January 12, 2010

From the Front: 01/12/2010

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

From the frying pan, into the fire - I just read this story a few moments ago and had to chuckle a little bit. There are so many in the world that want to make our country look bad or that are citizens of our country who want to apologize for us because they think we are bad, that the motivation to do “right” will actually make things worse. "Afghan Defence Ministry will soon take over charge of the detention center run by the United States military at the Bagram Airbase north of Afghan capital Kabul." Now let me get this straight, a country with the moral convictions of ours, the ethics we posses and the scrutiny of the entire world is going to hand over the management, care and control of prisoners to one like Afghanistan? Is that what I am to understand? And this is supposed to be for the better? This is like being tossed from the frying pan into the fire, as my Grandma used to say. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you - Rex is out on a mission and asked me to update his readers about the latest developments with the “School Supplies for Afghan Children” project. It’s been a busy week. On Tuesday I picked up another carload of donated supplies from WUSF Radio and TV on University of South Florida’s Tampa campus. The station has served as a drop off point for the school supplies drive since November and it was time to collect everything they had collected so far for shipping. The pile was impressive; there were all sorts of school supplies and one listener alone sent in 500 pencils. Those 500 pencils will turn into a thousand pencils in Afghanistan as the kids break them in half to help share the donations. We also received a gigantic trash bag full of Beanie Baby toys. The anonymous donor even left a sweet note for the children; I will send that note to Rex and hopefully his interpreter will help explain it when they hand out the toys on an upcoming village mission. (READ MORE)

Josh McLaughlin: A Follow-up to "Al Qaeda: Franchise or Conglomerate?" Comments - I originally wrote this as a comment to my post yesterday. It was too large for Blogspot to accept in even two comments, so I'm publishing another post instead of trying to break it up. This is not the full follow-up I mentioned yesterday. That will have to wait until after I finish my MBA homework for the week. Rest assured, I'll get it on here before the week's up. "Mr. Ronfeldt, I really appreciate your input and challenge to my theory. Bear with me through my response, as it may seem partially disjointed. Before I dig in, I have to add that I feel the utilization of a business paradigm is easy for the average person to understand, and there is a tremendous amount of previously conducted research available that can provide key targeting insights if you approach the problem with the correct model. As my colleague Pat Ryan previously wrote back in December, 'Their structure, as shown above, gives us insight into how they operate.'" (READ MORE)

Army Household6: Thank You Sears! - I guess you could say that I’m a “Sears brat “! You see, my dad worked for Sears for 30+ years and I spent lots of time in a Sears Store as a kid! : ) Heck I even worked there myself in the 90’s and have shopped there a lot over the years as an adult. A couple of months ago, I signed our family up for the Sears’ Heroes at Home program. It is a program created to give back to military families. Over the course of 3 months , we received gift cards worth a total of $322.00 It was a much appreciated and welcomed gift. Since this was all extra $$ that we certainly weren’t expecting to receive, we bought stuff for the house, a Wii Spongebob game for the girls and a Flip video camera (which I’ve wanted for a REALLY long time) I have to say this camera is the coolest handheld camera I’ve used in a long time. It’s so easy to use Beck can use it with ease. It’s completely plug in pay… there is a USB connector built into the camera. (READ MORE)

Charlie Simpson's War: Note to Self (2) - Black tea with honey is ridiculously good. Why haven’t I drank it that way before? On a semi-related note: you have no idea how hard it is to execute the “gargle with warm salt-water” cold remedy here. First you have to find salt. Ok, steal some salt-packets from the chow hall. Next you need warm water. Well, there’s an electric kettle at the office. But, like, do I really want to gargle there? I think not. I have a sink in my room, but I find it best not to drink from the faucet. I guess I could make up my concoction in the women’s bathroom… Sooo, yeah. I make tea with honey and leave it at that. (MORE)

