March 10, 2010

From the Front: 03/10/2010

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

Dispatches:
Zombie Killer 6:
Dushman Bukhush - Here's some video we shot the other day of our company assaulting an objective. Their first attempt at it in the morning was not exactly textbook. In fact their first attempt is technically what we'd refer to as a "Soup Sandwich." Fortunately for everyone involved the second iteration was much better. They learned a lot in a short period of time and the results were a considerable improvement. It is encouraging to see how well they can perform when they put their minds to it. I just wish I could get the company commanders to show up for training... they might actually make some worthwhile progress. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: A Sunny Day For A Mission - My dreaded alarm clock awoke me early this morning. I knew we had a long day planned and we had to load a trailer full of equipment before departing the camp. Now that all the inventories are completed, we are required to turn in or dispose of the items that nobody wants. We planned for a long day of paperwork, turmoil, and frustration since we had to process the items through the Army Supply system. We prepared our MRAPs and hitched up the trailer. I was driving today and my Captain would be the convoy commander. We would have to take it a little bit slower today with the trailer so it wouldn’t go airborne when we hit the deep potholes. Every day that goes by, the potholes in the road become larger and deeper. I guess the Afghan government doesn’t have any money to fix the roads. (READ MORE)

1st Marine Logistics Group: FRO's welcomed to 1st MLG - Within every unit, there is a designated representative who is the point of contact for initiation of all command communication and interaction of all families with in the unit. Over the recent months, 1st Marine Logistics Group welcomed three new family readiness officers for 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Battalions 5 and 13 here. “I want the Marines and sailors in the battalion to feel confident and comfortable with coming to me with questions, concerns or just to say ‘hi’,” said Jacqueline Maxwell, 24, from Wellsburg, W. Va., family readiness officer for CLB-13, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st MLG. “I hope that my office will serve as a place where they can be themselves and relax, but also as a place to regroup with information and resources.” (READ MORE)

Army Live: Army Spouses-Making your Voices Heard - The U.S. Army recently sent out the 2010 Survey of Army Families VI to a random selection of civilian Active Army spouses in order to assess the support provided to families and Soldiers during these past nine years of persistent conflict. “This survey is your chance to tell the Army leadership what it’s like during this difficult period with so many of our Soldiers deployed,” Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, IMCOM commander told 75,000 civilian spouses of Active Soldiers in a letter introducing the 2010 Survey of Army Families VI. Every four years, this valuable information gives the Army a grassroots view of how family’s opinions and attitudes have changed, and provides an opportunity to evaluate the effects of programs on families. The survey also tracks trends regarding the characteristics of Army families, identifies new and emerging family issues, and supplements other studies on Army families. (READ MORE)

