Like I was saying, send-off ceremonies can also drag along like a southbound river barge. If you want to get a feel for the high points, however, I'd recommend listening to this May 13, 2010 National Public Radio story that captured the Maj. Gen. John Campbell's sending remarks to members of his 101st Airborne Division--the "Screaming Eagles." The radio report offers everything an outgoing soldier needs to hear, packaged into less than 3 minutes: "Twenty years from now, you're going to be sitting in a rocking chair someplace thinking about what you did in 2010 and 2011..."
Troops likely to see spike in fighting -- [Washington Times]
U.S. and allied forces will see increased fighting in Afghanistan as their offensive in the southern part of the country unfolds in coming weeks, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Thursday.
"We should expect increased violence as our combined security forces expand into Taliban-controlled areas," Gen. McChrystal told reporters at the Pentagon.
Hold fire, earn a medal -- [Military Times]
U.S. troops in Afghanistan could soon be awarded a medal for not doing something, a precedent-setting award that would be given for "courageous restraint" for holding fire to save civilian lives...
A Loony Toons Ambush and One Captured Bad Guy -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
I manage to get out on the road today with some of the Force Protection lads on a minor task - good to get out of the office.
One of my convoys from here to Lashkargah was ambushed earlier by a large party (20+) of insurgents...
DOD News Briefing with Gen. McChrystal from the Pentagon -- [defense.gov]
Q General... Is it true that you are contemplating -- awarding some sort of special honor for soldiers who make a special effort to avoid civilian casualties?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: ...The issue of courage -- we have a number of ways to recognize courage in uniform. And I think courage in uniform can come under enemy fire in the most traditional ways, or it can come under actions that may not be as expected or as traditional -- involve killing the enemy; it may involve protecting civilians.
There's a great photograph from the Marja operation. I think it's a U.S. Marine shielding an Afghan man and an Afghan child with his own body. He wasn't shooting anyone; he didn't kill any Taliban; but I would argue that he showed as much courage as any that I've seen on the battlefield.
So when we talk about courage, I think -- I don't think we need a different medal to differentiate different kinds of courage.
Canadian Parking Drills, Eh... -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
...Being observant men, they noticed the Maple-leaf sticker on the window of the Surf and, being fairly quick on the uptake, decided to check if the parking space actually had a 'Reserved for ..." sign stuck to the T-wall. It did. It appears they were parked in a senior Canadian officer's car park. Said Canuck, in a fit of pique, has obviously parked them in figuring they would have to wait until he got back to take a bollocking and have the armoured released. My lads scratched their heads. What to do?
Afghan official: Troops killed civilians -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
Nasrutullah Arsala, head of the provincial council of Nangahar province, told CNN on Friday that troops killed nine civilians in Kushkak, a village in the Surkh Rod district of Nangahar, in eastern Afghanistan...
News of possible civilian casualties enraged locals. They staged a demonstration and tried to enter the district governor's compound. Police confronting the protesters shot and killed two civilians, Arsala said.
U.S. officials dampen expectations for Kandahar offensive -- [Stars and Stripes]
American-led military operations in and around the Afghan city of Kandahar in the next months will look markedly less militaristic than this year's offensive in Marjah, top U.S. officials said Thursday...
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, appearing alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai before a Washington think tank audience later on Thursday, said the effort in Kandahar would not be "a massive military action," with "tanks rolling into the city."
...The military, Clinton said, was taking steps to ensure the allied effort in Kandahar did not resemble campaigns in Iraq.
"This is not Fallujah," she said at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Taking a Breather -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghanistan]
...as I take a step back and look at where this simple website is today from where it started almost a year ago, I shake my head in disbelief. What started as a means of sharing stories from the front lines has turned into my haven away from the battlefield. Managing this site has been a therapeutic release for me during a stressful tour. I read messages of phenomenal inspiration and support from well-wishers all over the world. Your love and empathy have been one of the strongest forces pushing me forward through a difficult tour...
Despite political uncertainties in Iraq, U.S. sticking with drawdown plan -- [Washington Post]
The U.S. Special Operations footprint will remain largely unchanged after Sept. 1, U.S. officials say, with roughly 4,500 elite troops tasked with targeting terrorist networks in partnership with Iraqi special forces...
The seven combat brigades that will remain after the summer, temporarily rebranded as "advice and assist brigades," have been reinforced with senior officers who have expertise in training. The military will keep one brigade in Baghdad and one in Anbar province, west of the capital. The remaining five -- each with 3,000 to 5,000 troops -- will be split between northern and southern divisions. Also remaining will be headquarters and certain support personnel. U.S. forces will have a negligible presence in most urban areas, and will be spread thin in southern provinces, where security has improved considerably in recent months.
Iraq's New Qaeda "War Minister" Vows Attacks -- [Reuters/NY Times]
An al Qaeda-linked militant group named a new "war minister" in Iraq and threatened majority Shi'ites with "dark days coloured in blood," after two of its commanders were killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces.
Attacks that have left dozens dead in the past weeks were seen as al Qaeda in Iraq's response to the killing in May of its leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri...
The al Qaeda statement, posted on Islamist Internet forums on Friday and translated by SITE Intelligence Group, identified the new ISI war minister as al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, who replaced Masri...
"How can the men of the state close their eyes while they see... (Shi'ites) transgressing against the people of Islam, men and women, in the prisons of the apostates in Baghdad, Mosul, and Diyala," Abu Suleiman said in the statement.
"The matter has become unbearable, patience has run out... We named this invasion, 'The Attack of the Monotheists in Revenge for Honors in the Prisons of Apostates'."
Iraqi Kurd spokesman criticizes U.S. response to impasse -- [Stars and Stripes]
Qubad Talabani, representative of the Kurdish regional government, said U.S. officials in Iraq have had limited involvement in efforts by political parties to form a government over the two months since the country's inconclusive national elections.
Talabani said that the administration is determined to avoid the perception that "they are trying to concoct a democratic Iraq."
...Talabani, who is also the son of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, said that while U.S. officials have largely remained on the sidelines, officials of most neighboring states, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey have been "heavily involved" with political players inside Iraq to exert influence...
Amid doubts, offensive to retake Somalia capital looms -- [LA Times]
On streets and alleys whittled by gunfire, Col. Abdi Bashir Dhagol is arming for a new battle amid the fleeing families, bloodied markets and boy soldiers of Mogadishu.
Somali troops, supported by U.S.-funded weapons and training, are preparing to retake the capital from Al Qaeda-backed militants in an offensive to shift the balance of power in the Horn of Africa...
Thai troops battle protesters as crisis deepens -- [Reuters]
Troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds at the protesters who hurled petrol bombs and launched home-made rockets on roads surrounding an area of luxury hotels and shopping malls they have occupied for nearly six weeks, witnesses said.
"We hope to return the situation to normal in the next few days," said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.
By nightfall, at least five loud blasts were heard followed by bursts of automatic gunfire in the business district. Armoured personnel carriers were seen arriving in the area.
The fresh wave of violence follows an assassination attempt on Thursday on a renegade general who had been advising the protesters and was critically wounded during an interview with foreign reporters outside the barricaded encampment... (Slideshow)
Obama was target of Indonesia militants -- [Reuters]
Indonesian militants captured in recent police raids were planning a series of attacks including a Mumbai-style hotel siege targeting foreigners and an assault on the president at an independence day ceremony, police said on Friday.
The men also planned to target U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit the country later this year, and plotted the attacks to install sharia law in the world's most populous Muslim nation, officials said...
Violence surges in Indian Kashmir after years of decline; authorities worry of bloody summer -- [AP]
Nearly everyday, the crackle of gunfire and the roar of mortars can be heard somewhere in the towns and forests of the scenic Himalayan region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan but divided between them.
Obama Expands Modernization of Nuclear Arsenal -- [NY Times]
President Obama promised Thursday to spend $80 billion over 10 years to maintain and modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal, a commitment that could help win Republican support for his new arms control treaty with Russia.
"I'd like to see it happen before the election," Mr. Obama told Russian state television last week.
Oliver North Confirms Big Government Report ** Intelligence Sources in U.S. & Afghanistan: Mullah Omar in Hands of Pakistan's ISI -- [Oliver North/Big Government]
...This lack of intelligence was evident last week in the aftermath of the failed Times Square bombing on May 1 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proffered a blunt indictment of Pakistani cooperation with the U.S. Her stunning comment: "I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda is (sic), where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is (sic)..." created a diplomatic firestorm.
Hopefully, Ms. Clinton was dissembling, because intelligence sources here in the U.S. and Afghanistan inform me that Pakistani officials know exactly where Mullah Omar is: in the hands of the ISI. This should not be news to the U.S. Secretary of State.
Last month, while I was still in Afghanistan, rumors were circulating that the ISI had detained Mullah Omar in Karachi on March 27, and placed him under house arrest in what they call "community care." American operatives say he has since been transferred to a secret ISI lock-up under the Pakistani euphemism: "institutional care." According to several reports, all of this information was confirmed to U.S. officials by a senior Pakistani military officer "several weeks ago."
"Why would the ISI take down 'one of their own?'" I asked. The answer came in a mixed metaphor but the meaning was clear: "The ISI intends to be in the driver's seat when the 'Peace Talks' get underway in Afghanistan later this month. And the ISI officers calling the shots know Mullah Omar is the best bargaining chip they have."
Judge orders former Russian dancer's release from Guantanamo -- [McClatchy/Stars and Stripes]
A federal court on Thursday ordered the Pentagon to set free from Guantanamo a former Russian army ballet dancer turned devout Muslim whose plight captured the imagination of a Massachusetts college town...
Thursday's midday ruling raised to 35 the number of Guantanamo detention cases the U.S. government has lost since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago that the war-on-terror captives can sue for their freedom in federal courts...
The Guantanamo captive's Washington, D.C., attorney, Douglas K. Spaulding, ...was seeking talks with the Obama administration to arrange for his client's release to a country other than his homeland because of the stigma of nearly a decade in U.S. detention. Seven other Russians, who were released from Guantanamo in 2004, were tortured, beaten, harassed and sent into hiding, according to a Human Rights Watch study.
Liberal activists in Massachusetts showcased the tale of Mingazov and an Algerian man named Ahmed Belbacha in a campaign last year that condemned the detention policies of the Bush administration.
U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease -- [NY Times]
To eavesdrop on the terrorism suspect who was added to the target list, the American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is hiding in Yemen, intelligence agencies would have to get a court warrant. But designating him for death, as C.I.A. officials did early this year with the National Security Council's approval, required no judicial review...
A free ride for sleazy car dealers? -- [OldNavy/Burn Pit/American Legion]
When I was a fuzzy-faced Ensign in flight school about a hundred years ago, a car salesman in Pensacola screwed me over big time. He was a big-smilin', glad-handin' guy who claimed to be real "Navy-friendly", especially to Airedales - which is why he would offer low mileage, late model cars and E-Z financing to brave young lads such as myself when banks and other big businesses would not. Hey, he was a retired Navy Commander himself, or so he said.
Anywho - the old Commander gave me the "best deal anywhere" on a slick British racing green '68 Camaro - just the thing for a hotshot, would-be fighter jock. The interest rate was kinda high, but at least the old officer and gentleman was nice enough to get me the loan. The car was a couple of years old, but a fresh paint job made it look like new - and it only had 26,000 miles on the clock!
You can guess the rest...
Battle over financial reform pits auto dealers vs. military -- [LA Times]
Car dealers, a well-organized small-business lobby with members in nearly every legislative district, have swarmed the Senate in recent weeks clamoring to be exempt from the legislation's proposed protections against loan scams.
They say the tough new government oversight should focus on the big Wall Street firms that caused the financial crisis, not auto dealers struggling to recover from it.
"There's a lot of dealers that are still on the brink, and taking their finance revenue away from them could be the straw that breaks the camel's back," said John Symes, who owns three auto dealerships in Pasadena.
But in a letter released Thursday, a top Pentagon official said soldiers need to be protected from "unprincipled auto lending" so they can concentrate on their primary mission: "protecting our great nation."
"Soldiers who are distracted by financial issues at home are not fully focused on fighting the enemy, thereby decreasing mission readiness," Army Secretary John M. McHugh wrote Wednesday...
Warrior Games, Day 3 -- [Mothax/Burn Pit]
Army, Marine Corps and Air Force tied in Chairman's Cup Standings
Picture: Legionnaire and Former Marine Scott Martin (closest athlete) competes in the swim competition as part of the Ultimate Champion Pentathlon.
Another great day, another very long day, in scenic and wonderful Colorado Springs. Today was Archery, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball and Seated Volleyball.
A quick note on the Chairman's Cup since I have not adequately explained it...
Legislating Fear -- [Demophilius/Burn Pit]
The state of Georgia recently pushed a piece of legislation through the state that would establish a designation on drivers' licenses showing the bearer's status as a sufferer of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)...
Obviously, there are critics of the bill. Unfortunately, the critics aren't exactly helping the situation either. "Why would I want to put out there on my license - hey, I'm a nut job," said Marvin Myers, president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance Inc...
Really Mr. Meyers? "Nut job"? Way to show your sympathy to fellow veterans.
We have enough people out there who think PTSD transforms out service members into ticking time bombs without trying to slap warning labels on them...
USS Cole survivor finds his future in the wrestling ring -- [Stars and Stripes]
Jesse Neal heard the fans shouting his name after a frenzied night of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. The former sailor had come a long way in the more than nine years since his ship, the destroyer USS Cole, was attacked by terrorist bombers in Yemen.
"Milbloggers" Not United on DADT Repeal -- [Cassandra/Villainous Company]
Yesterday, fifteen Milbloggers signed an open letter acknowledging that Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen have directed an inquiry into how the services will comply with the anticipated repeal of DADT. The letter urged Congress to listen to what the services recommend as a result of this inquiry. Somehow, this nuanced message morphed into a simple (and misleading) meme: Milbloggers Call for Repeal of DADT.
Don't Ask Don't Tell for Idiots -- [Hooah Wife]
It appears so many people need a cluebat (especially those who pretend they understand it), regarding Don's Ask Don't Tell (DADT). This week, I was part of a group statement with some fellow Milbloggers that made, what I thought was a clear position on how we felt about it. Yet the headlines from Huff PO, Politico, NPR and so many other websites showed that they totally misunderstood our message. Or maybe that it was that they were just using whatever they could to fuel their agenda (I report, you decide). You can read about these SNAFUs here.
I decided to ask my most intelligent Hooah Wife contributor, Silke, a former Army Officer and current military spouse, to help me write this guide.
Key Dates in U. S. Policy on Gay Men and Women in Military Service -- [US Naval Insitute]
March 11, 1778 - Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin becomes the first documented service member to be dismissed from the U.S. military for homosexuality. Under an order from General George Washington which states "abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes," Lt. Enslin is drummed out of the Continental Army after being found guilty of sodomy.
March 1, 1917 - The Articles of War of 1916 are implemented. A revision of the Articles of War of 1806, the new regulations detail statutes governing U.S. military discipline and justice. Under the category Miscellaneous Crimes and Offences, Article 93 states that any person subject to military law who commits "assault with intent to commit sodomy" shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
1919 - Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt requests an investigation into "vice and depravity" in the sea services. A sting operation is launched in which undercover operatives attempt to seduce sailors suspected of being homosexual. At least 17 sailors are jailed and court-martialed before public outcry prompts the Senate to condemn the operation...
Bread, Circuses, and Teh Gheys -- [Chuck Z/From my position... on the way]
During the decline of the Roman Empire, whenever the great unwashed citizenry became unhappy, the Caesar would bestow upon them gifts of free entertainment (gladiators) and free bread. These were, for a time, quite effective at keeping the population's mind off of politics, and the general dimming of the great light of civilization that was ancient Rome. Happy to be entertained, and happier still to eat freely from the government trough, the people of Rome were distracted while the empire slowly collapsed beneath them...
