January 8, 2010

From the Front: 01/08/2010

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

Dispatches:
Tankerbabe:
PVT Brennan on Patrol That Captures HVT Responsible for Mastermining Cousin's Death - I've written about SGT Josh Brennan (KIA 26 Oct 2007) on several occassions. One of those can be found here. On 4 Oct 2009 I wrote about SGT Josh Brennan's cousin, PVT Joseph Brennan, graduating from Airborne school and being pinned with Josh's wings. This past Sunday I received a call from Mike Brennan, Josh's dad. He began relating the story below. When he got to the part about 4 Taliban being captured but before he got to the details of exactly who was captured the hair stood up on my arms and I said, "DO NOT tell me....." over and over as Mike continued to talk. I heard what he said but had to ask him to say it again. PVT Joseph Brennan's father sent the following to me in an email. I have his permission to share and have also checked to assure there is no OPSEC violation within. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Supporting the ANA Family - This morning after the daily briefing I went outside to watch some of the new ANA recruits. Not too long ago, these were farmers and unskilled labors wearing the traditional garb or what we nickname “man jams” or man pajamas. But now they are going through military boot camp and have been issued combat uniforms, boots, and some gear. Notice they haven’t given them any rifles yet. Instead they practice their formations and maneuvers with “air rifles”. We have been seeing a large influx of new recruits since they increased the pay for the ANA soldiers. This increase of forces also coincides with Gen McChrystal’s vision of expanding the size of the ANA. Currently their forces are spread too thin or they are not trained sufficiently to take on the Taliban and the insurgents by themselves. To hone their skills, they rely on the coalition forces to provide mentoring and support. (READ MORE)

al Sahwa: Honor the Service of the Fallen CIA Operatives - We at Al Sahwa honor the service of the fallen CIA operatives, but it is now our great concern that the spider-web established by them may be vulnerable. The NY Times today, in an article entitled, “Suicide Bombing Puts a Rare Face on C.I.A.’s Work,” reported several of the names of CIA operatives killed in Afghanistan by a Jordanian double agent, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, stating that elements “…have begun to trickle out, despite the secretive nature of their work. What emerges is a rare public glimpse of a closed society, a peek into one sliver of the spy agency as it operates…” CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his 31 December, 2009 “Statement on CIA Casualties in Afghanistan,” stated, “Due to the sensitivity of their mission and other ongoing operations, neither the names of those killed nor the details of their work are being released at this time.” I have read no announcement by Panetta or his colleague(s), including President Obama, which has identified the names of Khowst Afghanistan operatives as well as their detailed mission objectives. (READ MORE)

Josh McLaughlin: Milestones of Growth For Jihadist Groups - I'm out on a staff ride for FACCC today, but I wanted to drop a quick post after the Obama et al briefings today. Please excuse the lack of hyperlinks, I'm typing this on my phone and am thus limited in capability. In the round of briefings by the President's national security team this afternoon, it was mentioned during the Q&A portion that AQAP had made threats of attacking the US, but (essentially) the US was not expecting an attack from the group. Understanding now the level of maturity of AQAP, how do we analyze and identify the key milestones met to grow from separate regional insurgencies into the transnational threat AQAP now must be considered? This week both DP and I have discussed al Shabaab's global aspirations and the likely achievement of those aspirations in Europe. Until fairly recently al Shabaab was considered (at most) a regional threat. (READ MORE)

C.J. CHIVERS: The Making of the Military’s Standard Arms - In a pair of posts late last year (Part 1, Part 2), this blog covered several arguments surrounding the American military’s primary rifles, the M-16 and M-4, which are also widely used by police departments, counterterrorism units and other federal agencies. (Among those using M-4 rifles are the C.I.A., the State Department and the New York Police Department.) The posts were prompted by the leak of an official historian’s account of the battle of Wanat in 2008, in which a remote Army outpost in eastern Afghanistan was nearly overrun by insurgents. Nine American soldiers were killed that day. The historian’s draft study suggested that at least a few American weapons failed in the fight, perhaps because of overheating. The reports of weapons’ stoppages in combat resurrected longstanding controversies surrounding the M-16 line. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Stop Making Sense - It is proving impossible to get a read on “the Afghan street” since our Commander in Chief articulated the new set of tactics for Afghanistan at his speech at West Point. It is clear the dynamics on the ground have changed and that this change is being driven by the fact that our great communicator placed an arbitrary date on when we will be done and start going home. Of course nobody in Afghanistan or any place else on planet earth believes we will start to pull out in 18 months but that is not the point. Afghans currently populating positions of power have paid hefty sums to be appointed to those positions and are insisting on getting a good return on their investments before the gravy train leaves the station. My military friends have seen the same thing as they fight endless battles on the Niper net to get the food allowances and other petty cash paid to their Afghan Army soldiers without getting the Afghan senior officers they mentor fired for bringing the problem up in the first place. (READ MORE)

