September 11, 2009

From the Front: 09/11/2009

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front. (New complete posts come in below)


SpouseBUZZ: We Will Never Forget (VIEW PHOTOS)

MAJ C: September 11th And Have We Forgotten? - I was going to start this post off with the Darryl Worley Video, "Have You Forgotten", but Universal Music Group has all the embedding disabled on their videos. But that is ok. Its a great song, and he's a great guy, so just think about the song as you read this article. This post started off completely differently two days ago when I began writing it. My original intent was to highlight all the good that has happened since then, and my memories of it. I no longer think that is the correct way to go. You see, over the last 48 hours, I have heard a phrase over and over again, and it has really begun burning me up inside. Maybe it's because since September 11th, 2001, I have lost more good Friends and Soldiers then I care to count anymore. Maybe because many those times I was there as they breathed their last breath. Maybe it's because in the Military our families have given so much, that it will take years to catch up with one another. Maybe it's all of the above. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Darulaman mission-Part 3 - Leading up to the gate of the Darulaman compound was the remnants of some mud clay structures. Later on I learned the historical value of these ruins. They date back to the 14th century when the Mongol Dynasty was conquering this side of the world. I find it fascinating these historical artifacts have survived centuries of war, weather, and erosion. I pondered if this was the same soil that Genghis Khan or Tamerlane walked on during their barbaric quest to conquer the world. After a grueling two hours and twenty minute ride we parked our armored vehicles and walked through the pedestrian gate of Camp Dubs. This camp was named after US Ambassador Adolph Dubs. On 14 February 1979, Ambassador Dubs was kidnapped by opponents of the Afghan Marxist government. The local police tried to rescue him, but in the process, his kidnappers executed him and riddled his body with bullets. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: The Rule Of Law - ...and the constitution is what we're in Afghanistan to protect, not Karzai himself. Mr. Kippen and the Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission go to work: “The Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has for the first time invalidated some ballots from the presidential election because of fraud. There was ‘clear and convincing evidence of fraud’ in Paktika, Kandahar and Ghazni, areas that largely backed President Hamid Karzai, it said. Earlier this week results from 600 stations where there were suspected irregularities were ‘quarantined.’ Correspondents say that there could now be months of arguments about the vote.” (READ MORE)

Doc in the Box: 8 Years - I’ve written about this before and don’t think I can improve on what I wrote here and here, the details were fresher on my mind. 8 years later and 9/11 was one of those events in my life that totally shaped how my entire future would turn out. Two buildings tumbling down in a city 3000 miles awake shook everything, the repercussions rang the world like a bell and I think that ringing will echo for a long long time. In a sense, my life split in two that day. There was the person I was before which included my early Naval Service then getting out and going to school and taking up work as a mechanic, I was carefree and living for the moment. Then 9/11 where the shock of the events pushed me outside of my life and I looked down at doing and knew, it wasn’t where I was supposed to be at. The next day, I signed back up with the Navy and a couple weeks later, I was back in, minus a rank. Two years and five months later, I was making my first trip into Iraq... (READ MORE)

