June 22, 2009

From the Front: 06/22/2009

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

Bouhammer: A Sad Day Revisited - One year ago today, this Country, the State of New York, and some families and brothers in arms suffered a terrible day. We lost 3 courageous soldiers from our ranks and they are still missed as much today as they were on that day. I didn’t know SGT Seabrooks or SPC Mangano, but I did know SGT Rodriguez. Rod was one of my soldiers, in fact I was his very first “Top” that he ever had. I remember when he came to the unit and watched him grow into a very professional and disciplined soldier. Last night about 15-20 of us came together at VFW Post 7545 in Tonawanda, NY to remember these three great men and the sacrifices they laid down for their country and the people of Afghanistan. For many of us, we caught up with friends and soldiers past, we shared laughs and we shared somber times. I watched men who I once knew as barely out of childhood, as scared privates now stand there with me as seasoned, experienced and proud warriors of this country. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Day 6 of Medical Mission - Everyone was exhausted last night and went to bed early. I stayed awake until 1130 pm perched on my cot writing my memos. Around 0330 hrs a pack of stray dogs were barking incessantly. Then around 0415 hours the Mullah started broadcasting his sermon and prayer music. I lay in my cot and struggled to go back to sleep. The French were revving up for a patrol and 20 minutes later the whole team was waking up. As usual one of the Georgia Army Guard soldiers played George Strait music to stimulate our senses and prep us for a new day. Now that everyone is awake, it’s like watching an ant farm in action. Equipment is being packed, vehicles being inspected, mirrors adjusted, dusty windows being washed, and weapon systems checked. Everyone in the “colony” plays an integral role in readying the convoy. Rank has little relevance and each member is responsible for folding their own cot, packing their sleeping bag, assisting with clean up and preparing themselves for the mission. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Mission Day 5 – Into Afghanya Valley - Another early rise at 0430 hours. I woke up at 0330 hours due to the prayer music being blared over the loudspeakers. Blueberry Pop Tart and Famous Amos chocolate bit cookies for breakfast….yum…yum. Not necessarily the breakfast of champions, but it will suffice until I can chow down an MRE at lunch time. Prior to the trip I stocked up with snacks from our DFAC. All of my snacks got crushed from the bouncy ride and backpacks being tossed around. Nonetheless, I still ate my crumbled snacks. Five days and no shower, only quick wipe downs with a wash cloth and bottled water. We all have the same peculiar smell but nobody says anything. We were informed after our departure from the village yesterday; our forces were engaged in combat with the enemy again. Apparently they didn’t appreciate our hospitality and interaction with the local villagers. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Mission Days 3 & 4: Leaving COP Rocco for Alah Say Valley - Day 3 VMO Mission: We disassembled our tarps, folded our cots, packed our bags and equipment and set out for the next leg of our journey. Little did I know how brutal and punishing the roads would be. To compound the misery, the flatbed hauling the 10K forklift was inoperable. So following the forklift to the bottom of the mountain and then to our next destination was painfully slow. Imagine being strapped into a seat and unable to freely move for 6 hours. Oh don’t forget the whole time you are wearing a heavy IBA vest, helmet, full bullet magazines and a radio headset. We finally reached the hardball road and took a much needed break and nourished ourselves with an MRE. The next leg of our journey would take us into the Taghab and Alah Say valleys. Initially it was picturesque traveling parallel with the rapid flowing river. Hey, this would be a great place to go tubing, except you have people here who despise our mere existence. (READ MORE)

Army Poet: New Photo Album - The photos I took in Iraq have always complemented the narratives I've spun over the years. I never did anything special to them, just a simple resize and that was it. But now that I've been playing with Picasa for awhile, I thought it was time I revamped my pictures. Please take a moment to browse through my new Flickr account. There you will find not just familiar images, but never before seen photos. Enjoy! (MORE)

