March 30, 2010

From the Front: 03/30/2010

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

A Major's Perspective: A New Year - It has taken me over three weeks to try and post this article. Let's just say my internet connectivity has taken a down-turn. But eneough of my whining. There is something much more important to talk about. A couple of weeks ago was the Afghan New Year, known here as Nowruz. It is looked upon as a time of rejoice, rebirth, and making amends for the wrongs you have done over the past year. As I sat there thinking about that, and thinking specifically about Afghanistan, I came to a realization. For the first time in many years this is truly a new beginning for their country. They are a country that has been at war for generations. Now, even though the war is far from over, it is a new beginning. You see, they are the ones that are in charge of their destiny. They are the ones making many large and heavy sacrifices. The people are standing more and more behind the security forces, and the Afghan Security Forces are in the lead. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Serve some timbits and get a medal for it? - If you aren’t from Western New York or Canada then you probably don’t know what a timbit is, or Tim’s (as they call it in Canada) or Timmy Ho’s as we call it in New York. For those not from this part of the world, what I am referring to is Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s is to Canada what Dunkin’ donuts is to most of the United States. Just like there are Burger King’s, Popeye’s, or even TGI Fridays in some deployed areas around the world to bring comforts of home to US Troops, there are Timmy Ho’s in areas where Canadian troops are deployed. Places like Kandahar, Afghanistan for instance. It is ironic that while the US is pulling out and stopping some of their US-based reminders from existing in the war zone, that Canada is considering giving the workers of Timmy Ho’s Canadian war medals. “Tim Hortons staff eligible for Afghan war medals - A major overhaul of how the Canadian Forces recognizes overseas service will include the controversial decision to allow Tim Hortons employees at Kandahar Airfield to receive medals from the Afghan war." (READ MORE)

al Sahwa: Fixing Intel: Implementing MG Flynn's SOICs - Now that several months have passed since MG Flynn published his "Fixing Intel" report, I thought it might be an opportune time to examine how his concepts/ideas are being implemented on the ground in Afghanistan. One of the key components of MG Flynn's proposed strategy to improve intelligence support to full-spectrum counterinsurgency (COIN) operations was the creation of several Stability Operations Information Centers (SOIC) at the RC level - whose mission would be to write and maintain "meaty, comprehensive descriptions of pivotal districts throughout the country" and organize/share/disseminate all of the information and intelligence gathered in the field across various units, agencies, and partners. Essentially, MG Flynn's intent for the SOICs was to serve as a one-stop shops for a particular district/province, providing assessments that fuse a wide array of lethal and non-lethal intelligence data. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: major Kandahar operations to begin in June - The NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan will reportedly begin major operations in Kandahar, the southern Afghan province that was once the seat of the Taliban's government, this June, with the aim of completing the "clearing phase" of the offensive by August for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Journal looks at the context around the Kandahar offensive, writing that the Afghan government has been "so weak, predatory, and corrupt that more and more Kandaharis have come to view the Taliban as a lesser evil". After U.S. President Barack Obama's surprise six-hour visit to Kabul on Sunday, the president told Today's Matt Lauer that progress addressing corruption in Afghanistan has been "too slow". Earlier today, Obama's top military commander Adm. Mike Mullen, also visited the Afghan capital and added to the pressure over government corruption, saying that this summer's Kandahar offensive will not succeed unless "a vast majority of corruption" can be. (READ MORE)

Kalsoom Lakhani: Pakistan's child soldiers - On Sunday, the Washington Post covered the progress of a new boarding school established to rehabilitate and deradicalize former child militants in Swat Valley, Pakistan. The army-sponsored center currently houses 86 young boys who were either captured by the military or brought in by their families. According to the Post, "Some had been trained by insurgent groups as slaves or thieves, some as bombers." The rehabilitation and study of these boys could provide deeper insight into the indoctrination of child militants in Pakistan as well as the broader psychology of child soldiers as a whole. According to Amnesty International, "Approximately 250,000 children under the age of 18 are thought to be fighting in conflicts around the world." Moreover, although many child soldiers are between the ages of 15 and 18 years of age, significant recruitment starting at the age of 10 and the use of even younger children has been recorded. (READ MORE)

