June 5, 2009

From the Front: 06/05/2009

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

Bouhammer: IED use in Afghanistan surges 80% this year - Insurgent use of roadside bombs in Afghanistan has surged 80 percent this year as they remain the No. l killer of foreign troops, a NATO official said Thursday. The increase since the corresponding period last year includes bombs that detonated or were found by troops before they could explode, said Canadian Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. "This is very serious business for us," Blanchette told AP Broadcast in an interview from Kabul, Afghanistan. Roadside bombs have been the primary killer in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Last year, improvised devices and other roadside explosives killed 172 U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. At least 31 American soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs this year, according to the Defense Department. (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: Mambo # 3 - Mambo #3: When you're a lousy analyst, out of your league and talking smack about things that you genuinely are clueless about, and you are called on it, backpedal. Though you have accused others of raising strawmen, admit to raising a strawman on a limited basis, but call it something else, like a "false choice." Claim you did it not because you are a lost ball in tall grass, but for effect. Subtly imply it's because your opponents are really the idiots, and so you had to go for theatrics, not having the ability to use sock puppets on teh internets. He's getting his intellectual ass handed to him over at Abu Muqawama in the comments, but he's the smart guy. Like a child with ADHD who's eaten sugary food late in the evening, Cohen just can't shut up. Even though he is ridiculously soft headed on the topic, he still claims to base things on "my analysis." (READ MORE)

SGT Emily Anderson: Can’t think of a title for this…just read it! - “If you could do one thing for the rest of your life and be happy about it, what would it be?” This was a question that I was asked recently. This was probably one of the hardest questions that I have ever been asked, and I honestly could not answer it. I guess I never really thought about it before. I mean I’ve been asked what do you want to be years from now and things like that. I have an answer for that. I would want to be happy, but what would I do to make myself happy for the rest of my life is the question that I do not have the answer to. Having to answer this question has caused so much frustration. It seems the idea of going and graduating from college is pushed so hard but the idea of what to do after college is often forgotten. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Riding in the Running Race - Every Wednesday at 0600 is the “First Light 5k” race at the “House of Pain” gym. For almost a month now I have not been allowed to run because of a bone spur in my right heel. So while I can’t run, I have volunteered to be the “Pace Bike” for the weekly event. The course has six right turns and two lefts on double oval so every week for the first few weeks, someone would get lost. One new racer who claimed to be able to run under 18 minutes for the 5k got off course while in the lead, so the pace bike is actually useful. I also like being at the race since almost forty of Echo Company’s hundred soldiers run every week. The top runners in the company are training for the Army 10-miler in October. We will have a team. But the majority are training for a passing time or a better time on their two-mile run. In any case Echo Company is about 1/3 of the field most weeks, but is out of the prize categories. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: Remember How He Lived - So often over the past month people have dwelled on how Pokey died. Yes he died in combat serving this country. But in doing so they have forgotten how he lived. Those who knew Pokey have only to take the time to remember who he was. His smile, his laughter, his bizarre sense of humor. But also that he was sensitive caring person who would stop and help the elderly man load his groceries. Who would make the bigger kids stop picking on the littler ones. He had a work ethic that few his age had. When there was a job to be done he pitched in and worked hard till it was done. Pokey hated being idle. He had to be doing something. either goofing off with his friends or volunteering to take on some chore just so he could be doing something. Some would have described him as hyperactive but he wasn't he was just a doer. He had to be doing something. I think it was because he was quite intelligent. Pokey savored life. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistan targets leaders behind the Malakand Accord - The Pakistani government is targeting the leadership of the pro-Taliban group behind the failed peace agreement in Northwestern Pakistan. Unconfirmed reports indicate Sufi Mohammed and five other senior leaders of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM or the Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed's Law] have been detained in Dir. The military has confirmed three senior members of the group have been detained. Maulana Alam, the deputy leader of the TNSM, Maulana Said Wahab, a member of the group's ruling shura, or council, and spokesman Ameer Izzat were arrested during a raid in the Amandara region of Dir. But the military would not comment of the arrest of Sufi or his two sons, Rizwanullah and Ziaullah. Kifyatullah, another son of Sufi, was killed by Pakistani troops during an artillery bombardment in Madain on May 7. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Al Qaeda operatives targeting Pakistani leaders - Al Qaeda has transferred seven operatives from the Iraq theater to target senior Pakistani leaders. The targets of the planned attacks are President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, General Kiyani, and other senior military officers, cabinet ministers, and provincial leaders. The seven operatives, who were behind deadly attacks in Iraq, reportedly met in Afghanistan's eastern province of Paktia on May 3 to plan the operations, according to a report in the Daily Times. The al Qaeda operatives are assigned to cooperate with the Pakistani Taliban, led by Baitullah Mehsud. The operatives were identified as Amanullah Afghani, Shahidullah Khan, Maulvi Khalid Shah, Rehmatullah Khan, Abdul Latif Afghani, Muhammad Saeed Bin Talha, Muhammad Shaheen Kawrai, and Ahmed Ali Tanwancy. (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: 04JUN09--"New" Interpreter - Readers might remember that a short while ago one of our interpreters suddenly quit, as in he wanted to go home that minute. Now, a few weeks later, we have a new terp, and he is not at all what we were expecting. Mister Z is 76 years young. We decided the day that we picked him up that his run with our team would be short lived, opting for a different terp. Now, do not get me wrong, our problem is not simply his age. Because, if I am being honest, he is quite good shape for 76-year-old, especially considering that he is Iraqi. However, he has all the expected health problems associated with a 76-year-old Iraq. Mister Z is hard of hearing, so maybe he does not understand what is being said or maybe he just cannot hear the conversation. And the dentures do nothing for his speech. To be frank, while I admire his drive, he is simply not suited for a combat environment. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: Thoughts on the Change of Command in Afghanistan - A reader living in Kabul sent me a long, very thoughtful email about the changeover between General McKiernan and General McChrystal. He’s quite deeply worried that this portends the creation of an MNC-A, an Afghan version of the Multi-National Corps, Iraq, in both command structure and intent (several people have speculated this is why a new general has been sent to Afghanistan, and why McChrystal has been promoted). Indeed, the big concern he raised is whether or not the war is being “Americanized.” It is certainly a growing theme, as an American takes over command in Kandahar and RC-South is flooded with U.S. troops (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, for example, has filed multiple reports to this effect). The reader said that McKiernan was adamant about limiting the American footprint in ISAF so that it’s not seen as a U.S. puppet—and that, rather than being “too conventional” as everyone from Andrew Exum to Ralph Peters has alleged, he was deeply focused on the non-kinetic side of the fight: (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: Get Off The Damned FOBs - Herschel Smith is talking a lot of sense here: “Even many of the Army SOF are base-bound except for their forays into the wild via helicopter rides to the next raid. Some Army are doing it right (e.g., the Korangal Valley), as are the Marines in Helmand. But the gargantuan bases are an obstacle to success in Afghanistan. Empty them. Send the Army on dismounted patrols, open vehicle patrol bases, smaller FOBs, and combat outposts. Get amongst the people. Only then will they sense that you are committed and give you intelligence - leading ultimately to killing Taliban, which will then further contribute to their security, and so on the process goes.” Yes. This, again, is why I firmly believe the ETT/PMT/OMLT model (e.g., “Foreign Internal Defense,” or FID) is ultimately the key to a win in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Iraqi Reaction to President Obama’s Speech - BAGHDAD - President Obama received warm applause on Thursday from his audience in Cairo when he mentioned in his sweeping speech that the United States would be withdrawing all of its troops from Iraq by the end of 2012 and leave Iraq to Iraqis. But most people in Iraq, a country that has been exhaustively condemned, extolled, grieved over and celebrated by a succession of American presidents, seemed unimpressed. (READ MORE)

