September 25, 2009

From the Front: 09/25/2009

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

Sorority Soldier: Pop The Champagne - Our replacements will report to their Mobilization Training today! It took about a month and half from the time we got to Fort Dix to boots on ground, which included our Christmas break. They won’t be there as long as we were since there aren’t any holidays approaching which puts a big smile on my face. I can’t wait to greet them, show them the office and eagerly board my flight home. WE’RE WAITING ON YOU WITH OPEN ARMS, REPLACEMENTS. GET HERE FAST! (READ MORE)

3rd Time, New Country: Eid Mobarak 2009 - As far as mentoring goes, it has been an easy week since I last posted to this blog. Ramadan ended on Sunday, with three days of Eid that started on Sunday. I have included some pictures from the Eid celebration at NMH on Sunday. My team of mentors met up with leadership of NMH, MPRI mentors, and a select few of the ANA leadership. After meeting up at NMH and congratulating everyone (Eid Mobarak is Dari for “congratulations on Eid”), we formed up to see the ANA Chief of Staff review the honor guard, before meeting and shaking hands with all present. He then visited the wounded ANA soldiers and police throughout the hospital. We went to the top of the hospital to the flower room for chai and cookies. Monday and Tuesday was the continuation of Eid, so we didn’t go to NMH to mentor. It was only a duty crew and our interpreters also had the time off. On Tuesday, our nurse mentors met with Rick the senior nurse for MPRI and discussed the current state of nursing at NMH. (READ MORE)

P.J. Tobia: Pakistan Needs To Get More Involved In Afghanistan, Not Less - Pakistan’s role in the Afghan insurgency cannot be overstated. Afghan and foreign anti-government elements use the rugged and lonely mountains of western Pakistan as a base of operations, planning headquarters and keystone of the Taliban supply line. Osama bin Laden himself is, if still alive, widely thought to be holed up in the region and intelligence agencies from around the world have focused on places like Baluchistan, looking to kill or capture top insurgent commanders. But Pakistan also plays another vitally important role in Afghanistan, one of positive cultural change. The most progressive, open-minded and well educated Afghans I’ve met have almost all studied or lived for a time in Pakistan. And I don’t mean Karachi. A good friend of mine lived for years in western Pakistan, near Swat, and has some of the best ideas about reform and conflict resolution around. (READ MORE)

A Battlefield Tourist: So Many Heros, So Little Action - For a long time now I have had trouble with how the US military, especially the Army, hands out medals. My real issue is with how the Bronze Star is handed out these days… makes me dizzy at times. Read this: “RICHMOND, Va. (AP) About 130 soldiers from a Manassas-based Virginia Guard military police unit are returning to Virginia after serving in Iraq since December 2008. Guard officials say the 266th Military Police Company is scheduled to return Thursday. The unit is made up of soldiers from across Virginia. The soldiers operated throughout Iraq as part of a team that trained, mentored and coached more than 1,000 Iraqi Police officers. They also conducted numerous missions and combat patrols across the country. During their tour, soldiers from the unit earned 21 Bronze Star Medals, four received Combat Action Badges and one received a Purple Heart.” 21 Bronze Stars and four Combat Action Badges. Are you kidding? (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: A mountain of pens - When I received word about transferring to a new camp, one of my first thoughts was about my team’s school supplies project. Initially I told my wife Liisa to continue to collect the items, but don’t ship them until I could obtain my new mailing address. The timing of this news also coincided with the Ramadan and Eid holy period and I wouldn’t be able to deliver them anyhow. I used this time to modify my strategy and seek out new schools. It didn’t take me long to achieve my goal. My first day at camp, I met with AF Maj “O” and he briefly described his school supplies plans and I revealed ours. Maj “O” is a celebrity and former world track star in his own right. Later, I plan to devote an entire blog post to the biography of this athlete. Anyhow, we agreed to form a partnership and work together towards the same goal. In turn this has turned out to be a multiplier of good will. Last night, 24 volunteers met at the DFAC to help sort out the donated supplies. (READ MORE)

