October 5, 2009

From the Front: 10/05/2009

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

PRT-Kunar: How are things in Bada Tisha - Photo Essay (VIEW PHOTOS)

3rd Time, New Country: Another week of mentoring… - It’s been about 10 days since I last posted to this blog. No big steps taken since the last entry but I can recap. Mostly it’s been a normal week of mentoring with a few trips. Last Saturday, I went with Holly & Kelly to the pre-school/daycare at the Poly-clinic which is on the NMH campus. The staff at NMH can bring their children to the daycare while they are at work. There can be anywhere from 50 to 80 children per day. Someone had sent Holly a box of stuffed animals and school supplies, so I helped her carry it and distribute it. It is like Christmas, giving the kids the stuffed animals and school supplies. I stuffed a few of the smaller animals into my magazine pouches on my IBA and gave them out to the children as we saw them. (READ MORE)

A World Away: Injured soldier from Sgt. Adams' unit to be featured in Time - Sgt. Ryan Adams of Rhinelander was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan on Friday. The Wisconsin National Guard soldier was part of the 951st, an engineering unit with a mission of clearing roads of improvised explosive devices. Several other members of the unit were injured. About a month ago, on Sept. 8, one of Adams' fellow soldiers in the 951st was injured by the explosion of an IED. Sgt. Chet Millard survived the blast. A Time magazine journalist happened to be nearby. Editions of the magazine that hit newstands in about a week will include coverage of the hazardous mission of the Wisconsin-based 951st, according to a television news report. A local soldier's tragic accident in Afghanistan provides a painfully heroic image for the cover of a national news magazine. (READ MORE)

Old Blue: Missing: The Point - We here on the ground are well aware of the debate going on back in the United States over the way forward in Afghanistan. It is pointed out frequently that the international effort in Afghanistan is in trouble, and that changes need to be made in the approach. Two main theories have emerged for consideration by the President. One theory brought forward, not for the first time, is that we should shrink our footprint in Afghanistan and concentrate on counter terrorism efforts in Pakistan; literally just go after al Qaida. The other is the recommendation of General McChrystal which involves a comprehensive and integrated approach to counterinsurgency to deny al Qaida a foothold (again) in a failing state. It does not appear to ring true to some, rooted in an old world view, that failed or failing states can now be a threat to the national security of developed and successful states. Missed point number one. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: ARMY MAJOR GENERAL SHARES PERSONAL STORY TO BATTLE SUICIDE STIGMA - “In suffering, we either find ourselves or we destroy ourselves.” Quoting from Oswald Chambers’ devotional, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, told the story of his family’s personal experience with suicide and tragedy, and how they now share their past to help others. Graham and wife, Carol, agreed to share their personal story as a closing to Army Suicide Prevention Month, having lost their son Kevin to suicide in June 2003. Seven months later, the Grahams lost their other son Jeffrey, who was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khaldiyah, Iraq. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Returning to camp - Alas! Our academic training on crew serve weapons had come to an end and we were scheduled to return to camp. The original plan was to meet up with another convoy at 7 am. This meant we had to start preparing vehicles at 6:30 am and further it meant waking at 5:30 am to shave, dress, eat, etc. Like clockwork we were on time and then the Captain received a phone call. The convoy would be delayed an hour. Also before returning to camp, we would escort my fellow teammates back to their camp. While driving to my former camp, my armored HMMVW experienced a mechanical problem. It wouldn’t shift out of second gear into drive. [Later on we would discover the mechanics added too much transmission fluid]. The convoy speed would be lowered to accommodate my vehicle so we wouldn’t blow an engine. (READ MORE)

Army Household6: We lost 8 of our own - I wanted to post really quick about this weekend’s deadly attack in Afghanistan as I’ve received lots of phone calls, emails and IM’s asking about SGT Daddy. As you probably have heard, this weekend 8 of our 4th ID , 4th Brigade soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice in an attack from the Taliban(along with other groups) in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan Border. I do not believe that SGT Daddy was one of the 8 (i would have heard by now), I haven’t heard from him yet either since the attack. In these types of situations, there is usually a communication blackout so that the families of our fallen warriors can be notified. I’m sure that is the reason for not hearing from him. As the details get released about the 8 soldiers, I will of course update as much as I can. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: Battle In Nuristan - Eight American soldiers and at least seven Afghans are dead after a pretty massive attack in Nuristan province. Reports indicate that numerous Afghan policeman were kidnapped as well, including the local police chief. I shudder to think of what will happen to those cops in Taliban custody. I've said it before: can there possibly be a more dangerous job in the world right now than to be a police officer in Afghanistan? After skimming the news pages, one of the first places to turn after such an attack is Registan. Joshua Foust has a typically informed and enlightening post up on the details of the region where the attack took place and how precarious U.S. installations there are. A thought that had occurred to me, and which Foust considers in detail, is that the Taliban are probably orchestrating these attacks as part of a propaganda and psy-ops effort. (READ MORE)