Army Live: President Obama surprises troops in Afghanistan - “We are all incredibly proud. We all honor what you do,” he continued. “And all of you show all of America what’s possible when people come together, not based on color or creed, not based on faith or station, but based on a commitment to serve together, to bleed together and to succeed together as one people, as Americans.” Above is an excerpt from a message given by President Obama to the troops during a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, March 28th. Obama reiterated that continued military operations against the type of Afghanistan-based terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks are necessary for American security, saying the “folks back home are relying on you.” “I want every American serving in Afghanistan, military and civilian, to know, whether you’re working the flightline here at Bagram or patrolling a village down in Helmand, whether you’re standing watch at a forward operating base or training our Afghan partners or working with the Afghan government,” he said, “your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential, to America’s safety and security.” (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: Who Got Drafted for the Iraq War? - Several of the soldiers I served with could be considered draftees. At least, they were serving very much against their will and were surprised to receive a FEDEX package telling them to report for pre-deployment training within two weeks. Most of the soldiers I knew who got called back adapted well after the initial shock. One did not. One of the Battle Captains in our aviation unit was Jay Hoffman. He received a FEDEX telling him to report for duty in two weeks for deployment in Iraq. His home is in London where he works for an oil exploration firm. Jay was a Black Hawk pilot and had left the service several years ago, but did not resign his commission, so he got the FEDEX and went to Iraq with us. A couple of days ago, he wrote me from the Congo to ask me how things were going. Jay applied for the MBA program at the London School of Economics while we were in Iraq and was accepted for the fall 2010 class so he will be changing his career again. (READ MORE)

Air Force Lt. Col. Aaron Burgstein: Overwhelming Support in a Time of Need - I consider myself pretty fortunate. I have a great wife, fantastic kids and a pretty good career as an airman. This comfortable world was rocked somewhat on Feb. 11 when a series of headaches turned out to be a brain tumor. The words “brain tumor,” to me, is what one would hear on a daytime soap opera when they wanted to get rid of an ornery character. It is a pretty frightening diagnosis. After doing some research and talking to doctors, it turns out that it is not as hopeless as it is portrayed on the television show “House.” Despite the given situation, there has been a bright side to this entire experience: I have never felt more a part of the Air Force family. I’ve been in the Air Force nearly 15 years, deployed multiple times, collected a wife and two children along the way and experienced the associated events of a normal career. (READ MORE)

Insight of the Moment: Another week - It has been a minute since I've written. Over a week perhaps. As you know, I measure the quality of my week by the proximity of Sunday and look forward to them tremendously. We all look forward to them. In effort to not waste this wonderful time off, I didn't really get much more sleep, but went to the big PX on nearby Liberty. During the past week, I've come to the conclusion that I can't rely on escaping work for gym time. The only true reliable time is in the morning before work. My friend has to be at work earlier than I do so we go off of her schedule. That means getting up at.... 0400. Our first day was today, and while we felt pretty good, we felt dog tired by dinner time. I ordered some vitamins and healthy energy supplements (acai and B vitamins) from my favorite website ever I can't wait for that stuff to get here. (I believe that those websites who willingly ship to APO addresses truly support the American Soldier. Those that don't - POO ON YOU!) (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Iraq's Doing Okay - Those who don't want to see Iraq succeed say and write all sorts of things to express their frustration with the March 7 vote. A good example is Juan Cole, who says: "I admit to a good deal of frustration with the corporate media in the United States that keeps talking about Iyad Allawi having 'won' the Iraqi parliamentary elections. It just is not true. Apparently even some well informed and intelligent Americans can't understand the difference between achieving a slight plurality and winning a parliamentary election. And, it is dangerous to say these things because the US press is read in Iraq and expectations are being created among Iraqis that are likely to be disappointed." Never mind what the Iraqis think, sit up and listen to the professor who has never set foot in Iraq. What gets me is that he misses the entire point. Iraqis are remarkably more relaxed since the announcement of the election results. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: The Midnight Ride of Barack Obama - President Barack Obama’s six-hour foray into Kabul — arriving at dusk and leaving before dawn — makes one wonder if he’s still in the dark about Afghanistan. According to the press pool, Obama’s clandestine mission — conducted under cover of darkness because security is so dicey even in the Afghan capital — was to press President Hamid Karzai to get on the stick with needed reforms, so that all the sacrifice being made by U.S. and allied troops down in the south will pay off. Mr. Obama was accompanied by his National Security Advisor Jim Jones who told reporters on Air Force One the President’s intent was to “engage President Karzai… to make him understand that in his second term, there are certain things that have been not paid attention to, almost since day one. That is things like…a merit-based system for appointment of key government officials, battling corruption, taking the fight to the narco-traffickers, which fuels, provides a lot of the economic engine for the insurgents.” (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: The Military Spouses Employment Act - The Military Spouses Employment Act – HR 4764 – introduced by Congressman Carter would provide a tax incentive for employers to hire military spouses. In this tough economic time – and with some employers concerned about military moves and deployment issues – this provides an additional inducement for them to choose the qualified military spouse who applies. Bill information is now posted on MOAA’s “Message Sender” page which allows a spouse to input his/her zip code and quickly send a message to their Representative to ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Spouses can modify and personalize the message with the story of their own career challenges and concerns, or they can use the template that’s provided. Plus, you can see which Representatives were the first ones to sign on to co-sponsor (5 Democrats; 17 Republicans). Is your Representative listed? (READ MORE)