Doc H: Sustainability - I made extremely good time from Mazar-e-Sharif to Bagram, but I will be stuck here for quite some time. There were still a few sailors from the returning hospital mentor team I served with on Spann here when I arrived. They left two weeks before I did. So I have plenty more time to exercise at a higher elevation and reflect. One of the things I am considering is Sustainability. In particular how will Afghanistan be able to sustain what has been started. In general the best approach to most issues or problems is to find a low cost-high return solution (IE not always the way we do things in the US). There is much effort being placed on Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) force generation and infrastructure development. What I have not seen or heard about is economic development or income programs for the country of Afghanistan. This is concerning since whatever progress, programs, or forces we build and equip here will need to be funded for the long term. Who is going to pay? (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: New Center Supports Families of Fallen - I wanted to share news about a new center devoted to helping families of the fallen. Air Force officials dedicated the Center for the Families of the Fallen yesterday at Dover Air Force Base, Del. “For many of us, this dedication is a bittersweet event,” said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, in an article posted on American Forces Press Service today. “This center is emblematic of our genuine gratitude to the families of our fallen servicemembers. “In an ideal world – one that is universally committed to resolving disputes in a peaceful manner – a Center for the Families of the Fallen perhaps would not be necessary,” the general added. “But alas, it is, as all here know very well.” The 6,000-square-foot center offers families a comfortable, quiet environment with private rooms for counseling or meditation, the article said. It will allow mortuary affairs specialists, chaplains and mental health technicians to better assist families of the fallen. (READ MORE)

Patrick Hennessey: What Winning Looks Like - Two years ago, as I flew out of Afghanistan at the end of an intense and challenging tour with the British Army, a local farmer was seriously injured by an IED on one of the very roads I had spent the last seven months patrolling. I flew back out this Christmas to visit my former comrades in the Grenadier Guards, halfway through their second tour of the country in three years, to see what progress had been made in the region. The day I arrive, an IED in the rejuvenated market in Nad-e Ali killed four civilians and injured nine more—the cowardly attack seeming to make a mockery of the notion of progress in the region. The casualties are confirmed in the evening brief in Forward Operating Base Shawqat, the joint International Security Assistance Force/Afghan National Army base barely a kilometer from where the attack took place. The mood in camp is somber and reflective, a combination of the bad news and being far from home on Christmas Eve, but everyone remains confident that progress is being made. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: The Taliban turned it into a bomb factory, but now this school is back in business - An Afghan school that was turned into a Taliban bomb factory before being destroyed in fighting has reopened to pupils. Six months after the school in Babaji, Helmand province, came under fire during a battle to drive out Taliban fighters, tented classrooms have been opened for more than 100 pupils. A permanent 12-room school for the site is due to be opened by the summer. The move has been welcomed by the Britain's Department for International Development as part of its work to improve the Afghan education system. It contributes about £30 million a year to help support Afghan schools. One of the key players in setting up the school in Babaji was Captain Martha Fairlie, a Territorial Army officer from St Andrews in Scotland and a former BBC Scotland education correspondent. Captain Fairlie is head of the military stabilisation support team in Babaji, whose job is to try to restore normality to the area. (READ MORE)