Nathan Hodge: Madden NFL for Military’s Drone Video Analysts - For months, the U.S. military has been rushing to get more drones over Afghanistan. But as more Predators and Reapers prowl the skies, intelligence analysts are drowning in data. Air Force unmanned aircraft shot nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as they did in 2007. Exactly how much footage is that? If one analyst had to watch it all, it would take about 24 years, if watched continuously, Christopher Drew writes in today’s New York Times. The amount of drone footage is poised to grow exponentially. In the next year, the Air Force will outfit 10 Reaper drones with “Gorgon Stare” sensors. It’s a package of high-powered cameras that can film an area, two-and-a-half miles around, from 12 different angles. Eventually, the military hopes to equip drones with 92-camera arrays. Drew notes that the military is now experimenting with new techniques to make sense of drone video, like the telestrator. (READ MORE)

Bones: Jihad Primer: Lesson One - As I contemplate the events of the past year, nothing stands out more than the Homeland attacks and attempts by al Qaeda. I guess I tire of the term, ‘connect the dots’. How can one connect said dots if one does not understand the history behind the century’s long enmity of Islam with other faiths? Yes, I could blame this administration and suggest new tactics, but rather, I feel it time for us to understand Islam and its history. Today we need an accurate interpretation of the history of this religion threatening the world, not the redacted pabulum provided by the shivering politicians of western society. It seem the only history we get today is from Hollywood. It is the Politically Correct representation of a ‘religion of peace’ exemplified by Morgan Feeman’s Azeem in “Robin Hood Price of Thieves”. The simple truth is that these are more a creation of the Politically Correct, than facts based in reality. (READ MORE)

the semi-normal, day-to-day life of a female marine: Female Marines in the Media - 39 - Female Marines Reach Out to Afghan Women - Team Formed Last Summer Tasked to Gain Intelligence From Afghanistan's Female Population: They role-play how to communicate with Afghans, focusing not only on how to ask questions, but also how to act. "I want you to be natural," Capt. Stacy Blackburn-Hoelscher told her Marines. "They are already freaked out because you look like Robocop." Video: One of the keys to the fight. All-female teams reach out to Afghan women: Cpl. Sara Bryant is training like an infantry Marine about to hit the front lines. She’s learned to clear houses and patrol, and she’s refreshed her land navigation, martial arts and machine gun firing skills. But Bryant isn’t a grunt. She’s a radio operator with 9th Communications Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and one of more than 20 female Marines who will train future members of Female Engagement Teams to go into Afghanistan. Video: Female Marine in a Firefight in Fallujah: (READ MORE)

Ghosts of Alexander: Revisionist Russian Tough Love Letter to NATO Countries re: Afghanistan - The New York Times does let the Russians into its op-ed pages on occasion. Today it let in two enthusiastic Russian revisionists who put their rambling onto paper: General Boris Gromov (ret.) of the 40th Army and Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian ambassador to NATO. Usually the Russian commentary in English on Afghanistan comes from everybody’s favorite schadenfreude practitioner, the Uzbekistan-born Zamir Kabulov (not too sure, I was told he’s from Andijan but I can’t find a source), who served as Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan until last September and who may have been a KGB officer for a while. But it’s no surprise he’s not in the NYT as this NYT article made the KGB connection resulting in this hissy-fit of a Wikipedia “fan page” on Kabulov. I assume he is as unhappy as whoever edited his wikipedia entry. There is much “revisionism” that is needed on the Soviet-Afghan War... (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Father and son together on tour in Afghanistan - A father and son who are both part of 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) [2 YORKS] Battle Group currently serving in Afghanistan are finding that being with loved ones on operations can bring challenges as well as rewards. It is not unusual for sons, and indeed daughters, to follow in their fathers' footsteps and join the Armed Forces, but few actually get to serve alongside each other on deployment. However that is the case for Colour Sergeant Spencer Brown and his son, Lance Corporal Josh Brown, who are both members of 2 YORKS and have been posted to Helmand province as part of the 2 YORKS Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group. In Afghanistan, CSgt Brown is the Acting Intelligence Officer based at the 2 YORKS Battle Group headquarters at Camp Tombstone, adjacent to Camp Bastion. He also has responsibilities for mentoring his counterpart in the 3/205 Brigade of the Afghan National Army (ANA), based in nearby Camp Shorabak. (READ MORE)

