September 17, 2009

From the Front: 09/17/2009

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

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Update about SPC Chris “Kit” Lowe’s recovery - From Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: Rex is very busy today and won’t have time to post. But he asked me to share with everyone this story from WSAV-TV in Savannah, GA about the recovery of his teammate SPC Christopher “Kit” Santiago Lowe. As many of you may remember he was critically wounded on Aug. 7 in Kapisa during a battle that claimed the life of Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman. Kit had a chance to speak with the TV station yesterday about his recovery and his efforts to pay tribute to Capt. Freeman’s memory. For more, click on this link: WSAV: Savannah Soldier Keeping Friend’s Dream Alive (READ MORE)

PRT-Kunar: September Birthday Babies - CAMP WRIGHT, Afghanistan - Provincial Reconstruction Team-Kunar members get a cake to commemorate their birthdays in the month of September. All available people showed up Sept. 16, 2009, to wish Navy Lt. j.g. Thomas Hecker; Army Sgt. Dustin Bonivert; Navy Petty Officer Second Classes Joseph Gallo and Ryan Lavictoire; and, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Robert Osborne a happy birthday with song and a cake made by the Camp Wright dining facility staff just for the occasion. The mission of the Kunar PRT is to conduct civil-military operations in order to extend the reach and legitimacy of the Government of Afghanistan by strengthening security, enhancing governance and increasing development. (READ MORE)

MAJ C: Afghanistan - "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" -- Edmund Burke. It seems like everytime that I turn on the news there is some political pundit, politician, academic, or political activist stating no more Troops for Afghanistan, and pull our Troops out now. It must be nice to be able to make statements, with no regard for our Allies, Enemies, National Security Policy, and our own Nation's security. First off, whether you agree with why we went to War in Afghanistan, the simple fact is we are there now. Which leads to a very important concept. "If you break it, you bought it", sounds like something you would tell your children. But, within International Law and Norms if you invade a country, and unseat their government, you are responsible for rebuilding it. So we, very simply put, have a solemn and legal responsibillity to help rebuild the Country of Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghani Kush: Away for a while - Hey all. Well, I'm sorry that I haven't been updating this thing lately. As many of you know I'm going to be staying down here for another deployment. But as I've been moved around I've had less and less time to write/take pictures and less and less to write and take pictures of. So I'm going to try and update this thing when I do, but I don't think I'm going to be able to do much more of it. Many of my readers were friends and family of the guys in my unit. They should all be home in a few weeks and it's been a great deployment because of them. We've been lucky and have had a lot of close calls. I wish everyone could of made it home alright, but I am glad that those of us that did are safe. I hope that you guys have enjoyed my blog and I wish you all the best. I'll still update from time to time but I can't really promise regular posts anymore. (READ MORE)

Marc Santora - At War: Longing and Love Lost in War - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The fighting war for Americans here is drawing to a close. But when the guns fall silent, there is that much more space for thinking. Invariably, thoughts turn to home. For some, that is a different kind of struggle. It is a battle fought in the mind. Memories mix with fears, uncertainty with loneliness, longing with distance. “Combat may have slowed down, but not our counseling,” said Maj. Mark Roberts, a military chaplain at the sprawling American base called Balad. “It is almost always about issues back home.” And for the overwhelmingly male population on the base, that usually means women. “We have a lot of people who are young, and many of them just married,” Major Roberts said. “These are tough issues they are dealing with.” The story is familiar and goes roughly like this: A young man falls in love. He is 18. He and his new love have six months together before he deploys. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: Pay No Heed To The Bandwagon - Foreign Policy's Passport blog discusses the war polling: “According to Gallup numbers, a whopping 93 percent of respondents in 2002 agreed with the decision to send U.S. forces to Afghanistan. That number steadily declined to 72 percent by mid-2004. Between that point and mid-2007, however, that number was remarkably stable, dropping only two percentage points over the course of three years. That might be reflective of Afghanistan's status as ‘the forgotten war;’ people's opinions probably don't change much if they aren't paying attention.” Of course support for wars decreases as they wear on. But one can look at this carefully and draw deeper conclusions. The way domestic polling fluctuates with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seems quite obvious to me. Political support is present if the war is going well, and weak if the war is stagnated or getting more violent. It's that simple. (READ MORE)