Home from Iraq: Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Gossip - Our unit made the front page of today's Lancaster Intelligencer/New Era in a story about a chaplain who was supposed to deploy with us and who was accused of violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." For me, finding out Chaplain (Captain) Aris Fokas was deploying with us was great news. He was the assistant college chaplain at Franklin and Marshall College (where my wife teaches) in the 1990s. So I already knew him and knew he was a really good guy. We saw each other at the battalion Christmas party at the end of 2007 and I could not say which one of us was more surprised to see the other in uniform. Both of us were in the Army because of 9-11. Aris had deployed in 2005 in the bad days of the war with an infantry brigade. He ministered to wounded and dying soldiers under bad circumstances. He was the kind of chaplain I wanted to have if things got bad. But Aris did not deploy with us. I did not know why until I read the article this morning. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Navy Wife Urges Spouses to Support Each Other - “One-uppers.” Everyone knows one. If you had a 24-hour labor to have your child, she had 36 … and did it in the snow or a tunnel, and chose natural child birth of course. Any funny story is immediately topped by an even funnier one, a tale of woe by an even more woeful account. Sometimes I feel the same phenomenon happens within our military spouse community, albeit in a slightly different way. I feel like there can sometimes be the tiniest, itty-bittiest, teensy-weensie capacity to hear the tale of someone else’s woes and then jump to mention how much harder we had it ourselves. Or, conversely, that someone shouldn’t be upset about a situation because they have it so much better than “insert branch here.” This individual augmentee experience has been completely different than any other deployment our family has faced. For one, there are more of us. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: Not far to render - Canadian Press: “In some cases the spy agency would recommend which prisoners should be transferred to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's notorious intelligence service, which has a dismal human rights record. ‘I'm speaking about rendition, yes,’ [NDP leader Jack] Layton said outside the Commons.” I'm not quite sure how one renders someone TO their country of residence, but never mind that. More important is that the article's statement above is categorically false, at least in the 2008-09 context that I actually know something about. That's because, other than in a few exceptional circumstances, all detainees taken on operations involving Canadians’ I have direct knowledge of, the larger number "by Afghans" and the much smaller number detained by Task Force Kandahar (because there wasn't any Afghan around to formally take them for us) were eventually turned over to the NDS. All. Of. Them. It's not like there was much of a choice. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Still Too Early to Tell - It's still too early to tell how the election results are going to be. But this hasn't stopped people from speculating. Both the State of Law, headed by Prime Minister Al Maliki and the Iraqi List, headed by Ayad Allawi say they are ahead. However it turns out, we;ll have to see how the others join up with the stronger teams. The Kurds and the Iraqi National Alliance, or the Shiite list, will have an impact. If the Kurds and the Shiite list join forces, they would weaken Maliki. It's really hard to predict how it will go. Everyone here is guessing something different. The so-called experts, such as NYT's Tom Friedman, have had to acknowledge that the vote was a good thing for the region. He writes, "Personally, at this stage, I only care about one thing: that the outcome in Iraq be positive enough and forward-looking." It's interesting because Friedman has gone back and forth on Iraq. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: The Hurt Oscar - It’s not often I get a chance to step out of my military/media analyst role and play film critic, but here goes. “The Hurt Locker” was NOT the best picture of last year. It was a good picture, perhaps a better picture than most, but not the best picture. And it was at best an imperfect reflection of the dirty, dangerous, deadly mission of American troops who’ve been fighting in Iraq the past seven years. While I appreciated the film’s gritty verisimilitude and its evocative portrayal of the unremitting stress of irregular warfare, the movie is marred by its inaccurate depiction of some aspects of the military ethos. And that bothered me. And yes, let’s acknowledge right from the outset, “The Hurt Locker” is just a movie, a Hollywood version of the war. Despite the fact it was written by a freelance journalist who embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, it doesn’t claim to be “based on a true story”, or even “inspired by a true story.”* It’s a work of fiction. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: A Gift… - Last time we went out to visit Micheal’s grave I noticed the 101st Airborne flag I had put there was becoming tattered and needed replaced. I asked the wife of one of the men who served with Micheal if she could pick one up at the Post museum gift shop for me and I would send her the money for it. She said she would be glad to do it and not to send any money. A few days later her husband popped on her messenger and told me he was mailing it out with a gift for me enclosed. A couple days later the package arrived and in it I found the flag I had requested and the most beautiful locket in the shape of a dog tag with the army emblem on the front. I will be taking it to have the back engraved. Of course a picture of Micheal will go in it. But as I stood on the porch this evening I remembered that packed away in a box in the loft I have Micheal’s baby book and in it a locket of his hair from his first hair cut. His Great Grandpa gave him his first hair cut when he was about a year old. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US aid group attacked in Pakistan’s northwest; 6 killed - The Taliban stormed the office of a US aid group operating in northwestern Pakistan, killing six Pakistani employees. Armed fighters attacked an office operated by World Vision International, a Christian charity that has been aiding victims of the devastating earthquake in 2005. The aid group has sought to provide schooling, jobs, food, and other basic needs for Pakistanis impacted by the earthquake and other natural disasters. Police fought a major battle with the heavily armed Taliban fighters, who entered the World Vision office in the town of Oghi in Mansehra district. "Some armed people stormed the building of World Vision NGO," Sajid Khan, a police official, told AFP. There was firing and also an explosion inside." The Taliban fighters hurled hand grenades in the office, according to police. Police said that five Pakistani employees were killed, including two women. (READ MORE)