Castra Praetoria: Health assessments make us all crazy… - Currently we are in the midst of the glorious Post Deployment Health Assessment. This is to asses our state of health after deployment in support of military operations and to assist military healthcare providers in identifying and providing present and future medical care we may need. The information we provide may result in a referral for additional healthcare that may include medical, dental or behavioral healthcare or diverse community support services (this is pretty much all plagiarized right off the questionnaire). Some of the questions simply ask how you would rate your health, if you had been injured or sick during the deployment, and whether or not you have any emotional problems, etc. As America’s 1stSgt filled out his assessment the building veritably shook with the deafening running commentary that accompanies nearly everything that goes on in the company office. (READ MORE)

Doc H: Downtown Public Hospital - Yesterday was another 'get out and see the city' day. Actually we have been trying to coordinate a visit with the Regional Mazar e Shariff hospital since our arrival here. Finally we were able to track down a point of contact at the hospital and arrange for a patrol to take us there. It was quite a production as we had folks from our Police medical mentoring team, the Afghan Army regional hospital mentoring team, The CO of the Afghan army hospital and several others with us. After an uneventful drive down to the area we parked the MRAPs and our 'away team' went into the complex. We were met by the Regional Medical Director. For those who may not know, Afghanistan has three medical systems. The Afghan Army under the Ministry of Defense, The Afghan Police under the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Public Health(MoPH). (READ MORE)

Embedded in Afghanistan: Wanat - Came across this article about the battle of Wanat on the internet today. Wanat was a part of our area of operations while we were out there, but we never went there - no one goes up that far any more after what happened, although that it's true that we do have "a large base four miles away" like what you read in articles. I'll just say that four miles is a very long way when there's no paved road leading up there. The previous ETT had some members involved in the battle of Wanat, which resulted in nine US solders being killed. You don't read it in the main article but all the guys that were killed were manning an observation post outside the main compound. Lots of conflicting information out there on exactly what happened, but I've heard it said that the insurgents never breached the wire of the main compound, contrary to what you read in the article. (READ MORE)

Ghosts of Alexander: Fieldwork Fun - Well, it seems that I found a computer that works with wordpress (but no USB port? Huh.) My fieldwork – about an hour north of Afghanistan – is going just fine. Some issues have come up. Primary is the fact that I speak the literary language, rather than the street language of this corner of the country. It is a daily task to adjust my language and write down what people actually say. All language problems aside, when I actually start speaking to people they get an ear-to-ear grin. People are usually quite amazed that a translatorless foreigner can string together even the most simple sentence in the present-perfect tense. Even for a cabbie (usually very savvy) who, after I negotiated a fare and said what I was doing in his country, said “So you are Iranian?” Not quite. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Army chief warns of 'terrifying prospect' of failure in Afghanistan - The head of the British Army, General Sir David Richards, has issued a wake-up call to the public by warning of the "terrifying prospect" of a defeat in Afghanistan. In an unprecedented intervention, the chief of the general staff described the conflict as "this generation's war" and added that failure by Nato would have an "intoxicating effect" on militant Islam. In his first interview as the head of the Army, Sir David told The Sunday Telegraph that if Britain and Nato failed in Afghanistan the risks to the western world would be "enormous" and "unimaginable". He said: "If al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they have defeated us – what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state and that is a terrifying prospect..." (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: RIFLES launch assault on Taliban drugs factory - Soldiers who are about to return home from Afghanistan have dealt the Taliban one last blow, by destroying millions of pounds worth of drugs in an early morning assault. Troops from 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES) were dropped into the remote Ghorak district, to the east of Sangin, in the early hours of 16 September 2009. Three Chinooks relayed the troops to the edge of Wushtan village, from where around 100 soldiers ventured further into the compounds, ever wary of the improvised explosive device threat. Throughout the village, soldiers stumbled upon drug factory after drug factory, uncovering a series of stashes of both opium and poppy seeds. As they carefully made their way through the compounds, they spotted some insurgents preparing to launch an attack on them. They called in air support and the insurgents were destroyed by an Apache attack helicopter. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Flight Cancelled - I was supposed to be in a Blackhawk now flying to a couple of the nearby small bases, but the flight got cancelled. Somebody with a real mission got the seat, so I am labelling photos and getting ready to transfer them to an Army computer. This morning was the Ruck March half marathon. Since I was supposed to fly, I did not pick up my number. I suppose I could have walked, but I took some pictures of participants, then took a nap until the walkers were coming back in. On Monday, I sent the first issue of a new newsletter I am doing for the battalion (700 soldiers). It is a six-page newsletter that goes the soldiers and families in the states by PDF. The layout is in PowerPoint! I would not have thought PowerPoint is the way to do a newsletter, but it is really easy to use--easier than Word. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Who Fights This War? - Clerks Rescue Soldiers in Black Hawk Crash - These soldiers are clerks in Echo Company. Both of them are good soldiers who took a lot of crap from the mechanics and fuelers in the unit because most of their work is done indoors. Things are different now. Pfc. Dennis Lucas of Gratz, Pa., and Spc. Nathan Montgomery of Chester, W.Va., both clerks in the motor pool of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion,104th Aviation Regiment, 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, helped perform first aid on victims after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed at Joint Base Balad Sept. 19. Spc. Michael S. Cote, 20, of Denham Springs, La., was killed in the crash and 12 others were injured. On that night, Montgomery and Lucas were in the containerized housing unit they shared preparing to return to Contingency Operating Base Adder the following morning. (READ MORE)