In Iraq Now (at 56): Real Frugality - Now that I am home from a year neck deep in socialism and spending way less money than is my usual habit, I have a better idea how much money I spend on life, the universe and everything. And I am already feeling guilty about how much I want to spend--not that it will slow me down much. In Iraq I bought exactly two meals during the entire tour: two pizzas at Ciano's. The only money I spent was for phone cards, maybe $20 a month, Internet $88 per month, and one or two lattes each day at Green Beans, $150 per month, and books, maybe $15/month. The standard by which I compare my profligate self is my frugal wife Annalisa who spends nearly nothing--except the occasional huge amount of money to be more energy efficient, like buying a Prius or renovating our house to insulate and air seal it, plus completely change how it looks. The house is beautiful and more energy efficient now. During the year I was gone, our lovely new home had no TV in it. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Smart Terrorists or Foolish Intellectuals? - Surprised? Who's surprised? Anne Applebaum writes of her surprise at how clever the Jordanian man was who killed eight people in Khost, Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago. She writes that he conned the CIA into thinking he was an informant, he conned the Jordanian intelligence, but she forgot to mention that he and his wife conned her -- and plenty of others. Applebaum is intrigued by Balawi's wife, and she's amazed by the jihadis. "These people are not the wretched of the Earth," she writes. Hey, who could disagree? Any person who has followed the terrorists knows they're not. Why does she think so? Because her newspaper and others have told her that they are victims of U.S. policy. The media has preached for the past decade that these people are pushed into violence and so we must grant them rights of U.S. citizens. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: The System Worked? Kinda Sorta - DHS chief Janet Napolitano took a raft of grief for her shoot-from-the hip comment that “the system worked” in the wake of the near disastrous missteps by America’s counter-terrorist community in failing to prevent the would be Christmas Day crotchbomber. But the system did kinda work. Kinda sorta. All the screening and restrictions and beefed-up security did force the undie-bomber to resort to a crude, and ultimately, unreliable detonator for his explosive/incendiary devise. But as the declassified summary of a White House review noted there was a massive failure to “connect the dots.” The report concludes the U.S. government had sufficient information prior to the attack to disrupt the plot by identifying Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as an al Qaeda operative, and kneeing him off the plane. Ironically the redundancy between the The CIA and the NCTC which should have help ensure this didn’t fall through the cracks, didn’t work. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: From Baghdad to Beirut - I recently made my seventh trip to Iraq to try to answer an important question: Will the country explode after American soldiers withdraw? But the answer may lie 600 miles to the west—in Beirut, where I traveled from Baghdad. The best-case scenario for Iraq may be that it becomes a more backward version of Lebanon. The two countries share encouraging traits that neither has in common with any other country in the Arab world: ethnic and religious diversity, more or less free and fair elections, and at least some degree of freedom of speech. Then again, Lebanon isn’t in great shape these days. The country’s future had seemed bright when I rented an apartment there during parts of 2005 and 2006—after the “Beirut Spring,” when massive nonviolent demonstrations ousted the occupying Syrian military regime. But in 2006, war returned to the Land of the Cedars. Two more wars have been fought there since, and more are nearly inevitable. (READ MORE)

Andi: Introducing SurvivorBUZZ - A few weeks ago, I had an eye-opening conversation with a widow named Jackie. Jackie's husband was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber. A female suicide bomber. I've talked to numerous Gold Star Wives over the past few years, but after talking with Jackie, I found that I had barely scratched the surface with respect to the challenges these wives face in the immediate and long-term aftermath of their husband's death. There are, of course, the obvious challenges that come with losing a loved one, but Jackie shared many of the not-so-obvious challenges that Gold Star Wives face, most of which I had never thought about. After our initial conversation, I found myself shocked at the myriad of issues these women must deal with. As if the actual loss -- and all that surrounds it -- weren't enough, there is more. So much more. Jackie's story is both tragic and inspiring. Tragic because she lost her husband and her children lost their father, but inspiring because six years later, Jackie is determined to give back to the Gold Star Wife community. (READ MORE)

