March 23, 2009

From the Front: 03/23/2009

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Afghanistan Shrugged: What Price Victory for an Afghan ETT? - There’s been a lot in the news lately about what “victory” in Afghanistan looks like. I really don’t know, nor do I want to venture an opinion on that one. People at much higher pay grades than mine can figure that one out. All I can speak for is the little piece of Afghanistan that I share with my ANA and the local populace of Bermel. I’ll tell you this; it’s little things. Try to accomplish much more you’ll begin a slow circle of the drain leading to frustration and self induced psychosis. What I’m about to tell you about is 5 kilometers. That’s 3.1 miles, not very far. But it might as well be a light year here. When we arrived here the fighting season was drawing to a close. The fighting season typically runs from late March to early December. Then snow shuts down the rugged passes used by the Taliban to enter into the country. (READ MORE)

A Battlefield Tourist: Back in Kabul - Sunday, February 22nd - Kandahar Air Field - Once at KAF I could lay all my stuff out to determine what would continue on with me and what wouldn’t. At this point in the trip, all dirty clothes are gone right off the top. It seems I’m always organizing my stuff. When you travel light, I guess that would be expected. I’m always looking for ways to pack my gear as efficiently as possible, which leads to me never remembering where I put things. That, of course, leads to me always going through my gear in a ferocious cycle. Funny thing is: I have thrown away all sorts of things and my bag is still packed to the maximum and it is still as heavy as ever. The good news is that my flight back to Kabul is scheduled for the following morning, and with three extra days left in my trip, I should make it to my plane on time come Thursday. In the meantime, I spent most of my time on the boardwalk, enjoying real coffee and the wireless internet service, which allowed me to get plenty of work done. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Combat Operator Podcast and the Civilian Surge for Afghanistan - I had a great interview with Jake Allen from the Combat Operator Ezine. He is just as talented on the radio as he is with the pen and it turns out we had met each other several years ago when his former rifle company commander Dave Furness and I dropped by his home in Salt Lake City. In the small world department I should be seeing the good Colonel tomorrow night when he swings through Kabul. Colonel Furness is irritating – over two decades of infantry service, multiple combat tours, and he remains in perfect shape and looks like he’s about 37 years old. Smart as a whip, writes way better than I do, no bad back or trick knee or even good scars but a great friend and I could not be prouder seeing him doing so well. There was that kidney stone incident which (unfortunately for Dave) was witnessed by then Captain now Colonel Eric Mellinger – acknowledged as one of the best comedic talent amongst our generation of infantry officers. (READ MORE)

Blogs Over Baghdad: Late nights with Mr. __________? - It’s been weeks since I’ve blogged but I’m just getting used to the new change of schedule. I’m working night shift now & that has created a whole new world for me. (thanks Aladdin) When I arrive, its almost evening & when I go out for lunch, all i see is the moonlight shining. I don’t get to see or do as much in the daytime as I did when we first got here but that’s exactly where it gets interesting… You see, every night I have a friend that stops by to visit. He doesn’t speak much English besides “meo’am”- which is supposed to be ma’am, and the occasional nod but he still stops by every night & catches dinner with me. He actually looks quite American; long torso, blonde hair, green eyes, but his looks aren’t too deceiving. Last night, he just so happened to run into Lt. Col. Perez while I had stepped out of my office which, as you can imagine, was quite the surprise. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Terror to Return to the Streets - The Washington Post has an alarmist story today about the closing of the prison at Camp Bucca. The story says there are fears that chaos will ensue as a result of the release of thousands of prisoners. Who could argue? Of course it's worrisome when criminals are released to the streets, we're all worried about the result of the release. But what about all the stories of thousands of innocents detained by the Americans? If the majority of prisoners had nothing to do with terrorism, then we should relax. Right? In all fairness, the story says that it only takes a handful of criminals to cause serious damage. But the story does say that Camp Bucca became a training school for terrorists. The reporter quotes a man: "'If I had to choose between sacrificing my father and the Sadr trend, I'd sacrifice my father,' he said." Scary stuff. Who wouldn't fear such criminals in the community. But I do wonder how much the reporter keeps in mind that Arabs tend to tell people what they want to hear. (READ MORE)

