Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world.
Always updating - refresh for updates.
Where's Quatto? -- [The Quatto Zone - in Afghanistan]
The long break in the blog has been the result of the practical application of the Department of Defense's social media policy in the Afghanistan theater. Ostensibly designed to expand government transparency, improve information sharing, boost morale and cure cancer, the real local impact of the policy has been to allow military communications specialists to exercise their basest bureaucratic instincts. By declaring that government systems should permit access to social media except in cases where operational security, bandwidth or other considerations require local limitations, the policy has served mainly to identify exemptions that can justify widespread restrictions on access. The exceptions have become the rule, with the result that unofficial bloggers in Afghanistan are forced to turn to a limited number of clogged commercial lines. Where blogs once could be knocked out around 15-minute mental breaks from the daily grind, they're now published in the wee small hours of the morning after 18-hour work days...
Enjoying The Little Things -- [Lt Gorman/A handful of Dust - in Afghanistan]
First of all, I'd like to say hello and welcome to the readers of AHOD. Since LT Wompum had to leave, I contacted Sosostris about joining the blog in his stead. Like Wompum, I'm an infantry officer with a non-infantry mission. I have been in country only a few weeks now and don't have any real job yet other than Gopher LT: running around Camp Phoenix doing various tasks and putting out fires when needed. Hopefully that will change soon enough when they find me a real position, which at least from the chatter I hear, will have something to do with working with the ANA. Either way, though I've only been in country a relatively short time, there are already a few random little things that make life so distinct here.
-The Bazaars: Although we can't actually go out into the "real" bazaars in Kabul, the DOD approved venders on or around FOBs often have the same...
Market Rates -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
Proper, authentic booze is anywhere from $75 to $150 USD a bottle, depending on brand. The fake rotgut stuff distilled from Russian brake fluid is cheaper, but you wake up with your intestines in your socks and can't focus your eyes for 36 hours.
Cigarettes, even the premium brands, are dirt cheap, as low as $0.50 a pack for the crappy Afghan/Pakistani brands. Even for the imported high-end smokes like mine, you won't pay more than $2.50 a pack.*
*And by "imported" I mean "fell off a truck in Tajikistan and smuggled across the border in a donkey's rectum." Gives them extra flavor...
Under no circumstances should a Westerner new to Kabul try to buy weapons other than a knife. There are plenty of guns for sale, but...
What it's like... -- [AfghaniDan - in Afghanistan ]
I'm liking the work more than hating it [of course it was easier to say on the lightest day since I'd been here -- Afghans were all on declared holiday due to the 3-day Peace Jirga, so we had work but not the usual volume]. It's very frustrating much of the time, from both sides: Those working at the tactical or technical areas vent of often having to 'babysit' their Afghan counterparts and hold the hands (both figuratively and literally) of grown men through the simple process of talking to their own counterparts. At the same time, we must comply with (and if you have the stones, sometimes rebel against) the droppings from the "good idea fairy" above...well-intentioned but misguided tasks that only get more cumbersome as they roll downhill. But positive signs make our day every now and then, and the fact that we're involved in trying to build something good is still rewarding.
I'm not sure that I can sustain the pace in decent health...
"So what is it, you'd say, you do here?" Allow me to paraphrase a note I sent back to my cousin yesterday for the answer...
What is the Problem Here? -- [Free range International - in Afghanistan]
My son Logan spent the last three months in Jalalabad with me teaching a class on digital photography for the MIT Fab Folk at the Jalalabad Fab Lab. Here is the link to his blog (blogs are required on all Fab Folk missions) and I think it is hysterically funny which was not his intent. This is probably his last visit to Afghanistan - the security situation has degraded to the point where keeping him safe was a major operation. Many thanks to my Afghan colleagues JD and Zaki for devising and maintaining a safety box in which Logan could operate. I'm inserting pictures of Logan and I on the range because it's my way of bragging on my boy. The remainder of the post is from Chim Chim.
With the recent spate of NYT blather about the U.S. Military's use of contractors to conduct intelligence activities, the "official" kneejerk response from the Department of Defense (DoD) was to announce that the original contract was shut down, and that the Department was conducting investigations...