Hope Radio: Pimps and Pics - Blog Pimps first. I ran across Dacker in the comment sections of another milblog I already read. Ordinarily, my own milblog links are up in a right column of Hope Radio, but when I experimented with writing my milblog/troop support life as a separate blog called Letters to Leathernecks, I moved all my warrior peeps over to that site. Did it work out? Eh. Not so much. I'm still working on putting them all back here. What I learned was: Troop support, now three years, a lot of missing friends and a few very good ones made later, has created well... let's just call it a "beyond ridiculous appreciation" for the warrior and the warrior culture. To try and blog keeping my troop support life separate from the rest of my life is pretty absurd. It's what I do and a big part of who I am. Lame? Dunno. Frankly, I don't give a flying fuck. Yup, there's that word, but the alliteration was irresistible. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: The Voice of the Non-Voter - There are still some who refuse to take part in the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 15. A man told me today that he would never vote. I asked him why, and this was the explanation: "I will not vote," he said. "I would never vote even if my father was nominated!" He lit another cigarette and said that he refuses to take part because he's an Iraqi. The elections are a waste, he said. It's all a conspiracy, all planned out. The results will be the same no matter what we do and no matter how we vote. I asked him what the outcome would be, and he said that it was obvious. He said everyone knows that Nouri Al Maliki is going to win. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Packages Sent To The FST - I recently sent a "girl" box to the team at the FST. It had the usual tampons and pads, as well as oooohhhhh.... nicely scented girly stuff like shower gels, face creams, eye pillows. These are always my favorite packages to buy for as I usually end up at the racks at TJ Maxx going through European skin care stuff that's for the most part very good. A friend went to IKEA to buy some finger puppets for the Special Forces and Navy Seals to give to the kids as they do their rounds. When she said a few, I didn't know she was buying a boxful!! In addition, The Hubs's aunt and her friends seem to have scoured every single thrift shop in Northern Michigan (Yah sure, hey...) and sent over boxes of things for the kids. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Two Firefights: One Video - 05 October 2009 - In July, British soldiers and I boarded a CH-47 helicopter at Camp Bastion for the flight to FOB Jackson at Sangin where fighting is brutal. The helicopter was so stuffed with men, gear and supplies that the cargo was not even strapped down. We steadied the long stack with our hands and prayed that the pilots not begin flying violent evasive maneuvers. The tail gunner partially lifted the ramp to prevent bundles from tumbling into the skies, and that was it for securing the bundles. Just a week before, a giant MI-26 helicopter was shot down on final approach to this same landing zone. All aboard died in flames, as did two children on the ground. This is, interestingly, the same landing zone where I would make the photos for “The Kopp-Etchells Effect” dispatch, which was published in many languages around the world. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: 10 Knocks - This morning 10 families received knocks on their doors and two men in Class A uniforms faced them. The phrase every military family dreads was spoken " We regret to inform you..." 10 hearts have stopped beating, 10 lives have ended far too soon. 10 families worlds have come to a halt, their hearts have shattered and the path to the "new normal" has begun. I want to scream at the President that his lack of action and rules of engagement are killing our men. I want to shake the politician's who seem to think this is some kind of game and our military are the pawns. I want to shout "THESE ARE PEOPLE YOU ARE GETTING KILLED SO YOU CAN GET BETTER POLL NUMBERS" The United States Military is the best there is.. they always get the job done if they are allowed to do the job. They do their job with honor also. They don't need senseless rules of engagement to hamper their efforts. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Tahir Yuldashev confirmed killed in US strike in South Waziristan - A Taliban commander confirmed the death of the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Tahir Yuldashev was killed during a US airstrike in late August, an unnamed senior Taliban commander told The News. "[It is] true he is dead," the Taliban leader told the Pakistani newspaper. "Unfortunately he was staying at the same house which was struck by the drone in South Waziristan in August." While the commander did not identify the location of the strike, there was only one attack in late August, the Aug. 27 strike in the village of Kanigoram in Taliban-controlled South Waziristan. Eight Taliban fighters and Uzbek fighters were reported killed in the attack. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US, Afghan troops beat back bold enemy assault in eastern Afghanistan - US and Afghan forces beat back a brazen assault on two joint outposts in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan. The attack was led by Taliban commander Dost Mohammed and was aided by al Qaeda's Shadow Army. Eight US troops, seven Afghan troops, and an unspecified number of enemy fighters were killed during the fighting, which ended after US air and artillery pounded the fighters in a counterattack. The US military said the fighters launched the attack on the two remote outposts in the district of Kamdish, just 10 miles from the Pakistani border, after organizing at a nearby mosque and a village. More than 300 fighters were involved in the assault, according to Quqnoos, an Afghan newspaper. The fighting was said to be intense and lasted for several hours. (READ MORE)