Embedded in Afghanistan: In the media II - The New York Times linked to this blog a couple of weeks ago, which explained for me why my site had taken such a jump in its number of visitors. Of course, the NYT discovered the blog and labeled it as a blog by a deployed soldier only after I'd returned. At any rate, I'm flattered by the exposure. One of the other affects of the NYT link was this blog was discovered by a reporter for NPR who then requested a phone interview with me for his story about blogging and social networking while deployed. I was happy to give him my two cents on the issue, though I wish he'd've made it more clear that I didn't want my name associated with the blog because I don't think it's right to use military service to publicize yourself. I did mention the fact that I'm going to be continuing my military service, but fear of reprisals or whatever is not why I don't put my name on the site (see below). At any rate, it was a good article and I'm glad to have been a contributor to it. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Children Need Support Through Deployments - About two years ago, I signed up for a two-month training class in Maryland. I was excited about the opportunity, but dreaded leaving my kids behind in San Antonio. My children, 4 and 5 at the time, were understandably upset. They didn’t quite grasp the concept of months versus years, and latched on to the idea that mom was going away for a very, very long time. While gone, my husband and I hooked up our Web cams and I chatted with the kids online every day. But they missed me and never let me forget it for a minute, particularly on Halloween when my husband fell asleep and almost slept through trick-or-treat time. And that separation was only two months long. It’s hard to imagine being separated for a year or more with countless missed birthdays, holidays, recitals and sporting events. But that’s a reality military families face each day. And it’s compounded by the fact that loved ones possibly are heading into harm’s way. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: What To Do? Part Two - There are no easy answers for Afghanistan. Take the recent elections for example. What are the viable options to fixing that mess? You can accept the results which is increasingly unpalatable, you can hold a run off which would probably be an even bigger farce; you could hold an emergency Loya Jirga and start over (could you imagine that?) There are a few more options available I suppose but none of them very attractive. President Obama appears to be “voting present” on the Afghan Campaign. Which is consistent with the way he has handled every tough decision during his entire political career. There has been much speculation about the impact of General McChrystal’s leaked confidential report in Washington but little on the impact his report is having on the various formations fighting the war. The military is asking for more troops but to do what? Unless they move off the FOB’s and out into the local population they do little more than create and even more target rich environment for the various armed opposition groups (AOG) which plague the countryside. (READ MORE)