Doc H: A Good Day - We made a trip to visit our Afghan Police counterparts in their downtown clinic today. We had a good visit with them, making progress on several issues. I have hopes that several of these projects will even be completed before my time to return home arrives. If even one of these projects is completed it would be a astounding. It would be like melting a glacier with a lighter; possible but it rarely happens. Here in Afghanistan time is not measured with watches. I impressed myself thoroughly at being able to read the sign, which says tashnab- or bathroom. Thankfully I did not need to use it since it was locked at the time. The ride was as serene as possible with a young PFC driving a huge MRAP. I was able to see some picturesque sights, but I wasn't fast enough with my camera for all of them. There were long lines of camel caravans. Every now and then there were children playing around houses and open lots. I observed young men taking naps on manicured grass in one roundabout along the way. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Afghan women in Afghan National Police are making history - Thirteen women are quietly making history in the most conservative corner of Afghanistan thanks to the support and mentoring of an MOD police officer. It was when Isabella McManus, an MOD police officer who recently deployed to Afghanistan, visited the police headquarters in Helmand province that she noticed a small group of women who sat in the corner; untrained, unnoticed, without uniform and without motivation. However, Ms McManus saw promise in the women and decided to see what she could do to increase their confidence and potential as members of the Afghan National Police. Ms McManus explained: "It wasn't my job to start mentoring the women specifically but they struck a chord with me. They were ignored entirely at the police headquarters and it wasn't right. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Leaders Focus on Family Wellness - Last month, I received several comments on the topic of mental wellness, particularly suicide, and the need for more preventive measures and programs. I’ve seen several articles focusing on the mental well-being of servicemembers and their families lately — it’s definitely a big concern for defense leaders — and wanted to pass on the highlights of a few of the latest. In an article on Sept. 16, 2009, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, focused on the need to care for servicemembers and their families dealing with war wounds. Hundreds of thousands of servicemembers have returned from eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan with wounds that range from minor to severely debilitating. Some need education, jobs, health care, housing, financial and emotional support to move on with their lives. (READ MORE)

Iron Camel: Crossroads - Today I find myself at a crossroads. I have received my orders for my post deployment duty assignment. It’s a sort of homecoming for me. Career minded soldiers in the military bounce from place to place hoping to return to that favorite base; a place where we have been two or three times before and identify it as somewhere we call home. I got what I wanted. What I also got was a guaranteed deployment next December to Afghanistan. The job I have will be cushy. No more patrolling the streets. I’ll sit behind a computer in a fortified, air conditioned building, next to a giant mess hall with all the fixins, watching my weight slowly climb as I drink Diet Coke and eat little bags of Salt and Vinegar chips. My second deployment is wrapping up; the next one will be my third. It will only be 6 or 7 months (when I tell my civilian friends this they say, “Only?”) depending on when I arrive, but it will be 6 or 7 more months, away from my wife and away from my kids. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Eight Minutes and Gone - From the time the Medevac call comes in, the first pair of Blackhawks in the rotation have fifteen minutes to be airborne. Actually, the standard for our Medevac unit is eight minutes, the Army standard is 15. When I heard the call at the Medevac hangar I went straight out to where the birds sit in low blast walls waiting to take off. The crew chiefs of both birds were already getting the aircraft ready for flight. The medic ran to the Evac bird, the door gunner ran to the chase bird. Within three minutes the twin turbojet engines were screaming and the huge rotor blades were starting to turn. I walked along the revetment walls to the front of the aircraft so I could watch the takeoff from directly under their flight path. The main rotor turned faster and faster. I moved to a dead air spot where I was not being buffeted by the wind from the main rotors. The tail roters were spinning crazy fast looking like they might pick the whole aircraft up from the back. (READ MORE)

In the NARMY now: Move over Humvee! - From what I've been seeing around here lately, It appears the Humvee may have fought its final battle. I'm seeing less and less Humvee's and more and more MRAPS (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). These things are beasts. The only thing that I could see being a problem, although I've never driven one, is there shape and size. I can see it tipping over on uneven terrain more than a humvee would, and it may also be harder to navigate through an urban setting with one of these. But, that same size and shape is the likely reason they are mine resistant. I'm gonna have to do some poking around and see if I can score a ride on one of these! (READ MORE)