Bad Dogs and Such: The Adventure Continues - Quite some time ago, after much discussion, the Mister and I decided to part ways after this deployment. No hard feelings, etc etc. This was a personal decision, and is not, directly, the subject of this post. However, although we're not done here yet, the end is in sight. I'm starting to do some post-Iraq planning, which involves post-Texas planning. You, the American Taxpayer, are a generous sort and, what with a nice little program we call PDRMA, I will not be broke or unemployed immediately upon my return. Unfortunately, almost all the employment prospects I'm finding are...well, civilized. You know - decently-paid positions leveraging my PAO background to represent some worthy agency or organization. Which is fine. Great. I'm not turning up my nose, so the Gods of Employment shouldn't be offended. (READ MORE)

SGT Emily Anderson: I’m a Noncommissioned Officer… - “No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers.” These are the first two sentences of three long paragraphs that make up the Army’s NCO Creed. Although they seem to be only words, I believe they are much more. They are the touchstone and core of many NCOs’ experience in the U.S. Army. I know they are for me. Since being deployed, however, I’ve noticed some NCOs may not hold this belief. It seems the idea of getting promoted, just to get promoted, is the reason some people try. I am not sure everyone fully comprehends that a promotion is more than a reward for doing something good in the past, and more than a reason to feel good about yourself. It is a promise to sacrifice for others and help them realize their potential. I’ve been in the Army for six years now as a Reserve Soldier. During that time, I have noticed how higher-ranking individuals do not always make the best selections when it comes to promotions. (READ MORE)

SGM Troy Falardeau: No more butter bar - There is probably no rank in the Army worse than second lieutenant. When an enlisted Soldier is a private, he or she has no responsibility and leaders have little or no expectations. Just show up and stay out of trouble, and you have earned a promotion. Not so for second lieutenants. As an officer, albiet the lowliest of all officers, they are expected by enlisted Soldiers and other officers, to be a leader. They carry on their chest a rank insignia with a solitary gold rectangle — the infamous “butter bar.” Commanders and NCOs know their responsibility to second lieutenants is to mentor them, and keep them out of trouble while they develop their leadership skills. It’s a lot of pressure for a young officer — probably akin to treading water while studying for final exams. The happiest day for a second lieutenant is probably not the first day they pin on their rank and initially join the ranks of officers. Instead, it is alm0st assuredly the last day at that rank — the day they complete this rite of passage and are promoted to first lieutenant, hopefully never to return that rank. (READ MORE)

1SGT Martinez: Several Things - The Heat - You may have heard the saying, “the dog days of Summer”, in reference to those hottest days in summer when the sun’s heat sinks into the very soul of your body causing an almost uncontrollable desire to simply sit and do nothing - like a bloodhound on the porch of a dilapidated wood-slat house in a holler of the West Virginia hills. Do you know that feeling? Well, that’s what it feels like 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week here in Iraq. We all just feel like doing that bloodhound thing. However, wish as we might, to sit on the porch and drool our way into oblivion, the mission goes on and our porch sleepin’ days will just have to be a mirage on the desert sands for now. It’s simply amazing just how hot it can get here and we have yet to reach the hottest part of the summer. A few days ago temps climbed to an incredible 120 degrees! (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: 'I didn't really think about the danger I was in' - When a Taliban ambush trapped his fellow commandos, one Marine put himself in their way, writes Sean Rayment. What should have been a routine patrol into Taliban territory ended in a bitter battle and a gallantry medal for a Royal Marine commando. Cpl Richard Withers had grown used to fighting the Taliban. After two tours of duty in Helmand, he had lost count of the number of battles he had fought with insurgents. However, one will always stick in his memory. In November 2007, the 27-year-old was serving as a section commander with the Armoured Support Troop when he was sent to provide protection for soldiers conducting searches in the notorious “Green Zone” – farm land used by the Taliban to mount attacks against the British. The operation began according to plan as 100 men from A Company 40 Commando moved into the Green Zone without any sign of the enemy. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: 3 SCOTS repel sustained Taliban attack - Scottish soldiers have found a large quantity of Taliban weapons and drugs in an arduous six-day operation which saw them coming under sustained enemy attack for several hours. Under the cover of dark, troops from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) were dropped by helicopter into Kandahar Province on 10 June 2009 in an operation called Op Tora Arwa. The Battle Group came under sustained attack for several hours from insurgents using machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) yet repelled the attacks to amass the large finds. In all, the unit found numerous weapons including AK47s and pistols, AK47 magazines, anti-personnel mines, 1176 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 150 rounds of 9mm ammunition, explosives as well as 118kg of wet opium, 190kg of marijuana, and 110kg of marijuana seeds. Tragically, during the deployment, Private Robert McLaren, from the Isle of Mull, who had recently joined the unit after passing out from training, was killed by an improvised explosive device. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Father's Day - Father's Day has been my favorite holiday (or whatever it is) for more than a decade now. It's early in the summer so school is out but summer camps haven't started yet. I spend most of the day with my kids. This Father's Day I was with my family from the time I woke up until just a few minutes ago when they all went to bed. Just before 8am, my daughter Lisa and I rode to the Greenfield Criterium, a race that has been one of the Pennsylvania State Bicycling Championship races for more than a decade and has always been held on Father's Day. From 2001 - 2004 Lisa raced at Greenfield in individual races and with me on the tandem. Today we both used the ride to the race as a 7-mile warm up: me for the bike race, she for a five-mile run that is part of her summer training for cross country in the fall. I warmed up with my teammate Kevin then we lined up at 9am for the 55+ State Championship race. The field was small, just over 20 riders, but included several masters state and national champions. (READ MORE)

