January 5, 2010

From the Front: 01/05/2010

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

Family Matters Blog:
Photo Album - Welcome Home (VIEW PHOTOS)

Afghanistan MY Last Tour: Computer Died - Last night after downloading my photographs and the writing my daily entry, my laptop computer started experiencing problems. The screen started changing colors and then I started getting streaks across it. Using my limited computer knowledge, I tried to fix the problem and only made it worse. Now I am unable to neither start my system nor repair it using the available repair software. So I am using a temporary work around until a permanent solution can be found. I was hoping the laptop would last for 4 more months and if I kept applying duct tape to it, it would hold together and function properly. Yesterday my team went on a logistics mission with our ANA counterparts. We picked up 4 seven ton loads for our ANA soldiers deployed to the field. They are sleeping in tents or b-huts and the lumber is their only means of heat. While there we also picked up our Air Force fire retardant uniforms. (READ MORE)

A World Away: (VIDEO) Holiday greetings to Wisconsin from Baghdad - Members of the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Area Support Group - Central in at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad sent home this holiday greeting, recorded and transmitted by the National Guard Public Affairs Office. (VIEW VIDEO)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: four U.S. soldiers killed in first Afghan combat deaths of 2010 - On December 30, a suicide attacker infiltrated a CIA base in the eastern Afghan province of Khost bordering the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, believed to be a stronghold for al Qaeda fighters, killing seven agents including the station chief who was the mother of three young children. Extremely unusually, both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack, though providing different versions of how the suicide bomber managed to penetrate the base: the Afghan Taliban claim the attacker, who reportedly wore an Afghan Army uniform, was a disillusioned soldier, while the Pakistani Taliban said the CIA had recruited the man as an informant, and he then offered his services to the militants as a double agent. (READ MORE)

al Sahwa: Afghanistan: State of the Insurgency - Wanted to share some slides from a briefing I attended in Dec at the Intelligence Warfighting Summit (IWS) in Tucson. COL Andrea Thompson (ISAF J2 OPS) gave an excellent overview of the state of the insurgency in Afghanistan. Although the brief is UNCLASS and thus lacking a high level of detail, it still provides some great insight into the strategy of the Taliban (and affiliated groups) as we head into 2010. A few things that stuck out to me: -Growing influence of the Haqqani Network (HQN). The complicated relationship between Siraj Haqqani, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), and AQ proper is still unclear and seems to be changing. We here at al Sahwa agree with Bill Roggio from the LWJ, who asserts that Haqqani is running a large portion of the Taliban network in Eastern Afghanistan. With the unwillingness of the Pakistani Army to target the HQN, it leaves him free to run rampant on both sides of the Af-Pak border. (READ MORE)

Doc H: Afghan Doctor - Doctor can be a very deceptive title in Afghanistan. When most people in the US speak of a doctor, they are speaking about a Medical professional with a doctorate degree in Medicine who has a license to practice medicine. Here, as with many things, the lines of differentiation blur to the point of becoming a continuum of gray space. I have been introduced to many Afghans who refer to themselves as a doctor. In truth most are acting in the capacity of a physician, but they usually do not have training in medicine. The term Doctor is used for both Medics and Medical Doctors (MD). It can be very confusing for all involved including the patients. To be fair, the Afghan Medical Education system has had some hard knocks in the past few decades. Under the Taliban learning of most types was frowned upon and women were strictly prohibited from studying medicine. Now there are at least 4 internationally recognized medical schools in Afghanistan and several others that are not recognized. (READ MORE)