Blood Brothers - A Story of Training Afghanistan's Next Generation Of Life Savers -- [FaST Surgeon - in Afghanistan]
The sun climbs over the eastern mountains near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank in Logar Province, Afghanistan. Its an early morning for the 4th Kandak Afghanistan National Army (ANA) medics as they inspect their medical aid bags, ensuring they are ready for the day ahead...
The medical lectures were provided by SGT Fielder of the 173d Airborne BSB and SSG Penn of the 909th FST. But what makes this especially difficult was not just the language barrier, but the fact that many of these Afghan medics also required lessons in basic reading and writing...
The Kabul Marathon -- [AfghaniDan - in Afghanistan ]
The following are shots of some other runners, framed by the most ridiculously steep ramps you could ever include in a road race...it's not the grind up the incline that gets you, though that did suck, but the "Holy crap, I'm not going to be able to turn on a dime when I get to the bottom!" speed you build up on the descent. Avoiding the opposing direction runners in a single-lane-each-way narrow track while banking a turn and feeling your patella bounce around within your knee is an experience you don't wish to replicate, much less knock out 16 times over 13.1 miles.
Do you think the photographers posted near the tunnels must have been male, by any chance? I'm just guessing...
Trending Positive -- [Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
The second question had to do with the President's "run away date.". It's not a run away date. It is a date that he hopes to start drawing down from the surge. This has caused some problems domestically, although the Democratic Party leadership is happy; it's what they always demanded from President Bush. It has caused more problems in Afghanistan...
10 NATO Soldiers Die in Afghanistan -- [NY Times]
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Insurgents killed 12 NATO soldiers on Monday, 7 of them Americans, military officials said. It was the worst single day for the foreign forces operating in Afghanistan in over seven months...
Iraq violence set to delay US troop withdrawal -- [The Guardian (UK)]
The White House is likely to delay the withdrawal of the first large phase of combat troops from Iraq for at least a month after escalating bloodshed and political instability in the country.
General Ray Odierno, the US commander, had been due to give the order within 60 days of the general election held in Iraq on 7 March, when the cross-sectarian candidate Ayad Allawi edged out the incumbent leader, Nouri al-Maliki.
American officials had been prepared for delays in negotiations to form a government, but now appear to have balked...
Odierno: Iraq Moves Toward Stability, US Drawdown on Track -- [Voice of America]
The top U.S. commander in Iraq says his forces and Iraqi troops have captured or killed 34 of the top 42 leaders of al-Qaida in the country, significantly hurting the organizations ability to conduct attacks. General Ray Odierno also says Iran is taking a less violent but still destructive approach in its involvement in Iraq.
General Odierno says the number of violent incidents, the number of casualties and the number of high-profile attacks in Iraq are all at their lowest levels since the conflict started...
Soldiers' Angels competing for $50k "Pepsi Challenge" Grant - Need your vote! -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
The Pepsi Refresh Project allows ordinary people to vote for their favorite projects that will have a positive impact on the community. Each month brings a new set of projects. This month, Soldiers' Angels is one of the projects.
All you have to do is go to the page for Hire a Hero - Soldiers' Angels Project SAVE Support A Vet's Employment.
Soldiers' Angels is competing for $50,000! Only 10 projects will be selected, so we need your votes, every day, from now until June 30!
General Odierno Nominated for New Job -- [FoxNews/Liveshots blog]
The military announced Monday that President Obama has nominated General Raymond T. Odierno to head Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). Odierno is a four-star general who serves now as the head of US Forces - Iraq.
If confirmed by the senate, Odierno will replace Marine Corps General James Mattis...
Murder charges may spur military to revise soldier screenings -- [Seattle Times]
An Army spokeswoman said Saturday the murder charges against a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier accused of killing three Afghan civilians could lead the military to examine its screening of soldiers.
Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 22, was charged Friday with premeditated murder in the slayings of the civilians, which allegedly occurred earlier this year while his unit was assigned to the remote Kandahar province of Afghanistan. He also is charged with assaulting a fellow soldier.
If found guilty of the slayings, Morlock could face the death penalty.
Morlock, who was sent on his first deployment in July, had a history of U.S. criminal charges.
Duty, Honor, Country -- [Soldiers' Angels Germany]
Lt. Dan Berschinski, wounded August 2009 in the Arghandab River Valley of Afghanistan, at his recent homecoming celebration in Peachtree, GA on Memorial Day weekend.