The Life: My First Marathon - Saturday 12Sep09. A relatively easy day with 2.5 hours in a helicopter, two hours of weightlifting at the gym, and 8 hours in the office. The plan after work was to run 16 miles at a sub nine-minute pace due to the relative coolness of 93 degrees. Previous farthest run was 15 miles. At 2116 (9:16pm) we began our run, and found exceptionally ideal conditions. We ran a 5-mile loop, a 7-mile loop, and another 5-mile loop. Finishing these at a 8:57 pace, my friend and I were quite happy. Displaying a slightly confused perspective of distance, I said, "Let's just keep running, we're almost at a marathon." My friend disagreed and went back to his CHU to sleep, but I decided it would be worth it to keep going. I ran another 3.5-mile loop, which covered 1/3 of the remaining distance, and realized just how far there was yet to run. However, since I had told my friend that I was going to run a marathon, I knew I had to finish it. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Two al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike - Two senior al Qaeda commanders are thought to have been killed in the most recent airstrike in Pakistan's tribal areas. Ilyas Kashmiri and Nazimuddin Khilalof (or Najmuddin Jalolov) are said to have been killed during the Sept. 14 airstrike in the village of Turikhel near the town of Mir Ali in Taliban-controlled North Waziristan, according to a report in Geo News. The report has not been confirmed, and US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on the status of Kashmiri and Nazimuddin. Ilyas Kashmiri is considered by US intelligence to be one of al Qaeda's most dangerous commanders. He is the operational chief of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI), an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates in Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Kashmiri was recently listed as the fourth most wanted terrorist by Pakistan's Interior Ministry. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistani Army captures wanted Swat Taliban military commander - The Pakistani military has captured a Taliban commander who is one of the 21 most-wanted leaders in the district of Swat, dealing another setback to the terror group. Security forces captured Sher Muhammad Qasab during an operation in the Charbagh region in Swat after his compound was surrounded. Qasab was wounded during the operations and later surrendered, Geo News reported. Qasab commanded Taliban forces in the Charbagh region of Swat. Charbagh has served as a Taliban stronghold; the group maintained training camps in the region and put up tough resistance in the area during the Pakistani Army's military offensive during the spring and summer of this year. Qasab is the fifth member of the Swat Taliban leadership killed or captured who are on the Pakistani government's list of the 21 most-wanted. Qasab had a 10 million rupee ($123,000) bounty on his head. (READ MORE)

Manatee's Military Moms: Standing firm on the side of telling life's stories - Some families find the prospect of reading or watching news stories concerning Afghanistan, Iraq, or other hot spots while their loved one is deployed too much to bear. Too frightening, too maddening, just too much. I’m not one of those people. I can’t sleep at night for lack of information. At Monday’s Marine Mom meeting, several moms discussed their aversion to the news while their sons are deployed, not only because it terrifies them to hear casualties announced, but also from a perception that news reports are skewed one way or another. Talk about stuck in the middle! I am in the unlovely position of being the mother of a Marine, and the perceived source of ire as a journalist—the source of some ambiguity from my own friends. What’s more, my son has issues with some war coverage. He feels indignant that Marines and soldiers are put into increased danger by babysitting reporters and photographers while they embark upon the life and death business of battle. (READ MORE)

our little {BIG} family: I love my husband! - I just got finished talking to Ben via IM. I Love the internet. He has his new webcam we bought him so I can see his handsome mug while we talk. It makes such a difference. I can see his emotions - sometimes (he is a 'ROCK'). I get to see him smile. I get to make him laugh again. I love it. It kind of feels like a date. Is that weird or what? Some nights we don't have much to talk about and we just look at each other. Other nights, like tonight, we can't stop talking. It's so much fun! We laugh, we joke, we tease. Sometimes we even talk dirty. OK, not really. It is monitored. :) All this talking has definitely brought us closer together. It really has strengthened our relationship. I LOVE talking to him, and sometimes I'm spoiled (like tonight) and get to talk to him two days in a row! But it's so hard to say goodbye, and go to bed alone after we talk. (READ MORE)