the semi-normal, day-to-day life of a female marine: Magazines and Nail Polish - VA Medical Center patients more likely to be female - Hospitals changing ways to accommodate women: Mixed with the Vietnam and World War II-era patients waiting for a doctor are 20-something women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, reading Allure magazine and, in some cases, coming in for pregnancy tests. Over the last few months as I've gotten back into looking for articles about women in the military, I've started noticing something obnoxious. In a lot of the articles, the writers make a point to talk about military women and their nail polish, lipstick, jewelry, or in this case, trashy women's magazines. As if that's the big difference between men and women in the military! No, that's not a "difference" or a "change" at all: it's just the female variation of the same things male Marines use. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: For shame - A certain popular blogger (who I've mentioned before but shall not link to now or hereafter) recently put on his website details relating to a recent IED strike of: *number of total casualties (including wounded); *details of the damage to an ISAF vehicle produced by a certain quantity of explosive; *precise details of the limitations of counter-measures employed by that vehicle; and *the ISAF name for the route where it occurred. In the same post, that blogger urged Canadian media to publicize the same info and claimed the Canadian government was trying to cover up its own incompetence by citing the security of the troops in asking other media not to reprint it. "There is nothing classified or sensitive about the information supplied..." he yawped. For the record, he's wrong, on all four counts above; that information would have been considered under various levels of classification during my tour under ISAF regulations and I'm sure still is today. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Back in America--But not Home for 3 Weeks - Yesterday afternoon we landed in America. But I am not home yet. I and everybody else who is out processing from Iraq and Afghanistan cannot leave post until all the paperwork is done. I am in the advance group so we will be on Fort Dix for another three weeks. But at least we are in America. It is nice to be in my home country even if I can't go home. The Army is a great place to learn patience--or to find out you can't. This morning in the welcome before 7 1/2 hours of briefings, a colonel told us he thought he was ready to go back to civilian life after his first deployment in 2004. He returned to his job as a marketing manager for a large pharmaceutical company. In a meeting that was dragging on because everyone was waiting for someone else to do something, he stood up and said, "Enough, it's time to make a God-damned decision." He decided to be full time in the Army after that. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Stop Rewarding Extremists - Whenever there is a terrorist attack, we all sit around and re-examine what went wrong and look into how it can be prevented in the future. Such reflection is fine and good. A Newsweek reporter addresses this kind of thing nicely and makes some suggestions, but he misses an important point. What is the role of the Muslim in all this? The reporter says, "The onslaught has put extremist groups under mounting pressure," he says hopefully. "Some could be obliterated," Inshallah, say most Muslims. "All have found themselves increasingly isolated in a Muslim world where the mainstream is weary of their destructive rhetoric and where even former sympathizers doubt the terrorists' ability to mount another 9/11-style spectacular." This is where I fear the writer is mistaken. Sure Muslims are kind of tired of them, but what are Muslims doing to prevent the killers from engaging in violence? (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: SEVEN Things To Offer A Soldier (with a possible eighth) - Recently, I wrote a post about some of the insufferably awkward things people say to those in the military. I listed seven things not to say to a veteran and the reasons for not doing so. As an example of what else not to say, read an earlier article I wrote about trash can politics. But today, I've written seven things to offer a soldier in reply to "Joe Doakes," a civilian from St. Paul Minnesota who wrote: "...Say I meet a returning vet, maybe at a New Year's Eve party: "Thanks for your service." "You're welcome." [crickets] Okay, so what Should I say next? How was the weather? What's your favorite MRE? How 'bout those Vikings? Seriously, I'd like to be supportive and polite but don't know where the landmines are. Little help here?" First, let's talk about the vanishing art of small talk. Sadly, this has fallen by the wayside for the mistaken belief that getting to know someone means unearthing the nitty-gritty of one's existence. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Analysis: US air campaign in Pakistan heats up - The US air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas remains the cornerstone of the effort to root out and decapitate the senior leadership of the terror group and to disrupt both global and local operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As expected, the US well exceeded the number of attacks in 2009, with 53 compared to 36 in 2009. And with two strikes in the first four days of 2010, expect the intensity of the campaign this year to equal or last year's pace. While 16 senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed since the air campaign heated up in 2008, the terror groups remain a force in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US has been forced to surge forces in Afghanistan and revamp its strategy there, while the Pakistani military was forced to launch military operations in Swat and South Waziristan. Despite some tactical victories in Pakistan, the Taliban and its allied are able to carry out suicide attacks and complex assaults on secure military and government targets with regularity. (READ MORE)