The Torch: An unheralded milestone - One of the published core values of CANSOFCOM is humility. So it comes as no surprise that when the Commander of CANSOFCOM, Michael Day, was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General a month ago, there was no big fanfare. Just the CDS dropping by to slip a new pair of epaulettes on to the man's shoulders, and a short speech. But it's a big deal, all right. All the Commands in the CF, save this one, are headed by Lieutenant Generals. CANSOFCOM, until recently, has been led by a Colonel. So my first thought upon learning of the promotion was that the CF was putting more importance upon the Command by bumping the rank of the commander's appointment. Not so, I was told: the slot has always been for a BGen. The problem in staffing it with the appropriate rank was always that Canada's Special Operations community - which in its modern incarnation really only stood up with the birth of JTF 2 in April of 1993 - hadn't yet grown its own general rank officer. It was simply too new. (READ MORE)

Terry Glavin: Afghanistan: A Quagmire Of Confidence, Progress And Optimism - This latest poll is the now the 14th survey of which I am aware that wholly defies the received wisdom (which is to say the fashionable delusions and popular frenzies) abroad in the rich countries of the world about Afghanistan, and about "what Afghans think." I am aware of no poll - not one - that supports the self-obsessed and fraudulent "anti-war" opinion in Canada on these subjects, or that does not expose bourgeois "left-wing" opinion to be objectively far-right, reactionary, and in opposition to the hopes and aspirations of the Afghan people. 'Troops Out Now!' Sixty-one per cent of the Afghan respondents support the U.S./NATO "surge" of 37,000 troops. Only 25 per cent agree with the American (and Canadian) plan to start withdrawing troops in 18 months, and while 22 per cent say foreign troops should start to pull out sooner, 21 per cent say foreign troops should in fact stay longer, and 29 per cent (the most sensible cohort, in my view) say troop withdrawals should depend on the security situation at the time. (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: Searching For The World’s First 85-Year Old White Female Suicide Bomber - It’s one thing when the low-wage security guards get a little excitable about trying to find PETN explosives on 85-year-old former federal public servants. It’s quite another when a guy making six figures tries to back up such idiocy in the media. Transport Minister John Baird made the unwise decision of opening his mouth last night when he heard about an invasive search of the woman by security personnel in Ottawa Airport. The four-foot-10, 90-pound woman travelling from Ottawa to Toronto on December 28 was asked to remove her boots [in case she was a British Muslim terrorist in disguise], and then unzip her pants [in case she was a Nigerian Muslim terrorist in disguise]. A female inspection officer then poked her abdomen. Geez, I’m only 35-years-old, but I haven’t had six-pack abs in about five years. I figure in 50 years the last thing I’d want anywhere near my sagging abdominal area was the latexed finger of a security lackey. (READ MORE)

MAJ Nathan Springer: Taking the Next Step: Operationalizing a Population-Centric Strategy at the Battalion - Squadron Level - COL Gian Gentile versus LTC (Ret) John Nagl. The debate and discussion in the blogs and other media about the effectiveness of the population-centric counterinsurgency approach – it’s all the rage. Is a population-centric COIN approach the best strategy to succeed in Afghanistan? I don’t know. But I do know that it can work. In this short space, I would like to show how a tactical unit implemented the population-focused approach. I had a bird’s eye view of this process in the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry, 173rd ABCT. 1-91CAV deployed during OIF VII-VIII from May 2007 to July 2008. During the train-up and execution of these events I commanded B Troop and HHT respectively and ran the Squadron FECC in the latter months of the deployment. Prior to deployment, 1-91CAV conducted an in-depth study of the operational environment and the area of operation which consisted of Ghaziabad and Naray Districts... (READ MORE)

ANDREW BALCOMBE: The Hague Online: Brothers in Arms - It was early days in the joint Australian-Dutch ISAF mission. Little was known about the Taliban’s strength or location in Uruzgan province. Lieutenant Marco Kroon of the Dutch Special Forces Korps Kommandotroepen (KCT) was ordered to conduct reconnaissance operations and report any enemy activity back to headquarters. Previously the commandos had been patrolling south of Uruzgan province, and had reported little or no Taliban contact. Kroon led a 29-strong platoon of commandos, which was part of a company codenamed “Viper.” They conducted most of their patrols alongside one particular Australian SASR patrol. Of the six joint missions that were released to the public domain, Viper and the Australians faced numerous ferocious attacks. Kroon said that after the quiet of the southern region under Uruzgan, “It was a little bit of a surprise that the Taliban were present in such large numbers and that they outnumbered us.” (READ MORE)

