March 9, 2010

From the Front: 03/09/2010

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

Old Blue :
Some Things Don’t Need Embellishment - I recently traveled to Germany to train part of the incoming International Joint Command (IJC) staff who will be taking over in Afghanistan this year. The group of British, French and Italian officers and senior NCO staff that I worked with were very good participants, with some very thoughtful discussion going on. Because of the limited return flights, I had to spend a little over a day waiting before I traveled back to Kabul. I had contacted MaryAnn Phillips, President of Soldiers’ Angels Germany and told her I would be in Germany. I knew that she’d be disappointed with me if I went there and made no effort to say hello. I have too much respect for her to just breeze in and out and not say a word about it. MaryAnn found something for me to do with my bit of extra time; visit Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. When she mentioned it, I was torn. I have put the bodies of friends in bags. I had to go through their pockets for ID so that I could figure out who they were. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Soldiers going dismounted in Afghanistan - About seven or eight months ago my good friend Scott Kesterson who was and still is in Afghanistan told me “things are changing here, they are going back to a Vietnam way of patrolling”. I was not sure what he was talking about or implying so I asked him. He told me that the troops were getting out of the vehicles and walking everywhere they go. Vehicles were limited to the roads for the most part and the enemy had them channeled and could focus the IEDs and EFPs on the roads. Soldiers were finding (along with GEN McChrystal’s direction) that if they went dismounted they were safer because the enemy could not IED wide open space. In order to have freedom of movement and to increase the chance of survival, soldiers were going “cross-country” by dismounted patrols. Since that time I have read reports and stories where entire platoons and sometimes companies never even see vehicles. They spend their whole year walking everywhere. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Count, Recount, and Recount - My private internet connectivity is working again. I had no access for 24 hours. Even when I am connected, the bandwidth is about the speed of drying paint, especially when it comes to uploading photographs. As a backup, I visit the MWR building when I have no connectivity. But last night it was slow too. It took me 40 minutes to log into my email. We are allowed 30 minutes, but if nobody is waiting, then we can stay on the computers longer. The past few days my team has been inventorying our property book items. These are equipment items, radios, weapons, vehicles, etc. that are accountable and listed on what the Army terms a Property Book. Our property book happens to be 12 pages long. Our ETT leader initially signed for the items when the last Air Force team departed and prior to that, they signed from an Army team. Well guess what? All along we have maintained pretty strict accountability and could account for everything on the property book. Good so far. Now an ugly term enters the picture. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Responsible Drawdown from Iraq - Third Army is the Department of the Army and Central Command logistical center of gravity for Responsible Drawdown from Iraq. Third Army is synchronizing equipment movement with key players from U.S. Forces-Iraq (USF-I), Air Force Central Command Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Army Materiel Command and other DOD and CENTCOM components. Third Army has successfully supported the movement of forces in and out of theater since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a proven material enterprise system. Since July 1, 2009, Third Army has moved: - hundreds of combat vehicles - approximately 1,770 tons of ammunition and over one million items such as repair parts, barrier material, packaged petroleum products and general supplies worth approximately 90 million dollars from Iraq to Afghanistan. - over 22,000 containers and 8,200 vehicles to retrograde facilities. (READ MORE)

Brad's Excellent Adventure: Romania - Monday 8 March 2010 - 2000 - I’ve been in Romania for two weeks now, and it’s been a very busy and interesting time. I have been so overwhelmed with the amount of work there is to do and with the strange and new environment that I have not felt like I had the time or wherewithal to sit down and try to capture it in writing. But if I don’t document my impressions soon, they will get even more jumbled than they already are (and my family will think I fell down a black hole!) Today we were hit by a snowstorm, and it’s very cold. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, albeit very cold and windy. Most of the first two weeks were overcast with rain, fog, and cold. Immediately upon my arrival I was assailed by a whole host of new impressions. (Unfortunately I cannot illustrate them all with photographs, as no photography is allowed on the Romanian military base where I am living and working. So my photographs will be limited to my short trips outside the base.) (READ MORE)