Manatee's Military Moms: A tutorial on creating the perfect care package - There’s an art to creating the perfect care package. It must be filled with the perfect proportion of items that are practical and useful, and items that are practically useless. A successful package might contain bags of whey protein, Cliff bars, a package of fake mustaches of all colors, and a book titled “What’s your poo telling you?” by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, M.D. Yes -- I did purchase that gem at Spencer’s. See, the perfect care package is a specially crafted work of art. Nobody wants to open a package to find a pack of jockey shorts and socks, even if they need them. You have to send a little bit of "needs" and a little bit of "what the heck?" The most important thing about a care package is how many smiles come out of it. (READ MORE)

Lt Col P: Condition White - Gunsite grads and like-minded folk know what Condition White is-- " Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me." Sometimes I wonder about the US military... This came over the wire in a blast email the other day: "ALCON,There were 5 scarves in a white plastic bag left in the ______. If anyone found these scarves, please contact SSgt M______. The scarves are to be used in the Hispanic Heritage performance today." I'm always glad to hear that we're all dialed in and ready for action, and that we have our priorities straight. (READ MORE)

The Quatto Zone: Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast - Here in Kabul, we are unburdened by the crushing weight of reality. Like the kites that ring our merry city, we are set free to drift on the winds of idle speculation or dark rumor. With our imaginative faculties thus exercised, we are able, like the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland, to imagine six impossible things before breakfast. Here are mine: 1. That there are honest and decent people in this world, and some of them wear military uniforms. 2. That sometimes, rather than calculating the political utility of their every word, people mean what they say when they say it. For example: "I think any decision to go forward [in Afghanistan] will not just be based on resources, it will be based on what are our goals. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: HIGs are Pigs - Eight soldiers and an unknown number of Afghan soldiers and police are dead after an hours-long complex attack on a pair of American outposts in Kamdesh. According to the AP: “Fighting began around dawn Saturday and lasted several hours, said Jamaludin Badar, governor of Nuristan province. Badar said the two outposts were on a hill — one near the top and one at the foot of the slope — flanked by the village on one side and the mosque on the other. Nearly 300 militant fighters flooded the lower, Afghan outpost then swept around it to reach the American station on higher ground from both directions, said Mohammad Qasim Jangulbagh, the provincial police chief. The U.S. military statement said the Americans and Afghans repelled the attack by tribal fighters and ‘inflicted heavy enemy casualties.’” For some reason, it takes Lori Hinnant five paragraphs to mention the attack happened in Kamdesh. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: The Pentagon’s Coming Epic Fail - Let’s think about the Pentagon-funded propaganda channel Al-Hurra. Originally conceived in 2004, it was meant to be an Arabic-language counterpart to the supposed anti-Americanism of other Middle Eastern-focused news channels, notably al-Jazeera. Ever since, especially given its dismal ratings, the channel has faced criticisms from all angles, whether Congress insisting it was still insufficiently pro-America and pro-Israel, the GAO noting unacceptable management and editorial practices, or, most recently, an investigation by the State Department’s Investigator General. In short, the channel has been a failure at almost every level. It was a major reason why skepticism ran high about the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command’s Trans Regional Web Initiative, an attempt to create and run regionally-oriented news sites in Russian, Chinese, and the major Caucasian languages (Georgian, Armenian, Azeri). (READ MORE)

Sorority Soldier: Loving Football Season - Football Season is back in full swing and last night was LSU’s first “real game.” We played the Georgia Bulldogs, and since the commander is a UGA fan there’s no way we could’ve watched the game without a wager. The losing team had to take a picture wearing gear from the opponent and use it as their default facebook picture for the duration of 1 day for every 2 points lost by (ex: if the score is 32-20, the loser has to post the picture for 6 days). The game didn’t really pick up until the 4th quarter (about 1:20 AM Basra time). When Georgia pulled ahead, the commander got out his camera, making sure the batteries were charged and ready to take a picture of Monty and I in our Georgia shirts. He couldn’t have seen the turn of fate that was ahead, when LSU seized the lead with less than a minute to go. I believe my victory dance including squealing and yelling “in your face” to my commanding officer. (READ MORE)

Air Force Wife: It Rubs Off - One of the best things about getting together with my military spouse friends is the common language we speak. I mean, we all speak militarese with various levels of proficiency, but there is a common sense of humor as well. Andi talked about the Gallows Humor that is endemic in our lifestyle, but there's more. I think it is probably a common sense of smart-assery. And where would we be without our ability to make fun of ourselves and our situations? I mean, it's laugh or cry quite often, right? And we have quite an example to follow in our service-member spouses! One of my favorite smart-assery situations is when we make fun of the OpSec that is so much a part of deployments. (READ MORE)