LTC John: 25 Years Ago... - March 9th, 1985 at the Urbana, Illinois National Guard Armory, I signed on the line. My enlistment contract in the Illinois Army National Guard. 11B10 - Infantryman, assigned as a Scout Observer to the Combat Support Company, 2/130th Infantry. When I called home and told my parents, they were rather startled. To tell the truth, when I got to Fort Benning, GA for Basic Training, I was too. A couple of years slowly getting my bearings and an officer's commission, I figured it out. Learn from NCOs. Some schoolhouse training helped too...Good thing I had learned a little by 1993. I was called up for the Mississippi Floods that summer - and had to take acting command of a Company. The rest of the 1990s went along merrily enough - oh, until all that Bosnia stuff got going. I had moved to the Army Reserves by then, and ended up leaping at the chance to help. I thought this would be my one adventure (since I had missed the Gulf War) before settling down for good... (READ MORE)

Lt Col P: Women of Hope - Here's a slightly late, but I believe wholly appropriate, nod to International Womens Day: the Women of Hope Project. "The Women of Hope Project is an organization by women for women to restore hope and dignity to women who have been oppressed and denied personal freedom, health, opportunity, and respect. We hope to create a sisterhood to encourage and provide resources to help these women recover from the traumatic devastation of 23 years of war." Sound a little too touchy-feely for us? You might think again, because I have seen the WoHP at work in Kabul, and I think it is one of the best NGOs on deck today, and also one of the most effective movements for positive change. If we want a stable, prosperous, functional Afghanistan, it will be organizations like Betsy's WoHP that effect the change, one family at a time. I used to chat with her every friday morning at the Camp Eggers bazaar, and became deeply impressed with how much she has done, starting from scratch. (READ MORE)

Andi: The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done: A Series of Screw-Ups and Lessons Learned - I've been absent from blogging lately because of a series of unexpected events. Events which turned out to be overwhelming, and almost did me in. In January, on the day my husband deployed, I received a phone call informing me that we would have to move while my husband was deployed. It's a long story, and has nothing to do with orders, or the Army. Basically, the house we were renting was sold. I had to find a house, buy a house, pack a house and move a house. Without my husband. Pronto. I knew this would be challenging of course, but I also thought it was fairly doable. Bwahahahahaha. Screw-up Number One: No POA. My husband deployed with only a few hours notice. Until this deployment, we've always had lead time to get affairs in order. I admit I don't always keep a current POA on hand, even though I know better. So, you guessed it, I was armed with a useless, expired POA and no way to get another one in a timely manner. (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: “Rendition”. The New Opposition Buzz Word - The opposition attacked the federal Conservative government over Afghan detainees in Question Period again today, with the NDP picking up on the word “rendition” that had been used by federal MP for Vancouver South, Ujjal Dosanjh, the day before. The increasingly exaggerated language is based almost solely on the recent hornets nest stirred up by University of Ottawa Professor Amir Attaran, who inexplicably claims he has seen unredacted documents that show that Canadian intelligence officers ordered high-value targets to be tortured in Afghan prisons. Following that CBC article was an rather vague report by the Canadian Press that CSIS has been used in some unknown, undeclared capacity in Afghanistan. But that doesn’t preclude the report from speculating about a number of things, such as the idea that CSIS has been playing a “crucial role” as interrogators of a “vast swath” of captured Taliban fighters. There’s no evidence to suggest this is true. (READ MORE)

CounterInsurgency Center: LOSING THE INSURGENCY ONE BRIBE AT A TIME - After paying some backsheesh (a bribe) to a local official in order to facilitate a business transaction, a friend of mine murmured that the Karzai government needed to be shown a picture of the last government in order to be reminded of how it can end. A 2008 survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan found that a typical household pays about $100 a year in bribes in a country where more than half the population survives on less than $1 a day. It is often quoted that Government corruption helps to fuel the insurgency in Afghanistan, but the next step is not often discussed, that is "how does corruption fuel the insurgency in Afghanistan and why do we need to pay attention to it?" Corruption gives the insurgent the opportunity to offer the people, who will decide who wins in this conflict, an alternative narrative for governance and a chance to provide governance and justice in yet another ungoverned space in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: Military Leadership in the Information Age - In the past two months, the milblogosphere has been abuzz over the sackings of several military commanders, such as Captain William Reavey, the former commander of Naval Air Station Pensacola; Lt. Col. Frank Jenio, the former commander of the 2nd Battalion-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment; and Captain Holly Graf, the former commander of the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens. These incidents are particularly interesting, as they offer a case study of military leadership in the world of Web 2.0. The web has not been kind to Captain Graf, relieved last month for "cruelty" towards her crew. Nowhere is this more apparent than on a on blog entitled "I Like the Cut of His Jib", which is administered by a retired US Navy captain. One entry regarding Captain Graf's relief and administrative action was met with--as of right now--nearly 200 replies, replete with horror stories from posters claiming to be sailors who had served with Captain Graf. (READ MORE)