Free Range International: You buy the Ticket You Get the Full Ride - A few days back I was reminiscing with my good friend LtCol Jeff Kenny, USMC who is leading the Embedded Training Team (ETT) efforts here in the eastern region. We were talking about Gunny Donvito who developed the close combat training that has ultimately become the Marine Corps Combative program. The Gunny – who retired as a Master Sergeant years ago – was a very big, stout individual who was serious about the need to train Marines to kill people correctly. His work at Paris Island, where he started LINE training and the pugil stick octagon, had earned him a billet at the Basic School where he could formalize his program using the doctrine writers at Quantico while simultaneously training newly commissioned Marine Officers on the finer points of hand to hand combat. Jeff and I were Infantry Officer Course instructors back then and a few of us plus the boss and Gunny Donvito were in West Point talking to a then obscure Army Lieutenant Colonel named David Grossman... (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Eight Years Later: What 9/11 Means To Me Now - Eight years ago, I wrote for an online travel agency out of Barcelona. The experience opened up my world in many different ways. First was the use of technology, and "blogging" before blogs became known. The second was working with an international crew of writers around the clock. We'd meet through "hotmail chat" or "ICQ" --novelty back then, especially since it allowed us to talk to people from other countries with ease. I remember when the planes flew into the twin towers. I went online and found my friends in India, Australia, Switzerland, Israel and France. We speculated about what this meant, how it would change things. But of course, none of us really knew. Probably the only one who really did in real-life terms was my good friend Berlie from Israel. For her, terrorism wasn't an abstract term, but something she had lived with for years. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Haqqani Network commander killed in Sept. 8 strike - A covert US airstrike in a Taliban controlled-tribal agency in Pakistan killed a Haqqani Network military commander in the Haqqani Network. The Sept. 8 airstrike in the the village of Dargamandi in the Tabi Saidgai area killed twelve people, including Maulvi Ismail Khan, a US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. Khan is said to be a mid-level military commander who operates in North Waziristan and also conducts attacks in Afghanistan, the official said. The official would not comment if Khan was the target of the airstrike or if higher level Haqqani Network, Taliban, or al Qaeda leaders were the focus of the operation. Early reports of the airstrike indicated the compound that was hit was owned by Khan, however a conflicting report in Dawn indicated the compound was own by a Maulvi Taib Shah, who was described as a local tribesman. (READ MORE)

Dude in the Desert: 10 Sep 09 - today was the fun day - foot patrol thru a village…talking to locals, taking fire, returning fire, finding IEDs, kickin in doors, neutralizing enemy threats, arresting hostile persons…it was pretty fun stuff… lot’s of smoke grenades, M16/M4 firing (blanks of course), big booms from GBS’s (ground burst simulators) to act as IEDs or incoming RPG fire, bad guys speaking Arabic and yelling at us to get the eff outta their country…it was all pretty realistic…I was the mission commander for my team…we got our OpOrd (operation order) and I had to coordinate my 4 teams to walk thru the village, talk to locals to find intel on the bad guys, clear out buildings thought to be hiding insurgents, and maintain a security stronghold thru the city…I had my medic, my RTO (radio transmission operator), and my PSD (personal security detail)…we planned out our route, what houses to check out, what locals to gather info from, keep an eye out for snipers, IEDs, random acts of violence, and a lot of other things we might encounter over there… (READ MORE)

Lt Col P: Project 2,996: Op-For Remembers - We willingly signed up with Project 2,996 to remember our two fellow alumni who were murdered in cold blood on the 11th day of September in the Year of Our Lord 2001. We remember: Mr Charles William Mathers, VMI '62 - Lieutenant Commander David Lucian Williams, VMI '91 - N E V E R F O R G E T. Never forget them, and their families, and never forget why we're fighting. Never forget that the war was brought to us. Never forget that there is a time and place for cold, hard vengeance. Never forget that victory in this war is not a mere theoretical possibility, but an absolute requirement for a Nation that wishes to remain free and sovereign. (READ MORE)

Afghan Journal: 9/9 in Afghanistan - Kabul -- Abdullah was 16 years old when Ahmed Shah Massoud first came to his family's wheat-farming village in the northern province of Takhar. Massoud needed mujahedeen fighters to battle the Soviets, and Abdullah's parents, who were helping feed the troops, were proud for him to join in this jihad. For more than two decades, Abdullah served under the man considered one of the great military strategists of the 20th century as he battled the Soviets, and then the Taliban, from a base in the rugged Panjshir valley north of Kabul. Early on, Abdullah lost a leg fighting the Soviets. But he got a prosthetic and somehow kept fighting until he retired in his early 40s, after the toppling of the Taliban. "From the day we started jihad, he was our leader, a good man, and I was proud of him," said Abdullah. (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Holiday? - Today is September 11. 8 years ago, thousands of people died when terrorists decided to exploit America’s vulnerabilities. Heroes died rushing into burning buildings, buildings that crumbled on top of them like a stack of cards. Innocent passengers traveling from point A to B died at the hands of cowards, murderers looking to be martyrs. When I think of September 11, I think of a somber day of reflection, a day to remember the lives lost and the sacrifices made, a day to remember the families who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93. It isn’t a day to celebrate, it isn’t a day to cheer or an excuse to throw a party. If you were in Basrah today without a calendar, you might mistake it for a holiday. We have two live events – a chipping contest and soldiers gathering to watch the MN Twins game (they’ll be twittering during the game) – and professional skateboarders visiting the base to perform. (READ MORE)