Specialist Andrea Torrano Magee: Who Fights This War--Command Sergeant Major - Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Christine has proudly served in the Army for twenty-nine years. He not only enforces uniform standards in Task Force Diablo, he embodies them. He understands the importance of leading soldiers by setting the example. Once around him for any length of time, one can note he is always sporting a fresh haircut and immaculate uniform. His standards don’t end with just adhering to uniform regulations. He is a leader who encourages troops to do their best and succeed in whatever they do. He has learned throughout his career that friendship, safety, persistence, and perseverance are what help soldiers be leaders and complete the mission with success. He is not the typical Command Sergeant Major. When one thinks of a Command Sergeant Major, they think rough, gruff, steady, intimidating and tough. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Assholic Press - If you've wondered what the requirements are these days for a job in journalism, today's papers offer an example of what it takes. In short, assholeness. To work in a major north American daily, one must be an asshole, as is demonstrated in today's stories in the NYT and WaPo. A reporter must prove his assholeness by clutching any straw that signals Iraq's demise. For example, WaPo states: "At least 15 parties will be banned from upcoming parliamentary elections because they have been linked to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party or have promoted Baathist ideals, Iraqi officials said Thursday." That's it, people. It's over. These guys are out of the race. Right? Well, not quite. The NYT says, "Musaab al-Aanie, a spokesman for the electoral commission, said that the group had not yet received the decision but was prepared to hear any appeal." In other words, they're still in. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US killed al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil commander in airstrike - Al Qaeda has confirmed that the US killed the leader of the Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army, the terror group's military organization along the Afghan and Pakistani border. Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda's leader in Afghanistan, said that Abdullah Said al Libi was killed in a US airstrike in Pakistan. Yazid confirmed that Al Libi was killed in a statement praising the suicide attack on the CIA base in Khost. Yazid also confirmed that Saleh al Somali, al Qaeda's former external operations chief, was also killed in a US attack. Yazid said the suicide attack against the CIA at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province on Dec. 30, 2009, was carried out by an al Qaeda operative named Dr. Abu Dujanah al Khurasani. Media reports indicate the attack was carried out by a Jordanian doctor named Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, who enticed the CIA with promises of being able to produce Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command. (READ MORE)

Dude in the Desert: 8 Jan 2010 - well, woke up at 0500 to the sound of more BOOMs– not sure what they were but apparently one of them was a dud, or didn’t fully explode…kin of a THUD and not so much a BOOM …I think there were three this time …as far as I know, no injuries or damage…and that started my day off–couldn’t really get back to sleep…work was just another boring day at the barn…pressure washed a couple generators and drove them over to the other side so they could be rebuilt or whatever…we got some new chairs in the office upstairs–WWOOOOHOOOO ….that was pretty much all the excitement…oh, I did get another xmas present today — a kickass Harley belt…it’s awesome, thanks J…so this afternoon will be studying for promotion, hitting the gym, and watching some movies/tv…hope everyone is having a great new year so far … (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Groundhog Day, Revisited - Ever since I returned from my jaunt up north, it's been the normal routine here. Nuthin' much to report. I get up at 0615, shower, have something for breakfast, and get into the office about 0730. Make myself a cuppa coffee and open up my email. Then I try to remember what the heck I was planning on doing today, go through my calendar and notebook and yesterday's to-do list, and then scribble one for today. And off I go. About lunchtime, I often go for a jog or hit the gym. Back in the office in the afternoon I'm buried in this or that project, answering pop-up queries and stupid questions from On High ("On High" in this case being one particular organization that has no value added that I can see, but interjects itself into things it has no business being involved in ... it shall remain nameless, at least for now ...). I'll knock off work around 6:30 or 7 and go grab some chow in the DFAC. (READ MORE)

Asher Kohn: I want YOU to mumble a few words of Pashto - The US Military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, or I suppose someone on that board, came up with a moderate reorganization of the military. The plan is for a corps of experts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help drive military goals and make sure that their operations won’t blow up in their faces. I really don’t have anything snarky to say about this, it’s a decent plan. But there are issues: "The program — which is expected to create a 912-member corps of mostly officers and enlisted service members who will work on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues for up to five years — was announced with much fanfare last fall. So far, 172 have signed up, and Admiral Mullen has questioned whether all of them are right for such a critical job." The article gets into the fact that a 5-year commitment in something admittedly experimental is a really dangerous career path. (READ MORE)