Iron Camel: Parental Advice: Don’t bring your kid to war - So, you would think that the title of this story would lend itself to some basic common sense. But here in Iraq, where common sense isn’t the lay of the land, I watch with open-mouthed astonishment as events I have witnessed in the past year unfold before my eyes. One of the Generals that we follow around has an eight year old son. His son sports a little Iraqi uniform, wears the rank of a General, and acts like he runs the division. In short, he is a little shit that mirrors the behavior of his father. When the General is in a meeting, his son is attended to by the guards standing post at the entrance of the building. The guards patiently tolerate the shin kicks and stomach punches that the pint sized dictator likes to hand out. After all, his father is the division commander and no one wants to end up in jail. As we follow the General on his combat patrol, his son jumps in the back of an up-armored SUV next to his dad and straps himself in for a day of war. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Biking to Work on the South Side - Part of my new job is an office on the south side of the base. It is a 4 or 6 mile ride depending on wind direction. When I worked in the motor pool it was a one-mile ride, so I did not have to think too much about carrying a weapon, but now having the M-16 digging into my back every day I was trying to think of some better way to carry it. One of the aircraft mechanics said, "Break it in half and put it in your pack." He was right. I have to switch packs though. With the smaller pack I used today the barrel of my rifle stuck out just far enough that it hit the back of my helmet when I stood up to pedal. With the larger pack, the whole weapon will be inside. An M-16 breaks in two pieces in about 10 seconds with just two pins so it is an easy solution to the problem of how to take my gun to work every day. When I ride around post for exercise in PT uniform I am exercising so I don't have to carry the weapon. MUCH easier that way. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Bad News Papers - If you think the Western press stumbles regularly when it comes to Iraq coverage, check out the Arabic newspapers. In recent days a couple of the most respected Arabic language newspapers reported that Ayad Allawi has joined the Shiite alliance formed last month to exclude Nouri Al Maliki. The ludicrous articles claimed that the former prime minister, a known secularist, had just joined the religious group that includes the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council and the Sadr Movement and others. These newspapers are not Iraqi, nor are the reporters who wrote the stories. None of the mainstream Iraqi papers had the story, probably because they knew nobody would believe it. And in discussions here not a single Iraqi bought the reports. Finally, Allawi denied the reports that implied that his having been born a Shiite would trump his secular political views. Allawi is quoted as saying Shiites had always played important roles in Iraq's political parties such as communist and others. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: A Different Afghanistan: From My Friend Penny - I don't care if you're a secret squirrel, a milspouse, a veteran, a former Marine, or some other tough guy. I know for one thing for certain, you would have loved my friend Penny. And because it's Friday, and we all need a break from war, you get to read about her. With her usual flair, she told me about her trip to Afghanistan made many many years ago: “It was good to hear all the news and wish the best for your son and your husband. One of the best trip my husband and I ever took was to India, Kashmir, Pakistan, through the Kyber pass into Afghanistan. There we knew the American Ambassador and he gave us a Mercedes bus and we traveled all that great country; mostly enjoyed Bamiyan with its majestic Buddha's built into the mountain.Though they no longer exist due to horror of the Taliban we will never forget spending days climbing inside and standing on the shoulder of the main Buddha. Inside were separate caves full of Esoteric symbols. It had been a study place of all that passed by during the silk- route.” (READ MORE)

Life at Joint Base Balad: The Road Home - Right now I am at Fort Bliss, Texas. When you leave Iraq, you don’t just hop on a plane and go straight home. You must follow a de-mobilization process, which is similar to (but much shorter than) the mobilization that you go through before getting to Iraq. The basic way to demobilize is to fly from Iraq to Ali Al Salem (AAS) air base in Kuwait, and then spend a night or two at Camp Virginia, which is quite close to AAS. If you are unlukcy, you’ll spend many nights at AAS. We were lucky, and spent only two nights in Kuwait total. All Army personnel must clear the CENTCOM theater through AAS, and then clear customs, and then wait in the Freedom tents for at least 10-15 hours before getting a bus over to Kuwait City Airport, and then flying back to the USA. There are several routes, but the routes usually involve a stop on the flight from Kuwait City in either Leipzig Germany, or Shannon Ireland. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US airstrike targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan - An unmanned US strike aircraft fired two missiles at the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal area of North Waziristan. Eight people were killed in the attack and two more were wounded. The attack targeted a compound run by Ahmad Haqqani, a son of Jalaluddin, the patriarch of the notorious Haqqani family. The Haqqanis run the Manba Ulom madrassa in the town of Danda Darpa Khel just outside of Miramshah in North Waziristan. The madrassa run by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The US has conducted several strikes on or near the madrassa since the fall of 2008. Today's strike is the first since Sept. 14. There have been four US airstrikes in Pakistan this month; all have taken place in North Waziristan. From June 14 to Aug. 20, 11 of the 12 strikes took place in South Waziristan. One of the attacks there killed Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Since then, five out of the past six strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. (READ MORE)

More Than An (Army) Wife: Back To Normal... - And by normal I mean completely new and different because, "Hey! We have a son now!" These past few days have been amazing and surprisingly pretty stress free. Stonewall and I are both trying to start a new routine with each other and with Lil' Mootz and so far things are going smoothly. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they continue on this path. As predicted, Lil' Mootz is quickly adjusting to Stonewall and accepting him as a second caregiver. He smiles at Stonewall when Stonewall enters the room, he laughs at Stonewall's funny faces and voices, and he reaches for Stonewall to pick him up. Lil' Mootz has given me quite a few surprises such as falling asleep in Stonewall's arms during a particularly fussy moment. This is practially unheard of as Lil' Mootz usually refuses to settle down for anyone, but me. I was so happy though when it happened and Stonewall was, of course, on Cloud Nine. (READ MORE)