The Torch: Robert Fowler's "realism" on Afstan - Canada's prominent al Qaeda hostage looks at the big picture (from CBC transcript of Sept. 9 interview on "The National" about his captivity, video here): “Fowler: As night falls they take three spare tires and pile them one on top of the other, haul out their nifty laptop, plug it into the engine, to the cigarette lighter in the engine compartment, and fire it up and we watch what we call TV night. They would have video cameras slaved to sniper rifles as they sort of popped the heads off GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan, endless IEDs blowing up Hummies and trucks and conveys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lots of suicide bombers crashing through gates blowing up, some buildings, some were other, and every time this would happen the audience would scream Allahu Akbar, and wasn’t that great...these guys festooned with sat phones, cell phones, GPSs, walkie-talkies, video cameras and laptops – whose minds are 15 centuries away, whose weapons are a couple of generations old, and who really wish they didn’t have rifles and could get back to the days of the scimitar and saber. Strange contradictions...” (READ MORE)

USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog: WHERE ARE THE AFGHAN INGLORIOUS BASTARDS? - I was struck by a comment from an Army officer fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. He said, “fighting these guys (the Taliban) is like fighting the Marines.” I want to know who is training those guys, and where can we get them because without air support, artillery, armoured vehicles or large training centers, they seem to be getting pretty impressive results on the cheap. There are a few facts and questions that we need to address honestly in an “understanding the environment” way before we can go on. We need to be honest with ourselves before we move forward because platitudes and slogans won’t win the COIN fight. Here are some hard questions we need to ask: We learn from Afghan/Pashtun culture that one of the basic tenants of “Pashtun Wali” (way of the Pashtun) is “Badal” (revenge). Logic dictates that if we kill one Afghan, we make 10 enemies. Where are the slighted Afghans that have been grieved by the Taliban who are thirsting for revenge or does this only work against us? (READ MORE)

Cool, Calm & Collected: I just wanted to say... - I really will never forget. I was sleeping when the towers were hit. When I woke up, my mom told me what happened, and we immediately prayed. We prayed for our country. We prayed for our President. I didn't know then just how much it would affect me now. I still pray daily for those things. America needs it as much now as she did then. If not more. We need to go back to the way things were. The founding fathers created a nation under God, and we seem to have lost our way on that path. "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." -Alexis de Tocqueville. America desperately needs revival. Pray with me? (READ MORE)

Mountain Runner: Preparing to Lose the Information War? - It has now been eight years since 9/11 and we finally seem to understand that in the modern struggles against terrorism, insurgency, and instability, the tools of public diplomacy are invaluable and essential. We live in a world where an individual with a camera phone can wield more influence than an F-22 stealth fighter jet. The capability of engaging public audiences has long been thought of as the domain of civilians. But for the past eight years, the functions, authorities, and funding for engaging global audiences, from anti-AIDS literature to soccer balls to development projects, has migrated from the State Department to the Defense Department. It seems whole forests have fallen over the same period on the need to enhance civilian agencies – be it the State Department or a new USIA-like entity – to provide a valid alternative to the Defense Department who most, even the detractors, agreed was filling a void left by civilians who abrogated their responsibility for one reason or another. (READ MORE)