IN-iraq: Comprehensive survey of Iraqis shows increasingly positive attitudes about the future of Iraq - The number of Iraqis who say security is the single biggest problem in their lives has dropped 28 percentage points. Eighty-four percent rate security in their own neighborhood positively, nearly double its August 2007 level." One interviewer in Basra province later reported: "We saw many children walking to school with their bags which made me very happy, because it was nearly impossible in the past years. There are schools, teachers, and paved roads in the area." --"64 percent of Iraqis now call democracy their preferred form of government," perhaps showing the influence of nation-wide participation in the regional elections. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: The Dover Ban - A few weeks ago I was visiting Washington DC. It just so happens that the day after I met with Congressman Duncan D Hunter and discussed the loss of my son, the Dover ban Policy and taking steps to protect the names of our fallen from being used by organization that disrespect and exploit them, Sec. Robert Gates lifted the Dover ban for media to photograph the flag draped caskets of our Fallen Heroes as they came home to Dover. Of course there was the whole “with the permission of the family” clause in the lifting of the ban. Sounds like they are giving the family a real voice in it right? Let me explain how it works…. Two men in uniform knock on your door at any given hour. They then very professionally and politely tell you the most devastating news of your life. Someone you love has been killed in a horrific manner. then they offer condolences and their sorrow. Then they lay out a stack of forms you must sign. You have no idea what the forms are you just know you want these people to leave so you can fall apart and start the grieving process in private. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Shabaab leader admits links to al Qaeda - A senior leader of the radical Islamist group Shabaab in the southern city of Kismayo has welcomed Osama bin Laden's call to overthrow the government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, and also said Shabaab would maintain its contacts with al Qaeda. Sheik Hassan Yacquub Ali, the Information Minister for the Shabaab-controlled administration in Kismayo, said bin Laden's latest message was proof that al Qaeda and other Islamist groups continue to support the Islamist groups in Somalia, Shabelle reported. Yacquub made the statements during a press conference in southern Somalia. Bin Laden released an audiotape late last week where he urged Shabaab and other Islamist groups in Somalia to overthrow President Ahmed, who was described as an "infidel." Bin Laden called Ahmed and other Muslim leaders cooperating with the West "the surrogates of our enemies" a who "must be removed by armed force." (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker - My Point of View: The Universal Language - Everyone has their own idea of a universal language. You know, that language that everyone understands, no matter what their native tongue. Some say music, others say math (although some will argue that music and math are one and the same). I say that the universal language is...laughter. Not just any laughter, though. Not the laughter of adults watching a funny movie or enjoying company at a cocktail party. Or the laughter of groups watching a comedian. It's the laughter of children and, more specifically, children at play. No matter if a child speaks English, Arabic, German, Portuguese, Swahili, or Tagalog, they all know how to laugh. Unlike learning a language, there is no grammar, no syntax, no rolling the tongue or pursing the lips to learn to form sounds. Even at a young age, children know how to laugh at something fun or even something funny. (READ MORE)

SFC Burke - My Point of View: I Guess It Isn't Always Dust & Haze... - As I woke up this morning, I checked the clock. It read 0734 and I promptly rolled over for a few more moments of sleep. Once in a while, on certain Sundays I can sleep a little longer and I relish it. I kicked myself out of bed after a few moments of stretching and got dressed. When I opened the door to my CHU, I couldn't help but squint out at the blazing brightness. There's always a tinge of haze or dust in the air around here. The wind kicks it up. Today, however, was very clear with a brilliant blue sky and light winds. I was marveling at the clarity...it reminded me of home. Yesterday was nice too. Perfect for the story I had the luck of covering for MND-B. My commander, SSG Edson (a broadcast journalist), Osman (our interpreter/translator), and myself ventured out to see how some people here on Victory Base Complex work with the youth of Iraq to help rebuild a Boy Scout/Girl Guide program. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Small Talk - Gary Sinise is an incredible American. We were swapping some emails over the past week and I saw this article about his latest support for our troops: Commentary: We can't do enough for our veterans. Gary mentioned to me that he will be heading back to Afghanistan this year (that’s predictable!), and I’ll try to take a quick break from slogging around the battlefields to see Gary while he’s there. Gary Sinise and Bruce Willis are among the few true movie stars who courageously supported our troops, even when Hollywood insiders were telling me that actors could lose jobs for supporting the troops. Laura Ingraham, during one of our live interviews, once asked about my Hollywood connections. Laura caught me by surprise and I denied connections. By that, I was really saying I don’t hang out in Hollywood, but technically my answer to Laura was incorrect. I haven’t heard from Bruce lately, but am sure he’s out there and being as ornery as ever. Gary and Bruce have both traveled into harm’s way to visit troops and I will watch all their movies simply out of principle. (READ MORE)

