June 15, 2009

From the Front: 06/15/2009

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

A Year In The Sandbox: Kid Videos - Took me a little while to get around to it, but here are the videos of kids I’ve taken here. (Videos at Site)

Sour Swinger: (VIDEO) Short Clips Of Iraqi Children - Another round of videos. Thanx again to my step-mom for uploading them. These are short clips of some of my encounters with the kids here. (Videos at Site)

MAJ C: So What Should We Do? - Before I begin I would like to reiterate again the disclaimer that is at the bottom of my blog. The opinions expressed here are not that of the US Government, US Department of Defense, or the United States Army. These are purely my personal thoughts right now after watching all that is going on. OK, with that out of the way...What should we do? "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty." - President John F. Kennedy. I used this quote the other day, on my quote of the day portion of the blog. I think it is one of the best and clearest definitions of a foreign policy that we have had in a long time. (READ MORE)

1st Marine Logistics Group: Combat Hunter teaches Marines to stalk enemies - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - - Trying to increase their predatory instinct, Marines with Military Police Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, participated in training here June 9 designed specifically to keep service members from relying so much on optics while hunting the enemy. Combat Hunter’s mission is to help Marines stalk insurgents by using their senses and instincts. It relies heavily on a Marine’s keen observation of his or her surroundings, according to Gunnery Sgt. George F. Allen, Combat Hunter instructor with M.P. Co. “This is the most comprehensive training of its kind,” said Cpl. Clarke Fable, military police, Military Police Co., CLR-17, 1st MLG. “It keeps Marines focused on their surroundings at all times,” said Fable, 23, Mackinaw, Ill. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: A promotion + visiting Camp Phoenix bazaar + volleyball - Prior to our mission this morning, we had to take care of some official business. The Air Force has decided that the Lt has been wearing his silver bars long enough. So now they are going to give him another bar and attach it to the old one to form the shape of Captain’s bars. I was the first one to see him this morning and greeted him officially “Good Morning Captain”. Based on his boyish sheepish grin, he liked the sound of it. So before the patrol pulled out of the parking lot this morning, our team leader with the help of some teammates performed the official ceremony and promoted Lt to Captain. Normally a reception would follow along with vast amounts of beverages. Unfortunately we are not allowed alcohol and we had to get on the road for a mission. We visited Camp Phoenix today to take care of some administrative business and stopped in at the AF squadron. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: What keeps me (the wife) going... - From Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: Rex is out today and asked me to “keep the blog warm” while he’s away. I am often asked what keeps me going while Rex is away on deployment and about 99% of the time the answer is “my students.” Today is one of those days when all the long hours grading papers and putting up with the budget cuts and other stuff that drive a college journalism and video instructor crazy melt away and being a teacher is pure bliss. My extremely wonderful and talented students Sarah Wilson, Sean Brown, Sealii King and Dan Nguyen & Co. at University of South Florida have won “Best Picture” at Campus Movie Fest finals in LA. This is an amazing accomplishment by a crew of young filmmakers from a school that doesn’t even have an official film program. I truly hope some of you will take the time to watch their film (just 5 minutes long)! It’s truly amazing – they beat out 5,000 other teams to get this honor. (READ MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: I am NOT coming here on a vacation - We made it back home after the great Customs Adventure, and have fallen right back into the same do ten minutes of paperwork then stare at the calendar routine. The only break in the monotony came when, looking down to lace up my running shoes, I spied something moving on my sock. I grabbed, killed and examined. When I found two similar wee little beasties later the same day, it was confirmed. Your Author has fleas. [sigh] Seriously, is there anything not to hate about this place? I just triumphed over the sandflies (using a mosquito net that creates a really adorable "princess canopy" effect over my rack), and now I have fleas. Fortunately, the Bossman had some sort of liquid insecticide in a spray bottle, and after three treatments of my floor and what I expect is the true culprit - my blue rug - I have now been flea free for 24 hours. (READ MORE)