Chuck Z: Everything I ever need know about the religion of peace - I learned eight years ago. Eight years. Has it been that long? A recently-wounded friend asked me "When do the nightmares stop?" I thought about that for a quick minute. "They don't brother. They just fade out as life takes over. You move on, you heal. Things take over in your subconscious. Right now, your body and mind are focused on your pain, so your subconscious does that too. It remembers and recreates what caused the pain. The dreams get less and less frequent, but they don't ever go away." And here we are, eight years after the fact, and the memories of that day fade. The images, burned into our minds, aren't there every night when we close our eyes. We no longer discuss how we are "going to make those sand-niggers pay." We are focused on our lives, our politics, our vacations, our families. We go on living. But each one of us thinks, when we scan the faces boarding our airplane, "Are their any young arab males on this flight? Where are they sitting? What will I do to stop them and how will I do it?" (READ MORE)

Most Certainly Not: Always Remember - I have written before about what 9/11 was like for me on a personal basis. Having family in the city that day and wondering, dealing with the grief and fear of my students, the eery quiet because the planes were grounded. Each year on this date, I like to dedicate a post on this blog to someone who lost his/her life on 9/11 as a memorial to their lives and a testament to the loss. I do this as a participant in the 2,996 Project. This year, I have the honor of remembering Michael Roberts. Michael is one of the amazingly brave firefighters who ran into the danger zone to save innocent civilians. Barely into his 30's, Michael had a reputation for being a good listener. Maybe that was his way of putting his psychology degree to use, but in looking at his photo, I think it stemmed from a kind heart and a friendly spirit. Michael has a big grin and laughing eyes in the photo I saw--wide open arms and looks like someone to whom you could spend lots of time spilling your heart. (READ MORE)

Some Soldier's Mom: It's 9-11. Patriots' Day. A Day of Remembering - I get that some people are idealistic -- or perhaps naive -- and want to honor the dead and those who eagerly served on and after 9-11 with good deeds, but that whole day of "service" thing should have been 9-10 or 9-12. 9-11 is a day of mourning. A day to remember those who died. A day to remember that this country was ATTACKED. A day that still evokes the images of mothers and fathers (sons and daughters) leaping to their death; of people screaming to be saved from the smoke that burned their lungs and the fire that burned their skin; of the firefighters who strode to their deaths in those buildings; of the thousands of families who first, wondered, and then had their hearts ripped from them as it became clear that there would be no survivors. It became a macabre ritual to open our suburban paper each morning and read on page 3, "The following remains from the World Trade Center have been identified..." Every day. FOR 13 MONTHS. (READ MORE)

Iron Camel: Where were you September 11th - September 11th, 2001: I was stationed at Camp Humphreys, Korea, it was late in the evening. Football was on TV and I had fallen asleep. Something on the TV had awakened me. Just before I turned it off, I caught the live news coverage. There was smoke billowing out of one of the Twin Towers. The news anchor said a plane had flown into one of the towers. As I pilot, I first thought, “What idiot in a Cessna flew into the tower. What a moron.” As I stared in amazement, another plane hit the second tower. This time I knew it was on purpose; I called my commander. “Sir, sorry to wake you, turn on the news.” “What am I watching?” “Two jets just flew into the twin towers in New York.” “Start the alert roster, get everyone in.” “Roger, sir.” (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: September 11th Eight Years Later - I truly feel that time heals pain, but if you were directly and personally effected by the the events of September 11th, 2001 or if you are a true patriotic American then even eight years later that pain comes back, and it should. We should still feel that pain even once a year if no other time of the year. We should use this day to thank a veteran, or active serving military member. We should use this day to wave at or shake the hand of any first responder or law enforcement member you see. We should use this day to just be kinder to your fellow Americans. With all of the bad that happened on September 11th, the one good thing that came out of it was Americans treated each other kindly and with respect. They slowed down and paid attention to each other. They noticed each other and greeted one another. They helped each other. For that reason I say be kinder to your fellow Americans. (READ MORE)