The Intrepid Reporter: Rebel Rouser - Yes folks.... The IR back again with the latest and greatest from Iraq... but in this case, Iraq takes a sideline. My dad, as those of you know, cashed in this past month, and truthfully, it's been a bitch for the ole Intrepid Reporter to have much to say... those who know me have been in shock, and many have emailed me asking "What the fuck?"... well I'm here to tell you, the verbal abuse I had was directly influenced by the Old Man, and in his passing, I just have had one hell of a time being able to write. Call it the "Death of my Muse/Father." Dad didn't teach me much to be honest...his athletic skills rated right up there with a retarded child in a wheelchair and the only things he ever really taught me how to do, as well as FedBro (my baby brother) was how to drive and shoot, and most improtantly, how to WRITE. Thusly, its a motherfucker to try and capture the moment, but thankfully due to lugubrious amounts of liquid mind lubricant (Smirnoff 100 proof) that I'm now capable of formulating a coherent thought. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Senior Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leaders meet with Baitullah - Senior al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leaders are reported to have met with Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud to advise him to move his group's operations into Afghanistan and halt attacks against the Pakistani state. Several meetings were said to have been held last week after an 11-man delegation of al Qaeda and Taliban heavy hitters arrived in Waziristan to deliver a request from Mullah Omar, the Amir al Mumineen, or the leader of the faithful in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to a report in The Nation. The Taliban dispatched Sirajuddin Haqqani, the powerful military commander of the Haqqani Network, and Abdul Hakeem Sharaee and Mir Ahmad Jan Hashemi, two senior deputies of Mullah Abdullah Zakir, the Taliban's senior-most military commander in southern Afghanistan who was released from Guantanamo Bay. (READ MORE)

SFC Burke - My Point of View: Father's Day - Today is Father's Day. Here, however, it feels like any other day. Hot. 118 degrees by lunch. There are probably a lot of dads back home BBQing, relaxing, and such. Some are getting the special treatment from their spouses, hugs and kisses from daughters... Came in a little late today...it being Sunday. I noticed on the way to work that if you look carefully, you can see the remnants of the sand storm we endured last week on the poles, satellite dishes, fences, etc. On the poles, for example, there is a dark orange stripe running down the length of each of the poles that line the walkway alongside DIV HQ. It shows you that the wind was driving the sand and dust in that direction. Nature's spray paint job. The rest of the pole looks normal, a dull grey. The day after that storm, someone sent 1SG Martinez some photos of the storm from close to the al-Faw Palace. (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Orange Day - A couple of days ago we had a dust storm blow in. "Storm" isn't really the right word, since there weren't any high winds or rain. Rather, we had this thick fog of orange dust that settled in. It was like a light touch of snow, except it was orange, and it was dust, and it got everywhere. It even came into my little hooch through the air conditioner and coated the whole room with a fine powder. So after work, I had a major clean-up to do in my room. This is the walkway by my hooch. No, I didn't hit the "sepia" button in Photoshop, this is really the way an "orange day" looks. That's pavement under that dust coating. Here's a sidewalk the morning of the dust storm ... And here's the same sidewalk about two days later, under clear skies, after it's been washed and swept. (MORE)