Brad's Excellent Adventure: Here We Go Again - Sunday 14 June 2009 0700 - I have just returned to the theater from my R&R leave for this tour. I wasn’t going to take a leave at all this time, and save it all for the end. But my youngest daughter had a band concert I wanted to see, there was some important family business to take care of, and frankly I needed a break. So once my medical issues had been taken care of in Germany I went ahead and departed the AOR on Saturday 23 May for two weeks of R&R in Michigan. The travel process was very smooth and I arrived in Michigan via Kuwait and Atlanta on Sunday afternoon 24 May. Last year on R&R I did everything they tell you not to do – too many planned activities, too many expectations, etc. The result was a disastrous, stressful time. Everybody was unhappy and it left me feeling like I needed a leave to recover from my leave. This time I did things quite differently. When I got home I took care of the one main item of business right away, and once that was done I just relaxed with no particular plan. (READ MORE)

SGM Troy Falardeau: Happy 234th Birthday - Two hundred and thirty-four years ago, the United States Army was established to defend our Nation. From the Revolutionary War until today, our Soldiers remain Army Strong with a deep commitment to our core values and beliefs. This 234th birthday commemorates America’s Army – Soldiers, Families and Civilians – who are achieving a level of excellence that is truly Army Strong both here and abroad. Their willingness to sacrifice to build a better future for others and to preserve our way of life is without a doubt, the Strength of our Nation. The 314th Public Affairs Operations Center commemorated the Army Birthday at FOB Prosperity. SGTs Bryan Tull, Paul Roberts and Brad Richardson raised the stars and stripes above the Combined Press Information Center. (READ MORE)

Castra Praetoria: Telephone Tales - I hate telephones! A ringing telephone is solely a harbinger of evil tidings; a demon-driven device constructed to torture and maim my inner ear and other workings within my brain housing group. How can this be you ask? After all, it is the 21st Century and where would we be without the electronic leash we call the cell phone? Friends, my particular loathing for phones of any ring tone started way back as an embassy guard in the mid 90’s. At the American Embassy Bujumbura, Burundi, I was a young Corporal standing Post 1 controlling access into the embassy walking my post in a military manner and observing everything that took place within sight and hearing. Unfortunately, I could hear the phone, too. (READ MORE)