Elizabeth Newberry - NMAW: Never Forget - “Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?” Allan Jackson. It’s a question I’ve been asked so many times and every time I answer chills run down my spine. As a native of New Jersey, 9/11 is a day that impacted my life like nothing ever has. I don’t normally share personal stories on NMAW’s blog, but on this day, I had to put in writing the story I’ve shared so many times. I was asleep when the first plane hit, like most college students, I had no need to get up because my first class wasn’t until that evening, and then my phone rang and my world changed forever. It was my Mom calling from work and the fear in her voice was something I had never heard before. My Mom has always been the pillar of strength, the last to breakdown when something goes wrong, always making sure that everyone else is ok before she lets herself go, so hearing her say, “turn on the TV something horrible is happening” with a tremble in her voice was, to say the least, jarring. (READ MORE)

The Torch: Sen. Colin Kenny throws in the Afghan towel/Pelosi pooping - Robert Fowler-heavy, I'd say. This piece by the Chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence will likely go quite a way to further undermining remaining support for the mission amongst our great and good (policitians and pundits). Sen. Kenny, a Liberal, is the best-informed parliamentarian on military and security issues. He has been a strong and intelligent critic of inadequate government (both Liberal and Conservative) attention and funding in both areas. If he now favours pulling the plug the Canadian herd may really start thundering for the exits: "Mission impossible: War cannot be won in Afghanistan. It is time to talk about retreat. In Canada, there is a strange hush in the land. Many Canadians identify strongly with families who have lost loved ones in the cause, and one senses that most of them don't want to confront the fact that these lives may have been wasted." (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Envoy Says US on Track for 2010 Combat Force Withdrawal from Iraq - US Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, says the United States remains on track to withdraw all of its combat forces by August of next year. Lawmakers on the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked Hill about the schedule and the upsurge in violence in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Bombing Kills 20 In Iraq - A man driving a truck laden with explosives plowed his vehicle into a Kurdish village in northern Iraq before dawn Thursday, killing 20 people, wounding 27 and wrecking dozens of houses, officials said, in the latest attack aimed at deepening strife among the region's tapestry of sects and ethnicities. Police said the carnage in the village of Wardek, about 35 miles southeast of Mosul, could have been far greater. (READ MORE)

Bomb Kills 25 in North Iraq, Stirring Fears of Instability - A huge explosion in a small Kurdish village in northern Iraq on Thursday left scores dead and wounded and raised renewed concern that insurgents are exploiting ethnic tensions and political wrangling to establish new bases for strikes across the country. The blast, a suicide car bombing in Wardak, outside the divided and violent city of Mosul, killed 25 people, according to Kurdish officials, and was so powerful that it flattened a dozen houses. (READ MORE)

Suicide Bombing Kills 20 in Attack on Kurds in Northern Iraq - In the latest apparent attempt by militants to exploit northern Iraq's Arab-Kurdish frictions, a suicide truck bomber attacked a usually quiet Kurdish village Thursday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 43. The truck detonated in Wardek, a poor farming community about 15 miles east of Mosul that is home to Shiite Kurds, police said. (READ MORE)

Iraq Attacks Raise Questions About US Withdrawal - Daily attacks in Baghdad and Iraq's Ninewa Province are increasing, according to the Pentagon. The spurt comes as experts worry that the Obama White House is neglecting the mission there, where 130,000 American troops still remain. Baghdad and Ninewa Province averaged five to six attacks per day this past summer, compared with about four attacks per day in the spring, according to Pentagon spokesman Maj. Shawn Turner. (READ MORE)

Iraq Needs a Real Air Force - The US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement says American combat units will depart Iraq by December 2011. At that point, Iraq's armed forces must provide for defense against internal and external threats. While Iraqi forces have improved remarkably, progress has not been even across all services. This imbalance is particularly acute in the case of the Iraqi Air Force. (READ MORE)