One Marine's View: Pressure on the enemy - Your warriors continuing to punish the enemy on ground where the enemy once thought they owned. We continue to discover sometimes dozens IEDs a day compounded with the typical afternoon small arm fire engagement. We have continued to be successful because of the turn of events from local nationals aiding us and frequently telling us where IEDs are placed. They are tired of the intimidation from the enemy and are risking threats to assist us. It’s paying off for them and us as the enemy continues to become frustrated. The morale of your Marines is high as like any Marine, they love hunting the enemy and the enemy hates us as once he engages us, because we relentlessly hunt him down so that it is his last opportunity to shoot at us. We recently conducted a respectful memorial for previous fallen warriors in a remote outpost. Prayers were said as the breeze blew the dog tags hung on the rifles. (READ MORE)

Thomas E. Ricks: Pentagon shutters program to help military spouses because it's too popular! - This is a great way to slap around military spouses: Start up a program to help them with college tuition, and then shut it down a few months later when it proves unexpectedly popular. Not only are they rejecting new applicants, they left existing participants in the lurch on future payments. The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program recently has been re-started but still isn't accepting new applicants. Secretary Gates said the project could cost as much as $2 billion -- that is almost as much as one submarine or B-2 bomber. Which do you think helps national security more -- getting one more platform, or making tens of thousands of military spouses happier with their lot? It is almost like, hey, your husband is deployed to Afghanistan? You're losing sleep over IED fears? We'll distract you by giving you something else to worry about! (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Life in the Mud Pit - Rain. We've had three days of rain. It's clear today, which is good, but the rain means that it's muddy again. I'm hoping that maybe this'll be the last bout with rain and mud that I have to deal with before heading home. "Heading home": what a wonderful concept! I've been deployed for 18 months and have one more to go. It's looking better and better. I'm already starting to look around my room at things, thinking "okay, that's going in my shipment home, this is going in my giveaway pile, that's going in the throw-away pile ..." Very cool! What is NOT cool is that I'm on Day 8 of a bout with an intestinal virus. Just when I think it's going away, it comes back with a vengeance. Yesterday, I went over to sick call to have it checked out. They don't know what this bug is, either, but are doing some tests to try to figure it out. (READ MORE)