Thanks to Andrea Taber for this abridged version of Dan's speech. The orignal, in two parts (here and here), courtesy of Dan's father. Dan has a blog, too.
Well done, Dan. Much love to you from everyone at Landstuhl.
Loony Tunes -- [Matt Gallagher/Kerplunk]
There's always one.
It seems at every book event that discusses Iraq or Afghanistan, be it mine or someone else's, there's always one individual who turns the question and answer session into their very own pulpit. Sometimes, they're crazy professors who think that my pro-bacon stance in Kaboom is somehow anti-Islam; others are old hippies still angry about the 2003 invasion/Vietnam/life. No matter the type though, they all try to bait the author into saying something sweeping in nature and inflammatory.
My latest dalliance with the bookstore fringe occurred at Politics & Prose in DC, with a Loony Tune of the aging hippie variety...
Since U Been Gone! -- [Jules Crittenden/Forward Movement]
Good clean fist-pumping American Idol/blowing-shit-up pop fun compliments of Rage Company: A Marine's Baptism By Fire.
My rate of reading slowed dramatically due to various issues over the past couple of weeks, but I am back into this and enjoying it immensely. As mentioned before, I had some issues with the title and cover, but it is well worth cracking. The above remark notwithstanding, this is a serious book that is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what just happened, and what is still going on.
Thomas P. Daly recounts the frustrations of conventional operations followed by an abrupt, unexpected shift to counterinsurgency tactics in Ramadi in 2006-2007, where he was a Marine rifle company's FO and intelligence officer...
Junger's War , Review by Karaka Pend -- [Small Wars Journal]
On May 21, 2010, I saw Sebastian Junger speak on the subject of his book War. It was standing room only, with several servicemen and women present; but the audience was mostly older folks. The parents of Private Misha Pemble-Belkin, one of the soldiers Junger writes about in his book, were present that evening, and Junger took care to welcome them. It was clear from that moment on, even before his reading or before I had the chance to read the book, that Junger had written about people who had come to mean a great deal to him. To understand that is to understand the impetus of his account...
One less blog -- [BruceR/Flit]
Canada's own "milblog", The Torch (aka, toyoufromfailinghands.blogspot.com) has shut its doors, suddenly and apparently permanently. Correspondence with the authors confirms it's over. I'd give a link, but obviously there's no point now. They'll be missed. Best of luck to the contributors in their future endeavours...
Can troops in Afghanistan chamber a round on patrol? -- [Jeff Shogol/The Rumor Doctor/Stars and Stripes]
The Rumor Doctor has seen blogs claiming that U.S. troops in Afghanistan can't have a round in the chamber when they go outside the wire...
"While it is not our policy to comment on the specifics of those force protection measures, I can tell you that individual unit commanders have the flexibility and latitude to increase or decrease their force protection posture as needed and as appropriate for the situation," Master Sergeant Brian Sipp, of CJTF-101 public affairs said in an e-mail.
So Rumor Doctor gave ISAF public affairs the name of the unit in question. Shortly afterward, the soldier on the ground informed the Rumor Doctor that soldiers in his company were suddenly authorized to chamber a round outside the wire.
Phishing for the General -- [NY Times At War blog]
If you get an Internet appeal from Gen. Ray Odierno, the senior American commander in Iraq, asking you to pay lots of money to get your son or daughter out of combat duty, don't believe it. And certainly don't send the $200,000.
General Odierno acknowledged Friday that he is but one more victim of a social networking scheme offering a big -- but fake -- benefit, if you send big amounts of real money...
Scammers hit Gen. Odierno Facebook page -- [AP]
The top American general in Iraq says scammers have been making use of his Facebook page.
Looking at General Ray Odierno's Facebook page, you find out he's an Aerosmith fan -- and that Animal House is one of his favorite movies. If you see a plea for money, though, don't buy it.
Odierno says he's had several scam artists use his Facebook page to ask for money. He says one asks for $200,000 to have a loved one sent home early.
Odierno says Army investigators are chasing scammers who use social networking and mass emails to bilk military families. In the meantime, Odierno has posted a warning on his Facebook page.
He says anybody asking for money in his name is a scammer.