Al Qaeda 'Determined' Foe Despite Losses - Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, current and former top U.S. intelligence officials say US and allied forces have decimated al Qaeda's leadership but that the organization remains a "determined adversary." Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, called the US record against al Qaeda "mixed." While al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri remain at large, the organization has been forced to "perpetually rebuild," he said. (READ MORE)

Eight Years After 9/11, the Nation Still Mourns - Eight years. Americans are almost 3,000 days removed from the Sept. 11 terror attacks that toppled the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 people - nearly the same amount of time it took al Qaeda plotters to regroup from their failed bid to take down the Twin Towers in 1993. While former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani says not a day goes by that he doesn't think of Sept. 11... (READ MORE)

ISF arrest 4 suspected terrorists, cell leaders - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces, with U.S. forces advisors, arrested four suspected terrorists under the authority of various warrants issued by the Government of Iraq during operations throughout the Baghdad area Sept. 9. Soldiers with Iraqi Special Operations Forces arrested two suspected terrorists in the Bayji area with a warrant issued by the Criminal Investigative Court of Al Karkh. (READ MORE)

X-Games 'Bikes over Baghdad' tour flies in - CAMP LIBERTY — Crowds cheered and X-Games sports stars bounced off of ramps and concrete T-walls as U.S. Soldiers hosted the "Bikes Over Baghdad" tour here, Sept. 9. For more than an hour, seven of the world's best bike and skateboard athletes thrilled Soldiers with tricks on ramps, made with the help of Soldiers from Division Special Troops Battalion. (READ MORE)

Louisiana engineers school Federal Police - BAGHDAD — "I consider training with you very important," exclaimed one of the top commanders of the Iraqi Federal Police (FP), Sept. 8, as he described how much his officers have benefited from receiving route clearance classes here from Louisiana-based Soldiers. An enthusiastic Col. Ahmed, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, 2nd FP Division, welcomed leaders of the 225th Engineer Brigade to talk about continued partnership opportunities through training at the 225th Task Force Iron Claw Academy. (READ MORE)

Troops work to keep U.S. war birds in the air - COB ADDER — Aviation Soldiers here strive to make sure AH-64 Apaches, UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks are prepared to take anything a war zone can offer. "Our primary job is to perform all the scheduled maintenance on the CH-47, UH-60 and the AH-64," said Maj. John Kilby, commander of Bravo Company, 628th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), from Rising Sun, Md. (READ MORE)

Basrah Oil Terminal key to Iraqi economy - BASRAH — Eighty percent of Iraq's gross domestic product is pumped through pipelines and fills tankers at Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT), 30 miles off the coast of Iraq in the Persian Gulf. The ABOT is a vital part of Iraq's economy, and it is the job of United States Sailors and Coast Guardsmen stationed there to keep it safe, according to Cmdr. Thomas Shultz, chief of staff, commander, Task Group Iraqi Maritime. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Says It Holds Taliban Leader - The Pakistani Army announced Friday that security forces have arrested a senior leader of the Taliban in the troubled area of Swat where the military has largely put down a militant insurgency. The arrest of Muslim Khan, the spokesman of the Taliban in Swat and a skilled public advocate for the militant cause, is the first capture of a senior leader to be officially announced by the Pakistani authorities. (READ MORE)

Swat Taliban Leader Arrested in Pakistan - Pakistani troops have arrested a top Swat Taliban leader regarded as the militants' voice in the region as well as four other Taliban commanders, the military said today, dealing a major blow to the militant group's leadership in the restive valley they once controlled. Muslim Khan, spokesman for the Swat Taliban, is the highest ranking Swat Taliban commander to be arrested since the government began its offensive earlier this year to retake the Swat Valley from Taliban militants. (READ MORE)

Taliban Leaders Detained in Swat Valley - APakistan's army has detained a top Taliban spokesman and four other militant leaders in the Swat Valley in the first major arrests of top-level insurgents from the troubled region, military officials said Friday. Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas did not give any details of the capture, including when it took place, saying only that it came after a successful operation in Swat. (READ MORE)