Registan.net: Book Review: Decoding the New Taliban, Antonio Giustozzi editor - I’m usually pretty hestitant to give wholehearted “Read This Book” recommendation to anything. But read this book. Giustozzzi has taken time away from writing two books to edit this collection. I really like what he did. He got 12 writers (plus himself) to come together and have everyone write 15-40 pages about their focus in Afghanistan. Most writers chose to look at a province or a region, while others looked at something a bit more systemic. Overall, you get many readable articles that are dense with information. Some I agreed with, some I thought were coming out of left field, but by putting them all togehter, Giustozzi lets you see everyone’s opinions and form your own. In such a politically loaded topic, there’s something to be said for that. The writers range from Gretchen Peters (who Joshua Foust has already written a lot about and I pretty much agree) to an Afghan in Zabul writing under a pseudonym. (READ MORE)

six foot skinny: Oh dark-thirty - Alarm, too early, as usual. It is truly “oh dark-thirty,” and it’s cold. Start the coffee that I ground the night before so as not to waken my roommate. Rub my hand over my face – I shaved late yesterday because we had the day off so I’m good for now. Brush my teeth and spit in an empty water bottle. Pull on flame-retardant uniform pants and undershirt, combat shirt over top of that. Check pockets. Notebook, pens, dog tags, ID, room key. Lace up my boots. Drink my coffee. Surf a little while I wake up. Time to go. Wind breaker over everything else. Grab my helmet and gloves and sunglasses. Make sure I have clear lenses in case we’re out past sunset. Sling my weapon and hoist my body armor onto my arm. All on autopilot, all silent as I can. Out the door to the motor pool. I am the first one there. I even beat my driver, so the truck’s not unlocked yet. Stack my gear by the passenger side door. (READ MORE)

Andi: Precious Moments - I always find I'm torn when it's "time to go" between shoving my husband away and grabbing him and never letting go. It's that weird stage when you want the clock to start ticking and you want time to stand still. Well, guess what? "WASHINGTON – It’s a scene that’s played out in airports across the country numerous times in the past eight years: Families and servicemembers clinging to each other, either sad to leave or happy and vowing to never let go again. The emotion always is appropriate, but the location of the scene – just beyond the airline ticket counters and before the security checkpoint - robs the actors of precious minutes with loved ones. Those lost minutes are unnecessary, at least as far as the Transportation Security Administration is concerned, a TSA spokesman said." (READ MORE)

The Torch: A study in contrasts - While the government, the opposition, and the various trained seals of either camp continue to act out their unwitting self-parody of how our political system is supposed to operate (a Canadian Abu Ghraib? Really?), Eugene Lang and Eric Morse make a serious suggestion: "The government didn't designate a power centre for Afghanistan until 2007 -- five years after Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan began, a group of supporting officials called the Afghan Task Force was established. A cabinet committee wasn't set up until 2008. Prior to that, Afghanistan-related messages and issues, presumably including Colvin's, simply drifted into various divisions of the Foreign Ministry, CIDA, the Privy Council Office and the Defence Department. There was no senior, central authority responsible for tying the threads together and making sense out of them. In addition, turf wars, resentments and personality clashes among officials in these four departments were among the worst kept secrets in Ottawa." (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: Not So Much “Coverup” As It Is A “Wakeup” - War journalist Michael Yon stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest today with a dispatch involving the allegation the DND for Canada isn’t allowing the media to report on details of the mission, and in particular the details related to the IED bombing that killed four soldiers and Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang. His source is “a reporter” at Canwest News Service who emailed him on Saturday asking for information about the deaths, to which Michael Yon responded. The reporter emailed back the next day to say that the Canadian military is trying to suppress release of the information he received, citing that although the military confirmed the reports, they said it would breach the embedding agreement between Canwest and the military. But as Michael Yon points out, nothing classified or sensitive about the information he supplied to Canwest has been kept from what we already know in Canada, or have known since their deaths on December 30. (READ MORE)