Joshua Foust: Blabbing About David Rohde’s Abduction - Howard Kurtz on the media silence over David Rohde’s abduction: “After the Italian news agency Adnkronos International reported the kidnapping, it was sporadically mentioned by such blogs as Little Green Footballs, the Jawa Report and Dan Cleary, Political Insomniac. Michael Yon, a former Green Beret, said from Thailand that he ‘sat on it’ for months and in March ‘just did a small item because it was pretty much out there’ online. ‘There’s no way I would’ve done that if I thought it increased his jeopardy.’ Keller said the Times contacted such bloggers, and in each case, ‘they took it down,’ as Yon did.” Well, no they did not: Little Green Footballs, Michael Yon, Dan Cleary, and the Jawa Report all have posts about Rohde, dated between November and March. Yon, in particular, seems to have concluded that just because an Italian news agency wrote about it months before, it was okay to disrespect the wishes of Rohde’s family and coworkers for an exclusive. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Rocking the Rocker - I don’t want to be “that sergeant.” You know the one I’m talking about - the sergeant that is constantly looking for infractions of stupid rules (that shouldn’t be rules in the first place) so they can use their power and drop a soldier to feel better about themselves. I’m not that sergeant, and am pretty lenient and laid back about a lot of things. This week, I stretched these stripes a little bit. Sassypants didn’t have his security badge to get into Division, so we had to stop at the front desk for an escort badge. I was his escort, so I stepped up to the counter and told the specialist “I need to escort him into the building.” She gave us a look that told me we were highly inconveniencing her. I let her turtlish speed slide as she got out the book with escort badges and the paper for Sassypants to sign. I think he made a comment like “You don’t seem very motivated today” and she responded “I’m not.” Another sergeant walked up, E-7 type, and she greeted him with “what can I do for you, sergeant?” (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:
Umm Qasr naval project vital to Iraq security - BASRA, Iraq — As part of a comprehensive plan to develop the Iraqi navy’s capabilities, the Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the Government of Iraq by managing a $53 million pier and seawall project at Umm Qasr. Funded by the GoI, the new project in southern Iraq will provide the Iraqi navy new port facilities as it continues to expand its military naval capabilities, according to Navy Lt. j.g. Daniel Gutierrez, Gulf Region South district’s Umm Qasr Pier and Seawall Resident Engineer. (READ MORE)

Basrah SWAT team kills suspected terrorist in warrant-based mission - BAGHDAD – The Basrah Special Weapons and Tactics team, with Coalition forces advisors, killed a suspected former leader of a criminal network in the Basrah Province June 20. Acting under the authority of a warrant issued by the Basrah Court of Appeal, the SWAT team attempted to arrest the suspected terrorist, who was wanted in connection with planning attacks against Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

Microgrants prove successful following assessment - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq – Iraqi residents in Kirkuk province use microgrants issued by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, to jumpstart businesses or renovate old ones. 1st Lt. Daniel Braud, a platoon leader in 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT, paid a visit June 16 to inspect six Iraqi businesses who received the grant money. (READ MORE)

ISF, MND-B Soldiers detain suspected criminal west of Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers conducting a joint operation arrested a suspected criminal on a warrant June 17 west of Baghdad. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Iraqi Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armored Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, MND-B arrested a warranted individual suspected of participating in a recent grenade attack against Coalition forces. (READ MORE)

First of many detainees in Ninewah released from Coalition forces custody - MOSUL, Iraq — Detainees who have been in Coalition forces custody, some for several years, were released into the custody of an Iraqi detainee sponsorship committee June 16 as Iraqi Security Forces continue to take the lead in Iraq. Seventeen detainees were released to the committee, which ensures that each detainee is transported safely to their families, marking the first of a continual handover process. (READ MORE)