Obama Is Facing Doubts in Party on Afghanistan - The leading Senate Democrat on military matters said Thursday that he was against sending more American combat troops to Afghanistan until the United States speeded up the training and equipping of more Afghan security forces. The comments by the senator, Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, illustrate the growing skepticism President Obama is facing in his own party as the White House decides whether to commit more deeply to a war that has begun losing public support... (READ MORE)

Pelosi Sees Support Ebbing for Afghan War - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she sees little congressional support for boosting troop levels in Afghanistan, putting the Democratic majority in Congress on a possible collision course with the Obama administration over the future conduct of the war there. The remarks Thursday by Ms. Pelosi (D., Calif.) make her the highest-ranking Democrat to signal opposition to the administration's handling of the Afghan war, a top national-security priority. (READ MORE)

Doubt Raised on Troop Boost in Afghanistan War - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she sees little support in Congress or elsewhere in the country for sending more troops to Afghanistan, signaling trouble for President Obama's new strategy at a critical point in the war. With the number of casualties rising, Afghanistan embroiled in allegations of widespread election fraud and administration officials mindful that they must show progress by the middle of next year, several experts warned that the administration must move quickly to better explain its approach. (READ MORE)

Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission Throws Out Suspect Votes - The commission investigating reports of voter fraud in Afghanistan's presidential election has thrown out votes from 83 polling stations. The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission Thursday ordered to exclude ballots from 51 polling sites in Kandahar, 27 in Ghazni and five in Paktika. Those areas showed strong support for incumbent President Hamid Karzai. (READ MORE)

Afghan Warlord General Atta Mohammad Nur Warning Raises Fear of Election Violence - One of Afghanistan’s most powerful warlords has defended the popular right to protest against the presidential election results, raising fears that the country could be engulfed by violence if supporters of the losing candidates reject the poll as being rigged. General Atta Mohammad Nur, who broke ranks with the Government to support President Karzai’s main election rival, insisted: “It is the right of our people to defend their votes. (READ MORE)

US Urges Caution on Afghan Vote - The US envoy to Afghanistan has told the BBC that critics of last month's presidential election in the country should not "jump to conclusions". Richard Holbrooke said the independent election commission should be allowed to complete its vote counting before people made judgements about the poll. He said a rerun of the election was not a viable option. Earlier the election complaints commission began invalidating some of the votes. (READ MORE)

Iranian Explosives Found in Afghanistan - Iranian-made explosives and rockets were among a cache of weapons uncovered in Afghanistan last month, a Pentagon spokesman said today. The stockpile, which Afghan National Security Forces seized Aug. 29 in the western city of Herat, consisted of Iranian rockets, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and other bomb-making materials, Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters today. (READ MORE)

Warning of Further Kidnappings Issued in Afghanistan - Security experts are warning more abductions of reporters and other foreign personnel are likely in the war-torn country, following the kidnapping and controversial rescue of a British journalist in Afghanistan. The alert was issued after the kidnapping and rescue of a New York Times reporter in Kunduz province. Another correspondent for the same newspaper was kidnapped outside Kabul last December and escaped his captors seven months later, after being taken to Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Britain Names Soldier Killed in Afghan Raid - Britain’s Defense Ministry issued a statement on Thursday naming the soldier who was killed during the raid that rescued a reporter for The New York Times in Afghanistan as 29-year-old Cpl. John Harrison of the Parachute Regiment, an elite airborne infantry unit. Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed Wednesday that an unnamed British serviceman lost his life in a nighttime raid early Wednesday on a remote Afghan village where the Times reporter, Stephen Farrell, and a Times interpreter, Sultan Munadi, were being held hostage by the Taliban. (READ MORE)