The Wounded Platoon -- [PBS/Frontline]
Since the Iraq War began, soldier arrests in the city of Colorado Springs, Colo., have tripled. At least 36 servicemen based at the nearby Army post of Fort Carson have committed suicide, and 14 Fort Carson soldiers have been charged or convicted in at least 11 killings. Many of the most violent crimes involved men who had served in the same battalion in Iraq. Three of them came from a single platoon of infantrymen. FRONTLINE tells the dark tale of the men of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry, and how the war followed them home. It is a story of heroism, grief, vicious combat, depression, drugs, alcohol and brutal murder; an investigation into the Army's mental health services; and a powerful portrait of what multiple tours and post-traumatic stress are doing to a generation of young American soldiers.
COIN Symposium, Part I -- [Grim/Blackfive]
Dave Dilegge of Small Wars Journal and I were invited to attend a panel discussion at the end of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Symposium: "Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: an Azimuth Check." Over the next day or so I'll post a few pieces about the discussion, and particular points of interest...
COIN Symposium, Part II -- [Grim/Blackfive]
...There were differing opinions on this subject from the panel's members. This would be a good time to mention who the panelists were.
COL Gian P. Gentile, Director of Military History Program at U.S. Military Academy at West Point
COL Joe Felter, Director of COIN Advise and Assist Team (CAAT), Afghanistan
Col Joseph Lacroix, CD Deputy Commander Joint Task Force Afghanistan
LTCol C. Cabaniss, 2nd Marine Div G3 Operations, USMC
Lt Col Rupert Jones, Commander 4th Battalion of the RIFLES Regiment
LCol Bertrand Cadour, Allied Transformation Command, NATO
Dr. Daniel Marston, Counterinsurgency at US Army Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS
Dr. Lester Grau, Research Coordinator for Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS
Dr. R. Scott Moore, Deputy Director for Center for Complex Operations
Maj J. T. Adair, Officer Commanding C Company 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
MAJ Jason Crigger, 6th Special Operations , USAF
MAJ Jim Gant, AFPAK Hands, US Army Special Forces
An impressive crew, several of whom have names that will be familiar to you. In addition...
Magnifisent Basterds (II) -- [Greyhawk]
"The Army is looking at a whole realm of things having to do with measuring and recognizing excellence in THIS war," says Morgan, "which is different from any we've fought before in that we are trying to get our Soldiers and Marines to behave differently... It is difficult to measure and difficult to recognize excellence in a war where to subdue your enemy by making him irrelevant is oftentimes more effective in the long run than rendering him inert... The portrayal of this internal Army conversation in such a light as it has been is misleading, sensationalistic and simplistic... it's not the thinking while in the TIC that anyone is trying to reward. It's the thinking over the map, in the TOC, at the targeting meeting with the USAID and State folks... and their Afghan counterparts. You plan before you seek. You seek what you plan for. You find what you seek."
Hold Your Fire -- [Demophilius/Burn Pit]
The military is currently considering medals for "Courageous Restraint" ...
My point here is not that someone who doesn't fight is a Coward, quite the contrary. It takes a hell of a lot of inner fortitude to hold back, it's one of the things that separate us from base animals. It's a hard line to walk and I have nothing but admiration for folks who can hold back in the face of severe situations and not give in to emotions. Moving away from violence as a first resort is really something worth striving for. No real soldier, nobody who has actually seen war, thinks that war should ever be the first option.
Where are the Medals of Honor for this war, for this Global War on Terror, for OEF/OIF? As of this writing we have awarded 6, and none to a living recipient. Six... In Afghanistan, they have awarded two Medals of Honor in nine years, for a sense of perspective, in the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia two Medals were awarded (justly) in one day. Are our service members not fighting? Are there no heroes out there performing actions worthy of this award? I would argue not.
I would argue that Admiral Nimitz's words about Iwo Jima are as true about this war as they have been for any war that we have fought and the service members who fought for us. "Uncommon valor was a common virtue"
It's just not a virtue that we reward any more...
A CIA COINdinista's Misgivings on Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan -- [Spencer Ackerman/The Washington Independent]
It's crossed desks at the White House, the Pentagon, U.S. Central Command and even Gen. Stanley McChrystal's command in Afghanistan.... While I can't go into the sourcing of this memo, it's penned by someone who began embracing population-centric counterinsurgency to mitigate the deterioration of the Iraq war as far back as 2005 -- something that not a lot of CIA operatives bought into, then or today. Despite that pedigree, the CIA operative contends that attempts to protect the population from the insurgency and facilitate the delivery of Afghan government services are fatally undermined by the persistent corruption and ineffectiveness of the Afghan government and its institutions.
His counterproposal, similar to a controversial approach advocated by an Army Special Forces major named Jim Gant, is to use Afghanistan's various tribes as a proxy for both political legitimacy against the Taliban and a more effective and relevant structure for the provision of governance and economic development. He's taken to calling it "Tribe-Centric Unconventional Warfare/Foreign Internal Defense."
Assault Breacher Vehicles: The USMC's latest answer to the deadliest threat in Afghanistan -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Count me in as being in favor of anything that could save even one life, or one limb. "The Assault Breacher Vehicles are the Marines Corps' answer to the deadliest threat facing United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan, thousands of land mines and roadside bombs aka improvised explosive devices, that litter the Afghan Taliban region...."
Mattis: Military should rely less on technology -- [Marine Corps Times]
he military relies too much on technology, and soldiers need to practice more "with the radios turned off," a key general said.
"We must be able to operate when systems go down," Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, head of Joint Forces Command, told a luncheon audience Thursday at a joint war-fighting conference. "It is much more important for officers to get comfortable operating with uncertainty rather than to keep grasping for more certainty."
Senate panel takes up war funding measure -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
The measure, approved by a unanimous 30-0 vote, blends about $30 billion for President Barack Obama's 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan with more than $5 billion to replenish disaster aid accounts, as well as funding for Haitian earthquake relief, and a downpayment on aid to flood-drenched Tennessee and Rhode Island.
The must-pass legislation is the only appropriations bill likely to advance to Obama's desk until the fall and is a tempting target for Democrats seeking to add money for a summer jobs program or to help to local school district to retain teachers...
The measure contains $13 billion in benefits for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, but does not provide more than $4 billion requested by the administration to finance settlements of long-standing lawsuits against the government, including $1.2 billion to remedy discrimination by the Agriculture Department against black farmers and $3.4 billion for mismanaging Indian trust funds.
The measure contains $1.1 billion for mine-resistant vehicles, $657 million for military bases in Afghanistan, and $6.2 billion in foreign aid for Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Haiti. The panel cut about $300 million from Obama's Afghanistan request and added about $130 million to the request for Haiti, according to a summary.
Walker 'Bud' Mahurin, ace WWII fighter pilot, dies at 91 -- [Stars and Stripes]
Walker "Bud" Mahurin, the Army Air Forces' first double ace in Europe during World War II who went on to serve in the Pacific and later became a POW after being shot down during the Korean War, has died. He was 91.
Mahurin, a retired Air Force colonel who had suffered a stroke in October, died Tuesday at his home in Newport Beach, said his stepdaughter, Valerie Miller.
"The name is familiar to almost everybody in the Air Force," said Doug Lantry, a historian at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
"Bud Mahurin was the only Air Force pilot to shoot down enemy aircraft in the European theater of operations and the Pacific and in Korea," said Lantry. "He was known as a very courageous, skilled and tenacious fighter pilot."
Fighter pilot, war hero 'Bud' Mahurin dies -- [Fort Wayne (Indiana) Journal Gazette]
Walker "Bud" Mahurin was an ace fighter pilot and a war hero from Fort Wayne, the kind of person kids everywhere wanted to be like.
He was shot down twice - once over France and later in Korea - and escaped both times. He was responsible for 21 kills from the cockpit of his P-47 Thunderbolt in the European Theater of World War II and one more in the Pacific. Later, in Korea, he downed four Communist MiG fighter jets.
The South Side High School graduate died Tuesday at his home in Newport Beach, Calif., after months of declining health. He was 91.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
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.
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A tale of two bases: how an Afghan war will be won or lost -- [The National - Hamida Ghafour - in Afghanistan]
...Nuristan is so removed from the rest of the country that when an Afghan official visited the province in January, the residents of one district had never heard of Afghanistan. They thought Nuristan was its own country and the valleys were provinces.
The region has had virtually no contact with Kabul since the Soviet invasion in 1979. There is a generation of Nuristanis whose only experience with the outside world was the Soviets, so when the Americans established a base in 2006 it seemed like a continuation of a foreign, non-Muslim invasion.
...But something interesting has happened. In the last few weeks, the Korengali leadership has reached out to the central government's representatives in Kunar's capital. The Americans are cautious but hopeful
Dispatches from the Front: Route Clearance and Escalation of Force in COIN -- [Kerplunk]
Today brings us a guest post by Lieutenant Smiles, an Army engineer currently deployed to Afghanistan.
"The success of COIN in Afghanistan rests on the shoulders of Route Clearance patrols. If you're not familiar with route clearance, it is the act of deliberately sweeping roads/routes for IEDs. Simply put, our only job is to look for and get rid of IEDs. Having done this a while I can say that there are generally only two outcomes - either you find the IED before it goes off, or you find it because it goes off."
US soldiers stalk Afghanistan's deadly wildlife -- [Sebastion Abbot/AP]
GHUNDY GHAR, Afghanistan -- As night falls on this small hilltop base in the heart of Taliban country in southern Afghanistan, U.S. Army soldiers break out their knives and flashlights and go hunting for some of the country's deadliest inhabitants: snakes and scorpions.
Tracking down the "creepy crawlies" that lurk in the nooks and crannies of the countryside is a favorite pastime, providing education, some entertainment -- arachnid fight night! -- or even a quick meal.
Karzai meets Obama on plan in Afghanistan -- [Matthew Lee and Robert Burns/AP/Military Times]
WASHINGTON -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai is meeting President Barack Obama in the White House after a day of intensive talks at the State Department and a visit with wounded U.S. troops.
Obama and Karzai were expected to try to set aside their differences during their meeting Wednesday following a year in which the White House grew estranged from the Kabul government it was fighting to defend.
Karzai Visits Washington, With Smiles All Around -- [NY Times]
Beneath twinkling chandeliers and amid tables of pastry and crudités, the Obama administration set out Tuesday to charm President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, rounding up cabinet members and other V.I.P.'s to welcome him and his ministers at a State Department reception.
Rebel Group Rejects Likely Afghan Exile Offer -- [Reuters/NY Times]
The Hezb-i-Islami (HIA) party led by a former premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which runs a separate insurgency force from the Taliban against the government and NATO and U.S.-led forces, said the offer was "completely unacceptable and out of question".
An official for the party and member of its team which held an initial round of direct peace talks with Karzai in March, said the group still insisted on setting a withdrawal timetable for foreign troops before the start of any parley.
EXCLUSIVE: Mullah Omar Captured! -- [Brad Thor/Big Government]
Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody.
Jawa Exclusive: Capture Of Mullah Omar Confirmed -- [Jawa Report]
An overseas intelligence source has confirmed to the Jawa Report that Mullah Omar has been captured as originally reported by Brad Thor.
Mullah Omar captured? -- [BlackFive]
Which Navy Seal punched Omar in the left eye?
You know the deal, if it ain't up at Long War Journal it's just talk. It would be lovely, but let's chill and see what turns up.
US reviewing Iraq troop pullout pace -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
American commanders, worried about increased violence in the wake of Iraq's inconclusive elections, are now reconsidering the pace of a major troop pullout this summer, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The withdrawal of the first major wave of troops is expected to be delayed by about a month, the officials said.
Iraqi security forces say politicians were behind Iraq attacks -- [Christian Science Monitor]
Many Iraqis, including police and soldiers, say they believe their own politicians are behind the attacks.
"I can't speak badly about security because I don't want to spoil the image of the security services, but to tell you the truth, it is not good," says a policeman near the site of one of the checkpoint attacks. "This is a struggle for power - none of the citizens are blindfolded - we can all see and understand the situation. I blame the government for this."
Iraqi Deal to End De-Baathification -- [NY Times]
Iraqi politicians have reached an agreement to halt a four-month campaign to bar candidates from politics for ties to the Baath Party, American and Iraqi officials said, papering over the sectarian tensions it unleashed, at least for now, and removing an obstacle in the long-delayed process of forming a new government...
...officials said this week that an agreement was reached to end the de-Baathification campaign...
Attackers kill 99, wound 300 in Iraq's bloodiest day this year -- [Arkansas Online]
A man with explosives strapped to his belt blew himself up in a crowd, bombers struck a southern city, and gunmen sprayed fire on security checkpoints in attacks Monday that claimed nearly 100 lives - most of them in Shiite areas - in Iraq's deadliest day this year. More than 300 were injured.
Officials were quick to blame insurgents linked to al-Qaida-in-Iraq for the shootings in the capital, saying the militants were redoubling efforts to destabilize the country at a time of political uncertainty over who will control the next government.
Pace of US drawdown from Iraq on schedule: Pentagon -- [AFP]
U.S. drawdown in Iraq to pick up pace in June
The Pentagon said Tuesday the pace of a drawdown of US troops from Iraq was on schedule and had not been pushed back because of violence or ...
US Special Forces, Marines train African armies -- [AP]
KATI, Mali - A U.S. Special Forces instructor leans toward a steering wheel, showing some 50 Malian soldiers gathered around an army pickup how a passenger should take control of a car if the driver is killed in an ambush.
The elite Malian troops look on, perplexed. "But what can we do if we don't know how to drive?" asks Sgt. Amadou, echoing many of his colleagues' concern.
There are a few laughs, but the Malians are not joking; most of their unit does not know how.
US air campaign in Pakistan zeroes in on North Waziristan, Bahadar -- [Long War Journal]
The controversial US air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas has continued unabated in 2010, and is on track to exceed the number of strikes carried out in 2009. So far this year, the US has carried out 35 strikes, just 18 shy of the 2009 total. With six and a half months left in 2010, the 2009 total should be surpassed sometime in July at the current pace. The strikes continue to target top leaders of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied jihadist groups based in the tribal areas, as well as the jihadist infrastructure and operatives used to carry out attacks against Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the West.
18 Missiles,' 14 Dead in Latest Drone Attack -- [Danger Room - Noah Shachtman]
There was a massive drone attack in Pakistan today -- one involving multiple unmanned aircraft and "up to 18 American missiles," according to the Associated Press. 14 people are dead. This second robotic strike in three days is the latest sign that the American drone war in Pakistan has reached a new peak. There have been 34 reported attacks in Pakistan in the first 19 weeks on 2010. That's almost as many as the 36 strikes carried out in all of 2009. And these strikes are no longer against specific, named terrorists. Signs of militant activity are enough to bring in the drones. The latest target, according to AFP: a training camp "run by militants attached to Taliban-linked Afghan warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is reputed to control up to 2,000 fighters who attack U.S.-led forces over the border in Afghanistan."
Drones of a Different Color -- [Threats Watch]
There are drones and then there are drones. Some drones are meant to retaliate against the Pakistani Taliban killing fourteen militants in Waziristan.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned of "very severe consequences" if an attack against the United States were traced back to Pakistan.
And then there are the Predators that Texas Governor Perry along with the support of Senators Hutchison and Cornyn, and Congressman Cuellar will start patrolling the Texas-Mexican border within weeks.
David Cameron is UK's new prime minister -- [BBC]
Conservative leader David Cameron has become the UK's new prime minister after the resignation of Gordon Brown.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg will be his deputy after they agreed to the UK's first coalition government in 70 years.
Russia shows a friendlier face to the world but Britain is kept in the cold -- [Times (UK) Online]
...Russia's interests, the new policy stated, were served best by rapid modernisation, which required access to external sources of finance and technology. Russia would seek alliances with key European states and the EU. It would work to remove barriers to the transfer of high technology from the US and build strong ties with "dynamically developing" countries such as Brazil, India, South Korea and Singapore.
Somaliland Press: Russian Soldiers Stormed Ship & Executed All of Our Men -- [Gateway Pundit]
"The Russians never released the young men instead they shot them point-blank range then loaded their lifeless bodies back on the boat," he added.