Katie Drummond: Navy Wants Troops Wearing Brain-Scanners Into War - The Pentagon’s been pushing for better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent wartime brain injuries. Last year, they requested proposals for pharmacological methods to stave off PTSD. New genetic tests and brain scans, meant to identify war-fighters who are “vulnerable” to stress reactions, are ongoing. Now, the Navy’s looking to speed up the diagnosis of brain trauma, with a portable, weather-proof, multipurpose brain scanner. The Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is requesting proposals for a brain scanning system that can assess a myriad of neuro-cognitive abilities, including reaction times, problem solving and memory recall. The scanner would also test for preliminary warning signs of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, using the Trail-Making Test: a series of connect-the-dot exercises that’s been used by the military since the 1940s. (READ MORE)

Grim: Roundtable: The Court that Tries Iraqi Police - We spoke with USAF Major Joseph Musacchia, deputy director of the Rule of Law Directorate for the Iraq Training and Advising Mission. MAJ Musacchia is working with the Iraqi Police (IP) version of an internal affairs court, which is similar in some ways to a UCMJ court in that it treats the law that governs the IP, not the law that governs the society at large. Of the three branches of the Iraqi Security Forces -- the military, the "national police" and the Iraqi police -- the IPs have normally been the least reliable and the most subject to partisan infiltration. The Major asserts that the court has issued two thousand sentences against corrupt officials in the twenty months since it came into force. We questioned him closely about the mechanisms used to avoid false convictions, so that partisan actors in the IP structure couldn't use it to conduct purges against their political or tribal enemies. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: It’s all about the logistics - "On a visit to Afghanistan last month, Admiral Mullen pressed military logisticians on how they would be able to meet the schedule. But even Admiral Mullen, who said he was “reasonably confident” that the logistics would work out, acknowledged the tall order before the military, saying, 'I want a plan B because life doesn’t always work out.'" You would think something as important as logistics in a land-locked country had been addressed and analyzed before. Yes, I’m sure it has. I very sure. I’m very, very sure. I’m certain it has. I’m very certain. I’m VERY, VERY CERTAIN. It’s just that the idiots at the White House won’t listen to the Milbloggers. Logistics rules. The logisticians tell the Generals what to do, and not even the President overrules them. It’s just the way it works. Military logisticians will meet the schedule or they won’t. Either way, more histrionics at the White House won’t change anything. (READ MORE)

STRATFOR: The Khost Attack and the Intelligence War Challenge - As Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi exited the vehicle that brought him onto Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, 2009, security guards noticed he was behaving strangely. They moved toward al-Balawi and screamed demands that he take his hand out of his pocket, but instead of complying with the officers’ commands, al-Balawi detonated the suicide device he was wearing. The explosion killed al-Balawi, three security contractors, four CIA officers and the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID) officer who was al-Balawi’s handler. The vehicle shielded several other CIA officers at the scene from the blast. The CIA officers killed included the chief of the base at Khost and an analyst from headquarters who reportedly was the agency’s foremost expert on al Qaeda. The agency’s second-ranking officer in Afghanistan was allegedly among the officers who survived. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Hoist By Their Own Petard - An old idea has recently been re-insinuating its way into public discourse in response to the Christmas underwear bomber's attempt at mass murder. The idea that terrorists (of any variety) do not represent a particularly serious threat to our nation has been advanced by a number of very smart and capable commentators, including Fareed Zakaria and Stephen Flynn in the Washington Post. Zakaria's rather sensible recommendation is that we approach any attempted or successful terrorist attack in much the same manner the FAA approaches airplane accidents, ie try to figure out what failed and introduce policies and procedures to prevent a recurrence. (Physicians take just this approach when examining unusual cases or unexpectedly poor outcomes. Morbidity and Mortality {M & M} conferences are among the best learning tools for Physicians.) (READ MORE)