Dan Cnossen: KNEES! - I am proud and excited to report that Dan is back to his original height and walking all over the place, with bending knees and all! No more stubbies, no more peg-leg walking. He is doing SUCH an amazing job at getting this C-leg thing down - when he walks, he actually makes prosthetic legs seem like real ones. He's been up on them for about two weeks now, and is blowing everyone at Walter Reed away with his progress. And how deserving - today is the 6-month anniversary of stepping on that pressure plate in Afghanistan. When I last wrote on here (last month - my apologies once again, just know that no news is generally good news!), Dan was about to go into surgery. He came out of it fine, but it was a very tough one to recover fully and quickly from. They had to cut a piece of his large intestine out, and sew the remaining ends back together. He was discharged home five days later, eating and tolerating food very well, but with an abdominal incision the size of Kansas that the doctors left open. (READ MORE)

The semi-normal, day-to-day life of a female marine: Women have a choice here, you know - "We've lost something when men send women to war....The Army is reluctant to recognize the women killed in the Middle East, not wanting to call attention to the oft-gruesome deaths of women who are not supposed to be at risk of death in combat. Congress made the rules, but the Army has found ways to tell Congress to mind its own business. This suits Congress just fine. A senator or a congressman doesn't want to get caught in a crossfire between public opinion and feminists and their allies who, personally, don't want any part of the Army, in or out of combat." Since the author is apparently not aware of it, we have an all-volunteer military. Women know what they are getting into when they choose to join it. Saying that "when men send women to war, the country has lost something very precious" implies that women have no say in the decision and that it's up to The Men to preserve the idea of American society and American values that this author seems to prefer. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: In case you were wondering... – Michael Yon still hasn't actually made that apology to Canadians he said he was going to make for his entirely false "you were all watching hockey instead of guarding the camp" allegations last week. Presumably it's because he's too busy beating up on... the Spanish. Sigh. Really, the Taliban couldn't get more value from this guy these days in terms of helping break up the Afghan coalition if they WERE paying him. Hey, maybe the Spanish deserved it (although the Canadian hockey experience should be at least cautionary) but it should be clear now that left unchecked it appears he's just going to continue to bounce around the AO sharing confidential U.S. soldiers' gripes with the world until nobody's talking to anybody else, or it's an all-U.S. mission. Which would suit his fanbase just fine, I suspect. Not a lot of liberal internationalists in those comments sections. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: 3 RIFLES solider tackles live Taleban hand grenade - A soldier of 3 RIFLES has been talking about his decision to pick up a live Taleban hand grenade and throw it back in an attempt to save himself and his comrades. Rifleman James McKie from Recce Platoon, 3rd Battalion The Rifles was under fire from three directions when the hand grenade hit his Platoon commander and landed at his feet. “My first thought was I hope this doesn’t hurt too much” he said. “That, and I’ve really only got one chance to do this. If it fails, either way, doing nothing, I’m going to get the same amount of hurt. So I picked it up and threw it off the roof”. The actions of Rifleman McKie helped to save the lives of his Commander and one other soldier who were engaging the enemy in a fire fight, from a compound roof, in the Sangin area of Helmand Province. (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: Fellow Soldier on the Bridge - This afternoon I took "lunch" at 4pm. I didn't have a bike with me so I ran back and forth across the Ben Franklin Bridge. Did I ever mention I have this thing for bridges? Anyway, I was running down the Philadelphia side of the bridge feeling good just about a half mile from the end of the 4-mile run when I passed a couple running up the walkway toward the New Jersey side. Just after I passed them I heard, "Hey Guss. . . Sergeant Gussman?" Actually, he almost said Gus Gus. I was wearing one of my Alaska MEDEVAC t-shirts. The guy I passed was a chase pilot from the 1/150th stationed in Basrah. He was assigned to the Alaska MEDEVAC unit during the summer as a chase bird pilot. The first Charlie MEDEVAC company assigned to us in Iraq was an Alaska-based active Army unit that flew mission protected by a 1/150th air assault Blackhawk. The pilot (I forgot his name) was good friends with Sgt. Mareile Livingston, the motor pool admin NCO in Echo Company. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Pan-Arabism Rocks - The NYT says that the Arab countries are uninterested in the Iraq elections. Thanks, brothers. I will be sure to renew my membership in the pan-Arabist movement. Look at this quote: "'Iraq is a failure and a big mess,' said Hussein al-Shobokshy, a columnist for the Saudi Arabian owned pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat." And he's supposed to be one of the educated ones. The guy continues, “'Iraq is a scary model right now,' he added. 'It is so divided, vulgarly so.'” Vulgarly? Gee, thank you for your respect and support. And you wonder why Iraqis don't feel the brotherhood thing. Iraq has dealt with a lot of terrorist acts in recent years. And I don't remember any Arab countries, Iran, or anyone condemning the terrorists and siding with the Iraqis. Instead, the populations -- not just the leaders -- applauded the terrorists for fighting the Americans. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Voter Turnout's Good - It will be at least a few days before we can learn who came out ahead in the elections. The media report that 62 percent of the population voted. That is reportedly down from the 2005 vote. It's hard to know why exactly. My guess is the number is lower because so many people left the country since 2005. And overseas, it is not as easy to vote. You have to be determined to cast your ballot and travel a couple of hours at least to reach a voting site. This reminds me of the piece by Deborah Amos that a reader mentioned on the comments. The piece in Slate says "sectarian tensions are on the rise again as Shiite politicians stir populist fears of the return of the outlawed Baath Party that ruled the country in Saddam's day." The writer is like so many others who insist that Iraqis are determined to kill each other based on ethnic and religious differences. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban, HIG infighting leads to split in Afghan insurgency in the North - More than 120 fighters from the anti-government Gulbuddin faction of Hezb-i-Islami have surrendered to local authorities in Baghlan after a weekend of fighting with the Taliban that left 60 insurgents and 20 civilians dead. "Since Sunday 120 fighters including 70 armed men from Hizb-e-Islami have joined [the] government," a police spokesman in Baghlan told Xinhua. Mamor Malang, a local commander of the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, was among those who surrendered to the government. More HIG fighters are expected to join the government in the coming days. The fighting began on Saturday as a dispute between the local HIG units and Taliban forces in several villages in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district came to a head. The two forces, which are normally allied against Afghan and Coalition forces, battled over control of the region and the ability to collect taxes there. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 5 Haqqani Network fighters - The US carried out its first airstrike in 12 days in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Five terrorists were killed in a strike that targeted the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network at a bazaar in the main town of Miramshah. Two unmanned US strike aircraft, the Predators or Reapers operating from secret bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, fired three missiles at two compounds in a bazaar in Miramshah, according to reports at Geo News and Dawn. "Two drones fired three missiles in Miramshah bazaar," a local Pakistani told AFP. "Two buildings in the centre of the bazaar were hit and destroyed in the attack." The Miramshah region is controlled by the Haqqani Network, the Taliban group that is based in North Waziristan and operates in eastern Afghanistan. Anti-Soviet mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani is the patriarch of the Haqqani Network, while his son Siraj is the military commander who runs the day-to-day operations. (READ MORE)