Press Conference -- [General Odierno]
Q There's an e-mail scam going out purportedly from the command sergeant major from USF-I [U.S. Forces - Iraq].
GEN. ODIERNO: Okay.
Q Guy can't decide whether he's a major or a sergeant major, but some people may actually take it seriously. Is USF-I putting out any guidance saying, "If you receive an e-mail from Lawrence K. Wilson that says he has $20 million in Saddam's money, don't trust it"?
GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah. Yeah, we do. And in fact, there's been people scamming my name for money, as well. And this has been going on for quite some time. You know, I've had several scam artists on Facebook use my Facebook page and then go out asking people for all kinds of money: if you pay $200,000, your son can get sent home early and -- you know. So we're constantly going after these scam artists that are out there. And we are very aware of all of these that are going on, and we have a very robust capability to attempt to take care of it.
It's more about notifying people who get these e-mails. I have this big thing on my Facebook that says don't believe -- "If anybody asks you for money in my name, don't believe it," you know. And we do that for everyone else, as well. But it's a problem.
Because what I have found, and what's frustrated me sometimes inside of Iraq, is we win, we're doing exactly what we need do on the ground and eliminating cells and terrorists. But if you look on their website, what they're telling their people is completely different than what's really happening on the ground. And they have videos that are years and years old, and they keep replaying them and replaying them and replaying them and saying, "We've killed over a thousand Americans in 2010" and "They're lying about their numbers" and, you know, "We're being very successful. We need you to continue to contribute money to the al Qaeda organization. You need to help come, we need suicide bomber" -- I mean, you know, these are all the kind of things that go on. And so those are real challenges to us that we really have to get after as well as scams and other things that go on.
Press Conference -- [General Odierno (con't from above)]
And actually, since you brought that subject up, I will just say -- you know, one of the things -- you asked me about Joint Forces Command, and one of the things -- one of the things that we have to really continue to work hard is the change that's occurred in terms of global communications and access to global communications and impact on warfare, impact on asymmetric warfare, impact on counterinsurgency, impact on future warfare. It's significant.
We've just stood up a cyber command, which I fully support. I think it's extremely important that we've stood up this command. It's the guy who gets that who they support out in the field. It's absolutely essential that we start really taking a hard look at how we're going to deal with these very difficult issues. And it makes it difficult, because you've got to figure out: How am I going to deal with this issue and still sustain the rights that we want of freedom of expression and information? It's very tough issues that we have to continue to work through here.
IED beam could change face of war -- [Jim Michaels/USA TODAY ]
Anti-bomb technology carries risk to civilians
The military has developed technology that uses a high-tech beam to detonate hidden IEDs, an insurgent weapon responsible for the deaths and maiming of thousands of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some in the military caution that widespread use of the weapon could cause civilian casualties when the beam triggers improvised explosive devices.
"This is an offensive capability that will change the face of this war," said Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command that looks to transform military capabilities. Mattis, a supporter of the technology, acknowledged that civilians could be killed if the weapon is activated over widespread areas. But ultimately the technology would save lives, he said. "A lot more innocent people are going to die if we don't do it," he said...
Broadening Horizons: Climate Change and the U.S. Armed Forces -- [CNAS Report]
Broadening Horizons is an edited volume featuring four chapters and a capstone piece that explores the dual pressures of climate change and energy on each U.S. military service and combatant command and offers a road ahead to improve the country's ability to promote national security in the face of a changing climate. Authors include CNAS Senior Military Fellow Commander Herbert E. Carmen, USN, CNAS Bacevich Fellow Christine Parthemore and CNAS Research Assistant Will Rogers.
Broadening Horizons: Climate Change and the U.S. Armed Forces
By Commander Herbert Carmen, USN, Christine Parthemore
and Will Rogers
Climate Change and the Maritime Services
By Christine Parthemore
Climate Change and America's Air Forces
By Will Rogers
Climate Change and U.S. Ground Forces
By Christine Parthemore
Climate Change and the Combatant Commands
By Commander Herbert E. Carmen, USN, Christine Parthemore
and Will Rogers
Sustaining Security: How Natural Resources Influence National Security -- [Christine Parthemore, Will Rogers/CNAS Report]
In the 21st century, the security of nations will depend increasingly on the security of natural resources, or "natural security." Countries around the world rely on the availability of potable water, arable land, fish stocks, biodiversity, energy, minerals and other renewable and nonrenewable resources to meet the rising needs and expectations of a growing world population. Yet the availability of these resources is by no means assured. This report - authored by Christine Parthemore and Will Rogers - points to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mexico and Yemen as examples of how natural security challenges are directly linked to internal stability, regional dynamics and U.S. security and foreign policy interests...