The Stone Report: When things don’t go as planned - Today was easily one of my worst days with the 17th Fires Brigade. I had to write a counseling statement with the magic bullet. The magic bullet can easily be explained best as “if you do this again, I’m giving you some non-judicial punishment.” That means possibly taking rank, money and time. These statements are never fun to write. It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve had to write a counseling statement like this. I went into this counseling expecting a fight, yelling and some position of parade rest. As we went through the session, I didn’t see my soldier get mad. In fact, he was absorbing everything I said. After I explained how our plan of action would be a good training opportunity, he thought about adding his own thoughts to the form. Instead, he agreed and signed his name. (READ MORE)

There's sand in my...: Don't fix what's not broken.......right! - I really wish more people lived by that motto! With the new US team coming on board, changes came also. We hoped it wouldn’t happen but it’s typical for a new team to try to re-invent the wheel. Everything in the OR has been running smooth as silk since May, through two of the busiest months ever recorded in Kandahar, and yet the changes are happening. Needless to say the OR and a majority of the hospital is pretty ticked off right now. Some of the changes will be beneficial, but all of the changes were instituted without input from all of the key players, OR nurses, Anesthesia, etc. One person had the ideas and the freedom to put them in place and everyone else has to play along. It’s too bad. All I keep saying to myself is 34 days left, 34 days left, 34 days left! Haha. (READ MORE)

The Torch: Anatomy of an American fight/ANSF problems - 1) Report Cites Firefight as Lesson on Afghan War: That firefight, a debacle that cost nine American lives in July 2008, has become the new template for how not to win in Afghanistan. The calamity and its roots have been described in bitter, painstaking detail in an unreleased Army history, a devastating narrative that has begun to circulate in an initial form even as the military opened a formal review this week of decisions made up and down the chain of command. The 248-page draft history, obtained by The New York Times, helps explain why the new commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is pressing so hard for a full-fledged commitment to a style of counterinsurgency that rests on winning over the people of Afghanistan even more than killing militants. The military has already incorporated lessons from the battle in the new doctrine for war in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

The Torch: CF enjoying doing the job in Afstan - Two stories, with an Air Force focus (one almost never sees such articles about CF members in the Globe and Mail): 1) Afghan war zone presents career 'highlight' for Canadian soldiers going home Working in a war zone is seldom considered a career highlight or opportunity - except perhaps for diplomats and humanitarian workers, and members of the Canadian Forces. For many soldiers [well, not exactly in this piece] wrapping up their tour in Afghanistan and going back to their regular jobs will be a welcome relief but also a bit of a letdown. But if you are a career soldier, going to war is something that you want to do at least once. "Definitely the highlight of my career - there's no doubt about that, not at all," Maj. Darryl Adams, a Chinook pilot originally from Antigonish, N.S., said with a laugh. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: Don't tell me we've stooped to the "Domino Theory" - I try to avoid making Vietnam comparisons in the Afghan debate, but sometimes it's unavoidable. Take today's post by Londonstani in Andrew Exum's "Abu Muqawama", in which Londonstani and British General Sir David Richards invoke the old "Domino theory" argument from the Vietnam era. Says Gen. Richards in the Telegraph: “He said: ;If al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they have defeated us – what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state and that is a terrifying prospect. Even if only a few of those (nuclear) weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them. The recent airlines plot has reminded us that there are people out there who would happily blow all of us up.’” Cute, but hardly accurate. (READ MORE)

Nicholas Thompson: Yes, It’s Time to Contain Al Qaeda - There’s been a recent upturn in people arguing that we need to borrow a page from the Cold War and “contain” Al Qaeda. Instead of looking to eliminate the jihadists, the thinking goes, we should assume that we’re in the fight for the long run — and that our main goal needs to be just keeping them in their place. I agree. But there’s an important element missing from some of the current descriptions of this new post-Cold War containment. The strategy needs to extend well beyond military containment, and instead be combined soft power, as well. That is basically the version laid out in professor and military thinker Andrew Bacevich’s perceptive — but incomplete — recent column in the Washington Post. Containment, as originally articulated by George Kennan in the late 1940s, is much more than a non-aggressive military strategy aimed at keeping enemies in their place, instead of overthrowing them. (READ MORE)



News from the Front:
Iraq:
Maliki -- the view from the street - Prime Minister Nouri Maliki announced a new coalition for national elections on Thursday that aims to break with the basic template of sectarian politics that has driven Iraqi politics since 2003. Questions linger about the extent of Maliki’s evolution and his ability to sustain a long-term coalition of such disparate interests, including secular nationalists, Sunni tribal sheiks and Shiite religious nationalists. (READ MORE)

The Hospital That Treated Friend and Foe - On Thursday, Ibn Sina, the largest U.S. military hospital in Iraq, was formally transferred from the United States to the Iraqi government, another symbol of the dwindling American presence here. From the outside, Ibn Sina Hospital is nothing special. Tan-colored and three stories tall, it is nearly identical to hundreds of other buildings in Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Exchange We Can Believe In - Speaking at Cairo University in June, President Obama pledged to "expand exchange programs and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America." Nowhere is that change more urgently needed than in providing educational opportunities in Iraq. Studying abroad has been a formative experience for the Iraqi leaders who have done it, and the experience can yield long-term benefits for economic development, public diplomacy, and the struggle for hearts and minds. (READ MORE)