Doc H: On the Road with the Family to Discover the Greatness of the USA - The Family and I went to do something I have not done for over 25 years or so. We went to visit the Kennedy Space Center. My son, Graham, is 10 years old and very interested in Science- albeit the type that blows things up. I soon found that while Kennedy is a bit touristy in regards to shameless merchandise, it was educational for the whole family. I consider myself a fairly informed person when it comes to history, but I learned a great deal as well. While all the technical data and facts were stimulating, the most striking thing was the slant that the Center has on the whole space race, in retrospect. The gist of the commentary was that we as Americans only entered the space race in order to keep up with the Soviets- who launched Sputnik. We did not do very well at first if you look closely at our projects of that time. Our only motivation at that time was fear of a Nuclear Soviet Union and what their dominion of space would mean for us. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Christian Major - Last February I wrote this post about the Afghan Security Market. I was in Kabul for a month as a favor to a friend when I wrote the post filling in for a guy I had not met before named Christian Major. Christian and I spent two days conducting a turn over before he went home. I instantly became a big fan of his when I saw him interacting with the local beggar kids on our first morning together. He had exceptional language skills, he was a very big and very fit guy, had an infectious smile, great sense of humor and like all the good guys in my line of work a tender heart. As many of us do he sponsored children from the slums paying them to go to school. Unlike many of us he followed up on his investment ensuring unscrupulous family members did not take the money from his charges and force them to beg in other parts of the city. Christian Major was a good man; I am proud to call him my friend; Christian died sometime during the night last Thursday and was found in his room by his mates on Friday morning. (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: Cowardice - It all started early in the morning in a busy market of a town near here. A market usually patrolled and guarded by the Iraqi Police. A market where the police usually prevent vehicles from entering so that an occurrences of violence wouldn’t happen. For some reason, this particular morning no IPs were to be found according to the reports. A man in non-traditional clothing drove his vehicle into the busy market, parked it, and walked away. A few minutes later his vehicle exploded, wounding more than 70 and killing 29 people - including women and children. Innocent people going about their daily lives. Was this a strike against coalition forces? No, none were anywhere close. Was this a strike against the Iraqi Police or government? No, as I stated they were mysteriously missing this morning. This was a strike by terrorist cowards against the people of Iraq in order to strike fear and hate into the hearts of the people. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Home - At 5pm yesterday, my daughters picked me up at Harrisburg International Airport, just 57 hours after I showed up at the passenger terminal at Tallil Air Base. Since we gained 7 hours, the trip actually took 64 clock hours. But my leave did not start until one minute after midnight today, so I have only used 18 of the 360 hours (15 days) of leave. When we got back to Lancaster from Harrisburg last night, we picked up my son Nigel then went out to dinner at Isaac's Restaurant & Deli, my favorite place to eat in Lancaster since they opened in 1983. All of the sandwiches are named after birds. My favorite sandwich is a Bird of Paradise: An all-time favorite from our original menu! A combination of mushrooms, green olives, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, melted Swiss and Muenster cheeses on rye with mayo. 7.39 (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Always, Always Volunteer - The last bit of advice my Dad gave me when I enlisted in 1972 was "Volunteer. Don't listen to those [other soldiers--expletives deleted]." So I did. In basic training when no one else's hand went up, I volunteered to be one of the Latrine Queens--the name given to those who clean the bathrooms. Jersey, one of the smart guys, also raised his hand for this job and smiled when he saw me volunteer also. I got hassled right away. My roommate, 'Bama, said "What in the Hell did you do that for Guss? Have you lost your damn mind since breakfast?" I shrugged. I did not feel smart at the time. Three days later I felt absolutely brilliant. Everyone except the latrine queens and the buffer crew went for a 10-mile, 4am road march in a 50-degree Texas February rain. Jersey and I had to stay back and clean the latrines for an inspection by some higher command. When the soggy marchers got back they had to stay outside until the inspection was over. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistan says offensive against Baitullah Mehsud eminent - A provincial governor said the military will launch a “comprehensive and decisive operation” in South Waziristan that is designed to root out Pakistani Taliban commander Baituallah Mehsud. The announcement comes as fresh airstrikes are conducted in South Waziristan, Bannu, Arakzai, and Bajaur. In Arakzai, the Commander Tariq Group was struck, but no casualties were reported. Military claimed success in South Waziristan strikes as upcoming offensive is announced - The military claimed 30 Taliban fighters were killed and more than 50 were wounded in Saturday’s air blitz against Baitullah Mehsud’s home town of Makeen. Local tribal leaders claimed six civilians were killed. On Sunday, the US launched a Predator airstrike in Baitullah’s turf in the Ladha region. Five “militants” were reported killed after Hellfire missiles slammed into their vehicle. (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker - My Point of View: What did you do in the war, mommy? - Well, it's doubtful I'll ever hear my own kid say that. Perhaps it would be better to write "what did you do in the war, Aunt Anrie?" :) People have asked me what exactly I, and my unit, do here at the sprawling base of Camp Liberty, Baghdad, Iraq. So, now, over the next few days I am going to take you on a tour through my world. Sit down and hold on, it's going to be a wild ride! Okay, well, maybe no. But at least it will be a little enlightening. Overall, the mission of the mighty fightin' 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment is to produce print and broadcast products focused on the missions and Soldiers of Multi National Division-Baghdad (MND-B). (READ MORE)

Notes From Iraq: 12JUN09--Familiar Conversation of Interest - Today, I met an Iraqi major and had a familiar first conversation with him. I took notes in order to share. Mostly, I am surprised by how often I discuss the same topics with Iraqis, such as American movies, families, and banks. Our conversation began about American movies. Not just Iraqis, but people all around the world view Hollywood movies and believe that they depict life in the States. Sometimes I am asked how I can feel safe in the States when the Iraqi has seen too many gang or drug-related movies. This officer, however, focused on familiar actors. "ARNOLD! You ask any Iraqi child, 'Who is Arnold?,' and they will respond with poses of flexed muscles or reenacting scenes firing large-caliber weapons. We love Arnold's movies and hope to see more." (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Getting a Job in Iraq or Afghanistan - I've been asked a couple of times about how to go about getting a job here in Iraq. There are quite a few options available. Your choice will depend on who you are and what you want to do. The first thing to consider is that there are fewer jobs in Iraq every single day. The military is drawing down. Contractors are being terminated or redeployed or otherwise encouraged to go home. The big flood of money and work that we poured into Iraq to stabilize it, and get it back on its feet again, is coming to an end. I'm going through a drill right now on spending what very possibly could be the last big pot of project money to come to the Corps of Engineers in Iraq. Meanwhile, we in the Corps are sending people back to the States nearly every day. Our military forces have a deadline of December 30, 2011, to pack up and leave, and we're already working toward that goal. Even the Embassy, which will be here for the long term, doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of jobs available. (READ MORE)