War, the military, COIN and stuff: Quality or Quantity - In October, the mission to train and equip the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) changed dramatically. Instead of embedding small teams of US Army and Marine personnel within larger Afghan Army units under the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, (CSTC-A), the embedded teams were absorbed back into their parent units, which began partnering with the ANSF on a larger scale. It’s what then–CSTC-A commander, Maj. Gen. Richard Formica called the “two-brigade concept,” with the 48th Brigade Combat Team from the Georgia National Guard and the 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division taking the lead in the mission. In an interview with ARES in October, Formica said that “regional commanders [will] assume the responsibility for developing the fielded force. Not only will they have the assets of these two brigades available to them, but the role of the brigades working for the regional commands are going to be expected to do embedded partnering.” (READ MORE)

Small Wars Journal: Changes to Intelligence Mission in Afghanistan Urged - CNAS released today a report that critically examines the relevance of the U.S. intelligence community to the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan titled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan. The authors - Major General Michael T. Flynn, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence in Afghanistan; his advisor Captain Matt Pottinger; and Paul Batchelor, Senior Advisor for Civilian/Military Integrations at ISAF - argue that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate in and the people they are trying to protect and persuade. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Terror’s War On Us - It’s global, and apparently being managed more deftly by the other side, by their key metric of headlines grabbed, than we’re managing our war on them … to the extent our effort still is a war … by our key metric of deadly vulnerabilities exposed. The suicide bomber who killed four CIA agents, three CIA contractors and a Jordanian intelligence agent last week was a double agent, a Jordanian al-Qaeda doc they thought they had turned … and didn’t bother to pat down before letting him into their compound for a debriefing that was attended by an atypical crowd of agents, much to AQ’s murderous delight. NYT: "The bomber had been recruited by the Jordanian intelligence service and taken to Afghanistan to infiltrate Al Qaeda by posing as a foreign jihadi, the officials said. But in a deadly turnabout, the supposed informant strapped explosives to his body and blew himself up at a meeting Wednesday at the C.I.A.’s Forward Operating Base Chapman in the southeastern province of Khost." (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Word Games - Rory Stewart attempts to explain Obama' s Afghanistan policy, as defined in his West Point speech: “But perhaps even more importantly, defining a more moderate and limited strategy gives him leverage over his own generals. By refusing to endorse or use the language of counterinsurgency in the speech, he escapes their doctrinal logic. By no longer committing the US to defeating the Taliban or state-building, he dramatically reduces the objectives and the costs of the mission. By talking about costs, the fragility of public support, and other priorities, he reminds the generals why this surge must be the last.” Yes - he avoids a lot of future blame by refusing to state policy in clear terms, but he also gets results like this from a unit suffering some of the highest casualties in Afghanistan: (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
First group of state Guard soldiers set to return home Tuesday - A rush of emotions fluttered through the hearts of Wisconsin families preparing to be reunited today with National Guard soldiers returning from Iraq after a nearly yearlong deployment. Among the first wave of about 115 soldiers slated to arrive today at Volk Field is Melissa McDonald’s husband, Capt. Matthew McDonald. (READ MORE)

Strong ties bind military community - WHEN THE GRIM news broke on Christmas Eve that another Canadian soldier had been killed in Afghanistan, it barely caused a ripple of response across the nation. Most offices were already closed for the holidays and in the midst of their last minute preparations for celebration, the passing of Lt. Andrew Nuttall, 30, of Prince Rupert, B.C., was all but lost on the festive season revellers. (READ MORE)

Hate preacher compares Brit soldiers in Afghanistan to Nazi war criminals - Radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary has caused fresh outrage by comparing British troops fighting in Afghanistan to Nazi stormtroopers, saying that they were committing "war crimes and many atrocities, including concentration camps like in Nazi Germany". (READ MORE)

Tributes paid to first Afghan casualty of 2010 - The parents of the first British soldier to die in Afghanistan this year have paid tribute to their "brave" teenage son. Private Robert Hayes, 19, of 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device during a foot patrol in Helmand Province on Sunday. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
The Surge Is Over. The Americans Are Going. I’m Leaving Iraq - This month I received the long-awaited phone call from the International Organization for Migration telling me that they had put me on their schedule to leave Iraq within the next few weeks. This will be the second time I leave Iraq for a lengthy period, but this time it might be forever. (READ MORE)