PRT-Kunar: PRT SECFOR, Afghan counterparts patrol jointly in Dam Kalay - CAMP WRIGHT, Afghanistan – A recent Provincial Reconstruction Team-Kunar power assessment in Dam Kalay village in Asadabad served a secondary purpose of providing the unit’s security force members the opportunity to jointly patrol with their Afghan counterparts. This was the first time the PRT conducted a walking foot patrol through the village with their Afghanistan National Police counterparts. It was an interaction that was beneficial to both units. “The patrol went well and it was a good experience. My job is security, so when locals see our ANP counterparts and us out together, it gives them confidence,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Stewart Brough, PRT-Kunar security force platoon leader and native of Fruit Heights, Utah. “This was a great opportunity to work with our Afghan counterparts.” The lieutenant said the effort had the additional benefit of disrupting any possible anti-Afghanistan forces that may be in the area. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: Bring Down the Government; They Don’t, They Don’t Speak for Us - Ajmal Samadi is talking a lot of sense in RFE/RL: “In order to lift Afghanistan from its current political crisis and most effectively address the growing accusations of election fraud, the international community should pressure Karzai to transfer power to a transitional administration that would run the government until the election controversy is resolved and a new president is sworn in… But ironically, in addition to helping legitimize a tainted election, a well-designed transitional authority could help overcome the structural deficiencies in the Bonn arrangements that have endangered Afghanistan’s development. For instance, the National Assembly – which has been effectively marginalized in recent years – can play a pivotal role in authorizing and organizing an emergency transitional administration in line with Afghan law. That transitional authority should be broad-based and comprehensive, including all players in the country’s political process.” (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Secrets don’t make friends - When you’re deployed, people think they’re protecting you by not burdening you with the problems of home. Last deployment it was the threat of divorce, a family member getting a credit card in my name thinking they could pay it off before I knew. This week, divorce isn’t a threat, but imminent and has been since May. I just found out. I realize why people keep this stuff from me – they think I’m stressed out and don’t want to put anything on my plate. What they don’t understand is I want normalcy. I want to be treated as if I’m at home. I’ve been making plans, looking forward to getting home. I want to know now that those plans won’t happen, instead of looking forward to them only to get home and figure out they don’t exist. I want to know exactly what I’m walking into. I want to deal with it here. I don’t want to come home with a heart full of joy, only to find out that what I thought I was coming home to is a drastically altered reality. (READ MORE)

Celestial Junk: The Staggering Implications of Losing in Afghanistan - What does it mean if we pick up and leave Afghanistan before it has been stabilized? To answer that question, we need to first define who “we” are. For that, let’s turn to Terry Glavin who recently penned an essay that spells out the "we". This is not merely a "western" project. The countries that devised the Afghanistan Compact and the Bonn Agreement in the first place include several Islamic republics, along with western democracies. This is a United Nations mission, and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan includes soldiers from such places as Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. That's who "we" are. So then "we" are a UN force consisting of a smattering of non-Western sidekicks but buttressed primarily with Western power. “We” have sunk blood and treasure into Afghanistan, but to what effect? Judging by the growing scepticism and calls of “It can’t be done”, one might think that little, if anything, has been accomplished. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Medal of Honor to be awarded to Family of Jared Monti Today - Well today is the day that the President will award the Medal of Honor to the family of Jared Monti today. SFC Monti performed his actions in 2006, which is when I was in Afghanistan. Even though this took three years, I am glad to see it finally come to fruition. This is the first Medal of Honor to be awarded by President Obama, and the first one to a Army soldier for actions in Afghanistan: “In June of 2006, the 3rd Squadron of the 71st Cavalry Regiment (Recon), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, prepared to execute Operation Gowardesh Thrust, a Squadron size operation in the Gremen Valley, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. The operation was designed to disrupt enemy operations in the Gremen Valley by denying the enemy freedom of movement and the use of critical staging areas near the border with Pakistan. The initial phase of the operation required a 16-man patrol to infiltrate into the area of operations in advance of the Squadron’s main effort.” (READ MORE)

379th Air Expeditionary Wing: Building Bare Bases One Pallet at a Time - There are service members whose jobs seem to catch all the glory and there are those who work behind the scenes to make sure those glorious jobs are able to be performed. For the service members assigned to the 1st Expeditionary Red Horse Group, here, this adage holds true. Their ability to create a forward operating base where once nothing but nature existed puts them in the latter category. A handful of these service members working behind the scenes to ensure forward operating base's transition from bare base to fully operational bases are assigned to the group's logistics and pallet build-up team. This team of 11 service members supports all Red Horse operations downrange by obtaining and shipping equipment that may not be available through palletized equipment air drops. Since the beginning of April, the team has palletized and out-shipped more than 2.6 million tons of cargo and equipment... (READ MORE)