Loving a Soldier Blog: My introduction - Hi ! My name is Susie, and I have been a part of the military family for 6 months. My husband and I met at work, where he hopelessly pursued me for almost a month before I said yes to him. What followed was a completely cliche' fairytale romance, and I loved every moment of it. After just 6 months of dating, we were engaged, and then the news no one wants to hear came. He was being deployed before the end of the year. We ended up running off and eloping July 24, 2009. Being married is nothing like I thought it would be, of course we're still in the honeymoon phase of infatuation though. Watching Eric get on a bus and drive off was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. Please don't take him! He's going to miss so many things! I'm not prepared! So many things ran through my head that day. Now, a month later, I miss him everyday, but the pride I feel talking about him almost makes up for it. He has laughed with me during the good days, and dried my tears during the bad. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Military Is Awash in Data From Drones - As the military rushes to place more spy drones over Afghanistan, the remote-controlled planes are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up. As the military rushes to place more spy drones over Afghanistan, the remote-controlled planes are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up. (READ MORE)

A Drone Data Crunch - For now, the Army, the Air Force and the intelligence services are having enough trouble keeping up with one camera per drone. The military has started looking to unlikely place for ideas on wading through the data stream: John Madden. (READ MORE)

CIA agent killed in bomb blast remembered as loving husband, father - Harold Brown Jr., one of seven CIA agents killed in a bombing in Afghanistan Dec. 30, was a loving and involved husband and father, said a fellow parishioner at Brown's Virginia Catholic parish. "He was a bright light in the community -- always very pleasant, just an outstanding man," said Peg Telesca, director of religious education at St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax. (READ MORE)

Fallen Soldier Returned to Roseburg - Bad weather delayed Sgt. Lengstorf's flight into Eugene from Montana by about two hours Monday afternoon, but dozens waited in the streets to pay tribute to one of their own. Army Sergeant Josh Lengstorf was killed on January 3rd when insurgents attacked his unit in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Jordanians Question Alliance with U.S. After Humam al-Balawi’s CIA Suicide Bombing - The father received the bearded mourners with dry eyes, his grief tempered by the conviction that his son, a martyr to the cause of al-Qaeda’s jihad, was already in Heaven. It is a common enough spectacle in the Islamist badlands of the Middle East or Central Asia - but yesterday’s funeral was not in Afghanistan, nor even Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Military Misconduct May be Symptom of Stress Disorder - In 2007, a high-ranking Navy doctor sent a sobering warning to colleagues: The service may be discharging soldiers for misconduct when in fact they are merely displaying symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. (READ MORE)

Better Mental Fitness Will Help Prevent Suicide, Sutton Says - Preventing suicide is more than simply recognizing the signs, it involves building strong community and individual support before the idea ever sets in, the Army's top psychiatrist and director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury said here today. (READ MORE)

‘Real Warrior’ Describes Post-traumatic Stress - When Staff Sgt. Megan Krause returned home from a deployment in Iraq in 2006, she thought the scariest moments of her life were over. At her homecoming, “I ran to my mother in that hangar; we both cried tears of joy,” said Krause, now an Army Reserve medic attached to a combat engineering unit in Pennsylvania. “I told her it was over and I was fine. Boy was I wrong.” (READ MORE)

Funerals honour soldier and journalist slain - People in their hundreds gathered on the edges of two oceans Monday to mourn two of Canada's latest casualties of the war in Afghanistan — one a dedicated soldier, the other a gifted journalist. In Vancouver, family members, relatives, friends and colleagues of slain Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang filed solemnly past her flag-draped coffin. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

U.S. Team Works to Improve Rule of Law in Iraq - A team of U.S. forces is seeing its work pay off in ensuring that a court system created to police Iraqi law enforcement follows the law in things like due process. “We want the Iraqi people to have confidence in their police force. We want them to be able to maintain their own security internally, within their nation.” (READ MORE)

A Terrorist Goes Free - On the evening of January 20, 2007, U.S. soldiers serving in the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, Iraq, were attacked by an Iranian-backed terrorist squad. The raid was carried out with precision. At 5 p.m., a convoy of five vehicles made to look just like SUVs used by U.S. contractors entered the Karbala base. (READ MORE)