Maliki Vows Punishment for Blackwater Guards - The Iraqi prime minister vowed Monday to seek punishment for the Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 people at a busy Baghdad intersection after U.S. courts dropped the case in a decision that outraged many Iraqis. Nouri al-Maliki's comments were his first public reaction since a U.S. judge threw out the case against the five Blackwater guards last week. (READ MORE)

Marines and Iraqi Soldiers Spread Cheer to Students in Al Anbar - Americans are known to have a surplus of many things, which often go to waste or are forgotten about when the next "big thing" comes on the market. To combat some of that regular behavior, Marines from 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Task Force Military Police, aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, decided to enlist the help of the Iraqi army to disperse many of their little extras to the children of Iraq's Al Anbar province. (READ MORE)

Service Members Bring Electronic Warfare to the Ground in Iraq - Joint Counter Radio Controlled IED Warfare Composite Squadron One was formed in Baghdad in May 2006 with the mission to bring the electronic warfare fight to the ground after chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chief of naval operations, advised chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. George Casey, the former Multi-National Force - Iraq commander, that the Navy's skills in electronic countermeasures could be expanded to protect service members in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Iraqi, U.S. Military Police Spark New Relationship in Amarah - For the past four months, Staff Sgt. Ryan Farrow and his squad of 14 Soldiers have been building a partnership with their Iraqi counterparts. When first assigned to advise and assist Amarah's Explosive Ordnance Detachment Provincial Headquarters in Aug. 2009, 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, 57th Military Police Company attached to 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, took the reins on a station that had previously had little interaction with U.S. Forces. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Forces Arrest 4 Terror Suspects - Iraqi forces, working with U.S. advisors, today searched a home for a suspected terrorist network leader who may have coordinated numerous attacks on both soldiers and civilians. Two suspects were arrested. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, Jan. 5 - An Afghan-international security force searched a compound northwest of Kandahar City after intelligence confirmed militant activity in the area and detained suspected militants last night. Another Afghan-international security force detained a militant and recovered several weapons, including hand grenades, while searching for a Taliban facilitator in a compound north of the village of Tajbeki Kalay in Wardak. (READ MORE)

Navy Non-Kinetic Air Power for OEF - Carrier Air Wing 11 employs non-kinetic force to support troops on the ground in Afghanistan minimizing the potential for civilian casualties. The EA-6B Prowlers assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135 deploy daily from the flight deck of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) jamming electronic signals in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (READ MORE)

Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties - The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA officers and a Jordanian spy last week was a double agent who was taken onto the base in Afghanistan because the Americans hoped he might be able to deliver top members of Al Qaeda’s network, according to Western government officials. (READ MORE)

Suicide Bomber Who Attacked CIA Post in Afghanistan was Trusted Informant from Jordan - The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian informant who lured intelligence officers into a trap by promising new information about al-Qaeda's top leadership, former U.S. government officials said Monday. (READ MORE)

CIA Blast Blamed On Double Agent - The suicide bomber who killed seven Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors and a Jordanian intelligence officer was a double agent the CIA had recruited to provide intelligence on senior al Qaeda leadership, according to current and former U.S. officials and an Afghan security official. (READ MORE)

CIA Bomber was a Jordanian Double Agent, Ex-spy Official Says - The suicide bomber who killed eight people at a CIA compound in Afghanistan was a Jordanian recruited by that nation's spy service who lured operatives to a meeting with a promise of important new information about Al Qaeda's inner circle, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official. (READ MORE)

Attack Shows Risk of Infiltration in Afghanistan - Last week in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber got into one of the CIA's most important intelligence-gathering outposts without being thoroughly searched. The deadly incident highlights the risk of infiltration of U.S. facilities and military in Afghanistan as local troops partner with American and coalition forces... (READ MORE)