Military mind behind terrorist activities captured, Mosul security increased - Constables with the 5th Emergency Response Battalion arrested a suspected leader of an al Qaeda terrorist cell in the Ninawa province Oct. 3. The suspected cell leader, Hajji Ali al-Tikriti, was arrested for allegedly coordinating multiple attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi citizens, smuggling weapons throughout northern Iraq and for extorting citizens of Ninawa. (READ MORE)

Medics Train Iraqi Military, Police in Combat Lifesaving - National Guard medics wrapped training up covering combat lifesaving medical skills Oct. 1 for 18 Iraqi soldiers and police. The students are assigned to Iraqi Army units and to personal security details in the directorates for Interior Ministry’s Internal Affairs and Inspector General. The U.S. Soldiers were from the 129th Area Support Medical Company, an Alabama National Guard unit in Centreville, Alabama. (READ MORE)

MoI advisors meet KMoI lead planners in Irbil Province - Advisors from the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission- Ministry of Interior, traveled here in September to meet with financial and planning leaders at the Kurdish Ministry of Interior Headquarters. Their purpose was to look closely at the KMoI planning processes and explore the possible inter-ministerial exchanges between MoI and KMoI. "Our field visit to the Kurdistan Region was another essential step in finding ways to bring the two ministries together on important process and policy initiatives” said ITAM-MoI Planning advisor J.T. Sebastyn.“ (READ MORE)

ISF, USF detain eight warranted insurgents - Iraqi Police and U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers arrested eight individuals, Sept. 30, wanted on warrants for improvised explosive device attacks against security forces in Kirkuk. Police officers from the town of Daquq conducted the detention operation, supported by Iraqi soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 15th Brigade, 12th Iraqi Army Division and U.S. Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Bde. Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. (READ MORE)

Advisory Council Discusses Iraq’s Info Tech Needs - On Sept. 29, the third annual Iraqi Industry Advisory Council convened at the Al Rasheed Hotel to discuss information technology in Iraq. There were more than 160 attendees representing the Government of Iraq, Al Mazaya, Technology Partners, ZAIN, Kufan Group, RiTs (Ramin Information Technology Solutions) and U.S. forces. The keynote speaker, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick, commanding general Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, highlighted the importance of telecommunication to all of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Air Force Breaks Ground for New Air Operations Center - More than 75 American and Iraqi Airmen attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Iraqi air force’s new Air Operations Center here Sept. 30. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Kane, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed, Iraqi Air Force commander, presided. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police capture Kirkuk assassination ring member, Taza mosque bombing conspirator - Iraqi Security Forces captured six suspects involved in terrorist acts conducted in and around Kirkuk, Mosul and Baghdad in four different security operations today. Near Tuz Khurmatu, located approximately 69 km southwest of Kirkuk, the 3rd Emergency Services Unit, with U.S. forces advisors, arrested a suspect involved in an assassination and kidnapping ring that operates in and around the city of Kirkuk. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Security Forces capture Baghdad, Kirkuk VBIED cell members - Iraqi Security Forces captured two warranted al-Qaeda in Iraq members responsible for multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks throughout Baghdad and Kirkuk today. In Mansour, southwest Baghdad, the ISF, with U.S. forces advisors, arrested an AQI VBIED facilitator named Muhammad Walid Khalid al-Juwali, also known as Abu Anas. (READ MORE)

Businessman uses micro-grant intelligently - A businessman from Risalah, in southern Baghdad's Rashid District, recently renovated his grocery store after receiving a U.S. military-sponsored micro-grant. Mohammed Majed Hassin Sameen purchased shelves, an awning, a freezer, refrigerator, painting supplies and food to stock his shelves from a June micro-grant provided by Soldiers from Company D, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. (READ MORE)

Iraqi company to repair shipping containers - The 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the Miran Village Company, an Iraqi-owned and operated business, signed a multi-million dollar contract during a ceremony at the Container Repair Yard here, Sept. 29. The $31 million contract calls for the repair of roughly 30,000 shipping containers in the course of the next fiscal year, to facilitate the responsible drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq. (READ MORE)

New school opens for girls in Erbil - Dozens of girls from the Bnaslawa area of Erbil gathered to celebrate the opening of a new all-female school in their neighborhood, Sept. 29. The school is made up of 24 classrooms, and has modern amenities including a science lab, computer lab, auditorium, basketball court and a soccer field. (READ MORE)

Odierno calls for short extensions to boost Iraqi national election security - The deployments of about 1,600 U.S. troops in Iraq could be extended in the weeks following the national election slated to occur in January, the senior leader in Iraq said yesterday. Some 1,000 Soldiers from the Army’s 1st Cavalry Headquarters in Baghdad could be asked to stay up to 23 days longer and some 600 Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force in Anbar province could be extended up to 79 days, according to defense officials. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
After the Attack - The weekend attack on two bases in the Kamdesh district of Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province will undoubtedly lead to much deliberation and soul-searching to determine what exactly precipitated this event, and what lessons are to be learned. Although the complete story of the battle has yet to be revealed, the weekend events and the Battle of Wanat in July 2008 seem eerily similar: remote isolated outposts and a well-coordinated attack. (READ MORE)