The Russian media reports say pirates released on the open sea after hijacking a Russian oil tanker last week never made it ashore and are likely dead.
Why Russia's Dmitry Medvedev is visiting Syria -- [Christian Science Monitor]
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is visiting Syria as part of a bid to raise Russia's Mideast profile. He discussed possible atomic energy development, and called on Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Ex-airman due in court over flight diversion -- [AP/Air Force Times]
Prosecutors say Derek Stansberry got the attention of the flight crew when he passed along a note that said he had a fake passport. Later, he told air marshals that he had dynamite. The April 27 flight from Paris to Atlanta ended up landing at Bangor International Airport.
Defense lawyer Virginia Villa initially sought a competency hearing but she now says that he's competent...
The former Air Force intelligence specialist was working for a defense contractor in Africa.
Judge: Torture No Grounds to Dismiss Case - [Family Security Matters]
A Guantanamo Bay detainee brought to the United States for trial on charges he helped the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa while he was an aide to Osama bin Laden cannot use allegations of torture by the CIA to dismiss the indictment, a judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan made the ruling in Manhattan after months of consideration of documents, much of their contents redacted, that were submitted by attorneys for Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and the government...
Preparing for the Next Terrorist -- [Counterterrorism Blog]
Last weekend, a combination of good fortune and exceptional law enforcement prevented a potential tragedy in Times Square and led to the capture of the alleged attempted bomber before he could leave the country.
Next time -- and there will be a next time -- we may not be so lucky.
The startling and depressing truth is that eight years after Sept. 11, we cannot say with confidence that we are likely to prevent the next attack here. The reason is not insufficient attention, resources or effort. It's the fact that there is no such thing as 100 percent success in counterterrorism.
We need ....
Technically dead for 15 minutes after being wounded, Soldier returns to unit 5 months later -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany ]
"I could feel myself starting to die, and I became desperate in my struggle to stay conscious. I started to repeat three names in my head over and over again: My mom, my sister Melissa, and my sister Kendra. For the last 60 seconds of my life, I rapidly repeated these three names in my head. They helped me hold on a little longer and knew I had to fight for them. But the feeling then crept to my chest, and I knew I was done. I calmly said my last thought, took my last breath, and died."
PROMISES A MARINE WIDOW CANNOT BEAR TO HEAR -- [Little Pink in a World of Camo/ Washington Post]
A cassette tape is waiting for me. It sits in a small bubble mailer on my night table. It stares at me when I walk in the room; it beckons to me as I walk out. But still it sits there and waits. It is the last thing. The last thing he sent to me from "over there."
Reaching Out to Military Widows -- [SpouseBuzz - Love My Tanker]
Dressed in black and seated in a folding chair in front of flag-draped coffin, the young woman is heartbroken. Her parents stand behind her with their hands on her shoulders. A soldier kneels before her, presents her a folded American flag and expresses gratitude for her husband's distinguished service in the military.
The official ceremony is over, but the grieving process has just begun.
That's when the American Widow Project (AWP) begins its work. Since 2007, the nonprofit organization, founded by military widow Taryn Davis of San Marcos, Texas, has helped an estimated 400 new and mostly young military widows piece together their shattered lives. And it's helped Mrs. Davis begin to heal as well.
The FST Sends A Fabulous Note of Appreciation -- [Kitchen Dispatch]
I wanted to mention a really nice letter I received from the Trauma NCO, SSG Willer of the 759th Forward Surgical Team. SSG Willer was part of a group that became a very tight team under the most trying of times in Afghanistan. Last year, they received dozens of packages from readers of this blog while my husband was there. The items sent ranged from a goofy Halloween mask sent by Coffeypot, snacks, decorations, books, yoga materials and shoes, socks and clothes for children gathered by my husband's 83-year old Aunt and her friends in Charlevoix MI. He wrote last week, and I wanted to make sure everyone who sent things got a chance to read it: "Thank you for everything you have done to help build the morale of the FST personnel, and raise the spirits and quality of life for the local national children whom we treat.
A little girl, a soldier and a special coin - [Northshore Journal]
"Thank you for your service."
Five simple words uttered by a little girl in a rush, left a grown solider nearly speechless.
At 9 years old, Savannah Perry is more patriotic than most Americans.
SSG Andrew O'Neal is a supply sergeant with the Louisiana National Guard and was shopping at the Covington Office Depot when Perry handed him the coin.
One of her favorite things is to thank soldiers, her mother, Greta Perry, said. "I want them to know that people care about them," she explained.
But then she comes from a very patriotic family. When Savannah's father retired from the Army, her mother was looking for a way she could continue to give back as she had when she was a military wife. She found that opportunity in an organization called Soldier's Angels.
#MilitaryMon -- [Military Monday - Greta Perry]
To recognize our men and women in uniform, their families, our veterans, and honor our fallen on Twitter. Other Associated Hashtags: #SOT = Support Our Troops #MoS = Moment of Silence #HonorVets
1.9 percent military pay raise likely in 2011 -- [Stars and Stripes]
Lawmakers are poised to give servicemembers an extra boost in pay next year despite objections from the Defense Department over the long-term cost of the raise.
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee announced plans for a 1.9 percent pay raise next January, 0.5 percent above the target set by Pentagon planners in January...
"I would challenge anyone to find a civilian job that has the same set of requirements and risks as those experienced by our military personnel," said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
PMSS + DTY = One Ridiculous Situation -- [Spouse Buzz - Andi]
My least favorite thing to do when my husband is away is dealing with mechanics, contractors and repair men. I'm not a helpless little female, and I can handle a lot of minor repairs myself, but I don't know the technical ins and outs of major repair work and unless I've been referred by someone I know and trust, I'm always trying to figure out if prices I'm being quoted are reasonable, or if I'm about to be taken for a ride. All I know is something is broken and needs to be fixed. But the main reason I don't like to handle this when my husband is away is that I occasionally suffer from PMSS. Paranoid Military Spouse Syndrome. PMSS afflicts some of us. It's that delusional state-of-mind when we think someone is out to get us. They know our spouse is away and it's a perfect time for them to take advantage of the situation.
13 female mids excited to be first on subs -- [Navy Times]
"I am really excited about the leadership opportunities and the technical side of submarine service," said Midshipman 1st Class Marquette Ried, who had originally planned to fly helicopters. "This is the perfect opportunity. The stars aligned, and I was at the right place at the right time."
Although Ried has never been on a submarine, she smiles wide when discussing "being part of the sub team and leading a division. Deckplate leadership is exactly what I want."
Vietnam vets to gather for 'welcome home': Are they ready to forgive? -- [The Cap Times/AP]
...Some of the dozen veterans interviewed for this story are eager to gather with buddies or bask in a moment of recognition. Others are bewildered by a tribute mounted four decades after they returned. A few are skeptical that the extravaganza is anything more than an opportunity to make money and to glorify the military.
But some observers say the gathering has the potential to move veterans wounded by their homecoming toward reconciliation with those who turned their backs, or raised their fists.
Warrior Games, Day 2 -- [Mothax/Burn Pit]
So, if you haven't read Part I and Part II of my stories on the Warrior Games taking place at the US Olympic Training Center, you should do so now.
Last night the actual games kicked off, and it was a sight to behold. We will begin, as usual with some videos...
Seriously, the USMC is schooling folks out here, and they aren't shy about it...
I went to the Army-Navy wheelchair basketball game and it was tight. And if you've never seen a game of it, it is no joke. They were clobbering each other out there. Both teams were fighting as hard as they could, and there wasn't an ounce of give by either of them. But at one point a chair got flipped over...
IG: VA lags on meeting own care standards -- [Rick Maze/Military Times]
Veterans Affairs Department hospitals and clinics are moving slowly to implement standardized policies for treatment of mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders, according to a new report by VA's inspector general.
The result is hurting veterans, said Christina Roof, assistant national legislative director with AmVets, one of the major veterans service organizations. "Findings in this report are quite disturbing," she said...
Sebastian Junger's 'War,' reviewed by Philip Caputo -- [Washington Post]
The ambitiousness of Sebastian Junger's "War" is summed up in its title. It's a story about war that is much more than a war story.
...Most of what we read and hear about the conflict in Afghanistan focuses on politics and strategy. Junger makes plain that he isn't interested in such abstractions but in the men we've sent far away to do our dirty work.
...The main character, so to speak, is Brendan O'Byrne. Pugnacious and hard-drinking, O'Byrne is very tough -- he humps up mountains carrying a machine gun as heavy as a jackhammer -- but also gifted with an ability to articulate thoughts his comrades can't or won't. He confesses to Junger that he prayed only once in Afghanistan, for a dying medic to live. "But God, Allah, Jehovah, Zeus . . . wasn't in that valley," he says. "Combat is the devil's game. . . . That's why our prayers weren't answered: the only one listening was Satan."
Personal Identity in a War Zone -- [AT War - NY Times Blog]
A call to active duty soldiers and officers: Capt. Timothy Hsia is leaving active duty after nearly a year of being the main writer of our "A Soldier Writes" feature. We thank him for all his insightful posts and wish him the very best. At War would like to experiment with the feature, asking any active duty service member, especially those posted in Afghanistan and Iraq, to send in postings for publication. Below we are printing a piece from Capt. Henry Brewster, who sent in a post about religion and identity in Iraq.
We welcome posts that raise a topic about military life, from tactics to equipment to hardship on those left at home. The idea is more to spur discussion among readers, both in the military and out. We avoid overtly political issues, but topics like "Is counterinsurgency warfare working in Afghanistan?" would be completely appropriate.
Milblogger Group Statement: Don't Ask Don't Tell -- [Hooah Wife ... - Greta]
...Today, it appears inevitable to us that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and law restricting open homosexual behavior from serving will be changed. And yet, very little will actually change. Homosexuals have always served in the US Military, and there have been no real problems caused by that.
Taking a Breather -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghsnistan]
Friends, Family, and Supporters,
Please forgive me as my posts become more infrequent over the next few weeks. We're coming down to the line, and my focus is oriented solely on the safe return of my men during a most formidable final stretch. Will keep posting soon .
But as I take a step back and look at where this simple website is today from where it started almost a year ago, I shake my head in disbelief. What started as a means of sharing stories from the front lines has turned into my haven away from the battlefield. Managing this site has been a therapeutic release for me during a stressful tour.
From Kandahar, View of a 'Counterproductive Counterinsurgency' -- [Spencer Ackerman/Washington Independent]
The source's reluctant viewpoint, which is making its way through official channels in Afghanistan, is that the coordination necessary for successful counterinsurgency between civilian and military forces is not in evidence. Neither is the coordination between NATO and Afghan forces. Lumbering bureaucracy inhibits the rapid application of services and economic aid after military forces clear an area...
Hold fire, earn a medal -- [Military Times]
Consideration of such an award, first reported by an Associated Press reporter in Afghanistan, doesn't mean that, if approved, troops would be pressured to prevent such casualties at risk to themselves, Sholtis said.
"We absolutely support the right of our forces to defend themselves," Sholtis said. "Valuing restraint in a potentially dangerous situation is not the same thing as denying troops the right to employ lethal force when they determine that it is necessary."
Oates: Anti-IED effort needs fewer restrictions -- [Military Times]
"We have got to knock down the barriers that deny the free flow of technology and information with our coalition partners," Army Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Organization, told a morning audience at joint warfighting conference.
"We disable ourselves by an inability to share information," Oates said. "At the tactical level it is absolutely essential."
EU proposes new rules on ash avoidance -- [Stars and Stripes]
Daniel Hoeltgen said the new solution would adopt the U.S. practice of imposing a 120-mile (190 kilometer) no-fly buffer zone for all aircraft in the vicinity of any visible ash plume...
Last month, a large part of European airspace was closed when ash from the Icelandic volcano drifted over northern and western parts of the continent. Many critics have criticized the move as an unnecessary overreaction...
Gay ban memo to factor in court confirmation -- [AP/Military Times]
In a widely circulated 2003 memo, Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan blasted the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay soldiers as "a moral injustice of the first order."
...The next year, after a federal appeals court struck down the law as unconstitutional, Kagan re-imposed a ban on recruiters -- a move that is now expected to be used as "antimilitary" fodder by Republicans opposed to her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Homes Evacuated After WWII-Era Bombs Found -- [AP/ABC News Charleston]
Columbia, SC - Ten homes were evacuated after two World War II-era bombs were found in a South Carolina neighborhood. Multiple media outlets reported the bombs were found by a man digging in his yard...
Richland County Sheriff's spokeswoman Monique Mack says the department's bomb squad found one of the 250-pound bombs had a small explosive charge still attached...
If you always wanted to be a sailor.... -- [Argghhh]
But just never got around to it... well, since I'm a models and sims guy, here's a simulation you can use to get the experience without the long periods of boredom floating about. From an email: How to Simulate Being in the Navy...
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
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.
Updating - Refresh for updates.
Hardening Up -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
Since the attack we've been busy hardening our defences and today was no different....
When I first arrived here I was staggered at the lack of preparedness of the place... I'd lie awake at night wondering how I was going to convince the client to shell out the hard-earned for what I needed to make this place truly defendable - and the answers never came in any form I figured the client would accept. That all changed overnight (literally) a few nights ago. It's a blank cheque now and I'm spending it wisely.
Dear 'Pissed Off' in Kandahar... -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
Reading this, I realise how precious I am sounding and I know I'll probably regret posting this but this blog is the only 'person' I feel I can 'talk' to (and I don't want to burden L and the kids with my whining). It sure is lonely in command sometimes. I'm really not happy right now and could easily get on the next plane out. Hopefully it will pass...
Happy al-Faath Day -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
The fighting season is rapidly ramping up to make this the bloodiest yet which makes it the perfect time for President Karzai to go to Washington for a little face time with the Commander in Chief. What is to be accomplished during this meeting is easy to predict: Not one damn thing. This article in the Washington Post explains why - here is a quote from it: "We don't have a plan yet," worries the senior military official." With the operation to clear Kandahar on hold that's a huge problem. I'm worried too.
As often happens when the good President leaves to conduct important affairs of state the Taliban have declared that they will ramp up a major offensive targeting ISAF, the Afghan government and all internationals. This offensive even has a name; al Faath (victory) and it is scheduled to start tomorrow...
Taliban to launch major offensive in Afghanistan -- [Reuters]
KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents announced on Saturday an offensive against NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, just as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is due to travel to Washington.
In a statement from an email usually used by Taliban militants, it said the new offensive will begin from Monday and would target foreign troops, Afghan government officials, and foreign diplomats with suicide and roadside bombings...
Karzai arrives in Washington as Taleban threaten fresh assault -- [Times (UK) Online]
The four-day visit by Mr Karzai comes at a critical moment in his strained relationship with the Obama Administration and in the eight-year Afghan war.
With a US-led military operation aimed at routing the Taleban in their heartland of Kandahar to be launched within weeks, the insurgent group warned last night that a counter-offensive -- called "Operation Victory", in opposition to Nato's "Operation Hope" -- would begin today.
US, Afghan officials shrug off Afghanistan Taliban's threat of new offensive -- [Christian Science Monitor]
The Taliban's announcement that it would begin an offensive on Monday appeared an attempt overshadow or harm Karzai's trip.
...the Associated Press reports that Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, who is traveling to the US with Karzai, dismissed the Taliban's threat as propaganda, saying that the group did not have the ability to carry out such a campaign, and that intelligence shows many of its leaders are actually across the border in Pakistan.
Coalition leaders also said they doubted the Taliban had the ability to live up to their threat, according to The Wall Street Journal.
...Coalition troops are preparing to launch an offensive on the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, after ousting the Taliban from control in neighboring Helmand Province. The 30,000 additional US troops Obama ordered to Afghanistan to help turn the tide against the Taliban have already begun to arrive.
Whether propaganda or real threat, the Taliban's announcement illustrates the militant group's continuing presence as Karzai heads to Washington...