The ARPA Net, Granddaddy of the Internet -- [Cold Fronts/Jack Sharp]
...At first, AFGWC commander Colonel Danny Mitchell was dubious about Global becoming a node on the Net. His fear was that someday, somewhere, some graduate student would run a program that would clog the network, no matter how fast it was transmitting, but he agreed anyway to put Global on-line. In a real sense, Colonel Mitchell was anticipating the damage that computer hackers would one day wreak with their viruses.
It didn't take long for AFGWC's Development Branch to begin sending preliminary versions of a true global model plus necessary canned test data through the ARPA Net to various universities where they would be run on large scientific computers which would have otherwise sat idle overnight. As envisioned, the ARPA Net made resource sharing a reality on a national scale.
A few years later the DoD began looking for sponsors for their pioneering communication network within the civilian community and eventually found some. The ARPA Net would eventually grow to become the Internet - the Information Super-Highway - and my son Douglass would go to work for Microsoft, participating in the development of the tools necessary to unleash the potential of this complex wiring system that encircled the globe mimicking the human nervous system, the World Wide Web...
The best information available -- [Greyhawk/Mudville]
"Three things are certain concerning the Forecasts for D-Day," writes James R. Fleming: "1) the invasion was postponed on June 5, 1944; 2) the invasion occurred under marginal weather conditions on June 6; and 3) the German meteorologists decided that the weather conditions were too poor to permit an invasion attempt. That is about all that is certain."
Regardless of the forecast, the actual weather was good enough. But success, of course, has no shortage of fathers - more from Fleming...
Army Gen. Odierno Raises Internet Concerns -- [ExecutiveGov]
Odierno is one of several military leader to voice worries about how online communications could potentially undermine security efforts. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq before becoming commander of U.S. Central Command in October 2008, communicated similar apprehensions during budget hearings on Capitol Hill earlier this year.
Meanwhile, in Marja -- [Starbuck/Wings Over Iraq]
In case you missed it, milblogger CJ Chivers had an article in the New York Times which chronicled many of the difficulties ISAF is facing in the town of Marjah. Among ISAF's woes are perennial issues with the Afghan National Police, including this gem:
"The police also said that establishing connections with residents had been difficult. Part of their problem, they said, was that many sergeants are Tajik, and do not speak Pashto, southern Afghanistan's dominant language..."
As much as I despise PowerPoint (and believe me, I do), I always think back to a presentation made by the late Captain Travis Patriquin which touches upon this very issue...
The Long March -- [Sosostris/A Handful of Dust]
As our readers know, LT Wompum is an ANA trainer in Kabul and even though he is currently on hiatus from the blog, ANA training is a topic of particular interest to the authors of AHOD. LT Gorman also has the privilege of working with the ANA on a consistent basis and has his own views on the force he will be sharing in upcoming posts.
Today I wanted to pass along a policy paper that delves into the details of building the Afghan National Army...
More Bullets vs Bigger Bullets -- [Knights of Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
Obviously, in a modern counter-insurgency fight, pinning the enemy down with a high volume of supressing fire and then anihilating them with airstrikes is problematic. Even before the new restrictions on close-air support and indirect fire, U.S. and British troops were having a very hard time successfully engaging the enemy without leveling half a village in the process. Now that the restrictions are in place, many engagements consist of a brief firefight in which the Taliban fire a few volleys from long-range and then disappear before ISAF troops can close and destroy them. We take a few casualties and the Talibs melt away. So, the thinking goes, re-equip our guys with longer-range weapons so that they can effectively engage the enemy at 300+ meters without having to rely on tactical air or artillery.
All well and good, but the article propogates a particularly annoying falsehood...
Obama talks with Gen. Odierno about Iraq -- [The Oval/USA Today]
White House spokesman Bill Burton provides us with this readout of today's meeting between President Obama and Gen. Ray Odierno, who is moving on from his post as top U.S. commander in Iraq...
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