Joshua Foust: Controlling the Narrative - In 2008, I wrote an article for the Columbia Journalism Review about ISAF’s problems in managing its messaging: “One of the challenges the U.S.-led coalition faces in the war in Afghanistan is controlling the narrative surrounding its actions. Often, the accounts given by officials differ so sharply from those of local eyewitnesses that the coalition’s portrayal of events seems disconnected from reality. The recent bombing controversy in western Afghanistan is only the newest case. By examining how various stories diverged over the days after the incident, a clear pattern emerges: the coalition has a problem with damage control…” Shortly after the Kunduz incident last year, I was mildly hopeful that McChrystal’s new modus operandi—rushing to apologize for the attack and promising a full investigation—would pay dividends. But not only has that not meaningfully changed ISAF’s behavior toward dead civilians (the general trend is good, just the PR behind it sucks), there remains little idea how to handle a mistaken, or even criminal, act of killing. (READ MORE)

airforcewife: English to Militarese FAIL - Case Study #2543 - One of the instructors at my gym is a Marine currently awaiting information on the packet he submitted for OCS (or do Marines call it OTS? I get all the different service terms confused fairly frequently). He is a very nice guy and a great coach - he's already got quite a following in the kickboxing classes and he's only been at our gym about six weeks! And it's not just women who swear by his coaching either, so although he's really is a cutie, I don't think that's the only reason for his following. His classes are hard, and they are effective. He's very good at leading, and kids in particular think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Anyway, sometimes he and I have some service-related conversations going on; he likes to get all "Oorah" and I like to remind him that the Air Force has better cable channels. (READ MORE)

this is our life...: Putting things into perspective - Ben is coming home Wednesday! He will fly into Idaho Falls and our lives will begin to feel normal again. I'm excited, but I'm very nervous. We have to get used to living together again. To being a team. We have to figure out how to team parent with three kids (something that will be new to US). Ben and I have both changed. And life won't pause for us to figure any of this out. Our lives will still be crazy - I don't think our lives will ever be 'normal'. We will be moving soon. We need to find a job or jobs. We need to get a new car. But today while I was thinking about all this I came across a fellow military wife's blog. She recently got the 'knock' on her door. Her husband was killed in Afghanistan. It really put things into perspective for me. It made me think about what's really important. Why did this happen to her and not me? Why am I so blessed to have my husband come home? It really could happen to anyone. (READ MORE)

Terry Glavin: "Orientalist" Schoolgirl Effortlessly Crushes Gruesome Bloated Zombie Witch Creature. - Alaina Podmorow is 13 years old. She wrote this article in response to a masters' thesis by the University of British Columbia's Melanie Butler, Canadian women and the (re)production of women in Afghanistan, an eruption of "post-colonial feminist theory" that sets out to attack actually-existing feminists who do real work for their real, living sisters in Afghanistan. A snippet of Podmorow: No one will ever tell me that Muslim or any women think it’s ok to not be allowed to get educated or to have their daughters sold off at 8 years old or traded off at 4 years old because of cultural beliefs. No one will tell me that women in Afghanistan think it is ok for their daughters to have acid thrown in their faces. It makes me ill to think a 4 year old girl must sleep in a barn and get raped daily by old men. (READ MORE)

The Torch: Walking a fine line on MWR - Via e-mail correspondence with The Torch's Macallan Moving Correspondent via The Stupid Shall Be Punished, we learn of coming changes to the "Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities" in Afghanistan - changes which will affect Canadian troops as they're co-located with Americans at KAF: “Many of you have heard that there are plans to shut down some of the ‘amenities’ throughout Afghanistan. This is not rumor. It is fact. This is a warzone – not an amusement park. From the moment GEN McChrystal and I arrived in Afghanistan last summer, we began looking for ways to do things more efficiently across the battlefield – the optimization of ISAF. This effort includes moving and reallocating resources to better accomplish our mission.” I've been asked about this particular issue by civilians in the past, and I don't think I'm offside with the majority working in a Canadian uniform when I say "luxuries" are fine as long as they don't take away from the mission - either physically or mentally. (READ MORE)