For U.S. Troops in Afghanistan, home is where they make it - When Bravo Company's 1st Platoon arrived at this abandoned homestead in early September, the American soldiers faced plenty of aggravation: scorpions, mosquitoes, fleas and unusually aggressive mice that scurried across prone bodies and complicated efforts to sleep. From early on, however, the platoon's soldiers, more than 30 strong when they arrived, thought the place had potential. They found a courtyard full of pomegranate trees that were filled with ripe fruit and a covered cement porch where they could take off their battle gear and relax in the shade. (READ MORE)

McChrystal Faulted On Troop Statements - National security adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the US commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review underway, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command." Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands the 100,000 U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, warned bluntly last week in a London speech that a strategy for defeating the Taliban that is narrower than the one he is advocating would be ineffective and "short-sighted." (READ MORE)

Obama Furious at General Stanley McChrystal Speech on Afghanistan - The relationship between President Barack Obama and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has been put under severe strain by Gen Stanley McChrystal's comments on strategy for the war. According to sources close to the administration, Gen McChrystal shocked and angered presidential advisers with the bluntness of a speech given in London last week. The next day he was summoned to an awkward 25-minute face-to-face meeting on board Air Force One on the tarmac in Copenhagen, where the president had arrived to tout Chicago's unsuccessful Olympic bid. (READ MORE)

Deadly Attack By Taliban Tests New Strategy - US commanders had been planning since late last year to abandon the small combat outpost in mountainous eastern Afghanistan where eight US soldiers died Saturday in a fierce insurgent assault. The pullout, part of a strategy of withdrawing from sparsely populated areas where the United States lacks the troops to expel Taliban forces and to support the local Afghan government, has been repeatedly delayed by a shortage of cargo helicopters, Afghan politics and military bureaucracy, US military officials said. (READ MORE)

Attacks on Remote Posts Highlight Afghan Risks - Insurgents attacked a pair of remote American military bases in Afghanistan over the weekend in a deadly battle that underscored the vulnerability of the kind of isolated bases that the top American commander there wants to scale back. The commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is pressing for a change in strategy that would shift troops to heavily populated centers to protect civilians and focus less on battling the insurgents in the hinterlands. (READ MORE)

Worst Losses for a Year as Taleban Storm NATO Outpost - It began before dawn - a devastating, well-planned attack. About 300 insurgents swarmed out of a village and mosque and attacked a pair of isolated American outposts in a remote mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan with machineguns, rockets and grenades. They first stormed the Afghan police post at the foot of the hill in the province of Nuristan, a Taleban and al-Qaeda stronghold on the lawless Pakistan border. They then swept up to the NATO post. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Assault Points Out US Vulnerabilities - In one of the most lethal battles for American troops in the Afghanistan war, a wave of insurgents attacked a pair of relatively lightly manned bases near the Pakistani border over the weekend, triggering a daylong clash that left eight Americans and as many as half a dozen Afghan troops dead. It was precisely the kind of attack the top US commander in Afghanistan is hoping to stave off by recently ordering troops to withdraw from such small outposts, concentrating instead on defending population centers. (READ MORE)

McChrystal Planned to Move Soldiers Killed in Afghan Siege - One fundamental tenet of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's controversial Afghanistan strategy aims at avoiding precisely the kinds of attacks that killed eight American soldiers Sunday. In what is being described as one of the boldest attacks of the Afghan insurgency, an estimated 300 militants sustained a day-long siege against a coalition outpost in Nuristan Province – a place where the rule of law is so tenuous and the terrain so forbidding that it is seen as one of the likeliest hiding places for Osama bin Laden. (READ MORE)

American Strategy of Winning Trust of Afghan People is High Risk - Attacks such as that which killed eight Americans in Nuristan are a risk inherent in a US strategy that prioritises putting soldiers inside Afghan village communities. The American system, developed over the past three years, aims to separate the population from the insurgents and ultimately to win their trust. That means being among the people, rather than remote from them, and giving up the safety of large bases for small combat outposts of a few dozen troops alongside local security forces. (READ MORE)

Army Chief Warns of 'Terrifying Prospect' of Failure in Afghanistan - The head of the British Army, General Sir David Richards, has issued a wake-up call to the public by warning of the "terrifying prospect" of a defeat in Afghanistan. In an unprecedented intervention, the chief of the general staff described the conflict as "this generation's war" and added that failure by Nato would have an "intoxicating effect" on militant Islam. In his first interview as the head of the Army, Sir David told The Sunday Telegraph that if Britain and Nato failed in Afghanistan the risks to the western world would be "enormous" and "unimaginable". (READ MORE)