Intelligence Overhaul Ordered for Afghanistan - U.S. military officials in Afghanistan have ordered steps to overhaul intelligence gathering and analysis in response to deficiencies uncovered during a lengthy White House strategy review last year. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Worried US Buildup in Afghanistan will Send Militants Across Border - As 30,000 U.S. troops begin to deploy to Afghanistan, fears are rising in Pakistan that a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy here. Residents in border areas such as the violence-plagued city of Peshawar worry that a tide of militants could flee Afghanistan to seek targets in Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Standoff Builds Over Afghan Cabinet - The tug of war under way between President Hamid Karzai and Parliament over his cabinet picks entered a new phase Monday when the president ordered lawmakers to delay their long-planned winter holiday so he could offer them a new list of nominees. (READ MORE)

Karzai to Lawmakers: Stay on Job for Cabinet Vote - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday ordered parliament to delay its winter recess so members can consider new cabinet nominees to replace those lawmakers rejected over the weekend. (READ MORE)

Roadside Bombing Kills 4 U.S. Troops in Afghanistan; British Soldier Also Dies - A roadside bombing killed four U.S. service members - the first American combat deaths of the year in Afghanistan - while a British soldier died during a foot patrol elsewhere in the volatile south of the country, officials said Monday. (READ MORE)

Forces Seize Drugs, Weapons in Afghanistan - Combined Afghan and international security forces uncovered an estimated 800 cubic meters of marijuana in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province today and turned the drugs over to the Afghan National Police for destruction. Forces also discovered and destroyed more than 130 rounds of ammunition in Ghazni province and three steel, explosive-filled cylinders in Helmand province over the past two days. (READ MORE)

Marines Focus on Target Identification - Adjusting his body armor, a designated marksman with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, tracked the progress of a patrol of Marines from his perch atop a rocky hillside. The marksman followed the line of tan figures as they plodded along toward the platoon attack course at Range 3 here Jan. 2. (READ MORE)

Clearing the Way: Engineers Hunt Roadside Bombs - While there may be no place in Afghanistan that is completely safe for U.S. and coalition forces, some regions certainly are much more dangerous than others. In those risky locales, the 1141st Engineer Company’s sappers -- combat engineers – who are part of the Missouri Army National Guard’s 203rd Engineer Battalion, are keeping Afghan roads clear of improvised explosive devices. (READ MORE)

US spies in Afghanistan are clueless, says intelligence chief - America's deputy chief of military intelligence in Afghanistan has issued a damning indictment of the work of US spy agencies, calling them clueless and out of touch with the Afghan people. Major General Michael Flynn described US spies as “ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced..." (READ MORE)

NATO Official Blasts U.S. Spy Work In Afghanistan - Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only "marginally relevant" to the overall mission, focusing too much on the enemy and not enough on civilian life, according to NATO's top intelligence official. (READ MORE)

Broken promises forcing former 'reformed' Taliban insurgents to rejoin ranks - Former Taliban insurgents, who surrendered their weapons to the Afghan government under a reconciliation program, have said that they have no choice, but to go back to fighting as the government has broken promises of providing land and money to them. (READ MORE)

Karzai to try again with new cabinet line-up - Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to present a new list of cabinet nominees to Parliament on Saturday, an official said, replacing 17 names unexpectedly rejected by members last week in a humiliating snub. Karzai used a presidential decree to force lawmakers to postpone their winter recess to vet a new government after they threw out over two thirds of his candidates... (READ MORE)

Afghan Parliament Delays Recess For Cabinet Vote - Afghanistan's parliament will comply with a presidential decree to delay lawmakers' winter break until they have voted on a slate of new cabinet nominees, including a foreign minister candidate, an official has said. (READ MORE)

Turkey, Japan agree on Afghanistan, Iran - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada held a joint press conference after their meeting Monday in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Speaking at the press conference, Davutoglu said Turkey and Japan agreed to launch joint efforts to help Afghanistan establish national accord, adding that Turkey supported Japanese government's Afghanistan strategy which he said would contribute to efforts to maintain stability in the war-torn country. (READ MORE)

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