Deebow: Sergeant Earl Werner--Someone You Should Know - On active duty, they call it the “20/20 rule” when they talk about National Guard Soldiers. For those who don’t know, that means “20 years older and 20 pounds heavier.” Earl Werner however, was not one of those guys. I came home to read my e-mail at work to find out that we were flying the flag for Sergeant Earl Werner at half staff because he had died from wounds from an IED strike while escorting a convoy in Iraq. On Friday, Sgt. Earl Werner, 38, from Amboy, Wash., was killed in Rashid, Iraq, when the convoy was struck in a roadside bombing. When I got home from work, I rushed into my spare room where I put my things that go with my uniforms and jerked open the drawer where I put my old leaders book (I haven’t had Joes in awhile working in this staff job) and I ripped it open and began furiously flipping through the pages. And there, four pages in, clipped into the "personnel" section, was all the essential information a leader could need on one Sergeant (then Specialist) Earl Werner. Earl you see, at one point, belonged to me. He was mine. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Did ROE Lead to Marine Deaths? - Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive is at the same time entertaining, sardonic, witty, and when he wants to be, quite serious. He is an asset to the Milblogging community, certainly more so than I. But occasionally we must disagree, and I’m sure that James is okay with that. Today is one of those times. Where Michelle has been is an enigma. I covered this eight days ago. But without rehearsing again the idea that there are unintended consequences to every action we ever take or decision we ever make (including ROE), we’ll tackle only the issue of this specific engagement. First, as for the McClatchy reporter, I see no reason to doubt his account. I wasn’t there. Second, based on direct reports on ROE experiences from a certain Marine with whom I am close, an Army intelligence contact based in Ramadi several years ago, and extensive interviews of other Marines, I just don’t think it’s as clear as follow the written ROE and if you fail to provide support for your troops you’re an incompetent toad and should be flogged. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: This kind of war - You may have heard... “Witnesses said foreign troops swept into the town on helicopters, fired missiles from an attack helicopter, killed Nabhan and another terrorist, and captured two others after wounding them, Mareeg reported. Nabhan's body was recovered, ABC News later reported.” ...or you may not have heard. Apparently Kanye West chose that moment to seize a microphone, prompting a brief quip from the president that was twittered to the public by a reporter while congress voted to censure a politician who called a politician a liar and expert panels were formed for on-camera discussions of racism in America as news of the suppression of the news about ACORN was... well, you get the picture. And frankly, those involved in that page 3 sort of story shun the spotlight others seek anyway. But much (perhaps more than many would be comfortable with...) is revealed in this account: (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
U.S. forces shoot man in Fallouja - An Iraqi man whom relatives described as psychologically troubled threw his shoe at a U.S. military convoy passing through the western city of Fallouja on Wednesday, witnesses said. According to witnesses, an infantryman immediately shot the man, who was seriously wounded and taken to Fallouja’s general hospital. (READ MORE)

Biden Pushes Iraqi Leaders On Vote Law, Oil-Bid Perks - Vice President Biden pressed Iraqi leaders Wednesday to approve as quickly as possible legislation that establishes rules for the planned January general election and to make the next round of bids to develop Iraqi oil concessions more attractive to foreign investors. In a series of meetings in the Green Zone, Biden listened to the concerns of Iraqi leaders, now in the heat of an election season that Obama administration officials acknowledge will delay until after the vote any progress on such pressing issues... (READ MORE)

Green Zone Takes More Fire During Biden Visit - Baghdad’s heavily fortified international zone was attacked by rocket fire for a second night on Wednesday, this time just after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had made brief public remarks and sat down for a traditional dinner to break the Ramadan fast. One rocket landed on the edge of the American Embassy compound, about a mile from the building where the two leaders met, wounding several people at a security company, according to the Interior Ministry. (READ MORE)

More Blasts Heard Near Biden in Iraq - Several blasts shook the area near the US Embassy late Wednesday, marking a second day of attacks around the facility during a visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki was hosting Mr. Biden at his palace a few miles away at the time of the attacks. The blasts were heard at the palace, and US and Iraqi security officials temporarily prevented reporters who had gathered to attend a briefing by the two from leaving the building. The blasts appeared to be from rockets or mortars. (READ MORE)