2 Say They Reported Abuses at Embassy - Two former employees of a private contractor hired to provide security at the United States Embassy in Afghanistan charged that State Department officials were aware as early as 2007 that guards and supervisors were involved in lewd conduct. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, one of the former employees, James Gordon, a native of New Zealand who served as director of operations at the contractor, ArmorGroup North America, charged that he had spoken numerous times with State Department officials about significant problems that threatened security at the embassy. (READ MORE)

The Afghan Electoral Fix - Afghanistan's messy presidential election and messier aftermath adds the prospect of political instability to the country's well-known security problems. Critics on both the left and right are citing the election's problems as evidence of inevitable failure. This conclusion is premature. The August 20 elections were indeed flawed. International observers and Afghanistan's own monitors have documented fraud, ballot stuffing and voter intimidation on behalf of President Hamid Karzai. (READ MORE)

9/11 and the 'Good War' - The road that led to 9/11 was never a defining concern of President Barack Obama. But he returned to 9/11 as he sought to explain and defend the war in Afghanistan in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Ariz., on Aug. 17. "The insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight and we won't defeat it overnight, but we must never forget: This is not a war of choice; it is a war of necessity. (READ MORE)

To Save Afghanistan, Look to Its Past - No matter who is ultimately certified as the winner of Afghanistan’s presidential election, the vote was plagued by so much fraud and violence, and had such low turnout, that it is inconceivable the Afghan people will regard the victor as a legitimate leader. And if a majority of Afghans do not consider the president and his government to be legitimate, the military campaign now being waged by the United States and its allies is doomed to fail, regardless of the number of troops deployed. (READ MORE)

Soldiers Take "Extreme Makeover" to Afghanistan - LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2009 – Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force 82 are bringing their own version of the hit ABC-TV reality show “Extreme Makeover” to this eastern Afghan province. But instead of entertainment television, soldiers operating in the Charkh district are on a humanitarian mission they hope will give residents better options than turning to the Taliban for help. The soldiers recently began working with local nationals to improve their communities, one project at a time, through the Extreme Makeover program. (READ MORE)

Pakistan casts wary eye on Afghan election dispute - ISLAMABAD — Some Pakistani lawmakers are urging other candidates to concede to Afghan President Hamid Karzai in last month's elections, amid worries that a drawn-out dispute over the results could destabilize both countries. Pakistan has a history of troubled and complex relations with neighboring Afghanistan, and the U.S. sees their security as linked – and central to quashing the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorist threat. (READ MORE)

Britain says has major concerns about Afghan vote - LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's foreign secretary said on Friday he had concerns of serious fraud in Afghanistan's presidential election, saying "free and fair" would not be an accurate description of the vote. Speaking to the BBC, David Miliband said the allegations of fraud needed to be investigated thoroughly, with Britain not willing to be "party to a whitewash." (READ MORE)

Secret peace talks on between Swat Taliban and Pak Army - Peshawar, Sep.11 : The Taliban, for the first time, has admitted that it is negotiating secret peace talks with the Pakistan Army, and has claimed that five of its leaders have been held captive by the security forces for the last eight days. The Swat Taliban said that five of its commanders, including spokesperson Muslim Khan and senior commander Mahmud Khan, who had gone to hold talks with the Army, were traceless and claimed that they have been arrested. (READ MORE)

Five Aussie soldiers hurt in bomb attack - The troops were on a foot patrol in southern Afghanistan yesterday when the improvised explosive device went off. Australia's chief of joint operations, Lieutenant General Mark Evans, said the soldiers had minor wounds and their injuries were not life threatening. They were recovering well, he said. (READ MORE)

U.S. ratchets up contribution to Canadian task force - Nearly 1,000 troops -- 10 times more than expected -- will join mentors. Canada's task force in Kandahar is to grow by nearly 1,000 soldiers this month as U.S. troops pour into the provincial capital to work alongside Canadians mentoring Afghan police. The move was confirmed by Canadian and American civilian officials based in the violence-plagued southern province. It is part of what may be the first overseas civilian-military co-operation agreement signed between Canada and the U.S. since the Second World War. (READ MORE)

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