Fightin' 6th Marines: War-torn Karmah to receive easily accessible drinking water - CAMP RAMADI, Iraq –Residents of Karmah, Iraq, a once war-torn city in eastern Al Anbar province, and surrounding areas lack clean drinking water. During a meeting held aboard Camp Ali, Iraq, May 31, 2009, Iraqi and Coalition leaders discussed how to rehabilitate the area’s water treatment plants in order to serve a population of nearly 100,000 civilians. With the help of the Fallujah embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team; the Sheik council, a group of local tribal leaders; the Director-General of Water Salwa Hady, and engineers Jamal Qassim and Ahmed Eaden, Karmah will soon have a source of clean water, much like that of American suburban areas. Ideas to reconstruct and build new water treatment plants throughout Karmah were brought to the attention of the Fallujah ePRT by the Iraqi engineers. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: Make-Work and Counternarcotics - I have to question anyone’s expertise who advocates this: “Or better yet, subsidize factories that pay weekly wages to absorb poppy workers. Who would choose stoop labor in distant poppy fields over comfortable conditions working alongside friends and family members? What does it matter, really, if there is nothing that the Afghans can make that anyone wants? Subsidizing make-work is cheaper monetarily and politically than fighting and over time builds a skilled workforce.” That’s Allison Brown, the former Counter Narcotics Advisor for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Government of Afghanistan, writing in the Small Wars Journal. (I wonder if people working at the Ministry of Counternarcotics would think differently?) I seem to recall previous make-work programs in Afghanistan ending in complete disaster. The reason? For one, factories are not “comfortable,” no matter how much you try to sell it. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Sandstorm - Walking out of the office is like stepping into a movie that hasn’t been white balanced. An orange haze surrounds us and about an hour ago I could see a clear distinction between the clear sky and the dusty brown sand approaching us. The air feels thick and muggy and the wind provides a constant exfoliant mist of sand and dirt. I’m almost hoping for rain to push the sand back to the ground where it belongs. We should only be so lucky. I’m working on the newscast again tonight. Brian and TyTy just left to grab Guitar Hero from the tent and bring it to the studio. You can bet I’ll be singing some No Doubt and Pearl Jam in between rendering sessions. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
U.S., Iraqi Forces Detain Senior Terrorist Suspect - WASHINGTON, June 12, 2009 – U.S. and Iraqi forces captured an alleged insurgent leader and found three weapon stockpiles in recent operations in Iraq, military officials reported. The suspect was arrested by Iraqi police June 10 in Kirkuk. A warrant for his arrest was issued by the Iraqi government for allegedly purchasing weapons and bombs to fight coalition forces. The man is believed to be responsible for at least 10 murders in the area, officials said. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police uncover huge ammunition cache in Dhi Qar - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – Dhi Qar Provincial Police seized an enormous cache of heavy ordnance, explosives, weapons and small arms ammunition in Nasiriyah June 13. After a thorough investigation, the Iraqi Police, under command of Staff Maj. Gen. Sabah Al-Fatlawi, found the stockpile of weapons at a home that was turned into a factory for making Improvised Explosive Devices. (READ MORE)

Combined U.S., Iraqi patrol strengthens partnership - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq – As part of the Security Agreement signed between the United States and Iraq on Jan. 1, all operations conducted within Iraq must be led by Iraqi Security Forces with U.S. forces in support. That includes regular security patrols, which serve to support stability in a village or town and also serves to strengthen the bond between Iraqi Security and Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army Soldiers arrest two suspected criminals in Qadisiyah Province - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army Soldiers, along with Coalition forces advisors, arrested two suspected criminals in connection to an insurgent element in Qadisiyah, Iraq, during an intelligence-driven operation June 12. The 8th Iraqi Army Soldiers, operating under the authority of a locally-issued warrant, apprehended the individuals in the early-morning operation. (READ MORE)

Soldiers react to grenade attack, save lives - MOSUL, Iraq – The silence was awkward as the compact conference room inside the operations center filled up with Soldiers attached to 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, June 12. The reason for the gathering was two-fold. First, they came to welcome back their first sergeant, who was injured in a grenade attack June 6. Second, Soldiers from 1st and 2nd Platoon, B. Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, came to recount their actions in the streets of Mosul that day. (READ MORE)