Camp Bucca detention facility shuts down operations - CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – As the last detainee boarded a plane destined for another theater internment facility on Sept. 17, the detainee operations mission at Camp Bucca officially ended. An Air Force C-17 carrying the last group of 180 detainees lifted off from the Basra airport headed to Camp Cropper at 3:22 a.m. “As a result of the great working relationship between the Government of Iraq and Task Force 134, I’m pleased to say the Camp Bucca detention facility is now closed,” said Brig. Gen. David Quantock, Joint Task Force 134’s commanding general. (READ MORE)

U.S. forces attacked in Fallujah, attacker wounded - AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – A man in Fallujah allegedly threw an object, believed to be a grenade, at a U.S. Marine and Iraqi Security Forces patrol, Sept.16. Upon positive identification of the attacker, U.S. forces fired in self-defense, wounding the attacker. The convoy stopped, secured the area and began to render medical aid. Shortly thereafter, the local Iraqi Police assumed control of the scene, took custody of the wounded attacker and transported him to a local hospital for medical treatment. (READ MORE)

Update to IZ rocket attack - BAGHDAD – Initial reports yesterday (see MNC-I Press Release 20090916-01) stated three individuals were detained near the location that the three rocket rails, believe to have been used in the attack, were found. Updates from that initial report indicate that the three individuals were actually questioned by Iraqi Security Forces as persons of interest at the site. After questioning, the three individuals were released due to insufficient evidence. (READ MORE)

Soldiers keep school renovations on track - BAGHDAD — Providing education for children here is a key objective for U.S. forces and the Iraqi government, and rebuilding infrastructure, to include schools, is a top priority. In order to improve the quality of education in their area, the troopers of 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division regularly check on the progress of their public works projects to ensure all deadlines and standards are met. (READ MORE)

Emergency Response Units vital to security - KIRKUK — In an effort to curtail complacency and encourage community policing, Iraqi Emergency Response Units (ERU) and U.S. Soldiers conducted checkpoint inspections throughout this city, Sept. 9. According to Capt. Bradley Hardy, Akron, Ohio, native and commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, whose unit participated in the inspections, the ERU are intended to be first responders to any crisis in Kirkuk. (READ MORE)

‘Operation Exhale’ brings oxygen to hospital - BAGHDAD — Oxygen is a necessity for any hospital and vital when performing surgery. At one hospital here, the lack of oxygen has at times delayed critical surgeries, placing ill or injured patients at risk. "Sometimes we stop doing these surgeries because we have to wait for oxygen," said Mohammed Mamoud Ahmed, an electrical engineer with the Abu Ghraib Hospital. "It has happened a couple of times and when it gets critical, we have to get it from other hospitals." (READ MORE)

Alaska-based Soldiers heading home - FOB WARHORSE - Soldiers with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, loaded Stryker military vehicles onto tractor-trailers, Sept. 12, to be shipped back to their home base in Fairbanks, Alaska. For the past year, the brigade was headquartered here and oversaw operations in Diyala province. They deployed Sept. 11, 2008 and will be returning home this month. (READ MORE)

Surprise gathering at airport greets Marine - The scene is the same on nearly every flight. As soon as the pilot brings the plane to the gate, passengers rush to get off. They have bags to pick up, taxis to catch and meetings to attend. But not on Southwest Airlines Flight 3545 on Tuesday morning. When the passengers saw a group of Marines in dress uniforms standing at the gate, they realized the young man on their flight was somebody special. So nearly every one of them turned around and waited for him. (READ MORE)

Confusion Still the Victor in Afghan Election - As Richard A. Oppel Jr. writes in today’s Times, complaints and confusion abound over the Aug. 20 election results in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s election commission released preliminary vote totals showing President Hamid Karzai with 54.6 percent of the vote in the first full results to be released since the election. The election still has not been certified as final, however, and European Union election observers earlier Wednesday said about 1.5 million votes — about a quarter of all ballots — could be fraudulent. (READ MORE)