The Quatto Zone: Blame on You - During 15 years in the military, I've been in units that have lost people--in my case, usually to aircraft crashes. Some of those people have been my friends. After the initial shock, there are many different and appropriate responses, one of which is to seek some clear reason or cause for the tragedy. It is a short step from seeking a cause to affixing blame. If only the commander hadn't been pushing people so hard. If only the maintainers would just do their jobs. If only.... Nine times out of 10, the commander or the wrench-turner or whomever we instinctively blame shouldn't be held accountable for what was ultimately an accident. In cases such as this, we need to understand the validity of the emotional need to blame without validating the judgments of the blamers. This was my reaction to Anne Scott Tyson's Washington Post article on the growing concern among military families and members of Congress over the tactical guidance issued by General McChrystal. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: What Really Happened in the Tagab Valley? - As many readers here know, Kapisa province became kind of my thing when I was there earlier this year. It is an amazing place, unbelievably beautiful, and filled with so many different groups. It’s kind of like an Afghanistan in miniature, only much less so than, say, Nuristan. It’s also one of those places where I think the U.S. (and now, France) have failed to follow up on successes or learn from failures. Which is why I was happy to see the Small Wars Journal run a piece by a soldier who had served in Kapisa. But here’s the weird thing: it didn’t make any sense. Point after point sounded like a different province than the one I knew. I asked some of my ex-colleagues from the Human Terrain System what they thought, and they too were puzzled. I even asked a NGO worked I know who is active in the area—he disagreed with most of the assertions in it as well. So, I sent Dave Dilegge a note about it, and he very kindly agreed to run a rebuttal. (READ MORE)

Afghan Journal: Catching the south-bound flight - KABUL AIRPORT... Late this afternoon, I put on my ballistic vest, buckled the chin strap of my helmet and took my seat in the back of an SUV for the drive from NATO headquarters in the center of the city to the airport. After more than three weeks here in Kabul, I am headed south to join the Fort Lewis-based 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which is patrolling the Kandahar region with the aid of eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles. Before departing the downtown base, my Scottish convoy organizer, Cpl. Hart, made sure she gave me a full run down on convoy security. If there was any trouble along the route, we should stay inside the vehicle. While riding down the road, we should be on the look out for suspicious cars that might be up to no good. Cpl. Hart spoke with a wonderful brogue that turned the briefing into a thing of beauty. She is here on a six month deployment, and every sixth day she runs the airport shuttle convoys, which typically involves about four-round trips each day from the city center. (READ MORE)

Air Force Wife: The Brat Life - I'm often surprised at the things my kids pick up from their Dad. After all, he's really gone quite often. And yet, somehow, he is one of the most powerful influences in their every day life. I also mention that little fact to my husband quite often, to reassure him when the TDYs and deployments add up to depressing amounts of time gone. But it's the little things they do that surprise me and often crack me up. Take, for instance, our current voyage to California to combine a visit to family with SpouseBUZZ Live this weekend at Camp Pendleton. The three kids we still have living at home were all responsible for bringing me the clothes that needed to be packed for the trip. Imagine the expression on my face when all three of them (ages 11, 9, and 6) proceeded to then put their clothes - outfit by outfit, including socks and underwear - into gallon size ziploc containers for easy access. They even sat on the bags to get all the air out of them! (READ MORE)