IA, IP, SOI detain suspected terrorists, find weapons in Kirkuk - FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq – Soldiers from the 12th Iraqi Army Division, supported by Iraqi police, Sons of Iraq and U.S. Soldiers, detained 11 individuals wanted for terrorism and discovered possible improvised weapons in a sweeping operation throughout Kirkuk province this week. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division supported the operations, which were conducted from southern Kirkuk’s Daquq district north through the Hawijah district. (READ MORE)

Tip leads ISF, MND-B Soldiers to cache in Aqur Quf - BAGHDAD – During a morning patrol, members of the Aqur Quf Police force and Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, operationally attached to the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, recovered a cache containing seven rocket propelled grenade warheads, nine 82mm mortar rounds, four 70mm rockets and 500 rounds of various small arms ammunition. (READ MORE)

Police Primacy and Rule of Law in Iraq Dominate Press Conference - Baghdad, Iraq – Police primacy and rule of law were the main topics of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mike Milano’s Pentagon Press Conference held here June 8 in the new Combined Press Information Center. Milano, the deputy commanding general of Department of Interior Affairs for Multi-National Security Transition Command- Iraq, leads an organization of advisors, trainers and mentors to the Iraqi police forces. This critical role is in direct support of the Security Agreement that was signed between the United States and Iraq and went into effect on Jan. 1. (READ MORE)

Father, Son Serve Together in Iraq - BAGHDAD — This Father’s Day weekend has special meaning for Army Maj. Benjamin Rex. Rex, a native of Albion, Ind., is serving here alongside his son, Army Pfc. Jeromy Bruce Rex. The Soldiers serve together with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based out of Fort Bragg, N.C. What makes this deployment even more special for the elder Rex is that his son is serving in the same company as he did during operations Desert Shield and Storm in the early 1990s, when he was an enlisted infantryman. (READ MORE)

Hurriyah Public Works Sub Station Transfers to Government of Iraq - BAGHDAD — As the local government in northwest Baghdad's Hurriyah neighborhood has proven its ability to provide for its people, U.S. Soldiers handed over the Hurriyah Public Works Sub Station (PWSS) to the Government of Iraq during a ceremony held on the station's grounds here, June 17. The PWSS serves the people of Hurriyah by ridding its streets of sewage and trash. (READ MORE)

Soldiers Work With Iraqis to Strengthen Border Security - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA — The Soldiers of 'Crazy' Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are currently working with Iraqi Border Security Forces near Forward Operating Base Minden. The troop has been providing additional security at a border entry point, monitoring the steady flow of people leaving and coming to Iraq, and working with the civilian and military teams to professionalize the BSF. (READ MORE)

Coalition Base Returned to Iraqis - TIKRIT — U.S. Soldiers lowered the American flag and Iraqi Soldiers raised the Iraqi flag to signify the reclassification of Forward Operating Base Paliwoda into the Iraqi-led Balad Joint Coordination Center during a ceremony near Balad, June 15. The Balad JCC combines Iraqi Army and Police coordination elements, along with civilian emergency response functions together in one center. A small number of U.S. Soldiers focused on intelligence and aviation coordination will provide support to the center. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
NYT Correspondent Escapes in Afghanistan - David Rohde, a correspondent for The New York Times, has escaped after being kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan seven months ago. David, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covered Iraq for the NYT before and after the 2003 invasion, climbed over the wall of a compound where he was being held in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Farah Report Recommends Steps to Avoid Civilian Casualties - WASHINGTON, June 20, 2009 – Though U.S. Central Command investigators found a May 4 air strike that caused civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s Farah province was within the rules of armed conflict, they recommended that coalition forces alter tactics, techniques and procedures to safeguard innocent civilians. In their report, released yesterday, investigators said the bombing outside the village of Gerani killed 78 Taliban fighters and at least 26 Afghan civilians. “The investigation does not discount the possibility that more than 26 civilians were killed in this engagement,” the report says. (READ MORE)