Short Timers: Personal Delivery - Just before Christmas Capt. Chris Hassan, a platoon leader with the 3-21st Infantry, went above and beyond reasonable expectations in completing what amounts to a final Iraq mission. Let me explain: Jessica Hoffman and I traveled in Strykers under Hassan's command on a mission at Forward Operating Base Normandy and, later, in a convoy back to Warhorse. Somewhere along the way, Jessica misplaced a UAF Journalism tripod. We hadn't had much use for the thing. In general, field assignments were too hectic for tripod use. Jessica's camerawork was mostly hand-held by necessity. But she's the kind of videographer who leaves nothing to chance. She lugged that tripod across Diyala Province on the outside chance it might be needed. It wasn't a huge loss, but I emailed Hassan about it. (READ MORE)

Sarah: Not On the Same Page - Guard Wife wrote a month ago about missed messages, and at the time I didn't have anything to add in the comments. But I do now! My husband and I have still been working on a middle name for our baby. He wanted one and I wanted another. Neither of us has wanted to be pushy. And so we have a recurring 3-min conversation on the phone, each laying out our case and then deciding to "keep thinking about it." We've been doing this for months. I was starting to get nervous that she'd be born and he wouldn't be home yet, and I would have to decide at the hospital whether to pick his choice or mine... Yesterday I got some sage advice from a friend and started to see the situation in a whole new light. I decided that my husband's choice was a sweet one and I would be happy with it. So I wrote him an email telling him what I'd decided and how I was now happy to go with his choice. He wrote back this morning; he had no idea I really wanted the other idea. (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: Giving The Military The Benefit Of The Doubt - I’m not about to rehash the content of the Richard Colvin testimony, or question the legitimacy of his claims, for that isn’t the purpose of this entry. So far as I understand it, any investigations into the so-called “detainee affair” have produced nothing but evidence of a military that is both professional and conscientious. It has, to the best of anybody’s knowledge, acted in the most ethical manner possible, given the circumstances of war. In this case, one would think that the military should be treated with the respect it deserves, and that allegations directed against it should be regarded in the same way that one might afford those who are accused of committing acts of terrorism against our troops: that is to say, innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, and whether or not this has been a deliberate or an incidental consequence... (READ MORE)

LCol JJ Malevich: DEMOCRACY DENIED: NO DISTRICT ELECTION 2010 - On 3 January the Independent Electoral Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) announced that Parliamentary Elections would be held on 22 May. What they did not announce is that although District elections are mandated by the Afghan constitution they are cancelled for 2010. Parliamentary and District elections are not as sexy as the presidential elections of 2009, but from a counterinsurgency perspective, they play a key role in establishing the legitimacy of the government by providing a venue for people to solve their problems and govern themselves locally. Unfortunately, the Afghan 2010 election cycle is flawed and doomed to further erode the already tainted legitimacy of the Afghan Government and its electoral process. As many know who read the COIN Center blog, I was the security planner for the 2005 Afghan National Assembly and Provincial Council Elections and then was the Voter Registration Security Advisor for the IEC in 2007. (READ MORE)

LTC Clark: Defining Partnership - “We will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces... Every American unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and we will seek additional trainers from our NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner.” - Recent Presidential Address - For those that have been on the ground in Iraq with a TT, they understand that “partnership” can be interpreted by BCT and BN CDRs in many different ways. Some see it as a cup of chi twice a month, while others see it as ‘give me 10 guys to go with my unit so I can do what I want’. Others want the local forces to imitate all US practices, even ones that are counterproductive. Then there are those that only want to be involved with the partnered unit if they can get a good storyboard out of it. These attitudes and methods are doomed to fail, yet many unit leaders see them as the definition of partnership. (READ MORE)

War, the military, COIN and stuff: Pivotal Year For Iraq And Afghanistan - In our big Defense 2010 issue -- which is out now -- I've got a piece crystal-balling the near-term in Iraq and Afghanistan. In short, the two wars are traveling two different paths, but managing to meet in the middle -- if you define the middle as the shared mission to train and equip a reasonably competent internal security force. Here's a bit of the piece, and the rest can be read here. "While the trajectories of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are heading in opposite directions in 2010—with U.S. forces slated to begin drawing down in Iraq at the same time that President Barack Obama is sending 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan—the missions in both countries will nevertheless resemble each another in one crucial respect. The name of the game these days is building host nation capacity." (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Who Are We Fighting? - In Synthesis I noted that among other problems in our current confrontation with those who wish to do us harm is a conspicuous lacunae in our acknowledgement and naming of the enemy. According to the Bush administration we were fighting "Terror", a tactic and a first order derivative of an enemy entity; according to the Obama administration, we are now fighting "man caused disasters" or some other second derivative of the enemy. In my humble opinion, our enemy is radical, expansionist, fundamentalist Islam in all its iterations. One version of this is that of Thomas Friedman, who believes we are involved bystanders to the real struggle within Islam: “Father Knows Best - Every faith has its violent extreme. The West is not immune. It’s all about how the center deals with it. Does it tolerate it, isolate it or shame it? The jihadists are a security problem for our system. But they are a political and moral problem for the Arab-Muslim system.” (READ MORE)



News from the Home Front:
Soldier's Life Altering Injury Turns Into Unique War Love Story - When Capt. Sam Brown was injured in Afghanistan, he saw everything he had planned for his future disappear. Little did he know that what he went through, in fact, helped him discover one part of his life he thought he would never find. "I had plans for my career and decided a few years after that I would find a beautiful women and settle down and start a family," Brown said. "I thought that was all gone after I got injured." (READ MORE)



News from the Front:
Iraq:
New 321st AEW Commander Sees Promising Future for Iraqi Air Forces - Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, presided over a change of command ceremony Jan. 7, where Maj. Gen. Robert Kane relinquished command of the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing to Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson. The mission of the 321st AEW is to train and advise the Iraqi air force in order to advance the foundational airpower capabilities of Iraqi airmen. (READ MORE)

Iraq Bars 15 Political Parties with Baathist Ties from Upcoming Elections - At least 15 parties will be banned from upcoming parliamentary elections because they have been linked to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party or have promoted Baathist ideals, Iraqi officials said Thursday. (READ MORE)

Move Made to Bar Iraqi From Ballot - An Iraqi parliamentary committee moved Thursday to bar a Sunni Muslim lawmaker from national elections in March, outraging his supporters and threatening to worsen sectarian tension here. The lawmaker, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a prominent Sunni politician, and his group, the National Dialogue Front, were among those disqualified on the grounds of promoting the banned Baath Party… (READ MORE)

Deadly Blasts Underscore Tenuous Security in Iraq's Anbar Province - Five explosions that targeted mostly law enforcement officials ripped through a city in Iraq's Anbar province Thursday, killing at least eight people and underscoring fears that the region's fragile security is deteriorating. The homemade bombs struck the homes of the deputy police chief, two counterterrorism police officials and a lawyer in the small city of Hit, about 120 miles west of Baghdad... (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
An Embattled Zardari Battles Back - Increasingly described as “embattled,” “beleaguered” and “isolated,” President Asif Ali Zardari is fighting back. His latest speeches have been defiant and hard-hitting. He smells a conspiracy to force him to resign and warns his enemies of a tough fight. Predictions of his imminent departure from the presidential palace regularly make the rounds here, although they seem to be inevitable in a society rife with rumors and speculations. (READ MORE)

No troops after 2011, PM says - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says virtually all Canadian soldiers will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2011, making some of his most definitive statements yet on his vision of Canada’s future role there in an interview Wednesday with Canwest News Service. Parliament has already decided that the combat mission involving about 2,500 troops in southern Afghanistan centred around Kandahar will end in 2011. (READ MORE)

Afghan Soldiers Learn Infantry Basics From Marines - The soldier's fingers gingerly curl around the hand guards of his brand new M-16A2 rifle, Jan. 5, at a Marine Corps range here in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Pushing the weapon into his shoulder and pressing his cheek against the buttstock he takes aim. The rows of wrinkles which span his haggard face seem to lengthen as he concentrates on the green target downrange. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, Jan. 8 - An Afghan-international security force searched a compound southeast of the village of Kobayl, Kandahar district, after intelligence confirmed militant activity inside. During the search, the joint force captured a Taliban facilitator and other insurgents believed responsible for IED and suicide attacks. (READ MORE)

Joint Task Force 435 Stands Up, Directs Afghanistan Detainee Operations - A new Joint Task Force created to assume control of detention operations in Afghanistan became operational this week. The new unit, based in Kabul, will play an important role in the counter insurgency campaign in Afghanistan. Joint Task Force 435 achieved Initial Operations Capability Jan. 7 to assume command, oversight and responsibility for detainee operations in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Canadian commander announces U.S. deaths in Afghanistan - For the first time, a Canadian general has announced the deaths of U.S. troops under his command. Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard announced the deaths of four U.S. soldiers fighting in Panjwaii, a district which until recently had been patrolled by Canadians. (READ MORE)

U.N.'s Afghan Envoy Makes His Case in Washington - The departing chief of the United Nations mission to Afghanistan met with top officials in Washington on Thursday, a day after giving the U.N. Security Council a scathing assessment of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Kai Eide met with Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan; the two men then paid a brief "farewell call," on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a State Department spokesman said. (READ MORE)

Gates Endorses Critique of Military Intelligence in Afghanistan - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has endorsed a stinging critique of military intelligence efforts in Afghanistan written by the top U.S. and NATO military intelligence officer in the country. In a paper published this week, Major General Michael Flynn orders major changes to the way his operation works. (READ MORE)

Marines in Afghanistan Take 'The Village' to Heart - In political terms, any rhetoric linking the Afghan conflict and the Vietnam War is usually meant to be poisonous - like the charge that Afghanistan has become President Obama's Vietnam. But for the Marines in this former Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, a book about the war in Vietnam has become a guide for how to wage a counterinsurgency campaign on a small scale. (READ MORE)

Afghan Soldiers Stand With Marine Counterparts - During mid-afternoon on New Year's Day, a sea of men in green, brown and black camouflage uniforms shuffled awkwardly inside a crowded beige tent here. Men with thick, black beards and hard faces sat next to clean-shaven youths with full smiles. Each one wears the uniform of his nation's military, and each one carries a weapon. (READ MORE)

Violence Heats Up in Bitter Afghan Winter - Military officials expect violence to increase in Afghanistan during the winter as the U.S. increases forces in the region, even though the harsh, cold weather usually leads to a lull in battles along the country's mountainous southern and eastern provinces. On Thursday, a suicide bomber killed at least nine people in a marketplace in Kabul. (READ MORE)

Attack Leaves 10 Dead in Southeast Afghanistan - A suicide bomber attacking a pro-government militia commander detonated his bomb-laden vest in a southeastern provincial capital, Gardez, on Thursday, and witnesses said he killed 10 people and wounded 27, most of them civilians. (READ MORE)

Two Defense Contractors Indicted in Shooting of Afghans - Two defense contractors working for a subsidiary of the former Blackwater Worldwide were charged with shooting and killing two Afghan citizens in Kabul and wounding a third, prosecutors said Thursday, the first slayings linked to the firm in that country and its latest legal blow. (READ MORE)

U.S. Military Investigates Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Afghanistan - The U.S. military has begun investigating allegations that two Afghan teenagers were beaten and humiliated by guards while in American custody last year at a secret detention center at Bagram air base, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. (READ MORE)

US Appeals Court Wary of Habeas Corpus Challenge by Detainees in Afghanistan - An appeals court expressed uneasiness Thursday with the ramifications of allowing some detainees at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan to challenge their imprisonment in federal court. The three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit voiced their apprehension during oral arguments in the government's appeal of a lower court ruling... (READ MORE)

Murky Trail for ‘Loner’ in Attack on CIA - Another blog posting appeared Thursday under the name of Abu Dujana al-Khorasani, eight days after the man who used that pseudonym blew himself up at a secret CIA outpost in eastern Afghanistan. The headline: “When will my words drink my blood?” (READ MORE)

U.S. Insists Pakistan Ease Limits On Staffers - The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad demanded that Pakistan stop detaining American diplomats at police checkpoints on the country's roads - an unusual public complaint intended, in part, to counter rumors of U.S. plots against Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Don't Discount Europe's Commitment to Afghanistan - For decades, Europeans have heard an enduring message from the United States: Do more. Carry your weight. Don't make America do all the heavy lifting. And this message has been delivered, loud and clear, once again, on Afghanistan. An honest assessment would conclude that over the years these complaints have occasionally had some foundation. (READ MORE)

General Condemns Taliban Attack on Civilians - The commander of day-to-day military operations in Afghanistan condemned a bombing attack on Gardez Bazaar in Afghanistan’s Paktia province today that killed at least four civilians and wounded several others. "The Taliban-led enemy has again demonstrated an absolute disregard for the Afghan people and their lives," said Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command. (READ MORE)

Karzai Afghan Corruption 'Blown Out Of Proportion' - A defiant Afghan President Hamid Karzai has defended his record on corruption in an interview broadcast, saying the issue that has damaged his reputation had been "blown out of proportion" by Western media. In the interview, with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television, the Afghan leader said he did not depend on the good opinion of Western leaders, who had sent their troops out of self interest. (READ MORE)

Freed Gitmo detainees 'rejoining Taliban' - Freed Guantanamo Bay detainees are becoming the "hardest" and most dedicated Taliban fighters "rejoining jihad against the US," a Congressman has said. Speaking at the city's Union League Club, Republican Representative from Illinois Mark Kirk said he would urge the Obama Administration to stop all further releases from the detention centre in Cuba because otherwise "they enter our battlespace". (READ MORE)

1 US, 8 Afghan troops killed by roadside bombs - Roadside bombs have killed eight Afghan soldiers and a U.S. service member in separate incidents in Afghanistan, officials said Friday. NATO confirmed the American died Thursday in eastern Afghanistan, but provided no other details. (READ MORE)

Gates backs critique of spy agencies in Afghanistan - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has thrown his support behind a harsh critique of US spy agencies in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on them to shift focus from killing insurgents to winning hearts and minds. The rare public critique by US Major-General Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, put a spotlight on what some American officials describe as a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war within the US military and intelligence community over priorities. (READ MORE)

Afghan war 'become more deadly' - Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, whose fragile government is propped up by more than 100 000 foreign troops, said on Friday he does not need "the favour" of the international community. The US and NATO have 113 000 troops fighting a Taliban-led insurgency trying to topple Karzai and destabilise the war-torn, impoverished and corrupt country. (READ MORE)

Let's pray for our soldiers in Afghanistan - Something significant is missing in Canada's battle for liberty in Afghanistan. It is the spiritual armour our military should be getting from the front lines of the Canadian church. This may not be the polite time to raise this issue, as mourners overflow clergy-led funerals for fallen soldiers, but we desperately need to awaken to the reality that our spiritual truths exist for more than burying the dead. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan: After 2011, then what? - Party leaders, members of Parliament, columnists, advocacy groups, public intellectuals and many citizens have asked: “What, if anything, will we do in Afghanistan after 2011?” A common answer is that Canadians need to discuss the question – and there the matter is left, without much ordered discussion at all. A decision to walk away from an unfinished war, with all its attendant risks to national interests and dispiriting connotations of retreat and forsaken sacrifices, is only slightly less important than was the decision to enter it in the first place. (READ MORE)

Dutch Army says Afghan warlord is being paid to let them pass - An Afghan warlord has told Radio Netherlands that he is receiving money to protect convoys of army vehicles. The warlord, Mathiullah Khan, has confirmed he charges for the transportation of water, food and fuel from Kandahar to the Dutch bases at Camp Holland or Tarin Kowt in the neighbouring province to the north. (READ MORE)

Holbrooke says Al-Qaeda leaders holed up in Pak-Afghan border region - American officials believe that Al Qaeda leaders are holed up in the remote areas of the Pak-Afghan border, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke has said. The News quoted Holbrooke as saying that his country is concerned about the activities of the Haqqani group in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Pak warns against foreign interference in Afghanistan - Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, has warned the international community that foreign interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs can have adverse consequences, however, Islamabad must remain engaged with Kabul as a strategic partner. "No regional or extra-regional state should be allowed to manipulate the situation. (READ MORE)

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