The Torch: COMISAF's Initial Assessment - AKA the McChrystal report. It isn't about numbers as such, it's about how to do the job. Numbers nonetheless are important. Media and politicians do not seem to have really grasped how revolutionary the assessment is. It is a real "state paper" as the British once described such documents. One does hope President Obama reads the whole thing (though the Annexes can get somewhat tedious); I'm pretty sure defence secretary Gates has. The assessment is truly an ISAF, not simply American, paper. One does wonder how many senior politicians and government officials in contributing nations will bother to read it. I am pretty confident that Prime Minister Harper and Minister of National Defence MacKay will not. The ultimate thrust of the assessment is quite simple: In the end, do ISAF members want the Afghan people to win? (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: The Horrible Afghan National Police - We have covered the Afghan National Police in their own separate category, and the links and prose are there to be studied. I have the best readers on the web, and yet another sad example comes to us via reader amarriott, an incident in which more than 70 Afghan National Police voluntarily surrendered their weapons and body armor to 10 Taliban. It happened in the Baghlan Province. See 3:30 into the video. Folks, this isn’t an “I told you so moment.” It’s not a time to preen or posture. This is sad – very sad and depressing. Training the ANSF is seen as the ticket out of Afghanistan for some nations who do not yet understand what General Petraeus said, i.e., that of the long war, the campaign for Afghanistan would be the longest. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:

Qaeda Members Escape Prison in Iraq - Steven Lee Meyers, New York Times. Sixteen prisoners, including leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other extremist groups who had been sentenced to death, escaped from a prison in northern Iraq, in what officials described as a brazen breach of security that prompted a manhunt across a large part of the country on Thursday. Iraqi officials imposed a curfew and, with American search dogs and aircraft, began a large-scale search after the prisoners slipped out of a detention center in the city of Tikrit just before midnight on Wednesday, officials said. (READ MORE)

16 Prisoners Escape in Northern Iraq - Ned Parker and Saif Hameed, Los Angeles Times. In a daring escape, 16 prisoners, five of them awaiting execution, apparently crawled through a window of an Iraqi jail before fanning out in different directions, police and local officials said Thursday. The escape in the northern town of Tikrit, which raised concerns about corruption within security forces, resulted in a curfew in the birthplace of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, as authorities hunted for the men. (READ MORE)

USACE Chief of Engineers visits GRD Headquarters - BAGHDAD — Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was the keynote speaker at an Awards and Hail/Patch Ceremony held at the Gulf Region Division Headquarters at Victory Base Complex Sept. 22. The purpose of the Awards and Hail/Patch Ceremony was to welcome new members to the Gulf Region Division as well as recognize departing team members for their contributions to the Iraq reconstruction effort. (READ MORE)

Joint missions disrupt insurgent activities - BAGHDAD — As part of the ongoing practice of U.S.-Iraqi joint security missions here, Soldiers with the 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team joined 17th Iraqi Army Division Soldiers while searching farmlands on the southwestern outskirts of the Iraqi capital with metal detectors, grit and determination, Sept. 21. "We may not work directly with Iraqi Security Forces in the city, but we're still in the rural areas trying to keep the weapons out of Baghdad," explained 1st Lt. Will Hargis, a platoon leader with 150th ARS, 30th HBCT. (READ MORE)

Experience lands Soldiers new positions - FOB DELTA — U.S. Soldiers here are working to improve the lives of Iraqis by facilitating improvements in the areas of economics and agriculture in Wasit province. Soldiers with experience and education in these areas have stepped out of their usual duties to help the Iraqi people help themselves. (READ MORE)

Army Engineers bring parks to Kirkuk - KIRKUK — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with city officials here on the construction of six new parks. The parks are part of the Kirkuk Reconciliation Initiative and are situated and designed to provide a safe, clean recreational area for this city’s 40,000 residents. The Gulf Region District's Kirkuk Resident Office is managing the $850,000 project. Army Lt. Col. Edgar Montalvo, an engineer at the office, said the key to the project has been the cooperation with the local government. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
Karzai Backers Want Troops - Senior Afghan officials, alarmed by the Obama administration's reappraisal of its Afghanistan strategy, said an increased US military commitment is needed to roll back an emboldened insurgency. They also cautioned about what they said would be dire consequences of any US attempts to edge out President Hamid Karzai. Results from a presidential election last month gave Mr. Karzai a majority, but allegations of widespread ballot-stuffing have stalled the confirmation of his victory and undermined his credibility in the eyes of many Afghans. (READ MORE)