Joint Air Assault Checks for Caches - TAJI, Iraq – Soldiers from a Pennsylvania Army National Guard unit worked with Iraqi army soldiers, June 3, to confirm that insurgents have not reseeded a small portion of desert area, northwest of Taji, with weapon caches. The joint mission also provided IA soldiers an opportunity to hone air assault skills as the Iraqis participated in a helicopter insertion into the search point with their 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team counterparts. (READ MORE)

Iraqi public gains highway access; convoy managers adjust for lane loss - CONVOY SUPPORT CENTER SCANIA, Iraq – Coalition forces opened two lanes of traffic along Main Supply Route Tampa for use by Iraqi travelers during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday. This move comes as more security responsibilities are handed back to Iraq as a part of the 2009 Security Agreement, which calls for Coalition forces to provide a greater share of the road to the Iraqi people. (READ MORE)

Small Iraqi villages targets for terrorist recruiting - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq – Nestled away in the sandy dunes of northern Iraq is the small village of Zalla Al Sabaee. With a population of approximately 500 people, it is one of thousands of small Iraqi villages that most people have probably never heard of. However, this village and many others play a vital role in the overall stability of the country, which is why a platoon of Soldiers accompanied by the Daquq, Iraq Police travelled there May 31. (READ MORE)

GRD awards first contract to veteran-owned business - BAGHDAD, Iraq – Over the past five years, the Gulf Region Division has embarked on a dedicated campaign that has enabled many “firsts” for the Iraqi people. Across the region, GRD personnel have worked tirelessly on projects – projects that in many cases allow Iraqis to enjoy the benefits of running water and electricity for the first time. The GRD reached another milestone recently by awarding its first contract to a veteran-owned business. (READ MORE)

Superintendant showcases progress of Iraqi police - BAGHDAD— The president and superintendent of the Baghdad Police College described the training of Iraqi Police Forces is an integral facet within the U.S. and Iraqi Security Agreement, during an International Media Day June 3. With U.S. combat forces on track to move out of cities, villages and locales by June 30, as called for in the Agreement, Dr. Jassim Hassan Attiya praised the progress and professionalism of Iraq’s police, which are assuming security duties for the nation. (READ MORE)

IA Opens New Brigade Headquarters - MOSUL — Maj. Gen. Hassan Karim, commander, Ninewa Operations Command, traveled to Al Kazer for the opening of a new Iraqi Army (IA) brigade headquarters, May 28. For the mostly Arab IA, the new brigade is unique; made up of more than two-thirds Kurdish Soldiers and located close to the Kurdish regional government. Upon arriving at the new headquarters, Hassan was greeted by Brig. Gen. Natheer Asim Amin, commander, 5th brigade, 2nd IA division, and his senior officers. (READ MORE)

Iraq Assistance Group Completes Mission - BAGHDAD — After more than four years of leading the Iraqi Security Force (ISF) development line of effort, the Iraq Assistance Group (IAG) conducted a casing of colors and patch ceremony here on the Camp Victory Joint Visitors Bureau hotel patio, June 3. "On the backs of a brave few, we have labored to create an Iraqi Security Force that is now the centerpiece of our security operations moving forward. You have done what was needed, when it was needed the most," Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, Multi-National Corps - Iraq commanding general, told the group of nearly 100 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. (READ MORE)

U.S. Army Scientists Study Iraqi Culture - BASRAH — Traditionally, Soldiers are trained to ask where or when something happened, but not why something happened. However, on today's battlefield, the "why" is more important than ever. "If Soldiers want to know, 'Why are the children throwing rocks at us?' and 'Why are they rocketing us?' That's what we do," said Leslie Kayanan, team leader of the Human Terrain System (HTS) team assigned to the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. (READ MORE)

Paying Tribute to One Who Answered ‘A Higher Calling’ - ALI BASE, Iraq, June 4, 2009 – It’s 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and we’re in the shade of an aircraft silhouette. The wind is blowing steadily at about 25 knots. It’s like standing in front of a giant hair dryer. The weather forecaster says there are gusts up to 35 knots. The wind is sending a steady stream of sand and dust whipping across the flightline into the faces of airmen and soldiers alike. There is silence, except for the wind. Yet, we stand at attention in two straight lines, beginning at the ramp of a C-130 Hercules. (READ MORE)

More Than 20 Suspects Arrested in Recent Iraq Operations - WASHINGTON, June 4, 2009 – Coalition and Iraqi forces detained more than 20 suspects during several recent operations in Iraq’s capital city and the country’s Diyala province. Early June 1, U.S. soldiers working with Iraqi soldiers and police executed warrants and arrested two wanted men in northwestern Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood. The forces confiscated assault rifles from the men and moved them to secure locations for further questioning. (READ MORE)

Father, Son Serve Under Same Colors in Iraq - CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq, June 4, 2009 – When Cpl. Jared P. Lopez joined the Marine Corps in September 2006, he always knew there would be a possibility that he would deploy at the same time as his father, who has served in the Marine Corps for nearly 20 years. But he didn’t think they would end up on the same base in Iraq. Much to his surprise, that’s just what happened. Master Sgt. Juan Lopez, the operations chief for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Security Detachment, arrived here in February, a month after his son did. (READ MORE)

Joint Operation Nets Four Suspected Militants in Afghanistan - WASHINGTON, June 4, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces detained four suspected militants in Khost province overnight during an operation to capture a key Haqqani terrorist network leader in eastern Afghanistan. In the province’s Sabari district, a combined force searched a rural compound after credible intelligence sources indicated the wanted man was located near Zambar village. (READ MORE)

Afghan Public Protection Program Paves Way for Development - KABUL, June 4, 2009 – Following months of hard work by the people of Jalrez in Afghanistan’s Wardak province, security has improved to such a degree that development money is pouring into the district. Wardak Gov. Mohammad Halim Fidai joined the Jalrez sub-governor, the president of the Jalrez community council, members from all of the district’s administrative divisions, contractors and district elders to witness the contracts being signed for new projects. (READ MORE)