IA, IP arrest suspected terrorists, find weapons in Hawijah - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK– Iraqi Police, supported by Iraqi Army Soldiers arrested nine individuals wanted for terrorism in Kirkuk province, Northern Iraq, June 10. During the operation the combined team, which included support from Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, also discovered weapons caches in the villages of Thalilla and Algair in the Hawijah district of the Kirkuk province of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Tal Afar SWAT arrest suspected terrorist in Ninewa province - TIKRIT, Iraq – Tal Afar Special Weapons and Tactics, with Coalition forces advisors, arrested a suspected terrorist June 11, with a warrant issued by the Central Investigative Court of Iraq -Kharkh. The arrested individual is suspected of facilitating attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces in Mosul. (READ MORE)

Basrah SWAT team arrests suspected criminal in southern Iraq - BAGHDAD – Iraqi police from the Basrah Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, along with Coalition forces advisors, arrested a suspected criminal in southern Iraq during an Iraqi-led operation June 12. The SWAT team was operating under the authority of a locally-issued warrant. (READ MORE)

Center Analyzes Past Missions to Increase Iraqi Army Performance - BAGHDAD — Since its inception, the Lessons Learned Center (LLC) has focused on how it can help the Iraqi Army (IA) better its performance in defending the nation. Fulfilling a key element of the US-Iraq Security Agreement, the LLC collects and analyzes what IA forces have learned from previous missions and then uses that information to recommend improvements to those forces. (READ MORE)

1,088 Iraqi Police Complete Facilities Protection Service Training - BAGHDAD — More than 1,000 Iraqi Police (IP) graduated Facilities Protection Service (FPS) training here, June 3, bringing to completion the training of all 17,115 FPS Police in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MoI). The training is a vital step toward ensuring Iraq’s ability to protect its infrastructure and fulfills a key element of the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement. (READ MORE)

Kirkuk Hospital to Receive Army Assistance - KIRKUK — As part of a regular checkup, to get a specific diagnosis or to verify progress being made, a physician might request laboratory tests or order X-rays to detect disease, or even an ultrasound to determine the sex of a baby for new parents. But none of that can happen without functioning equipment or medical staff trained to troubleshoot problems. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police, U.S. Soldiers Deliver Food, Soccer Balls in Kirkuk Province - KIRKUK — Iraqi Police (IP) and Coalition forces brought a little relief to the Iraqi village of Qutan here, June 6. IP from the Mari Police sub-station in the Dibbis District, assisted by 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers, delivered 150 bags of perishable food consisting of beans, rice, cooking oil, and tomatoes. According to 1st Lt. Winfield Swanton, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the food is purchased from local vendors to benefit merchants as well. (READ MORE)

Cleaning Canals in Kirkuk Provides Jobs, Drought Relief - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK - Farmers in Riyadh, a small agricultural community in western Kirkuk, need water. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division recently employed 85 people around the town of Riyadh to clean up the canals that distribute water throughout the district. (READ MORE)

Eye Doc Keeps Looking to Help - TALLIL — An extremely concerned Iraqi father cradled his seven-month-old son as he walked into a health clinic here, June 12, seeking medical help. There was something seriously wrong with his little boy's vision that demanded immediate attention. Lucky for him and many other families, the 225th Engineer Brigade's surgeon, Maj. Frederick Hall, was on a special health care mission at that clinic. (READ MORE)

Army Engineers Return Bronze Tablet to Government of Iraq Officials - BAGHDAD — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division here helped return a bronze tablet to the Government of Iraq earlier this month. The 27-year-old tablet, built in the era of Saddam Hussein and dedicated to an Unknown Soldier, was turned over to the Iraqi High Tribunal for storage in its secure document storage facility in the International Zone. (READ MORE)

Gates Stresses Need to Curtail Civilian Casualties - BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 12, 2009 – Minimizing civilian casualties has to be one of the highest priorities for U.S. and other NATO troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. Gates, along with the alliance’s other defense ministers, participated in two days of meetings here that concluded today, with Afghanistan as the main topic of discussion. (READ MORE)

U.S., Afghan Forces Detain Four Militants, Rescue Kidnap Victim - WASHINGTON, June 12, 2009 – U.S. and Afghan forces detained four suspected insurgents and rescued a kidnapping victim in recent operations in Afghanistan, military officials reported. The suspects were detained today in Khost province. U.S. and Afghan troops were targeting a man they believed was connected to the Haqqani terrorist network. The joint force detained him, along with the others, without confrontation. An assault rifle and belts and vests of ammunition were confiscated, officials said. (READ MORE)