SGT Risner - My Point of View: My stay in Iraq thus far - Iraq is cool and I'm enjoying it ... Wait a minute, did I just say that?? Yes, in fact I did. By cool, I mean the weather, which has been blessedly temperate and even cold at night and in the mornings. It doesn't mean that I bundle up or anything, but I definitely feel it. I spent the first month or so sitting behind a desk in the command center. While it is kind of cool to see everything going on in Baghdad as it happens, the coolness was decidedly short lived. Basically I stared, zombified, at a computer screen for twelve god forsaken hours every day. Then someone came over and told me I didn't have to do that anymore. I was so excited I did numerous cartwheels ... actually I didn't but I felt like doing it. (READ MORE)

Navy Gal: The Pieces - Here I sit at 0014 and can't sleep.....again. It seems lately this is becoming a theme. I can't figure out what has gone so wrong since I left Iraq. All the dreams and plans that I was holding so dear have slipped through my fingers. I feel like the pieces of me are being scattered to the wind. I'm falling apart. I sit in my apartment and cry for no reason, but for lots of reasons. I had a flashback the other day at all places the zoo. There was a display that had a sound of something which I have no idea. All I do know is when that kid pushed that red button to play the sound I panicked. It was the exact sound the Klaxon made when the incoming alarm was sounded. I have never had that feeling before and I was immediately flashed to Iraq. I felt so stupid because I actually put my hand out and started to lean as if getting ready to hit the deck. It was the most bazaar feeling I have ever had and one that I don't wish to repeat. I have heard the stories of PTSD flashbacks, and I can honestly say I have experienced my first. (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: 21MAR09--Incoming Team Chief Visit - A few days back, our team welcomed a visitor. The team chief for the team that will replace my team came to get familiarized with our job and area. Our warm welcome had a lot to do with his visit marking our deployment to be about four months away from being complete. We spent the four days that we had with Major McDaniel briefing him on the Iraqi Army unit, our role and duties as advisors, and touring the area. The major will meet his team when he goes back to the States, and they will begin training together to take our place as combat advisors. The incoming major took in a lot of information in a short period of time and seems to have a pretty good handle on the challenges that face him and his team. Influencing the Iraqi Army to take action, make changes, and evolve from the army that they were before 2003 is no small task. Change is gradual and can quickly reverse. (READ MORE)

Gary Sinise: “We Can’t Do Enough For Our Veterans” - A while back, a friend of mine suggested that I take a look at a film that a buddy of his had made about his two brothers serving in Iraq. Having spent some time there myself, I was eager to see it. Once I did, I wanted to do all I could to help the filmmakers find a distributor and get this wonderful film into the theaters. I was honored to be asked to come on board as executive producer of the film, “Brothers at War,” an honest and inside look at our military service members. It’s told through the point of view of one brother who is in search of answers as to why his two younger brothers are serving in Iraq and what they and their families are doing during these long deployments. I got involved with the film “Brothers at War” because I believe it shows a side of our military that is rarely seen. The call to duty that many of our military members share is depicted in the film through Isaac and Joe Rademacher. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: The Vexing Problem of Demand - BAGRAM AIR BASE, AFGHANISTAN — General Duncan McNabb, who runs U.S. Transportation Command, recently told Congress that we have “nothing to worry about” when it comes to transporting supplies into Afghanistan. “Thanks to billions of dollars spent in road and air base construction, troops in landlocked Afghanistan will never have to worry about getting enough supplies, the Pentagon’s chief of military transportation told senators last week. … Petraeus is overseeing the influx of 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan beginning in May, and McNabb is working to maintain ‘a lot of options . . . lots of ways to get in there’ with cargo for those forces.” I’ll be kind and say he’s full of crap. While I was at FOB Salerno, they kept running out of ketchup thanks to supply issues. Obviously, I survived, but saying there are lots of options is just not true. (READ MORE)

