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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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Kabul Conference Endorses 2014 Afghan Security Takeover -- [Voice of America]
The donor conference in Kabul was the largest international meeting in Afghanistan since the 1970s. Security was tight in the capital. Coalition forces battled insurgents near Kabul the night before, but the conference proceeded peacefully.
...Analysts say while there is still work to be done, the Kabul conference was President Karzai's chance to show the international community his government is ready.
Recently, many coalition partners have voiced their desire to begin transferring security control to the Afghan forces. U.S. officials say they hope to start withdrawing forces next July.
But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told delegates at the conference that this transition is not an ending, but rather, a new beginning.
"We have no intention of abandoning our long-term mission of achieving the kind of Afghanistan that President Karzai set forth in his speech," Clinton said.
Kabul Conference -- [A Major's Perspective - in Afghanistan]
A lot of news stories out there right now about the Kabul Conference that took place today, and rightfully so. (I wonder how much we really need to hear about Lohan going to jail -- I really dont care -- but I kinda expected that).
But I digress. Lot of great news stories out there, but there is something you didn't see in the news today, and it was a good thing. Why is this important? Because it was all the Afghans. Afghan led, and Afghan executed. For all the Taliban hot wind that was talked, the Afghan National Security Forces did a superb job in securing the conference.
A City Tour for V.I.P.'s Attending the Kabul Conference -- [At War]
In the opening scenes of Shakespeare's play "Measure for Measure," the Duke of Vienna takes off his fine clothes and disguises himself as an ordinary friar so that he can wander the streets and learn what the common people really think about the governance of his city.
The New York TimesIf Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. David H. Petraeus could do the same, wandering the bazaars and back streets of Kabul instead of attending the carefully guarded Kabul conference ...
...They would see the capital of the place where their policies will succeed or fail, and they would hear talk not of capacity building and clusters, but of the daily lives of the poor, of the millions of Afghans whose lives have not been touched by the dollars pouring in from donors and who do not have connections to the wealthy and powerful who can get them jobs. They would see a world of criminal gangs and they would hear that for many in Kabul, there is no belief in the future.
US hunts wanted Taliban and al Qaeda commander in Kunar -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Qari Zia Rahman has allegiance to both the Taliban and al Qaeda. ISAF said he maintained a safe haven in the district of Marawara until a recent operation to secure the region.
Highway to Hell -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
It's been a busy day on Highway 1.
One convoy, en-route to Bastion, was engaged at about 0930hrs with small arms fire from about a section-size group of insurgents using abandoned houses and gardens 300m south of the MSR as cover. Our guards dismounted from their vehicles and returned fire. Fortunately, this time, no injuries or damages were reported and the convoy quickly pushed on.
Another of my convoys was not so lucky today. ...
Riding with Ghosts -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
Editors Note: This article is too good not to share in its entirety. The reporter, Mitch Potter, was kind enough to give me permission to do so. Mitch contacted me through the blog and Panjwaii Tim told me he was a great guy with lots of experience and knowledge who he was happy to host. In Mitch's honor I hereby officially change the name for Team Canada to Ghost Team knowing full well the name change was supposed to be agreed on at the end of the summer piss up. What did I say at the end of my last post? Armed, outside the wire, experienced, contractors - this is what I was talking about.
Riding With Ghosts...
Afghanistan's New Minister of Interior: A Potential Game Changer - [SWJ - Dr. Mark Moyar, Orbis Operations]
During the Obama administration's strategic review last year, the U.S. government and media paid surprisingly close attention to the selection of Afghanistan's cabinet members, and pressed Karzai to retain the ministers whom Westerners deemed most capable. The forced resignations of Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Amrullah Saleh last month garnered less attention, despite the fact that they were two of the government's most important figures. The decline in Western enthusiasm about Atmar no doubt contributed heavily to the tepidness of the response. Soon thereafter,...
Suspected Afghan army trainer opens fire on fellow instructors -- [Washington Post]
A suspected Afghan army trainer on a shooting range in northern Afghanistan opened fire on his fellow instructors Tuesday, killing two American civilian trainers and one other Afghan soldier before being killed himself, NATO officials said. On a day when world diplomats gathered in Kabul for an international conference intended to further a transition to Afghan security responsibility, the violence showed the risks and setbacks that can come with a rapid expansion of Afghan military forces. The shooting, at a weapons training base near the city of Mazar-e Sharif, comes just one week after another rogue Afghan soldier killed three British soldiers at a base in Helmand province. "It's a great tragedy," said British Col. Stuart Cowen, a spokesman for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, the command responsible for building up the Afghan security forces. Few details were immediately available about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and NATO officials said they had started a joint investigation into the incident with the Afghan Ministry of Defense. The name of the contractor that provided the U.S. trainers was also not disclosed.
Picture Of The Day - 20 JUL 2010 "Master Healer" -- [FaST Surgeon - in Afghanistan]
...We were fortunate at FOB Shank to have LTC H (AKA Podalirius). Over the last 10 years, the military has identified an injury pattern known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Most of us would refer to this as a "concussion". mTBI is an injury caused mainly by explosive force (e.g. from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)). In Iraq, IEDs were consistently mortally devastating to our troops. Recently, our soldiers of Operation Enduring Freedom have benefited by the addition of MRAPs. I believe that there is significantly less trauma (Although there are still many instances of significant trauma and death) inflicted on our soldiers because of the protection offered by these vehicles. However, being in the epicenter of an explosion still leaves many with mTBI.
Most soldiers with mTBI rapidly improve with the innovative therapies applied by CPT J. However, ...
Series of deadly attacks in Iraq related to US pullout plan: analysts -- [Xinhua]
Recent series of attacks by insurgents have left hundreds of people dead and wounded in Iraq
Suicide Attacks Kill Dozens In Iraq -- [AP /NPR]
Two suicide bombers targeting members of a government-backed, anti-al-Qaida militia struck within hours of each other early Sunday, killing at least 48 people and wounding dozens more, Iraqi officials said.
The bombings were the deadliest in a series of attacks across Iraq Sunday that were aimed at the Sons of Iraq, a Sunni group also known as Sahwa that works with government forces to fight al-Qaida in Iraq. The attacks highlighted the stiff challenges the country faces as the U.S. scales back its forces in Iraq, leaving their Iraqi counterparts in charge of security.
Al-Qaeda Women Used As Couriers -- [MEMRI Blog]
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is using a new strategy for transmitting messages and orders to its various cells, by using women known as mujahidat [committed to jihad] or mu'minat [believers].
US envoy: Diplomatic presence in Iraq will shrink -- [AP/WFAA]
The State Department is telling Congress that it intends to phase out a network of embassy branch offices in Iraq as soon as three years after the U.S. military leaves in 2011.
The Obama administration's choice to be the next ambassador to Baghdad -- James F. Jeffrey -- said an existing network of 16 military-civilian posts will be transformed by 2011 into a combination of three embassy branch offices and two consulates.
The three embassy branch offices will be phased out in three to five years, he said, while the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and two consulates will remain indefinitely.
Iraq's Conflict, Reflected in a Family Tragedy -- [NY Times]
When the Americans arrived, Hamid Ahmad, a former air force warrant officer imprisoned under Saddam Hussein, imagined a new life for his family, freed from the burdens of tyranny. In seven hard years, nothing went as planned.
He spoke good English and believed in America. He got a job, his family says, with the United States military. Late last month, he wound up dead at the hands of his 32-year-old son, who had turned into an insurgent who sought money and purpose in fighting the Americans.
Despite difficult relations, an Iraqi oil official said Monday that Kuwait has given initial approval to open its border for crossing by international oil firms working in Iraq oil fields.
Iraq Border to Open to International Oil Companies -- [Epoch Times]
The new border crossing will aid the inflow of equipment for oil companies working on the Safwan and Rumaila oil fields, said the director of the Oil Ministry's licensing office, Abdul-Mahdy al-Meedi, according Reuters.
Iraq wishes to upgrade its oil production capacity from 2 million to 12 million barrels a day in the next six years, according to a report by Iraq newspaper Al- Sabah. But insufficient dock space and corruption at Kuwait's Umm Qasr port, would impede the proposed expansion.
China Protests US-South Korea Joint Military Drills -- [RTT News]
In a statement issued ahead of imminent joint major military drills by the United States and South Korea in the Sea of Japan, China expressed stiff
U.S. Stealth Jets, Carrier Tell Norks: Back The Hell Up -- [Danger Room]
bout 8,000 U.S. and South Korean sailors and airmen are preparing for a big joint military exercise this weekend to tell a wilding-out North Korea to rethink its recent aggression. Get ready for Invincible Spirit.
According to Admiral Robert Willard, the commander of American forces in the Pacific, the carrier U.S.S. George Washington and a bunch of destroyers from the Navy's Seventh Fleet will head to the Sea of Japan, along with surveillance aircraft and "destroyers, frigates, and some patrol craft" from the South Korean Navy, including the South Korean transport ship Dodko. Over 100 aircraft from the Air Force's Seventh Air Wing and the South Korean Air Force are going to fly above. And since a torpedo from a North Korean submarine sank the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, there'll be anti-submarine exercises as well. It's going to unfold over several days.
Will a North Korean Attack Win the Yellow Sea for China? -- [One Free Korea]
Is the Yellow Sea a Chinese lake? Under ordinary circumstances, I'd understand China's complaints about a U.S. naval exercise in an inland sea near its shores. It's not as if I'd want Chinese ships in the Gulf of Mexico, either, but these are not ordinary circumstances. This time, North Korea has sunk a South Korean warship, and China has both shielded North Korea from any consequences for that attack and continued to provide necessary financial support to the regime that carried it out. Argue among yourselves whether this makes China an accessory after the fact, but it certainly destroys the myth of China as a mature, responsible power promoting peace and stability. That's why the U.S. Navy is now forced to deter without any help from China.