Uncle Jimbo: Juicebox Mafia- Still tortured over interrogations - There is some serious hyperventilation among the juiceboxers over information that has been out for a while on enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs). Apparently they just got through the, not all that long, documents written in 2005 that detail how the interrogations were done and what the rules and safety requirements were. Here is where they predictably veer off a cliff. They interpret the safety guidelines and procedures to be the standard operating procedures, instead of the worst case scenario and how to deal with it. Let’s enjoy some quality outrage and inaccurate info. First the inaccurate stuff from Attackerman at his day job. “…Nance thought members of Congress ought to know what techniques like waterboarding actually involve. “It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water,” Nance wrote in the New York Daily News. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning.” If Nance actually did that he would have been violating every policy and procedure of the program. I have talked to a number of SEALs and while they certainly got waterboarded, it was not “the lungs are actually filling with water” as Nance is right that would be drowning. He was either a serial violator of Navy policy or full of it. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Left of the Boom - The campaign against the IED threat in Iraq resembled in some respects the Battle of the Atlantic. Starting from nearly nothing in 2003 the “improvised explosive device” lurking under the roadbed, embedded in a concrete curb, in a dead dog or a garbage can — or sometimes taking the form of a long string of artillery shells wired to each other — became a major cause of Coalition casualties. Like the U-boats their success rose a crescendo and then faded away under a cocktail of countermeasures. The “Happy Time” for the IED bombers was the summer of 2007. The conceptual similarities between the fight against the U-boat and the IED were that the victors evolved better detection technology, surveillance techniques and adaptive routing than their opponents, who were also evolving. The parallels between mine detection technology and sonar; electronic intelligence and Huff-duff, between road surveillance systems and long range air patrols are obvious. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Stop the Goodwar , I wanna get off - House liberals force vote on pullout from Afghanistan. Almost forgot this was an election year. “The resolution, which has 16 co-sponsors, calls for the United States to remove all of its troops from Afghanistan in 30 days -- or by the end of the year, if it is determined that trying to do so in a month would be too dangerous.” There's no point discussing the resolution itself on serious terms. If there was, my first question would be 'don't they know the capabilities of the US military? Do they really not know whether or not such a thing can be done in the time frame they describe?' “‘We haven't had a real debate,’ Kucinich said in explaining why he was pushing the resolution. ‘We want to light the fire of the American peace movement.’ (And, he added, ‘get out of there!’)” Let's give Kucinich the benefit of the doubt and assume he's only pretending to be stupid here, too. The odds that he doesn't know the whereabouts of the American "peace" movement are slim. (READ MORE)



News from the Home Front:
Military chaplain fights alleged 'don't ask, don't tell' violation - Though the time for prayers would come, Army National Guard chaplain Aris Fokas saw the immediate need in the operating room was for an extra set of hands. He offered his as doctors and nurses labored late into the night in December 2005. (READ MORE)

No injury. Wrong rank. Wrong badges. - Family, friends and veterans groups filled the airport terminal to greet Jordan Olson. They held balloons, American flags and banners. Hugs and handshakes abounded. For the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier, on leave from the war in Afghanistan, Saturday's homecoming was nothing short of a hero’s welcome. (READ MORE)

'Legends of Aerospace' Visit Deployed Service Members - The first and last men to walk on the moon, the commander of Apollo 13, the last Air Force pilot "Ace" and the SR-71 chief test pilot - these are "Legends of Aerospace" and the most recent honored guests of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. (READ MORE)