Richard S. Lowry: Fallujah -- the real Hurt Locker - In Fallujah in 2004, the soldiers and Marines were not able to call in Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams to diffuse IEDs. In Fallujah, the soldiers and Marines were forced to drop bombs on urban minefields. On one occasion a string of IEDs two blocks long was detonated by a single GPS-guided bomb. In Fallujah a handful of soldiers were not pinned down by a single enemy sniper. In Fallujah American M1 tanks were pinned down by riflemen and grenadiers lurking in every window. In Fallujah, 8000 American troops were locked in mortal combat with 4000 diehard jihadists for several weeks. In Fallujah, over 100 American soldiers, sailors and Marines were killed during the 2004 fighting and hundreds more were wounded. Many lives were lost and everyone’s life was changed forever. Nine Navy Crosses and twenty-two Silver Stars were awarded for gallantry during Operation Phantom Fury—many posthumously. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: Attacks in Khost; Police Respond Again - There was another suicide attack in Khost today. “A Reuters reporter in the town heard an explosion and shooting near the headquarters of the Khost provincial department for tribal affairs. Smoke could be seen rising over the area. Afghan forces had cordoned off the road leading to the site of the blast and a helicopter was seen landing nearby. ‘We have two fighters surrounded near the tribal affairs department,’ said General Zahiruddin Wardak, a commander of Afghan army troops in Khost. Salahuddin Ayoubi, a Taliban commander in the area, said by telephone that militants, including two suicide bombers, had seized a government building in a commando-style raid.” Right after a quick blue about Secretary Gates’ warning against premature optimism is news that the attackers eventually died. It would seem the police stopped the attack—which is very encouraging news. But there is, of course, some context to consider here. (READ MORE)