Camp Atterbury Hosts Civilian Training for Afghanistan Operations - CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind., June 12, 2009 – Civilian employees representing various federal departments are being trained here alongside their military counterparts in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. As part of a broader focus of operations in Afghanistan designed to include both military and civilian assets, more than 20 civilians from the State Department, the Agriculture Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development began an eight-day mission readiness exercise here June 8, designed to build better cohesion, coordination and increased safety among their military counterparts. (READ MORE)

Afghan Tribes Find Common Ground During Humanitarian Aid Drop - WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan, June 12, 2009 – Every summer, the Kuchi tribe migrates through the Daymardad district of this central-Afghanistan province, allowing their animals to graze in the open pastures belonging to the Hazara tribe. This frequently has sparked violent territorial disputes. After hearing of the conflict, U.S. forces at Forward Operating Base Airborne approached Wardak Gov. Mohammad Halim Fidai about a peaceful way to resolve the fighting between the two tribes. (READ MORE)

Pakistan orders forces to start operations against Taliban chief - Islamabad - Pakistan has ordered its security forces to pursue Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the country's Taliban movement, and his followers, a senior government official said on Sunday. "The military and law enforcement agencies have been ordered to carry out a full-fledged operation to eliminate these beasts and killers by using all resources," said Awais Ghani, the governor of North West Frontier Province and the administrative head of the adjoining tribal region, where Mehsud has his base in the South Waziristan district. (READ MORE)

5 die in suspected U.S. missile strike on Taliban stronghold in Pakistan - At least five people died Sunday when a suspected U.S. missile hit a tribal region in Pakistan believed to be the base for a top Taliban commander, Pakistan intelligence officials told The Associated Press. The missile struck three vehicles in an area not far from Makeen, a village in the South Waziristan district of the country considered a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. (READ MORE)

Report: Feud, falsehoods inspired US Afghan attack - LONDON — A British television report to be broadcast on Monday says American forces who killed scores of people last August in Azizabad, western Afghanistan, attacked the village on the basis of false allegations inspired by a blood feud with a neighboring community. An hour-long, in-depth documentary, previewed by The Associated Press and to be broadcast by Channel 4, includes scenes from a Herat provincial court trial in which a leader from the rival village was sentenced to death for murder for having given false information leading to the deaths of 91 innocent Azizabad civilians. (READ MORE)

20 Taliban, 2 civilians die in Afghan violence - Military operations by Afghan and foreign forces in western Afghanistan have killed 20 Taliban rebels, the army said yesterday, while two civilians were also killed. Afghan army, police and Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) troops launched coordinated operations overnight in the provinces of Farah and Badghis, the army spokesman for western Afghanistan told AFP. (READ MORE)

Presidential Campaign Season Opens In Afghanistan - Weekend Edition Sunday, June 14, 2009 · Campaigning begins this week for Afghanistan's presidential election, only the second presidential election in the country's history. On the slate are 41 candidates challenging incumbent President Hamid Karzai. That's actually far fewer than was expected, and only a couple of them represent a threat to Afghanistan's president. (READ MORE)

U.S. Troops Building Up In Afghanistan - Weekend Edition Sunday, June 14, 2009 · The buildup of American forces in Afghanistan is underway. President Obama announced he was sending 21,000 more troops there. In the past few weeks, those troops have begun arriving and setting up forward bases. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is there to cover the deployments and speaks with Host Liane Hansen to give an update on the Marines and their mission. (READ MORE)

New US commander in Afghanistan meets Karzai - KABUL (AP) - The incoming commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has met with President Hamid Karzai for the first time. Karzai's office said the Afghan president told U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal on Sunday that the most important element of his mission is to protect civilians during military operations. (READ MORE)

Security forces kill 35 Taliban in Pakistan's northwest - Islamabad, June 14 : Fighter jets and helicopter gunships were pressed into action as Pakistani security forces killed at least 35 Taliban in the country's restive northwest Sunday, the military said. The fighting in the Bannu district of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) came even as the security forces were consolidated their hold in Swat and two other districts to the north where the military is engaged in a major anti-Taliban operation that entered its 49th day Sunday. (READ MORE)

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