Fightin' 6th Marines: Orphanage receives help from Iraqi community, 2/9 Marines - SOFIYA, Iraq – Through the winding dirt roads, across miles of farmland, a community of widows and orphans have settled in a place known as Sofiya in the eastern al Anbar province. Resources are scarce, so Iraqis are working with the Marines of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, to aid those in need. Many of the families lost their brothers, fathers, husbands and sons during the turbulent times that were once characteristic of al Anbar. Now, one man devotes his time to helping the families of the fallen. Sheik Jasem Mohammed, the tribal leader in Sofiya, has been organizing and conducting efforts with Weapons Company to help his community during rough times. Mohammed understands that the effects of conflict continue long after the triggers were pulled. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Hollywood came a’knockin. - I can finally talk about my TDY since I’m holding my orders! A couple of months ago I was emailed by someone in the Office of New Media Concepts about hosting a reality show. It’s been in the works for a while and there was a lot of red tape to go through since I’m in Iraq, but with the exception of one person, my chain of command has been very supportive. I’m jetsetting to L.A. today and will be running the roads around California, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs and San Antonio. The show is GI Jobs, and it’ll be a great recruiting piece for the Army. My job is to pick up a potential recruit and meet his parents, find out what he wants to do in the army and take him to meet guys who’ve done and are doing just that. I’ll introduce him to someone still in the army, someone out of the army with an everyday job in the same field, and someone out of the army with a really cool job in that field. If the show is marketed right, we could sign on for a lot more episodes. (READ MORE)

S4 at War: ETS - Thats estimated termination of service (or REFRAD-release from active duty-for us officer types). The time has come where I need to start doing paper work for just such an eventuality. The idea of leaving the army, I’m discovering, is oddly as daunting as was the idea of me entering the army in the first place. Leaving for the army was a significant emotional event. It didn’t click at the time but looking back it was treated by friends and family as if I was never coming back-I suppose psychologically the fear was that the same person wouldn’t come back. Over the years I’ve taken solace in the fact that I am considerably less susceptible to the ole brain washing than perhaps some had feared. But maybe I’m not. There is no question that I am a tad more laid back and less “military” than most of my colleagues but I wonder how much my work ethic and notion of “what right looks like” has been shaped by my military experience. (READ MORE)

The Torch: Biggest combat operation for the Canadian Army since the Korean War - That's a significant fact that tends to get overlooked in most of the media's coverage that focuses on the four soldiers killed. Plus the fact that the operation had considerable success. Note that the whole Royal Canadian Regiment battle group and the US Army's 2-2 Ramrods battalion seem to have been involved, in roughly equal numbers, plus an Afghan National Army battalion. “On the final day of a massive military operation at the centre of Taliban territory in the relatively lush Zhari district west of Kandahar City, a platoon from November Company conducted a final sweep of one of the many sparsely populated villages. The collection of mud-walled compounds had already been searched for Taliban insurgents, weapons, and the ingredients for improvised bombs that have turned Kandahar's roads into death traps. The Canadian troops were preparing to have a quick meeting with those few local Afghans who remained behind after their neighbours fled months and years ago to the safer ground of the city or to districts where the insurgents have not yet penetrated.” (READ MORE)

The Stone Report: FOB Kalsu: Part Two - SSG Maryland headed to FOB Kalsu about a month ago. The 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade is the main force at Kalsu. They have an interesting history of being activated, deactivated and reactivated. Their patch symbolizes Alaska, but they are now in Germany.SSG Maryland and I had a good couple of days together. Before he left, we were working out together with our MPAD commander. He has us on a pretty good regiment of weights, and I’m doing my own thing with cardio. We hit the gym pretty hard. Kalsu has a pretty small gym for the amount of personnel on the FOB. One thing that doesn’t help is a whole infantry battalion is waiting for their next mission. That means they fill their time by eating and working out. We would always head to the gym in the early afternoon to beat the rush. We both motivate each other because we don’t want to be the first one to quit. He also introduced me to the fantastic world of NO Explode. It’s a nice energy supplement that gives me a nice burst of energy when I’m tired. (READ MORE)

Whatever it Takes: Veterans and Dust - Good news, the expecting mother and child are stable and are doing well from what I hear. Hopefully the little guy stays put and goes to full term, lots of growing yet to do, please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers. The Soldier has returned to us and is back with his platoon. All of the platoons have been out in sector every day engaging the population with dialogue, eroding the insurgents ability to conduct operations, and working side by side with Iraqi Security Forces. We have partnered with a new Iraqi Army unit recently and we are looking forward to conducting successful joint operations with them. The old Iraqi unit had been here for quite some time and is rotating home for a well deserved rest and refit cycle. The Government of Iraq regularly moves units around the country. I am unsure of their reasons but I have my suspicions. (READ MORE)

The Writings of a Man's Man: Swinging in the Breeze - Warning: This post may contain references that may not be suited for members of the fairer sex, this is a writing of a Man’s Man after all. The Army equips soldiers deployed to Iraq with flame retardant uniforms to help us survive the blasts of IEDs, trucks catching on fire etc… This is certainly a good thing as I would like to minimize the risk of suffering third degree burns while trapped in a flaming HMMWV. MAJ Clay Williamson, the spokesman for the Program Executive Office (responsible for fielding the Flame Resistant Army Combat Uniform FRACU) has said this, “All our fire-resistant uniforms are spiral-development efforts because of the urgency and nature of the threat that our Soldiers are facing. We field the best equipment that is available, and then use Soldier feedback to continue to make it even better.” If you aren’t in the military that statement probably makes you feel warm and fuzzy, blessing you with the thought that, “Nobody is better equipped than our brave soldiers.” (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:
Leaving Iraq II - Learning English - At home we always had English books, how to learn the ABCs and so on. At school we started to learn English in the 5th grade. At that time one of my cousins, who knew that I wanted to go to America, left Iraq to move to Chicago. She kept writing to me all the time telling me: “You have to learn English, you must pay attention in your English classes, they are very important. You are going to need that a lot.” (READ MORE)

Cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces leads to capture of criminals - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq— Cooperation between Iraqi Police, Iraqi army and Coalition forces, led to the arrest of five criminals, in the village of Yourgun, Kirkuk, March 16. The individuals were suspected of conducting insurgent activities and various other crimes and were detained based on their outstanding warrants. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Trainers hone their skills - BASRA, Iraq – Ten Department of Border Enforcement trainers graduated from a Customs and Immigration trainer course at the Basra International Airport Mar. 18. Completion of the three week trainer course is another milestone achievement for the Department of Border Enforcement and their Coalition Border Transition Teams as they work together to enhance the capabilities of the DBE and secure the borders of Iraq. (READ MORE)

MoI introduced to a bird’s eye view - BAGHDAD – Local Iraqi patrolmen are preparing to enter a house to serve an arrest warrant. They are armed with all the necessary equipment—weapons, body armor, helmets, radios. But what they are missing could mean the difference between life and death, and Ministry of Interior officials were recently briefed on the new capability that will undoubtedly help to save lives. (READ MORE)

Iraqi women set conditions to further equal rights - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq— The infancy of the women’s rights movement began during the Middle Ages in the Middle East, when pioneers worked to improve the status of women in Islamic nations during early Islamic reforms. According to Dr. Jamal A. Badawi in “The Status of Woman in Islam,” women were granted rights in marriage, divorce and inheritance; and marriage became a “contract” as opposed to a “status,” in which a woman’s consent was imperative. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Marches in Maysan - FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUNTER, Iraq – Nearly 500 Iraqi soldiers traveled approximately 20 miles to reinforce the idea that the Iraqi army is capable of providing stability in southern Iraq March 7. The 3rd Battalion, 41st Iraqi Army Brigade, with assistance from the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, completed ‘Operation Thesinger’. (READ MORE)