270 Days in Afghanistan: Spring in Mazar-E-Sharif - Regardless of what the calendar says about Spring and when it officially starts, Mother Nature has officially declared the end of winter here in Northern Afghanistan. In the mountain passes, trees are blooming and the mountainsides are lush with new green brought about by the significant amounts of rain that the region has received over the course of the last month. There is no doubt about it, spring has sprung. The provincial government has started to plant trees along the roadside, which says a couple of things to me about where the province is at in the economic recovery process for the region. First and foremost, the effort to improve the landscape signals a departure from the stark and frightening goal of simply having a roof over their heads. The local Afghans here in this province seem to have progressed well into the middle of the pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Gates in Kabul on surprise visit - During his surprise visit to Kabul yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and top commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and visited a small remote outpost north of Kandahar, the southern Afghan province where a coalition offensive is expected to get underway sometime this. So far, 6,000 of the 30,000 additional troops ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama have arrived in Afghanistan. Tomorrow, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Kabul for the first time since Karzai's re-election last fall, and Karzai is expected to start a two-day trip to Islamabad as well. Taliban reintegration and the status of captured Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Baradar are rumored to be on the agenda in the Pakistani capital. Karzai is planning to host a three-day peace jirga beginning April 29 to discuss negotiations with Taliban fighters. (READ MORE)

Texas Music: Night Run - We start off from the gate, just a quick warm up, moving the joints, trying to ease some stiffness out of my old bones, then a short run over to the big tower, high stepping through the ruts. The mud dries hard like baked clay and there are deep grooves and holes from the trucks. We jog through the palm grove, then hit the tower; ten, twelve flights up. Feet clanging on metal. "Hit every step," Stroud says, and we do. Quads burning at the top, we turn, tapping our way down, careful in the dark, then at the bottom, back up again, pushing harder the second time, legs heavy and thighs burning, until at the top we are barely running anymore, just one foot in front of the other, step by step, and we reach the last landing and lean over, breathing hard. Then back through the grove to the road, and off we go, a loose pack. Rock wants to sprint the light poles, and I say show me how. Off he goes into the dark, charging, unstoppable. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Different rules for different states - If you're gay and serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, you stand a better chance at not getting discharged than if you served at, say, Fort Benning. Ditto for Fairchild Air Force Base, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and all the other military installations across much of the western United States. (READ MORE)

VA/DOD Expand Electronic Health Information Pilot to Eastern Virginia - The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense today announced the next phase of the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Communities Program. (READ MORE)

Statement by Deputy Secretary William Lynn on Northrop Grumman Tanker Announcement - “We are disappointed by Northrop’s decision not to submit a bid for the U.S. Air Force tanker replacement program. In the last tanker replacement (KC-X) competition, Northrop Grumman competed well on both price and non-price factors. (READ MORE)

They don't teach this in RIP - The former Fort Lewis-based Ranger already serving 24 years for a takeover-style robbery of a Tacoma bank has been sentenced to another 20 years in a federal lockup for trying to hire a hit man to kill an assistant U.S. attorney. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Election Reaction from Around Iraq - As Iraq returns to normal life after nearly a week of election curfews and holidays, New York Times correspondents and Iraqi stringers have spoken to Iraqis around the country about their choices, hopes and expectations. (READ MORE)