UNA MOORE: The Bloody Hands of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Part Two - Compared to the opaque nature of meetings between UN representatives and members of the Taliban (meetings the UN has confirmed but the Taliban still deny ever took place), the Hezb-i-Islami talks are comparatively transparent –but only in relative terms. Journalists have struggled to wrest details afterward, and civil society has been shut out, angering progressive elements in Afghan society. Even most Afghan politicians have been forced to rely on the international media for updates. Women, tellingly, have been completely excluded from the talks. In a March 8 interview with Eurasianet, leading human rights activist Palwasha Hassan bluntly said of Afghan civil society and its nascent women’s movement, “We have to be ready for a fight.” Representatives from Hezb-i-Islami, the smallest of Afghanistan’s three major insurgent groups, met with the Afghan president and the United Nations Assistance Mission this week to discuss a list of 15 conditions demanded in exchange for the group laying down its arms. (READ MORE)

DAVID AXE: Afghan Air Assault Portends Security Independence - The two Russian-made helicopters swooped low over the village of Mahageer, pushing a stinging swirl of dust over the vineyards and pastures. The Mi-17 transports from the Afghan National Army Air Corps’ Kabul Wing touched down in close formation, their rotors just yards apart. Squads of Afghan National Army commandos leaped from the choppers and fanned out, aiming their M-16 rifles. With the perimeter secure, the commandos pulled cardboard boxes from the helicopters. When their holds were empty, the Mi-17s lifted off, blasting the fields with a fresh wave of grit. Last week’s Afghan air assault had every appearance of a high-intensity combat operation, but it was actually a training event — a sort of “final exam” for a team of Afghan troops attending a U.S. Army-led air assault school at Bagram Air Field, a major NATO facility outside Kabul. The air assault marked one of the first times that Afghan aviators had planned and executed a complex operation all on their own. (READ MORE)

Katie Drummond: Pentagon: Replace Human Intel With High-Tech ‘Guard Dog’ - U.S troops operating overseas face insurgent threats and affiliations that are constantly changing. Not to mention the language barriers and cultural differences that can make even minor interactions — let alone intelligence and interrogation — more difficult. Now Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm, wants to develop a foolproof system that analyzes social networks and cultural tendencies using graphs, complex algorithms and new advances in computing, to interpret and predict human actions. The agency is hosting a proposal workshop for Graph Understanding and Analysis for Rapid Detection - Deployed on the Ground (priceless acronym: GUARD-DOG). Ideally, Darpa wants a replacement for current war-zone human intelligence, called HUMINT, which involves putting trained interrogators on the ground, identifying and tracking sources, and compiling data on relevant social networks. (READ MORE)

Crush @ Blackfive: Damn the evidence, full speed ahead! - An update on the SEAL 3 courts-martials: the prosecution's paper-thin case has taken several more blows recently, but the prosecution limps forward, nonetheless. From The US Report: “At a Scottsdale, Ariz. rally on Saturday, Petty Officer Matthew McCabe - the only SEAL actually accused of striking the detainee - announced that he passed an independently-administered polygraph on March 16.” Additionally, one of the two charges against fellow SEAL Jonathan Keefe has been dropped, as the investigator failed to inform Keefe of his right to remain silent. The same NCIS investigator admitted that he also failed to inform Julio Huertas - the third charged SEAL - of his right to remain silent, so his charges could be dropped as well. And McCabe's attorney also informed me that last week the defense's key witnesses - four SEALs and a Navy Corpsman - were granted immunity and would testify on behalf of the accused SEALs. (READ MORE)

USO Girls: Severe Clear - Last week, me and some of my USO friends went to see Severe Clear. A few years ago, 0ur Baby Corn was telling us she had never seen Full Metal Jacket, usually when someone brings that movie up, you start reciting the funny one liners and end it with "That movie was awesome!" With that being said, she got in her head that the movie was a comedy. After watching it, she called us up completely shocked saying "That was NOT a comedy." Which brings me to Severe Clear. I was laughing one minute and completely silenced the next. I also found it very ironic that the movie was playing right next to Green Zone, which received horrible reviews, staring Matt Damon. ( saying that in my Team America voice). This movie is the real deal and brings you to what our military was going through from the beginning of the war in Iraq. It doesn't set out to make any political statements which I really like. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Marine's dad ordered to pay protesters' court fees - The father of a Marine killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters was ordered to pay the protesters' appeal costs, his lawyers said Monday. (READ MORE)