Mom of Seven Continues Military Family Tradition - She was a 45-year-old married, stay-at-home mom of seven children and caring for an elderly uncle. Living in South Berwick, Maine -- her life was content. Flash forward three years and she is a captain in the U.S. Air Force working as a trauma nurse at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Forces Arrest Suspected Terrorists - Iraqi security forces arrested five suspected terrorists during operations today in Baghdad and northern Iraq, military officials said. The 44th Iraqi Army soldiers arrested a Promised Day Brigade explosives-cell member and two suspected criminal associates during a joint security operation in northeastern Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Amputee soldier returns to duty in Afghanistan - The first Canadian soldier to return to active duty in Afghanistan as an amputee says coming back has closed a loop for him and shown the insurgents' weapon of choice can be overcome. Designed to do more than maim, kill and damage, the improvised explosive device is supposed to instill terror, said Capt. Simon Mailloux. "By coming back here, I think I've defeated the IED that blew me up -- I've overcome that fear," Mailloux said. (READ MORE)

Afghan Poll Indicates Increasing Optimism, More Opposition to Taliban - A new survey of public opinion in Afghanistan indicates that most Afghans are now optimistic about the direction of their country and the leadership of President Hamid Karzai. The poll, sponsored by American, British and German broadcasters, says 70 percent of Afghans believe the country is headed in the right direction. (READ MORE)

Poll Shows More Optimism in Afghanistan - Afghans are far more optimistic about their future than they were a year ago and support the presence of US troops in their country, according to a poll released yesterday. Some 70 per cent of Afghans think their country is “going in the right direction”, compared with 40 per cent a year earlier - the highest figure since 2005, according to the survey for the BBC, ABC news and ARD of Germany. (READ MORE)

War’s Fury No Longer Pauses for Afghan Winter - Afghanistan’s high mountains and harsh weather once meant that winter was a respite from much of the war’s violence, but as the deaths of six Western soldiers in three separate attacks on Monday show, this winter is proving to be different. American military leaders and Taliban commanders are vowing to carry the fight to each other and skip the traditional winter vacation, and there is every sign that they are doing just that. (READ MORE)

Five Western Troops, Including Three Americans, Killed in Afghanistan - U.S. Marines came under attack by Taliban fighters Monday at the start of an operation intended to push insurgents from a volatile town in southern Afghanistan, while across the country five Western service members, including at least three Americans, were killed in battle. (READ MORE)

U.S. Leads Noncombat Missions in Afghanistan - U.S. forces have taken part in several important noncombat missions throughout Afghanistan in recent days, including meetings between residents and government leaders, humanitarian outreach, construction training and transferring responsibilities to Afghans. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Terrorists Target More Civilians in 2009 - Pakistan suffered its worst year of terrorist violence last year, with more than 3,000 people killed, as Islamic insurgents, some of them allied with Al Qaeda, targeted civilians and destabilized the country, according to a new report. The tally compiled by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, a research organization based in Islamabad, found that terrorist attacks killed 3,021 people and injured 7,334 in 2009. (READ MORE)

In Karachi, Politics Means Urban Warfare, Literally - In most places, newspaper headlines about a cease-fire between rival political parties tend to be about policy squabbles. In Karachi, such references are more often literal. More than 40 people have died here in the last five days in so-called targeted killings, most of the victims slain because of their political affiliations. (READ MORE)

Getting to Know You - In early 2003, a single American diplomat and more than 5,000 American troops were stationed in Kandahar, the second city of Afghanistan and the heart of former Taliban country. The troops mostly stayed on their base, penned off near the airport, isolated from the people of the city. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, Jan. 12, 2010 - In an early morning operation yesterday in the Now Zad area of Helmand province, ISAF forces witnessed a large number of insurgents near a safe house preparing ammunition and observed insurgent mortar teams moving equipment. An unmanned aerial vehicle launched one Hellfire missile killing 13 insurgents. (READ MORE)

IJC Comments on Civil Unrest Near Garmsir - The ISAF Joint Command is aware of protests that took place earlier today in Garmsir District. Protestors gathered over an allegation of desecration to the holy Koran. "While denying these allegations, we take them very seriously and support a combined investigation with local Afghan authorities," said Maj. Gen. Michael Regner. (READ MORE)