Iraq Election – Viewed From Basra, and Dubai - After the polls closed Sunday evening my brother Othello called me from Dubai, where he lives. In the background, I could hear the music and laughter of a party. (READ MORE)

Scenes they left behind - I was rummaging around Youtube and found a few videos related to the Oregon National Guard medevac unit that recently came home. Something to look back upon. (READ MORE)

For Iraqi Voters, a Dizzying Democracy - DURING the Iraqi parliamentary elections on Sunday, this city’s main thoroughfares presented an almost overwhelming visual mosaic of politics. (READ MORE)

Iraqis Vote - Final results from Iraq’s parliamentary election may not be available for days, but this much we can already say for sure: Iraq’s citizens once again showed tremendous courage and determination, defying bombs and a flawed pre-election process to cast their ballots. (READ MORE)

Region Unimpressed by Balloting in Iraq - Elections across this region have long been viewed as not much more than window dressing to tidy up the image of authoritarian leaders and absolute monarchs eager for greater legitimacy. (READ MORE)

Al-Maliki coalition seen leading vote - Early estimates from a range of Iraqi parties on Monday predicted a coalition led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would take the lead in the parliamentary election, though official results were not expected for a few days. (READ MORE)

Candidates Speculate on Results of Iraq Vote - Even before the votes were tallied, Iraq’s candidates and coalitions began positioning themselves in an evolving political landscape on Monday. Some claimed victory, and a few conceded defeat in an election on Sunday that the top American officials here called a milestone that kept the withdrawal of American troops on pace. (READ MORE)

Sunnis brave election-day violence to vote for former Baath party member - The turnout for the Iraqi election was 62.4 per cent — higher than predicted by observers — with a strong showing by Sunni voters who boycotted the previous national poll. (READ MORE)

Iraqi voter turnout estimated at 62% - Iraq achieved a respectable turnout at the polls over the weekend as 62% of registered voters cast ballots, according to the country's electoral commission. (READ MORE)

Iraqi officials put voter turnout at 62 percent - Iraqi officials announced Monday that 62 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Sunday's parliamentary elections, a total slightly lower than in the 2005 national elections but higher than in last year's provincial elections. (READ MORE)

Vote Counting Underway in Iraq - Iraqi officials are counting votes from Sunday's parliamentary election. Despite a series of attacks that left more than 30 people dead, the vote is being hailed as a general success. (READ MORE)

Supporting Small Government in Iraq - While considerable attention has been devoted to Iraqi reconstruction at the national and provincial levels, U.S. forces are leveraging their resources to advise and assist local Iraqi governmental bodies as well. (READ MORE)

Iraqi and U.S. Forces Prepare for National Elections - The success of this week's elections for five southern provinces in Iraq rested on the Mid-Euphrates Operations Center, located at Contingency Operating Station Echo. (READ MORE)

Efficient Irrigation Method Holds Promise for Iraq - Even as the U.S. hands more and more responsibility for the future of Iraq back to the Iraqi people, projects continue to ensure that the people are set up for success in every possible way. (READ MORE)

A guide to recent militant arrests and deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan - Confused about the recent slew of arrests and/or deaths of al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Here's a roundup of who, what, where, and when. (READ MORE)

Suspect arrested in Pakistan not Gadahn: officials - Pakistani security agents denied on Monday that an American al Qaeda spokesman wanted in the United States for treason had been arrested, saying there had been confusion over the identity of a detained suspect. (READ MORE)

al-Qaeda man among two held in Karachi - Two terrorists, including a key al-Qaeda commander, were arrested from Karachi, sources told Geo Sunday. According to sources, security agencies raided a house located at Super Highway in Karachi, in which two people, including a commander linked with the al-Qaeda network, were arrested. (READ MORE)

Suspect arrested in Pakistan not Gadahn: officials - Pakistani security agents denied on Monday that an American al Qaeda spokesman wanted in the United States for treason had been arrested, saying there had been confusion over the identity of a detained suspect. (READ MORE)

