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.)