April 21, 2010

From the Front: 04/21/2010

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

270 Days in Afghanistan: Supporting the Fight - A little while ago, we went on a mission to mentor some of our Field Artillery guys during a fire support mission in an area that has seen some significant fighting in recent weeks. Their mission in the area is to provide indirect fire support to ANA and ISAF forces while they conduct counter insurgent operations (for my civilian friends, this means that they are the guys who fire the artillery shells high overhead to impact downrange to help support the fight). There were plenty of opportunities to mentor at the sight, and we made some much needed suggestions about their security situation and the way they had the guns setup. I cannot (and will not) go into detail here about the particulars for security reasons, but part of our focus was to liaise with adjacent units in the area, and get the word out to both coalition forces and ANA units that this support was available to them while they are in contact with the enemy. (READ MORE)

A Major's Perspective: First 100 days - Well its been almost a hundred days since I returned back to Afghanistan and I wanted to take a moment and talk about what Ive seen so far. This is in no particular order, and may be very long winded strings of thought since it is still swirling around in my head, but I thought it was important to give an update of sorts. First off, anyone who says we're losing the war is just plain out of touch with reality. When I left in 2008, I will be very honest, I had some concerns. I can truthfully say I don't anymore. The strategy change that was executed here in Afghanistan is dead on the money. The Command listens, and adapts as needed. Our leadership is pursuing the War in the way that it needs to be. The Afghans are in the lead and doing exceptionally well. It is their Country, and they are fighting for it and paying the price for it everyday. I've never been prouder than standing beside them in this struggle, or as you would say in Dari, "Shohna Ba Shohna", Shoulder To Shoulder. (READ MORE)

A World Away: Celebration will provide overdue recognition - Laura Gilbert is a volunteer leader for Operation Celebrate Freedom, a fun event scheduled for Saturday, May 15, at the Jefferson County Fair Park Activity Center and grounds. I got started with Operation Celebrate Freedom because I felt that when my husband was deployed that not only did my community not only not know that he was gone, there was no recognition for his return home. Although we don't look for that recognition, it sure doesn't hurt to get it, so I felt with the 3,200+ troops that were deployed last year the time to give them ALL appreciation was NOW. So I approached a local business owner Randy Schopen of Capn's Catering in Jefferson and asked for his help getting people together to get the ball rolling. So in September we had our first meeting. We are a completely volunteer committee comprised of Military and non Military members who just believe that our troops deserve to be welcomed home in a special manner. (READ MORE)

al Sahwa: Global Engagement Directorate: Islamic Extremism - Are the men in the picture above Islamic extremists? How we define them greatly impacts how we engage them, fight them, and (as we have seen with the politically-driven debates about KSM) legally bring them to justice. Of my concern here is how to engage, as Professor Dan Kuehl of the National Defense University commented on a previous post of mine, in an effective counter narrative strategy to overcome the sway of AQ/affiliate ideology. On 26 May, 2009, President Obama in an official White House announcement entitled, "Statement by the President on the White House Organization for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism," prioritized how the White House should be organized to deal with the critical issues of homeland security and counterterrorism. The last of the five decisions created and instituted the Global Engagement Directorate, a new initiative "to drive comprehensive engagement policies that leverage diplomacy... (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Afghan peace jirga delayed - Yesterday was the first day for would-be Afghan parliamentarians to register to run for election in this September's contest. A spokesman for Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said that dozens of candidates turned up to register. The peace jirga with some 1,500 of Afghanistan's tribal elders and other community leaders scheduled for early May has been pushed back several weeks because of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's travel schedule and because it overlaps with another period of candidate registration for the September elections. NATO has backed away from its previous claim that a car fired on by NATO soldiers on Monday night in Khost contained two "known insurgents" after the family of the victims protested that the four people in the car were unarmed civilians driving home from a volleyball game. In a recent poll commissioned by the military, 44 percent of residents of Kandahar surveyed said that the greatest danger on Kandahar's roads comes from coalition convoys -- the same ranking as roadside bombs. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Kandahar deputy mayor killed - Taliban militants shot and killed the vice mayor of Kandahar city, Azizullah Yarmal, last night as he prayed during services at a mosque in the southern Afghan province, the latest in a string of Afghan officials to be targeted in Kandahar. Yarmal was one of the city's respected public officials, and a Taliban spokesman said he was killed because he "was working for this puppet government." Also yesterday in Kandahar city, a donkey carrying explosives blew up at a police checkpoint outside the home of the former governor of Spin Boldak district, a key ally of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, saying 11 foreigners were killed; however, the three people reported killed in the blast were Haji Fazluddin Agha's teenage grandchildren. Yesterday evening, NATO troops fired on a vehicle which reportedly ignored light signals and warning shots to slow down as it approached their military convoy... (READ MORE)

C. J. Chivers: Putting Taliban Sniper Fire in Context - A video and a blog post here on Monday presented a closer look at Taliban snipers, who were an unusual factor in the fighting in Marja this year. To understand the role that Taliban snipers have — or have not — played in the larger Afghan war, a look with more sweep is necessary. Afghanistan is a sprawling place, and the insurgency operates in some ways like a complicated syndicate, with varied groups and leaders in different parts of the country loosely collaborating with one another on some matters but not at all on others. So how significant have Taliban snipers been over all in the larger war? How much of a threat have they posed? To try to answer these questions we’ll move past individual observations and examine the results of Taliban gunfire on American troops nationwide. If skilled snipers are active in Afghanistan in large numbers — in other words, a significant menace — then their effects on casualty rates should be readily discernible. (READ MORE)

the semi-normal, day-to-day life of a female marine: Do I miss it? - I get asked this sometimes but it is a hard question to answer. I had my reasons for getting out and I do not regret one single bit letting my EAS come and go without reenlisting again. (Just when I start to fondly think "ah, memories!" I'll see a friend's Facebook status saying "got up this morning at 0530 and ran five miles!" NO THANK YOU!) But...I do miss BEING a Marine. Yes, I know "once a Marine, always a Marine" but it is not the same when you are not on active duty anymore. It just isn't. I do not miss a lot of the day-to-day "stuff" of Marine Corps life and even though many of the things I found annoying tend to disappear when you become a SNCO, after three years on MSG duty there was NO WAY I could have put up with any more stupid barracks and "I know better because I'm a higher rank" games. Not without being unhappy and wanting to smash stuff on a regular basis anyway. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Camp Bastion Water Bottling Plant Saving Lives - The temperatures are now creepy up massively here at Camp Bastion; it is averaging 35 degrees at the moment. It is predicted that by the height of the summer the thermometer will soar past 50 degrees. So it is recommended that soldiers drink upto 10 litres of water if they are in body armour and helmet out in those conditions. Given there is a huge demand for water, it is fortunate that the camp can provide its own supplies. Two and a half years ago, army engineers bored down 150 metres to tap into water that naturally springs under the desert. Over 22 million litres have been extracted and yet levels are naturally renewed with water that runs off from the imposing mountains surrounding the area. The man in charge of extracting and processing the water is Mr Colin Howell, the Camp Bastion Bottling Plant Manager. “We have to be scrupulously clean here. If the water gets contaminated then it affects every single person in camp." (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: School Resource Benefits Military Families - As a parent, I always appreciate it when my children’s school steps up its communication efforts. With work and life demands, it’s tough to stay on top of the latest school trends and programs. It’s particularly difficult for military families who also are dealing with multiple moves and deployments. With this in mind, the Department of Defense Education Activity’s educational partnership has launched an interactive educational resource for military families, and military and school leaders. An American Forces Press Service article, “Education Activity Launches Interactive Resource,” explains the new resource. “Students at the Center” offers information on policies, procedures and best practices critical to supporting the needs of military families’ education. The resource is available online at http://www.militaryk12partners.dodea.edu. This resource also will be available in print and on CD through Military OneSource in May. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: The phrase "stick a fork in it" comes to mind - It's nice of Prof. Stephen Saideman to try and resurrect some form of a post-2011 Afghan mission in the opinion pages of the Globe, but surely he's got to see that the ideas he proposes -- perpetuating the PRT and the OMLT presence -- are probably non-starters in the current detainee-allegations-laden realm of public opinion. There are only two real jailors in Afghanistan. The NDS and American forces. Rightly or wrongly, it's hard to see public support swelling any time soon for any new Canadian mission that turned any detainees our forces were involved in taking over to either of them, unless certain outstanding issues could be said to have been resolved first. Both the OMLT and the PRT have to work closely with Afghan security forces, including the NDS, and, if current headlines are any indication, their members would necessarily be accused of complicity, sooner or later, in any eventual reports of their excesses if either of those components were to be extended now. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Iraqis Predict Bad Days Ahead - The mood today is not very good. Iraqis are preparing for bad days ahead. The talk is that the killing of the al-Qaeda leaders is going to bring revenge attacks on ordinary Iraqis. People also say when AQI chooses a new leader, he will wish to establish his fingerprints by launching a dramatic bombing. There also is the news of the secret prisons in Baghdad where the government has held Iraqis they caught in Nineveh province. Nobody is surprised by this information. The Baathists did it to the Dawa and the communists, and now the Dawa leaders are doing it to the Baathists. Two wrongs don't make a right, but that's what we have been witnessing. Yet another reason Iraqis are preparing for bad days is the election recount. Everyone predicts the results will find that Nouri Al Maliki is ahead of Allawi. Maliki is looking for any possible way to remain in office. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: Kaboom goes Kerplunk - Short version: now writing at Kerplunk. Long version: Now it's time, to say goodbye, to all our company ... If you aren't familiar with the above Mickey Mouse Club lyrics, you weren't hugged enough as a child. Now. Serious-face time. Some two-and-a-half years ago, in November of 2007, right before my unit deployed to Iraq, I decided to start a blog. I sat in a living room in Oahu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and decided that the words I had typed weren't so ugly-sounding. I had some cursory knowledge of what blogs were, and figured it'd be a simple way to keep in touch in family and friends, so I kept doing it. I named it Kaboom because I was irreverent, and absolutely convinced an IED awaited in my future. Ironically, one wasn't. But a lot of other Kabooms were. It has been a hell of a ride, and one absolutely made by two sets of people. First, of course, were the soldiers. They changed my life in a way I'll never really be able to describe or comprehend. (READ MORE)

Life as an Army Duck: I don't know you love me unless you say it. - I am a self confessed one thousand percent over the top with love kind of person. I say I love you when I'm hanging up the phone, when I'm leaving the house, at the end of text messages and emails, alone as text messages and emails, when ever there is a moment of silence between B and I that I think needs filling, before I fall asleep and then about 100 times more a day. I say I love you A LOT. B on the other hand is not over the top with love. B says I love you like a normal person. He doesn't feel overly compelled to say I love you as I get out the car at the station - a kiss good bye is fine for him, he doesn't need to end each message with I love you and he doesn't need to say I love you five hundred times a day. Because I'm so "over loved" it's pretty rare that he even gets to say I love you first. He gets in first at a frequency that makes me think "awwww I love you too" when he says it. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Iraqi forces kill al Qaeda’s top military commander in the north - Iraqi security forces killed al Qaeda in Iraq’s top military commander for the north during a raid yesterday in the outskirts of Mosul. The al Qaeda military commander, identified as Hazim Ilyas Abdallah al Khafaji and also known as Yasir al Hambali, was killed during a raid in a region just northeast of Mosul, the US military said in a press release. Khafaji and another al Qaeda fighter were killed after Iraqi forces, backed by US soldiers, took fire from a building where he was sheltering. Another al Qaeda operative was detained during the raid. Khafaji was responsible for al Qaeda’s military operations in the northern provinces of Ninewa, Salahadin, and Kirkuk, according to Voices of Iraq. "He was the guy in charge of operations from Tikrit all the way up to Mosul out to the Syrian border,” General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, told Fox News. “He was the military emir." (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US withdrawal from Korengal Valley a 'Taliban propaganda coup' - The recent US withdrawal from the Korengal Valley in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan has provided the Taliban with yet another "Taliban propaganda coup," as a video released shows enemy fighters in charge of the former US outposts. In the video, the Taliban claim to have taken control of the Korengal Valley, while conducting a guided tour of an abandoned US outpost with an Al Jazeera reporter. Taliban fighters are seen walking through the base, which just days ago was occupied by US forces until they withdrew to comply with "the requirements of the new population-centric counterinsurgency strategy," according to Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, ISAF's Joint Command commander. The Taliban are seen walking through the rows of intact HESCO barriers, the makeshift wire and mesh walls filled with earth that surround the outpost. (READ MORE)

Mike Francis, The Oregonian: Oregon's soldiers begin to scatter - Now begins the splintering, in which one big story fractures into 2,700 smaller ones. With Sunday's homecoming of several hundred members of the 1-82nd Cavalry at a colorful ceremony in Bend, the 2,700 soldiers of Oregon's 41st Brigade are beginning to disperse to their homes and resume their lives as civilians. (Other demobilization ceremonies are scheduled for Portland, Medford, Forest Grove and Eugene. The Portland ceremony is at 2 p.m. today at the Chiles Center at the University of Portland). This is a week in which elected officials will tell the soldiers and their families again how much they support them and appreciate them. But they can't possibly be present for 2,700 or so family and community dramas that will play out around the state for the months and years to come. That's a job for the rest of us. Coming back from a year in a red zone, even during a mostly calm deployment, isn't like returning from a vacation. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: Lobbying for the Impossible - David Cole, writing in the May 3, 2010, edition of the Nation, notices a curious silence about the Obama administration’s recent decision to green-light the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen hiding in Yemen who has allegedly encouraged and even planned terrorist attacks against Americans. “In our peculiar post-9/11 world,” he writes, “it is apparently less controversial to kill a suspect in cold blood than to hold him in preventive detention.” It almost (but not quite) looks like an inversion of our World War II era policy. Some American soldiers at the time thought it less of a hassle, and no doubt more satisfying, to shoot captured Germans than to herd them off battlefields into prisons. That was not, however, what they were ordered to do. Captured enemy combatants were to be treated decently and held until the war ended. It was the right thing to do, even in a war against Nazi Germany. So that’s what they did, at least most of the time. (READ MORE)

Registan.net: Guest Post: The Darkest Side of Kabul’s Restaurant Raids - This is a guest post by an author who goes by the name of “Kabul expat.” Last week, four of Kabul’s most popular alcohol-serving restaurants were raided in quick succession, sending chills through the expat community. The story of the raids then took a dramatically darker turn on April 17, when Jerome Starkey of the Times broke the news that waitresses arrested during the raids were subjected to forced gynecological exams. “Afghanistan’s ‘vice and virtue’ police have raided Western bars and restaurants in Kabul, seizing thousands of gallons of alcohol and arresting at least six waitresses, accusing them of being prostitutes. In scenes reminiscent of the Taleban, officers armed with AK47 rifles targeted four well-known nightspots on Monday night and Tuesday morning, calling them ‘centres of immorality.’ The French owner of one of Kabul’s best-known bars was also detained.” (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Flags of the fallen - While attending the solemn procession for 1st Lt. Robert Collins last week, I asked some mourners if they were familiar with the story of the man he died alongside in Mosul, Iraq. Almost everyone knew his name, and showed a genuine interest in knowing more about the story of Spc. William Anthony Blount. As we honored 1st Lt. Collins in Tyrone, Georgia, most of us weren't aware that Spc. Blount was being saluted at almost the exact same moment in the small city of Petal, Mississippi. During the moving procession, The Hattiesburg American reports that two sisters, who were also former next door neighbors to the hometown hero, made a very meaningful, personal tribute. The sisters brought the stars and stripes that once covered the casket of their grandfather, World War II veteran Johnny Lloyd Diehl, and displayed it as Blount's flag-draped casket passed by. (READ MORE)

Kim Zetter: U.S. Soldier on 2007 Apache Attack: What I Saw - Ethan McCord had just returned from dropping his children at school earlier this month, when he turned on the TV news to see grainy black-and-white video footage of a soldier running from a bombed-out van with a child in his arms. It was a scene that had played repeatedly in his mind the last three years, and he knew exactly who the soldier was. In May 2007, McCord, a 33-year-old Army specialist, was engaged in a firefight with insurgents in an Iraqi suburb when his platoon, part of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry, got orders to investigate a nearby street. When they arrived, they found a scene of fresh carnage – the scattered remains of a group of men, believed to be armed, who had just been gunned down by Apache attack helicopters. They also found 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his five-year-old sister Doaha covered in blood in a van. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Welsh snipers show courage and constraint - Members of Fire Support Company, 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh have been showing courage and constraint whilst clearing insurgents from positions near Shahzad in South West Helmand. Tasked with providing flanking protection for army bomb disposal teams, army marksmen held insurgents back from positions in a towered compound as their colleagues moved through the area. The action was part of building on the progress of Op Moshtarak. The team had been tasked to secure a compound, but on patrolling towards the location came under heavy fire from Taliban fighters. Sniper two “We left our patrol base just before first light towards the compound we wanted to go to and came under contact. We carried out our drills and observed, but couldn’t see anyone so pushed on and that’s when all hell broke loose. We were attacked by different weapons and people, so we moved under fire towards the compound.” (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Capturing Insights from Firefights to Improve Training - From National Defense: “There is a popular belief that soldiers have a significantly longer life expectancy in a combat zone after they have survived their first few firefights. But little research has been conducted to evaluate what soldiers learn early in their deployments that would make the difference between improved effectiveness and becoming a combat fatality. Can learned factors or perhaps inherent traits be replicated and conveyed in training so that a soldier’s chance of surviving initial firefights is similar to that of a seasoned combat veteran? Past anecdotal discussions have indicated that military units tend to suffer higher casualty rates in their first engagements with the enemy. Recent research demonstrates that the first 100 days of combat is a more reliable critical period for improving the likelihood of survival than the widely held ‘first five firefights’ theory. These results hold implications for several aspects of modern training, as well as tactics, techniques and procedures used by today’s military.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Re: The Length Of Yon’s … Er … Experience - I received emails yesterday from several milbloggers after yesterday’s Yon Flap post, seeking to remove the doubt I was giving Yon the benefit of, describing how the wheels are coming off, enumerating the intricacies of the matter from Facebook and elsewhere, various incidents of feuding with military leadership and bloggers, and as commenters here noted, making the story about him. I’ll admit the one about measuring the size of one’s … um … experience cuts close to home. Mudville posted on that yesterday. The inference is if you haven’t racked up years worth of embeds, which is pretty much to say if you aren’t Yon, you aren’t qualified to comment. That pretty much disqualifies almost everyone from commenting on almost anything they haven’t dwelt extensively in the wreckage of, which is too bad because there is a lot of useful reportage and comment that comes out of people with various degrees and kinds of experience, to include none in the military or in combat at all. (READ MORE)

Soldiers' Angels Germany: The True Heart of the American Soldier - He'd gotten blown up. Sustained burns to the face and hands and suffered blast inhalation. Breathing in superheated air is not good for the bronchial tubes and lungs. He’s being mechanically ventilated. I watch him struggle even when completely sedated, but some patients have a real rough patch before extubation. To make sure a patient can breathe on his own, first the docs need to dial back on the meds. This is called "waking him up". Still out of it, he gradually becomes more and more aware of his pain and the discomfort of the breathing tube. He feels like he's choking. Constantly. And he's too out of it to understand why. His hands are restrained so he can't pull the tube out. But he keeps lifting them, trying. His legs squirm. He lifts and turns his head. Then the RT (respiratory therapy) guy comes in and tells the patient he’s turning off the ventilator as a test, and if it goes well, the tube can be removed. (READ MORE)

My American-Iraq Life: Jesse Huff's Brother: Satisfied with the Treatment Jesse Received from the VA - "Charles Huff, 37, of Dayton — a nurse at the VA and a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve — said Monday, April 19, that he and his father met with Dayton VA Director Guy Richardson on Sunday to review his brother’s medical records, specifically focusing on the events of his last visit to the emergency room. “Jesse was not denied care,” Charles Huff said. “In fact, I am impressed with the actions of the medical staff that evening. Without going into detail, to protect Jesse’s privacy, I can say as a fellow Iraq war veteran, as a medical professional and as his brother, I am in agreement with the decisions made by the hospital staff during Jesse’s last visit to the ER.” I'm not buying it and I have reason not to. This case isn't closed because his brother is satisfied with the treatment Jesse received from the VA. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Critics of Starbase program gain traction - Every time the DoD-sponsored Starbase program rolls around, a vocal few complain that it's wrong to give science classes to children on military installations. (READ MORE)

Surrender now – the army’s no place for you, Private Single-Mum - The story of former Lance-Corporal Tilern DeBique, MySpace glamour puss and soldier single mum, is a cautionary tale that almost defies belief. It would be impossible to dream up a better parody of the idiocy of today’s rights and compensation culture. (READ MORE)

Gates proposes 1 agency to control military exports - The Obama administration will create a new agency to approve export controls on sensitive military technologies as part of a larger effort to boost U.S. exports for the ailing economy. (READ MORE)

SWAGs bare all to help war heroes - Service Wives and Girlfriends (SWAGs) have raised 26,000pounds through their racy charity calendar to help injured war heroes and women wounded in strife-torn Afghanistan and Iraq. (READ MORE)

Veteran's brother: Suicide not VA’s fault - The oldest brother of the Iraq war veteran who committed suicide at the Dayton VA Medical Center Friday said he is satisfied with the care Jesse Huff received hours before his death. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Turkmen Shi'a Visit Sultan Saqi Shrine - The 506th Air Expeditionary Group and the Kirkuk Provincial Reconstruction Team of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq assisted approximately 30 members of the predominantly Turkmen Shi'a community of the Tiseen neighborhood of Kirkuk city to visit the Imam Sultan Saqi Shrine and its surrounding cemetery... (READ MORE)

Court-Martial of Navy SEAL Opens in Iraq - A U.S. sailor testified Wednesday he saw a Navy SEAL punch an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding the killings in 2004 of four U.S. private security contractors, as the court-martial of another member of the elite unit allegedly involved in the incident opened at a military base outside Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Al Qaeda in Iraq loses 3rd operative - Iraqi and U.S. troops killed a regional leader of al Qaeda in Iraq in a morning raid Tuesday, as security forces continue to put pressure on the terrorist group after the reported deaths of its two top-ranking figures over the weekend, officials said. (READ MORE)

Leading Coalition In Iraq Election Backs Recount - The cross-sectarian coalition that took a narrow lead in Iraq's inconclusive March 7 election said on Tuesday it supported a recount of votes cast in Baghdad, but expressed concern over how it would be conducted. (READ MORE)

Wider Recount of Iraq Ballots Is Requested by Vote Leader - A day after an Iraqi court ordered a partial recount of ballots cast in last month’s national elections, the man whose political alliance won the most votes called Tuesday for a broader recount of ballots, a move that could deepen the country’s instability before the planned American military withdrawal. (READ MORE)

The Mumleys in Afghanistan - Back in November, the Vermont-based 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) flew to Fort Polk Louisiana for some training for their eventual deployment to Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Pipes Playing in Afghanistan - From remembering people from the past to relaxation and even shaping the war atmosphere, one man has found a way to use bagpipes to fulfill many different needs. (READ MORE)

ISAF Leadership in West Changes - Brig. Gen. Alessandro Veltri transferred authority of the Italian-led Regional Command-West to Brig. Gen. Claudio Berto in a ceremony at the airport adjoining Camp Arena, Herat, yesterday. (READ MORE)

Analyzing the Fight - Somewhere in Afghanistan is a dark room filled with rows and rows of computers. From the glow of the computer screens Soldiers can be seen analyzing the information gathered from various airframes. (READ MORE)

Pakistan military fails to woo tribal allies under grip of Taleban - The region has been described by the US President as the most dangerous place in the world. No one who lives here would disagree. (READ MORE)

Farewell to Korengal - LAST week the United States military pulled out of the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan. Six miles long, sparsely populated and of dubious strategic value, the Korengal was the scene of some of the most relentless fighting of the Afghan war. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Sees Great White Hope In Marble Sector - Afghan businessmen are confident that with new anti-corruption measures and foreign investment, they can carve out a lucrative industry from one of Afghanistan's most abundant natural resources: marble. (READ MORE)

NATO Backs Down on 'Insurgent' Claim in Shooting - NATO backed away from its claim Wednesday that two ''known insurgents'' were among four people killed this week when a military convoy opened fire on their vehicle in eastern Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Dispute Flares After NATO Convoy Kills 4 in Afghanistan - A NATO military convoy in eastern Afghanistan shot to death four unarmed civilians in a vehicle early Monday evening, including a police officer and a 12-year-old student, Afghan officials said Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Taliban No. 2 Interrogations Yield Useful Intel - U.S. - Interrogations of the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader have started producing useful intelligence on the group and its operations against U.S. forces across the Pakistani border, U.S. officials said on Tuesday. (READ MORE)

A Killing Further Erodes Afghan Faith in Leaders - Late on Monday night, Azizullah Yarmal, Kandahar’s deputy mayor, walked into a large mosque in his city and faced toward Mecca. He knelt down in unison with the others, leaning forward so his head touched the floor in ritual prayer. (READ MORE)

US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan sent to Iraq for medical care - The US is sending soldiers wounded in Afghanistan to Iraq for medical treatment, as the standard practice of flying them to Germany has been impeded by a volcanic ash cloud over Europe, the Peyamner News Agency reported Wednesday. (READ MORE)

UK soldier wounded in Afghanistan flown to US for treatment - A British soldier has been flown to the US for emergency treatment after being severely wounded in Afghanistan due to the ban on flights in the UK, it was reported Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Fall River soldier, 20, dies in Afghanistan - A 20-year-old Massachusetts National Guard soldier from Fall River was killed by an improvised explosive device Monday in Afghanistan. Sergeant Robert Barrett, a 2007 graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School, was the father of a 2-year-old daughter. (READ MORE)

12 girl students 'poisoned' in Afghanistan - At least 12 girl students were Wednesday hospitalised after they fell unconscious after inhaling some poisonous substance sprayed in a school in Afghanistan, a media report said. (READ MORE)

Terrorised by Taliban tribals scoff Pak Army's 'war is over' claims - Local residents in Pakistan's tribal regions, where the Army had initiated an all out offensive against the Taliban and other extremist groups last year, are still living in fear despite claims that the militants have been flushed out. (READ MORE)

Registration of thousands of candidates for election begins - Afghanistan on Tuesday began registering thousands of candidates for the war-torn country's parliamentary elections to be held on September 18, an electoral official said. (READ MORE)

Led by UN, donors meet to strengthen Farah province - Irrigation, access, trade and energy were at the heart of talks between Farah provincial authorities and Government representatives and the donor community. (READ MORE)

More minesweepers for Afghanistan - The Pentagon says it’s rushing 3,500 mine detectors to Afghanistan and working to halt fertilizer shipments from Pakistan that are used to make bombs. (READ MORE)

Afghan war is unwinnable and we should not be there, say voters - The vast majority of voters are hostile to the war in Afghanistan and believe the political parties are failing to give voice to their opposition, a new poll has discovered ahead of the televised leaders' debate on foreign affairs tomorrow. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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