News from the Front:
Iraq:
It’s Up to Iraqis Now. Good Luck. - Of all the pictures I saw from the Iraqi elections last weekend, my favorite was on nytimes.com: an Iraqi mother holding up her son to let him stuff her ballot into the box. I loved that picture. (READ MORE)

Doomsday in Iraq -- is it really just around the corner? - We've now been at war intermittently with Iraq for almost 20 years, and with Afghanistan for 30. It adds up to nearly half a century of experience, all bad. (READ MORE)

Saddam Hussein weighed nuclear 'package' deal in 1990, documents show - As troops massed on his border near the start of the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein weighed the purchase of a $150 million nuclear "package" deal that included not only weapons designs but also production plants and foreign experts to supervise the building of a nuclear bomb, according to documents uncovered by a former U.N. weapons inspector. (READ MORE)

Dispute over candidate disqualifications could mar Iraqi vote's legitimacy - A controversy over the disqualification of candidates threatened Tuesday to undermine the legitimacy of Iraq's recent elections and inflame supporters of a coalition seeking to topple the alliance led by the prime minister. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Officials to Begin Releasing Vote Tallies on Wednesday - Iraq’s electoral commission said Tuesday that it would announce partial results of parliamentary elections on Wednesday, providing an incomplete picture of the vote that will nevertheless provide the broad outlines of the country’s political landscape. (READ MORE)

Iraq Postpones Announcing Initial Election Results - Iraq's election commission has postponed announcing initial results from Sunday's parliamentary election because it says it has not finished counting enough votes. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
Five Afghan troops killed in suicide bombing - A suicide bomber killed at least five Afghan troops in an attack on military convoy in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, officials said. (READ MORE)

India mulling pull out from Afghanistan post attacks - India is looking at various options including paring down of the operations of its missions in Afghanistan in the wake of terror attacks on Indians there. (READ MORE)

Iran leader: US playing `game' in Afghanistan - Taking aim at the U.S., Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that it's the United States that is playing a "double game" in Afghanistan, fighting terrorists it once supported. (READ MORE)

Iran says NATO presence is no solution for Afghanistan - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday in Kabul that the presence of NATO forces was not a solution for Afghanistan, and accused the US of playing a "double game." "We don't see the presence of military forces in Afghanistan as a solution for peace." (READ MORE)

Canuck spies grilling Afghan detainees prompts fresh calls for inquiry - The revelation that Canada's spy agency interrogated captured Taliban fighters raises the spectre of a Canadian rendition program in Afghanistan, opposition critics said Monday. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, March 10 - An Afghan-international security force searched a small compound outside the village of Sar Banager, in the Garmsir District of Helmand province, after intelligence information indicated militant activity. During the search the assault force captured several insurgents and found weapons and ammunition. (READ MORE)

House liberals force vote on pullout from Afghanistan - Liberals in the House, who have spent much of the past year complaining that other congressional Democrats and the White House are insufficiently progressive, will get a chance this week to vent about one of their biggest concerns: the war in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Bridge Inaugurated in Zeerko Valley - Afghan and ISAF officials inaugurated a bridge in the Zeerko Valley of Herat province yesterday. The €1 million project was funded by the Italian Ministry of Defence and is considered to be the most important effort carried out by the Italian Provincial Reconstruction Team. (READ MORE)

Man Versus Afghanistan - We were there to fight, to do PT, to eat, to sleep, then to fight again. There was no big-screen TV or other diversion in the barracks. It was a world of concrete, plywood, and gun oil, and it was absolutely intoxicating in its intensity and unlike anything that existed in the British military.” (READ MORE)

Upset by U.S. Security, Pakistanis Return as Heroes - A tour of the United States arranged by the State Department to improve ties to Pakistani legislators ended in a public relations fiasco when the members of the group refused to submit to extra airport screening in Washington, and they are now being hailed as heroes on their return home. (READ MORE)

Gunmen kill five in attack on World Vision office in Pakistan - Suspected Islamic militants stormed the offices of a Christian charity in northwestern Pakistan today, killing five local staff in an attack that will further complicate aid work in the volatile region. (READ MORE)

Militants Attack Aid Agency in Northwest Pakistan - Pakistani police say militants have attacked the office of a U.S.-based Christian aid group in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, killing five people. (READ MORE)