Obama Says He Won't Rush Afghanistan Troop Decision - On a day when his administration outlined ambitious goals for Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama also moved Wednesday to call a timeout in the escalating national debate over a possible troop increase in Afghanistan. Obama insisted he would not be rushed in deciding whether to send more troops - an action favored by top military leaders but questioned by a growing number of Democrats - saying that additional time is needed to refine strategy and assess needs. (READ MORE)

Obama Says He Won't Rush Troop Decision - President Obama pushed back Wednesday against pressure to make a decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan, saying he will resist any attempt to rush him until he has "absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be." Obama said he is still considering an assessment he received this month from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, and will await reviews from civilian and diplomatic officials and the results of the disputed Afghan election before making "further decisions moving forward." (READ MORE)

Obama Offers Ways to Rate Efforts in Afghan Region - The Obama administration delivered to Congress on Wednesday about 50 measures to determine whether a broad military and nation-building campaign to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan was succeeding, paving the way for the White House to argue that the American combat effort in the region would not be open-ended. The long-awaited measures were delivered in closed meetings with key members of the House and Senate, just as President Obama emphasized that he would take his time in evaluating a forthcoming request from the military for more combat forces. (READ MORE)

Obama to Rate War Progress in Afghanistan - The White House on Wednesday began to share details of a complicated new program aimed at gauging how the war in Afghanistan is going as it continued to resist pressure to reveal whether President Obama plans to dispatch additional troops there. The administration dispatched senior officials to Capitol Hill yesterday to outline what it described as a novel and bluntly honest program to measure progress in the effort to deprive al Qaeda of a base of operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in the ungoverned areas along the border between those two nations. (READ MORE)

First Full Afghan Tally Gives Karzai 54% of Vote - Afghanistan's election commission, in its first full tally of ballots cast in last month's presidential race, announced Wednesday that incumbent Hamid Karzai had won 54.6 percent of the vote, giving him a margin large enough to win reelection and avoid a runoff against his top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. But with reports of fraud at several thousand polling stations, the final result will depend on an extensive investigation being conducted by the UN-sponsored Electoral Complaints Commission, as well as a recount of about 10 percent of the ballots that it has ordered Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission to carry out. (READ MORE)

Karzai Insists on ‘Integrity’ of Vote - President Hamid Karzai Thursday dismissed widespread criticism of the elections in which he is the front-running candidate, saying he believed in the integrity of the vote. Underscoring a deepening political crisis and frail security caused by a growing Taliban insurgency that has drawn in tens of thousands of American and other foreign troops, a large explosion shook the center of Kabul Thursday in an area close to the American and British embassies. (READ MORE)

Afghan Opposition Candidate Waits for Results, Though Not Patiently - Abdullah Abdullah is waiting. As is much of Afghanistan. With the nation approaching the one-month mark since its Aug. 20 presidential election, there are growing concerns at home and abroad that the delay in results and allegations of fraud could increase political instability. But the former foreign minister, who earned the second-largest number of votes, hasn't been sitting on his hands. These days, he spends much of his time trying to focus attention on the perceived irregularities and slamming the record of his political rival, incumbent President Hamid Karzai. (READ MORE)

Karzai Unlikely to Claim Afghan Election Victory Soon - In case there was any doubt before, the accusations of fraud piling up around Afghanistan's presidential election mean that Hamid Karzai won't be declared victorious in his reelection bid any time soon. At the very least, a national electoral complaints commission investigating fraudulent voting will take weeks to determine how much of Mr. Karzai's officially declared 54.6 percent of the vote will be tossed out. At the other extreme, a potential need for a runoff vote could end up stretching Afghanistan's political turmoil into next spring... (READ MORE)

Afghan Presidential Candidates Explore Alliances - Afghanistan's major presidential candidates are tentatively exploring alliances, said several campaign aides and Western diplomats, positioning themselves for leading roles in the next government amid concerns over the turmoil wrought by the protracted contest. The team of President Hamid Karzai, who has nearly a 27-point lead over chief rival Abdullah Abdullah, has been in talks with other candidates. (READ MORE)

NATO Says US Airstrike in Kunduz Killed 30 Civilians - NATO investigators believe that 30 civilians were killed in a controversial US airstrike in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, a preliminary finding that could spark new pressure for disciplinary actions against the German and American personnel involved in the attack. A team of military officers led by Canadian Maj. Gen. C.S. Sullivan spent more than a week probing the Sept. 4 bombing, which took place after a German commander in Kunduz ordered an airstrike on two hijacked fuel trucks that he feared would be used in a suicide attack against his troops. (READ MORE)