The Taleban: Masters of Chaos Thrive on Bombs and Charity - Next to the mud huts of a refugee camp on the edge of Kabul the bright clothes of displaced Helmand tribesmen look incongruous. The men, eyes rimmed with kohl and hands stained henna-red, wear their best robes for the festival of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan. Little girls in spangled dresses sparkle like mermaids. But the hovels they live in are barely fit for the sheep that they once herded in their troubled homeland far to the south, now a battleground between British troops and Taleban guerrillas. (READ MORE)

Can US Win War the Canadian Way? - Canada is backing calls for an overhaul of the failing Afghan mission, but likely won't be around to ensure the success of a new strategy that appears to be based on its own counter-insurgency efforts. Top Canadian military and government officials were briefed on a grim US report, leaked yesterday (Monday), that said insurgents in Afghanistan have the momentum and benefit from official Afghan corruption and ineptitude as well as the coalition's record of civilian casualties. (READ MORE)

Anti-US Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say - A new wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan has slowed the arrival of hundreds of US civilian and military officials charged with implementing assistance programs, undermined cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and put American lives at risk, according to officials from both countries. In recent weeks, Pakistan has rejected as "incomplete" at least 180 US government visa requests. (READ MORE)

Pakistanis Look on US Embassy Plans with Suspicion - Ask Pakistanis why the United States needs to expand its embassy here in the capital and you'll hear a host of alarming answers. It's a cover for the construction of a Guantanamo-like prison. It's part of a US attempt to colonize Pakistan. It's the first step in a covert plan to take over Pakistan's nuclear weapons. What you don't hear is the reason cited by American officials: the need for a bigger embassy operation to better manage the increased financial aid that Washington will be channeling to Pakistan in coming months. (READ MORE)

Senate Approves Increase in Aid for Pakistan - The United States Senate on Thursday approved legislation to triple nonmilitary aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for the next five years as part of a plan to fight extremism. President Obama had urged passage of the measure to promote stability in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country that is essential to the efforts by NATO to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan, despite concerns that the Pakistan military may support some extremist Islamic groups. (READ MORE)

Militant Ambush in NW Pakistan Kills 9, Including Tribal Elders - Pakistani police say militants ambushed a pro-government citizen's group in Bannu district Thursday, killing nine people, including tribal elders. Authorities say gunmen ambushed the group as it was traveling by car to meet security officials in a nearby village. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials say the tribal elders killed had opposed the Taliban in the region. Several of their associates also were injured. (READ MORE)

Taliban Ambush in Pakistan Kills 9 Militiamen - At least nine people, including an influential tribal elder, were killed Thursday morning by Taliban militants while traveling in northwestern Pakistan, government officials said. Six others were wounded in the attacks, some of them critically, the officials said. The victims - Malik Sultan, the tribal elder, and other men from the Jani Khel tribe - were part of one of the local self-defense militias that have sprung up over the past few months in restive areas of northwest Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Officials: Suspected US Drone Kills 12 in Pakistan - A suspected US missile strike killed 12 people in northwestern Pakistan, intelligence officials said - the latest in a spate of attacks close to the Afghan border that have squeezed al-Qaida and the Taliban. Such strikes have killed high-ranking militant commanders, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, but have also killed civilians and drawn protest from Pakistani leaders. Two intelligence officials said the latest strike took place late Thursday near the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan tribal region. (READ MORE)

The Afghan Imperative - Always there is the illusion of the easy path. Always there is the illusion, which gripped Donald Rumsfeld and now grips many Democrats, that you can fight a counterinsurgency war with a light footprint, with cruise missiles, with special forces operations and unmanned drones. Always there is the illusion, deep in the bones of the Pentagon’s Old Guard, that you can fight a force like the Taliban by keeping your troops mostly in bases, and then sending them out in well-armored convoys to kill bad guys. (READ MORE)