Iraqi EOD Learn Advanced CSI Techniques - COB SPEICHER — A thunderous boom resounded across the desert as debris and truck remains fell to the earth followed by Iraqi Policemen (IP) rushing to the blast scene. Fortunately, this was not the scene of a crowded marketplace, but instead, a training range where IP specializing in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) spent the day honing their skills in crime scene investigation in the aftermath of a detonated improvised explosive device, March 18. (READ MORE)

Border Agents Complete Customs Course - BASRAH — Ten Department of Border Enforcement trainers graduated from a Customs and Immigration Trainer Course at the Basrah International Airport here, March 18. Completion of the three-week course is another milestone achievement for the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) and their Coalition Border Transition Teams as they work together to enhance the capabilities of the DBE and secure the borders of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Women Vendors Help Develop Economy - BAGHDAD — Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC-I/A) recently provided 40 prospective and current female Iraqi vendors with training dealing specifically with U.S. Government contracts here. The in-depth training was spearheaded by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Sandra Rodriguez-Brown from JCC-I/A’s Director of Business Development and Outreach Office. The training is offered twice a month in an attempt to reach as many women vendors as possible. (READ MORE)

Arab Jabour Widows Receive Donations - BAGHDAD — Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers delivered toys and cloths to more than 50 widows and their children in the village of Arab Jabour, March 13. Arab Jabour was once an al-Qaida in Iraq stronghold known for suicide bombers and roads heavily mined with improvised explosive devices; its farmlands once the badlands of insurgents. (READ MORE)

Vietnam Vet Lands with Toys, Money for Basrah Children’s Hospital - BASRAH — A private pilot in his Cessna 182 landed at Basrah International Airport with a $10,000 check and nine boxes of toys for the Basrah Children’s Hospital, March 18. Robert Gannon, a Vietnam veteran who served on a medical evacuation helicopter, has visited 110 countries on humanitarian missions over the past eight years. He says that flying into Iraq and seeing the efforts being made to rebuild the country “is definitely one of the highlights of my life.” (READ MORE)

Afghanistan:
Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill 36 Militants, Detain Suspects - WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces killed 36 enemy fighters and detained eight suspects in operations in Afghanistan today and yesterday, military officials reported. In operations today: - Afghan forces, with a small contingent of coalition forces, killed a man who engaged them during the clearance portion of an operation in the Marah Warah district of Konar province. (READ MORE)

Influx of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan to be Met With Rising Violence - WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 – The number of attacks in Afghanistan is likely to rise with the influx of additional U.S. forces there, an International Security Assistance Force commander said today. An increased U.S. presence in the region will spur NATO-led pressure on insurgents and improve efforts to counter narcotics and makeshift bombings, Netherlands Army Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, commander of the ISAF’s Regional Command South in Afghanistan, said. (READ MORE)

Special Operations Troops Deliver Smiles to Bagram Children - KABUL, Afghanistan, March 20, 2009 – Special operations troops here delivered gifts from Americans to Afghans that some say are as important as their combat missions. “We are in Afghanistan to rebuild the country and, in my opinion, we need more than bombs and bullets,” said Air Force Col. Victor Kuchar, who flew here from Washington, D.C., to oversee the delivery. “We need blankets, clothes and textbooks. So many wonderful, caring and loving Americans from kindergarten age to senior citizens want to help us with this.” (READ MORE)

U.S. Projects in Afghanistan Support Security, Stability Efforts - WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 – Myriad construction programs under way in Afghanistan are helping to improve security and provide a better future for the people of that war-torn country, the chief of the U.S. military engineering effort there said here today. Those construction projects play a role in the counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan, as new roads, bridges, buildings and other facilities assist security efforts as well as economic and governmental development, Army Col. Thomas E. O’Donovan, commander of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District, told reporters during a Pentagon news conference. (READ MORE)

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