Suicide Bomber Kills Six Italian Soldiers in Attack on NATO Convoy in Kabul - A suicide bomber killed six Italian soldiers and at least four Afghan civilians when he blew up a truck filled with explosives next to a NATO convoy in Kabul today. Three more Italian troops and around 30 Afghans were wounded in the blast, defence officials said. The force of the explosion blew one of the Italian army jeeps across two lanes of traffic on the crowded airport road, destroying a number of civilian cars and smashing in the fronts of shops and stalls lining the highway. (READ MORE)

Suicide Car Bomb Kills 16, Wounds Dozens in Afghan Capital - A powerful car bomb hit an Italian military convoy here today, killing at least 6 soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians and wounding at least 52 people, according to Italian and Afghan government officials. The attack, which occurred on the main road to the airport, near the US Embassy, took place as the military vehicles became mired in traffic. The blast was the latest incident in a wave of violence to hit the troubled country in recent months as the Taliban insurgency has stepped up attacks on foreign forces around the Aug. 20 election. (READ MORE)

Car Bomb in Kabul Kills 10 People - A suicide car bomb hit vehicles carrying foreign troops near the U.S. Embassy and an American military base in Afghanistan's capital Thursday, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens, officials said. The suicide bomber rammed his explosives-filled car into two vehicles of the NATO-backed international force, said Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, head of Kabul's criminal investigations unit. (READ MORE)

Drone Attacks Target Pakistan Militants - The US believes Central Intelligence Agency drone attacks have killed two prominent Islamic militant figures in Pakistan affiliated with al Qaeda, one of whom was on the US's list of top 20 targets, according to officials briefed on the matter. One drone attack Monday is believed to have killed the leader of the Islamic Jihad Union, Najmiddin Kamolitdinovich Jalolov, an Uzbek native implicated in terrorist plots and attacks in Germany and Uzbekistan. (READ MORE)

Many Allies of US Share Pain of Afghan War’s Toll - For most Germans, it was a rare -even shocking -scene. There, on television, were coffins holding the bodies of three soldiers, all in their early 20s, all killed in Afghanistan, all draped with the national flag. For many Germans, the most recent deaths again underscored their discomfort with the deployment in Afghanistan, where they had expected troops that were focusing on peacekeeping and reconstruction to be mostly safe. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan is not Vietnam ... Yet - The United States is stuck in a 1960s flashback. In an interview on Monday, President Obama rejected comparisons between the war in Afghanistan and the Vietnam conflict, saying "you never step into the same river twice." The Amu Darya is not the Mekong. There are superficial parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan, especially at the tactical level. The new joint counterinsurgency doctrine addresses many of these aspects, and it is noteworthy that Gen. David H. Petraeus, who oversaw its development, wrote his doctoral dissertation on Vietnam. (READ MORE)

Rethinking Bagram - The Obama administration deserves credit for proposing changes to the detainee review process at Bagram Air Base. In theory, the changes should increase the likelihood that only those who should be held will be imprisoned there. But the administration inexcusably continues to resist necessary reforms for those detainees - among the longest held - who were captured beyond the Afghan battlefield. It also leaves open the possibility of future renditions to Bagram of terrorist suspects captured outside Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghan leader backs calls for probe into election fraud - President Hamid Karzai on Thursday played down claims that the recent election in Afghanistan was flawed, but said he supported a probe into possible violations. With all ballots counted, the Afghan Central Election Commission said on Wednesday that the incumbent leader garnered 54.62% of the vote in the August 20 election. (READ MORE)

Suicide bomb in Afghanistan leaves at least 9 dead, 38 injured - At least nine people were killed and 38 injured on Thursday in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan's capital of Kabul, a source said. Afghan Minister of Public Health Sayed Amin Fatemi told journalists three Afghans had been killed and 38 were reported injured. (READ MORE)

China airs respect for Afghan people's election choice - China on Thursday voiced its respect for Afghan people's choice in the presidential election. "We have noticed the preliminary results of the Afghan presidential election. The election was Afghanistan's internal affair. We respect the choice of the Afghan people," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a news briefing. (READ MORE)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on mental wellness. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Positive thinking