Fight for Kandahar won't be like fight for Marjah - The operation that American and coalition forces are planning for Kandahar in southern Afghanistan won’t look like D-Day, the top commander there said Tuesday. As Marjah offensive ends, a crucial test for peace in Afghanistan Afghanistan war: Who’s who in the Taliban leadership Afghanistan war: (READ MORE)

More Military Trainers Needed in Afghanistan - The U.S. Navy admiral who commands all NATO forces worldwide says he and the alliance secretary general are pressing each member to fulfill a specific part of the shortfall in military trainers in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

More NATO Trainers Key to Afghan Effort - Getting more NATO military trainers into Afghanistan is a top priority, the commander of the alliance’s military forces told a Senate panel today. “We need to focus like a laser on trainers from NATO forces,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis said during a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee. (READ MORE)

Gates Visits Afghan Army Training Center - For the last stop in his visit to Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates opted to take a first-hand look at the Afghan National Army training center here. Gates and Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak watched the 2nd Kandak of the 215th Brigade demonstrate their training. (READ MORE)

Secretary Gates visits Afghan town recently seized from Taliban - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, aiming to show progress in the expanded war against insurgents in southern Afghanistan, took a brief and heavily guarded walk Tuesday down a rutted street in this scruffy market town where the Taliban lobbed mortar shells at U.S. forces only months ago. (READ MORE)

Gates: Some troops could leave Afghanistan early - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates raised the possibility Wednesday that some of the U.S. forces involved in the Afghanistan surge could leave the country before President Barack Obama's announced July 2011 date to begin withdrawal. (READ MORE)

Afghan Visit Reinforces Gates’ Faith in New Strategy - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ visits with Marines here and with soldiers at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province have reinforced his belief that the strategy is working in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Taliban talks likely on Karzai agenda in Pakistan - What role Pakistan plays in any peace effort aimed at the Taliban is likely to rank high on the agenda during Afghan President Hamid Karzai's two-day visit to Islamabad that started Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Taliban claim suicide attack on NATO-Afghan base - The Taliban claimed responsibility Wednesday for a suicide bombing inside a U.S.-Afghan base in eastern Afghanistan that killed two NATO service members. (READ MORE)

Afghan Women Wary Of Overtures To Taliban - Taliban rule was a dark period for women in Afghanistan, and they want to make sure their fears are not forgotten as the new government in Kabul tries to find ways to make peace with the Taliban. (READ MORE)

Fear Of Taliban Hinders U.S. Efforts In Marjah - U.S. and Afghan troops are now in the second phase of an operation to hold the ground they gained last month in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Afghanistan. The operation involves building relationships with the locals, who have lived under Taliban control for the past two years. (READ MORE)

66 trained Taliban extremists enter Sindh to target 'sensitive' installations - At least 66 trained extremists of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have reportedly landed in various parts of Sindh, including Karachi to wreak havoc in the region, sources said. (READ MORE)

UK's Miliband urges push for Afghan peace deal - British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged Afghans on Wednesday to push energetically for a peace settlement with Taliban insurgents and said Afghanistan's neighbors must support such an agreement. (READ MORE)

Royal Regiment of Scotland sets off for Afghanistan - THE first batch of troops from The 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland set off for Afghanistan in the early hours of this morning to begin a six-month tour of duty. (READ MORE)

Afghan women dice with death to work - Majabeen Subhanzada runs her own construction company in southern Afghanistan and says she regularly receives death threats trying to force her back inside her home. She also runs an organisation that helps women become economically self-sufficient, setting up small enterprises such as raisin mills and textile factories, and convincing other businesses to take them on. (READ MORE)

Harper downplays Afghan torture memo - Prime Minister Stephen Harper downplayed revelations of a "contingency plan" to deal with accusations that prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities were tortured. (READ MORE)

US presence undercuts UN role - A number of political analysts believe that the United Nations Secretary Generals Special Representative to Afghanistan Kai Eide could not perform his duty properly mainly because of the active presence of the United States in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Canadian hospital workers face cultural challenges in Afghanistan - How does a doctor treat a woman when he can only make a diagnosis by asking her husband to tell him what is wrong with her? (READ MORE)

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Crossposted at: Castle Argghhh!

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