Afghanistan appreciates its partnership with the U.S. -- [Hamid Karzai/The Washington Post]
The many sacrifices of both Afghans and Americans have led to tremendous achievements. We are grateful for America's contributions and will always remember your resolve in standing by us. Now and during my visit to Washington this week, I hope to convey my deepest condolences to families of those who lost their lives in Afghanistan...
Our common success in fighting terrorism and improving security rests on building institutions of the state to enable Afghanistan to deliver all the necessary services and protection to its people. We have, in abundance, courage and the desire to take responsibility for our own security and governance. To that end, it is vital that Afghan security forces be institutionalized and equipped with necessary and sustainable tools...
While we continue to battle terrorism, to help end violence in our country and ensure the safe return of your sons and daughters, my government is convening a Consultative Peace Jirga -- a historic forum of the Afghan people -- to chart a way forward for engaging those who fight against us. Fifteen hundred representatives of the Afghan people will deliberate and advise us on reconciliation and reintegration...
Obama makes personal diplomacy part of Afghan strategy -- [The Washington Post]
President Obama has bluntly instructed his national security team to treat Afghan President Hamid Karzai with more public respect, after a recent round of heavy-handed statements by U.S. officials and other setbacks infuriated the Afghan leader and called into question his relationship with Washington...
Peace proposal would grant exile to Taliban leaders -- [Reuters]
Taliban leaders may be offered exile overseas in third countries as part of a draft peace proposal by the Afghan government in an effort to persuade insurgents to end a 9-year-old U.S.-led war.
The draft, distributed to some diplomats and seen by Reuters, also envisages the Taliban cutting ties with Al-Qa'ida and joining the political mainstream as part of any peace accord.
The draft plan comes weeks before a grand council of Afghans, known as a "jirga," that will meet in Kabul from May 29 to discuss how to make peace with the insurgents.
Peace talks with the insurgents will be a key issue that President Hamid Karzai will discuss with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington next week.
Bruised by war, many Afghans mull reconciliation -- [Reuters]
Sayed Arabshah Arabshahi is a Kabul university professor whose 26-year-old brother was lashed to death with a wire cable by the Taliban.
"Essentially I'm not against talking with the Taliban if it will mean peace," Arabshahi said on the sidelines of a "Victim's Jirga" organized by civil society groups in Afghanistan, as an alternative to the one planned by the government.
It is a course that is already underscoring differences between Kabul and Washington. The United States has been cautious about any peace overtures as it prepares an offensive against the Taliban stronghold in Kandahar. The White House opposes efforts to contact Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
But many Afghans feel the United States may already be preparing to leave after Obama announced a July 2011 start for a troop withdrawal.
"The U.S. has said it will withdraw, and the Afghans have realized that if we have to deal with each other, we might as well as start talking about it now," said Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai, an Afghan analyst and politician.
...One person who is resolute in her belief that no insurgent faction should be engaged is 18-year-old Sediqa from Kabul.
When she was a little girl, shrapnel from a Hizb-e-Islami rocket that hit her home entered her back. After surgery in Germany she returned to Kabul only for her home to be destroyed in another rocket attack.
In the second attack her mother, two brothers and her great aunt were killed.
"I don't want them to anytime talk with (insurgents)," Sediqa, who walks with a limp, said. "I used to have hopes and wishes, to help my country and work for my country, but those hopes have turned to dust."
Afghan Violence Victims Want Voice in Peace Talks -- [AP/NY Times]
Ahmad Shah knows more than most Afghans about the nation's 30 years of bloodshed, repression and war: He lost his hands in a mine blast. His father died in an anti-government uprising. His brother was shot 30 times and killed by a rival. And Taliban thugs once beat him up even though he had no hands to punch back.
Shah, 46, was among scores of Afghans who spoke at a ''victim's jirga,'' recounting their suffering at the hands of the Taliban and Soviet regimes. The gathering was billed as one of the first of its kind for victims to voice their concerns about the possibility of making peace with those who have perpetrated the violence throughout the years...
Some in the crowd, whose trips to the capital were paid by advocacy groups, dabbed their eyes while hearing accounts of atrocities that their fellow Afghans endured...
But others were less willing to forgive.
A woman named Sharifa, 37, from the northern Takhar province, said that shrapnel from a bomb that landed in her backyard in 1999 killed her 13-year-old son, Fazel Ahmad.
''We will not forgive those who committed these atrocities,'' she said. ''We want justice to be served.''
...U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was visiting Afghanistan with a Congressional delegation, said Sunday that security will be a main issue on Karzai's U.S. visit.
Fatal Fighting Pits Villagers and Taliban in Afghanistan -- [New York Times]
A group of Taliban came into the Zerkoh Valley area and were plotting an attack on a nearby base of American and Afghan forces in the Shindand district, Maj. Zainudin Sharifi, the commander of an Afghan battalion there, said in a telephone interview.
"Five of these local militiamen were captured by Taliban," he said. "Later we found out that four of them were beheaded, and one of them is still missing." He had not seen the bodies, he said, but had been told by villagers of the deaths.
American and Afghan forces responded with a fierce counterattack against Taliban fighters that lasted for hours on Saturday, the officer said...
Victims of violence speak out in Afghanistan -- [Jamey Keaton/Associated Press]
Legal advocates who organized the gathering in the capital want to make sure the voices of the Afghan people who have suffered at the hands of insurgents, warlords and under the former Taliban and Soviet regimes are heard at the government's peace assembly...
Despite talk of peace and hopes for justice, the violence continues across the country as an insurgency led by Taliban militants works to destabilize the Karzai government and its international supporters.
NATO reported a service member died Sunday following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan. No other details were disclosed.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was visiting Afghanistan with a congressional delegation, said Sunday that security will be a main issue as Karzai begins meetings in Washington on Monday.
"We all know Afghanistan has a long way to go and it can't all be done militarily," Pelosi told reporters in Kabul, adding that the country needs security, good governance and accountability.
Karzai's trip comes after months of rocky relations with the Obama administration. On Sunday, Pelosi played down the strains and said Karzai will be received in Washington with "great dignity, great friendship and great candor."
Taliban gears up for Western offensive in Kandahar -- [LA Times]
His nom de guerre is Mullawi Mohammadi, and he coolly declares that he and the Taliban fighters under his command have nothing to fear here in Kandahar, which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has vowed to clear of insurgents this summer....
Mohammadi granted a rare interview in a bid to dispel what he said were misconceptions about the insurgents' aims...
"We are safe and comfortable in our many hidden places," Mohammadi said, adjusting his bulky gray-striped turban and yellow-tinted sunglasses. "We are not scared of NATO, or of the Americans. Whoever comes, we will kill them."
Afghanistan's last Jew vows to stay put -- [CNN]
Zablon Simintov is always guaranteed the best seat in his local synagogue here, but the privilege comes with a downside: he's the last Jew in Afghanistan...
Afghanistan's Jewish population reached 40,000 in the mid-19th century, the group says, and began declining around 1870 with the passage of anti-Jewish measures.
Israel's creation in 1948 drew most of Afghanistan's remaining Jews.
...But Simintov says he is hardly in hiding. "They're all like my brothers here," he said of his fellow Afghans. "It doesn't make a difference whether I'm here or in Israel."
That wasn't the case under Taliban rule, which ended with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, though Taliban forces have been resurgent in parts of the country.
Simintov says he was arrested four times under Taliban rule and that he was beaten while in custody.
"The Taliban was a problem," he says. "They interfered in everyone's business, but now they're gone, they're finished."
Report details depravity of SEALs' accuser -- [Washington Times]
Ahmed Hashim Abed initially was described as the insurgent who planned the killings of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004...
Abed is thought to have committed a series of killings, including beheadings, in western Anbar province as a leading al Qaeda operative. He remains in an Iraqi prison awaiting trial in that country's criminal court system. A SEAL team captured Abed in Iraq in September. The team's post-capture report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times...
Coordinated Attacks Strike Baghdad -- [NY Times]
Gunmen attacked at least six checkpoints across Baghdad on Monday and two car bombs rocked the city of Hilla, south of the capital, in what appeared to be a combination of attacks on civilians and coordinated assaults against Iraqi police and army units.
Insurgents deployed suicide bombers, car bombs and gunmen using silencers...
Where Iraq Meets Iran, Guards See Shifting Lines -- [Ny Times]
SHULHA AL-ALGHWAT BORDER FORT, Iraq -- In a barren stretch of desert in southeast Iraq, an American soldier recently waved to his Iranian counterpart pulling guard duty at a fort on the opposite side of the border...
Iran Welcomes Turkish Proposal for Nuclear Talks With E.U. -- [Voice of America]
Turkey and Brazil oppose new sanctions against Iran and recently have stepped up their efforts try to resolve the dispute between Iran and Western powers diplomatically.
Both Turkey and Brazil are non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed support Saturday for Turkey's efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear dispute. Mr. Assad was in Ankara for talks with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul.
U.S. Urges Action in Pakistan After Failed Bombing -- [NY Times]
The Obama administration has delivered new and stiff warnings to Pakistan after the failed Times Square car bombing that it must urgently move against the nexus of Islamic militancy in the country's lawless tribal regions, American and Pakistani officials said. The American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, met with the Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at his headquarters here on Friday...
PTSD diagnosis could appear on Georgia driver's licenses -- [Stars and Stripes]
Under a law recently pushed through the state legislature, post-traumatic stress disorder would be noted on the license in the same way that a person's license might indicate corrective lenses are required for vision, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adding the information would be voluntary and require a sworn statement from a doctor. If signed by the governor, the bill would become law on July 1.
Sen. Ron Ramsey, the bill's sponsor, told the paper that the bill came at the suggestion of a former servicemember with post-traumatic stress disorder, who told him he feared a violent encounter with police officers.
"He said, 'God forbid anybody put handcuffs on me. I'd go berserk'," the senator said.
PTSD diagnosis could appear on driver's licenses -- [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
"Why would I want to put out there on my license - hey, I'm a nut job," said Marvin Myers, president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance Inc.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, like military combat, natural disaster or a physical or sexual assault.
Sen. Ron Ramsey (D-Decatur), the bill's sponsor, said he sees the potential benefits and no downside.
"It is totally voluntary," he said.
WARNING - PTSD VET: APPROACH WITH EXTREME CAUTION -- [Greyhawk]
I'm not sure exactly what "different treatment" an identified PTSD case would be given. In fact, I really have no idea exactly what problem this idea solves. The AJC offers this quote from Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police executive director Frank Rotondo: "It probably benefits for law enforcement to know that a person believes that, under stress, they can melt down" - but that still doesn't answer the question...
Gates: Cuts in Pentagon bureaucracy needed to help maintain military force -- [Washington Post]
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates vowed Saturday to lead an effort to cut as much as $15 billion in overhead costs from the Pentagon's $550 billion budget and warned that without the savings, the military will not be able to afford its current force.
Pentagon asking Congress to hold back on generous increases in troop pay -- [Washington Post]
Congress has been so determined to take care of troops and their families that for several years running it has overruled the Pentagon and mandated more-generous pay raises than requested by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. It has also rejected attempts by the Pentagon to slow soaring health-care costs -- which Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said are "eating us alive" -- by raising co-pays or premiums.
Now, Pentagon officials see fiscal calamity.
In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government's generosity is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment.
It is time to discard the military's 20-year retirement system -- [Best Defense]
...retirement at 20 years of service, for instance, strikes me as a relic of an age when twenty years in the Army left a veteran a broken man, with blown joints, no hearing, and a limited ability to work in an agricultural or industrial economy. Advances in medicine, lengthening lifespan, and the shift to a service economy in this country (albeit with large swaths of agricultural and industrial employment across the workforce) make me wonder -- as a taxpayer -- why we're paying 38-year-olds as they embark on their second full career...
3 Rifles troops welcomed home by crowds in Edinburgh -- [BBC]
Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Edinburgh to welcome home troops from the 3 Rifles battlegroup following their gruelling tour of Afghanistan.
As the men of the 3 Rifles marched smartly along the Royal Mile, still tanned by six months under a harsh Afghan sun, crowds stood six deep to welcome them back.
And it was a heartfelt welcome...
At Holyrood Palace, a more sombre atmosphere reigned as the families of at least 20 of the 30 men who died in this battlegroup's unimaginably tough tour of Helmand waited to take the salute from the men who did come home.
..Some 80 men suffered battle injuries in Helmand; 17 of them with life-changing injuries, ranging from lost limbs to young spines shattered by enemy bullets.
A huge cheer went up from family and friends as those too badly-injured to march on to the parade ground came forward slowly, some on crutches and others in wheelchairs, to receive their campaign medal alongside their comrades...
A well-deserved salute to Mr. Doug Sterner -- [Jonn Lilyea/This Ain't Hell]
Just A Grunt sent us a link to a Washington Post story about Mr. Doug Sterner... While we've never met, Mr. Sterner and I have shared some email communications. Like the good folks at POW Net, Mr. Sterner has been in the shadows of some of our phony soldiers stories. I'm sure he's a bit embarrassed by the Washington Post article, humble guy that he is, but he's probably one of the most important people in the battle against fakes and phonies. Mr. Sterner practically wrote the Stolen Valor Act and created the Home of Heroes database.
Finally Found -- [Michael Fay/Fire and Ice]
Back in November of 2005 I took a photo of a Marine fire team leader with 2nd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. I had just joined this platoon for Operation Steel Curtain. I always try my best to get all the information possible from each of my portrait subjects. Many of the photos I took would be turned into drawings. There was one drawing where I failed to find out who the Marine was. Thanks, in large part to Facebook, I finally know who the subject of this drawing is...
Tensions between Eikenberry, McChrystal will be focus of their Washington visit -- [The Washington Post]
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry, and the top U.S. military commander there, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, assumed their posts amid lofty expectations that they could re-create the hand-in-glove partnership that Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker had while leading the war effort in Iraq.
But the Eikenberry-and-McChrystal team that returns to Washington this week, alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, has a much different dynamic.
U.S. military runs into Afghan tribal politics after deal with Pashtuns -- [The Washington Post]
The struggling U.S. military effort to give the Shinwari tribe more voice in its affairs shows the massive challenges the United States will face this summer in Kandahar province, as it prepares to launch what is being touted as one of the largest and most important military campaigns of the nine-year-old war...
The plan involving the 400,000-strong Shinwari tribe developed earlier this year when elders told Col. Randy George, a senior commander in eastern Afghanistan, that they wanted to unite to oppose the Taliban and stamp out opium cultivation. As a reward, George offered the Shinwari elders the power to decide how to spend $1 million in U.S.-funded development projects.
It ended after the local power broker, Gov. Gul Agha Shirzai, a towering and controversial figure in Afghan politics, complained to President Hamid Karzai, who lambasted U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry in a February meeting for meddling in tribal politics...
Soon, the State Department ordered its employees to cease working on the deal...
Eikenberry: Ups and downs in Karzai partnership -- [Military Times]
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan danced away from questions Monday about his earlier reported concern that the war-torn nation's president was not an "adequate strategic partner," saying only that "President Obama has expressed his confidence in President [Hamid] Karzai and our work together."
U-2 Dragon Lady: Airmen discuss their continued push for operational success -- [380th Air Expeditionary Wing]
In the first three months of 2010, Airmen supporting the U-2 Dragon Lady deployed operations with the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing flew nearly 200 combat sorties in support of operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. When averaged out in flight time, that means a U-2 is flying in the AOR 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In those 200 missions, U-2 Airmen supported more than 70 "troops in contact" events where deployed ground forces were supported by the U-2's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities...
Nearer the Holodeck -- [Richard Boyd/Armed Forces Journal]
It is April 2009. Not far from Los Angeles International Airport, I am in the giant Hughes Aircraft hangar, which once housed the Spruce Goose and is now home to the crew and heavy-breathing computing power of James Cameron's virtual movie set. Holding a large flat-panel computer screen in front of me, I step forward into a virtual world imagined by Cameron more than a decade ago and now brought to life by Peter Jackson's Weta Digital, Glenn Derry, Vince Pace and the rest of the crew of the movie "Avatar."
As I walk through the football-field-sized space that Cameron calls "the volume," my point of view on the screen moves with me, as if I were carrying a window through which I view this fantastic world...
The concept of the holodeck, the holographic virtual environment used for education and recreation in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series, has actually been part of the human imagination for decades... I predict that we will be able to afford our ground units this capability within the next five years.
Navy show gives sneak peek at new planes, helos -- [Navy Times]
...Nevertheless, the Navy is pressing ahead with the lengthy acquisition process for an unmanned fighter by issuing a call for private-sector industry to submit information about a possible "unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike" aircraft.
That request calls for "limited fleet operational use" by 2018...
Fun With the Army's Most High-Tech Weapons (With Video!) -- [Popular Mechanics]
The military organization that produces and tests Army gear, PEO Soldier, hosted media at the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Training Center in Maryland this week and handed over a slew of personal weapons for reporters to try. Like any other tool, infantry weapons are meant for professionals. It's hard not to smirk when they are in the hands of amateurs like me. Here's what it is like to shoot some of the Army's most sophisticated handheld weaponry.
Pelosi, Congressional Delegation Meet with Troops and Visit Wounded Warriors in Germany -- [Press Release]
"Over the weekend, the delegation visited with troops in Afghanistan, including meeting with female troops who are mothers, on Mother's Day, and meeting with Afghan women and with female Marines who engage with Afghan civilians in the field...
In addition to Speaker Pelosi, other members of the Congressional Delegation are: Susan Davis of California, Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel; Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, Member of the Armed Services Committee; Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, Member of the Armed Services Committee; and Donna Edwards of Maryland, Member of the Science and Technology Committee."
Gates discusses the peril of the 'Death Hour' -- [SecDef Robert Gates, quoted in Small Wars Journal]
"In fact, the first President Bush created an award to honor the American official who most ostentatiously fell asleep in a meeting with the president. This was not frivolous. He evaluated candidates on three criteria - first, duration - how long did they sleep? Second, the depth of the sleep; snoring always got you extra points. And third, the quality of recovery - did one just quietly open one's eyes and return to the meeting, or did you jolt awake - and maybe spill something hot in the process? Well, you will appreciate that the award was named for Air Force Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, who was the national security adviser at the time. He was, as you might suspect, the first awardee, and, I might add, won many oak leaf clusters..."
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information from the MilBlogs and other sources around the world...
Updating - Refresh for updates.
Life on base - the end of an era -- [Richard's MIL BLOG from Afghanistan]
Well, 1 May has come and gone and all the local vendor shops are CLOSED!
And Subway, Popeyes, Burger King and Pizza Hut are CLOSED!
At least here on BAF. I don't know what is happening on other FOBs but this mostly affects BAF, Kandahar and Salerno...
Terp Speak (language warning) -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
...Me: "S, what's the story with (a location)? We're getting hit there too much... should we delay the convoy?"
Terp: "No boss, no muther-fuckin way. We ready to go much no worry. We go and the Taliban come then we cool to rock n roll over the fuckers."
Me:"So that's a 'No' to the delay?"...
Q&A's and other news -- [My View Our Mission - in Afghanistan]
Thank you to all of you who submitted questions from my last post. Below are the questions and my responses...
Q2. How many times a week do you get "out" and is there anything that is awarded to the person that gets the most points, like Starwood points for travel?
A2. In general, we advise between 0-5 times a week... Concerning Starwood Points...we have been giving a small blue Afghan stone (I forget the name) out to those who have gone over a certain number of missions...
Q5. And now that you're almost half way through, what do you wish they would have told you more about before you got there? Culture? Scope of mission?
A5. There were so many things that would have been nice to know. Things like...where is Fort Polk, LA and what is the actual mission over here. To ensure this doesn't happen to the folks who follow us I use a couple of means to get the information out. First, this blog has been useful...
It's Like Déjà vu All Over Again -- [Healing Those Who Provide Our Freedom - in Afghanistan]
One thing that broke up the monotony last week was a visit from a Navy Psychiatrist. He travels around Afghanistan to assess Navy deployer's psychological well-being... It was eerily similar to Dr Sidney Friedman's visits on the TV show MASH.
...Also one of our Surgeons, Dr. Henry "Hank" Zielinski (a proud Pole Judeburger), celebrated his 60th birthday on 29 April. That's not a misprint, he turned 60! The guy is amazing...
An American Soldier -- [AW1 Tim]
Andrew was a friend of my son, and lived up the road in Wiscasset, Maine. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2006, and his death was mourned through the area...
If Andrew was any sort of representation of America's youth, then I'd say the nation will be in good hands. My son joined the Army in part as a tribute to his friend, to help finish the work that Andrew was a part of...
Nato gambles on collaboration with Ahmad Wali Karzai in Kandahar -- [Times (UK) Online]
Nato has taken one of the biggest gambles of its mission in Afghanistan by reluctantly deciding to collaborate with Ahmad Wali Karzai, the notorious power-broker of Kandahar -- despite allegations that the half-brother of the President is involved in the drugs trade.
The decision comes as Nato planners continue preparations for their next big push against the Taleban in Kandahar and as the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, prepares to depart for Washington, where he is expected to meet President Obama next week.
...On Saturday Wali Karzai held a meeting with the US Central Command commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus; the latest in a series of contacts designed to rehabilitate and influence the activities of the chairman of Kandahar's provincial council...
Top-Level Afghan Delegation to Visit Washington -- [Donna Miles/American Forces Press Service]
"Meetings with President Obama and U.S Cabinet officials will reinforce the long-term and vital partnership between our two countries in areas ranging from security to governance and economic development," Flournoy said...
Among topics on the table will be a strengthened U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Declaration, to be finalized later this year, Flournoy said. "This is a shared priority for the Afghans and for us, and we believe it will add confidence and clarity to our long-term partnership with Afghanistan," she told the Senate committee...
In addition to fostering a long-term relationship between the two countries, these efforts will offer the Afghans assurance of the enduring U.S. commitment there, Morrell said.
"We are not going to turn our backs on Afghanistan as we did after the defeat of the Soviets," he said. "We are not going to abandon this cause. We are very much there for the long run."
The hope is this recognition will give the Afghanistan government the confidence "to take on some of the hard issues that it needs to in the years to come - knowing that we are going to be there to back them up; we are going to be there in support for the long run," Morrell said.
Karzai to seek Obama's approval for peace deals with insurgents -- [Washington Post]
The most meaningful part of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Washington next week may end up being talks about talks.
Karzai's advisers say one of his main goals for the May 12 meeting is winning President Obama's support for negotiating with insurgent leaders, and for a Kabul peace conference that has been delayed until after the visit...
Wanted: an Explanation of Our Afghanistan Policy -- [Dave Schuler/Outside the Beltway]
...Perhaps my understanding of our policy is unkind. As I understand it we are making war in Afghanistan (and the adjoining parts of Pakistan) because it is in our vital national interest. There is no other reason to make war. And it will cease to be a vital national interest in 2011, at which time we will leave.
Hence my confusion. I can understand continuing to make war in Afghanistan because it is believed to be in our vital national interests. And I can understand withdrawing from Afghanistan because making war there is no longer in our vital national interests. I cannot understand continuing to make war at great expense and loss of life and then withdrawing without accomplishing whatever objectives we may have there...
Our Man in Al-Asad Sends... -- [LTC John/Miserable Donuts]
The police commander sat behind his large desk, stained a dark mahogany and covered with the symbols of office...
The Sahwah (the "awakening"), and the extra 5-Brigade surge by us, brought an end to that terror. In a lot of ways it is a prime example of a "Tipping Point", as once the Iraqi Sunni's turned on al-Qaeda and the foreigners, the Islamic State of Iraq terror network in Anbar collapsed virtually overnight. Sure, it took longer in Ramadi and Fallujah, where cells had to be dug out of neighborhoods, but they and their collaborators were killed or driven off pretty quickly. The policemen says many are still around though, especially the collaborators. And many of them are protected by powerful friends. Still, if they get out of hand, he says, "We will use the hammer on them, it is what people respect." Mayberry, this place is not.
A few days later I am in a room listening to a group of Iraqi's who have come to our Iraqi Security Force compound for help...
Perfect Valor/New Dawn -- [Richard S. Lowry]
PERFECT VALOR - the documentary based on stories in NEW DAWN wins The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's prestigeous Major Norm Hatch Award for 2010. Congratulations David Taylor and all who worked to make this amazing documentary.
Surprising Guests in a Russian Parade: American Troops -- [NY Times]
MOSCOW -- There is a lot about Red Square these days that would make Khrushchev squirm. Three-hundred-dollar Italian negligees pool in the windows of the State Department Store, that showcase of proletarian output; a 20-foot Mercedes-Benz symbol glints on the skyline across the Moscow River.
But it is still worth considering how the irascible Soviet premier would react if he were treated -- as all of Russia will be on Sunday -- to the sight of American infantrymen marching through the gate toward Moscow's great fortress, the Kremlin. He might do something with his footwear; the question is what.
Never before in history have active-duty American troops been invited to march in the Victory Day parade, according to the United States military. The occasion is the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, a date that carries an almost sacred meaning in Russia...
White House moves to restore civilian nuclear ties with Russia -- [Washington Post]
The Obama administration is preparing to revive a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Moscow that President George W. Bush angrily canceled two years ago after Russia invaded Georgia, administration officials said Thursday.
In Times Square, the blue line held -- [Eugene Robinson/Washington Post]
The system worked. Authorities responded to the attempted Times Square bombing about as well as anyone possibly could -- proving, once again, that viewing terrorism exclusively in a military context is wrong. It's a police matter, too.
How Media Coverage Crimped The Times Square Case -- [Morning Edition/NPR]
While the NYPD and the FBI talk publicly about how seamlessly they work together, the truth is there's a lot of professional rivalry. Get detectives or agents out for a beer and one of their favorite pastimes is griping about something the NYPD did or something the FBI missed. Because of that, there tend to be a lot of leaks.
...Details about the Times Square investigation were all over the local newspapers, even as authorities were still trying to puzzle out who was responsible. Any element of surprise that law enforcement might have had was evaporating.
To be fair, law enforcement was partly to blame. In many cases, it was the source of the information and leaks. But there seemed to be an extra level of frustration about the leaks in this case. As one law enforcement official told NPR, "Our operational plans were being driven by the media, instead of the other way around. And that's not good."
... Shahzad mentioned that news report after he was in police custody, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the case. He told the arresting officers that the moment he read it was the moment he knew it was only a matter of time before authorities would close in on him. He also assumed from the report that he was under surveillance.
That's an important detail, because surveillance is only effective if people don't know they are being watched...
Army Spy Plane May Have Snooped on Bomber: Report -- [Danger Room]
Investigators were able to track wannabe terrorist Faisal Shahzad through his anonymous, pre-paid cell phone -- exactly how, they won't say. But there was a tantalizing explanation posted -- and then quickly yanked -- from the website of WCBS TV. "In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport."
On Terror, Obama Draws Lines, Bright and Fuzzy -- [Marc Ambinder/The Atlantic]
Benjamin C. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said last night that "the actions described simply did not take place." He had been provided, by me, with a detailed scenario about how, having lost Shahbaz's trail, the National Security Staff turned to the Department of Defense's secret counterterrorism units for help in tracking him down.
Using Pentagon resources and equipment to assist law enforcement on terrorism investigations would not be unprecedented. RC-12Q aircraft -- sophisticated military signals intelligence jets -- were tasked to help the F.B.I. intercept cell phone communications of the Beltway sniper suspects in 2002. Just who operated those airplanes has never been identified...
White House Denies Reports of Spy Planes Over NYC -- [Danger Room]
Were secret military spy planes used to find wannabe Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad? No way, the White House says...
The Posse Comitatus Act forbids the U.S. military from operating on American soil. But the law has all sorts of caveats...
Possible role of Kashmir-focused groups may hinder Times Square terrorism probe -- [Washington Post]
KARACHI, PAKISTAN -- Faisal Shahzad's path from suburban Connecticut to bombmaking training in Pakistan's mountains may have wound through a mosque on a ragged corner of this metropolis, Pakistani officials say.
A man who guided Shahzad from Karachi to the country's northwest, Pakistani officials say, was arrested this week at the mosque, which is affiliated with Jaish-i-Muhammad. The al-Qaeda-linked group is one in a mosaic of domestic jihadist organizations that were created or cultivated by Pakistan's intelligence services to antagonize Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir but have gone increasingly rogue.
Pakistani Taliban Denies Links to NYC Bomb Suspect -- [Voice of America]
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has denied links to a man who has been charged in a failed car bomb attack in the heart of New York City's entertainment district.
Azam Tariq told news agencies by telephone Thursday that his group has nothing to do with 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who was arrested earlier this week on a plane that was about to leave New York for Dubai.
The Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for Saturday's attempted attack.
Also Thursday, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the Reuters news agency that it is unlikely that Shahzad acted alone...
Times Sq. Bomb Suspect Is Linked to Militant Cleric -- [NY Times]
The Pakistani-American man accused of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square has told investigators that he drew inspiration from Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American cleric whose militant online lectures have been a catalyst for several recent attacks and plots, an American official said Thursday.
The would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was inspired by the violent rhetoric of Mr. Awlaki, said the official, who would speak of the investigation only on condition of anonymity...
A senior military official said Thursday that Mr. Shahzad has told interrogators that he met with Pakistani Taliban operatives in North Waziristan in December and January. Later he received explosives training from the same operatives, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Pentagon Bans Four Journalists From Guantanamo Bay for Reporting Interrogator #1's Name -- [Spencer Ackerman/The Washington Independent]
A letter written by an official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense's public affairs division specified that each had published the name of a witness who testified to the military commissions today under the name "Interrogator #1."
...While the judge in the case, Col. Patrick Parrish, issued an admonition yesterday for reporters to respect the anonymity of the classified witnesses, he did not rule that any reporter here had violated the protected order. The decision to block the four reporters from returning to Guantanamo Bay is a matter of policy from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. And those four are not the only ones within the press corps here to have reported Interrogator #1's name...
Tuesday, 4 May, 2010 -- [Greyhawk]
The day the terrorists won: "Bush Intercontinental Airport was on high alert Tuesday afternoon after ground employees feared a piece of luggage exploded shortly after the plane landed. Airline workers were unloading baggage and a bag hit the ground causing a loud popping noise, MyFoxHouston.com reported..."
Two things I wish:
1. This wasn't national news.
2. Baggage handlers would be a bit more careful how they handle customer's luggage...
Times Square evacuated over suspicious package -- [Washington Post]
New York police have evacuated three blocks in the heart of Times Square as they investigate a suspicious package, a department spokeswoman said Friday.
Det. Mindy Diaz described the package as an unattended bag, left in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel at 46th Street and Broadway. The bag was discovered at 12:42 p.m., Diaz said...
[Greyhawk notes: reports are this was a package of books, a bottle of water, and a lunch cooler... "see somthin' say somthin," right?]
President Issues Military Spouse Day Proclamation -- [Defense News]
President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation declaring today as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Here is the text of the president's proclamation...
Award season comes a few months late for top federal employees -- [Washington Post]
The awards carry more than honor -- they come with significant bucks. The top winners get a bonus worth 35 percent of their salaries ...Pay for senior executives ranges from $145,700 to $199,700, meaning the awards can range from $29,140 to $69,895.
..."Their accomplishments are inevitably awe-inspiring, and you will be stunned to learn not only what they have accomplished but that the savings and cost avoidance documented in their nominations total over $49 billion. Let me repeat that, $49 billion," Carol Bonosaro, president of the SEA, said in prepared remarks...
-- Glen W. Grippen, director of the veterans service network at the Department of Veterans Affairs, saved $10.9 million in the agency's pharmacy benefits program and through contracting and purchasing changes.
-- William J. Carr, a deputy undersecretary of defense, led changes in the department's housing and family-support practices and other changes related to Air Force pilot staffing that together will result in savings of $48 million annually.
-- Pasquale Tamburrino Jr., an assistant deputy chief of naval operations, saved $8 billion in part through improvements in something called "fleet and shore readiness output requirements." He also is credited with saving lots of money in several other areas, including $1.3 billion in submarine combat systems.
-- Larry Stubblefield, deputy administrative assistant to the Army secretary, led a project to centralize Army messaging operations, saving $20 million annually. He also found savings in contracting and by implementing recommendations in an organizational study.
Clinton said the banquet was "a small token of this administration's appreciation for your work."
Celebrating National Nurses Week -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale's birthday...
2010 - the centennial of Nightingale's death - is The International Year of the Nurse. (Photo essay - military nurses through history...)
Last SEAL Acquitted in Iraqi Abuse Case -- [Military.com]
Sometime next week, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe will fly west and rejoin a group of his fellow SEALs training in Nevada's harsh high desert.
For the first time in more than seven months, he will throw himself into the job that he loves. Instead of reliving what happened one night in Iraq last September, hours after he took an alleged Iraqi terrorist into custody, the 24-year-old commando will concentrate on preparing for future missions.
McCabe's future with the SEALs was in doubt before a jury acquitted him Thursday on charges of assaulting a detainee and lying about it to investigators...
Let me sum up... -- [Sgt Danger - home from Afghanistan]
It's over. I'm back in the United States, and this time for good. The past year and a half has been one of anticipation, fear, excitement, frustration, despair, hope, anger, fun, comfort, and, well, just about every other emotion possible...
Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act signed into law -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act (S. 1963), recently approved by Congress, was signed into law today by President Obama.
The bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide training, health insurance, and a stipend to caregivers of about 2000 of our nation's most severely wounded warriors.
U.S. Air Force expects full access to Social Media sites by May 6 -- [milblogging.com]
All Air Force bases worldwide are expected to have access to sites like Twitter and Facebook by May 6.
You can watch the video here that was posted on April 27. It even offers tips and guidelines, like "personal use must be of reasonable duration". What's "reasonable duration"? I have no idea. But I'm sure lots of time and effort went into that reminder.
Air Force writes a book on social media protocol -- [DefenseSystems]
...Air Force Public Affairs Agency is ahead of the curve: The agency published its first guidebook to using social media for airmen more than a year ago. "Guides eliminate the excuse of, 'I didn't know,'" said Bove...
Version 2 of the guide, printed in November 2009, is now being shipped out to every major Air Force command, along with Air Force Public Affairs guidance on the DOD's new social media policy implementation.
The Air Force's guide--with more than 10,000 copies printed and an electronic version posted on the Air Force's main Web page--has garnered mostly positive feedback from leaders in the social media marketing community.
Meet the New Frontline Bloggers: Security Contractors -- [Danger Room]
The frontline soldier blogs have largely come and gone -- victims of the military's confusing, often contradictory, approach to social media. But you can still get unfiltered reports, straight from Afghanistan's warzones. Private security contractors are now writing the new must-read online diaries from the battlefield...
The Soldier/Blogger The US Military Shut Down Speaks Out On Sebastian Junger's 'War' -- [Matt Gallagher/Huffington Post]
Sebastian Junger tells it like it is.
Understanding the finer nuances of military life - from the motivations of its soldiers to its acronym-riddled language to the dark humor that pervades every combat unit - escapes most embedded journalists. They never quite get into the gritty details of what it's like to fight a war. So for those of us who've been through it they seem like voyeurs and their coverage always maintains a safe distance.
Such is not the case in Junger's "War," a book certain to join the annals of definitive war literature penned in the GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) era...
Sebastian Junger, War Tourist -- [Lewis Manalo/Publishing Perspectives]
Sebastian Junger's War purports to depict war "as soldiers really live it," what it feels like, and why humans wage it. From my point of the view, and inevitably the point of view of thousands of other combat veterans, Junger's portrayal of soldiers is superficial and unsophisticated. It endorses all the detrimental stereotypes that make life in the civilian world harder for soldiers and veterans...
War Tourist -- [Jules Crittenden]
Sebastian Junger gets torn a new one by a Manhattan bookbuyer who is a former paratrooper...
Looking at an old manuscript of my own of a narrative that never got published to see exactly what my buddy Mike had said, I noticed an old somewhat ironic working title: "War Tourist Goes Native."* It's an occupational hazard. War is a gaping maw that sucks in whatever detritus lies within range...
* That book, which was essentially a road trip narrative about what I saw and did in the space of several months and the characters I encountered along the way, never got published. The people who expressed interest usually wanted it to be about things that I wasn't interested in writing about. Notably PTSD...
WAR -- [Sebastian Junger/Amazon.com]
Over the course of a year, Junger (The Perfect Storm, 1997) embedded himself with Second Platoon, Battle Company, operating out of the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan, an inhospitable terrain inhabited by people inhospitable to American forces, where some of the heaviest combat has been fought... While with Second Platoon, Junger, along with photojournalist Tim Hetherington, took hours of videotape, some of which became part of a feature-length documentary called Restrepo, which won the Grand Jury Prize this year at Sundance.
The Surge of Ideas - COINdinistas and Change in the U.S. Army in 2006 -- [General David H. Petraeus]
General David H. Petraeus received the 2010 Irving Kristol Award at AEI's Annual Dinner. His prepared remarks, delivered at the National Building Museum on May 6, 2010, follow.
...Earlier today, as I was talking with my wife about tonight's speech, she reminded me of a story about a young school boy's report on Julius Caesar. "Julius Caesar was born a long time ago," the little boy explained. "He was a great general. He won some important battles. He made a long speech. They killed him..." I'll try to avoid Caesar's fate. But this is the Irving Kristol lecture--and I do need to say something meaningful...
Leading With Two Minds -- [David Brooks/NY Times]
Five years ago, the United States Army was one sort of organization, with a certain mentality. Today, it is a different organization, with a different mentality. It has been transformed in the virtual flash of an eye, and the story of that transformation is fascinating for anybody interested in the flow of ideas.
Gen. David Petraeus, who had an important role, spoke about the transformation while accepting the Irving Kristol Award Thursday night from the American Enterprise Institute. I spoke to him and others about the process this week...
"Shake Up the Army, Dave" -- [Peter Wehner/Commentary]
Those were the words of Pete Schoomaker, then chief of staff of the Army, to General David Petraeus, who at the time (2005) was commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas...
There are several significant things to take away from the period General Petraeus described.
The first is a reminder that ideas indeed have consequences. For much of the Iraq war, the strategy of the Bush administration (in which I served) was based on flawed assumptions. We thought that if we knocked off the top of the Iraqi pyramid (the regime of Saddam Hussein), the rest of it would stay in place. Instead, much of it collapsed. Many in our military leadership, as well as the secretary of defense and much of our civilian leadership, believed that the right approach was a "light footprint." Political progress, in the form of elections, would drain the insurgency of its venom. And the presence of American troops would act as an irritant and fuel the Iraqi insurgency. Our goal, then, was to head to the exits almost as soon as we arrived, in order to demonstrate that we were liberators rather than occupiers.
That approach was understandable; but for the circumstance in Iraq, it was also quite wrong...
Army Continues Transformation, Casey Says -- [Jim Garamone/American Forces Press Service]
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2010 - The Army is continuing the most fundamental and profound series of changes it has seen since World War II, the service's chief of staff said here today.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spoke to the Defense Writers Group about the way ahead for the nation's senior service and his observations from a recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army will continue rebalancing the force to handle the range of conflicts the nation faces today, Casey said.
Gates Notes Convergence of Conventional, Irregular War -- [Jim Garamone/American Forces Press Service]
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan., May 7, 2010 - As the Army moves forward, differences between conventional and irregular warfare are becoming less important, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told students and faculty at the Army Command and General Staff College here today...
"Possessing the ability to annihilate other militaries is no guarantee we can achieve our strategic goals - a point driven home especially in Iraq," he said. "The future will be even more complex, where conflict most likely will range across a broad spectrum of operations and lethality -- where even near-peer competitors will use irregular or asymmetric tactics, and nonstate actors may have weapons of mass destruction or sophisticated missiles."
Casey Says Army Needs Counterinsurgency Capabilities -- [Jim Garamone/American Forces Press Service]
WASHINGTON, May 7, 2010 - Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said it is unfair that the press has portrayed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates as having to pressure the Army and its leaders to adopt counterinsurgency as a necessary capability.
"I spent 32 months in Iraq," Casey said here yesterday during a Defense Writers' Group breakfast. "I get it."
...Casey said he now believes the Army has to posture itself and train to operate across the spectrum.
Report: Politics not getting due attention in war -- [AP]
WASHINGTON -- The war effort in Afghanistan suffers from a lack of attention to the volatile politics of the country, according to a former adviser to the top U.S. general there.
"The United States and its allies have not thought rigorously enough about how U.S. and allied interests might not align with those of the Afghan government," said a report from Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security. Exum had been an adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Triage : Blue Steel :: Leverage : Magnum -- [Abu Muqawama]
A report in the Associated Press today mentioned a new paper that I have been working on for the past few months...
Last fall, I sat down with LTG (Ret.) David Barno and asked him what he thought was missing from our research on Afghanistan. He said that while we had done a good job talking about counterinsurgency at the tactical and operational levels, we had not tackled counterinsurgency at the strategic and political levels. He also said that we had failed to explain the war in Afghanistan in terms of our long-term regional interests. In response, I decided to tackle the former for this year's spring paper on Afghanistan, and LTG Barno -- who started work at CNAS this week -- will begin a project on the latter for 2011.
As a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and as a specialist in low-intensity conflict, it's only natural that I have interest in Afghanistan. But in this paper, I try to address a larger problem... I argue that at the same time in which you devise military strategies to defeat the enemy, you have to also devise consensual or coercive strategies to affect the political behavior of the host nation. I argue the United States is really, really bad at doing this...
Leverage: Designing a Political Campaign for Afghanistan -- [Andrew Exum/CNAS]
...Above all, the United States and its allies need a functioning relationship with the elected Afghan government.
The purpose of this paper is to provide an initial template for how to influence the strategic choices of actors within the Afghan government. This paper starts with an overview of sources of U.S. and allied leverage in Afghanistan and then discusses why military campaign design provides a useful template for designing a political strategy for Afghanistan. This paper concludes with six considerations for U.S. and allied policymakers and a short series of policy recommendations.
Army to Test 'Game Changing' Gun in Combat -- [Military.com]
The Army is set to send its high-tech "counter defilade" weapon to the war zone in the next few months, the first real-world deployment for the much-anticipated XM-25 Individual Airburst Weapon.
Officials announced May 5 that a group of Army Special Forces Soldiers will take the weapon with them to Afghanistan sometime this summer...
Afghanistan veterans who fired the weapon for the first time this week predicted it would be a "game changing" weapon, a gun that can engage Taliban insurgents using distant ridge-tops, thick mud walls and tree lines as cover.
Discuss: Does the Army Need a Better Battle Rifle? -- [Danger Room]
...back in 2006, the Center for Naval Analyses conducted an important survey of soldiers who had fired their weapons in combat, and found that the M9 and the M249 light machine gun got the lowest marks from troops.
The Army's response, for the most part, has been to tweak the weapons it has in service, rather than start over from scratch...
But during an open house for reporters at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Army did show off the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle...
U.S. Panel Criticized as Overstating Cancer Risks -- [NY Times]
A dire government report on cancer risks from chemicals and other hazards in the environment has drawn criticism from the American Cancer Society, which says government experts are overstating their case...
The government's 240-page report, published online Thursday by the President's Cancer Panel, says the proportion of cancer cases caused by environmental exposures has been "grossly underestimated." It warns of "grievous harm" from chemicals and other hazards. Children are especially vulnerable, the panel says...
Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist from the cancer society, said in an online statement that the report was "unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer," and had presented an unproven theory -- that environmentally caused cases are grossly underestimated -- as if it were a fact.
The cancer society estimates that about 6 percent of all cancers in the United States -- 34,000 cases a year -- are related to environmental causes (4 percent from occupational exposures, 2 percent from the community or other settings)...
The chairman of the president's panel, Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall Jr. of Howard University, said the panel stood by the report... He acknowledged that it was impossible to specify just how many cancers were environmentally caused, because not enough research had been done, but he said he was confident that when the research was done, it would confirm the panel's assertion that the problem had been grossly underestimated.
Fox refuses climate ad -- [Ben Smith/Politico]
Fox News last week refused to carry an advertisement from the liberal group VoteVets on the grounds that it was "too confusing," a spokesman for the group said...
The ad is airing without objection on CNN and MSNBC.
A 'Three Mile Island for Offshore Oil'? -- [Newsweek]
How the Deep Horizon accident seriously hampers offshore drilling.
It'll be years before we know the full extent of the damage caused by the Deep Horizon oil spill. But as thousands of barrels continue to leach out of the ocean floor, and with no way of stopping it anytime soon, the magnitude of the disaster has become clear...
Clarifying Questions of Liability, Cleanup and Consequences -- [NY Times]
Q : Will the spread of the slick affect seafood?
A: Almost certainly...
Q : What about seafood already in the marketplace?
A : It's fine...
Q : Will the spill affect the price of gasoline?
A : For now, that appears unlikely. The accident has not interrupted oil production.
Q : Who will investigate the accident?
A : By statute, the responsibility lies with the Coast Guard and the Mineral Management Service, part of the Interior Department. But there have been some calls for a special commission like the one that investigated the last space shuttle crash, in 2003, or the Three Mile Island accident of 1979...
Will the Gulf Oil Spill Be This Generation's Three Mile Island? -- [Freakonomics/NY Times]
As we once wrote, you can make the argument that the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear-power plant -- which came just 12 days after the release of the film The China Syndrome, a cautionary tale about a nuclear-plant meltdown -- helped stop the U.S. nuclear-energy industry dead in its tracks. While other countries soldiered on -- France, Japan, Switzerland and Sweden, to name just a few -- the U.S. turned away from nuclear, in large part because of public and political fear generated by what turned out to be a relatively harmless accident...
British firm says it has struck oil in Falklands -- [Times (UK) Online]
Hopes that the Falkland Islands could become a big source of oil are rising fast after a British company said that it had made the first find in a controversial campaign to seek, and claim ownership of, the precious commodity in the Southern Atlantic.
Shares in Rockhopper Exploration soared 138 per cent after news of the discovery 220km (135 miles) to the north of the islands...
Oil was found after 20 days of drilling through rock and sand to a depth of 2,740m (9,000ft) below sea level. It led the managing director of Rockhopper, Samuel Moody, to say that he was extremely excited by the results from its Sea Lion well...
Marja Success Proves New Afghan Strategy, Officials Say -- [defense.gov]
Ongoing operations in Marja, Afghanistan, are proving the Obama administration is on the right track in that country, Defense and State Department officials said today.
"Afghanistan is a work in progress, but we are turning in the right direction," Army Brig. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the director of the Joint Staff's Pakistan-Afghanistan coordination cell, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Losing hearts and minds in Marjah? -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
A U.S. Senate hearing on Thursday offered a grim assessment of the state of Marjah, almost three months after the major NATO offensive Operation Moshtarak began in the southern region.
Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Marjah does not appear to be a turning point in the overall mission in Afghanistan.
Too few Afghans ready to take over in Taliban strongholds, Senate panel is told -- [Washington Post]
...The assessment didn't sit well with lawmakers.
"You get the queasy feeling that maybe they either aren't able to sustain it or they don't really have the same desire that we as Americans do," Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said of the Afghans.
Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the panel's top Republican, said he is concerned that Afghanistan doesn't have the economic potential of oil-rich Iraq and that the United States will support the Afghan military for decades.
"I see a scenario down the trail that after arduous training exercises . . . the wherewithal to pay for all this simply is not there," Lugar said.
COIN and the Somme -- [Tom Ricks/Best Defense]
...a few months ago, this very blog cited a British officer who fought in World War I at Gallipoli and the Western front, and then a few years later in Waziristan. Guess which he found harder? "I soon came to the conclusion that commanding a Company in Waziristan was far more difficult than commanding a Battalion in France."
Lady GaGa "Telephone" Remake Boosts Army Morale -- [CBS News]
Aaron Melcher is a maintenance sergeant with the 4-73 Cav in the 82nd Airborne based in Western Afghanistan. He is also a choreographer and an excellent dancer -- as millions of viewers have seen around the world by watching him and his fellow soldiers perform Lady GaGa's "Telephone" on YouTube.
Melcher appeared on "The Early Show" Wednesday via Skype from Western Afghanistan. He said he got the idea from his wife...
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
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.
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The Heat is On -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
Things are heating up... and it's not just the weather. KAF is rocketed almost every night and teams of insurgent suicide bombers have infiltrated Kandahar Province, making their way to Kandahar city, looking for soft targets. IED activity is on the increase and our convoys are being hit every other day...
Afghan militants attack government buildings -- [BBC]
Seven suicide bombers have been killed along with a government official in an attack on government buildings in the Afghan city of Zaranj, officials say.
They say the bombers blew themselves up outside the governor's compound and a gun battle between insurgents and security forces is ongoing...
Militants Attack Government Buildings In Afghan South -- [Reuters/NY Times]
Wednesday's attacks, involving nine gunmen wearing suicide vests, took place in the town of Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province only miles from the Iranian border.
Provincial police chief Abdul Jabar Pordeli said eight of the bombers managed to detonate their explosives at three separate locations in the town -- the governor's compound, the justice department and the court house. The ninth bomber was gunned down by security forces, he said.
"One female provincial council member and two soldiers were killed in the attacks," Pordeli said, adding that 11 people, including four civilians, had been wounded.
Cavalry's Gypsies don't travel light -- [U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine/CJTF 82 - in Afghanistan]
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - When 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron nicknamed themselves the Gypsies, they probably knew they would be travelling in search of the enemy. But when these Gypsies team up with the Afghan National Security Forces, they don't travel light. They roll into combat packing a powerful combination of the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, National Directorate of Security, Polish close combat air support, and U.S. Air Force fighter jets. Alone, just one of these elements can be deadly to the enemy, but combined they deliver a devastating blow.
Afghanistan's dreams of rock -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
Secret tape of Blackwater founder exposed -- [Times (UK) Online]
Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the American private security organisation, has claimed that his employees have called in airstrikes in Afghanistan.
He also mocked Afghan military recruits for needing lessons in how to use a toilet, and questioned the value and quality of other countries' troops in the country...
Mr Prince rarely makes public appearances but in an recording of a recent, private address to a "friendly audience" obtained by The Nation magazine, he can be heard criticising the quality of the Afghan army's raw recruits but claims his company's instructors have turned them into "the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan."
Secret Erik Prince Tape Exposed -- [The Nation]
Prince spoke disparagingly of some unnamed NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan, saying they do not have the will for the fight. "Some of them do and a lot of them don't," he said. "It is such a patchwork of different international commitments as to what some can do and what some can't. A lot of them should just pack it in and go home." Canada, however, received praise from Prince. "The Canadians have lost per capita more than America has in Afghanistan. They are fighting and they are doing it and so if you see a Canadian thank them for that. The politicians at home take heavies for doing that," Prince said. He did not mention the fact that his company was hired by the Canadian government to train its forces.
Prince also described how his private air force (which he recently sold) bailed out a US military unit in trouble in Afghanistan. According to Prince, the unit was fighting the Taliban and was running out of ammo and needed an emergency re-supply. "Because of, probably some procedure written by a lawyer back in Washington, the Air Force was not permitted to drop in an uncertified drop zone... even to the unit that was running out of ammo," Prince said. "So they called and asked if our guys would do it and, of course, they said, 'Yes.' And the cool part of the story is the Army guys put their DZ mark in the drop zone, a big orange panel, on the hood of their hummer and our guys put the first bundle on the hood of that hummer. We don't always get that close, but that time a little too close."
...Prince said his forces train 1300 Afghans every six weeks and described his pride in attending "graduations" of Blackwater-trained Afghans, saying that in six weeks they radically transform the trainees... "The first few days of training, we have to do 'Intro to Toilet Use' because a lot of these guys have never even seen a flushed toilet before." Prince boasted: "We manage to take folks with a tribal mentality and, just like the Marine Corps does more effectively than anyone else, they take kids from disparate lifestyles across the United States and you throw them into Parris Island and you make them Marines... But the transformation from day one to the end of that program, they're very proud and they're very capable." Prince said that when he was in Afghanistan late last year, "I met with a bunch of generals and they said the Afghans that we train are the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan."
House committee to consider progress in Afghanistan -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
The House Armed Services Committee will take stock of the Obama administration's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
The hearing will evaluate how security and stability has changed since President Obama began adding troops into the central Asian nation.
The Obama administration has poured about 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan since December
Shiite Alliance in Iraq May Push Allawi Aside -- [NY Times]
The new alliance -- not unlike the one that emerged after Iraq's last parliamentary election in 2005 -- strengthens the position of the country's main Shiite parties but does not yet guarantee Mr. Maliki re-election for a second term.
It did marginalize the largely secular and Sunni coalition led by a former interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, who emerged as the narrow winner of the election in March. Mr. Allawi, a Shiite, now has little chance of winning enough votes in the new 325-member Parliament to become the country's leader.
The Iraqi Hunting Club Flourishes -- [Yasmine Mousa/At War/NY Times]
BAGHDAD -- It was my day off, so, my mother invited me for coffee at the Iraqi Hunting Club. At first I was not very enticed, so as not to fall into the depressing comparisons of the place yesterday and today.
But my qualms subdued as soon as I passed through the main architectural entrance, which at times was no more than a plain rusty iron gate, to the parking lot with its bright yellow and orange canopies, instead of the nothing that used to be there.
In Baghdad, apart from some tentative attempts by individuals, progress is a word seldom used or seen. Today, I set eyes on the exception...
Just turn off your phone. It's not that hard. -- [Karaka Pend]
USAID has released a couple of reports of note, including a report on internally displaced persons in Iraq, and human resources and logistical support in Afghanistan (both PDF). The GAO has also released Operation Iraqi Freedom: Actions Needed to Facilitate the Efficient Drawdown of U.S. Forces and Equipment from Iraq, which is sure to be a scintillating read, and a report on the problems of aid and contracting in Iraq and Afganistan...
Iran, North Korea Raise Concerns at NPT Conference -- [Voice of America]
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad garnered much media attention at the opening of the conference on Monday. He was the only head of state in attendance and his government faces new U.N. sanctions for its dubious nuclear program. He gave a long and defiant speech criticizing the United States and several of its allies, prompting more than a few delegations to walk out of the assembly hall in protest...
Syria Slams US Renewal of Sanctions on Damascus -- [AP/NY Times]
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria on Wednesday criticized the United States' recent renewal of sanctions against Damascus, describing the move as a disappointment and warning the sanctions would reinforce hostilities in the region.
The U.S. renewed sanctions against Damascus on Monday, saying Syria has made some progress containing terror networks that use the country to infiltrate Iraq but that Damascus continues to support terrorists and pursue weapons of mass destruction
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad slammed the U.S. move, saying it shows that Washington ''has lost its credibility.''
Japanese Leader Backtracks on Revising Base Agreement -- [NY Times]
Backtracking on a prominent campaign pledge, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told angry residents of Okinawa on Tuesday that it was unrealistic to expect the United States to move its entire Marine Corps air base off the island...
But Okinawans seemed in no mood for burden-sharing, heckling him after he met with local officials. "Shame on you!" one man shouted.
During the campaign for last summer's election ...Mr. Hatoyama called for adjusting a 2006 agreement with the United States, which stations about 50,000 troops in Japan. Under that plan, Futenma was to be moved to a less crowded part of Okinawa to address local concerns over noise, air pollution and safety.
But the Obama administration pushed back, with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates apparently refusing to entertain any thought of reopening the agreement.
'We're in the final days of white life in South Africa' -- [Times (UK) Online]
The gunman leant forward and pushed the pistol hard into Manie Potgieter's neck. "Listen, you white bastard," he whispered, his breath heavy with alcohol. "I have Aids. We are now going to rape your wife and give her Aids too. Then, we kill you, got it?"
From his position on the floor, hands tied behind his back, he could hear his assailant's three accomplices pulling the tracksuit bottoms off his wife, Helena, 28.
It's already time for a 'Dumbest theories about Times Square Bomber' post -- [Mary Katharine Ham/Washington Examiner]
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put his ignorance of the situation and the suspect to great use last night jumping to conclusions that might earn him a long-jump spot in the London Olympics if he decides not to put his dough toward a presidential run that year...
Moving on, we have CNN's morning anchors suggesting this attempted bombing is probably just fall-out from the housing market crisis...
From Suburban Father to a Terrorism Suspect -- [NY Times]
"He wasn't unfriendly," said Debbie Bussolari, a 55-year-old dental technician who lives across the street. "He seemed a little different."
Times Square bombing suspect's life had unraveled -- [AP]
Not long ago, Faisal Shahzad had a pretty enviable life: He became an American citizen after emigrating from Pakistan, where he came from a wealthy family. He earned an MBA. He had a well-educated wife and two kids and owned a house in a middle-class Connecticut suburb.
In the past couple of years, though, his life seemed to unravel...
Joe Lieberman's Fascist Solution To Terrorism -- [Big Tent Democrat/TalkLeft]
...What is amazing about Lieberman' fascist proposal is that it will not work even on Lieberman's terms. Presumably, to strip a "suspected terrorist" of his citizenship, you'll have to prove in a court of law that the suspected terrorist is actually a, you know, terrorist. And in proving it, you'll have to respect the Constitution, which sort of defeats the purpose of Lieberman's proposal...
A Renewed Debate Over Suspect Rights -- [NYTimes]
The handling of Mr. Shahzad touched off the same sort of argument that followed the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a passenger jet bound for Detroit. Some Republicans urged the Obama administration to interrogate Mr. Shahzad without affording him Miranda rights and to classify him as an enemy combatant, which would allow authorities to detain him indefinitely. But Democrats said his quick arrest and his reported confession showed the system can respond to threats of terrorism without resorting to extraordinary tactics.
National Military Appreciation Month (May 2010) -- [nmam.org]
National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), as designated by Congress, provides a period encompassing both the history and recognition of our armed services with an in-depth look at the diversity of its individuals and achievements...
National Military Appreciation Month (May 2010) includes Loyalty Day (1st), VE Day(8th), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (7th), Armed Forces Day (15th), and Memorial Day (30th). This very important month honors, remembers, recognizes and appreciates all military personnel; those men and women who have served throughout our history and all who now serve in uniform and their families as well as those Americans who have given their lives in defense of our freedoms we all enjoy today.
It recognizes those on active duty in all branches of the services, the National Guard and Reserves plus retirees, veterans, and all of their families - well over 90 million Americans and more than 230 years of our nation's history. Let us celebrate them just as we celebrate the other important entities that make up this wonderful country of ours.
Mullen apologizes for comments on wounded care -- [Military Times]
A call by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs for community organizations to step in to help wounded war veterans make the transition to civilian life has drawn complaints from a major veterans organization and an apology from the JCS chairman.
There is nothing wrong with asking community-based groups to help, but the primary responsibility for wounded warriors rests with the federal government, said David Gorman, executive director of the Washington headquarters of Disabled American Veterans, in reaction to remarks made over the last few weeks by Adm. Mike Mullen.
"It is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government because it creates disabled veterans," Gorman said Tuesday in a statement...
House again OKs Navy Department name change -- [Navy Times]
The House by voice vote Tuesday agreed to rename the Department of the Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.
The House has approved similar legislation for eight years running, only to be thwarted by the Senate.
Awarded for Combat Art -- [Sketchpad Warrior]
Last Saturday night, I was honored to be invited to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's 2010 Awards Dinner, where I was selected to receive the Colonel John W. Thomason, Jr. Award for combat art, specifically for my work from deployments to Afghanistan and Haiti.
'Something wasn't right' -- [Burn Pit/The American Legion]
Duane Jackson has worked as a vendor, selling pocket books, wallets, watches, scarves and golf clubs, for 13 years at the same spot in Times Square in New York City. He knows when someone has parked a car in a spot where it doesn't belong. So when Jackson saw that situation arise on Saturday, he went to investigate.
Little did Jackson know that his actions might have saved several lives...
Jackson, a 15-year member of Frank A. Johnson American Legion Post 758 in Johnson City, N.Y., remained humble despite the publicity that included appearances on "Good Morning America" and on FOX News...
Is public talk about PTSD making it harder for vets? -- [Ryan Gallucci/The Washington Post's Impact of War blog]
With suicides among veterans outpacing battlefield combat losses, the military and the veterans' community have made a concerted effort to help those suffering from combat stress-related conditions seek the care they need, and the media has reported extensively on these efforts. But is there a downside to all this public attention?
In light of daunting unemployment figures among young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, AMVETS has heard from many young veterans who have experienced some kind of passive discrimination in their own job hunts. Civilian employers have balked at the potential negatives that come with hiring a veteran, such as the perception of instability.
About... -- [Impact of War blog /The Washington Post]
This blog is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between The Washington Post and the people who live the wars everyday--soldiers, veterans, caregivers, spouses, advocates. Here, experts and everyday people can come together to talk about how the war has changed their lives...
Army blesses a war-zone lip-sync -- [McClatchy Newspapers/Stars and Stripes]
Fort Bragg soldiers whose goofy war-zone remake of a Lady Gaga video went viral over the weekend and soared to more than 3 million hits on YouTube have won a thumbs up from the brass.
"The brigade command team is happy to see that they also still have a good sense of humor and that morale is high," said Maj. Michelle Baldanza, a spokeswoman in Afghanistan for the division's 4th Brigade Combat Team via e-mail from Kandahar Air Field.
Why Men Love War
-- [Evan Thomas/Newsweek]
Theodore Roosevelt wanted a war, and almost any war would do. In 1886, when he was a 27-year-old gentleman rancher in the Dakota Territory, he proposed raising "some companies of horse riflemen out here in the event of trouble with Mexico." He wrote his friend Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge: "Will you telegraph me at once if war becomes inevitable?" In 1889, while agitating for military "preparedness," he wrote British diplomat Cecil Spring-Rice: "Frankly, I don't know if I should be sorry to see a bit of a spar with Germany; the burning of New York and a few other seacoast cities would be a good object lesson on the need of an adequate system of coastal defenses." Roosevelt loved hyperbole, but he was apparently serious. He wrote Spring-Rice, "While we would have to take some awful blows at first, I think in the end we would worry the Kaiser a little." A few years later, in 1894, he wrote a family friend, Bob Ferguson, that he longed for "a general national buccaneering expedition to drive the Spanish out of Cuba, the English out of Canada."
In my new book, The War Lovers, I tell this story--of Roosevelt, and of how we became involved in the Spanish-American War--as a way of understanding the ancient pull of the battlefield. I was, in part, trying to understand my own attitude on the Iraq War. As a NEWSWEEK journalist writing about that conflict (from a safe distance), I had initially been hawkish, then regretful as the costs mounted. The war may, in some muddled way, achieve some of its objectives, but it is clear that too many journalists, including me, caught at least a mild dose of war fever between 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I looked to the past to come to terms with those impulses.
Washington Post shifts leftward online -- [Ben Smith/Politico]
The once-cautious Washington Post has begun to invest heavily in the liberal blogosphere, transforming its online presence - a combination of accident and design - into a competitor of the Huffington Post and TalkingPointsMemo as much as the New York Times.
The Post's foray into the new media world received some unfavorable attention last weekend when its latest hire, Dave Weigel, who covers conservatives, referred to gay marriage foes as "bigots." But the resulting controversy brought into relief a larger shift: The Post now hosts three of the strongest liberal blogs on the Internet, and draws a disproportionate share of its traffic and buzz from them...
Book Series Launch: Decisionmaking in Operation Iraqi Freedom -- [Small Wars Journal]
Was the Iraq troop "surge" really responsible for today's strategic success? How was the 2007 decision made? Do the lessons of Iraq's surge apply to Afghanistan in 2010? Dr. Steven Metz will discuss these issues at the Operation Iraqi Freedom Key Decisions Monograph Series launch event...