IG Seeks Help in Stamping Out Afghanistan Reconstruction Fraud - WASHINGTON, June 19, 2009 – The inspector general who tracks Afghanistan reconstruction has sent out a call for help in stamping out fraud, mismanagement and waste of U.S. appropriated reconstruction funds. Arnold Fields, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said that without help from people involved in the process, millions of taxpayer dollars could be wasted. (READ MORE)

Commander Calls for More Enablers to Support Special Ops Missions - WASHINGTON, June 19, 2009 – With heavy demand on special operations capabilities and limitations on how quickly these forces can grow, it’s critical that the services develop more capabilities to support special operators, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told Congress yesterday. Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson told a Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities that it’s impossible to increase special operations forces by more than 3 to 5 percent per year, primarily due to the enormous training requirements involved. (READ MORE)

Next 18 Months Critical in Afghanistan, McChrystal Says - WASHINGTON, June 19, 2009 – The next 18 months will be crucial in Afghanistan, the new commander of NATO and U.S. forces there said today. “I think that the next 18 months are probably a period in which this effort will be decided,” Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal told Tom Bowman in a National Public Radio interview. “I don't think it will be over. But I think that not only the American people, I think the Afghan people are looking and deciding which way this will go.” (READ MORE)

Pakistan troops slay 50 Taleban fighters - CHUPRIAL: Pakistani troops backed by jet fighters and artillery have killed about 50 militants in a volatile northwestern tribal region near Afghanistan where the country's top Taleban leader is believed to be entrenched with thousands of his fighters, officials said yesterday. They were the first known militant casualties in South Waziristan - where Pakistan Taleban head Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaeda figures are believed to be hiding - since the military started pounding the area with artillery about a week ago. (READ MORE)

Coalition soldier, six civilians killed - KABUL (APP): A soldier in the US-led coalition was killed in an attack on his convoy in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, the force said, a day after three other international troops lost their lives in the fight against the Taliban. Afghan authorities meanwhile reported that six civilians were killed when a roadside bomb tore through their vehicle in the western province of Herat late Friday. (READ MORE)

Army men to replace police on key highways - GHAZNI (NNI): Security officials in the southern Ghazni province say police will be replaced with army soldiers at check-posts on the Kabul-Kandahar Highway to effectively deal with any untoward situation during elections. The replacement would take place at seven check-posts situated in Qarabagh district of the restive province, said Ghazni police chief Brig. Gen. Khiyal Baz Sherzai in an exclusive chat with Pajhwok Afghan News. (READ MORE)

Ghazni City parks opened Our Correspondent - KABUL: Ghazni city officials and the Provincial Reconstruction Team marked the opening of five city parks with a ceremony. The ceremony officially closed a project which began in October 2008 with the efforts of the municipality and the Polish PRT. “I hope that these parks will be for Ghazni City like a beating heart for the human body” said Ghazni Province Governor Usman Usmani. (READ MORE)

Karzai vows draw negative reaction - KABUL (NNI): Hamid Karzai has promised influential tribal elders to upgrade some districts as provinces in order to muster their support for his reelection bid, Hezb-i-Wahdat Chairman Muhammad Mohaqiq has alleged. Although he has pledged support to the incumbent president, the lawmaker viewed Karzai’s promises as an unfair move to garner backing for his re-election bid. Political analysts believe the presidential vows are contrary to law. (READ MORE)

Most of Taliban money coming from extortion, drugs, investigation finds - PESHAWAR, Pakistan — He moved his finger slowly across his throat, to show that the Taliban kills truckers who don’t pay for safe passage through large swaths of territory near Afghanistan. "The situation is very dangerous for us. We give them money or our fuel, or they kill us," said Ghadr Gul, a middle-aged trucker, who reluctantly spoke to The Associated Press outside his oil tanker. Along the road, storage depots are piled high with the burned-out hulks of vehicles destroyed by the Taliban. (READ MORE)

Over 60 killed in three days in conflict-plagued Afghanistan - More than 60 people, majority of them Taliban fighters, have been killed in Afghanistan since mid of the week, according to Afghan officials. The Taliban fighters, in their latest wave of violent attacks against government interests, targeted a convoy of the Afghan national army in eastern Khost province Saturday morning and troops returned fire, killing five insurgents, an official said. (READ MORE)

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