SAS in Afghanistan suffers worst losses for 60 years - BRITAIN’S special forces have suffered the worst blow to their fighting strength since the second world war, with 80 members killed or crippled in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Karzai, Gates Discuss Marja, Way Forward in Afghanistan - Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met in Kabul today to discuss the challenges still facing Afghanistan and the increasing opportunities in the country. (READ MORE)

Gates Warns of 'Hard Fighting' in Afghanistan - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Monday of "hard fighting" ahead in Afghanistan -- despite recent progress. (READ MORE)

Gates sees momentum in Afghanistan but plays down prospects for reconciliation - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that recent military offensives against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan had gained momentum but that a reconciliation effort proposed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai was unlikely in the near term to cause senior Taliban leaders to lay down their arms. (READ MORE)

Gates arrives as military prepares Kandahar push - Preparations have begun for a crucial campaign to assert Afghan government control over Kandahar, the so-called "spiritual" home of the Taliban, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan said Monday. (READ MORE)

McChrystal Details Lessons of Marja Offensive - The Taliban flag no longer flies over Marja, and the operations in the central region of Helmand province have lessons for the rest of Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in the country said today. (READ MORE)

Operation Combats Insurgents, Uncovers Weapons - Afghan troops, assisted by coalition forces, cordoned and searched an insurgent supply route used to transport and harbor roadside bombs in Afghanistan’s Helmand province late last week. (READ MORE)

Helmand Will Serve as Template, NATO Official Says - Ambassador Mark Sedwill, who served as British ambassador to Afghanistan, said the operation is different from others in three basic ways. The first, he said, is that from its inception, NATO’s regional commander, British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, and his Afghan counterparts planned the operation “from the end-game backwards.” (READ MORE)

Zabul province seeks U.S. troops, but is caught in Afghan numbers game - To work in Zabul province these days is to feel forsaken. The Americans pulled a battalion out in December. The Afghan government promises help but sends little. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters continue to pour in. (READ MORE)

Training, Investment Create Sustainable Afghan Army - Training and financial investment are critical to helping Afghanistan’s security forces become self-sufficient, a senior participant in the effort said. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, March 9 - In Khowst last night, an Afghan-international security force searched a compound outside the village of Galyan, in the Sabari District after intelligence information indicated militant activity. (READ MORE)

ANSF, ISAF Forces in Khowst Show Improved Capability - Afghan national security forces and ISAF service members who repelled an insurgent attack on the Khowst provincial palace yesterday afternoon displayed partnership and training responsible for security of government officials and citizens of Khowst. (READ MORE)

U.S. Soldiers Aid Family of Girl Wounded by Insurgents - A U.S. Army platoon recently put together donations to help the family of a girl injured in an anti-Afghan mortar attack, in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province, Feb. 16. (READ MORE)

Gates says "decisive phase" of war looms in Kandahar - U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates told troops in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday they would soon be part of a "decisive phase" in the war -- an operation to impose control over the Taliban heartland of Kandahar province. (READ MORE)

Iranian president to visit Afghanistan - Iran says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Afghanistan on Wednesday. Tuesday's announcement coincided with a visit to Kandahar by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. (READ MORE)

Inquest to rule on Land Rover deaths in Afghanistan - An inquest into the deaths of the only female British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan and three SAS reservists will conclude today after hearing a series of concerns over the lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover the four were travelling in when they struck a bomb. (READ MORE)

Afghan fighters surrender in north - Fighters from Hizb-e-Islami, an armed Afghan group, have surrendered to authorities in the northern Baghlan province. About 70 members handed over their weapons following a two-day long battle with the Taliban. (READ MORE)

Pak likely to offer 'deal' to Karzai over Baradar's extradition during his Islamabad visit - Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is likely to officially ask Islamabad to hand over Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's second-in command, to Kabul during his scheduled two-day visit to Pakistan starting Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Afghan Taliban seize villages from Hekmatyar’s men - The Taliban gained control of villages in northeastern Afghanistan on Monday after two days of gunbattles with another group that ended with nearly 70 of the rival militants retreating and surrendering to government forces nearby, officials said. (READ MORE)

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