U.S. announces new sanctions against North Korea -- [Washington Post]
Searching for new ways to punish North Korea after blaming it for sinking a South Korean warship in March, the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will strengthen existing sanctions against the North and impose new restrictions on its weapons trade and trafficking in counterfeit currency and luxury goods.
Al-Qaeda Second-in-Command Ayman Al-Zawahiri: The Only Hope for Palestine is to Depose the 'Arab Zionists' -- [MEMRI Blog]
In a new 1-hour 3-minute audio recording, Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri reaffirms Al-Qaeda's basic strategy regarding Palestine and promised imminent victory in Afghanistan, and addresses words of praise and encouragement to the jihadist groups in North Africa, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, the Caucasus, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Fighting the Ideological Battle: The Missing Link in U.S. Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism -- [Counterterrorism Blog - Matthew Levitt]
As nonaffiliate terrorist actors begin to take center stage and al-Qaeda's core strength diminishes, it has become clear that America is at war with a larger enemy: the extremist ideology that fuels and supports Islamist violence. Unfortunately, the United States is not well equipped to fight on this ideological battleground, and U.S. efforts to confront the ideology worldwide have not kept pace with more successful military targeting of high-level al-Qaeda leaders.
In a new Washington Institute Strategic Report my co-authors and I argue that rather than avoid any mention of the religious motivation behind the terrorism of al-Qaeda and other like-minded organizations, the Obama administration should sharpen the distinction between the religion of Islam and the political ideology of radical Islamism to successfully defeat Islamist terrorism at its most fundamental source.
SSG Patrick Zeigler - Someone You Should Know -- [BlackFive]
Want to meet a real life superhero? A man whose strength and power defies what many believed was humanly possible? A man who defines the phrase "American soldier"?
Meet Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler.
For the past 8 ½ months, Zeigler has looked death in the face and refused to blink. He's battled back from eight brain surgeries and diagnoses that labeled him everything from "comatose" to "permanently disabled."
Zeigler was one of 32 who was injured on November 5, 2009 when accused gunman Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire inside the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood.
Soldiers' Angels Welcomes New Trustee -- [Soldiers' Angels]
Soldiers' Angels announces the appointment of military veteran, new media expert and lobbyist Mark Seavey to the Board of Trustees. Drawing on thirteen years' experience advocating for veterans, Seavey will work closely with COL (ret) Henry Cook on legislative liaison efforts.
A strong advocate for veterans, Seavey began his career with The American Legion in 1997 as an Appeals Representative and later served with the National Legislative Commission as an Assistant Director and Grassroots Coordinator. Recently promoted to New Media Manager, Seavey serves as steward of The Burn Pit and also runs a highly-respected personal milblog which specializes in debunking fraudulent military service claims.
BREAKING: Stolen Valor Act ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL (UPDATE 1) -- [BlackFive - Mr Wolf]
Sit back, take a deep breath, and get your BP meds ready. Stupidity has found another outlet in the judicial system. And be prepared to memorize this face.
One of our favorite impostors Richard Strandloff/Duncan has had the charges of Stolen Valor dropped due to a ruling from the District Court in Denver today. Judge Robert E. Blackburn issued a ruling today, dropping/dismissing the charges on the basis that says ''the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional.'' And by 'unconstitutional' he means it violates the First Amendment. He writes:
Dozens of Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers returning home -- [WKYT]
Friends and family will gather at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort Wednesday to welcome home 86 Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers
Local Seabees Return -- [WKRG-TV]
Family members, relatives, and friends will welcome home more than 260 Seabees from ... to send an additional 30000 troops to Afghanistan late last year
Soldiers from the 278th return home -- [TriCities.com]
...every deployment is stressful because one parent ends up doing the job of two. In addition to taking care of their children by herself, Tara Spears said she also must do her husband's chores, such as mowing the lawn.
That's why she's thankful the Bootleggers have friends and family members who work together like an extended family during a deployment the same way its members become brothers while their in combat.
Technology also has come a long way in the five years since her husband's first deployment, and that's helped out a lot too. During the Bootleggers' 2004-05 deployment, Tara Spears said she was lucky if she could talk to her husband once a week. This year she's been able to use her Blackberry and Skype, an Internet-based video telephone service, to talk to her husband every single day that he's been gone.
URGENT!! OIF/OEF VETERANS DISCHARGED FOR PTSD -- [Some Soldier's Mom]
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
OIF/OEF Veterans: TIME IS RUNNING OUT. If you were discharged for PTSD and received LESS THAN A 50% disability rating from your service branch, you MAY be able to receive some additional benefits
New treatment for PTSD? Dropping some Ecstasy. -- [Stars & Stripes]
It's not the most likely prescription for veterans already suffering from paranoia and emotional imbalance, but a group of researchers with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in California are suggesting that 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (better known as Ecstasy) could prove valuable in helping combat vets in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study, which tracked only 20 patients, found veterans using Ecstasy were more receptive to counseling sessions than those on a placebo.
Oh, poor Blogetry! -- [Jawa Report]
Oh, the poor 73,000 blogs they hosted!!
Why, the FBI won't take my blog until they pry my cold dead fingers from the keyboard!!1! /sarcasm.
1. A site hosted by Blogetry was distributing Inspire magazine from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
2. The FBI asked for nothing more than information about the particular site, one of 73,000 hosted by Blogetry.
3. BurstNET, acting on their own initiative, and in accordance with their own Terms of Service, pulled the plug on Blogetry.
The FBI did not shut down 73,000 blogs, period. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story...
WH Press Briefing- Top Secret means Top Secret -- [BlackFive - Uncle Jimbo]
I posted this over at Big Peace but since it is an ongoing series here I wanted a copy on our servers. I think some of the hype over whether this compromises classified information may have been overblown. That said, I don't think it really added anything to the debate and put too much of our secret business out in public.
JournoList Members Discussed Whether the Government Should Shut Down Fox News -- [The Volokh Conspiracy]
It appears from the last few days' stories that JournoList was even worse than I'd always suspected. The Daily Caller reports that UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff first raised the possibility of a government shutdown of Fox News and then defended pulling their White House press pass
Breitbart On Sherrod's NAACP Speech: 'I Did Not Edit This Thing' -- [TPMMuckraker]
The crux of the Shirley Sherrod controversy is what she said outside of the two-minute video clip posted by Big Government -- whether she was, as she claims, telling a story about how she overcame racial prejudice while helping poor farmers in Georgia, or whether the clip is a good encapsulation of her views. So we asked Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Big Government, why he hasn't posted the full video.
"I don't have it," Breitbart told TPMmuckraker in an interview. Breitbart said his source sent him just the edited clips at first, but is in the process of sending the full video.
Breitbart said he'll post the full video, if he can get permission from the video production company who filmed it for a local NAACP chapter. He also maintained that he didn't edit the clip and that it was sent to him already edited.
VoteVets still whining about Fox -- [This Ain't Hell]
This morning I awoke to to some more VoteVets whining. They have new million-dollar ad that they're trying to cram down Fox's throat about this Clean Energy bill in Congress.
War is Boring: Fourth Time the Charm for NATO's Afghan Militia Plan? -- [WPR]
The impetus behind the scheme was simple enough. "We clearly do not have enough police forces to provide security in enough of the populated areas," top Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell admitted.
Nevertheless, reaction to the plan was swift and alarmed. Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly objected to it -- and for good reason. On no fewer than three occasions in the last three years, NATO has experimented with militias and local security forces. All these previous efforts failed, sometimes spectacularly.
Morrell tried to downplay concerns. "These would be local community policing units," Morell said last week. "They would not be militias."
"It is clearly a sensitive issue for President Karzai and the Afghan government and the Afghan people, given their history with militias and warlords," Morrell told reporters. "And we are certainly understanding and sensitive to that."
"But that is not what Gen. Petraeus is proposing here,"
The real Star Wars: Laser used to shoot down a moving aircraft for first time -- [Daily Mail]
Star Wars-style laser beams have been used for the first time to shoot down aircraft in flight, it was revealed last night.
The anti-aircraft laser shot down four unmanned drones at a US Navy test range off the coast of California.
Mounted on a warship, the space age weapon was fired over two miles to hit one drone travelling above the Pacific Ocean at more than 300mph.
The invisible beam can only be seen when it strikes its target.
The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force -- [White House]
President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes on July 19, 2010. That Executive Order adopts the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and directs Federal agencies to take the
appropriate steps to implement them.
Meet the National Ocean Council -- [White House Blog]
Find out who represents your new National Ocean Council.
In Midst of Gulf Disaster, New National Ocean Policy Gives Hope for Our Seas -- [Huffington Post - Sigourney Weaver Academy Award nominated actress]
I have always loved the oceans. My father was a Navy man and one requirement he had for us growing up was that we had to live near a body of saltwater. I was raised listening to foghorns by night and being chased by horseshoe crabs by day.
...This is the most significant action any U.S. President in history has ever taken for our seas. It will help make our oceans stronger and healthier, and help them fight off the myriad of threats they face today. It will help clean up the pollution that contaminates our beachwater, protect endangered species, keep the seafood we love on our plates, and make the oceans more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Kagan and the Military: What Really Happened -- [WSJ - Pete Hegseth]
Her intellectually dishonest opposition to our armed forces during a time of war shows bad judgment. She doesn't belong on the Supreme Court.
Hegseth on Kagan -- [This Ain't Hell]
Out buddy, Pete Hegseth, the executive director of Vets For Freedom, takes on Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court nominee, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal this morning on her contention that she's friendly towards the military
American Civil War: It Begins at Bull Run -- [about.com / Military History]
July 21, 1861 - Union forces are beaten at the First Battle of Bull Run. Under pressure to defeat Confederate forces, Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell advanced into Virginia in July 1861. Encountering Confederate troops under Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard behind Bull Run, he attempted a sweeping march around the enemy's left flank. This largely succeeded on July 21 and Union forces achieved early success before pausing their advance. This allowed Beauregard to rush recently arrived reinforcements, under Brig. Gen. Joseph Johnston, to the scene. As the battle progressed, the Confederates gained the upper hand and ultimately routed McDowell's army sending it reeling back towards Washington.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and other sources around the world.
Prospects for stability in Musa Qala: challenges and possible solutions -- [Bill Ardolino /Long War Journal - in Afghanistan]
Part 3 in a three-part series on Musa Qala. For Part 1, see The checkered history of Musa Qala; for Part 2, see US Marines battle the Taliban for control of Musa Qala.
..."To the west, there are more 'little-t Taliban,' mostly in it for the money and drug smuggling," explains McDowell. "The farther east of the line you go, the more you see 'capital-T Taliban,' the ideologues who are affiliated with the Qetta Shura."
...A third, nebulous category of enemy also exists: violence is often tied to inscrutable local business interests, politics, and simple crime, especially in cases of Afghan-on-Afghan violence.
"Here in the District Center ... it's really strange, it's hard to characterize what is happening," explains H&S Company Commander First Lieutenant Joshua Hartley, who regularly leads patrols through Musa Qala...
Positive factors at present include...
Exploding Culverts -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
The ambush was initiated with a large IED, planted in a road culvert...
The initiation was followed up by sustained and accurate small-arms and RPG fire to the front, middle and rear of the convoy from the high ground on both sides of the MSR. My guards de-bussed and returned fire...
Arbaki -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
It looks like the new boss has convinced President Karzai to reverse his position on using tribal militias. The new name for these soon to be created Arbaki is Local Police Forces (LPF.) This is a plan which has been tried before with minimal success... I'm not sure what is being modified to make this cunning plan more effective than the last time around but I do know this much - the plan is going to fail.
Weather -- [A Major's Perspective - in Afghanistan]
Its hot here right now...but not a hot like you would think...
The wind is something to describe though. Starting in late spring it starts to pickup and everyday around 230PM until Midnight it blows. All of the sand / dust gets picked up by it turning into a swirling maelstorm of junk and dirt.
For the guys in Kandahar and the eastern portions of the country it is different. Kandahar is hot, very hot, reminds me of Iraq hot. The east of the country is hot but also mixed with humidity...
Fête Nationale -- [Field Notes: One Soldier's Perspective - in Afghanistan]
July 14: This morning we had a brief ceremony to recognize and celebrate "Fête Nationale" or French National Day. It is the official national day of France. While it is also known as Bastille Day (anniversary of storming the Bastille in 1789), it actually celebrates the anniversary of the Fête de la Fédération that occurred on 14 July 1790 (one year after the storming of the Bastille)...
This morning's ceremony featured the raising of the French flag over the ISAF Headquarters...
Goodbye "FaST" Food (and good riddance) -- [FaST Surgeon - in Afghanistan]
...I am completely for the elimination of places like BK and Pizza Hut from military installations. Not only in theaters of war, but in ALL military installations. I simply don't believe there is any reason for their existence on our bases / camps / or posts...
On The Iran, Iraq Border -- [J.D. Johannes - in Iraq]
In the 1980s Iran and Iraq fought to a bloody stalemate on a thin strip of desert over access to a waterway, the Shatt al Arab, that had been in dispute since the days of the Ottoman Empire.
The war was a pure fire-power battle resembling the trench warfare of World War I and the set piece charges of the American Civil War.
The tension over the Iran/Iraq border still lingers making border security one of the key missions of US Forces in Iraq.
I spent a day at the Shalamcha Port of Entry, a bustling entry point for Iranian tourists and transhipment point east of Basrah, Iraq...
Senators Look For Smoking Gun In BP-Lockerbie Link -- [AP]
...Soon after al-Megrahi's release last year, BP acknowledged that it urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but stressed it didn't specify his case. It reiterated that stance this week when four U.S. Democratic senators asked the State Department to investigate whether there was a quid pro quo for the Lockerbie bomber's release.
"The evidence here may be circumstantial but if I were a prosecutor, I'd love to take this case to a jury," said New York Sen. Charles Schumer...
No Link Between BP And Lockerbie Release: UK Envoy -- [NPR news blog]
Many people for obvious reasons are more than willing to believe the worst about BP.
So when stories circulated this week that the company had lobbied for Scotland to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in order to secure an oil deal with Libya, many BP haters were perfectly ready to believe that.
But the United Kingdom's ambassador to the U.S., Nigel Sheinwald, says BP played no such a role in the al-Megrahi affair.
The envoy explained in an open letter to Sen. John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee...
UK's Cameron: Releasing Lockerbie Bomber Was Wrong -- [AP]
"As leader of opposition, I couldn't have been more clear that I thought the decision to release al-Megrahi was completely and utterly wrong," Cameron told the BBC before leaving Tuesday on his first visit as British leader to the United States, where he is expected to face questioning about the case.
In fact, Cameron's political party did more than just condemn the former Libyan intelligence agent's release. In the weeks following, Britain's Conservatives called for an inquiry into whether trade considerations played any role in the decision.
The party has changed tack, however, since taking control in May of Britain's government in a coalition. Cameron's Downing Street office said a government-commissioned inquiry was "not currently under consideration."
Cameron emphasized that the final decision to release al-Megrahi was made by Scotland's government, which holds some limited powers within the United Kingdom, and not by the previous British government headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
As Cameron and Obama Meet, BP Will Be Top Issue -- [NY Times]
On the eve of a White House meeting with President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday stepped into the furor over BP's lobbying for a prisoner-transfer agreement between Britain and Libya by saying he considered the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber from a Scottish prison last year to be "completely and utterly wrong."
Ten weeks after taking office, Mr. Cameron is making his first visit to the United States as prime minister. He and Mr. Obama have a ledger of issues to discuss, including the Cameron government's decision to set an end date of 2015 for Britain's combat role in Afghanistan...
Afghanistan tops agenda for British PM's visit -- [Washington Times]
The White House on Monday said the war in Afghanistan is "first and foremost" on the agenda for Prime Minister David Cameron's first Washington visit with President Obama, but the new British leader will be walking a political tightrope over the release of the Lockerbie bomber amid questions from Congress about whether BP had a role in the decision.
The meeting Tuesday comes as operations in Afghanistan are at a pivotal point...
Homecoming -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - home from Afghanistan]
..."All 5th Brigade Personnel bound for Joint-Base Lewis-McChord, we'll be boarding you at Gate 4 in five minutes," announced an airline representative over the intercom. A smile broke across my face. I was heading home. I was almost done. This war was over for me, and I could wash my hands of it for at least a year or two. I jumped up from my seat, gave one last grin at the run way, knowing I'd be on it in just a few moments.
"Hey Raj," called out my friend James, a West Point classmate in the brigade.
"What's going on brother?! Ready to kick this pig?!" I slapped him enthusiastically on the back.
"Rajiv...something's happened." James voice became quiet...
ISAF, SCR Address Military ROE and Tactical Directives -- [ISAF]
"Our rules of engagement are solid, and they have not changed," said Blotz. "They are based on international law and are standardized across 47 nations, and describe the circumstances and limitations under which forces will begin or continue to engage in combat. This defines the"right and left limits" of what we will allow our forces to do as they fight."
...He added that the tactical directives tell troops what they should do while the rules of engagement instruct them what they can do. In an example he describes the difference between the two directives.
"If our troops are fired upon from a compound, under the laws of armed conflict...international law, that compound is a legal target," the general said. "However, the current tactical directive will ask our troops to consider the minimal level of force that's required to handle the situation."
...At the moment, the application of the current tactical directive is being reviewed to ensure it is consistently being used across our force.
"It is important to remember that [ISAF] military forces always retain the right to self defense, if commanders believe their forces are in danger they are required to make decisions to protect themselves," said Blotz..
Raytheon's pain gun finally gets deployed in Afghanistan (update: recalled) -- [Engadget]
t's been six long years since we first got wind of the Pentagon's Active Denial System, and four since it was slated to control riots in Iraq, but though we've seen reporters zapped by the device once or twice, it seems the Air Force-approved pain gun is only now entering service in Afghanistan...
Update: Sorry folks, false alarm -- a Air Force spokesperson just informed us that though the pain gun was indeed sent to Afghanistan, it's now being returned to the US without ever seeing use.
Pain Ray Recalled From Afghanistan -- [Noah Shachtman/Danger Room]
...The system's tactical advantages are far outweighed by the strategically-massive propaganda boost that the pain ray would've given the Taliban.
The Active Denial System: the weapon that's a hot topic -- [The Telegraph (UK)]
In 2007, with the situation in Iraq at its most volatile since the invasion, US forces requested the presence of the ADS. It was never sent. Indeed, The Daily Telegraph has learnt that it has now been recalled from Afghanistan, without being fired in anger...
...Other problems come from the limitations of the device itself. Rain, snow and fog hamper its effectiveness, and it can be blocked by highly reflective materials such as aluminium foil...
Yet even if the ADS falls short, the ongoing pressure to keep the civilian body count to a minimum has made the development of similar weapons a top priority for Western forces. The ADS is only one of a raft of new non-lethal measures the US has been developing, under varying levels of secrecy...
World's Fastest Helicopter Boosts Battle Against Insurgents -- [ISAF]
...The aircraft's value in the battle against insurgents lies in its versatile performance. The Lynx crews can track insurgent movements and watch over vulnerable areas with its sophisticated surveillance camera. This "overwatch" capability helps in the protection of the massive convoys used to re-supply front line troops in the forward operating bases.
The convoys can be vulnerable to attack as they track across vast swathes of desert from base to base but with the Lynx and its formidable weapons systems circling above, the insurgents stay away...
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3 ISAF troops killed repelling Taliban assault in Kandahar -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Three ISAF soldiers and five civilian workers have been killed while repelling a Taliban terror assault on a police compound in the provincial capital of Kandahar.
The Taliban launched a coordinated, complex attack on an Afghan National Civil Order Police headquarters in Kandahar city yesterday in an attempt to overrun the compound, ISAF reported in a press release.
Hero hit by bullet ... spits it out again -- [The Sun]
TOUGH soldier Luke Reeson was hit in the face by a Taliban bullet - and SPAT it out. He then yomped two miles to base, carrying his heavy kit, for treatment .
Minus A Leg, Still On A Mission In Afghanistan -- [NPR]
apt. Dan Luckett of the Army's 101st Airborne Division is assigned to one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan, the Zhari district just north of Kandahar city, where Taliban attacks are common. He goes on patrols, lifts weights in his spare time and is second in command of his company.
That may not sound unusual.
What is unusual is that Luckett is a double amputee, after injuries he received in combat in Iraq in 2008. Recovered and fit, he's now in Afghanistan as part of the U.S.-led military effort to take control of Kandahar province and drive out the Taliban.
Twinkle Twinkle -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
There's no doubt things are hotting up. Our convoys are being hit every day by IED and ambushes - often, combined. The bad guys seem to be moving in larger groups and, to us, it seems that they are operating with virtual impunity on certain sections of Hwy 1, in particular in the vicinity of Hawz-e Madad where we can guarantee running an ambush as the convoy passes through the gardens that border the road. We've lost four KIA in that 10km stretch in the past week alone...
Our stats came out last night and make for interesting reading. The three that stood out for me are insurgent ambushes have risen while our convoy damage / destruction has fallen, at the same time as our ammo expenditure has declined...
On Patrol in Karamanda -- [Weekly Standard - Bill Ardolino - in Afghanistan]
Scenes from the war in Afghanistan.
A dozen Marines streamed from Patrol Base Griffin about two hours after dawn on Thursday, July 1, descending a rocky gravel slope leading straight into the village of Karamanda. The Americans were joined by two Afghan police officers, two Afghan soldiers, an interpreter, and a black bomb-sniffing dog named Bandit. The men walked in rigid single-file "Ranger formation," each mimicking the footsteps of the person to his front to minimize the chance of stepping on a pressure plate IED. They moved in relative silence broken by greetings to villagers, occasional commands, and the odd joke. "Frankie," a young Afghan interpreter from Kabul, began to tunelessly sing a song.
Petraeus' First Big Afghanistan Gamble:
Militias Local Cops -- [Danger Room - Spencer Ackerman]
Ever since the Sunni insurgents of Iraq's Anbar Province broke from al-Qaeda in 2006, the U.S. has strained to find a way to replicate the move in Afghanistan. With remarkable frequency, senior U.S. military officers have approached Hamid Karzai's government and ask if they can set up some structure outside of the formal Afghan army and police to get local auxiliaries to pick up the security slack. And each time, the Karzai government balked, fearing an entrenchment or acceleration of Afghanistan's warlords, power brokers and militias. Until now.
General David Petraeus has persuaded Karzai to set up a new force to supplement Afghan soldiers and police...
Elusive Game in Afghanistan -- [At War]
The sniper encounters started in late May, in Paktika's Yahya Khel district. On patrols near the insurgent-dominated village of Palau, Company A, of the Third Battalion, 187th Infantry, took sporadic but accurate fire, seemingly from marksmen more skilled than the average insurgent.
NYTBattalion intelligence overheard Afghans talking about foreign fighters in the village. A few days later, ...
Afghanistan OKs new local defense forces -- [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
KABUL, Afghanistan • After intensive discussions with NATO military commanders, the Afghan government approved on Wednesday a program to establish local defense forces around the country, to help remote areas thwart attacks by Taliban insurgents.
The NATO-backed program, which will be supervised by the Interior Ministry, will pay salaries to the members of these new forces, an inducement that could aid recruitment.
Nonetheless, the Afghan government's agreement to establish the program represents a concession by President Hamid Karzai, who had resisted it.
Officials: Afghan villagers repel insurgents -- [Afghanistan Crossroads]
Kabul, Afghanistan -- Villagers in eastern Afghanistan repelled an insurgent attack Tuesday, an incident that left an Afghan civilian and "numerous" Taliban dead, the NATO-led command said.
...The event is one in a series of examples of villagers withstanding and repelling insurgent attacks, including the successful defense of a village in the Gizab district in southeast Afghanistan in April that resulted in several insurgent deaths and four arrests, the statement said.
U.S. senators voice doubts on Afghanistan plan -- [Reuters]
The Obama administration has not done enough to explain its goals for the war in Afghanistan, including what its exit strategy will be, U.S. senators said on Wednesday.
Malaysia makes first deployment to Afghanistan -- [AFP]
KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia will make its first military deployment to Afghanistan Thursday, sending a unit of medical personnel as ties with the United States ...
Iranian-backed Shia terror group remains a threat in Iraq: General Odierno -- [LWJ - Bill Roggio]
Hezbollah Brigades has imposed an "increased threat" over the past several weeks, the US' top commander in Iraq said. The terror group remains tied to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Commander in Iraq Warns of Attacks on U.S. Bases -- [NY Times]
Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of United States forces in Iraq, said Tuesday that Iranian-backed Shiite militias might increase attacks on American military bases this summer as thousands of American soldiers begin leaving Iraq.
Car Bomb Kills 6 in Northern Iraq -- [Voice of America]
Iraqi officials say a car bomb targeting a police patrol has killed six people and wounded at least 11 more in a city north of Baghdad.
Iraqis Take Control of Last US Prison in Iraq -- [Voice of America]
The United States has handed over control of its last military prison in Iraq to Iraqi officials. US military officials transferred control of ...
Iraq: US hands over Tariq Aziz, other detainees -- [Breitbart]
The U.S. this week handed over nearly 30 former members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle, including the longtime international face of the regime, Tariq Aziz, officials said Wednesday.
The announcement comes a day before U.S. authorities are to transfer authority of Camp Cropper, the last American-run detention facility to the Iraqi government.
To Iraq....Again -- [Outside the Wire - JD Johannes - in Iraq]
Just when I think I'm out...I get an assignment to cover Iraq. But since the assignment is to cover the 1st Infantry Division as part of a project for the Cantigny First Infantry Division Museum, I couldn't say no.
The Headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division--The Big Red One--is running the United States Division--South out of Basra.
I flew from Kabul to Dubai on Kam airlines and stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Express Airport. I'm becoming an authority on the H.I. Expresses of Dubai, so far I like the Airport one the best. I flew Emirates Airlines to Kuwait and then took a Blackhawk from the military transit point Contingency Operating Base Basra.
Iraq's Imperiled Modern Art -- [At War]
If a blog about war seems an unlikely place to see photographs of paintings and sculptures, consider this. In May, the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment of the Third Infantry Division organized an art exhibition with a black-tie opening night in Dora, still one of Baghdad's most troubled neighborhoods, if less troubled than before.
In Muthanna Province, the provincial reconstruction did something similar awhile back, commissioning paintings by Iraqi women that made their way to the State Department in Washington for a brief exhibition this spring.
Obama Plan Outlines Reductions in U.S. Nuclear Arsenal -- [Washington Post]
The Obama administration's 20-year plan for the U.S. nuclear arsenal would reduce the number of deployed and stored warheads from 5,000 to a range of 3,000 to 3,500 and significantly increase spending on the complex that maintains them, according to newly disclosed documents.
Iran: Nuke Scientist? What Nuke Scientist? -- [Danger Room]
Shahram Amiri, the maybe-nuclear scientist who was maybe kidnapped by the CIA, has landed in Teheran. Now come the denials about what he actually did and who he actually was.
Apparently dressed in the same white shirt and tweed sportsjacket from his calm-academic YouTube video, Amiri held a press conference at Imam Khomeini Airport after de-planing to say he rejected what he described as a $50 million bribe not to come home.
Nuclear Scientist Receives Hero's Welcome in Iran -- [Voice of America]
Iranian researcher Shahram Amiri arrived home in Tehran Thursday to a hero's welcome, amid further allegations that he had been abducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) -- a claim that Washington strenuously denies. He had spent more than a year in the United States, at one point saying in a video posting that he was studying in Arizona of "his own volition."
Iranian government television has played a series of webcam interviews with him in recent weeks, each containing new and conflicting tales about his alleged abduction in Saudi Arabia, last year.
Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied the charges, saying that he was "free to leave," as he had been "free to come," in the first place.
Russia Urges Iran to Explain Nuclear Program -- [Voice of America]
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is calling on Iran to explain its nuclear program and to fully cooperate with the international community.
Martyrdom tape of failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad released -- [Long War Journal]
A martyrdom videotape of failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad has appeared today on the Al Arabiya news channel. The videotape shows Shahzad wearing a black turban, Pakistani clothes, and a military-styled vest. He is seen holding an AK-47 and is often seen reading from the Koran.
In the tape, Shahzad said he is "getting revenge for the killing of Baitullah and Zarqawi, and for all the weak and oppressed and martyred among the Muslims," Arif Rafiq, the president of Vizier Consulting and editor of the Pakistani Policy Blog told The Long War Journal. "Shahzad says jihad is an integral part of Islam and emphasizes the need to spread Islam worldwide."
...Shahzad said the war against the West and countries that are insufficiently Muslim has only just begun.
Petraeus wants Taliban in Pakistan on terror list -- [AP]
The new military commander in Afghanistan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee are urging the State Department to add to its terrorist list some Afghan insurgent commanders who operate from hiding places in neighboring Pakistan.
Commander of NATO forces Gen. David Petraeus wants some leaders of the Haqqani network added to the list, a senior U.S. Defense official in Washington said Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to describe internal administration discussions.
On Tuesday, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., urged the State Department to take the same action. Levin is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Both asked for sanctions against the al-Qaida-linked group, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. The Haqqani network launches attacks against U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan from the Waziristan tribal region in Pakistan.
Support Cooking with the Troops! -- [causes.com]
Mission: Provide aid, comfort, and support to U.S. and Allied Troops, their families, and caregivers.
Build-A-Bear Workshop Salutes U.S. Troops by Donating over $144,000 to the USO -- [MarketWatch (press release)]
"We are thrilled with the results which will help the USO Charter Centers continue to support our troops!" Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. is the only global
As a Brigade Returns Safe, Some Meet New Enemies -- [NY Times]
..."Being back in garrison is what we don't do well, because since 9/11 it seems we've spent more time deployed than at home," Lt. Col. David Wilson said.
As the United States military continues to reduce the number of troops in Iraq -- to 50,000 by Sept. 1 from about 85,000 now -- it has begun to shift some focus to the home front in an effort to ensure a smooth transition for soldiers, a move prompted by lessons learned from returning veterans who have struggled to adjust to lives away from war.
Leaders of the Fourth Brigade said its problems had not only been deeply embarrassing, but had revealed institutional ignorance about combat stress and traumatic brain injury that forced the unit to use a holistic approach not typically associated with the military as it confronted its issues.
How the U.S. Army's Diann Traina and other young military personnel are getting ripped off--and what's being done to help them Red, White, and Scammed -- [VeteransPlus]
.S. Army Spc. Diann Traina signed a contract, took out a loan, and traded in her pickup to buy the sedan at a dealership in Fayetteville, N.C., right outside the gates of Fort Bragg. What she didn't know was that the dealer had taken out a loan against his inventory and didn't actually own the vehicle he sold her. Spc. Traina was never able to get the title to the BMW, so when the dealership shut down soon afterward, she was stuck--without a car and with an $11,000 debt. In the meantime, she had been deployed to Iraq, leaving her helpless to do much about it.
Like thousands of service members engaged in fighting America's battles overseas, Spc. Traina had encountered a foe here at home. Young, inexperienced, and often drawing their first paychecks, enlisted men and women are easy marks for sleazy car dealers, insurance scammers, predatory lenders, and identity thieves. So pervasive are the rip-offs--and so troubling the debt incurred by military personnel as a result--that U.S. Department of Defense officials recently labeled the situation a threat to national security. "You don't want them distracted while they're out on the front lines," says Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "But they will be if they're worrying about what's going on at home."
Kids today... too violent for the military? -- [Greyhawk]
I've read (and believe) studies demonstrating the majority of American youth are unfit for service based on physical fitness or education levels, criminal records (some related to violent acts) and other considerations. And I've seen unrelated claims that exposure to violent media - movies, games, music - serves to indoctrinate youth into some sort of "military mindset."
But I believe this is the first time I've encountered this intriguing thought: the military should take steps to reverse some of that media conditioning:
Scottsdale Man Who Posed as Marine Found Guilty -- [Fox News]
A bench warrant has been issued
A Scottsdale man accused of posing as a U.S. Marine has been found guilty. John Rodriguez was charged with 13 counts, including fraud and forgery.
Rodriguez didn't show up to his court date and a jury quickly found him guilty.
Police say he wore a uniform and ribbons indicating he'd been awarded the prestigious Navy Cross and Silver Star.
Rodriguez even tried to postpone a court date by claiming he was going to be deployed to Iraq.
Gay ex-officer to testify against military's ban -- [AP]
If the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy were lifted today, Mike Almy would not think twice about returning to the Air Force.
300 Fort Gordon Soldiers Return Home From Iraq -- [WJBF-TV]
300 troops arriving home after an 11 month deployment to Iraq, ... Brice Maygreen, Home from Iraq: "He said welcome home, I'm grateful that I could be here
VA eases PTSD claim process -- [Fort Leavenworth Lamp]
Currently, VA decision makers are required to confirm that a noncombat veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile military activity
New hopes for women veterans making claims for PTSD benefits -- [WTKR]
Christine Brooks is a Navy veteran who says she suffers from PTSD, including painful headaches that make it hard to sleep. She's been trying to receive PTSD
The Hunter Becomes the Hunted (A Nigerian Scam) -- [A Soldier's Perspective - CJ]
I've been covering these military dating scams for a number of years from the early days when the emails were simply "you won a kabillion dollars in an internet lottery". The latest buzz that seems to be working for the Nigerian Scammers has been to use photos and images of troops to perpetrate their scams. With two long wars going on and respect for troops at a high, they have found a willingly ignorant society to scheme money from. That doesn't make the victims idiots or stupid; they don't understand the military and just want to help. Often time, they fall in love with the image of man in the photos. Unfortunately, in my experience almost every Soldier used in these scams is already married, which breaks their hearts.
The Past Bites The U.S. Army In The Ass -- [Strategy Page]
...The main problem with COIN is that the American armed forces takes it for granted. U.S. troops have been defeating guerilla movements for centuries. Through all that time, COIN has been the most frequent form of warfare American troops have been involved with. But COIN has always been viewed as a minor, secondary, military role. It never got any respect. Even the U.S. Marine Corps, after half a century of COIN operations, were glad to put that behind them in the late 1930s. All that remained of that experience was a classic book, "The Small Wars Manual," written by some marine officers on the eve of World War II. That book, which is still in print, contained timeless wisdom and techniques on how to deal with COIN operations, and "small wars" in general. Much of the work the army has done in the last five years, to revise their manuals, could have been done just by consulting the Small Wars Manual. In some cases, that's exactly what was done.
The basic truth is....
British-Designed 'Bulletproof Custard' Liquid Armor Is Better than a Kevlar Vest -- [Instapundit]
Smart Phones Go To War -- [Strategy Page]
Three years ago, the iPhone, a very popular smart phone design, went on sale. Since then, over 300 million iPhones, and similar "smart phones" have been sold. Some of the most eager buyers of this technology have been American soldiers.
...The effort to deliver a useful MSP was long seen as a lost cause. But the demand is strong, and growing. The Department of Defense, and especially the army, is increasingly addressing the need for smart phones that can do things the troops need. Money is being spent to create military apps, and troops are encouraged to write these apps. It's not just training and electronic documents, but doing calculation heavy battlefield chores, like navigation, intel analysis and mission planning. The demand is growing, and so is the supply.
Let the games begin! -- [The Armorer]
The DoD fires the Administration's opening salvo in Budget Chicken with Congress. You young'uns may not have seen too much of this in your lifetimes, but it was pretty much a staple during the 80's and early 90's.
July 14, 2010 - Because Congress has yet to pass a supplemental funding bill, the Defense Department must start taking measures to ensure uninterrupted war operations, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
If Congress doesn't act on the fiscal 2010 request for supplemental war funding, Defense Department employees may not get paid, Morrell said during a news conference.
Illinois Mayor violates Stolen Valor Act; files defamation suit to silence opponent...
-- [Burn Pit]
In September of last year, I wrote a piece on The American Legion's Burn Pit blog about anti-war phony Marine Rick "Duncan" Strandlof, whose tales of surviving 9/11 at the Pentagon (and whose injury during the Battle of ...
Politics and the Military -- [At War]
There have been several articles recently which have portrayed the military as a force that has become dangerously politicized. In April, Mother Jones magazine featured a cover story entitled "Age of Treason," with a picture of a U.S. Army soldier.
The article went on to discuss the Oath Keepers, an organization that has ties to the Tea Party movement, and how some service members are involved with the group.
Additionally, there have been persistent rumors about and calls for Gen. David H. Petraeus to consider a run for the presidency. All of this, compounded with the Rolling Stone article about Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, would probably lead the everyday observer to believe that indeed the military has become politicized.
Bruce Ackerman, a law professor at Yale, asserts in The Los Angeles Times that "Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's criticism of Obama administration officials symbolizes an accelerated partisanship of the officer corps."
My Biggest Mistake in the White House -- [WSJ - Karl Rove]
Failing to refute charges that Bush lied us into war has hurt our country.
Seven years ago today, in a speech on the Iraq war, Sen. Ted Kennedy fired the first shot in an all-out assault on President George W. Bush's integrity. "All the evidence points to the conclusion," Kennedy said, that the Bush administration "put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth." Later that day Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters Mr. Bush needed "to be forthcoming" about the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Thus began a shameful episode in our political life whose poisonous fruits are still with us.
...At the time, we in the Bush White House discussed responding but decided not to relitigate the past. That was wrong and my mistake: I should have insisted to the president that this was a dagger aimed at his administration's heart. What Democrats started seven years ago left us less united as a nation to confront foreign challenges and overcome America's enemies.
Two Years Ago Today 9 Brave Men Gave Their Lives For Our Nation at Wanat, Afghanistan. Many other lives were changed forever. -- [From Cow Pastures To Kosovo]
As the two year "anniversary" of the Battle of Wanat" approached I kept wondering what I could write to honor the fallen and encourage the wounded and survivors. Nothing I write is enough but I want to remind anyone who reads here about these men and ask everyone to NEVER FORGET those who have died in service to this nation and those who are trying to heal from the emotional scars of seeing their brothers-in-arms be taken away from this earth.
Along the Sacred Road -- [Greyhawk]
More combat action from Lt Churchill in a moment, but first, a brief description of the terrain where our battles took place:The outpost, surrounded by soaring mountains on all sides, was isolated and hard to defend. "It felt like we were living in the bottom of a Dixie cup," one of Brown's soldiers said.
The "Dixie cup" reference probably gave it away - that's actually a modern description of Camp Keating, which (until it was abandoned following a Taliban attack last year) "along with two other outposts,
RIP Vernon J. Baker -- [This Ain't Hell]
The Washington Post reports that the sole liveing African American MOH recipient of WWII has left us.
First Lt. Vernon J. Baker, 90, an Army infantryman who, more than 50 years after the end of World War II, became the only surviving African American to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the war, died July 13 at his home near St. Maries, Idaho.
The article goes on to describe Lt. baker's actions agaionst the Germans in Italy. It reads like something out of a movie:
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Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various other sources around the world.
Always updating - refresh for updates.
Thoughts -- [A Major's Perspective - in Afghanistan]
I was starting to write my thoughts on my second hundred days here -- and not planning to publish until next week when I hit that milestone -- so I thought I would fire out a few thoughts quickly right now.
I'm not going to discuss the great loss of General McChrystal -- but I will say the positive and dedicated energy here with the arrival of General Petraeus is comprehendable and feel-able where-ever you go. It is deffinitely a good thing. In all honesty its very much a great honor to be under his command...
Returning to a Different ISAF -- [Field Notes: One Soldier's Perspective - in Afghanistan]
While no one man alone can run a war, much of the positive change experienced this past year in Afghanistan can be directly attributed to General McChrystal. He took command at a pivotal time and was able to build upon the strong foundation General McKiernan started putting in place during his tenure in 2008 to 2009. General McChrystal's drive and energy invigorated the command. He brought a new perspective and appreciation for the complexity of counterinsurgency to theater that concurrently drove and reinforced the notion that it was time for the US and the world to make Afghanistan a priority.
Not really in the publishing business but... -- [My View/Our Mission - in Afghanistan]
By happenstance the article on ANP came out yesterday (see yesterday's blog entry) and then my blog posting on the DoD site about mentoring...
Medical Monday: Mentoring in Kabul, Lessons Learned -- [Cmdr. Tim Weber - in Afghanistan]
...any mentoring mission in Afghanistan is a worthy one that can bring great personal and professional satisfaction, particularly when you are fortunate to be teamed up with Afghan leaders who are motivated to improve.
Nonetheless, questions still persist in reflection. How do you define progress? Whose timetable are we on? Are my expectations of success the right expectations? Until recently I don't think I could have given good answers to these questions.
However, they are more easily answered with the lessons I've learned...
Picture Of The Day - 12 JUL 2010 "A Medic's Goodbye" -- [FaST Surgeon - in Afghanistan]
It's all very fast. The wounded arrive. They're descended upon by the team trained to perform rapid resuscitative interventions to stabilize them. Surgery. ICU. Rapid preparation for evacuation out of the battle space. The medics comfort them. They wrap them in thermal blankets like burritos. Head warmers, donated from volunteer organizations, get donned. Finally, eye and ear protection get placed. The flight medics receive vital information for transport. Then.. they move quickly to the HLZ on a rickshaw-stretcher. The medics always turn to their patient. They say goodbye - good luck. Its quick...
On Patrol in Karamanda -- [Bill Ardolino - in Afghanistan]
...Lieutenant Cook - the "folk hero" of Karamanda - was injured with secondary shrapnel (debris) and burns to his face and eyes. Quickly medevac'ed, Cook was expected to recover and keep his eyesight, but officers with Charlie Company doubted he would return to his platoon.
"He's 20/40 in one eye, 20/30 in the other, a little cloudy, but getting better," said Captain Chandler several days after the blast, as he updated Fourth Platoon on a visit to PB Griffin. "What he told me was, 'I got another appointment on Wednesday, if I'm good they're gonna send me right back.' He didn't even mention the lacerations or the second degree burns on his face, but bottom line is they are going to send him to Germany. I think he's going to make a full recovery, but as you all probably know, it takes an act of God to get back. He wants to be here, it's killing him to not be here."
Fight For Fuel -- [Kandahar Diary - in Afghanistan]
At about 0730 this morning a fuels convoy, escorted by us, was contacted by enemy elements... The contact was intense and prolonged ... Our guards quickly gathered up the convoy and pushed on towards the destination while leaving teams behind to defend the bogged tankers. These teams were still in contact with the bad guys 6 hours later, taking casualties and running low on ammunition. Despite this, they remained with the stranded tankers.
In the meantime...
East Afghanistan -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
Spencer Ackerman over at Danger Room wrote a post last week with the disturbing title of East Afghanistan Sees Taliban as "Morally Superior" to Karzai. This assessment came from the after action slides of Col Randy George who commanded Task Force Warrior this past year. There is nothing in the article or Col George's slides which is a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. What is not obvious to those outside of Regional Command East is that there is the distinct possibility that change is afoot...
Sami the Finn from Indicium Consulting was the first to raise the alarm as he watched the incident rate in Kunar drop at the height of fighting season and his take was the local Taliban was going to mass and try something dramatic...
Inside the Cave: A Review of the M-ATV -- [J.D. Johannes - in Afghanistan]
...the M-ATV is a case study in the news media, risk averse officers and defense contractors driving tactics.
Here is how it works:
1. The news media runs endless stories about how military vehicles are not armored enough to withstand road side bombs
2. Risk averse officers who don't want to be on the bad end of a headline demand more armor
3. A defense contractor builds and armored monstrosity of a vehicle, sends press kit to the media
4. The Pentagon and risk averse officers purchase the monstrosity of a vehicle no matter how useless it is...
The Commander and Zombie Killers II: On Mission -- [J.D. Johannes - in Afghanistan]
Getting them to be effective counter insurgents will be a herculean task but once they start fighting effectively the war will be over quickly. No one has exactly figured out how to do that. Some say it cannot be done, but Westerners can lead Afghans. Josiah Harlan, a quaker from Pennsylvania--the real life Man Who Would Be King--led the Afghan Army in the 19th century. British Officers in what is now Pakistan successfully led corps of Afghans. Special Forces Teams and private logistics/security contractors mold effective Afghan units.
The Western way of war is standardized so that any person with the right training can fill a slot. A Western infantry unit is like a franchise--people can rotate in and out and as long as the procedure and doctrine are followed the unit will function.
The Afghan way of war is personality based. It requires a strong leader, a true Alpha who derives his authority from his bravery, strength, guile and charisma rather than rank...
'Foreign Taliban' direct the insurgency in Musa Qala: Deputy district governor -- -- [Bill Ardolino - in Afghanistan]
When ISAF forces retook much of the area from Taliban forces during Operation Snakepit in December 2007, they appointed a defected local Taliban field commander, Mullah Abdul Salaam Alizai, as the district governor of Musa Qala. By all accounts, Mullah Salaam's time in office was a disaster...
About three months after the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment took over responsibility for Musa Qala in March of this year, Mullah Salaam was out...
While the incoming district governor has been training in Kabul and Lashkar Gah, and attempting to pass the exam that certifies all district governors (he just passed the exam on his second try Monday), the interim responsibility for government in Musa Qala has fallen to Deputy District Governor Mohammad Akbar Khan.
The interview with Deputy District Mohammad Akbar Khan follows...
Not in My Baghdad Yard - Civic Protest, Iraqi-Style -- [Yasmine Mousa/NY Times At War blog - in Iraq]
I was driving past Qadisiya Park and I saw six shiny white banners strung tree to tree. The banners read, in neat blue and green print, "We urge Baghdad City Hall not to turn Qadisiya Park into a commercial plaza." It was signed by "The people of Qadisiya district."
So began protests, arguments and shouting in the park itself, and letters to City Hall. This act may seem normal elsewhere in the world, but not amid the mayhem of Baghdad, a city where sticky bomb explosions are a regular occurrence amid piles of uncollected trash. Protests and raising banners were unheard of under the previous regime.
The dispute is over plans to build a plaza on land that is currently a green park, with two floors of residential apartments above...
"Look at it, just imagine what it would look like. Instead of these lovely flowers, there will be high concrete walls," said Abu al-Hassan, who lives in a nearby house. "We just don't want this commercial building. This is why we raised those banners, and we will take all the measures we have to through Baghdad City Hall to keep it as it is."
The banners did not last long. I drove past one day later, and they were gone. It did not take long to find out why.
"I burned them. I pulled down all the banners in the evening and I burnt them. Yes I did, here," said Mr. Ghazi, the would-be developer...
Somali militants say they carried out deadly Uganda World Cup blasts -- [The Guardian]
Commander of al-Shabab, linked to al-Qaida, says group was behind twin explosions that killed 74 in Kampala
WARNING: This video contains disturbing images
A Somali militant group with links to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the twin explosions that killed 74 people watching the World Cup final in Kampala last night, and has threatened to carry out attacks "against our enemy" wherever they are.
The blasts came two days after a commander with the group, al-Shabab, urged militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi, two countries that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Al-Shabab, whose ranks are swelled by militant veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, has long threatened to strike beyond Somalia's borders, but the bombings late on Sunday are the first time the group has done so...
President Obama, White House: Al Qaeda Is Racist -- [Jake Tapper/ABC News Political Punch blog]
In an interview earlier today with the South African Broadcasting Corporation to air in a few hours, President Obama disparaged al Qaeda and affiliated groups' willingness to kill Africans in a manner that White House aides say was an argument that the terrorist groups are racist.
Speaking about the Uganda bombings, the president said, "What you've seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself..."
Earlier today a senior administration official said the Obama administration believes that Al Shabaab carried out the attack.
Explaining the president's comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama "references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda -- and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire -- do not value African life..."
Additionally, U.S. intelligence has indicated that al Qaeda leadership specifically targets and recruits black Africans to become suicide bombers because they believe that poor economic and social conditions make them more susceptible to recruitment than Arabs," the official said. "Al Qaeda recruits have said that al Qaeda is racist against black members from West Africa because they are only used in lower level operations." ...
Neighbors on edge after box left at home explodes -- [ABC News Houston]
Around 6:30pm Friday night, a woman opened a package she'd received at her northwest Houston home weeks ago. The lady's friends say her face was instantly pelted with nails and tacks. Shrapnel blew so high, it landed on her rooftop.
"Our neighbor came out, and had blood on her, and she was walking out with her husband," Turpin said.
Neighbors who saw the package but didn't want to appear on camera describe it as a box of chocolates that was left inside a gift bag. One neighbor says there was a card attached that simply read, "Thank you." It included the woman's name, but it was misspelled.
"I can't believe that anybody would do anything as terrible and tragic to a person like this lady," neighbor Karen Gennity said.
Neighbors say the woman often performed random acts of kindness for her neighbors -- perhaps one reason she thought this box of chocolates was a thank you in return.
Box left at woman's door explodes -- [ABC News Houston]
It wasn't immediately clear whether the house was targeted, however, Eyewitness News found out the home is owned by an oil company executive.
AFT investigating bomb targeting woman -- [ABC News Houston]
...there are still many unanswered questions about where this disguised bomb may have come from.
As the victim, Vennie Wolf, 58, now rests at home, neighbors still cannot make sense of why anything like this happened here.
"It's a very strange thing," said one neighbor. "It's a quiet neighborhood."
It's a puzzle the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is trying to piece together, too.
Pipe bomb targeted wife of Houston oil executive -- [Houston Chronicle]
Houston police and federal authorities confirmed Tuesday that a pipe bomb sent to the home of a local oil executive was meant for his wife and not him... Wolf was taken to Memorial Hermann-Northwest Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. She was later released and is now recuperating, police said.
Opening the door to PTSD fraud -- [CDR Salamander]
...Make no mistake - there is $$$$$ in PTSD fraud. If you make it easier to practice that fraud - ECON 101 tells you all you need to know. Sure - you may help one; but you create enough fraud to smear thousands.
As a friend put it in correspondence with me yesterday, it DEFINES PTSD as "something a veteran says they have." It follows that legally there can be no such thing as PTSD fraud. (unless someone claims vet status fraudulently.) The fraud is the one the government is perpetrating on the American people.
This also separates veterans into two classes - those who admit they have PTSD and those who deny it. I believe Orwell saw this coming. "there is $$$$$ in PTSD fraud" - there is even more money in treating an "epidemic."...
Stolen Valor: Mayor Lies About Medals; Files Defamation Suit to Silence Opponent -- [Mark Seavey/Big Peace]
...Not only does DuPar's civil suit seem to rest on an erroneous reading of his own discharge papers, but his claim may open him up to a criminal prosecution for violation of the Stolen Valor Act ... The case of DuPar is a textbook example of a violation of that law, and yet no legal action has been taken against him. Why?
I contacted the FBI agent working the case on four occasions. (I didn't get express permission to use his name, so I will call him Agent P.) Agent P is not only a longtime FBI agent, but also a former Marine who served during Desert Storm, and he's decidedly unhappy with Mayor DuPar and his false claims of valor. I asked Agent P why no charges have been levied, and he asked me to contact the U.S. Attorney's office and find out from them, and that I should call him back and let him know. I called Patrick Fitzgerald's office three times, and like with Felizia Frazier, I received no response.
...Agent P had repeatedly asked me over the past few weeks to hold off writing this piece. He maintained that the U.S. Attorney would (almost at any second) see the light and file charges. Today when I called he sounded exhausted and frustrated, telling me "do what you have to do."...
COIN by Ke$ha -- [Knights of Afghanistan]
Until today, I confess that I wasn't familiar with the pop artist known as Kesha.
...Not exactly to my taste musically... However, this video from the IDF on patrol in Hebron is still worth watching.
I have no doubt that the squad leader will probably lose his job over this, and the rest of the squad will face disciplinary action. Still, I can't help but smile at the way young soldiers in every conflict try to make it their own and express a little optimism and individuality despite their conditions...
Update: As it turns out, the two squad leaders responsible for the video have been disciplined by the IDF...
Taranis: The £143million unmanned stealth jet that will hit targets in another continent -- [MailOnline]
Defence firm BAE Systems today officially unveiled its first ever high-tech unmanned stealth jet.
The Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is about the same size as a Hawk jet and is equipped with stealth equipment and an 'autonomous' artificial intelligence system.
Dr. Who's Taranis -- [Neptunus Lex]
I was OK until I read the bit about an "autonomous artificial intelligence system."
"Skynet becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."
When the media attacks a veteran's wounds... -- [Blackfive]
Nick Popaditch - a medically retired Gunnery Sergeant, wounded in Fallujah, received the Silver Star - is running for Congress in California...
When you jump into the political ring, you know (and Nick and April Popaditch know) that politics can get dirty. You expect attacks on your politics, your conduct of your life, etc.
But you don't expect the media to attack you war wounds with an editorial cartoon...you don't really expect a blatant disrespect for your service...like this cartoon that appeared in Saturday's (July 10th) edition of the Imperial Valley Press:
Satirizing Nick's wounds sustained by fighting his way through Fallujah is is not just an insult to Nick and his Marines, but a disgrace as it is an affront to every Purple Heart recipient...
Rep. Filner blasts newspaper cartoon of his GOP opponent, a wounded Iraq veteran -- [LA Times]
Rep. Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista) has added his criticism to those of readers who feel that a newspaper cartoon showing his GOP opponent, a wounded Iraq veteran, was inappropriate.
"The cartoon was in poor taste and does not reflect the Imperial Valley's strong support for our troops and veterans," Filner said in reference to a political cartoon in the Imperial Valley Press...
Cartoon not meant to offend -- [Brad Jennings/Imperial Valley Press]
We all make mistakes. On Saturday, I clearly made a mistake.
We ran a political cartoon from our local cartoonist which depicted a couple of kids looking at a poster of congressional candidate and veteran Nick Popaditch and trying to decide what he looked like because of his eye patch. Frankly, I interpreted the cartoon as making a comment on how misinformed people are -- especially young people.
Many others, apparently, did not take it that way...
I have met Popaditch on one occasion, when he came into the newsroom early in his candidacy. I don't know him at all, but he seemed like a nice, admirable man. As a veteran myself, I absolutely thank him for his service and the sacrifice he made for his country.
I called Popaditch on Monday and apologized to him. He accepted that apology with much grace and didn't appear to be that offended by the cartoon himself...
Sadly, I see that this has been e-mailed around to partisans who are trying to make this some kind of rallying cry. I am getting calls from conservative radio and bloggers who are apparently trying to make this more than it really is. That is politics in 2010 America...
Mocking war hero Nick Popaditch: A teachable moment -- [Michelle Malkin]
Everyone should know this man's incredible story of courage and sacrifice. Forget Lindsay Lohan's disgusting fingernails. Tell your kids about how Popaditch lost his eye, survived, and returned to public service stronger than ever.
...instead of calling on the cartoonist to be fired, perhaps he deserves thanks -- thanks for inadvertently creating an opportunity for the rest of us. It's a moment not merely to complain about a boneheaded media slap, but to spread the word about Nick Popaditch.
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world.
Always updating - refresh for updates.
Born on the Fourth of July -- [MaryAnn Phillips/Big Peace]
...In 2007 Jake deployed to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. He was there just three weeks when his vehicle drove over two 500-pound bombs buried in the road...
Jake was first medevaced to Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Germany for stabilization and then on to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. A dozen operations followed. The bones of his leg were held together by an array of surgically placed rods and pins. He spent countless hours in rehab.
But all Jake could think about was getting back into the fight. He inundated the Corps with letters and phone calls from his hospital bed. After two painful years recovering from his injuries, he was finally healthy enough to serve again. In May of this year he deployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn, 1st Marine Division.
On Thursday May 27, 2010, while on foot patrol in Helmand province, Cpl. Jacob Leicht stepped on a land mine and became the 1000th U.S. service member to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty in Afghanistan...
Freedom -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghanistan]
...I sat with two of my West Point classmates from the incoming Stryker unit. The two Lieutenants stared blankly at their paper plates, trying to make sense of the oddly hostile display that had just occurred. Was he joking? Is he seriously mad?
An anger induced trance blinded the memory of what I had said; the social inhibitions I had let fall in an amicable discussion. My face winced, maliciously staring down my friend across the table. I came to, only to find myself in this stunningly awkward moment where I had clearly verbally aggressed my friend, my brother, a fellow officer...someone's son, someone's husband, and now someone's father.
"Hey," I broke the silence, "listen...sorry about that. I just lost it--"
"Don't worry about it, Raj," interrupted the peer who I assailed. "You guys have had a rough year..."
LT Wompum Returns (to the New York Times) -- [Sosostris/A Handful of Dust]
Former AHOD contributor 1LT Mark Larson (aka. LT Wompum) has a new article up over at the New York Times 'At War' blog, this time writing regrettably about the death of a friend...
Death on Facebook -- [Lt Mark Larson (in Afghanistan)/NY Times At War blog]
For the first time since the war began, I now regrettably count myself amongst those who personally know the terrible cost of war. A friend, First Lt. Joe Theinert of Sag Harbor, N.Y., was killed in an ambush in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on 4 June.
I found out about this sad loss on Facebook...
The Perils Of Blogging (For Soldiers) -- [Sosostris/A Handful of Dust]
Two comments were posted to AHOD yesterday that illustrate the hazards (namely friendly fire) that unfortunately seem to come with the territory for soldiers blogging, be it from a war zone or otherwise. ...
So apparently this person still has a gripe with LT Wompum (notice 'Joe' the correct spelling of Wompum) despite the fact that he hasn't appeared on this blog for over a month. More irksome is the allegation that Wompum didn't follow proper blogging procedures. I can state categorically that this is false...
Furthermore, why Joe feels Wompum can't 'blog about war' is just as baffling...
Critical Thinking? -- [Old Blue/Afghan Quest - in Afghanistan]
...To be sure, one must be able to measure one's activities, but those activities must be aimed at an effect that is oriented on establishing a relationship between the people and their own government. Granted, COL Gentile's quote was taken somewhat out of context, but it is consistent with lines of information briefed by units here in Afghanistan. One unit, conducting what amounts to a PR campaign to salvage its reputation after having been removed from its original operational area after failing to conduct effective COIN operations, literally produced a slick document in which it provided "proof" of its excellent COIN operations. The preponderance of information, provided in easy-to-read pie chart and bar chart format, was on how much money they spent. To a counterinsurgent, that could just as much be a damage estimate as a measure of effectiveness. We can do a lot of damage with our money...
Jalalabad Rocks -- [Free Range International - in Afghanistan]
Last Wednesday morning the local Taliban sent eight guys to attack the US Army base at Jalalabad Airfield known as FOB Fenty. They initiated the attack with a car bomb in a rarely used entry point on the southeastern side of the airfield which is well away from the Torkham to Jalalabad road. The remaining attackers tried to bum rush the damaged gate and got shot all to hell by the American soldiers who man the guard towers. Adding insult to injury there just happened to be a section of fully armed and fueled Apaches in the air and they were instantly able to pounce on the survivors of the futile charge at the damaged gate as they fled back towards a small village called Moqamkhan. A joint force of ANA and 101st Paratroopers went into the village and finished off the survivors in a short fire fight. FOB Fenty was back to normal by noon but the attack did generate plenty of news which may have been the point.
The attack on FOB Fenty has had zero impact on the local citizens or the troops stationed on the FOB - it was stupid and recognized as such. But...
The Forgotten War -- [Greyhawk/The Mudville Gazette]
Beyond any doubt that term applies to Iraq.
But yesterday I took the opportunity to join in a roundtable with 3ID's Colonel Thomas James...
Colonel James mentioned there are some 50 members of the headquarters staff on their fourth rotation with the division in Iraq. As if they hadn't already accrued enough time in country, this week they got the news their current deployment has been extended by one month...
Fighting, but Not Calling It Combat -- [Tim Arango (in Iraq)/NY Times At War blog]
Nothing, said Maj. Bryan L. Logan, the squadron operations officer for the Third Squadron, Seventh Cavalry Regiment, makes the wives back home (there are only men here) more angry than when an acquaintance makes a remark such as, "You must be happy your husband is in Iraq rather than Afghanistan."
The soldiers understand Iraq is still a dangerous place - more dangerous, in fact, for the local population than in Afghanistan...
Institutionalized Habits -- [Fraser from _____ - in _____]
We fly over the same crappy little cities and crappy deserts, drive through the same guard shacks that are guarding nothing; but the guards are still there. We get mortared from the same ass-clowns at the same time we have been for the last 7 years. Just not mortared as frequently.
We scare ourselves in freaking brownout landings just like we've done for the last 7 years. More helicopters have been lost to brownout conditions in the two theaters than to enemy action. That's why it scares the shit out of us. In the last 10 feet above the ground, when the downwash kicks up that miserable dust and you can't see crap, you need faith that what you saw at 50 feet is the same level field you are about to impact in the next few seconds.
We say the same thing after we've completed a brownout landing. After a gathering of wits and pulling pitch out of the zone, it's; " I NEVER F%$#ING WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN!" But yet we do it again the very next night...
Projects in Iraq -- [Ramblings from a Painter (Home from Iraq)]
I'm normally a fan of the New York Times, particularly when it comes to reporting in Iraq. They are one of only a couple of major international news organizations that maintain a full-time presence in the country. (The only other one I know of is Al Jazeera). Usually, Times reporting is very accurate and insightful.
Not this time...
Paragliding Over Mosul - Because Iraq Just Isn't Dangerous Enough Already -- [Zaid Thaker AND Timothy Williams (in Iraq)/NY Times At War blog]
The risk-averse will tell you that it takes a special sort of foolishness to jump from a mountain with just a paraglider strapped to your back.
So what, then, does that make the members of the Falcon Club, an Iraqi group of daredevils who sail through the air above Mosul, which is perhaps Iraq's most dangerous city?
Commander's wife banned from brigade -- [Military Times]
Lt. Col. Frank Jenio was hit by an ear-splitting hourlong tirade from his commander's wife, Leslie Drinkwine, complaining about the roster of his battalion family readiness group.
"Go ahead, and get me fired," Jenio was heard shouting into his phone. Afterward, he emerged from a conference room, red-faced and furious, a source who was present said...
In January, less than a year later, Jenio and his command sergeant major Herbert Puckett were relieved of command while deployed in Afghanistan by Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the 82nd Airborne's commander. An investigation found they used "poor judgment which fostered a command climate that was not consistent with our Army values."
Puckett said in a statement to investigators that Leslie Drinkwine later "bragged" to the rear detachment commander, "One team down, five to go."
The confrontation between Leslie Drinkwine and Jenio was emblematic of an environment within the 4th Brigade, particularly its family readiness group, that was so toxic that it triggered an investigation by a three-star general.
..."I literally spent every other night on the Iridium phone with my Rear D or [wife] discussing the latest issue vice focusing on the OEF fight," Jenio said in his statement.
Big Peace: The July 4th Happy Birthday to America Launch! -- [Andrew Breitbart/Big Peace]
...As the site's resident skeptic of main stream media accountability, I have noticed that the amount of reporters and media outlets covering national security and the war has dwindled and skepticism over American military commitment has waned now that there isn't a Bush or a Republican in charge. The war beat is getting short shrift. Big Peace was created to fill this void and to provide biased coverage.
The site is pro-freedom, pro-liberty, and pro-American but will not be an outlet for false information or propaganda. The unique mix of Schweizer, Gaffney, and Blackfive and our collective reputations will provide a check and balance.
Southern Living Mama Blogger of The Week July 4 Edition: Honoring Greta Perry & Military Families -- [Southern Living Magazine]
In honor of July 4 we wanted this week's Southern Living Mama Blogger of The Week to feature a mom who has devoted a good part of her life, and her blogging, to supporting her military family.
Yesterday we called for suggestions via Twitter (we're @Southern_Living) and were overwhelmed by the response. Turns out there is an active military blogging community -- fantastic!
One name came up again and again: Greta Perry, who, by her own admission, is "The Princess of Positive." Greta runs Hooah Wife and Friends which she started when her husband was deployed to Iraq. It is filled with resources for military spouses. She also runs Kiss My Gumbo. We took one look at her blog and it was clear: she had to be this week's Southern Living Mama Blogger of The Week!
The Commander and Zombie Killers II: On Mission -- [J.D. Johannes - in Afghanistan]
...Every military mission, every patrol, should have a defined purpose, a commander's intent with at least a few measurable objectives and milestones.
The way of war for the modern Afghan National Army reared its head at this point and summed up exactly why the war here has been such a struggle. There was no purpose to the patrol--unless the patrol was to determine the presence of enemy improvised explosive devices by driving around until you got blown up. Nbard and his higher headquarters can be forgiven for their error because numerous US units still drive around for no other apparant reason than to get blown up.
Mounted patrols, also known as driving around in Humvees, MRAPs, M-ATVs, are useless wastes of human life, time and diesel fuel. They are often called "presence patrols" and are devised by fools who have no clue how to fight a war. Sometimes these fools have read a little Army doctrine and then call these patrols 'movement to contact' or 'meeting engagement'--fancy terms for driving around until the enemy blows you up.
Mounted patrols, like the one Nbard was to lead us on through Musahe gather no intelligence, they do not protect the population from the Taliban, they do not perform anything close to the essential functions of an infantry unit--namely to seek out, locate, close with and destroy the enemy...
Letter to the Troops -- [Gen. David H. Petraeus]
We must also continue our emphasis on reducing the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum. We must never forget that the decisive terrain in Afghanistan is the human terrain.
Protecting those we are here to help nonetheless does require killing, capturing, or turning the insurgents. We will not shrink from that; indeed, you have been taking the fight to the enemy and we will continue to do so. Beyond that, as you and our Afghan partners on the ground get into tough situations, we must employ all assets to ensure your safety, keeping in mind, again, the importance of avoiding civilian casualties...
Petraeus advisor predicts changes in Afghan strategy -- [Doyle McManus/LA Times]
"The rules have been interpreted too restrictively," Kilcullen said. "They've been too legalistic -- and also too apologetic." That's a significant statement from a man who has condemned U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan for causing civilian casualties, and whose latest book, "Counterinsurgency," lists "respect for noncombatants" as a fundamental principle of irregular warfare.
One more important change Kilcullen recommends: Both Petraeus and Obama need to make it clearer that there won't be a wholesale U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011...
Use of Humvees restricted in Afghanistan -- [Military Times]
The Humvee's fatal flaw, a 2008 Pentagon inspector general's report found, is that its "flat bottom, low weight, low ground clearance and aluminum body" leave it vulnerable to IEDs buried in roads. Military officials had known of that weakness since 1994, according to the report.
At the time of the attack in June, troops needed at least a lieutenant colonel to approve leaving a protected base in a Humvee, according to Maj. Patrick Seiber, an Army spokesman for forces in eastern Afghanistan.
This month, the commander of coalition forces in the region raised the authorization for Humvee use to the level of colonel, Seiber said in an e-mail...
The all-terrain version of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle was designed specifically for Afghanistan's poor roads and rugged terrain...
A Marine battalion commander in restive Helmand province reported that insurgents had destroyed 50 of the all-terrain vehicles with improvised explosive devices, Brogan said. The most serious wound suffered in the attacks was a bad concussion. Nobody died, the commander told Brogan in an e-mail. The trucks have seats for four troops and a turret for a gunner.
"The troops really love these vehicles," Brogan said...
Petraeus Urged to Change Rules of Engagement for U.S. Troops in Afghanistan -- [FoxNews]
Sen. Joe Lieberman on Sunday urged Gen. David Petraeus to change the rules of engagement "as soon as possible" for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying the strict policy has "hurt morale" among American military.
The Connecticut independent senator, speaking from Kabul on "Fox News Sunday," said the incoming commander told him he was "committed" to reviewing the rules...
Lieberman is in Afghanistan with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
About that Medal of Honor -- [Starbuck/Wings over Iraq]
The dearth of Medal of Honor recipients has stirred quite a bit of controversy in past years. Some attribute the lack of awards to partisan politics during an unpopular war. Others cite the changing nature of modern counterinsurgency warfare; a shift from large, set-piece battles to sporadic engagements and reconstruction efforts.
Yet, the US military has been performing these sorts of missions--peacekeeping, peace enforcement, counterinsurgency, and the like--throughout its entire history. As such, our "small wars" show no lack of Medal of Honor recipients...
(Need more? Dawn Patrols Archives are here.)