'Almost a Lost Cause' - In recent months, the battle of Wanat has come to symbolize the US military's missteps in Afghanistan. It has provoked Brostrom's father to question why Jonathan died and whether senior Army officers - including a former colleague and close friend - made careless mistakes that left the platoon vulnerable. It has triggered three investigations, the latest initiated last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it has helped drive a broader reassessment of war strategy among top commanders in Afghanistan, who have begun to pull US troops out of remote villages where some of the heaviest fighting has occurred. (READ MORE)

Not 'Just Another Casualty' - Even before the body of 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom reached the United States, his brigade commander was on the phone to the young officer's father in Honolulu. "I'm so sorry," Col. Charles Preysler told retired Col. David P. Brostrom, his close friend and former colleague. He was sorry that the elder Brostrom's son was dead. He was sorry that he hadn't been able to do more to prevent it. And, although he didn't say so, he was sorry that he'd made an extra spot for Brostrom's son in his brigade. (READ MORE)

Give Us More Troops, British Forces Tell Bob Ainsworth in Afghanistan - Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, faced direct calls for more troops, equipment and training from frontline forces in Afghanistan yesterday as he visited the country with Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary. The two ministers spent the day meeting British troops and local officials in southern Afghanistan before flying on to Pakistan last night for talks with their local counterparts today and tomorrow. It was the first visit by a British Home Secretary to the troops in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

I Was Ordered to Cover Up President Karzai Election Fraud, Sacked UN Envoy Says - The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan has been accused by his former deputy of ordering a systematic cover-up to conceal the extent of electoral fraud by President Karzai. In an attack on the role of the UN in the elections on August 20, Peter Galbraith, who was sacked as Deputy Special Representative to the UN mission in Kabul last week, says that Kai Eide ordered him not to reveal evidence of fraud or to pass it to the authorities. (READ MORE)

No Rush to Escalate - At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Obama. "In my judgment," he recalls saying, "war kills off great reform movements." The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that "Dr. New Deal" had given way to "Dr. Win the War." (READ MORE)

What I Saw at the Afghan Election - Afghanistan's presidential election, held Aug. 20, should have been a milestone in the country's transition from 30 years of war to stability and democracy. Instead, it was just the opposite. As many as 30 percent of Karzai's votes were fraudulent, and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates. In several provinces, including Kandahar, four to 10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast. (READ MORE)

In Afghanistan, the Distance Between ‘We Must’ and ‘We Can’ - Over the next few weeks, Barack Obama must make the most difficult decision of his presidency to date: whether or not to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as his commanding general there, Stanley McChrystal, has reportedly proposed. This summer, Mr. Obama described the effort in Afghanistan as “a war of necessity.” In such a war, you do whatever you need to do to win. (READ MORE)

A Savvy Swat Strategy - A visit to this battlefield of Pakistan's war against the Taliban left one indelible image - of a teenage boy's beaming smile of relief - that conveys what a successful counterinsurgency campaign is all about. Let me explain: When Pakistani troops regained control of Swat in a violent campaign this summer, they found scores of traumatized teenagers who had been forced to work as boy soldiers. About a month ago, the army opened a rehabilitation clinic for them. (READ MORE)

Nine Taliban militants killed in Pakistan - Pakistani security forces killed nine Taliban fighters during weekend operations in the troubled Swat Valley, the military said Sunday. Six militants were killed in a clash with troops and police Sunday in Banjir, a mountain village located on the boundary between Swat and its neighbouring district of Buner. (READ MORE)

Adviser downplays threat of renewed al-Qaida haven - A top U.S. commander's public plea for more troops in Afghanistan prompted a mild rebuke Sunday from the White House national security adviser, as the administration heads into a second week of intensive negotiations over its evolving Afghan strategy. Retired Gen. James Jones said that decisions on how best to stabilize Afghanistan and beat back the insurgency must extend beyond troop levels to development and governance. (READ MORE)

Top US adviser doesn't see Taliban returning to power - A top White House adviser said Sunday Afghanistan is in no imminent danger of falling to the Taliban and dismissed concern the group's resurgence could fuel a renewed Al-Qaeda sanctuary there. "I don't foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling," said White House National Security Adviser James Jones. (READ MORE)

Fierce fighting in Afghanistan leaves 8 U.S. soldiers dead - Militant fighters streaming from an Afghan village and a mosque attacked a pair of remote outposts near the Pakistani border, killing eight U.S. soldiers and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack for coalition forces since a similar raid in July 2008 killed nine American soldiers in the same mountainous region known as an al-Qaida haven. (READ MORE)

Obama considers range of Afghan war options - President Barack Obama is considering a range of ideas for changing course in Afghanistan, from pulling back to staying put to sending thousands more troops to fight the insurgency. A look at the options and their implications for achieving Obama's stated goal of defeating al-Qaida. (READ MORE)

Flooding Amu River displaces hundreds of people - Dozens of families from the Kaldar and Shortepa districts of Balkh Province, in northern Afghanistan, have been displaced from their homes after the Amu River burst its banks, provincial officials said. The Amu – also called the Oxus – is the longest river in Central Asia, with a basin including the territories of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. (READ MORE)

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