IED Components Confiscated - An ISAF force conducting a convoy in Helmand province discovered a cache of IED materials today. The security force noticed two men in a large truck acting suspiciously. Upon searching the vehicle they found 39 bags of fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate, 16 jugs similar to those used in previous IEDs and three pressure cookers. (READ MORE)

Afghan firefight kills 3 American NATO workers, 3 other NATO servicemen - Six NATO service members, including three Americans, were killed in Afghanistan on Monday — the deadliest day for the international force in more than two months, underscoring fears that casualties will rise as more foreign troops stream into the country. Nevertheless, a new poll says Afghans are more optimistic than a year ago and think the Taliban are losing momentum. (READ MORE)

Afghan mayor gunned down by unknown assailants - The mayor of the city of Delaram, in Afghanistan's southwestern Nimruz province, has been killed, Tolo TV channel reported on Tuesday. Abdullah Jan, 35, was attacked by unknown gunmen on Monday when he was returning home from his office by car, Tolo said. In May 2009, Jan survived an assassination attempt by suspected Taliban insurgents. (READ MORE)

Karzai faces cabinet setback over absent Afghan minister - Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday faced another setback in his troubled effort to fill his cabinet when he was forced to withdraw a candidate who failed to return from Canada in time for confirmation hearings. Lawmakers dealt Karzai an unexpected blow earlier this month when they threw out more than two thirds of his cabinet nominees. He ordered them to suspend a planned winter break so they could vet a second batch of prospective ministers. (READ MORE)

Did ISI have a hand in attack on CIA base? - A US strategic think tank has discounted 'widespread rumours in the United States' that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had a hand in the Dec 30 attack in Khost, Afghanistan that killed several CIA agents. The possibility that jihadist sympathisers in the lower ranks of the Pakistani intelligence complex may have offered their services to the Taliban cannot be ruled out, the think tank said. (READ MORE)

Photographer injured in Afghanistan blast due to be flown home - Sunday Mirror photographer Phil Coburn, who suffered serious leg injuries in the explosion that killed his reporter colleague Rupert Hamer, was due to be flown from Afghanistan to Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham today. Coburn, a "dedicated and passionate photographer" with a reputation for capturing moving wartime images, was critically wounded but expected to pull through, the Daily Mirror said today. (READ MORE)

Afghan cabinet seen as return to patronage politics - Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s second attempt to form a cabinet has raised concerns of a return to patronage politics with a batch of largely unknown figures who appear to come with useful connections. Analysts said many of the new names submitted on Saturday for parliament’s approval — to replace 17 nominees rejected by lawmakers earlier this month — have little or no experience in government, raising the risk of failure. (READ MORE)

Dead Afghan soldiers worked with diggers - Eight Afghan army soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last week had been deployed with Australian soldiers. The Australian Defence Force says the troops were working in the Chora Valley and were on a logistics task last Thursday when the bomb exploded. No Australian personnel were involved in the incident. (READ MORE)

The No. 1 killer in Afghanistan? Poverty. - Whether President Obama's plan to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan will deny al-Qaeda a haven and turn the tide against the insurgency remains to be seen. But with all this focus on the military side of the war, it is important to remember that the No. 1 killer in Afghanistan isn't al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Poverty causes more deaths of Afghan civilians annually than all the IEDs, suicide attacks and roadside bombs combined. (READ MORE)

U.S. general: Taliban beaten in Helmand province - U.S. forces have driven the Taliban from most towns and villages in the strategic Helmand province of Afghanistan, leaving incoming troops with the mission of holding key areas and rebuilding the economy, Marine commanders say. "They've taken on the Taliban, the insurgency, right in the heartland and they've defeated them," said Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills in an interview with USA TODAY. (READ MORE)

First of eight mothballed Chinooks dispatched to Afghanistan - The first of eight Chinooks mothballed at Boscombe Down for 10 years owing to lack of verifiable flight software, is soon to be despatched to Afghanistan. The eight are undergoing a delayed £90m conversion programme being undertaken by supplier Boeing at the base to allow the Mk 3 helicopters to be declared airworthy and added to the fleet available for ferrying troops and supplies. (READ MORE)

No comments: