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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