Commit to Afghanistan or Get Out - In his inaugural address in 1961, John F. Kennedy said the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend” in defense of liberty. Less than three months later, he decided not to supply air support to US-trained Cuban exiles who tried to overthrow Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It wasn’t a shining moment for American foreign policy. But JFK was right to turn off the spigot of American assistance if he wasn’t committed to the fight. (READ MORE)

Law Officials Meet in Bamyan Province to Discuss 'Rule of Law' - BAYMAN CITY, Afghanistan - International law officials met Sept. 11 to discuss how to progress with rule of law and visited construction sites of new judicial building in Bamian City, Bamyan, Afghanistan. Task Force Cyclone Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Zieba, 38th Infantry Division, and Matthew Pattenden, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan justice advisor of Bamyan province, talked about the next steps they should take to solidify the structure of law in that province. (READ MORE)

Operational Update, Sept. 25: Militants Detained - KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and international security force detained six suspected militants today, after searching a complex of small structures in Khowst province known to be used by a Haqqani Network facilitator and a small group of Haqqani militants. The suspected militants are responsible for anti-government media production, logistical operations and financial transactions in support of militant attacks within the region. (READ MORE)

Obama revisits Afghan strategy - WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joe Biden to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out al-Qaida there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday. The options under review are part of what administration officials described as a wholesale reconsideration of a strategy the president announced with fanfare just six months ago. (READ MORE)

Militant says Pakistani Taliban stronger than ever - Pakistan's Taliban movement is stronger than ever despite the killing of its top commander and will stage more suicide attacks if the army launches another offensive against it, a top militant told The Associated Press. Qari Hussain Mehsud, known for training Taliban suicide bombers, met with an AP reporter Thursday at a secret location in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, just hours before a U.S. missile strike hit the tribal region and killed 12 people. (READ MORE)

Krishna 'goofs up' on Taliban, govt denies it - NEW DELHI: Is India making significant changes in its Afghan policy? Confusion prevailed here after foreign minister S M Krishna was quoted as saying by a US daily that India favoured a "political settlement" with the Taliban. Although Krishna was nowhere quoted as making that direct connection, the newspaper clearly inferred that he meant a settlement with the Taliban. (READ MORE)

Karzai rival OK with vote delay - KABUL — The second-place finisher in Afghanistan's disputed presidential election said Thursday that he is willing to wait until the spring for a runoff vote, which could help ease political tensions here as officials investigate allegations of widespread fraud. Abdullah Abdullah said a second round of voting is necessary to preserve stability at a time when the Taliban militant group is making gains. (READ MORE)

Feds: Afghan Immigrant Plotted to Detonate Bombs - An indictment charges an Afghan immigrant plotted for more than a year to detonate homemade bombs in the United States and had recently bought bomb-making supplies from beauty supply stores. (READ MORE)

General quits 'over Afghanistan' - An army general who is reported to have criticised aspects of the war in Afghanistan has resigned. Reports said Maj Gen Andrew Mackay, General Officer Commanding Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England, was unhappy about strategy. Prince Harry spent 10 weeks from December 2007 in Afghanistan under the command of Maj Gen Mackay. (READ MORE)

Anger at Afghan war sparked Britain expenses scandal - LONDON: A "mole" who leaked data on lawmakers' expenses, sparking Britain's biggest political scandal in years, was angry about a lack of resources for troops in Afghanistan, a newspaper said Friday. The unnamed worker was incensed by a perceived failure to properly equip British soldiers in Afghanistan, at a time when politicians filed lavish expenses claims, according to the newspaper that published the leaks. (READ MORE)

10 militants killed in US drone strike in North Waziristan - Islamabad, Sep.25 : At least ten militants were killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan, where the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters are believed to be hiding and carrying out attacks against the NATO forces which are engaged in an intense battle with the extremists on the other side of the border in Afghanistan. The missile hit, which was the fourth this month, targeted militant hideouts in the Dandy Darpa Khel area of the province. (READ MORE)

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