O'Reilly's full Stryker critique - I wrote the Sunday centerpiece about the Stryker vehicle. Most of the story quotes people who think the Stryker is the right platform for the military for today's wars and future wars. Of course, some disagree. One such person, Irish author Victor O'Reilly, was one of the system's most vocal critics during the transformation a decade ago. (READ MORE)

Military spouse program gets the axe - I haven't heard from any Oregon spouses who have been affected by this, but I've been reading about the way the military has whipsawed spouses by suddenly canceling a wildly popular program to help them pay college tuition. (READ MORE)

Strykers fight enemies abroad, skeptics at home - The Strykers left before dawn and rolled into the land of canals and ditches. The assault began at daybreak. Infantry platoons from Joint Base Lewis-McChord unloaded from their eight-wheeled carriers outside Marjah, Afghanistan, and came under fire as they slogged through soggy fields. (READ MORE)

Case against 3 SEALs weakens - Cracks are beginning to appear in the military's prosecution of three Navy SEALs accused of striking a most-wanted terrorism suspect they had captured in Iraq. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
What the Iraqis are building - In the three weeks since Iraq held elections, many news stories have focused on the negative or the uncertain -- on the gains made by followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, for example, and on how long it will take for a ruling coalition to take shape. (READ MORE)

Bombs in Iraq holy city kill five, wound 64 - The bombs hit a restaurant and a security checkpoint one km from the Imam Hussein shrine, one of the holiest sites for Shi'ite Muslims, in Kerbala, 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. (READ MORE)

Iraqi panel wants to bar 4 elected on winning list - A committee that vets candidates for ties to Saddam Hussein's regime is recommending four people elected to parliament from the winning list of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi be disqualified, an official on the committee said Monday. (READ MORE)

Iraq panel to bar 6 lawmakers from taking office - An Iraqi government commission said Monday that it would bar six newly elected parliament members from office, accusing them of having been members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. (READ MORE)

Iraq election: Winning Sunni candidates targeted by Maliki forces - At least four Sunni Muslim candidates who appear to have won parliamentary seats on the winning ticket of secular leader Iyad Allawi have become targets of investigation by security forces reporting to the narrowly defeated Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to interviews with relatives, Iraqi security forces, and the US military. (READ MORE)

Victorious candidates may be purged, boosting Maliki - Six winning candidates in Iraq elections will be stripped of their votes and lose their seats – which would cost secular politician Iyad Allawi's bloc its narrow victory... (READ MORE)

Iraqi Ex-Premier Looks to Past in Fighting Critics - Ayad Allawi has seldom spoken publicly about the night more than 30 years ago when a pair of ax-wielding assassins turned his London bedroom into an abattoir. (READ MORE)

Iraqi PM says He Will Form Broad Coalition Government - Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki says he will put together a large coalition to form the next government. (READ MORE)

In Iraq, candidates seek an edge with post-election maneuvers - An Iraqi commission that removes government workers who are loyalists to the outlawed Baath Party announced Monday that it would contest the results of the March 7 parliamentary elections, a move sure to create further chaos in the aftermath of balloting that hardened Iraq's sectarian divide. (READ MORE)

First Iraqi Weather Officer's Graduate - The first class of Iraqi air force meteorology officers graduated, March 25, from a formal technical training course in Baghdad taught by U.S. Air Force weather forecasters. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, March 30 - An Afghan-international security force searched a compound in north Kandahar City last night after intelligence information indicated militant activity. (READ MORE)

Special Forces Help Move Afghan Patients - Special Forces soldiers assisted the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by moving civilians from the village of Nai Baghban, Uruzgan province to Kabul for continued medical care Sunday. (READ MORE)

President Obama in Kabul - President Obama’s visit to Afghanistan on Sunday was a long overdue, and desperately needed, attempt to persuade President Hamid Karzai to clean up his act. (READ MORE)

Burgers go way of booze as US general Stanley McChrystal bans junk food - First he banned booze in his Kabul headquarters. Now the notoriously austere commander of US and Nato forces has a new target in his war on terror: ice cream and fast food. (READ MORE)

Winston Churchill an unlikely adviser for General Stanley A. McChrystal in the Afghan conflict - General Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, has found an unlikely adviser in the continuing struggle against the Taliban. (READ MORE)

Reporters Reflect on ‘30 Days Through Afghanistan’ - Two military journalists behind an ambitious NATO International Security Assistance Force project to traverse Afghanistan in one month and file daily reports in words, photos and video recapped their experiences in a March 25 “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable. (READ MORE)

Kandahar Ops Reflect Complexity, Subtlety - More than 96 percent of the people of Afghanistan oppose the Taliban, but that doesn’t mean the Afghan government and the coalition are home free. (READ MORE)

Afghan offensive in Kandahar due in June, officials say - The Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan will launch a long-planned offensive in the southern city of Kandahar in June, military officials have said. (READ MORE)

Kandahar Offensive to Focus on Good Governance - The American surge into Afghanistan, which kicked off in February with the capture of Marjah, is moving to Kandahar—a far more valuable prize. (READ MORE)

Nato to launch Kandahar assault in June - The goal is to rid the city of Taliban forces before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in August, according to the official. (READ MORE)

Afghan front feels little Obama effect - Surrounded by gravel-filled buttresses and manned 24 hours a day by alert American and Afghan gunners, Combat Outpost Kowall appears like an outpost under siege. (READ MORE)

Afghan opinion divided on Obama's visit - President Obama's lightning visit to the Afghan capital, his first trip here since taking office 14 months ago, came after months of tension between his administration and that of President Hamid Karzai. (READ MORE)

Nato will fail unless you end corruption, US commander tells Karzai - Nato’s military offensive in Afghanistan will prove a waste of time unless President Karzai can stamp out corruption in the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar, the US said yesterday in its second top-level warning to the Afghan leader in less than 24 hours. (READ MORE)

Afghan Leader Is Seen to Flout Influence of U.S. - This month, with President Hamid Karzai looking ahead to a visit to the White House, he received a terse note from aides to President Obama: Your invitation has been revoked. (READ MORE)

Military Official Discusses Pakistani Offensive - Roughly 40,000 Pakistani troops are conducting operations against militants in the country’s North Waziristan region near the Afghan border, a senior U.S. military official said today. (READ MORE)

Pakistani court keeps curbs on nuclear scientist - A Pakistani court on Monday rejected a petition by disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan challenging restrictions on his movements, a government lawyer said. (READ MORE)

Mongolia Becomes 45th Nation Contributing Troops to ISAF - The Mongolian Defence Minister, Luvsanvandan Bold, met with NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, at NATO Headquarters on 29 March. The meeting marked the formal recognition of the Mongolian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). (READ MORE)

From Afghanistan to Arakans, militants converge on Dhaka - At least 15 foreign militant organisations were active or are still operating in Bangladesh since 1991 using the country as a safe haven or transit point to infiltrate India and other neighbouring countries, those nabbed have confessed. (READ MORE)

Canadian and Afghan troops find no sign of Taliban in village sweeps - Canadian and Afghan troops have swept through villages southwest of Kandahar only to find that locals had already ejected the Taliban. (READ MORE)

US publicly demands deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan - The United States is publicly calling for Canadian troops to stay in Afghanistan past next year, sparking questions over what Canada's role will be after the 2011 deadline for military withdrawal. (READ MORE)

Obama set to ask visiting Sarkozy for Afghan help - France's President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves behind a romantic sojourn in New York for an encounter he's long been waiting for: talks Tuesday with President Barack Obama in the White House. (READ MORE)

Pakistani jets kill 26 Taliban in Orakzai - Pakistani fighter planes bombed Taliban positions in the northwestern tribal region of Orakzai on Tuesday, killing 26 militants and destroying some of their hideouts, a government official said. (READ MORE)

G8 announces border plan to boost Afghan-Pakistan trade - The G8 group of industrial countries has announced an economic initiative targeting the Afghan-Pakistan border. (READ MORE)

Canada Shoots Down Afghan Extension Amid Reports Of U.S. Pressure -The Canadian government shot down suggestions it might be arm-twisted by the Obama White House into extending its Afghanistan mission beyond 2011. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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