Decisionmaking In Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: The Strategic Shift of 2007 -- [Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College]
...The military component of the 2007 effort to achieve a positive result in Iraq became popularly known as"the surge." In this second volume of the Strategic Studies Institute's Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Key Decisions Monograph Series, Dr. Steven Metz covers this critical decision in the Iraq war, but correctly posits that the surge was only part of a broad strategic shift that produced the success--still tenuous--of 2008 and beyond. In doing so, Dr. Metz debunks some of the "surge triumphalism." In this view, the surge was almost solely responsible for the improvements in security that enabled the emerging positive results in Iraq. General David Petraeus--the man whose name became synonymous with the surge--sees it differently. General Petraeus, who led the surge of troops into Iraq in 2007, freely admits that the success of the surge was due to a confluence of factors. Those factors include Iraqis tiring of both Sunni and Shi'a extremists, Iraqi Security Forces achieving at least limited capacity to provide security, and the U.S. military's growth in tactical and operational prowess in counterinsurgency. Dr. Metz argues that a "perfect storm" of conditions, accompanied by "good thinking, good luck, and good timing," were what allowed the success of the strategic shift that he describes. Dr. Metz may give short shrift to President George W. Bush's resolve and to the skill that General Petraeus and other senior leaders brought to the surge--or the strategic shift--but he presents a solid case against using the surge as a model for future operations, including in Afghanistan.
This just about sums up the Korengal redeployment -- [Gulliver/Ink Spots]
I'm going to reproduce in full a letter that appears in today's Wall Street Journal, just because I think it's about the best analysis of U.S. actions in the Korengal and the decision to leave that I've read anywhere...
"I was a member of the first U.S. patrol to enter the Korengal Valley in 2002... The Korengalis I knew were not predisposed to join an extremist fight against Western outsiders. Nor were they naturally inclined to be our friends. Our aggressive tactics, focused exclusively on rooting out Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, drove them into the enemy's camp..."
One of the worst ideas ever! -- [Keeping an Eye on Afghanistan]
You have got to be kidding me? Promising awards to soldiers for "not shooting"!
NATO commanders are weighing a new way to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan: recognizing troops for "courageous restraint" if they avoid using force that could endanger innocent lives...
Air Force Treating Wounds With Lasers and Nanotech -- [Danger Room]
Forget stitches and old-school sutures. The Air Force is funding scientists who are using nano-technology and lasers to seal up wounds at a molecular level.
It might sound like Star Trek tech, but it's actually the latest in a series of ambitious Pentagon efforts to create faster, more effective methods of treating war-zone injuries.
Black Hopefuls Pick This Year in G.O.P. Races -- [NY Times]
Among the many reverberations of President Obama's election, here is one he probably never anticipated: at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans...
The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. "I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos," said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. "There is no violence or racism there."
President Obama: GOP Opposition to Stimulus 'Helped to Create the Tea-Baggers' -- [ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper]
Three days after he decried the lack of civility in American politics, President Obama is quoted in a new book about his presidency referring to the Tea Party movement using a derogatory term with sexual connotations.
'TEABAGGERS' DISCOVER POLITICAL CORRECTNESS -- [Steve Benan/Washington Monthly]
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, a Washington Monthly alum, has a book coming out on President Obama's first year in office. He chatted with the president in late November, and Obama noted his belief that GOP opposition to economic recovery efforts "helped create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans."
That seems like a pretty fair assessment...
New light shed on Kent State killings -- [Washington Times]
Previously undisclosed FBI documents suggest that the Kent State antiwar protests were more meticulously planned than originally thought and that one or more gunshots may have been fired at embattled Ohio National Guardsmen before their killings of four students and woundings of at least nine others on that searing day in May 1970.
As the nation marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State antiwar protests Tuesday, a review of hundreds of previously unpublished investigative reports sheds a new -- and very different -- light on the tragic episode...
Sack of Rome: Holy City Pillaged by Imperialist Forces -- [Siggurdsson/Burn Pit, The American Legion]
Today in Military History - May 6, 1527
In its 2800+ years of existence, the city of Rome has been attacked, besieged, taken and sacked dozens of times. The Gauls sacked the city in 387 BC, the Visigoths pillaged it in AD 410, the Vandals in 455, and then the Ostrogoths in 546 just to name four of the more famous events of that nature. However, one of the most brutal sacks of the "Eternal City" took place during the War of the League of Cognac in 1527.
Italy, as we know it today, did not really exist in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; it was a collection of squabbling city-states that had no concept of Italian-ness. As a result of this, three of the major political powers of Europe - France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire - sought to extend their dominion over the Italian peninsula, struggling to gain power and new domains. Beginning in 1494, the states of Italy became pawns in a succession of nine wars which lasted intermittently until 1559...
No turning back -- [Michael Yawns Online]
I have no idea where this was taken. Afghanistan... West Virginia... some godforsaken place where I wish I was, but I know an American soldier when I see one. Something about the stern jaw, the steel-eyed gaze, the determined posture....
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Toggling Between Fighting and Outreach in Afghanistan -- [CJ Chivers/NY Times/At War]
...The old-school fighting between Kilo Company and the local gunmen and Taliban fighters had consumed a large part of each day for several days running. Both sides had settled into rifle and machine gun battles across the farmers' fields. The Marines were also using their 60-millimeter mortars and calling in helicopter attack gunships and occasional air or rocket strikes...
Momma's Boy -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghanistan]
The village of Dasht is an oasis of peace in the heavily mined deserts of the Zhari District. My platoon dismounted and walked no more than fifteen meters before our formation succumbed to the swarm of hundreds of children running through our ranks. I suppose, on one hand, it's good that the children feel so safe around American soldiers; in a strategic sense, it would be far worse if they were running away in fear. But in my tactical role as the platoon leader, I grew nervous...
From Afghanistan: Ready for chai? -- [Stillwater NewsPress/Col. Gregory Breazile - in Afghanistan]
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A few days ago I traveled with a police adviser team to the village of Shakar Dara, north of Kabul, Afghanistan...
While we were walking through town talking with the people, a man sitting on a wooden platform covered by a blue rug asked me to sit down and have chai - tea - with him. I thought I should honor him by joining him for chai...
I took off my body armor and sat down for our visit. As I sat down I could see people watching us from across the street...
As we sat talking a crowd of people formed around us...
Are there 'al Qaeda guys' in Afghanistan? -- [Threat Matrix/Long War Journal]
On Facebook, blogger Michael Yon suggests that US forces haven't killed or captured al Qaeda fighters and leaders recently: "I've asked a lot of commanders here to tell me about the last time they caught or killed an al Qaeda guy here. No commanders can remember catching or killing any al Qaeda here in recent years."
Perhaps military commanders cannot recall killing or capturing "an al Qaeda guy," but al Qaeda certainly tells us when their operatives buy it in Afghanistan...
Was recently about 20 gunshots -- [Michael Yon]
Was recently about 20 gunshots from maybe an AK. Very close. Thought someone might be trying to breach this place or was prelude to car bomb. Got out the night vision and some other gear...
U.N. staff to remain in Kandahar -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
U.N. and Afghan officials on Sunday reached an agreement that would keep the world body's national and international staff in Kandahar, said Zaimai Ayoubi, a spokesman for the province's governor.
US Army captain becomes king in Afghanistan -- [Sebastion Abbot/AP]
...When the troops from 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment first arrived in Hutal in September, Bawari basically had no authority within the district because he doesn't come from a powerful family and isn't well-educated.
"He was very intimidated, very helpless and had no sense of his responsibilities," Thoreen said.
The troops, who live in a small base in the middle of Hutal, have tried to boost Bawari's standing by encouraging him to take credit for development projects the U.S. military funded...
Push for Afghan role delays military building -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
An effort to give construction projects to Afghan firms is leading to delays at a time when NATO is rushing to accommodate tens of thousands more international troops, U.S. officials say.
The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to award as many construction contracts as possible to Afghan companies to pump money into the local economy and win public support. New contracts are for NATO base expansions, Afghan police stations, Afghan army bases and other facilities.
But officials say the "Afghan First" effort is slowing down badly-needed construction projects...
Karzai to seek Obama's approval for peace deals with insurgents -- [Washington Post]
The most meaningful part of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Washington next week may end up being talks about talks.
Karzai's advisers say one of his main goals for the May 12 meeting is winning President Obama's support for negotiating with insurgent leaders, and for a Kabul peace conference that has been delayed until after the visit...
A Graduation Party in Baghdad -- [At War/NY Times]
Election Victories Help Kurds in Iraq Push for More Sovereignty -- [NY Times]
Emboldened by his party's electoral success, the president of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan region is intensifying his demands for greater sovereignty and control of oil, adding more complexity to an already tumultuous government formation period...
Attack on Iraqi Students Kills 1, Wounds 80 -- [Voice of America]
Two separate bombs exploded along the road leading into the northern Iraqi city of Mosul Sunday killing at least one person and wounding at least 80 others...
Video Shows U.S. Attack Did Not Kill Top Militant -- [NY Times]
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban reported killed in an American drone strike four months ago, was shown alive and well in an Internet video posting early Monday, warning of suicide revenge attacks on United States cities...
Manhunt Underway for Suspected Would-be NYC Car Bomber -- [Voice of America]
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the attempt to blow up explosive devices in one of the busiest districts of Manhattan, "certainly looked" like "it was intended" to be an act of terrorism. "We're taking it very seriously. It was parked in an area with a lot of traffic. It's too soon to tell who was responsible or what groups were responsible. So every possible examination of the device and forensics is being done," she said.
Officials: 'Surprising' if Taliban had role in Times Square incident -- [CNN/Afghanistan Crossroads]
Investigators in the foiled carb bomb attack in New York's Times Square are evaluating a video released less than 24 hours after the incident by the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and it has raised questions about whether militants could have been behind the attempted bombing.
A speaker claiming to be Hakimullah Mehsud vowed attacks on major U.S. cities in the nearly nine-minute video...
Full text of Hakeemullah videotape -- [Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino/Threat Matrix]
Below the fold is the full text of a videotape released to The Long War Journal by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel. The videotape, dated April 4, and another audiotape, dated April 19, were released less than 24 hours after the failed car bomb attack at Times Square in New York City. The Taliban clearly are capitalizing on the event to announce Hakeemullah is alive and to prove he is in operational control of the Pakistani Taliban. Much of the tape focuses on threats against the US...
Now on eBay: Rage Company, Apple iPad -- [Marcus/YouServed]
This week's auction to benefit Soldiers' Angels has begun!
...To make Rage Company a little more exciting to all of you, how about a little excerpt? ...Grab a drink, a small snack, and then sit back and enjoy this short excerpt of Rage Company, A Marine's Baptism By Fire...
Semper Fi, Beantown -- [Jules Crittenden/Forward Movement]
...Marine Week Boston kicks off this morning when a helicopter the size of a house hovers at tree top level over Boston Common, then slowly touches down near the Frog Pond, blasting any spectators near enough with heavy rotor wash put out by its enormous blades...
If it's Marine Week in Boston, that means it's Marine Week at Forward Movement...
Military defends prosecution of SEALs -- [Washington Times]
The U.S. military is issuing an extensive defense of its decision to prosecute three Navy SEALs on charges of abusing a terrorism suspect they had captured in Iraq, after two of the servicemen were found not guilty during courts-martial...
"It is our hope now, just as it has been since these events were brought to our attention in September 2009, that justice will be reached through a properly constituted process, no matter how unpopular this case is, and no matter how often it has been misinterpreted by some members of the media and/or other people who do not know all the facts surrounding the incident," Lt. Col. Holly Silkman, a spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command, told The Washington Times in an e-mail...
A question for the Pentagon leadership... -- [The Armorer]
...Comes now the extended-in-the-'Stan Heartless Libertarian, who asks:
"So the Germans can give our troops one of their highest awards for valor (not sure of the US equivalent) - the first time this medal has been given to non-Germans, even - less than a month after the action.
"Yet for some reason it takes the US Army something like TWO YEARS to award a Silver Star. (Unless, you know, it's for a female soldier, when the award can be milked for PC points.)
"Something is seriously wrong with our combat awards process."
Indeed. In the absence of any sensical explanations of the process, one is left making assumptions...
End of the Adventure -- [Ramblings from a Painter - just home from Iraq]
...As soon as I got off the plane in Asheville, I headed out to the parking lot. Janis had brought the dogs. I could see them out in the parking lot as I approached and they knew something was up...
The PTSD conundrum -- [Burn Pit/The American Legion]
How does one weed out the phonies from the genuine needs of deserving veterans?
The State, a newspaper in South Carolina has an article today that deserves some special attention. It discusses PTSD claims before the VA, and notes that in an effort to get deserving veterans the entitlements they have earned for their service the VA is moving at a pace which invites, if not encourages fraud. I'm going to start at the end of the article, because it illustrates part of the conundrum so clearly...
Saving Abel loves Milbloggers (Video) -- [Troy Steward/YouServed]
This awesome video is from the 2010 Milblog Conference when the band Saving Abel (http://www.savingabel.com/) stopped by to play an all-acoustic set for the attendees of the Milblog Conference...
Don't call me milblogger -- [Michael Yawns Online ("The #1 Milblog in the World")]
I don't even read milblogs. Never have. No one who is serious about the war reads milblogs. When the mainstream media wants to ridicule or marginalize me they call me a "milblogger." I have heard a thousand spiders scream beneath a flaming blood red moon. I do not have a blog and am not now and never will be a "milblogger."
Military exercise goes phishing for movie extras -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
A military exercise in Internet security seeped into the real world in recent days, leading Air Force officials to declare that, no, Hollywood movie-makers are not looking for airmen on Guam as extras for the "Transformers 3" movie.
The phishing exercise, part of routine readiness training at Andersen Air Force Base, was meant to test airmen's scrutiny of e-mail invitations that require people to provide personal information, according to officials at Andersen.
At least some failed that test, according to an internal e-mail sent to airmen after the late April exercise.
"Unfortunately, many of Andersen's personnel responded ... and submitted their personal information to the website, and forwarded the information outside of Andersen," the notification said...
The dangers of embedded journalism, in war and politics -- [David Ignatius/The Washington Post]
...I covered the war as an unembedded or "unilateral" reporter, entering Iraq two days after the invasion with colleagues in rented SUVs. That experience taught me two things: First, it is too dangerous, in most cases, to cover modern warfare without protection from an army. Second, although my visits were brief, I was able to see things that the embedded journalists could not...
Gates: U.S. must rethink expensive ships, EFV -- [Navy Times]
"At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 [billion] to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines and $11 billion carriers." the secretary said. "Mark my words, the Navy and Marine Corps must be willing to reexamine and question basic assumptions in light of evolving technologies, new threats and budget realities..."
Pentagon Scientists Inject Necks to 'Cure' PTSD -- [Danger Room]
Finding an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder has been a top Pentagon priority for years. And with an estimated one in five veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD, the military's been willing to consider anything and everything, including yoga, dog therapy and acupuncture, to alleviate symptoms.
But a small new study out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center might offer more than temporary relief -- with nothing more than a quick jab to the neck.
It's a procedure called stellate ganglion block (STB), and involves injecting local anesthetic into a bundle of nerves located in the neck. The bundle are a locus for the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the body's "fight-or-flight" stress response.
...Pentagon scientists gave STB injections to two soldiers, one on active duty and another who'd been suffering from PTSD symptoms since serving in the Gulf War nearly two decades ago. Their study reports that both men "experienced immediate, significant and durable relief" after the 10-minute procedure, and no longer exhibit symptoms that would qualify them for a PTSD diagnosis.
Seven months later, both had successfully stopped using antidepressant and antipsychotic medications...
Bigguns -- [Michael Yawns Online]
I thought you all might like to look at teh pictures I took of teh bigguns in the war. So I titled this "bigguns" and put some pictures in it I took in the war...
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