Inbound Soldiers Will Help Afghan Mentoring, General Says - WASHINGTON, June 4, 2009 – Inbound soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team will be a welcome addition for the Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix mission of mentoring and training Afghan soldiers and police officers, the task force commander said. “I think the additional soldiers, mainly the 4th Brigade out of the 82nd, which is going to be the second brigade to fall under Phoenix, is going to be a great help to allow us to meet the requirements to staff the different … embedding training teams and police mentor teams,” Army Brig. Gen. Steven Huber told participants in a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable June 2. (READ MORE)

Poppy link to Afghan bumper crop - The Afghan government has said that the bumper wheat harvest expected this year can be attributed in part to its successful poppy eradication programme. Officials say the success of the scheme - especially in Nangarhar province - has helped the country to reap its biggest wheat harvest in 30 years. However officials say the main reason for the bumper harvest is because of increased snow and rainfall. (READ MORE)

Zardari warns refugees may look to Taliban - Asif Ali Zardari, president of Pakistan, said he feared that some of the millions of people displaced by fierce fighting in the northern Swat valley could become Talibanised if help was not urgently provided. In an interview with the FT, Mr Zardari described the month-long battle with the Taliban in Swat, 100 miles north of Islamabad, the capital, as a “fight for our very survival.” He added: “Future generations will not forgive us if we fail.” (READ MORE)

Offensive to oust Taliban from Swat - Pakistan's army chief said before meeting U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke on Friday that his forces had "turned the tide" against Taliban fighters and aimed to completely eradicate them from the Swat valley. Pakistan launched an offensive to expel Taliban militants from Swat last month in a move welcomed by Western allies worried that the nuclear-armed country was sliding into chaos. (READ MORE)

Men with links to Taliban arrested - SLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Several key figures connected to the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat Valley have been arrested, Pakistani authorities said. The arrests come as Pakistan's military has surged into the Swat Valley, in the country's north, in an offensive against the Taliban. Authorities arrested Amir Izat Khan and Maulana Muhammad Alam, both senior members of an organization run by Sufi Muhammad, local information ministry officials said Thursday. (READ MORE)

Iraq And Afghanistan To Resume Ties Soon - BAGHDAD (AFP)--Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to resume diplomatic relations "very soon", 12 years after they were severed during the days of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, a senior Afghan diplomat said. "We sent a message from our chief diplomat to his Iraqi counterpart about the resumption of diplomatic relations between our two countries and the reopening of our embassies in Kabul and Baghdad," Fazlerrahman Fazil, a senior Afghan consular official, told AFP late Thursday. (READ MORE)

US troops surge in Afghanistan to increase militants’ infiltration - Islamabad, June 5, IRNA - Pakistan is concerned about the US military surge in Afghanistan as it could increase infiltration of militants and extremists to Pakistan from Afghan side, the Foreign Office spokesman said on Thursday. Unveiling his new military strategy in February, US President Barack Obama approved despatch of 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, saying the situation in that country, specially areas bordering Pakistan, needed swift attention. (READ MORE)

Clash leaves 8 Taliban, 1 Afghan police dead - A clash between Taliban and Afghan police left eight insurgent dead in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost early Friday, a local official said. "The insurgents raided police checkpoint in Sarabari district at 03:00 a.m. this morning and police returned fire, killing eight rebels," governor of Sabari district Daulat Khan Qayumi told Xinhua. (READ MORE)

Top soldier in Afghanistan gives up-close lesson in counterinsurgency - The military commander of the Kandahar mission has a huge counterinsurgency to fight. So he could have let it slide, the relatively minor provocation. But when someone in Kandahar City chucked a rock at his head on Tuesday, Canadian Forces Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance made sure the attack was avenged. (READ MORE)

Taliban men blow up girls' school Free abducted students in Pakistan - Taliban militants yesterday freed all remaining Pakistani staff and students from an army-run boarding school who were snatched three days ago, drawing a line under the brazen mass abduction. At least 42 students and two staff from a college in the tribal area of North Waziristan, where Washington says al-Qaeda are plotting attacks on the West, were released to tribal elders, officials and the Taliban said. (READ MORE)

Taliban force non-Muslims to pay tribute - Non-Muslims must pay the Taliban protection money if they want to stay in their own homes. Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant Muslim organisation based in Bara, about 10 kilometres south-west of Peshawar, wants Christians, Hindus and Sikhs to pay the jizya, the poll tax for non-Muslims. Local sources are reporting that non-Muslims are collectively required to pay up in Bara, Chora, Karamna, Bazaar Zakhakhel and the Tirah Valley, which are part of the Khyber Agency, one of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the northern border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Linked by: H&I Fires 5 June 2009 at Castle Argghhh!

No comments: