April 28, 2010

From the Front: 04/28/2010

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


Dispatches:
Michael Yon:
Big Guns - The cannons are ultra-accurate. The commanders are careful with their fire because the guns are also very powerful. When a “fire mission” comes in, the soldiers use the computer to calculate the shot. When you watch the soldiers in action, you can see that they must have practiced this a thousand times. Or more. They just can’t afford to be wrong, and the people who depend on the cannons sometimes cannot wait – so the soldiers must fast and accurate. Our people use various sorts of ammunition. The most accurate is called “Excaliber,” and it’s a GPS guided smart bomb that is fired from these cannons. The Excaliber is fantastically precise – more accurate than any sniper – and can make first round hits on the targets 5, 10, 20 miles away. Recently, we (the U.S.) had a software glitch with the Excaliber rounds which would have made them inaccurate within certain calendar dates. There are still some glitches but there is no doubt that we could use a lot more of Excaliber. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Taliban attack Peshawar police - According to National Counterterrorism Center statistics for 2009, South Asia is now the "top terror region in the world," edging past the Middle East, after attacks against civilians spiked in Pakistan and Afghanistan and declined in Iraq last year. The NCTC's figures will be released later this week in conjunction with the State Department's annual global terrorism assessment. A Taliban militant coming reportedly from the tribal regions drove a vehicle filled with 440 pounds of explosives into a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar, killing four Pakistani policemen early this morning. A spokesman for the militant group said the attack was in revenge for military operations "from Khyber to Waziristan" and warned that more attacks are coming. Yesterday, Pakistani security forces in Dir arrested one of the sons of Sufi Muhammad, the currently jailed founder of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) militant organization. (READ MORE)

ANNA BADKHEN: Afghanistan's Little Men - Before it dead-ends in a crowded burst of kiosks, pilgrims, and taxicabs at the northern gate of the Blue Mosque, Dasht-e-Shor Street is a motley procession of businesses that constellate by type. First come the auto body shops, with gauges and hoses and pipes protruding from dark, sooty metal shipping containers. Then the welders, displaying heavy iron gates painted blue and green to ward off evil spirits. Then the bicycle dealers, decked out with rows of well-worn bikes and wheelbarrows (here the street is interrupted by a soccer field behind the wrecked wall of a bombed-out building); then a few small rice pilau and kebab stalls; and, finally, a long white-and-blue stretch of pharmacies. Somewhere between the welders and the bike dealers, I buy a small box of pomegranate juice from Mahdi. Mahdi is 11 years old. He has been running the soft drinks stall on Dasht-e-Shor for his uncle since he was seven. (READ MORE)

Army Blogger Wife: Deployment Question #15--Can I go too? - I secretly wish I could deploy. After yesterday I would have been ready to go in less than 10 minutes. Once Gunner told me "I'll take a bad day over no day at all." Some days that will get me through, but other days I just want a break. How many times when they have been gone have you just wanted to runaway? I know there's no way I am the only one. P.S. I am still pissed at the Army. (READ MORE)

Army Live: (VIDEO) Sledgehammer Soldiers 6 months in - Check out this video reflection of the Sledgehammer Brigade’s first six months in Iraq, brought to you by the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. (VIEW VIDEO)

TIM HSIA: America’s Multiethnic Military - The French Foreign Legion is famous for taking recruits of any nationality and molding them into premier soldiers. If recruits complete the arduous training, they not only join the ranks of a prestigious military unit but also become French citizens. The United States military has, in many ways, also adopted this method of immigration. Throughout my time in the military, whether it was in garrison or overseas, I have served with many soldiers who had yet to attain American citizenship. Many joined the military precisely because military service offered an opportunity to become a United States citizen. These soldiers came from countries across the globe, including Afghanistan, Ghana, Haiti, Mexico, Somalia, Thailand and Vietnam. Perhaps some of the soldiers I have served with stood in formation at the White House Rose Garden last week when President Obama spoke at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members. (READ MORE)

Corey Mindlin USArmy: Why is it? - Why is it that when I know I can't talk to Corey I miss him even more? So I've been looking around to find out some details about what he is doing at Camp Bullis...that way I can have a sense of what he's been through when he resurfaces in another 10 days. I am spending my energies being so very proud of him and not looking too far ahead. Thinking of something to do with him when he's home...a round of golf? red sox game? shopping? all of the above? Hope I get to spend a little alone time with him. Anyhow, if anyone is interested...Camp Bullis "This base and this training facility will allow you to train under conditions that very much simulate what you are going to see on the battlefield. You will train in the environment and the conditions of stress; and that is going to help you prepare to be the best Soldier medics you can possibly be, because you have an obligation. That obligation is to take care of our most precious resource, our Soldiers." (READ MORE)

David Bellavia: Veterans Take the Fight to Westboro Whackos - An Illinois veteran is giving those bastards at the Westboro Baptist Church a taste of their own medicine. You know, the scumbags who protest at service members’ funerals and claim troops were killed because the United States is accepting of homosexuality. Westboro church members are against gays and the most basic of hygiene. They use their children to protest their cause as if they were Taiwanese production operators making Nike sneakers. Jerry Bacidore is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and Iraq War. This dude served in the Marine Corps and Army. Over the weekend, he and 15 others went to the church and picketed outside. They carried signs with patriotic slogans such as ”We defended freedom, let our fallen rest in peace.” Bacidore says he hopes to lead future protests against the congregation and perhaps push for legislative measure to stop them. (READ MORE)

the semi-normal, day-to-day life of a female marine: PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma - Is public talk about PTSD making it harder for vets? Over the last few years, veterans' advocates and media outlets have called attention to how PTSD is a normal reaction to the abnormal and profound realities of combat. This message was intended to help veterans recognize it is okay to seek counseling while readjusting to civilian life. Unfortunately, the public may have received the message differently, assuming that all of today's military men and women must suffer from some kind of mental illness. In spite of all the "support the troops" rhetoric, this attitude is unfortunately reminiscent of the repugnant Vietnam-era stereotype of the crazy veteran. I tend to agree with him. While it's obviously good to get rid of the stigma of both PTSD and sexual harassment/assault in the military, the common perception is that ALL of us suffer from PTSD and ALL women suffered some form of sexual trauma. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: Afghan army marksmanship: quality vs quantity - I really think you need to look at marksmanship and discipline as symptoms of the larger issue here. No one failing recruit training, and the fact I never, ever heard of an Afghan soldier in our brigade being disciplined for anything (although I recall two cases of innocent men being framed for the errors of officers), no matter how serious, both tie back to the perception that this army as a whole needed to grow at a rapid rate. Soldiers who think they are likely to face harsh discipline will desert and never come back. Afghan officers who fail to pass unqualified candidates will face more consequences than those that let them all through. It is extremely difficult to rapidly increase quality and quantity at the same time. But that it is what we've been trying to do with the ANA. People will point to the Canadian army in 1939 or the Indian army in the Raj, and say we're just using the wrong methods... (READ MORE)

Sargeant Stewart McCrone, Quick Reaction Force Commander, 16 Signals Unit at Camp Souter, Kabul: QRF - The QRF was tasked to undertake an exploitation patrol in urban Kabul, close to the airport. The terrain may be different from Helmand but the risks are just as great…. It’s hot at 2pm with the temperature constantly rising, and the patrol, a recce for new routes for emergency vehicles, always turns into something else. As well as dominating the ground there’s always scope for snap Vehicle Check Points and always at the back of your mind amongst the complex compounds is the hearts and minds of the locals. The patrol started well, though lumbered with the General Purpose Machine Gun and excess support equipment for patrol, the next few hours were going to be tiresome. As we entered the compounds we were bombarded by children – a good atmospheric sign that nothing had been pre-planned from insurgents on our route, though nothing is ever certain. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US-born cleric Awlaki 'proud' to have taught al Qaeda operatives - An American-born Muslim cleric who is a senior member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has admitted to training two terrorists who carried out attacks against the US over the past six months. Anwar al Awlaki, an American citizen who is based in Yemen and serves as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's mufti, said he was "proud" to have trained Major Nidal Hasan, the US Army doctor who murdered 13 soldiers at a deployment center at Fort Hood, Texas, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who failed to detonate a bomb on an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day. "I am proud to have been their teacher," Awlaki said in a videotape aired today by Al Jazeera. Awlaki also accused the US military of carrying out attacks against civilians as part of an effort to get the Yemeni tribes to oppose al Qaeda. "Several US generals have met local tribal leaders," Awlaki said. (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: Allergies and more - I am SO tired of being sick. My allergies are in full swing and then some. I've been sick for the last 2 weeks. The thing that irritates me most is that I have NEVER ever had allergy problems before. When I co-hosted AWTR with Star a couple weeks ago, I had just come in from a run and taken a shower. As the night went on, I could feel my glands starting to swell and ache. When I woke up the next morning, I felt like death. I was glad not to get a call to sub. As that day went on, I started running a fever of 102. My wonderful husband went and got me some Won Ton Soup (what I really love to have when I'm sick) and some allergy medicine. I took that and laid in bed watching The Biggest Loser. The next day I felt better but still not good. Thursday came and I felt great. I was ok Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. My body apparently knew that I had to get through those few days because it was my best friend's wedding and I was her matron of honor. (READ MORE)

LTC John: Good works, and good music - That is what I see from John Ondrasik. You know his music through Five for Fighting. Please go to his site and see what else he has done. I discovered his music while in Iraq, when my wife sent me a link to a story about "For the Troops" - I ended up downloading "100 Years". Since then, I have steadily acquired more and more of Mr. O's work. Thumbs up, 5 stars, whatever highest rating you can give, I give it. Every time I would get a new CD, I would find myself astonished at at least 2 or 3 songs, and really liking almost everything else nearly as much. I have to admit, I have probably shed a tear or two upon first hearing some selections - "I Just Love You" on Two Lights and "Note to the Unknown Soldier" on Slice. Oh, and for what it is worth, I sent Mr. O a little note expressing my appreciation for his good works and good music... I had a response back within a short time. Impressive. (READ MORE)

New Girl on Post: Back In The Boot - I'm happy to say that after my long blogging hiatus that I have returned to Italy and should be back to blogging regularly again. I have mixed feelings about my visit to the States. As most of you know, it was R&R for us and to be quite honest, it wasn't what I expected. I honestly thought I was passing this deployment with flying colors, but after R&R it's quite obvious that I, as well as Sean, won't come out unscathed from this deployment. R&R had its good times, but it also had its share of bad times and to put it mildly, it didn't end up being what I expected at all. Sometimes I think it would just be easier not to have R&R, it's so hard to welcome someone home that you haven't seen in months, just to send them off again and at least for us, I believe it was hard for Sean to adjust from being in a war zone to just kicking back and relaxing. My trip to NYC was a blast and of course I took a ton of pictures, some I will be sharing later this week... (READ MORE)

Ramblings from a painter: Skip Has Left The Building - I'm on my way home! The past couple of days have been busy: finishing the turnover, getting stuff checked off my checkout list, throwing stuff away, and mailing one final box of things home (remember that old sweatshirt that I said I was going to throw away? I lied.) Yesterday I packed my bags and said a final goodbye to my friends and co-workers. Yesterday was also my birthday. Many thanks to all of you who sent birthday wishes on email and Facebook - they were all greatly appreciated. I got the best birthday present ever: clearance to go home! Early this morning the support team took me to the airport. I got myself checked in and manifested on the flight, then headed over to the Green Bean coffee shop for a last cappuccino in Baghdad. Just after lunch, they called our flight. We put on our body armor, grabbed our carry-on bags, and went through the scanners (yes, the military uses scanners, too, but at least we don't have to take our boots off). (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: More Photos - I know everyone likes the pictures, so I post them as soon as I can. Here is a group photo of the Soldiers in our Medical Brigade Headquarters. We chose this spot for the picture because of the mountains in the background. And here is a photo of our "Command Group", those of us who work closely with the Brigade Commander and Brigade Command Sergeant Major every day. Notice the American flag in the picture; it was a windy day! The Soldier holding the Brigade Colors almost got blown over a few times. We held a ceremony to award the 62d Medical Brigade "combat patch" to our Soldiers (and Airmen, notice the USAF SSgt in our group) deployed with us on this tour. Enjoy the pictures. I will post more as I can. (READ MORE)

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Iraqi election Aftermath: Sectarian Bombings - On Friday 23 April four car bombs (vehicular born improvised explosive devices/VBIEDs) went off around Baghdad. All four targeted Shi’a sites: two exploded in the Zafaraniyah area close to the Sadrist stronghold in Sadr City and one each at the Hadi al Chalabi Mosque and the Muhsin al Hakim Mosque. The latter two targets are mosques named for/founded by the father and grandfather, respectively, of Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, and Ammar al Hakim, who succeeded his father as head of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (ISCI). While the Iraqi leadership had already come forward to blame the violence on al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as retaliation for the recent Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) killings of two AQI leaders, the targeting pattern seems to provide a different insight. All four sites targeted have some relationship to one of the two large Shi’a religious party lists: (READ MORE)

Terry Galvin: Ending Afghanistan's Agony: "Our Afghan Comrades Speak Out." - The absolutely indispensable Andrew Potter, in his Macleans column: . . .And so the people of Afghanistan could be forgiven for feeling that Canada is preparing to abandon them. This was clear from the opening remarks by one of the organizers, Babur Mawladin. I expected the slightly nervous, bespectacled fellow to say a few words of welcome before turning the microphone over to the speakers. Instead, he gave a 10-minute stemwinder, in Dari and in English, that had them pounding on the tables. “We made mistakes,” he yelled. “But we did not make a mistake when we freed Afghanistan, and the job is not done. We must finish the job, and we must do it right.” That was a prelude to Ludin’s opening remarks. When things go well, said Ludin, for his part, we all like to take the credit. But when things go rough, “the critical thing, the honourable thing, is to stay committed.” (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: Robert Semrau On Trial For Murdering “Soldier”? - The headline was quite jarring to my eye: “Court martial sees video of soldier Canadian is accused of murdering.” That’s because there are no Canadian soldiers who are on trial for murdering any other soldiers. But once you get into the text of the article, you learn that it’s about Captain Robert Semrau, who isn’t accused of murdering a soldier, but only a Taliban fighter. There’s a fairly significant difference here, because one kind wears a uniform, is responsible to a chain of command, and has identification and a rank. The other is nothing more than a pirate, a mercenary hired by the Taliban to kill Canadian soldiers. They wear no uniforms, abide by no rules of international law or warfare, and openly associate with international terrorist organizations. The court martial that is trying Robert Semrau saw a video for the first time today, showing the Taliban fighter that he is accused of “murdering” on the battlefield. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Quiet patriotism, out of the spotlight - Eight months ago, many Americans were watching continuous news coverage about the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy and the ongoing health care debate. While those stories were important, the national media failed, almost universally, to notice the loss of an American patriot who put his young life on the line for a cause he regarded as greater than himself: Pfc. Matthew Wildes. The fallen hero's mother, Mary Wildes, kindly reached out to The Unknown Soldiers last week to share some memories of her beloved son. As she explained, the unusually mature 18-year-old probably wouldn't have wanted the spotlight, even in death, because of an intrinsic humility uncommon in 21st century youth. "He never liked being the center of attention," Mary Wildes wrote. "When Matt was growing up he never liked us taking any pictures of him or his baby pictures in our living room." (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: The Difference - Some of you may have noticed a story that broke last week, in which two Soldiers who were present during the infamous Apache engagement in New Baghdad wrote a letter apologizing for the incident which killed two Reuters employees and wounded two children. Former Specialists Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord penned a touching missive to the people of Iraq, which, to some, seemed politically motivated and apologetic for the War in Iraq. Yet, these men's feeling are understandable. No Soldier wishes for war; especially those who have had to witness the screaming of children wounded in the crossfire. An apology is understandable. Certainly, there is no doubt that children were wounded and journalists were killed. Either this was an intentional case of murderous bloodlust (doubtful), or it was a regrettable, tragic accident brought about by the fog of war (likely). (READ MORE)

War, the military, COIN and stuff: Can Banning Ammonium Nitrate Help Curb IEDs in Afghanistan? - Speaking on a conference call last month, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, head of the Army’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (Jieddo) confirmed that the IED threat in Afghanistan is expanding, nearly doubling over the last year. He said that compared to the artillery shells and more sophisticated detonation devices used in Iraq, in Afghanistan the threat is “largely homemade explosives centered around two types of fertilizer: potassium chloride and ammonium nitrate, with rudimentary detonation capability, the majority of which is victim-operated, pressure plate or trip wire, followed by some command-wire detonations and remote control.” The use of sophisticated IEDs in Iraq didn’t entirely result from thefts at unguarded weapons depots—Iran played a big role in supplying radical Shiite groups with sophisticated detonation and explosive capabilities. (READ MORE)

American Ranger: Big Problems in Afghanistan - I once read an assessment of the French campaign in Indochina, a hard-fought effort that ended with their defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 by the Viet Minh, the forerunners of the Viet Cong. This assessment said that the French ultimately lost because they could not control the countryside. Because they limited their primary efforts to defending the cities and towns, the Viet Minh overran the small hamlets and villages, terrorizing and murdering anyone who opposed them. The American stategy in Vietnam was to take the fight to the guerrillas, not limiting the war to the defense of the major cities, but using our airmobile capabilities to keep the enemy on the run. Our civil affairs soldiers worked hard to win "the hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese people. Of course, the political will of America was defeated by the willingness of the communists to simply outlast us. We were not defeated militarily in Vietnam; we were defeated politically. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Chasing the Enemy - In “The Strategy of Chasing the Taliban” I outlined the arguments against the application of strictly a population-centric approach in Afghanistan. We discussed how the ROE was preventing U.S. troops from engaging the insurgency when it was possible that noncombatants could be involved, and that this tactical approach had caused the need to chase the insurgents when they took cover in civilian areas and then later escaped. We must chase the Taliban and kill every last one of them, we are told by some Afghanis. But we don’t have the troops, helicopters or logistics to continue the chase into the valleys, mountains and fields of Afghanistan. From Lt. Col. Scott Cunningham, commander of the 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry, of the Nevada National Guard, we have another indication of insurgent tactics that brings up the issue of chasing the enemy. “The enemy in Afghanistan is elusive. They will rarely attack unless they have absolute superiority. Because of that, we usually maneuver with enough soldiers and firepower to defeat any potential threat we may encounter.” (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: Stop pretending that you care, at least it will make you honest. - Once again there are stories being posted about the issue with suicide in the military and PTSD. Sounds like it could be good thing right? Yea I wish. More then anything it really reinforces that groups are willing to uses people in suffering as a means to a end. Case one is talking about 18 Veteran Suicides Every Day . It is not as bad as other that I have seen but still manages to bring in the politics. I commend the VA for their efforts and for the lives they are able to save, but obviously much more needs to be done. They not only need to increase their outreach to include many veterans not currently receiving care, but they also need to increase the quality and effectiveness of the care they are giving (because five suicides a day among those receiving treatment is just too many). Notice the quickness on pointing out a problem and saying that someone else should fix it. (READ MORE)


News from the Home Front:
Local families still waiting for their soldiers to come home - Even though hundreds of Oregon National Guard troops are home from Iraq, almost 30 soldiers from the Medford area are still at Fort Lewis. (READ MORE)

DoD Agrees to Submit Some Fort Hood Documents to Senate - The Defense Department today agreed to provide access to some of the documents subpoenaed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week related to the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shooting investigation. (READ MORE)

Administration continues to defy Senate subpoena for Fort Hood documents - The Obama administration said Tuesday that it will provide more information to Congress about the Fort Hood shootings but continued to defy a subpoena request for witness statements and other documents. (READ MORE)

Pace of Changes Clouds Future, Mullen Says - The pace of changes in the military and in the world has made looking ahead a difficult proposition, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday. (READ MORE)

Slain Nevada deputy had just returned from Afghanistan - Ian Deutch survived a tour of duty as a military forward artillery observer in Afghanistan. But he didn't make it past his second day back on the job as a rural Nevada sheriff's deputy. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:
Report Details Torture at Secret Baghdad Prison - The torture of Iraqi detainees at a secret prison in Baghdad was far more systematic and brutal than initially reported, Human Rights Watch reported on Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Sunni - Backed Vote Winner Seeks Caretaker Government - A Sunni-backed bloc that came out ahead in Iraq's election but whose slim lead is threatened by efforts to disqualify candidates called Wednesday for the creation of an internationally monitored caretaker government. (READ MORE)

Former PM Urges Interim Government in Iraq - The front-runner in Iraq's recent parliamentary elections on Wednesday called for the formation of an impartial, internationally supervised caretaker government to prevent the country from sliding into violence and counter what he says are efforts to change the vote results. (READ MORE)

Clinton urges Iraq to 'speedily' form government - Weighing in on legally dubious efforts to change the outcome of Iraq's March 7 parliamentary elections, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Iraqi officials Tuesday to act more speedily and openly in forming a new government. (READ MORE)

Obama Sticks to a Deadline in Iraq - When President Obama approved a plan to withdraw combat forces from Iraq this summer, it was based on the assumption that a newly elected government would be in place by the time Americans headed home. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
Military Disputes Taliban on Korangal Valley Outpost - Local people, some of them armed, have taken over the Korangal outpost, which was recently abandoned by the American military, according to residents of the area and Afghan officials. (READ MORE)

Would-be Pakistan suicide bomber tells all - Abdul Baseer sent the grenades and explosive vest ahead then, accompanied by the 14-year-old boy he had groomed as his suicide bomber, boarded a bus that would take him to his target. (READ MORE)

Five Policemen Killed In Pakistan Car Bomb Attack - A Taliban bomber rammed his car into a police checkpost in Pakistan's northwest Wednesday, killing five policemen, in an attack a militant spokesman said was revenge for military offensives. (READ MORE)

UAE Jails Six For Funnelling Money to Taliban - A United Arab Emirates high court jailed five Emiratis and an Afghan for up to four years on terrorism-related charges of funnelling funds to the Taliban in Afghanistan, a UAE newspaper reported Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Roadside Bomb Kills 12 Civilians In Afghanistan - A roadside bomb struck a passenger van in southeast Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 12 civilians, a local official said. (READ MORE)

Pentagon taking closer look at Afghan intel unit - Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a closer look at a military outfit accused of using contractors to help track down militants in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. (READ MORE)

U.S. Begins Inquiry on Spy Network in Pakistan - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has opened an inquiry into whether a top Defense Department official violated Pentagon rules by setting up a network of private contractors to gather intelligence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Case of teenage militant moves toward tribunal trial - After Omar Ahmed Khadr was captured in Afghanistan in 2002, his American interrogators gave him a Mickey Mouse book, which he clutched to his wounded chest as he slept. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan denies police role in killing of U.N. staffers - The Afghan government Tuesday took sharp exception to U.N. assertions that Afghan police officers, not suicide assailants, may have killed four of the five U.N. workers who died in an insurgent attack on a Kabul guesthouse in October. (READ MORE)

Transfer of Authority in Helmand Province - The command of UK troops in Helmand Province has been officially handed over to 4 Mechanized Brigade. The Transfer of Authority took place at Task Force Helmand Headquarters in Lashkar Gah. (READ MORE)

Afghan Victory Day Celebrated in Kabul - Under tight security, but without incident, thousands of Afghan Army and Police officers, joined by government officials, national and international military leaders, and former Mujahidin celebrated Victory Day at Ghazi Stadium today, marking the defeat of the Soviet Union’s forces by the Mujahidin in 1992. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, April 28 - Several suspected insurgents were detained by an Afghan-international security force while pursuing a Taliban commander in Helmand last night. (READ MORE)

Terrorist attacks spike in Pakistan, Afghanistan - An increase in terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan triggered a spike in the number of civilians killed or wounded there last year, pushing South Asia past the Middle East as the top terror region in the world. (READ MORE)

Four policemen killed, six injured in suicide attack on check post in NWFP - The Taliban continues to target security forces in the restive tribal areas of Pakistan, as four policemen were killed and six wounded in a suicide attack near the Pir Bala police checkpost in the North West Frontier Province's (NWFP) Bannu District on Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Taliban "Ready for the Assault" in Kandahar - A Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan tells CBS News the Islamic fundamentalist movement that once ruled the country is ready to defend their traditional heartland from a pending U.S. and NATO military offensive, and hundreds of militants are pouring in from neighboring Pakistan to help. (READ MORE)

Afghan deputy trade minister calls for Iran’s cooperation in investment - Afghanistan's Deputy Trade Minister Zia-e-ddin Zia called for Iran’s cooperation with his country in trade affairs and investment. (READ MORE)

Rocket hits Kabul City - A rocket hit urban development ministry in capital Kabul earlier today, causing no loss of life or property, source said Tuesday. (READ MORE)

U.S. plan to arm Afghan militia founders on tribal rivalries - The detritus of tribal war litters the road that leads into this quiet mountain hamlet in eastern Afghanistan. The charred bodies of vehicles and the skeletal remains of destroyed houses fill the desert that flanks the road. (READ MORE)

Taliban protection payoffs denied by contractor - Allegations that a private security firm has been bribing Taliban and other insurgents to ensure safe passage for NATO convoys in Afghanistan are being denied by a key player in the business. (READ MORE)

Afghans Mark Anniversary Of Mujahedin Victory - Afghanistan are commemorating the 1992 toppling of the Soviet-backed regime by the mujahedin. Soldiers, officials, and former mujahedin leaders gathered in Kabul's stadium to mark the anniversary. (READ MORE)

Roadside bomb kills 12 civilians in Afghanistan - A roadside bomb struck a passenger van in southeast Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 12 civilians, a local official said. (READ MORE)

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Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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